East Kilbride's Martin Lauchlan eyes less bruising second leg against Buckie

By Clive LindsayBBC Sport
East Kilbride manager Martin Lauchlan
Martin Lauchlan thinks his side should have won at Victoria Park

East Kilbride manager Martin Lauchlan says taking Buckie Thistle back to K-Park means they will not be able to try kicking his team off the park again.

The sides drew 2-2 in the first leg of their pyramid play-off semi-final at Buckie's Victoria Park.

But the return is on an artificial pitch less suited to robust challenges.

"I don't think their manager will be rugby tackling any of our players down here," Lauchlan said of his Buckie counterpart.

"Graeme Stewart even tackled one of our players off the field of play and got sent off and he is just back from a five-game ban, so that tells you something.

"The pitch wasn't conducive to the type of game that we like to play and they are a typical Highland League team that like to fly into tackles all over the place."

Highland League champions Buckie looked to be in control when Chris Angus gave them an early lead and Sam Urquhart added the second from the penalty spot.

But Paul Woods pulled one back for the Lowland League winners before the break and Russell McLean tied the game late on.

"It could have gone the wrong way, but the boys showed a lot of character and we totally dominated the second half and should have won the match," former Partick Thistle midfielder Lauchlan told BBC Scotland.

"We have a great record on our own ground and have only lost once there this season.

"It is an evenly matched contest, but they are trying to get physical because of the quality of our players and to try to stop them playing."

'We'll mix it and be hard but fair'

Buckie Thistle manager Graeme Stewart
Graeme Stewart thinks Buckie were tired from their title celebrations

Buckie boss Stewart promised another bruising encounter on Saturday and thinks his side have better quality than their southern rivals.

"Don't get me wrong, they are a good team - they didn't like getting tackled very much and, unfortunately, when you come to the Highlands, that's what happens," he said.

"We're quite physical and they didn't seem to like it and we'll do the same, we'll mix it and be hard but fair.

"We're disappointed not to win the game. But, if I'm being honest, I think a draw was a fair result.

"We should have held on, but we were maybe tired a bit and maybe celebrating for a couple of days after winning the league last week took its toll a bit."

Buckie, like a number of Highland League clubs, have concerns about the costs of travelling should they win promotion to the Scottish Professional Football League.

"The club have already made it clear that promotion is not their priority, but my staff and our players, we all want to do it because it is a little bit of history," stressed former Inverness Caledonian Thistle midfielder Stewart.

"No Highland League club has earned the right to be in the Scottish League.

"So I've said that to them. Let's be the first club that actually goes up on merit.

"You should have seen them at the final whistle. They were devastated but very hungry for next week.

"We've got the best strikers in the Highland League and I think we'll get a couple of goals."