FORGET the hype and the talk, Saturday’s showdown at K-Park between Buckie Thistle and East Kilbride will be all about "two teams dying to win the game".
That’s the view of Jags’ boss Graeme Stewart who insists the controversy surrounding the first leg at Victoria Park, which finished 2-2, has been overplayed by the media.
There have been claims and counter-claims in the aftermath of the heated opener in the two-legged SPFL League Two semi-final – with allegations of spitting by an East Kilbride player, claims of coin-throwing by a Buckie fan, suggestions that Buckie were overly physical in their challenges, and a touchline rammy which saw Stewart sent from his technical area and EK full-back Fabio Capuano booked.
It all added up to an interesting 90 minutes at Viccie Park and the return leg at Kilby’s K-Park is set to be another keenly contested affair, with the winner most likely to meet Cowdenbeath in a two-legged final for the right to play in League Two next season.
Stewart shrugged off suggestions that Buckie Thistle don’t really want to win promotion from the Highland League.
He declared: "We didn’t look like a team that didn’t want to go up. The boys are all up for it and they are buzzing for the game on Saturday."
Stewart admitted last Saturday was a "high pressure" game and, like cup finals and other big games, "people will lose their rag a wee bit". He said both sides were perhaps guilty of doing that.
"There has been a bit much made of it in the press. I would call it a high-spirited game," he added.
Stewart reaffirmed his view that the game was "hard but fair" and, crucially, he believes that Buckie were below par in their level of performance.
"We can play better but then East Kilbride will probably feel the same."
Buckie will have a travelling support totalling 80 fans in the K-Park, which was their allocation of tickets for the 660-capacity ground.
Stewart said: "We get a really good support away from home and I am sure they will make themselves heard.
"We have had good results in the recent past at Edinburgh City and Annan Athletic, so I am confident we can do something."
East Kilbride’s 4G pitch holds no fears as Buckie train on an artificial pitch twice a week.
Kilby have been dominant at home this season but Stewart says his players have shown they can get good results at tough venues.
Buckie will be missing defender John Maitland, who limped out of the first leg early on with a hamstring injury.
The Banffshire Advertiser’s Chris Saunderson will be at K-Park on Saturday, so look out for Tweets from the game and a match report on Saturday evening.