New season kicks off for Rob Roy after just six-week break

Rob Roy have signed experienced midfielder Martin McBride.
Rob Roy have signed experienced midfielder Martin McBride.

Rob Roy kick off another season on Saturday - just over six weeks after the last one ended.

Stewart Maxwell’s side played their last game of the 2017-18 campaign on June 11, just two days before the World Cup began.

Now, just over a week after that competition ended, they are preparing for their first competitive fixture of 2018-19 against Ashfield on Saturday.

It’s the first fixture in a new-look Sectional League Cup set-up, expanded to include Ayrshire teams, which sees Rabs in four-team section with Ashfield, St Roch’s and Petershill.

Rabs won the competition two seasons ago when it was for Central league sides, but with three games squeezed into five days, Maxwell admitted that this time round its main function is to help the team be ready for the league campaign.

He said: “It’s competitive and you want to win every game. But it is what it is and I’ll be changing the team for every League Cup game, that’s just the way it’s got to be.

“Yes we want to win, but it’s more important that the squad get minutes.”

Maxwell added to that squad last week by signing experienced former Dumbarton, Queen’s Park, Stranraer and East Kilbride midfielder Martin McBride.

And he believes the 28-year-old can play a key part in his side’s coming campaign.

He said: “He’s got good experience, a good talker. He’s got a bit of everything.”

McBride was on target during last week’s win over Petershill, when he played as a trialist, and Maxwell said: He can tackle, he can pass, he can score goals, he’s good in the air, vocally he’s very organised and he’s a good pro.

“I think that over the course of the season he’ll bring massive value to the squad and I’m delighted to get him in.

“He’s a very good lad as well. He works in London a lot and while sometimes if players are away you don’t know if they’re doing a lot, you know he’s doing his bit to keep himself going.”

Rob Roy continued their build-up on Saturday with a 7-0 friendly win away to Craigmark Burntonians with goals from Joe Slattery (3), Lee Gallacher (2), Gary Carroll and Connor Hughes

However although the Rabs boss admitted the nature of the game was changed by a first-half red card to the home side.

He said: “They had a half-chance after 30 seconds and we scored after two minutes, so it was quite a bizarre start.

“We scored again and were controlling the game but the grass was long and sometimes that means you can’t shift the ball as quickly.

“They were quite robust and there was a tackle on Sam MacKenzie where their guy’s wrestled him to the deck. The referee’s played advantage, which was fine, but he’s then turned and back-kicked him in the stomach.

“It was a straight red card and that killed the game for them. After that we passed the ball really well.

“It was a double-edged sword because after they went down to 10 men we got a lot of the ball but if they’d kept 11 men on the park they might have worked us a wee bit harder.

“But we scored some really good goals and got good minutes in the squad.

“Mikey Morris played his first game of the season at centre-back and he needed a full 90, so it probably benefitted him them going down to 10 men because he wasn’t worked as hard in his first full 90.

“We also had a couple of boys on trial who impressed and a clean sheet is important for the goalie and the defence.

“The goals got shared about and we were a threat going forward.”

Next up is another friendly at Larkhall tonight (Wednesday) before the League Cup matches at Ashfield on Saturday, Petershill at home on Monday and St Roch’s away next Wednesday.

He said: “All the new players are settling quickly but we’re still not there and we’re not going to get carried away.

“We’re only two weeks into it and people have to remember that.

“Six weeks ago we were decimated by injuries and we still have a few players to come back. We’re also still in the market for a couple of players, but we just have to be patient and see what appears.

“I’m not going to hide the fact that I’m looking. Martin coming in is a bonus but we’re probably still two shy of where we want to be. But we’ve just got to be patient - it’s got to be the right player who comes up and on the right budget as well.”