- Scottish Junior Cup
- Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
- Sunday 4th June 2017
- AUCHINLECK TALBOT 1 (1)
- Keir Milliken
- GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 2 (1)
- Cameron Marlow, Alan Cairns
GLENAFTON GANG FIGHTBACK TO SETTLE OLD SCORES
Auchinlek Talbot 1 Glenafton Athletic 2
Glenafton came into their sixth Scottish Junior Cup final some 24 years after their only previous triumph in the competition against Tayport from Fife. The New Cumnock side is often reminded that they lost all other four finals to Ayrshire sides including to Auchinleck 25 years ago and more recently, three seasons ago, against Hurlford here at Rugby Park. To add to the omens their only other two Scottish Junior Cup appearances at Rugby Park, in the semi-final, had also ended in defeat. Today at Rugby Park those monkeys were removed from their backs in emphatic fashion with the defeat of not only an Ayrshire side, but the defeat of Auchinleck Talbot a side that’s name is synonymous with the Scottish Junior Cup going for their 12th ‘gold star’.
Prior to kick-off a minute’s silence was observed through the stadium as mark of respect for the victims of the terrorist attack in London on Saturday 3rd June. Five minutes after kick-off both sets of supporters joined in a minute’s applause in memory of former Talbot and Glens player Sam McCulloch; the 57-year-old New Cumnock man having passed away in January this year.
The early encounters saw Talbot enjoy the better start before the Glens began to get a foothold on the game and win several free-kicks on the outskirts of the box which where comfortably dealt with keeper Andy Leishman. However, the Afton head of steam was extinguished on 17 minutes after a classic Auchinleck counter-attack. Stevie Wilson picked up the ball deep in his own half and burst upfield with the Glens defence back-tracking before him while supported with a team-mate to his left and right. When the wall of red shirts stood firm he gave them the slip to the right hand side of the box and then slip a perfectly weighted ball for Keir Milliken to drill a low angled shot and beat Brian McGarrity as his near post; the first goal the keeper has conceded in the competition since the 2nd round.
Soon after Dwayne Hyslop passed up a decent chance to double the holders’ lead only to head well wide a Bryan Young pin-point cross from close range. The Glens regrouped and began to press for the equaliser without however fashioning a clear attempt at goal. Midway through the half the New Cumnock side were almost caught on the break again after Martin McGoldrick launched the ball upfield from the corner of the Talbot box for Graham Wilson to chase down in the Glens box only for captain Craig Menzies and Ryan McChesney to pair up and clear the danger.
Back came Glens and on this occasion McGoldrick got a clear view of Chris Dallas’s clean pair of heels as the striker collected a through ball before hitting a cracking first time shot from the edge the box which Leishman did well to cleanly catch. Meanwhile Young countered with a shot at the other end that sailed high over McGarrity’s bar.
An old fashioned stramash in the centre-circle ended with Darren McGill emerging with the ball to drive into the Talbot half where White and Young’s attempt to recover the ball was undone by an alert Dan Orsi who quickly forced his way up the right-wing. With time on his side and Dallas screaming for the ball at the near-side corner the midfielder elected instead to float an exquisite cross to the far side of box where it was met by Cameron Marlow’s late run and equally exquisite touch from 8 yards out to guide it beyond the outstretched hand of the keeper. The match all square on 28 minutes.
The game continued to be played at a frantic pace and ebbing back on forth on the sun-drenched Rugby Park pitch with a few clear-cut chances on show. The best for Talbot’s was Wilson’s long range shot that whizzed past the post with McGarrity at full stretch. While for the Glens, a long throw into the six yard box ended with Dallas’s shot deflected wide for a corner-kick which was delivered by McGill, met by Marlow and his drive well saved by Leishman.
H/T Auchinleck 1 Glenafton 1
Glenafton kicked off second half and early on forced back-to-back corner kicks that were cleared. At the other end Young chipped a free kick into the six-yard box that was punched clear by McGarrity, soon after the keeper then foiled Graham Wilson’s attempt to convert Milliken’s cross into the near post.
The Glens were patiently building attacks from the back with Kyle McAusland and Orsi on the right flank in particular seeing a lot of the ball while the Talbot preferred the more direct route trying to pick out their mobile forwards.
