By NEIL RIDDELL
SHETLAND’S footballers travel to Kirkwall today with a squad close to full strength for a senior inter-county clash which marks 100 years of the Milne Cup.
They are without the injured Stuart Hay and goalkeeper Bobby Wiseman, but manager John Johnson said he was hopeful the team could secure victory.
The team beat Deveronvale 2-1 in a friendly last month, while their Orkney rivals warmed up for the game with two tough matches, losing 8-1 to Ross County and 3-0 to Inverness-based side Clachnacuddin in recent weeks.
Speaking ahead of the game, Johnson said: “I know that Orkney are determined to win this particular game and have played a high standard of opposition in preparing for this game. Although I am disappointed to lose Stuart and Bobby through injury for this game, I am confident that if the boys work hard and play well we will achieve a favourable result.”
The only other injury doubt is young striker Ross Irvine, who scored the late winner against Deveronvale as a substitute and is expected to be in line for a starting berth tomorrow.
Although the inter-county match was traditionally held to be the major date on the calendar for the Shetland squad, the game could act as useful preparation as they get ready to take on Fort William in the Highland League Challenge Cup on 9th August.
They are also due to play host to Western Isles for a friendly on 29th August and, depending on how far the team progress in the Highland League knockout, attention will then turn to putting a squad together for the 2009 Island Games in Åland. Shetland won the football competition in 2005 but then did not send a team to defend their trophy in Rhodes last year.
Shetland beat their closest rivals 4-1 at Gilbertson Park in the corresponding fixture last season, with first half goals from Ross Jamieson, Ross MacDougal and a brace from Alan Duncan, who is now based on the mainland and unavailable for tomorrow’s game.
Possible line-up: Craig Dinwoodie, Leighton Flaws, Ross Moncrieff, Merv Jamieson, Kevin Teale, Richard Arthur, Karl Williamson, James Johnston, Ross Jamieson, Ross Irvine, Ross MacDougal. Subs from: Paul Grant, Jordan Hunter, Scott Morrison, Josie Kay, Joe Leask, Duncan Anderson, Dominic Mann.