IrnBru Cup Final
It's the IrnBru Cup Final this weekend as both Inverness and Dumbarton travel to the Fair City of Perth, to McDiarmid Park to be precise, to contest the 2018 Challenge Cup final. The game kicks off at 16:15 with TV coverage on BBC Alba, so get your Gaelic phrase book out if you can't get to the game and settle down with a glass of the rusty nectar, maybe fortified with your favourite tipple.
We have won this competition before at the very same venue in 2003/2004 season when we overcame Airdrie United 2-0 to lift the then Bells Cup thanks to late strikes from David Bingham and Steve Hislop. We have also lost the final twice. Alloa winning a high scoring game on penalties (5-4) after a 4-4 draw at the Excelsior Stadium. In 2010 we surrendered a two goal lead at McDiarmid Park when Dundee came back to win 3-2 in the Alba Challenge Cup.
We got to the final this season after wins over Aberdeen u20 (2-4), Peterhead (3-0), Falkirk (1-0) and Crusaders (3-2) after the proverbial game of two halves.
Dumbarton have had equally tough games and have reached their first major final in 121 years. They have beaten Rangers u20 (2-1), Connah's Quay (2-1), Stranraer (2-1), Raith Rovers (2-0) and Welsh side The New Saints (2-1).
Previous encounters this season in the Championship are one win apiece. Dumbarton won the fixture at The Rock, coming from behind to win 2-1. Connor Bell had given us an early lead but Dimitris Froxylias levelled just after the break. Sam Wardrop scored the winner around the hour mark and we failed to find an equaliser with Gary Warren being red carded with twenty minutes left. Inverness gained revenge with a narrow win in the Highlands in mid December by 1-0, Carl Tremarco the scorer.
Neither club has performed consistently in the Championship and their respective league positions reflect that. Inverness are currently eighth and Dumbarton ninth and either club could be drawn into the play-off at the bottom. However, we will put league form aside and concentrate on the IrnBru Cup final this weekend.
Inverness will be without Brad Mckay (suspended) and Nathan Austin (cup-tied) Good news is that Coll Donaldson should be fit enough to start after sitting on the bench last week.
Dumbarton boss Stevie Aitken has reservations over Dimitri Froxylias who has been called up to play for Cyprus the day before the Cup Final. He will be flying back to Glasgow after the game and Aitken will be hoping his Cyprus call up will not affect his performance. The Sons also have four players cup-tied. Liam Dick, Andy Stirling, Kevin Nisbet and Aidan Wilson are all out.
No prediction from me for this one. Suffice to say it won't be easy and let's hope both sets of fans enjoy their day out.
If you can't make the game, TV coverage is exclusively live on BBC ALBA. Coverage begins at 4.00pm. If you can make the game, tickets will be onsale from 2.30pm at the McDiarmid Park ticket office:
£15 for adults
£10 for over 65s & students
£5 for juveniles aged 13-16
Free for U12s