‘It is going to be a very difficult game for us, and they’ve just lost their manager recently as he’s gone to Forfar, so it’s one where as soon as there is a change in manager the players are even more up for it because they’re playing for their places.
‘They drew with the top team in their league on Saturday and they’ve got some decent players there, with a good blend of experience and youth, but we’ve had a look at the footage, we know what to expect and we’ll be ready for this game on Saturday.’
The JD Welsh Premier League clubs who have taken part in this competition have all expressed their pride at being involved, but also their admiration for the standard of the opposition, and Ruscoe noted the particular qualities he enjoys about TNS’ Scottish opposition.
‘There’s a real tenacity in their play, they’re very direct, I don’t know what it is about Scottish Football but they play the game at a good tempo, with a good speed, they play with passion, and you’ve just got to look at Livingston in our last game who looked to get on the front foot as soon as possible and at every opportunity.
‘These teams play how you like to see football played, and there are some very good players in those divisions – we’re always looking for players up there, and we’ve signed a couple who are pivotal to what we’re doing in Jon Routledge and Steve Saunders, so that tells you everything about what we think of the standard of these teams and their style of play, really.’
The JD Welsh Premier League champions had to battle hard against strong opposition in the last round as Livingston took The New Saints all the way to penalties; Elgin find themselves two divisions lower in the Scottish Football League than The New Saints’ previous opponents, but Ruscoe insists that doesn’t mean they’ll be taking their opponents lightly.
‘The Livingston game was exciting, a real battle from start to finish, and I think for the neutral it was a very good game. Penalties is always an exciting way to end, obviously not so enjoyable if you’re on the wrong end of it, but I think we did well in the shootout and I thought we handled the game very well from start to finish.
‘We take all of that experience into this game; yes, Elgin are a lower ranked side, but we don’t want to let all of our good work against Livingston go to waste by going against what is on paper a weaker side than us.
‘We won’t be taking them lightly, we always give our opponents the respect they deserve, and we want to keep this positive momentum going. We won convincingly last night, and the same on the weekend, so we’re pushing forward now and trying to raise the bar again.’
Top of The JD WPL table by one point, The New Saints have been flying recently and thumped their last two opponents Carmarthen Town and Flint Town United away from home, so does this mean TNS are at their best going into this game, or is there still more to come?
‘You’ve got to give the players time to get up to speed, you know, and sometimes over the last few years we have started a bit slowly, but tended to come good around October, November time, but football works in spells – you have spells where things are working really well and others where it’s not so well, but I’m pleased with where we find ourselves at this moment in time.
‘Yes, we lost the first game of the season, but going on from there, in terms of clean sheets, in terms of goals, we’ve done very well. The new players have settled in very well and very quickly, adapted as if they’ve been here for years. They’re good characters too, the rest of the lads have taken to them, and they’ve been good improvements to the group.
‘I think we’ve got a little bit more to go, you know, you look at the players we’ve got missing through injury – Chris Marriott, Steve Saunders, Connell Rawlinson missed Saturday as did Jon Routledge – so we’re not at full tilt at the moment but we’re getting there, give it another few weeks and we’ll be at our best!’