Jed hope semi-final ambitions won’t disappear into thin Ayr

Connor Hogg burrows through for Jed-Forest recently against Falkirk (picture by Bill McBurnie).
Connor Hogg burrows through for Jed-Forest recently against Falkirk (picture by Bill McBurnie).

Borders clubs are set to do battle in three of the four BT Scottish Cup quarter-finals on Saturday, waving a big banner once again for rugby standards in the south of Scotland.

The race to the last four is serving up plenty of intrigue, with Melrose v Heriot’s arguably the juiciest pairing.

Gala visit Glasgow Hawks and Stirling County host Boroughmuir – but there’ll be much interest at Millbrae, where BT National League I side Jed-Forest travel to take on Premiership leaders Ayr.

It’s a great opportunity for the lower division side to reach a prestigious semi-final and the chance to spring an upset against potentially the best side in Scotland.

Jed made it to the last eight without touching a ball after scheduled opponents Aberdeenshire pulled out of the contest.

But head coach Jammy McFarlane and his players are determined to grasp the opportunity and prove they deserve to be there.

“We are excited,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to get to a semi-final but it’s a huge barrier that stands in the way, in terms of the opposition. They are not top of Premier One for no reason – I guess they they are almost semi-professional. But they are bigger and stronger than us, and probably better conditioned.

“But you never know – we need to get some ball and pose some questions for them, really, but we certainly have ability that we can use.

“Hopefully, every dog has his day – maybe Saturday could be ours.”

Absent through injury are Blade Roff and Craig Cowan, while tight head prop Paulo Ferreira will be out for around a month with a fractured eye socket. Michael Weekley is also unavailable.

“We’re missing two or three but we’re still strong and we will be there,” said Jammy.

It would be “absolutely massive for the club and the town” to make the semi-final, if they could, he added. “We would be at home, so there’s a huge incentive there to get the whole of Jed into Riverside for a semi-final. We’re not looking at that just now, but the incentive for Saturday is phenomenally big. In boxing parlance, I guess we have a boxer’s chance.”

Jammy reckoned the main issue would be the power of the squads but pledged: “We will be highly motivated and our group of players will do their absolute level best. If that’s good enough – it’s only 80 minutes and it can happen.”