Both sides played their part in an entertaining, end to end cup clash played out against a backdrop of unrelenting rain but it was Talbot who proved the more clinical in the final third to beat a young Braves side and advance in the South Challenge cup.
Talbot were given an early warning it wouldn’t be an easy night when Stafford conceded a free kick 25 yards from goal out wide on the left. Lindsay delivered a dangerous ball across the face of goal toward the back post but no one read it & Talbot were able to clear.
The Bot’s first attack exposed defensive frailties when Stafford did well down the wing before slinging a cross into the centre. Henry made a meal of it, flapping it into the path of Graham Wilson 10 yards out but he was closed down just before getting his shot away.
The opening goal came Talbot’s way in the 16th minute. Aiden Wilson won a corner down the left which Glasgow swept into the near post where GRAHAM WILSON met it to head home.
This proved to be a short-lived lead as within 2 minutes the visitors had won a penalty down the other end. Main turned smartly inside the box and when he was clipped the ref pointed straight to the spot & KELLY gave Leishman no chance with a coolly taken spot kick to level it.
A few minutes later Talbot had a half chance to regain the lead. Leishman launched a ball down field that deflected into the path of Samson just outside the penalty area but he fired wide of the left post.
The visitors very nearly took the lead in the 22nd minute. They broke down the right and when the ball was cut back into the path of McLear he steered a low shot on target that Leishman saved at full stretch – tipping it wide of his left post.
It was then Talbot’s turn to threaten as they broke down the left. Glasgow found Aiden Wilson on the overlap and when his cross came over Graham Wilson powered a header on target that Henry parried away.
In the 26th minute it was Talbot’s turn to win a penalty. Glasgow dropped his shoulder & went past a defender and when he was bowled over the ref pointed to the spot. Glasgow took it but Henry guessed correctly and threw himself to his right to make the save. The visitors now sprang onto the counter and won a free kick 25 yards out which Lindsay hit into the wall.
Talbot’s next attack saw Healy go close in the 32nd minute. Robbie McCracken won a corner down the right which Glasgow took. It was slightly overhit but retrieved wide left by Healy who played a one-two with Aiden Wilson before attempting a curling shot that went just wide of the far post.
A moment of slackness from Main gifted Talbot the lead in the 35th minute. He inexplicably attempted to pass it back toward his own box from midway inside his own half and KIER SAMSON pounced on it to rifle a low shot past the keeper to put Talbot 2-1 ahead.
In the 39th minute Talbot extended their lead. A low ball up to the edge of the penalty area was dummied leaving the defence flat-footed and DWAYNE HYSLOP raced in behind to fire it across the keeper to make it 3-1 and give Talbot a two goal cushion going into the break.
The first chance of the 2nd period went to the visitors in the 51st minute when they swiftly countered following a Talbot corner. They broke up the left & Craig McCracken had to turn it behind for the corner. When the corner came in it was only partially cleared and fell to Kelly 16 yards out and he tested Leishman with a low drive that Andy saved to his left.
A 4th goal would have ended it and Talbot came very close in the 55th minute. Graham Wilson met a floated ball & head flicked it on. Samson was offside but coming back & left it & as the defence hesitated Graham Wilson ran onto his own head flick and fired a shot just wide of the right post.
On the hour mark Talbot caught the Braves on the counter surging up field towards the box. The ball broke to Hyslop 25 yards out & he slipped a pass through to find Samson inside the area but his low drive was smothered by the keeper.
Two minutes later Glasgow had a half chance to kill the tie off. Leishman’s long ball cleared the defence and found him racing in behind down the left. He looked favourite but pulled out of the challenge allowing the defender to knock it clear.
Tucker made his 1st change on 65 mins with Armstrong on for Healy.
Talbot’s next attack saw the front two combine with Wilson flicking it out wide left to Samson and he tried to find Wilson in front of goal but his cut back went behind him.
With 20 minutes remaining Talbot made a 2nd change with Mason coming on for Graham Wilson and 2 minutes later the visitors made their 1st substitution with Gouvenou on for Lindsay.
Aiden Wilson became the 1st booking of the night in the 76th minute when he conceded a free kick 22 yards out. Before it could be taken both sides made a further change – McDowall replacing Glasgow for Talbot and Guthrie on for Brown for the visitors.
Walker took the free kick but hit it straight into the wall and then lashed the rebound well off target.
In the 82nd minute Talbot raced down the left through Mason who got to the bye line before pulling it back to the edge of the area where Hyslop’s low drive at goal was blocked by a defender.
Play then immediately switched to the other end where Stafford conceded a free kick outside the area. Braves now made their final change with Testa on for McLeary. The free kick came into the near post where Armstrong cleared it away.
With 4 minutes remaining McDowall became the 2nd Bot player in the book when he was penalised for a challenge out on the right. The free kick was delivered into the centre where Leishman came for it amidst a crowd of players but couldn’t claim it. The ball came to Forrester who steered a header goal ward but Leishman reacted to clutch it.
Two minutes from time Talbot almost grabbed a 4th. Stafford switched play out to the left to find Aiden Wilson bursting into the box and his shot took a slight deflection with Henry doing well to tip it onto the bar.
The visitors kept pushing and in the final minute Walker’s shot from the edge of the area took a deflection and looped toward goal forcing Leishman to turn it over the bar.
Deep into injury time there was one final piece of drama. McDowall clipped Guthrie at the right edge of the area and the ref initially awarded a penalty but the stand side linesman flagged him over & after consulting him he gave a free kick just outside the box which Talbot cleared when it came over and soon after the ref blew for full time.
A good win for Talbot over lively opponents who made Talbot work hard for it. Next up the Bot are back on cup duty – this time in the Scottish Junior cup where they travel east to face Shotts Bon Accord.
Auchinleck Talbot – Leishman, Stafford, Aiden Wilson, McPherson, Craig McCracken, Hyslop, Robbie McCracken, Healy, Graham Wilson, Samson, Glasgow
Subs – Mason, Boylan, Armstrong, Boyd, McDowall, White, Hewitt
Caledonian Braves – Henry, Brown, Walker, Duncan, McDowall, Forrester, Main, Lindsay, McLear, Armstrong, Kelly
Subs – Miller, Guthrie, Gouvenou, Testa, Duffy
|March 9, 2022||19:30||SOUTH REGION CHALLENGE CUP||2021/22|
|Team||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals|
|8||Kieran Healy 14||Midfielder||0||0||0||0|
|14||Gareth Armstrong 8||Defender||0||0||0||0|
|9||Graham Wilson 12||Forward||1||0||0||0|
|12||Aaron Mason 9||Midfielder||0||0||0||0|