Jan 27 2012 by Andrew Burns, Dumfries Standard Friday
GRETNA 2008 manager Stuart Rome has warned his players to be ready for a physical battle this weekend.
The East of Scotland side travel to Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale in the King Cup tomorrow and the gaffer is well aware of what is instore.
He said: “Anytime you travel to Lothian you know you are in for a real tough, physical game.
“They are the type of side that stop you playing and we need to make sure we are up for it.
“It’s a difficult place to travel to and isn’t made any easier by the pitch.
“It’s a really heavy pitch with long awkward grass that restricts you from playing a passing game.”
He added: “We played them earlier in the season at Raydale and found ourselves 2-0 behind and down to ten men.
“But we battled back and won the game 3-2 and proved that we can beat them.”
Rome has been battling against injuries and suspensions in recent weeks and only had ten senior players available for a game two weeks ago.
The Raydale gaffer’s headache has now been eased with the return of several first-team stars.
Rome said: “We have everyone back and available for this weekend’s game which is a big boost.
“We have struggled for numbers recently but we have the full squad ready.
“The only doubt is over Dean Rea who is struggling a bit but we will just need to wait and see.”
Despite the return of several players to the squad, Rome insists that a few players may not feature this weekend.
He said: “This would be a good time to give a few of the lads a rest.
“No disrespect to the King Cup but I just think this game could be an ideal opportunity to blood some more of the young lads.
“We have a few players returning and the younger players have done exceptionally well so I may mix things up a bit.
“They have certainly merited the chance but I will just wait and see how things are after training.”
Gretna came from two goals down to salvage a point at home to Tynecastle on Saturday and Rome was furious with his side’s first half performance.
He said: “We were absolutely shocking in the first half against Tynecastle.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
“Defensively we were awful and that has been one of our strongest attributes this season.
“We were lucky not to be three goals down if I am honest.
“A few harsh but honest words were said at half time and I was happy with the response.
“We pulled a goal back just one minute into the second half and battered them for the rest of the half.
“We had to wait until a few minutes from the end to get the equaliser but we got their eventually.
“It feels like two points dropped rather than one gained.”
Rome added: “This was Tynecastle’s first visit to Raydale and I think that the stadium and the facility gave them a lift.
“They got a real boost from this and it showed with their first half performance.”