Bonnyrigg Rose manager dreaming of Scottish Cup upset against Clyde

Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic manager Robbie Horn says it would be like a “dream come true” if his Lowland League side were to beat Clyde in the Scottish Cup on Saturday and reach the fifth round of the competition for the first time.

The “Rose” host their League One opponents at New Dundas Park and are underdogs for the fourth-round clash, although the Lothian side come into the match having already beaten a team ranked two divisions above them in Montrose in the previous round of the tournament.

Horn says his side have taken confidence from the upset and revealed that Bonnyrigg are using a potential glamour tie against Celtic or Rangers as motivation for Saturday’s game.

“It’s massive,” Horn told EN4 News. “There’s the carrot dangling in front of you of another big tie against Rangers or Celtic, or Hearts or Hibs. That’s what you dream of and that’s what we keep feeding to the player.

“It’s a dream, but dreams come true and hopefully we can reward everyone with a good performance and a good result on Saturday.”

Horn insists his side are keeping their feet on the ground, with preparations for the game going ahead as normal in order to create a relaxed atmosphere in the camp.

But Scottish Cup fever has swept around the town and a sell-out crowd of over 2,000 fans will be at New Dundas Park for Saturday’s game.

“The community has really got behind the Scottish Cup games so far and it’s been great,” Horn said.

“Hopefully there will be another great atmosphere on Saturday. I’m sure the Clyde supporters as well are very loyal and very vocal and I’m sure they’ll get behind their team as well, so it should be a good Scottish Cup atmosphere.”

Bonnyrigg will also take confidence from their league form. The club are second in the Lowland League with a game in hand on leaders Kelty Hearts, and have won 15 of their 17 league matches this season.

Bonnyrigg Rose’s journey to the Scottish Cup fourth round (Credit: EN4 News)

A promotion push will be the aim for Horn’s team come the end of the season, but for now, all focus is on keeping this Scottish Cup run alive.

We’ve done it before and I’ve got 100% confidence in the players that we’ve got,” Horn added.

“We’ve got to be at our best and Clyde may have to have an off-day, but the pressure is all on Clyde. They are a League One team and, on paper, they should be beating a Lowland League team, so the pressure is all on them.

“We’ll go out and enjoy the occasion. Hopefully the supporters will get behind us and make it as difficult for them as possible, and hopefully we’ll get the victory.”

Bonnyrigg Rose defender Euan Moyes (left) and captain Jonathan Stewart (right) explain how the Lowland League side are preparing for their Scottish Cup fourth round match against Clyde.

Will Manchester United end Liverpool’s unbeaten run? Premier League preview podcast!

Kris Gourlay is joined on the sofa by Gregor Kerr this week as they look ahead to some mouth-watering Premier League fixtures, including Liverpool vs Manchester United at Anfield, with Jurgen Klopp’s team looking to extend their unbeaten run in the league this season to 22 games.

Checkout our roundup of the games below, as well as the link to our second podcast this week, looking ahead to the Scottish Cup action!

 

Rangers and Celtic to breeze past lower league opposition? Scottish Cup preview podcast

Kris Gourlay is joined this time by Fergus Robb, Darren McConachie and Aaron Purewal as they look towards what should be an eventful weekend of Scottish Cup action.

The main topic of discussion in the podcast is Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic’s tie against Clyde on Saturday, with Bonnyrigg being one of three non-league outfits competing this weekend to make it to the fifth round for the first time. Bonnyrigg manager Robbie Horn spoke to to EN4 News ahead of the tie, as previewed at the start of the podcast.

Check out our preview of these games, as well as our teams Scottish cup predictions below!

 

Hearts name Steven Naismith as new club captain

Heart of Midlothian manager Daniel Stendel has announced Steven Naismith as the new club captain.

The Scotland striker joined Hearts on loan from Norwich City in January 2018 before committing his long-term future to the club in the summer of 2019. He will take the armband from axed skipper Christophe Berra, who was told by the manager that he is free to find a new club.

