Connah’s Quay “one of our toughest games of the seasons”, says Edinburgh City boss
This Saturday, Connah’s Quay Nomads will host Edinburgh City at the Deeside Stadium for a place in the semi-final of the Irn Bru Cup, in what will be one of Edinburgh’s “toughest games of the season” says their boss James McDonaugh.
Both teams have enjoyed successful league fortunes so far this season, with the Nomads chasing the JD Welsh Premier League title, whilst Edinburgh City top Scottish League Two after 24 games.
The part time side have defined the odds to reach the semi final of the Irn Bru Cup, as they have reached the last four as a fourth tier club in Scotland. And McDonaugh is expecting a tough game when his side travels down to North Wales this weekend to face an in-form Connah’s Quay.
“Obviously a very tough game, they’ve been going really well all season, they caught our attention way back when they knocked out Falkirk out in the same competition. For them to be in the semi finals and to be top of the league for a number of weeks, so we know its going to be one of our toughest games of the season for sure.”
However, McDonaugh has admitted that the Irn Bru Cup was not high on his list of priorities before the season kicked off back in August.
The club managed to avoid the drop in the fourth tier last season, and McDonaugh, who has been in charge for over a year, had signalled his desire to make marginal gains to improve the club, but success in this competition had not been on his radar.
“No not at all to be honest, we were making improvements, I’m not too sure how well you know Edinburgh City down there. But, I took over 16 months ago and they were a team struggling for their lives at the bottom of League Two, so really scrapping it out to stay in the division and to finish above bottom and we did that. And we managed to finish second from bottom,” the manager said.
“So for a club who finished on 30 points last season, we were really looking to improve that and take the club forward little by little but we’ve actually managed to move it forward in quite a substantial way in terms of points. We are on 52 points now, so totally smashed almost what we got last season and obviously we are hanging at the top.”
However, McDonaugh is keen to not downplay their success despite not having originally planned for any success in this competition.
The manager has insisted how delighted he is that the improvements the club has made has enabled them to progress this far in the competition.
“In terms of the cup competitions I don’t think the club really progressed in the cup competitions before, so to get through the first round was progress and obviously going all the way to the semi final of a competition like this, is a massive success for this football club.
“So we’re delighted to be in it, that’s not a defeatist attitude. We will give it our best shot but it’s a great achievement for us to be at this stage of the tournament.”
However, when they travel to Deeside for this Saturday’s fixture, they face one of their toughest tests to date in the form of Andy Morrison’s Nomads outfit.
The former Falkirk assistant manager has been impressed with Connah’s Quay throughout the tournament.
“They can obviously go on and win it, they went to Hampden and Falkirk and won, they also beat other teams on the way. I met Andy Morrison up at our games before, so he’s done his homework on us. I’ve been impressed by him and the club, with them signing Adam Barton from Scotland, so they can attract better quality players then Edinburgh City so fair play to them.
I know they’re pushing for the league, obviously trying to represent Wales in the early stages of the Champions League, they look to me a club on the up and a lot of promise for the future.”
The Edinburgh City manager was very pleased to be in the semi final of the competition, but ahead of the draw was hoping to avoid Ross County in the final four.
However, the Connah’s Quay test provides its own logistical issues, which the club have had to deal with.
“My only thought was oh no we have to travel and that was my only thought, I was quite happy we were in the semi final but I was hoping to avoid Ross County to be honest.
Anything to be at the stage of the competition was a bonus, but my biggest worry was the travel – how we were going to do it, it remains that way – we are going to travel down on Friday night and we will come home after the game on Saturday night and we will be back in Edinburgh early hours of Sunday.”
Despite the distance between the two clubs, McDonaugh has done his homework on his opponents for this weekend.
Nomads previously played Queens Park and Falkirk in the competition, and McDonaugh has used the footage to prepare for this weekend’s game, but insists they see this fixture as an opportunity to test themselves being the underdogs.
“ We’ve watched the Falkirk and Queens Park game and one of the league games most recently, I haven’t been able to come down with the fixtures clashes and travel, we go into this game with a free hit.
We are away from home, they’re a team who are most probably better then us in terms of trying to get Champions League and we’re a side who are trying to get up the leagues. We will enjoy the experience and if we can get through and make a game of it then great.”
This Saturday they will find out whether that big hit pays off as they face Nomads with a 7:25pm kick off at the Deeside Stadium.
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