Forward Mark Stowe has scored over 40 goals this campaign for manager Gordon Herd’s Rose side, helping them sustain a 21-game winning streak in league and cup before faltering and ending up third in the East of Scotland Football League’s premier division, a level below their Galashiels opponents.
Rovers gaffer Scott has watched Linlithgow playing Blackburn United and Penicuik Athletic in recent weeks, and he told the Southern Reporter: “We are not taking the cup final lightly.
“If you look at the calibre of player that Linlithgow have, it shows you how strong they are.
“They obviously built that squad this season, and I’m sure they would have wanted to be promoted. I’m sure that would have been their main goal.
“They’ve been in the latter stages of a few different cups and they are in this final, so it shows you how dangerous they are.
“Mark Stowe is a very good player. He plays on the right-hand side and cuts in on that left foot. He’s got bags of pace and good movement, so, at our level, he’s a very dangerous player.
“We know we’ll have to keep their dangerous players quiet and we know we’ll have to try and affect the game in our own capacity in terms of our players.
“It’s looking like it’s going to be quite a tasty cup tie.
“The atmosphere is buoyant. We’re looking forward to it and it’s definitely going to be a challenge because we know how good a team Linlithgow are, albeit we are in the Lowland League and they’re in a different division.
“We know the quality of player they’ve got.
“I actually know their first-team coach Eamon Fullerton because I played with him at Livingston. He probably had a similar education to myself in terms of football. He was a very good player and he’s doing very well at the coaching side of things at the moment.”
Rovers reached the final by winning a semi-final on penalties after tying 4-4 with East of Scotland Football League first division conference B side Kinnoull, having finished 13th in Scottish football’s fifth tier after losing their last five league games in a row.
That’s their joint lowest finish in the nine-year history of the league, though there were only 16 teams the last time they ended up 13th, in 2018, rather than the 18 there were last time round.
Scott doesn’t think that losing streak will have any bearing on his side’s mentality come Sunday, though, saying: “I think league form’s irrelevant going into the cup game.
“In the last few league games, we used different personnel, looking at different formations, and we knew where we had to improve in consistency levels in the league campaign.
“If you flip that into reverse and look at our cup journey, we have shown that on one-off occasions and big games in the cup competitions we’re more than a match for anybody.
“Like the guys going up to Kinnoull, the travel and everything that happened in the semi-final, it shows you that they have that mentality to perform when it comes down to it.
“I think we’re pretty upbeat going into the cup final. To finish the season with a chance to win a cup, it’s amazing how it’s unfolded.
“If we can win this final, it would be huge for the club in terms of it being the first final they have reached since the restructuring of the club in 2013, and it would be a huge achievement for the guys.
“A lot goes into a season. A lot of people put in effort in the background at the club and it’s nice for them to have their day out, but at the end of the day it’s all about the players.
“All I ask of the players is that they apply themselves properly, put in a performance, and the result will take care of itself.
“Regardless of the outcome of the game, I’ll be proud of them for their efforts and what they’ve done for me since I took over.”
Scott, 36, has played some games for Gala this season but it is undecided about whether he’ll feature on the park in the final, saying: “Obviously I’ll be assessing the squad going into the final, but if we’ve got a full selection of players available to choose from, including myself, I’d probably lean more towards going on the bench initially.
“I think the guys who’ve played in the previous rounds deserve to go and get the job done in the final.”
Since losing 2-1 at home to Stirling University in their final league game on Tuesday, May 10, Rovers – recreated in 2013 following their split into Gala Fairydean and Gala Rovers, their reserve side, in 1907 – have played bounce games and been training regularly in the run-up to this weekend’s final at Penicuik Park, kicking off at 2pm.
Scott is hopeful that he will have a full squad available, including right-back Calum Hall and left-sided midfielder Marc Berry.
Both Hall and Berry have signed contract extensions to summer 2023 and Scott said: “I’m absolutely delighted to get those boys signed up.
“The club are working very hard behind the scenes to try and get things in place for the first-team squad going forward.
“Obviously we are trying to rebuild, and Calum and Marc have been a big part of when we’ve been very successful this season, during the Scottish Cup runs and stuff like that.
“It’s good to get a few of them over the line in terms of Zander Murray, Gareth Rodger, Calum and Marc.
“We know on his day that Marc can be a very dangerous player and it’s good that the club have shown faith in him and hopefully Marc can return that in terms of performances. He’s starting to get back to form again.
“He had a wee dip in form, but he showed against Rangers B that on his day he’s one of the best wingers in the league.”
See also …