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Brora Rangers manager Mackay tells players to forget about Hearts triumph and focus on Stranraer in Scottish Cup

By Alasdair Fraser

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Steven Mackay is reminding Brora Rangers’ history-makers to leave the hype and mass hysteria of beating Hearts behind them on tomorrow as they tackle Stranraer.

The League Two promotion contenders make the 308-mile road journey to the Sutherland village on a wave of good form.

In any normal circumstance, the Warriors would be clear third-round favourites, but the scalping of the Edinburgh giants 10 days before has muddied the water and raised expectations surrounding Brora’s chances.

The outpouring of joy and delight greeting one of the Scottish Cup’s greatest ever shocks was equalled only by the cascade of national publicity, with TV news and sports channels and every newspaper in the country clamouring for a piece of the action.

Brora manager Steven Mackay trusts players like match winner Martin Maclean to shut out the Hearts hysteria. Picture: Ken Macpherson
Brora manager Steven Mackay trusts players like match winner Martin Maclean to shut out the Hearts hysteria. Picture: Ken Macpherson

Welcome though the spotlight was, the dangers and pitfalls inherent are not lost on manager Mackay, the man who hit the 90th-minute winner in the two clubs previous cup meeting at Stair Park in 2017.

“We can’t influence or control anything from the outside, in terms of what people’s expectations are,” Mackay said.

“All we can do is control it internally. We’re aware of the importance, first and foremost, of the game, but also how tough it will be against a team sitting joint fourth in League Two.

“All of the attention, euphoria and expectation, that’s not something we often experience.

“They will be the favourites, but just with the way things have gone, that expectation might be switched. We just need to handle that and stay focused on what is a massive game that both teams will think they have a good chance of winning.

“The prize is the last 16 of the Scottish Cup, and it’s a game we believe we can win. That doesn’t mean we will win it, so we just need to go out and work equally hard as we did against Hearts.”

Mackay voiced those sentiments at a squad session last Saturday, but trusts in his players’ own character and level-headed mindset.

“We congratulated the lads and told them to be proud of what they’d achieved. We will look back on that for years and years to come and really enjoy it, but for the time being it’s gone. We just focus on Stranraer.

“We will have had three training sessions before Saturday, and I’m pretty comfortable with where we are from a fitness perspective, but we need to approach it bang on the money in terms of mentality. We can’t let any form of distraction or complacency set in.

“They don’t need me to remind them. They understand what this game means. They are a really professional bunch who make my job easy.”

Mackay has signed Brora-raised Ali Sutherland from Rothes, with an eye on possible SPFL play-offs, but the striker is cup tied for Saturday.

However, Orkney-based right-back John Pickles, who missed the Hearts game for logistical reasons, rejoins the Cattachs’ tight squad.

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