No free hit for Nairn County in Scottish Cup with Montrose
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Nairn County manager Ronnie Sharp insists tomorrow’s Scottish Cup second round match against Montrose is not a free hit – although he acknowledges that the pressure is all on the League One outfit.
Montrose sit third in the third tier, going unbeaten in their last five matches.
With Nairn still to pick up their first Highland League point of the 2020/21 campaign, there is no doubt about who the bookmakers’ favourites will be.
That does not mean Sharp will be going about business in anything other than a measured and optimistic fashion though, and he still expects his side to put in a performance against SPFL opposition.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a free hit, any time that comes up you think the boys won’t be as focused,” he insisted.
“We’ll be totally focused on the match, we won’t be treating it like a free hit.
“The big thing is Montrose have to come to us and perform, because I’m expecting us to perform.
“We have to see what kind of trouble we can give them – the pressure is on them, but we still want to do well.
“That has to come from the players themselves, they have to be committed to going up against these boys who are a few leagues above us. Shocks do happen.”
Potential giant-killings are always keenly anticipated in knockout competition, but Sharp suspects they may be less common this season.
That is because home advantage for the smaller teams is somewhat negated by the inability to welcome supporters into grounds because of Covid-19 restrictions.
So while Sharp expects his players to give their all, he does not expect many non-league teams to progress.
“You could see fewer surprises without fans,” he admitted.
“Over the years we’ve seen Highland League teams doing well at home, because they have a good backing behind them and most of the grounds are quite tight.
“You quite often see that make a difference if you have your own supporters behind you, and the home teams have a better chance of doing well.
“In the smaller grounds, it’s a totally different atmosphere when you have fans in.
“We haven’t got them, but our boys will have plenty of motivation anyway.”
Sharp was due to assess midfielder Gordon McNab in training this week,
He had been playing through a fractured toe in recent matches, but missed last weekend’s defeat away at Formartine United.