Naismith has scored 16 goals in 41 league appearances for Hearts. He has proven to be a talisman for the Gorgie side time and again, especially in last season’s run to the Scottish Cup final. His run as captain will begin with a home tie in the cup against Airdrieonians on Saturday.

The three other candidates for the captaincy were Craig Halkett, John Souttar and Michael Smith, but Stendel has ultimately opted for the experience of Naismith to try and get Hearts back on track this season.

Despite missing out on the captaincy, Stendel made the decision to maintain John Souttar as club vice-captain.

Next week, when the league restarts following the winter break, the new skipper will be trying to chase down the five-point gap that has Hearts sitting adrift at the bottom of the table.

Edinburgh rotate starting team for Agen ahead of final Challenge Cup pool match

Saturday marks the final pool stage match of Edinburgh’s 2019/20 Challenge Cup campaign as they face Agen at BT Murrayfield, with a win putting them through to the competition’s quarter final stage.

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill has named a side full of changes to face Agen at BT Murrayfield in the final pool stage of the Challenge Cup this Saturday.

The side, in total, includes seven forward changes – with only Hamish Watson reclaiming the position he fielded against Bordeaux last weekend – and just one back change as George Taylor comes in for the internationally selected Matt Scott.

Charlie Shiel and James Johnstone fall out of the squad as Henry Pyrgos and Chris Dean take their places respectively – with the latter making his first appearance of the regular season having torn his pectoral in a pre-season friendly against Ospreys.

The all change scrum line-up sees Pierre Schoeman return to the starting line-up to pair WP Nel as the props, with Dave Cherry holding the hooker position between them.

An all Scotland second row of Ben Toolis and Grant Gilchrist is preferred to Sam Thomson and Lewis Carmichael, who started against Bordeaux, but both drop out of the squad this week.

Hamish Watson remains on the openside flank, with Luke Crosbie coming in to the blindside and Nick Haining – one of six uncapped players selected by Scotland’s Gregor Townsend – takes the number eight jersey from Bill Mata.

It’s a relatively unchanged back-line as Darcy Graham and Duhan Van Der Merwe once more occupy the wings, Mark Bennett gets a change in centre partner as George Taylor comes in at 12, Damien Hoyland replaces Blair Kinghorn at fullback and Jaco Van Der Walt once more rules the half-back spot with Nic Groom.

Rory Sutherland and Mike Willemse drop to the bench to join Pietro Ceccarelli. Fraser McKenzie returns from a slightly troublesome neck injury picked up earlier in the season whilst John Barclay once more boosts the bench. And Pyrgos, Hickey and Dean round out the replacements as the backline cover.

Edinburgh must beat Agen to qualify for the next round of the European Challenge Cup (Credit: EN4 News)

Despite a losing performance to Bordeaux Begles away in France last weekend, which left Richard Cockerill’s squad with marginal errors to correct, Edinburgh are this weekend looking to put themselves through to the quarter finals of the Challenge Cup with a win at home.

“We’re going for the bonus point, to qualify and see where that takes us,” Cockerill explained to the media earlier this week. “A win will get us through, and we’ll just see. We’re going to be away from home [in the quarter finals], which is fine. We’ll see where that takes us – wherever we go, we’ll give it our best shot.”

Edinburgh were bested by French Top 14 league leaders in France last weekend, as Bordeaux’s Semi Radradra, Santiago Cordero and Yann Lesgourgues all ran in tries for the frightfully dominant French outfit.

Duhan Van Der Merwe and Mark Bennett aided Edinburgh’s chances on the scoreboard, but Cockerill knows that his side will need to be more clinical in their fixture against Agen – a side which hasn’t taken a single point in the third pool of the European competition.

“We’re starting to mature as a team, and I think we’re mature enough to be able to say that it’s a game that we should win, and it’s a game we should win with four tries and five points. And we’ve got to go out there and lay it on the field and just do it, rather than make it a struggle.”

