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Former Hilton Primary School pupil Ali Morrison excited at prospect of silverware with Ross County in North of Scotland Cup final

By Andrew Henderson

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Ali Morrison is looking to kickstart Ross County's under-18 season by lifting a trophy this weekend.

Morrison is one of several academy players who is in line to feature in the North of Scotland Cup final against Nairn County tomorrow, kicking off at 3pm at Clach's Grant Street Park.

Sunday will be a homecoming of sorts for Morrison as he returns to first youth club Clachnacuddin.
Sunday will be a homecoming of sorts for Morrison as he returns to first youth club Clachnacuddin.

The young Staggies have already had a spotlight placed on them this season, with their Scottish Youth Cup match against Kilmarnock taking place at the Global Energy Stadium last month.

However, since then the form table has not made for kind reading in Dingwall. Morrison believes lifting a trophy could be just the boost they need to get back on track, though.

"It would be good for us, because we've had a bit of a drop in form recently," Morrison said.

"If we win this weekend, morale will go up, which would be really good.

"It would be my first silverware for the club too, so I'm really looking forward to it. It has been a really good experience playing with first team players, and going up against men.

"I've never been in a cup final in any sort of professional level. I was in a couple of school finals, but nothing as big as this."

Morrison started playing football with Clachnacuddin, but got scouted by the Staggies and moved across the bridge to join the under-11s squad – meaning the cup final will be something of a homecoming for the youngster.

The former North Kessock Primary School and Fortrose Academy pupil has relished the opportunity to line-up alongside first team stars throughout this season's North of Scotland Cup, picking up elements of the game that should help him reach the next level.

"I came in for a trial at under-11s I think, and I've just been moving through the ranks ever since," Morrison recalled.

"I feel like you develop better when you're next to someone that's in the first team. It has been very good for me.

"I've picked up on their communication – they set you up really well in a back four, and are always speaking to you, so it's good.

"I'm not too sure what my next steps have to be, I just need to keep on grafting and playing the way I can. I know I have to keep speaking with my teammates and form a good team together, and put in the hard work."

The North of Scotland Cup has provided a different challenge to what young defender Morrison has been used to at under-18 level, but he has enjoyed the journey so far.

Scoring against Wick Academy in the opening round, he has been tested against players with vast amounts of experience, but while possibly tough to deal with in the moment Morrison is conscious that it will only be a good thing for his personal development long-term.

"It has been a tough challenge, but it has also been a good experience going up against players with a lot of experience in the Highland League.

"Some of those players have played at a good professional level as well, so it's good.

"We've had a lot of journeys up the road too, so it has been a good time.

"I know a couple of the Nairn players, but not many. I know they've been on quite a good run of form lately, so it will be good to challenge myself against them on Sunday."

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