In a game of few chances, Talbot did enough to see off a toothless East Kilbride side and book their place in the last 8 of the South Challenge cup.
The vistors started on the front foot but without offering much of a threat in the final third and the first clear chance of the game went Talbot’s way in the 9th minute when Currie fluffed a clearance straight at Boylan who opted to hit it early with the keeper well off his line but fired it well over the bar.
The Bot put together a good move in the 14th minute. Shankland showed composure before threading a pass out right to find Boylan. He switched play to the far side of the box where Healy hooked a cross back across goal and a defender just beat Mason to it to nod it behind. When the corner came over McCracken powered a header on target but it flew straight at Currie.
McCracken was involved again a few minutes later when he attempted to slide a ball into the path of Graham Wilson inside the area but it was just too firm and G couldn’t get on the end of it.
Graham Wilson picked up what appeared to be a harsh booking in the 21st minute. He went in fully committed to a 50/50 challenge as did the Kilby player but the ref awarded them the free kick and showed Wilson a yellow card. McLaughlin took the resultant free kick and delivered a good ball into the centre where MacDonald ran onto it but steered a free header well-wide of the left hand post.
Talbot broke the deadlock in the 25th minute. The Bot were awarded a free kick out wide on the left that Aiden Wilson took quickly and knocked it short into the feet of Shankland. He swept a pinpoint cross into the back post where BRYAN BOYLAN raced onto it to steer a shot home from 4 yards.
The visitors tried to hit back immediately and from the re-start worked the ball down the right where Allansan whipped a dangerous ball across that McPherson cleared.
Talbot nearly doubled their lead in the 27th minute. Graham Wilson gathered just outside the area and passed it into the feet of Shankland down the left of the box. He skipped past MacDonald and fired a low drive on target that was well saved by the outstretched boot of Currie.
In the 29th minute Talbot got in behind the Kilby defence again. Armstrong played it out right toward Boylan whose dummy created the space for Crawford to burst forward and fizz a good ball across the face of goal which Currie managed to hold onto.
East Kilbride weren’t having much joy in the final third. In the 36th minute McPherson, under pressure from McGuire could only clear it as far as McLaughlin in space on the left but when he swung a cross into the back post Bradley-Hurst came off his line to claim it.
The half petered out with Talbot under no real pressure and they went in a goal ahead at the break.
Tucker made a change during the interval and when the team came back out Wardrope was on in place of Graham Wilson.
The Bot made a good start to the 2nd half and within a minute of the re-start Wardrope got free on the right and his cut back almost found Shankland in the box.
Action then switched to the other end where Allasan paced away on the right and fired a low ball across goal that the Talbot keeper smothered.
A second goal would have settled it as Kilby didn’t look capable of coming back from two adrift and the Bot threatened to grab it in the 51st minute. A cross came off a defender and behind for the corner and when the corner came in Currie had to punch it clear. It came out to McPherson on the right and he chipped it into the path of Shankland 16 yards out who couldn’t have hit it much better on the volley but it arrowed straight at Currie who did well not to spill it.
Kilby’s only shot on target all afternoon came in the 52nd minute. A long throw from the right was only partially cleared and it fell to McLaughlin on the right of the box whose low drive was spilled by Bradley-Hurst but cleared by the defence.
East Kilbride made a change after 58 mins with McBeth coming on in place of Taylor.
Four minutes later Talbot made a double change up top with Shankland & Mason making way for Samson & Smith.
The spate of substitutions continued with the visitors throwing on Kirkpatrick and McHugh for Allasan and McGuire.
In the 68th minute Kilby were awarded a free kick 35 yards out for a foul by Wilson. B Hughes floated it over to the back post where McPherson had to head it behind for a corner. When the corner came into the near post Boylan headed it clear.
With 20 mins remaining Armstrong’s cushioned header found Wardrope inside the penalty area but his low drive was blocked en route by a defender.
The visitors had to make a change with quarter of an hour remaining when Lithgow limped off to be replaced by Miller.
Ten minutes from time Talbot twice came close in quick succession to putting the game beyond doubt. Wardrope’s ball into the area was flicked into Samson’s path by Smith and Currie produced a fine save with his feet to keep out his low drive. The ball came out to Healy at the edge of the area and his half volley was dipping under the bar until Currie tipped it over.
Talbot now made a final change with Taylor coming on for Healy.
The game meandered to a close without Talbot looking to be in any danger and the Bot saw the game out to win 1-0.
Next up for Talbot, weather permitting, it’s back to league business when high-flying Beith visit Beechwood under the floodlights this coming Wednesday.
Auchinleck Talbot – Bradley-Hurst, Crawford, Aiden Wilson, McPherson, McCracken, Armstrong, Healy, Graham Wilson, Mason, Shankland, Boylan
Subs – Taylor, Smith, Samson, Wardrope, Lennox, Park, Ballantyne
East Kilbride FC – Currie, MacDonald, Taylor, Morgan, Lithgow, Thomson, McGuire, McLaughlin, Connell, B Hughes, Allasan
Subs – McBeth, Miller, Kirkpatrick, McHugh, R Hughes, McLean (gk)
Talbot v East Kilbride Man Of The Match Awards
Old Crocks – Gareth Armstrong presented by Billy Waddell.
John Liddell & Friends – Gareth Armstrong presented by John Haggerty.
H & V Commissioning Services, Galston – Gareth Armstrong presented by Richard Stewart.
Auchinleck Outdoor BC – Gareth Armstrong presented by President Kenny Lorimer.
Killie Travel Club – Joshua Bradley-Hurst picked up by Chris Stafford and presented by Jim Wilson.
Mauchline BC – Gareth Armstrong presented by newly elected President for 2023 Johnny Eaglesham.
Loons Supporters Club – Neil McPherson presented by Aaron Lindsay.
Corporate Sponsor) Leighton McBlain presented his award to Neil McPherson.
Match Ball Sponsor – Emerald Contracts.