Manager gives Nairn County a fighting chance of causing shock against Buckie Thistle in Highland League Cup
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Manager Ronnie Sharp knows Nairn County will be in for a tough afternoon away at Buckie Thistle in the Highland League Cup on Saturday, but he is not ruling out his side causing a cup shock.
Looking purely at each team’s performances in the league so far this season, there will not be many people expecting Nairn to go to Victoria Park and knock Buckie out.
The Jags have won 10 of their 14 matches, just one behind leaders Fraserburgh in the goals scored column and boasting the joint-best defence in the division.
Nairn, meanwhile, have struggled significantly with injuries, although a slight uplift in form recently has seen them move out of the bottom three and up to 12th.
Still, with the change of competition meaning a single knockout competition, Nairn have a chance to cause an upset, and Sharp has to go into the match with optimism.
“It’s a one-off game, so it’s not the same sort of pressure,” Sharp reasoned.
“The league is probably the harder position to be in, especially now that everybody is coming around to the idea that there’s relegation in the Highland League.
“You’ve got to be wary of that over the next few years, so the league is the more important one.
“We’re not expected to beat Buckie, but sometimes you get surprise results.
“You’ve got to hope that the players will rise to the challenge. You just want them to go there and play their best, then we’ll see how things go.”
With the disparity between Nairn and Buckie’s respective positions in the league table, Sharp admits he may be forced to make some tactical tweaks to give his players a fighting chance.
“The stats say everything – they’re a top side, always very, very good,” he explained.
“Graeme Stewart has done a good job with them, and they have some of the best players in the league.
“We know it’s going to be difficult, but things could be dependent on what the pitch is like as well. It could be heavy, because they’ve had some problems with it being waterlogged over the last couple of weeks.
“It’s going to be a really tough one, you couldn’t get a harder draw, but we’ll just go and do our best.
“We’ll have a look at Buckie and see which players have been playing, then decide how we’ll go about it this week.
“You can’t just play the same way all the time. Against certain teams we’ll have to change it.
“It’s an away tie as well, which is harder.
“Then again, our home form hasn’t been good at all, but we’ve been doing really well away.”