The Scottish Challenge Cup has widened its doors, meaning clubs from five countries take part, and for some the fun and warmth have come at a cost
If you glance at the fixtures for the third round of the Scottish Challenge Cup two immediately leap out: in Dublin Bohemian play the English side Sutton United while Northern Ireland’s Coleraine head to the Welsh town of Connah’s Quay, two matches in which the principal Scottish challenge will be to locate a Scotsman.
“It is a little bit odd, that an English team’s playing an Irish team in a Scottish cup,” says Derek Pender, the Bohemian captain, for whom victory – and a place in November’s quarter-finals – would bring an unusual challenge. “The competition, the way it’s set out, is a bit odd. We’ve only got two weeks left of the season and if we win on Saturday, I don’t know how it’s going to work. I think nearly every one of our squad is out of contract on the last day of the season – the club will want to keep most of the players and Keith [Long, the manager] is trying to get everyone tied down, but the majority of the squad have contracts that end in two weeks. So we’ll see what happens if we get through.”