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Weather watch at Christie Park as Huntly and Inverurie Locos prepare to do battle in Aberdeenshire Shield semi-final

By Craig Christie

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A PLACE in the Aberdeenshire Shield final is up for grabs tonight if Christie Park is in a playable state.

Inverurie and Huntly play for the third time this season. Photo: Derek Lowe
Inverurie and Huntly play for the third time this season. Photo: Derek Lowe

Huntly and Inverurie Locos are scheduled to meet for the third time this season, Locos having narrowly won the first two in the league and League Cup.

Hoping it's third time lucky for his side is Huntly manager Allan Hale, who would love to steer the Black and Golds to a showpiece game in his first full term in charge.

Conditions have been wet and wintry in Huntly with a possible pitch inspection planned to see if tonight's game can go ahead.

"I'm sure the pitch will be touch and go but we’ll wait and see," said Hale.

"The park has been heavy anyway and the amount of rain we had yesterday would add to that. Thankfully so far the games have been on so hopefully it's the same tonight."

Hale will challenge his men to bounce back from Saturday's 4-0 league defeat at Brora Rangers and grab the carrot of a cup final place.

"With cup football it always offers you the incentive to win and progress through.

"We are thankful that we’ve managed to get to a semi-final and the players are just 90 minutes away from getting Huntly into their first final in a number of years.
Huntly manager Allan Hale and assistant manager Stefan Laird. Picture: Becky Saunderson.
Huntly manager Allan Hale and assistant manager Stefan Laird. Picture: Becky Saunderson.

"It’s a great incentive for us, against a club we’ve played a few times already.

"Locos have had the upper hand but the games have been keenly contested and we are expecting nothing less tonight.

"It’s a break from the league as well and the players will need no incentive to be up for the occasion with an opportunity to play in a final at stake."

Huntly are still without long-term absentees Angus Grant, Colin Charlesworth, Liam Macdonald, Brad Manson and Stuart taylor, while Alex Thoirs is offshore.

But Gavin Elphinstone may return after missing the Brora defeat.

"We have been on a really difficult run of fixtures but there is still a good atmosphere in the camp and a lot of focus on what we are trying to do," said Hale.

"The reality of the situation is that we’ve lost to teams competing in the top six or seven in the league, so the bookies would suggest that we are always underdogs against them anyway.

"We know where we are and we are realistic enough to know we are fighting to get into that mid-to-top end of the league, so we are very much a work in progress."

Assessing Saturday's 4-0 loss at Dudgeon Park, Hale added: "You look at Brora with a mountain of experience throughout their side, they’ve got players who are very assured in possession.

"The thing that impressed me about them was when they lost possession, how quickly they pressed and hunted in numbers to go and win it back and that really unsettled us, certainly for the opening half an hour.

"It was a lesson for our young squad. What we are trying to say to the players is that when you walk away from games like Saturday you’ve got to learn and take confidence from what Brora do and try and apply that themselves.

"That is the kind of things we are working on in training.

"With the young team we’ve got, it is just the decision-making and that lack of experience and the naivety at times that makes us suffer.

"But we continue to keep working and believing in what we are doing and we need to be judged on where we finish at the end of the season.

"As long as we finish 11th or above then it's an improvement on the previous season which is always our objective when the season starts."

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