Lowland League side East Kilbride came to national attention last season when they drew Premiership champions Celtic in the Scottish Cup, and they rightly enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame. But when manager Martin Lauchlan arrived at K-Park soon afterwards, he was determined that the next time the club were in the spotlight, it would be off the back of their footballing achievements rather than the luck of the draw.

That’s the challenge he has laid down to his players ahead of today’s League Two play-off second leg against Cowdenbeath at Central Park. If East Kilbride can overcome their senior opponents this afternoon they will make history, and he senses that his men are ready to rise to the occasion.

“I took over after the Celtic game last season which put the team on the map,” Lauchlin said.

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“What people don’t realise though is that East Kilbride were fifth in the league at that point, and were 25 points behind Edinburgh City who won it.

“What we have managed to do this year is to take the good football that East Kilbride have always played and been renowned for, and married that to a winning mentality that was maybe missing before.

“I have said to the boys in the past, drawing Celtic in the Scottish Cup was luck. It was good fortune that made people aware of the side.

“This season, let’s earn that recognition through what we do on the pitch, and the players have responded brilliantly.

“We had the longest unbeaten run which got us the great gesture from Ajax after we beat their record, we have one of the best defensive records in the country and we have won the Lowland League.

“Now, people know East Kilbride because of what we have achieved as a football team.”

The tie is delicately-poised after a goalless draw in last Saturday’s first-leg in East Kilbride, with goalkeeper Matt McGinley’s last minute penalty save keeping the scores even going into today’s encounter.

But Lauchlin saw enough in last week’s game, as well as in their win over today’s opponent in the Scottish Cup earlier this season, to suggest that his men have what it takes to triumph this afternoon.

“We should have won the game last week in my opinion,” he said. “We missed three or four really good chances, although Cowdenbeath will point to the penalty miss they had at the end too.

“All in all, the draw sets us up for a cracking game at their place, and it is one that we are going into with excitement and enthusiasm.

“We have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain, while the Cowdenbeath players will be anxious and fearing that they will lose their place in the league set-up.

“There will be a big home crowd, and that can be a negative thing as well as a good thing a lot of the time, especially in situations like this. If we can get an early goal or get on top early on, then we know that the crowd will get anxious and that can transmit onto the park and into the players’ heads.

“It’s all on the line for them, whereas we have had a successful season no matter what. That’s not to say we aren’t desperate to win, of course we are.

“We’ve already been up and beat them in the Scottish Cup, and we had 10 men for almost the whole second half. That gives us confidence.

One thing that Lauchlin may have to contend with should East Kilbride’s success continue, is bigger clubs coming in for his players. Whether Adam Strachan’s bold ambitions are fulfilled or not this summer though, remains to be seen.

“If we get up then it will mean that Adam has won promotion at every level, so he says he will be leaving to join Celtic in the summer so that he can win the one league title he is still missing!” joked Lauchlin.

“I’m not sure if that will happen for him, but it shows the relaxed mood that is about the camp.

“One of the key factors in our success is that we tell the boys to go out there and enjoy playing football. I mean, isn’t that why you play the game in the first place?

“I look at some of these boys higher up the leagues and I think; ‘you aren’t even enjoying playing the game.’ For me, playing football is supposed to be fun, so get a smile on your face and remember why you fell in love with the game in the first place.

“That’s the attitude our boys will have on Saturday, with no pressure on their shoulders at all. If we win, fantastic.”