On 55 minutes Glenafton won the first of three corner-kicks in quick succession the third one concluding with McGill’s shot from outside the box drifting wide of the post. Talbot countered through a low angled drive by Milliken which McGarrity did well to get down and hold on his line. The keeper and his captain then survived a scare after Graham Wilson failed to capitalise on their misunderstanding in the box and a golden chance to restore Talbot’s lead was lost.
Mick McCann and Dallas combined to keep the Talbot defence on their toes as the Glens continued to press. Another corner-kick midway through the half ended with McCann’s glancing header flying wide of target. The former Talbot striker made way for Joe Andrew on 68 minutes and five minutes later Conor Lynass replaced Darren McGill; the fresh legs quickly helping to ensure that Glenafton maintained their momentum in controlling the game.
Dallas and Andrew combined well on the right before the latter chipped the ball over the top of the Talbot defence for Marlow and Dallas’s runs into the box only for Ross Harvey to break down the attack and launch the ball upfield where it was quickly snapped up by Ally Park. In acres of space the former Talbot midfielder quickly switched play to the left with a perfectly weighted square pass to Alan Cairns now breaking forward at speed with Lynass available to collect the ball wider to his left. However, the defender took one touch and then launched an unstoppable left foot shot from 30 yards out that screamed over the airborne Leishman at full stretch and into the far corner of the net.
The goal sparked off celebrations of sheer joy with Cairnsy’s smile wider than the Afton Dam as he ran towards the Glenafton support in the Frank Beattie stand with his overjoyed team-mates in hot pursuit. What a way to open your goalscoring account for the club!
The Glens had fought back to the lead on 75 minutes and the contrast in red & white elation and black & gold deflation couldn’t be more stark. The New Cumnock side were more than aware that a wounded Talbot was a dangerous beast but this was a Glenafton side that had shown great character to be crowned league champions and had completed the league double over their formidable neighbours.
Talbot responded by replacing midfielder Craig McCracken with Mark Shankland while soon after the Glens brought on the fresh legs of John Carter for fellow striker Chris Dallas with attack remaining on of the key forms of Afton’s defence.
With the Glens defence comfortably breaking down Talbot attacks at one end and the Glens attack frustrating the Talbot back-line with their defiant hold up play at the other the clock ticked on without any further clear-cut chances being created. Three minutes of added time ended with the sweet shrill of the referee’s whistle and for the Afton sweet joy was flowing amang thy green baize of Rugby Park.
F/T Auchinleck 1 Glenafton 2
Glenafton Athletic: 1. Brian McGarrity 2. Kyle McAusland 3. Alan Cairns 4. Craig Menzies 5. Ryan MChesney 6. Ally Park 7. Dan Orsi 8. Cameron Marlow 9. Chris Dallas (15. John Carter) 10. Mick McCann (14. Joe Andrew) 11. Darren McGill (16. Conor Lynass). Subs not used 12. David Gray GK. Blair Lochhead
Auchinleck Talbot: 1. Andy Leishman 2. Ross Harvey 3. Willie 4. Martin McGoldrick 5. Steven White, 6.Stephen Wilson 7. Bryan Young 8. Craig McCracken (12 Mark Shankland) 9. Keir Milliken 10. Graham Wilson 11. Dwayne Hyslop. Subs Unused: Dylan Pooler, Klark Thomson, Neil McPherson, Dylan Stevenson.
Dan Orsi collected his man-of-the-match award before lining up with his team-mates to mount the podium where captain Craig Menzies lift the Scottish Junior Cup aloft. In their first full season in charge manager Craig McEwan and his assistant Craig Potter had delivered the Western League and Scottish Cup double a truly remarkable achievement. Come Awa’ the Afton.
In their first full season in charge manager Craig McEwan and his assistant Craig Potter had delivered the Western League and Scottish Cup double a truly remarkable achievement. Come Awa’ the Afton.
Crowd and Celebrations photos here
Photos Courtesy of Mr John B Vass
Dan Orsi & Bryan Young
Dan Orsi sets to cross for Cammy Marlow to equalise
Mick McCann and Steven White