Five-Star lichties up for the cup

Paul McManus fires home his second of the game on Saturday, remarkably his sixth strike against Montrose this season. Pic: Graham Black.

Paul McManus fires home his second of the game on Saturday, remarkably his sixth strike against Montrose this season. Pic: Graham Black.

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When the bookies were compiling the odds at the start of the season for SPFL League Two, Arbroath were not favourites.

And the chances of them bouncing straight back up looked bleak after a 7-0 humbling by Aberdeen in their first pre-season friendly.

That was Allan Moore’s first game in charge and I am sure in a quiet moment that Saturday evening in July he must have wondered what he had let himself in for.

But the former Morton and Stirling Albion gaffer is not one to shirk a challenge and he, along with assistant Todd Lumsden, set about putting together a squad that could challenge for promotion to League One.

For that dark day in July, Arbroath few signed players and a number of trialists and youngsters were involved. Paul Sheerin had departed for pastures new, and it would be fair to say that he hadn’t left the playing side of things in the best of shape, as he, too, was building.

A Challenge Cup match against Alloa gave the new signings and opportunity to bed in and get to know their new team-mates.

Then, a trip to face Premiership new boys Hamilton looked a daunting one, but it was to offer real hope that the Lichties were on the right track as they turned in a fine display against a team that has gone on to shock the big boys in the top league.

The new gaffer was on to something as the Gayfield men went on to win their opening three league games before being brought back down to earth, losing at home to East Fife.

However, since then six straight victories have sent Arbroath seven points clear at the top and the bookies have made the 4/6 on favourites for title glory.

Records, too, have been tumbling.

It is the Lichties’ best ever start to a league season, while Saturday’s away win over Montrose equalled a club record of six consecutive away victories.

Tomorrow (Saturday), Arbroath get a break from league duty, facing Nairn County in the Scottish Cup third round.

The quality of the Highland League has improved in recent years and this will be another test for the strong going Maroons.

But, at stake is a place in the fourth round and the opportunity to maybe draw one of the big boys and stick a little cash in the bank.

Nairn County are currently in mid table in the Highland League and enjoyed a good 3-0 win over Strathspey Thistle on Saturday.

Their main threat comes from former Ross County, Stirling and Peterhead striker Conor Gethins, who was on the scoresheet against Thistle.