Aug 26 2009 Terrace Talk with Sam Tennent, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
IT is a great feeling to see your team at the top of the table and Rovers fans were able to enjoy that rare sensation over the last week.
Sadly, we were denied the chance to maintain that position due to the postponement of our game with newly demoted Queen’s Park at Hampden.
Of course, the national stadium must bow to the economic reality that demands that its facilities be used more regularly than every second Saturday, and the occasional Scotland game, and events like the U2 concert are necessary to achieve that end.
But this was not an unexpected event and so it should not have been difficult to make alternative arrangements such as switching the tie to Cliftonhill.
As Bono and his mates were wreaking havoc on the Hampden pitch, and Celtic were taking on the impressive Arsenal youngsters, Rovers fans were able to escape the ensuing traffic chaos and head up the A9 to the rather more serene atmosphere of Borough Briggs to play a Challenge Cup second round match against Elgin City.
Unfortunately, it was not destined to be a happy journey home as Rovers crashed out of the cup at the Black-and-Whites.
It’s a difficult trip at the best of times, and a midweek tie is especially hard on part-time players, but Rovers gave a good account of themselves and were the best team in the first half.
However, individual defensive errors were once again to haunt us.
All three Elgin goals could be attributed to these with the first leading to Rovers being somewhat harshly reduced to 10 men.
Rovers were also missing two key players for this game. Michael O’Byrne, who has been superb in defence so far this season, and David McFarlane, who has supplied a much-needed creative element to our attack, were both out.
Both were sorely missed and this must have given some food for thought to manager Paul Martin, especially considering the injuries to Todd Lumsden and Ciaran Donnelly.
Perhaps he will look to draft in some defensive cover before the transfer deadline.
Meanwhile, an early Rovers cup run victim will be making an unexpectedly swift return to Coatbridge, this time on league duty.
Assuming that the SFA do not throw the game into chaos by restoring their first division status, the Lions of Livingston will this Saturday have to contend with the Cliftonhill facilities which fell so below their own highly subsidised standards a few weeks back.
They may now be more acclimatised to the delights of the beautiful game played at this level. However, their result at Berwick perhaps suggests that they still have a long way to go in that regard.
Let’s hope that we can repeat our great cup result and maintain our early season challenge at the top end of the table.