Glenafton 3 Shotts 2

Scottish Junior Cup 5th round

Saturday 22nd February, Loch Park, New Cumnock

GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 3 (3)

SHOTTS BON ACCORD 2 (2)

Aaron Connolly scores what proves to be the winner.

Aaron Connolly scores what proves to be the winner.

The Glens marched into the Scottish Junior Cup Quarter-finals after a 3-2 win over a slick Shotts side in a pulsating encounter at Loch Park. All the goals came in the opening half with the lead changing back and forth. Both sides deserve great credit for serving up an excellent cup tie.

Glenafton got off to a dream start with Michael Reilly earning two corners in quick succession. Chris Walker headed the first of Findlay Frye’s kicks clear but his second fell at the feet of Ryan McChesney , who took a touch with his left before hooking it with his right through a ruck of defenders in the six yard box and sweetly into the net.

Ryan McChesney opens the scoring

Ryan McChesney opens the scoring

A minute later Aaron Connolly evaded Bryan Wharton to engineer a lob from the left corner of the penalty box to send Gary Whyte scurrying back to his line and watch the ball skim inches wide of the post.

Shotts soon found their feet, stroking the ball about with some style and Gary McStay served noticed when his drive cracked off the base of the post. On 15 minutes the visitors were back on level terms.  Steven Canning threaded a ball into the box and as a line of Glens defenders stood motionless with arms aloft claiming offside Jack Marriot continued his run undaunted and forced a brave save from the outrushing Brian McGarrity but the keeper could do nothing to prevent the alert Sean McKenna from keeping his nerve and placing the ball into the far corner of the net – memories of his four goals for Bellshill in a Scottish Junior Cup tie three season ago now engulfing Loch Park.

Sean McKenna equalises

Sean McKenna equalises

Glens responded with a corner kick and a shot from the edge of the box both of which Whyte clutched cleanly.

Mid-way through the half McKenna released Tom Hanlon in acres of space in the right hand side of the box but the midfielder skewed his effort well wide of target. On 33 minutes McKenna menaced his way past two defenders into the right hand corner of the six yard box and with McGarrity guarding his near post tried to guide the ball in at the other, only for it to roll inches wide of the post and the sole of the boot of the incoming Andy Cross.

Four minutes later McKenna left white shirts in his wake as he weaved his way into the box but his finish failed to match the quality of the build up and his shot from a narrow angle found the side netting.  A minute later the striker was deep in the box again and with Craig Menzies blocking his way to goal he delicately chipped the ball into the six yard box for Andy Cross to glance a header beyond the reach of McGarrity.

Andy Cross puts Shotts ahead

Andy Cross puts Shotts ahead

The home side surrendered possession from the kick-off and McKenna, back in the box, forced a decent save from the Glens goalie.

Shell-shocked Glens were unfortunate not to equalise on 42 minutes when Connolly left Walker in his wake and blasted into the box to clip the ball beyond Whyte only for the back tracking Wharton to clear the ball off the line at the expense of a corner-kick. This was only partially cleared and a Connolly cross from the right saw Cameron Marlow nick between Marriot and Whyte to rise and guide his header into the net.

Cammy Marlow heads home the equaliser

Cammy Marlow heads home the equaliser

In time added on Glenafton won a free kick on outskirts of the right hand corner of the penalty box. The expected pop at goal did not materialise and Connolly squared the ball for Alain Kinney to shoot only for the referee call play back for early movement In the Shotts wall.

Aaron Connolly's free kick  finds the net

Aaron Connolly’s free kick finds the net

Once bitten, twice shy and Aaron Connolly curled a beauty which took a slight deflection before crashing into the net at Whyte’s near post.  HT Glens 3 Shotts 2

Glens replaced Michael Reilly with Alan Cairns who slotted in at left back with Jamie McGeoghan switching to the right and Craig McEwan in right midfield. The reshuffle was soon put to the test as Shotts came out with all guns firing and controlled the match for long periods with only glimpses of the Glens as an attacking force.

McGarrity was quickly in the thick of it and on 48 minutes got down well to grab the ball as Cross threatened in the six yard box.  The pressure began to mount and McChesney and Menzies marshalled the defence to repel attack after attack. Just before the hour mark a couple of corners were cleared off the line. The first saw Cairns and McGarrity double-team to prevent McStay’s effort and then McEwan blocked Cross’s near post header.

Gary McStay foiled by Brian McGarrity and Alan Cairns

Gary McStay foiled by Brian McGarrity and Alan Cairns

Some respite for the home side after Kinney picked out Frye only for his run into the box to be ended by substitute Paul Burns. Back came Shotts and a free-kick into the box was won by the head of Walker and as McGarrity dived bravely at the feet of McStay to gather the ball he took a knock on the face that required a few minutes treatment.

Brian Mcgarrity saves from Gary McStay

Brian Mcgarrity saves from Gary McStay

With 15 minutes to go the Glens twice almost caught Shotts in the break. McGeoghan released Connolly wide on the right and his run from the half way light saw him skip past Burns before Cross forced him wide in the penalty box and his low drilled angled shot was well save by Whyte. A minute later Frye sent Connolly flying down the right flank and on this occasion the Glens’ striker had a free run into the box but again Whyte came out on top as he rushed from his line to narrow the angle and block the shot with his shins.

Back came Shotts and substitute Clark Rankin’s delicate flick in the box picked out fellow sub Jordan White in space but with only the keeper to beat he miscued his effort well wide of target. Soon after it was Rankin that had the Glens’ goal in sight only for Menzies to quickly close in and deflect this effort inches wide for a corner, which too was bundled clear at the same near post.

Glenafton's defence stands firm

Glenafton’s defence stands firm

With five minutes to go Glens almost stunned Shotts with a sucker punch. Marlow outwitted two defenders at the edge of the box before lashing an angled shot that was pushed away by Whyte at full stretch, Connolly gathered the loose ball and fed it back into the danger area where Frye fired for goal but Whyte again came to the rescue and smothered the ball safely.

In the dying minutes Glens introduced midweek signing Darren McGill for Alain Kinney as they tried to see out the game. Shotts found a final wind and yet they could not break down a determined home rear guard.  A great run down the left by Cross was ended with a gritty tackle by McEwan at the expense of a corner, which uncharacteristically was fired into the side netting. On 95 minutes a Shotts throw in from the right, deep into the box, was headed clear by Cairns and mopped up by McChesney prior to the arms being raised aloft to welcome the final whistle. FT Glens 3 Shotts 2

Glenafton Athletic:  McGarrity; McEwan. McChesney, Menzies, McGeoghan; Reilly (Cairns), Frye, McKernon, Marlow; Connolly & Kinney (McGill). Subs Craig, Brown

Shotts Bon Accord: Whyte; Finnigan (Rankin); Walker, Wharton (Burns), Summers; Hanlon, J.Marriot, Canning, Cross; McKenna & McStay (White)

More photo here

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