The Dundee West Anniversary Cup final brings together two sides that have been in fine form in the DS Rennie League. Dundee West have adapted well to top-flight football, while Kirrie Thistle have shown form to suggest they are the champions elect.
Before the final, YFS caught up with Dundee West manager Ross Forbes and Kirrie manager Chris Kettles to find out about their roads to the finals, their seasons so far and their previous meetings.
Here’s what they had to say:
The 2016/17 season saw Dundee West complete the Second Division League and Cup double, and with only three defeats in 10 league games this season. Manager Ross Forbes is pleased with how his side have taken to life in the top league.
He said, “The boys have adapted well to life in the top flight, we knew it would be tougher challenge this year, but I am happy with how the boys have progressed and went about their business.
“The aim was to try and win as many games as possible and see where that takes us up the league table.”
Dundee West’s run to the final included one of the shocks of the season as they knocked out Forfar Boys at the quarter final stage, before a 6-1 win over Montrose sealed their place in the final. Forbes was delighted with the way his side have battled to the final.
He said, “At two goals down with 10 minutes to go in the quarter final to last years all conquering Forfar side, what pleased me most was how the boys refused to accept defeat and fought back to take the tie to penalties with two late strikes.
“Seven days later we played the semi-final v Montrose and we emphasised to the boys they had to put the high from that Forfar victory to one side and get the job done. They played well on the day and booked our place in today’s final.”
Kirrie were triumphant when the teams met in the league in September, but Forbes believes his side showed enough on that day to suggest they can lift the trophy on Sunday.
He said, “The Kirriemuir game was a keenly fought affair and a close game which they won 3-2.
“Although we lost the game, I told the boys after the whistle they should take heart from the way they had performed that day and thought we were unfortunate to come away with a defeat.
“Kirriemuir have won big games already this year, so we know they’ll be ready for the final.”
Ones to Watch
Jamie Moran – Defender Moran is a key member of the Dundee West backline and will need to be at his best to keep the Kirrie forwards at bay.
Aaron Dillon – Dillon’s tireless work in the centre of the park is key to Dundee West’s success. His ability to read the game offers protection to his side’s defenders, while his work rate allows the forward players the freedom to hurt the opposition in the final third.
Derron Forbes – Forbes struck Dundee West’s last minute equaliser in the quarter final and will be hoping to add to the three goals he has in this competition.
Ahead of the final, Forbes had this message for his players. “Go out there, try your hardest, give 100% and enjoy the occasion.”
A fourth-place finish in the 2016/17 season represented a solid first season at 11-a-side football for Kirrie Thistle. This season, they have taken on the form that neighbours Forfar Boys showed in their quadruple winning season last year.
Manger Chris Kettles believes that this year’s league is even more competitive than last season’s.
He said, “My aim at the start of this season, and always has been, was to develop and improve the players. They are improving every week, and we'll always try to win games by playing the right way.
“This season the league is even tighter! No-one running away with it like last year. About five or six teams all very evenly matched. We'll hopefully be in the running at the end of the season.”
Kirrie’s run to the final started with a 5-3 win over Ferry Athletic before they beat title rivals Celtic Boys 6-4 in the semi-final.
Kettles said, “Both games were quite similar, in that we were 3-0 up at half time in both, 5-1 up, then conceded a couple of late goals.
“The Ferry performance wasn't great, but we scored at important times, but the Celtic performance was really good, and the boys scored some great goals that day.”
Kirrie picked up a 3-2 win when they travelled to Charlotte Street in September, and Kettles was impressed with the newly promoted Dundee West side.
“I was very impressed by them and remember thinking at the time that they'll challenge for the league this year. I've been surprised by a couple of their losses since, as they've got some really good players.
“I fully expect a very tough game, but with good players in both teams, it makes for a good game!”
Despite their neighbour’s success last season, Kettles insists that there has been no talk amongst his players of matching Forfar’s quadruple success.
He said, “There's never any mention of what they did last year, so I don't think it serves as any motivation.
“We've always tried to play football the right way, by passing the ball from the back and teaching the whole team how to play.
“Not many have persevered with that from the seven-a-side rules that enforced this, but I think as the years go on, we'll benefit more each season. That's what motivates us, to be the best team long term.”
Ones to Watch
Dagan Bell – Bell was one of Forfar’s quadruple winners and has established himself as a key part of Kirrie’s set up. A solid defender that capable of delivering dangerous crosses from the right, he will be looking to add to his medal collection.
Logan Richardson – The athletic midfielder is one of the most complete players in the league. A strong passer with an eye for goal, he will cause problems for Dundee West in the final.
Kian Martin – The Kirrie striker brings out the best in his teammates, with plenty of assists to his name this season, he will be hoping to get on the scoresheet in the final.
Ahead of the final, Kettles had this message for his players, “Don't panic! Play the Kirrie way!”