'We don't mind being big underdogs' - Thornton Hibs boss Craig Gilbert plotting another upset in cup final

Thornton Hibs will this Sunday try and beat a fourth higher division team of the competition in their bid to win the Alex Jack Cup.
Thornton Hibs manager Craig Gilbert has cup final this SundayThornton Hibs manager Craig Gilbert has cup final this Sunday
Thornton Hibs manager Craig Gilbert has cup final this Sunday

The Memorial Park outfit, currently seventh in the East of Scotland League second division, will face Luncarty – fourth in the first division – in the final at Moorside Park in Cardenden.

Thornton manager Craig Gilbert, whose side have already beaten higher league Leith Athletic 2-0 away, Crossgates Primrose 2-0 away and Lochore Welfare 4-2 at home in earlier rounds, is plotting yet another upset.

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Gilbert, 53, told the Fife Free Press:“Last year we had a lot of boys out injured and getting those experienced boys back is massive.

"Just knowing how to slow the game down, how to pace it up, it’s huge.

"We have had guys in place and had the resources which we never had last year.

"We got relegated on the last day last season (from Conference A) and if we’d had a fully fit squad that wouldn’t have happened.

"We should really be in the first division.”

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Sunday’s match will see Gilbert try to win his fourth trophy as Thornton gaffer, having already landed the 2009-2010 SJFA Central League, the 2014-2015 SJFA East North League and the 2018/2019 Fife and Lothians Cup.

"Winning on Sunday would be another string to the bow,” added Gilbert, who when playing as a Thornton centre half back in the day previously won two cup finals at this Sunday’s venue.

“I said to the boys on Monday night, you can play football all your life and never, ever get to a cup final.

"It doesn’t matter what cup final it is, it’s always great to be there regardless of who you’re playing against or what it’s for, it’s brilliant.

"We’re big underdogs again. We don’t mind that.

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"We have got the team and experience to beat anyone on our day. It’s just the application on the day.

"We’re looking for the boys not to freeze and to do the right things and hopefully things go our way. You need a bit of luck at times, you need to defend in the right manner and take your chances.

"Luncarty’s a good side, they’ve obviously beaten good teams, they’re not fourth in the league for nothing.

"I think they’ve spent a wee bit of money, they’ve got good players so hopefully it will be a good game.”

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Sunday’s final comes in the wake of a blank weekend for both sides, after their scheduled Challenge Cup third round fixture against each other at Luncarty on Saturday was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Gilbert said: “I think it was probably a good thing last Saturday’s game was called off.

"Just so nobody got injuries, nobody picked up any yellow cards, suspensions or red cards.”

Thornton have a full strength squad to pick from for the match.

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