THE Cu-Plas FA Cup returns to the limelight this weekend with the competition’s quarter-finals taking place on Saturday.
The cup gods have done their best to conjure up four tasty looking ties that all have their own charms.
Tie of the round is probably at Blackberry Lane where the current top two in Canada Life Premier League go head-to-head for a third time this season.
Old Boys currently sit astride the Manx top-flight, but Geordies sit perched on their shoulder having played four less games.
Chris Bass Sr’s unbeaten charges from Glencrutchery Road have already completed a league double over their title rivals and will be eager to continue their 100 per cent record with a Grand Slam looming large.
With Old Boys’ championship hopes dented by Laxey on Saturday, Colin Purvis’s charges will be doubling their efforts to get a result in this one and will be boosted by the return of key men Gary Quirk and Callum Stewart from suspension and injury respectively.
However, the holders are in top, top form at the moment and have to be marginal favourites to advance from this one.
Another intriguing tie will take place at Mullen-e-Cloie where runaway JCK Division Two leaders St John’s host 2006 winners Laxey.
The Johnners have been an omnipresent force in the second tier this season and look set to canter to promotion.
Saturday’s match will give Nick Hurt and Malcolm Blackburn’s side the chance to gauge how far they’ve come against a Miners side that has flirted with the Premier League’s higher reaches all season.
Stephen Glover and brother Andy have formed a formidable strike partnership for the Saints and they could provide the key to the weekend’s hosts pulling off a cup shock.
However, Laxey are no mugs and the Miners will have been well-drilled into what to expect by manager Steve Falconer this week.
Their top-flight nous should see them just edge past the westerners although extra time and even penalties maybe required to separate the two.
Another team aiming to slay one of Manx football’s ‘giants’ are RYCOB. The northerners host last year’s beaten finalists Rushen with the latter aiming to salvage something from a disappointing season thus far.
Stewart Murphy’s Youthie side have impressed in spells this term and looked a good outside bet for promotion.
However, some erratic results have probably robbed them of this.
An equally inconsistent Spaniards team could yet provide the Ramsey-based side with some cup joy, but you’d still have to favour the Port Erin side to claim a final four place.
The weekend’s final quarter-final tie pairs St Mary’s with Castletown at Springfield Road.
The Saints will be hopeful of advancement from this one, but they will have to do a professional job against Stuart Butterworth’s young charges who have improved as the season has gone on.