“So, that’s the challenge for us,” Cockerill elaborated. “It’s a different sort of challenge, and almost in some ways a harder challenge than people thinking you’re going to lose and you surprise people. Well, we should win, I expect us to win, and I expect us to put a proper professional performance out on the field and get the job done.”

The side Cockerill named to travel to Bordeaux saw eight changes from the squad which ran out against Southern Kings in the first match of the new year at BT Murrayfield a week previously.

And the head coach expects to ring some more personnel changes this weekend, “Yeah, there’ll be changes to the team. There’ll be the odd test player we’ll look after, but we’ll be 90% full go.”

Edinburgh will have to become accustomed to having less test players in their ranks as Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend named his Guinness Six Nations wider squad on Wednesday this week, and of the 38 men included, a total 16 – 12 forwards and four backs – were from Cockerill’s Edinburgh ranks.

A further 13 were taken from Glasgow Warriors, meaning only nine of the players called up to international duty play their rugby outside of Scotland with eight based in England and only one – Finn Russell – overseas in France.

Despite international call-ups, Edinburgh boosted their ranks once again this week when they announced that scintillating South African winger Duhan Van Der Merwe had re-signed with the club.

Van Der Merwe, who is still only 24, already has 53 caps and 28 tries on his Edinburgh record – making him the club’s fifth all time try scorer. Thus it was a re-signing that Cockerill is delighted to have completed.

“There are the games where his footwork and his power, plus his pace, have scored tries from nothing. So, having that type of player in your squad is important because sometimes in a game, that’s the difference, you know? Someone that’ll get something from nothing, and suddenly the game sparks into life, or it turns the game in your favour.”

Edinburgh will certainly be hoping Van Der Merwe adds to his try tally to seal the win, and preferably the bonus point, for them against Agen this weekend as they kick off at 3pm on Saturday at BT Murrayfield.

Scotland coach Townsend names six uncapped players in Six Nations squad

Scotland international head coach Gregor Townsend named his wider training squad for the Guinness Six Nations on Wednesday and among the bulk of Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh players, Townsend named six uncapped players to his side.

(Credit: Jamie Braidwood)

Head coach Gregor Townsend named a 38-man training squad on Wednesday as preparations begin for Scotland’s Guinness Six Nations campaign.

A large majority 29 players are provided by Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh – Scotland’s only two professional clubs who compete in the Pro14 competition – with an additional eight currently playing domestically in the English Premiership and a further one in the French Top 14.

The squad announcement also marked the naming of a new Scottish captain, following the retirement of Greig Laidlaw from international duty last month. Townsend elected to appoint Exeter Chief’s Stuart Hogg to the position.

“He really cares about playing for his country, what the jersey represents and also getting the best out of his teammates,” the head coach explained. “He’s a really intelligent rugby player who’s learning and improving with every season. He’s very good at bringing others into the game and building relationships with those around him.”

Hogg will have his leadership abilities first tested with a training camp in Portugal – a camp which Townsend stated only approximately 32 of those named in the wider squad will travel to – before travelling to face Ireland in Dublin for the tournament’s opening encounter.

There will be six players in the wider squad hungry to be involved in the Portugal camp, and ultimately, throughout the prestigious tournament as it progresses.

Of the six uncapped players, three have represented Scotland at Under-20s level, another has represented the country on the 7s circuit, whilst the latter two gain qualification through a grandparent and residential status respectively.

Second-row Alex Craig – who has 12 caps to his Scotland Under-20s CV – had his potential identified through his appearances for Gloucester this season, as Townsend said of his ability: “Every time he’s played, he’s looked more confident. He’s got a real explosive, dynamic quality in his ball-carrying, allied to his huge work-rate and that huge defence.”

Edinburgh’s back-row Luke Crosbie has been applauded by many for his work-rate and responsibility during the test players absence at the Rugby World Cup at the beginning of the season. Townsend sees promise in the athletic forward: “He’s tough, and his tackle percentage is over 90% – I think it’s 94% this season. We like the fact that, when he gets the ball, he’s so athletic that he can really go at the opposition.”

