ATTENTION turns to the Highland League (Morganti) Cup this weekend as Nairn County make the trip to Banff to take on Deveronvale in the first round of this season's competition.
The two clubs have met twice on league business earlier in the campaign with Deveronvale edging Nairn out by the odd goal in three back in August while an injury-time header from Callum Maclean prevented it from being the same score and Princess Royal Park in November as the two clubs battled out a 2-2 draw.
Both sides will see it as a winnable tie and Deveronvale will feel aggrieved not to have taken anything from their last two outings having been narrowly beaten by Wick Academy and Fraserburgh, both at home. With manager Steve Dolan having recently signed a contract extension, there is a growing sense of stability among the Banffers again after some turbulent spells in recent years and cup run will be the perfect tonic for the hosts as they look the finish the season on a high.
Nairn make the trip with similar aspirations and after a summer of turmoil put them several steps behind their competitors in the league at the start of the season, they make the trip east with a squad that is now up to speed and has continued to excel itself, although a lack of depth and rotation options has seen some lethargic performances.
It is all setup to be a keenly-contested cup tie between two evenly-matched teams and if you cannot make it along to Princess Royal Park then you can follow all of the action on the club's official social media channels facebook.com/nairncountyfc and @NairnCounty on Twitter with team lines available before kick-off, updates on all of the action as it happens during the game, a report on the final whistle and the thoughts of manager Ronnie Sharp later in the evening. A preview of the match is available below.
Date: Saturday February 11th 2017
Competition: Highland League (Morganti) Cup first round
Manager: Steve Dolan
Venue: Princess Royal Park, Banff
Previous meeting: Deveronvale 2 Nairn County 2 November 26th 2016
Last time out: Deveronvale 1 Fraserburgh 2; Nairn County 2 Cove Rangers 5
League position: Deveronvale 15th Nairn County 13th
Form guides: Deveronvale LDLLLL Nairn County DLLDWL
Team news: Despite being sent off against Cove Rangers last weekend, Jack Maclean is eligible for this cup tie with his one-match suspension only applicable for league fixtures. But Ronnie Sharp will have to do without top scorer Gary Kerr, who serves a one-match ban having been red carded in this competition last season for his former club, Strathspey Thistle. Paul Macleod came off at half time during last Saturday's match but he is in the squad for this one however backup goalkeeper Ryan Macleod again misses out due to work commitments with Fraser Wilkie primed to step into the breach having missed last week's game due to featuring for the under-20s at Thurso in their Jock Mackay Cup tie.
One to watch: Paul Sutherland. The attacking wide player caused Nairn a number of problems down the right-hand side when these two clubs met at Princess Royal Park two-and-a-half months ago. He grabbed the opening goal that day and created a number of chances for his team mates, which were repelled by the County defence and goalkeeper, Dylan Maclean. He is set to be a threat for the home side again tomorrow as both clubs vie to make it into the last eight of the competition.
Match officials: Referee Alan Proctor, Assistants Andy Ewen and Alan Dawson.
Weather forecast: Light rain showers 4 degrees 12 mph wind.
Admission prices: Adults £8 Concessions £5 (two children under the age of 14 are admitted for free if they are accompanied by a paying adult).