Sep 14 2012 by Andrew Burns, Dumfries Standard Friday
Henry McLelland, Annan Athletic chairman/
HARRY Cairney has warned his Annan Athletic stars they must rise to the occasion when Rangers come calling this weekend.
Ally McCoist’s side will play at Galabank in the first-ever meeting between the two sides on Saturday.
Tickets are like gold dust for the Gers’ inaugural trip, with Annan having sold out their home ground for the first time.
Cairney has witnessed both hot and cold from his men already this season and insists they can’t be distracted by the sell-out spectacle.
“This is certainly going to be a huge game for everyone involved at Annan Athletic,” the Galabank boss said.
“We have never sold out the ground before and this is the first time that a lot of our boys will have played in a game like this. It will be a big crowd with a good atmosphere inside Galabank and this can often go two ways.
“We have a very young squad and it is important that they don’t let the occasion get to them. But then again this type of fixture can often bring the best of players and this what I am hoping for.
“We have been working very hard over the last week or so, with no competitive game last week, and we are ready for what will be a huge test.”
Annan were one of 25 clubs to vote against plans to parachute Rangers into the Scottish First Division, effectively leaving the 54-times league champions with the third division as the only remaining option.
It was a turbulent summer for the Glasgow team and Cairney revealed that he always had his doubts over Rangers plummeting to the bottom tier.
He said: “I never thought that Rangers would end up in this league. There was so much uncertainty over the whole thing and I remember coming back from my holidays to find out it had actually happened.”
The Ibrox men have had a mixed start to the season and have yet to win away from home in the league, drawing at Peterhead and Berwick Rangers.
Annan have struggled to build on an opening day cup win against Livingston, falling to defeats against Stirling Albion, Clyde and Stenhousemuir.
Cairney, who has never faced Rangers as a manager, highlighted the “international” class that opposition boss McCoist possesses in his team and is well aware of the task at hand.
“It will be a huge test for our players,” he said.
“They will be coming with experienced international players and guys who could walk into almost any SPL side.
“They are certainly not short of quality in their squad with players like Lee McCulloch, Ian Black, Dean Shiels, Lee Wallace and Neil Alexander, as well as many others.
“Away from home they have struggled a bit so far but you can’t take anything away from the teams they have been playing.
“Peterhead came so close to beating them and Berwick were only a debatable decision away from getting the win. But you have to think at some point they will switch it on away from home because the quality is certainly there.”
Graeme Bell and Jack Steele are likely to miss the game through injury and the Annan boss has warned his team to cut out the “silly mistakes” that have been commonplace already this season.
He said: “We proved against Livingston that we are capable of pulling off the unexpected results.
“If we approach the game in the right way and cut out the silly mistakes then we can certainly cause an upset.”