Thomas Gordon is a flanker that burst his way on to the scene at Scotstoun for the Glasgow Warriors last season and has not showed any signs of holding up since. This is a quality the Scotland coaching staff admire in the young player.

“We think we’ve got a potentially exceptional player,” Townsend said. “His man of the match game against Edinburgh at the end of last season, in one of his first starts for Glasgow, showed there was a special player there.”

Nick Haining is a forward who qualifies to represent the thistle through a grandmother from Dundee, and he has proved to be a strong back row contender at Edinburgh this season. Townsend has been taking note of the large Australian’s promise as well: “He has nice skills, good handling and he’s a big man. He has good footwork. He’s a skilful player, a powerful ball-carrier and a good defender. To us as coaches he has the attributes to do well at international level.”

Glasgow Warriors’ backline was boosted by the arrival of Kyle Steyn last year as the South African born player moved to the 15s game from the Scotland 7s circuit. Townsend, having named Steyn in his World Cup squad, knows what the back is capable of.

“He works hard on his game, so things like high-ball catching and contact work, you see the improvements month to month. He’s a really professional player.”

It is Ratu Tagive that closes out the uncapped contingent as he joins his fellow Warriors back Steyn in Townsend’s squad. Despite struggling for game-time at Glasgow the past couple of years, Tagive has taken this season as an opportunity to prove himself.

Townsend added: “Getting into the Glasgow team was a huge step forward when you think of the wingers they have there. He’s a hard-working player who should thrive in the environment with the players he’ll have around him.”

And so, despite notable injury omissions – Matt Fagerson suffered broken ribs, James Lang tore his hamstring, and Sam Skinner has only this week returned to full-time training – and players just missing out – Mark Bennett was one notable centre pipped to the post despite enjoying an on-form season with Edinburgh – Townsend acknowledged that there is still opportunities for fringe players to be brought in to the fold should they return, and be needed, throughout the process of the tournament.

The first test for Townsend’s team will be their opening fixture with Ireland on Saturday Feb. 1 in Dublin, with kick off at 4:45pm.

(Credit: EN4 News)

 

Scotland team:

Forwards: Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Jamie Bhatti (Edinburgh), Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh), Fraser Brown (Glasgow), Alex Craig (Gloucester), Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh), Scott Cummings (Glasgow), Allan Dell (London Irish), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Glasgow), Tom Gordon (Glasgow), Nick Haining (Edinburgh), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Willem Nel (Edinburgh), Cornell du Preez (Worcester), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), George Turner (Glasgow), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh).

Backs: Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Chris Harris (Gloucester), Adam Hastings (Glasgow), Stuart Hogg (Exeter), George Horne (Glasgow), Rory Hutchinson (Northampton), Sam Johnson (Glasgow), Huw Jones (Glasgow), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Matt Scott (Edinburgh), Byron McGuigan (Sale), Ali Price (Glasgow), Henry Pyrgos (Edinburgh), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Kyle Steyn (Glasgow), Ratu Tagive (Glasgow).

Scotland’s Andy Murray forced to postpone comeback due to ongoing pelvic injury

Andy Murray has announced that his tennis career comeback will have to wait until mid-February at the earliest due to an ongoing pelvic injury, forcing him to miss tournaments in Montpellier and Rotterdam.

The Scot was already forced to miss this month’s Australian Open competition despite managing to play in Davis Cup ties in November 2019.

“I don’t want to rush anything or put a timeline on my recovery,” the two-time Wimbledon champion said of his decision. “I’m going to listen to my body and step back on the court to compete when the time is right.”

Murray has been undergoing continuous rehabilitation following surgery to resurface his hip at the beginning of last year. It was due to that same hip surgery that the Scot missed a whole year of tennis before his surgery.

Murray only returned to singles games in August 2019 having taken the men’s doubles title at Queen’s Club with Feliciano Lopez in June.

The Scot – who was awarded the comeback player of the year win at the 2019 ATP awards – has expressed that the “bone-bruising” he picked up is currently plaguing him for longer than expected, and so, is not aiding any form of speedy recovery.

