University of Stirling head coach Shelley Kerr says her side will revel in the role of underdog in their William Hill Scottish Cup second round tie with Queen’s Park on Saturday.
The Lowland League side have been rewarded for their 3-1 First Round win over Threave Rovers with a dream tie against Scotland’s oldest association football club.
Kerr admits the University of Stirling players might have preferred an away tie at Hampden Park but says they remain eager to test themselves against Football League opposition.
Speaking to the Scottish FA, she said: “There are no expectations on us when we play a team from a higher tier and we are very much the underdog in this match. It’s also an opportunity to test ourselves against such a quality opponent in Queen’s Park, a club with such a long established history.
“The guys are absolutely buzzing for it. We know it’ll be a tough game for us but equally it’s an opportunity to see where we are at in terms of our own developments as a team. All the Lowland League and Highland League teams are aspiring to get into the Football League.
“In all honesty I think the guys were a bit gutted it wasn’t at Hampden! It’s a footballers dream to play at your national stadium. We’ve been doing reasonably well in the league of late and we’re on a great run, but it’s an opportunity for us to switch off from the league, which is your bread and butter.”
HIGHLIGHTS: THREAVE ROVERS 1-3 UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING
Ten-times Scottish Cup winners Queen’s Park were knocked out of last year’s competition by Albion Rovers, the same club that eliminated the University of Stirling in Round Two.
The University can take encouragement from the performance of Lowland League rivals Spartans in last year’s tournament. The Edinburgh side reached the Last 16 stage and Shelley says that run has given her team hope:
“Spartans was such a fairytale story. They do everything right in terms of the infrastructure and it certainly gives everyone else hope that you can do it.
“There are always shocks in the cup and they had some tough teams and done brilliantly. No matter who they got I think everyone was rooting for Spartans last season. Anything can happen in the cup and that’s what makes it a special competition.”
“The carrot of playing tougher opposition and the big guns is fantastic. Last season we drew Albion Rovers and they subsequently went on to win promotion. On one side of the coin you’re hoping for an easier tie so you can progress but people want to come to the bigger ties.”
Former Arsenal and Scotland WU19s manager Kerr has been Head Coach at Stirling since 2014 and remains the only female manager in UK men’s senior football.
She is looking forward to testing herself against Queen’s Park manager Gus MacPherson, a man who knows what it’s like to lift the Scottish Cup having done so with Kilmarnock back in 1997.
Shelley added: “Gus is a quality manager with a proven track record. They won’t want any shocks and I know they’ve been out to watch us, so there’s obviously a mutual respect from both teams. It is a historic club but our guys always look forward to playing in the Scottish Cup.”
For all the highlights from this year's competition and the story behind #Unrivalled, visit scottishcup.co
William Hill Scottish Cup - Second Round fixtures
Saturday 24 October, kick-offs 3pm
Annan Athletic V Berwick
Brora Rangers V Arbroath
Clachnacuddin V Linlithgow Rose
Cumbernauld Colts V Auchinleck Talbot
East Fife V Stirling
East Kilbride V Forres Mechanics
Edinburgh City V Buckie Thistle
Elgin V Spartans FC
Formartine United V Clyde
Fort William V Cove Rangers
Huntly V East Stirling
Inverurie Loco Works V Edinburgh University
Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale V Montrose
Nairn County V Wick Academy
Stirling University V Queen's Park
Turriff United V Fraserburgh