WITH A MANAGEMENT trio who have all enjoyed spells with Hearts, Allan Johnston admits Dunfermline are relishing the chance to take on the Premiership giants in the Betfred Cup.
The Pars were seeded for the second round of the cup after four wins from four in the group stages but Sunday’s draw could have been kinder.
The Fifers will at least have the bonus of home advantage but, with Hearts having won their last two cup games 5-0, Johnston acknowledges his side faces a mammoth task in trying to replicate the shock they managed last season with their 2-2 draw at Tynecastle.
He told Capital City Press: “It’s definitely an exciting draw. Hearts are obviously a massive club and I think they’ll be a much-improved team from the one we faced last year.
“Craig Levein has taken over as manager since then and is vastly experienced. You can see with the Inverness result at the weekend they’ve got the makings of a very good team.
“I’ve been at Hearts and I know the expectations as well, they’ll be expected to come here and win, so all the pressure, I suppose, is on Hearts.
“It’s definitely a game where we want to go and cause them problems. We want to make sure that we put in a really good performance and give ourselves a chance of winning the game.
“We’ve got good players and a lot of young lads who want to go and play at that level, at a higher level, so I’m sure they’ll be right up for it.
“In games like this you need to be at your very best to get a result, because they’ve got top players.
“But it’s games like this you want to play in, especially with the atmosphere. We’ll have a big crowd and Hearts will bring a massive crowd, so it’s an exciting one.”
Johnston began his career as a youth at Hearts and went on to play almost 100 times for the club, whilst assistant Sandy Clark spent five years as a player and also had a spell as manager of the Jambos.
With new first-team coach Stevie Crawford having recently been number two to Robbie Neilson at Tynecastle, Dunfermline are not short of connections with their cup opponents.
Johnston added: “I loved my time at Hearts, as did Stevie and Sandy as well. We’ve got a lot of good memories of our times there.
“It’s a great club, and one I’ll always look out for, especially because it’s where I started my career; that’s always a special one.
“But, you know what it’s like, we’ll be dying to get one over on them.”