February 8th anniversary tour
From one cup to another in the space of one week. Last season we tumbled out of both cups in a week, this season we have already bettered that by reaching the League Cup final after a dramatic marathon against Hearts. We now look forward to our next mission, an away fixture at Stranraer.
After the heroics of last Sunday at Easter Road, Inverness make the hopefully more sedate trip to Stair Park Stranraer to face the League One team in the Scottish Cup 5th round.
So, what do we know about Stranraer?
Well, the ferry will take you across the sea to Ireland; if you were here before 2011. You now have to go to Cairnryan to catch the ferry. The town is situated at the head of Loch Ryan. The Castle of St John is a medieval tower house built around 1500, and I have it on good authority that Johndo was imprisoned there once. The North West Castle was the first hotel in the world with its own indoor curling ice rink, built in 1820. Colin Calderwood, Kevin Kyle and Hammy McMillan are some of the better known local sports persons from the town.
The third oldest football club in Scotland are based in Stranraer, only Queens Park and Kilmarnock are older. And that is the reason we are going there on Saturday for an unusual kick off time, 3:00pm, well unusual by our recent standards. The Blues play at Stair Park, a stadium that holds around 3,000 fans, over 1800 seated. Their record attendance is 6800 for a game against Rangers in January 1948.
But let's get up to date. Stranraer 2014 are playing in the Scottish League One, the same division as The Rangers. Ominously, their record victories have come in recent years in this very competition, a couple of 9-0 thrashings, (St Cuthberts Wanderers and Wigtown). They have also won the same trophy we did by winning the Scottish Challenge Cup in 1996, defeating St Johnstone 1-0 in front of 5,222 at Broadwood Stadium. Our victory was in season 2003/2004.
We have played Stranraer seven times before and the odds favour Stranraer with three wins, three draws and a solitary victory for Inverness, a 3-0 Challenge Cup game in season 2009/2010, the last time the sides met. This season Stranraer have got themselves comfortably into the play-off positions and have drawn with the club formerly known as Rangers. Only one defeat in their last fourteen games seems like good form to me, no matter what league you play in and that breeds confidence. Inverness have never won at Stranraer and we have drawn twice in Scottish Cup games against them over ninety minutes. A 1-1 draw at Stair Park led to a 0-0 game in Inverness where we eventually won 4-3 on penalties.
Inverness might have Richie Foran available to make the bench after a lengthy injury lay off. Josh Meekings' red card was reduced to a yellow making him available for selection and Gary Warren will only serve his suspension in the League Cup. So, basically, we should have a full squad and Nick Ross will be hoping to get a start after his legendary last gasp equaliser last week.
Stranraer have Marc Corcorran and Chris Aitken unavailable through injury but manager Stephen Aitken will be looking for the same commitment that saw them oust Clyde by 4-1 in the last round. Stirling, McKeown, Longworth and Grehan scored that day.
tm4tj prediction:- I'm not as convinced as some that this will be an easy day out and without having won in deepest Wigtownshire before, it may well take another return trip to Inverness to settle this one, but I'll be pleasantly pleased if we come away with a victory. Great to have Richie Foran available and he will be a huge positive, but let's not treat this lightly, we all know what can happen with that scenario, remember remember the 8th of February, oops, it's that anniversary again........................... 1-1.