CUMNOCK manager John McKeown is relishing the challenge of taking on rivals Auchinleck Talbot in the semi-finals of the West of Scotland Cup.

The Townhead Park side beat Kirkintilloch Rob Roy 5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 to set up the derby at Beechwwod Park.

After two close matches alredy this season, the Cumnock gaffer is looking forward to the match on May 27.

McKeown told the Chronicle: "It's doesn't get any tougher than that, does it? Away at Auchinleck.

"They're competing on all fronts. We came close the last time out here [Townhead Park] but not close enough so that's the challenge to the boys.

"If they want to take it one step further, that's the top of the junior game. We'll be respectful but we'll obviously go and get stuck in as well and we'll do our best to get the result and get to a final."

Before then, though, their opponents have crucial league fixtures away to Beith on Saturday, May 20, and at home to Kilwinning Rangers on Monday, May 22.

However, McKeown doesn't think this will give his side the edge. He said: "It can be [an advantage] but, the flip side of it, when I played, I used to prefer playing midweek games and keeping it going because you're just in habits and your momentum's kept going.

"Sometimes it can work for you so I don't think we'll read too much into that.

"I'm sure their adrenelin, because it's a local derby, will take them through, especially the semi-final of a cup. I don't think Auchinleck will have any issues there.

"Fingers crossed, we can go and match that enthusiasm and go and play well. Obviously, it's a good surface up at Beechwood.

"Earlier on in the season, we went up there and we didn't do ourselves justice so we're hoping this time we can go and make ammends for it."

Nock had already eliminate Clydebank, Kilbirnie Ladeside and Blantyre Victoria before they toppled title challengers Rob Roy. McKeown knows that if they can reach the same level of performance that ousted Rabs, then they will have a chance against Talbot.

After the match, McKeown said: "It wasn't half [a tight match]. They're a right good side, they're challenging for the league and they've already won a cup.

"I watched them Saturday against Beith and I thought they were excellent so I knew what to expect.

"In terms of clear cut chances, I think we had more and if we score the penalty in the first minute it could be a different game.

"To be fair to [Paul] Burns, second half he's turned it on and made ammends for it, he was excellent.

"I think we played good football. Don't get me wrong, the last 15 minutes of the first half I was concerned. I thought when they got their goal they were dominating.

"We had a wee word at half time and I felt as if we we stepped it up a wee bit so I'm delighted.

"I feel as if we did enough to deserve that win to be honest with you. That's my opinion, but I'm going to be biased."