Brian McLuckie reckons his current squad is the best he’s assembled as Irvine Victoria boss.
McLuckie was forced to rebuild virtually from scratch in the close-season after a mass exodus of players from Vics Park.
Striker Joy Goma was the only recognisable name in the starting 11 for Saturday’s Soccer Shop Challenge Cup tie against St Anthony’s.
By and large, it’s a very young group of players – all of whom have vowed to play for FREE - but McLuckie reckons they have plenty of potential.
Speaking after watching his side suffer penalty shoot-out agony against the Ants, he said: “I thought we played quite well and we had one or two players missing which didn’t help.
“We gave away a couple of bad goals in the first half then another one after the break.
“But we did well to come back into it and when it went into extra time I thought we could have won it .
“I thought our fitness levels were miles in front of them.
“We probably deserved to win against a team that has far more experience than us.”
McLuckie admits his back line missed veteran centre half Michael Holden who was forced to watch from the sidelines after picking up an injury in midweek.
But he insists the positives far outweighed the negatives after pushing Ants all the way.
“Those two goals in the first half wouldn’t have happened if Michael had been in there talking to the boys” he added.
“But we will work on that. I thought the boys did well, they dug in and I thought they showed a bit of grit and passion against bigger and more experienced players.
“To be honest, I think this is the best group of players we’ve had since we came here.
“We’ve also got a couple of players still to come so I’m pretty pleased where we are right now.”
McLuckie also reckons some argy-bargy between the sides after the game also bodes well going forward.
“I didn’t like the scenes at the end but at least the players showed they are all in it together,” he added.
At least two new faces should come back into the fold for Vics' league trip to Port Glasgow on Saturday.
Winger Ryan Morrow has returned to the club from Winton Rovers and defender Lyall Cameron has signed on loan from Whitletts after both clubs opted to sit out the season.