Tough trips to Banks o' Dee in Aberdeenshire Cup and Buckie Thistle in Highland League up next for Keith co-manager Andy Roddie in a difficult start for his young Maroons
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KEITH'S young and fresh squad can learn from their tough start to the season, says co-boss Andy Roddie.
The Maroons visit crack north juniors and possible Highland League hopefuls Banks o' Dee in the first round of the Aberdeenshire Cup tonight.
Roddie's men have already taken on two north title challengers in Fraserburgh and Brechin City this term, and will face another when they visit Buckie Thistle on Saturday.
With a strong of young signings in his ranks, Roddie knows it will take time before he sees the very best from his side.
A 4-0 defeat at league newcomers Brechin on Saturday showed that the Maroons face a steep learning curve.
Roddie was pleased with how his men competed in the first half at Glebe Park, but were left worn out after playing a chasing game in the second period and eventually making errors.
"In the first half we did well and had a couple of chances that we could have done better with, but we certainly competed well," Roddie said.
"But Brechin are a very experienced side and they knocked the ball about well, all their players are comfortable on the ball and their movement off the ball was excellent.
"That’s where you can see the difference in some of our young players and the inexperience that they’ve got, not just staying in positions but picking up people when they come into their area.
"They started to chase them around and it becomes a bit tiresome when you are chasing the ball, so that’s a lot of wasted energy.
"The longer into the game you go, bodies become tired and a wee bit of laziness creeps in through tiredness and that’s when they killed us off.
"It was the last 10-15 minutes of the game when we ran out of steam a bit. But Brechin are a very good side and it was nothing more or less than we expected of them.
"The strength in depth that they had in their squad and the quality, if you look through their team.
"They’ve got some young players from the likes of Hearts and Dundee United who have had full-time coaching for a number of years now.
"They will be a pleasant surprise in the league and it will be interesting to see how they get on against the likes of Fraserburgh and Brora.
"Myself and Tommy (co-manager Wilson) feel that the lads could have done a bit better in the second half and the two goals at the end killed us off.
"At 2-0 it was respectable, 4-0 made it a bit more of a gap than was actually in the game.
"We said to our guys, that’s the levels that you’ve got to aim for if you want to win things."
Keith are unlikely to find it any easier in Aberdeen tonight when they take on a Banks o' Dee side which has dished out numerous cup defeats to Highland League sides over the years.
And a derby trip to top-of-the-table Buckie will provide another stern challenge for the Kynoch Park men.
"We are getting all the big ones out of the way nice and early and we will see where we are.
"We had Fraserburgh in the cup as well and the boys were excellent in the first half and I think they ran out of steam. Fraserburgh went on and won the cup after beating Formartine comfortably so it shows the quality they have.
"In the league. the Nairn game could have gone either way and it was 74 and 84 minutes when we lost the goals. It was unfortunate it didn’t go our way because we were very good in spells in that game.
"Then it was Brechin, and we have Banks o Dee and Buckie after that so we are getting some tough tests early on.
"We've got a new squad here. I’ve got nine or ten new players in the squad who are still gelling together and sussing each other out and finding their fitness levels and we are still at early days, that’s for sure."
Keith are still missing captain James Brownie who is back running following a recent injury and could be back in action within a fortnight.
Young striker Scott Gray dislocated his knee in pre-season but is doing rehabilitation work and may also return before the end of this month.
Roddie is delighted to have recruited experienced defender Scott henry on loan from Fraserburgh, and was delighted by his debut at Brechin.
"He’s not played much for Fraserburgh, he’s had an injury and he’s just back. But Scott was excellent on Saturday and adds to the experience that we are looking for at the back.
"He was very, very good with the players around him in terms of organisation so he was a massive help to us.
"He’s a great athlete and we hope we can keep him fit because he has been quite unlucky with injuries over the last couple of seasons. He is certainly a big asset for us working with our young players."
The loan is initially until January with Roddie and Wilson keen to extend the deal with their Highland League rivals until the end of the season.