Murray has stated he will continue to work hard with his team, and in the gym, to ensure he is able to come back to the sport in good form.

Rangers progress as Celtic stutter in Romania

Rangers have sealed their place in the knockout stage of the Europa League, despite a late scare against Young Boys at Ibrox. Alfredo Morelos scored his 26th goal of the season, as well as his sixth in six group games, after capitalising on a defensive mix-up in the Young Boys defence. A Borna Barisic own goal and a second yellow for Ryan Jack left Steven Gerrard’s men nervy, but the Gers held on to claim second place in the group.

Celtic suffered their first defeat of their Europa League campaign, losing 2-0 away to Cluj. Goals from Andrei Burca and Damjan Djokovic ensured that the Romanian outfit progress to the next round of the competition. Having already secured top spot in the group, Neil Lennon named a fairly weakened squad, which included youngsters Scott Robertson and Karamoko Dembele.

Manchester United scored four goals in just 11 minutes, as they thrashed AZ Alkmaar at Old Trafford. 17-year-old Mason Greenwood grabbed a brace, while an Ashley Young strike and a Juan Mata penalty ensured United top Group L comfortably.

Arsenal battled back in Belgium, drawing 2-2 with Standard Leige. With just 20 minutes left to go, Leige led through goals from Samuel Bastien and Selim Amallah. Interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg was please with the “great character” of his players, after watching Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka complete the comeback for the Gunners.

 

Scottish Women’s Cup final: Hibernian and Glasgow City renew rivalry for last trophy of the season

(From left to right): Glasgow City manager Scott Booth, Glasgow City midfielder Rachel McLaughlin, Hibernian captain Joelle Murray and Hibernian manager Grant Scott will compete for the Scottish Women’s Cup at Tynecastle on Sunday. (Credit: Jamie Braidwood)

 

Sunday’s Scottish Women’s Cup final will see the latest chapter of the fierce rivalry between Glasgow City and Hibernian Ladies F.C unfold.

It seems only right that the last final of the decade will be contested by the two teams who have enjoyed a duopoly over Scottish football over the past 10 years, and have swept the board in terms of domestic honours.

In one corner there is Glasgow City, whose dominance over the Scottish Women’s Premier League has been unprecedented. City have won the last 13 titles and clinched their latest success earlier this month.

Hibs, meanwhile, have ruled over the domestic cup competitions in recent years. They have won the last seven domestic cups – four Premier League Cups and three Scottish Cups – and on Sunday have the chance to beat City and maintain that remarkable record.

“When we started on the cup run [in 2016] we never would have thought we would have been in the position to retain the cup for the fourth consecutive year,” says Hibs captain Joelle Murray ahead of the final.

“We’ve got confidence in the squad but there’s no arrogance. We appreciate and respect the challenge that City continue to bring in the cup competitions.”

Hibs and Glasgow City have already won trophies this season heading into Sunday’s final. (Credit: Jamie Braidwood)

 

Hibs have already tasted victory over their rivals in a cup final this season, beating City in a tense penalty shoot-out to win the Premier League Cup in May, but were once again second best in the league.

It was the fifth season in a row that Hibs had finished second to City in the league, but this season was tough to take. After only finishing three points behind City last year, Hibs regressed and finished the campaign nine points behind their rivals.

Sunday’s game offers Murray and her team-mates another shot at revenge.

“To have that disappointment is very frustrating but on the flipside, to have a Scottish Cup final to look forward to so close to the end of the season is an opportunity to take away from that disappointment,” she says.

“Over the last few years winning the Scottish Cup has taken away from that disappointment ever so much. So it’s another opportunity on Sunday try and get over the league loss for us.”

Both Hibs and City reached the knockout stages of the Women’s Champions League this season. But while Hibs’ campaign was ended in September by Slavia Prague, City have advanced to the quarter-finals for only the second time in their history. They will face German champions Wolfsburg in March. For now though, all focus is on winning the Scottish Cup on Sunday.

