Having tasted defeat in last season’s Ross Ballantine Cup final, St Andrews Colts will be looking to pick up their first piece of silverware against Maryfield United in the Mac Brown Cup final.
Ahead of their big day, YFS caught up with St Andrews manager Graham Nicoll to find out about his side’s run to the final, their season so far and their previous meetings with Maryfield.
The 2016/17 season was a tough introduction to 11-a-side football for St Andrews as they were relegated from the Café Royale League. The new season brought fresh faces into the squad and new challenges, and Nicoll is delighted with the way his players have performed this year.
He said, “After our first season in 11s, we went through a rebuild due to six players leaving over the start of the season. With the nucleus of the team staying, the new additions that came in have been a great addition to a gifted group of players.
Every time you put a group of players together, it takes time. But as the season has went on we have gelled well and competed well against some good sides. We don’t have any aims other than player development at the Colts, so we have surpassed most targets.”
Their run to the final started with an 8-1 win over St Murdochs, before toppling Dryburgh 5-3 and then seeing of Vale of Tay in the semi-final.
Nicoll believes that their quarter final win was the standout performance from his side in this season’s cup run.
He said: “The toughest game leading to the final was Dryburgh away. We had been beaten by them 3-2 in the league earlier in that month, so we knew it would be a difficult game, but we played excellently that day and won well.”
Maryfield picked up a 4-1 win when the sides met in the league in October, but a late equaliser earned St Andrews a point when they clashed in January. Nicoll is expecting another tough test in the final.
“Our two previous games against Maryfield were tough games. Maryfield deserved to win in both games only a last-minute header grabbed us a point. We didn’t have many chances against them as they are strong in defence but the one or two we did create we failed to convert… I don’t expect a different game against them in the final it will be tough.”
Having played on the North End Park surface once before, Nicoll is hoping the experience will benefit his players: “The players may find it more relaxing playing here again, it’s difficult to predict what sort of mind set 14-year olds can be in, but I think they will come in a confident fashion due to playing there before.”
Nicoll knows that all his players will have to be at their best if they are to come away with the cup: “In this team the collective nature in how we play means all players need to perform for the team to tick and when one player isn’t performing his team mates, will pull him through. So, I’d say personally our whole squad of 16 are a collective stand out and pleasure to coach.”
Ahead of their big day, Nicoll had this message for his players: “My message to the players is, as always give maximum effort and you’ll give yourself every chance of hitting targets, and if your targets are higher than your opponent’s then you’ll win more than you’ll lose.”