CRAIGMARK Burntonians boss Ian Nixon says his side are not just in the cup to make up numbers.

The Dalmellington side made their mark in the cup once again this weekend as they defeated last season's Scottish Junior Cup runners-up Rutherglen Glencairn.

Having held their First Division runners-up to a 2-2 draw in 90 minutes, Nixon's side went on to win the shoot-out 3-2, securing a place in the last eight of the West of Scotland Cup.


The win follows on from their shock victory in the third round of the tournament, when they knocked out Premier Division Irvine Meadow.

“We’re on a really good run of form," Nixon commented, "not just in the cup but in the league as well."

But the Mark's recent run comes as no surprise to the former Greenock manager, who has overseen a real upturn in form since joining the club in October.

He continued: “It all started with me last year, competing against Craigmark. I was really impressed, not just at how they played football, but at the mindset and the mentality that the players had. There’s a fighting spirit within the group.

“A lot of the players that were there last season are still here this season. There was something about the club which just appealed to me.

“I knew that if the mood was right, the atmosphere was right and the culture was right, then they would thrive because there is a genuine hunger, desire and work ethic about the boys.

“You don’t really see that a lot in junior football anymore, that genuine willingness to put your body on the line to get a win.

"It’s been evident since we came in. They’ve shown it in spades.

“It’s been refreshing, and it’s been really good to watch.

"The players are playing some really good football, but more importantly, when the chips are down, they’ve been rolling their sleeves up and they’re fighting for everything.”

It was exactly that attitude which was evident at the weekend as the WoSFL Second Division side caused yet another shock - something they have become accustomed to in recent years.

Nixon commented: “Craigmark, over the last couple of seasons, have got a bit of a reputation for beating some of the bigger teams.

“That's simply down to the players and their willingness to win a game of football.

“No players ever turn up for a game of football wanting to lose, but some players don’t quite have that appetite to do whatever it takes to win.

“Every boy in the dressing room that we’ve got - they all have it.”

The victory was hard-fought after the home side fell behind to an early Austin Sime strike.

Jordan Banks and Michael Reilly then turned the tie on its head before Ryan McManus levelled for the visitors to take the match to penalties.

But falling behind, and facing an opponent from a higher league, weren't the only obstacles in Craigmark's way on Saturday.

"We had seven players that were fit," Nixon continued.

“My assistant manager was on the bench. There was only one fit player on the bench – the other two have been injured and missed a good few weeks of football.

“We started with a lad who was told he should be out for three or four weeks.

“Jordan Banks, who scored our first goal - that was his first 90 minutes of football since we came into the club because he’s been suffering with an injury.

“Everything was stacked against us at the weekend, so it felt like a real accomplishment given the fact the chips were down.

“The squad was light, the park wasn’t the best, but when there’s a bit of adversity, that’s when the lads really roll their sleeves up and get the job done.”

Now, the Station Park boss is looking forward to seeing how far his side can go in the competition.

He commented: “If we’re being honest, if you look at the teams that are in the competition, I don’t think anyone outside our club will be looking at us and thinking we are going to all the way.

“We’re going to be up against the likes of Talbot, Pollok or Glenafton – we’re still the lowest placed club in the tournament.

“But we are still in it. We’re not just going to go and try and make up the numbers.

“We’re just going to try and take every game as it comes. There is no pressure on us. All the pressure will be on the other sides."

But Nixon will still be keeping an eye on league duties as he sets his sights on Craigmark working their way up the divisions.

He added: “We were in what looked to be quite a sticky wicket when we came in, but we’ve goneon a good few runs.

“We’re picking up points and that’s the important thing. We’re not going to win the league. Promotion is mathematically possible, but we require a lot of luck with other teams losing around us.

“The aim is just to pick up as many points as we can over the final months of the season and trying to finish as high up as we possibly can.

“With the squad that I’ve got, I’d be more than happy if I was able to keep all of them and add a couple here and there.

“With a full pre-season with that group of players, I think we could give a right good go at getting promotion next year.”