“It’s been a while since we’ve lifted the trophy and we’re very hungry to do it this time,” says Glasgow City manager Scott Booth.

“It would be a fantastic end to what has been a very good season for the club. We know it’s going to be close because Hibs always prove to be tough for us in the league and the cup.

“They’ve been better than us in the cup for the last few years, but we’ve talked about this since from the start of the season that we have focussed on taking this one back off of them.

“We’ve had so much disappointment in the cups over the last few years, and we don’t want to go through that again.”

Sunday’s final will be held at Hearts’ Tynecastle Park in Edinburgh, which is also fitting after Hibs’ city rivals secured promotion to the Women’s Premier League last weekend.

And in what has been a momentous year for women’s football in Scotland, with the national team competing in the World Cup finals over the summer, there is hope that Sunday’s final will see a good turnout for the final game of 2019.

“It’s an advantage [to both teams] hosting the final at a stadium like Tynecastle,” Murray says. “It’s a stadium very fitting of the occasion and on Sunday I’m hoping it will be full of both Hibs and City fans. I would like to think whether it’s Hibs, City or neutral fans, that we get a big attendance.”

The Scottish Women’s Cup final between Glasgow City and Hibernian Ladies kicks off at 4:10 p.m. on Sunday November 24. Entry is £7 for adults, £3 for concussions, and free for under-12s. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the gate.

PODCAST: Hibs and Hearts set for rebuilding process – Scottish football preview

Hearts are still waiting on the appointment of their new manager having recently sacked Craig Levein due to an incredibly poor start to the season and travel to Rugby Park to face Kilmarnock on Saturday.

Angelo Alessio’s Kilmarnock sit fifth in the SPL whereas Hearts are down at ninth – only three points off bottom spot. Beating Kilmarnock away from home will not be easy, however, Hearts may be playing them at the perfect time – Killie are in the middle of some poor form, whereas Hearts have won their last game. The reverse fixture that took place in October saw Hearts get beat by Kilmarnock 1-0 in Edinburgh, so the Jam Tarts will be looking for revenge. Hearts striker, Steven Naismith, has impressed during international duty for Scotland and he will be hoping to get on the score sheet on Saturday.

 

After sacking Levein, it is uncertain who is going to take over. Assistant coach, Angus McPhee is currently at the helm as interim manager, although there is no set boss for now, there is no doubt the team going to Rugby Park will give everything to push themselves away from the relegation zone.

This will be a close encounter – both teams needing three points but with the risk of losing all three at the same time. Regardless of their positions in the table, these are two even sides and will make for a good match up. I predict KILMARNOCK 1-1 HEARTS – A result the Jambos would definitely be happy before heading into the busy Christmas fixture list.

Hibernian, meanwhile, face Motherwell at Easter Road. They currently sit eighth in the league table, with Motherwell in fourth place with nearly double the amount of points.

Both teams have had big news in the last week or so: Hibernian have recently appointed new manager Jack Ross, The ex-Sunderland manager was appointed last week to the role and will be looking to make a big impact in his first game in charge this Saturday. As for Motherwell, head coach Donald Jennow, stepped down from his role a few days ago leaving a hole in the backroom staff ahead of their journey to Edinburgh.

This will be a close affair, no one really knows how Hibs will preform in their first game under Ross, however, it will surely be an improvement compared to previous results. Motherwell have asserted themselves as a hard team to beat in the Scottish Premiership – even for Rangers and Celtic. A win for Motherwell could put them third if Aberdeen lose to St Johnstone at the weekend.

If there is an early goal at Easter Road, the game will open right up with both teams desperate to push themselves up the table. Jack Ross could be the momentum shift the Hibees have been waiting for some time now. I predict HIBERNIAN 3-1 MOTHERWELL – if Ross has a positive start, who knows where Hibs could finish this season.

We also discuss both games as well as the current managerial situation at the Edinburgh clubs in this weeks Scottish Football podcast:

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