The Scottish Cup welcomes the ‘big-boys’ from the Scottish Premier League into the Fourth Round next weekend with the country’s biggest clubs drawn against lower league opposition.
Holders Celtic will face the long trip north to Balmoor to take on Peterhead who currently sit second-bottom in the Scottish Third Division. The Hoops have won their last nine matches in the SPL, including last Wednesday’s Old Firm derby at Celtic Park and they have a very good away record in the Scottish Cup with five wins and a draw since they crashed out to St Mirren in 2009.
Celtic’s opponents reached the Fourth Round thanks to comfortable victories against Highland League sides with ‘The Blue Toon‘ dispatching of Nairn County and Inverurie Locos. In their ranks they have 24-year-old Rory McAlister who netted 40 goals in two seasons at Brechin City before joining Peterhead in the summer.
Thirty-three times winners Rangers travel to in-form Arbroath on Sunday with Ally McCoist’s side looking to reclaim the Scottish Cup after a disappointing exit at the hands of Celtic last season. The Light Blues have been below par in recent weeks with defeats against their Glasgow rivals and St Mirren in the space of four days.
Rangers and Arbroath met in the same competition back in 2003 with the Gers coming out 3-0 winners at Gayfield. Paul Sheerin’s men are second in the Scottish Second Division with just three points separating them and Cowdenbeath.
But arguably the most intruging clash of the Fourth Round takes place in the Scottish capital with Junior outfit Auchinleck Talbot taking on Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday. For those unfamiliar with the Scottish league system, the Junior section is similar to that of the English Conference and non-league but there is currently no pyramid system below the Scottish Third Division.
The Ayrshire club is one of the giants of Scottish Junior Football with nine Junior Cup triumphs and 10 West of Scotland Cups to their name. ‘The Bot‘ currently lie in seventh place in the Premier Division and are expected to take a large crowd to Tynecastle at the weekend. Talbot regularly better the attendances of Second, Third and sometimes First Division clubs in the Scottish Football League.
Undoubtedly, their clash with the Jambos is the biggest in their history and some fans believe a major upset could be on the cards given the controversy surrounding the Edinburgh club whose players have been locked in a bitter dispute over late payments by owner Vladimir Romanov.
After a First Round victory over Lossiemouth, Talbot thrashed Threave Rovers 8-1 in the Second Round before beating Vale of Leven in the previous round back in October.
Last season’s beaten finalists Motherwell are up against Third Division side Queens Park at home
Fourth Round Fixtures:
Ross County v Stenhousemuir
Livingston v Ayr United
Raith Rovers v Greenock Morton
Hearts v Auchinleck Talbot
Cowdenbeath v Hibernian
St Johnstone v Brechin City
Forfar Athletic v Aberdeen
Partick Thistle v Queen of the South
Inverness Caley Thistle v Dunfermline Athletic
Falkirk v East Fife
Motherwell v Queens Park
Arbroath v Rangers
Peterhead v Celtic
Airdrie United v Dundee Utd
Dundee v Kilmarnock
St. Mirren v Hamilton Academical