Cup Final Preview: St. Duthus v Halkirk United

St. Duthus enter into the Pentland Ferries North Caledonian Cup Final a renewed force under the management of Alan Geegan. Taking charge of what will be his 19th game in the hotseat as manager, he has lost just three times since his September appointment.

The league table tells the story of a entire season as Saints sit in 6th place, but the Tain side's form since November shows that they have become a formidable force and are a match for any side in the Macleod and MacCallum North Caledonian League. This was never more evident than last weekend when they defeated title contenders Loch Ness 3-0 at Grant Park.

And so, to the matter of the Cup Final, where league contenders and free-scoring Halkirk United lie in wait. Ewan McElroy's confidence filled side have had a similar reemergence after some seasons in the dolldrums. With a result going their way, they can still win the league championship.

But while the Anglers still have one eye on league glory, there is no doubt that Tain eyes are on one prize and one prize only - in the form of the cup.

The 135 year old competition has not been contested since 2019, when Invergordon last won the trophy by beating Alness United at Dudgeon Park in Brora. For Saints, their last cup final foray was also held in Brora in January 2020 when they beat Golspie Sutherland to lift the Football Times Cup. Halkirk United, much more recently, played in this season's other cup final, losing out on penalties to their local rivals Thurso at Harmsworth Park in Wick, to miss out on the Football Times Cup.

Alan Geegan recognises that there will be very little between the teams.

"To have lost just one game since November shows the significant progress we have made. But I have been up front from the start on what our objectives are for this season.

"Our most realistic chance of winning something has been in the cup competitions, so that is what we have targeted. The boys have done well to get to the North Caledonian Cup final tomorrow and we are looking for one last push to win the trophy now.

"As good as our result was against Loch Ness on Saturday, Halkirk also got a great result against Invergordon last weekend. We have played Halkirk three times this season and have won one game each, as well as a draw, so we are expecting a tough game once again.

"The match where Halkirk beat us was arguably the best opposition that we have played this season. They are definitely up there with the best teams in the league and could still win it.

"So, it will be a big ask to win the final, but it is certainly a game we can win. Ourselves and Halkirk are like for like in terms of form and we almost match each other."

The game is scheduled to be played, as it has been in recent years, at the home of Brora Rangers at Dudgeon Park. Kick off is 3pm.

The manager is hopeful that supporters will do their bit to get behind the team on the day.

"I hope with the backing of our loyal supporters in Brora, we can have one last big push and give Tain another reason to be proud of their football team."

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