Aitken has to tread warily

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Stenhousemuir, the unsung leaders of the Bell's Scottish League Second Division, will today try to inflict serious damage on Roy Aitken's chances of securing the managership of Aberdeen on a permanent basis, writes Rupert Metcalf.

The part-timers from Larbert, who have lost only once in 20 games, have decided to stay at their humble Ochilview ground for their Tennents Scottish Cup fourth-round encounter with the Dons, who have confirmed that Aitken, the former Celtic and Scotland midfield battler, will remain in caretaker charge at Pittodrie until the end of the season, following the sacking of Willie Miller.

That gives Aitken a modicum of job security, but he knows that defeat today will hardly help his chances of long-term employment at Aberdeen, and he cannot afford to underestimate Stenhousemuir. "I saw them beat St Johnstone 4-0 in the last round, so our attitude has to be right for this game," he said.

Promotion this season is a priority for Stenhousemuir, who are known as the Warriors. They have not won a trophy in their 111-year extistence. "We play Berwick on the Tuesday after the cup tie and then Morton the following Saturday, so it is a vital period," Terry Christie, their manager. said. The midfielder Jimmy Fisher is Stenhousemuir's only injury doubt, after breaking his nose at Brechin on Tuesday, but he looks set to play.

While Aberdeen travel south to Larbert, the cup holders, Dundee United, head north to Huntly. The Press and Journal Highland League club expect a 4,400 sell-out at Christie Park for the tie against Ivan Golac's men. Steve Paterson, once a Manchester United player and now the Huntly manager, has claimed his side will score against their Premier Division opponents.

"To entertain the holders is the stuff of dreams. I reckon ours is the best Highland League team in the last 15 to 20 years," Paterson said. "I won't predict we will win, but I bet we'll score a goal."

Dundee United's assistant manager, Gordon Wallace, said: "We will treat Huntly the way we would any other opposition - with respect."

Hibernian and Motherwell meet at Easter Road in today's only all-Premier Division tie, with the quarter-final draw due to take place there after the match. There are two all First-Division ties involving the four sides bidding for promotion. Airdrie entertain Dunfermline at Broadwood, while Jimmy Nicholl's Coca-Cola Cup holders, Raith Rovers, travel to Dundee. At Rugby Park, the Kilmarnock manager, Alex Totten, faces his old club, East Fife, now managed by Steve Archibald, the former Tottenham and Barcelona striker.