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Culbokie manager Sean Kelman expecting a tough challenge in ‘special’ cup final after making return to amateur football

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Culbokie manager Sean Kelman knows his side are in for a battle on cup final day on Saturday.

The Black Isle side are gearing up to face fellow third-tier side Kirkhill in the final of the Inverness and District Football Association Second Division Cup.

Culbokie currently sit top of the Second Division, seven points clear of closest rivals Muir of Ord Rovers, whilst fellow finalists Kirkhill occupy third place.

Saturday’s tie will feature all three of the Second Division’s top scorers. Kirkhill’s Duncan Morris and Martin Kennedy have 13 and 10 goals each so far, while Culbokie frontman Shane Harkness is joint top of the charts with Morris, also netting 13 times.

Culbokie captain Ryan Ross passing the ball to Shank Harkness (number nine). Picture: Alan Cruickshank
Culbokie captain Ryan Ross passing the ball to Shank Harkness (number nine). Picture: Alan Cruickshank

Kelman said: “There’s no denying it’s a big chance for both teams to go and win a cup.

“We are excepting to be faced with a really tough game on Saturday.

“Kirkhill have scored loads of goals this season and are a real threat with two big strikers, so we know were going to have to play to our best if we want beat them.”

Culbokie have not competed in the IDFA league set-up since 2019, which former Black Isle United manager Kelman says makes reaching a cup final so early on in their return even more exciting.

“It definitely feels more special due to that,” he said.

“We didn’t really know what to expect from our season to be honest. Coming in as a new team into this set-up can be hard, so it feels good to have made a final.

“We’ve won 10 games in the league this season and we’re seven clear, so it’s been a real positive season from my perspective.”

According to the Culbokie manager, good form has arisen from striking the right balance of personnel within his team.

He added: “There’s a mix of youth and experience in the team. Young Rory Cameron who is from Culbokie has played every game at left-back and looked really strong.

Culbokie defender Rory Cameron. Picture: Alan Cruickshank
Culbokie defender Rory Cameron. Picture: Alan Cruickshank

“On the flip side to that we’ve had experienced (former Buckie Thistle) striker John McLeod come into the team, and although he’s not available on Saturday he’s been great not only scoring goals but with helping some of the younger players step up and feeding them knowledge.”

Kick-off on Saturday is at 3:00 PM at Culcairn Park in Evanton.

Kelman added: “I’m desperate to bounce back from our Highland Amateur Cup loss last weekend, and hopefully we can do all we can to bring a cup back to Culbokie.”

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