Talbot completed a clean sweep of victories over old foes Cumnock, defeating them for the 4th time this season to book their place in the Evening Times cup final.
The Talbot ranks were depleted by injury & the defence had a makeshift look about it with Lyle partnering White in the centre of defence, Boyd filling in at right-back & the management team doubling as substitutes.
Despite this, Talbot got off to a strong start & nearly took the lead after 4 minutes. Pope fired a free kick from his own half into the Cumnock box which Hyslop headed down into the path of Shankland whose shot just cleared the crossbar.
Ronald looked Cumnock’s main threat, and he provided Malone with a chance in the 9th minute when he got round the outside of Pope & fired a low cross into the near post which Malone flicked on target, only for Leishman to produce a fine save to deny him.
Cumnock made an early change, bringing on Scott in place of McKenzie after 17 minutes.
Johnson was called into action in the 19th minute after Love fed the ball back to Young on the right & his cross to the back post had to be punched clear by the Nock keeper.
Milliken came close a few minutes later when he out-muscled Esplin to win the ball just outside the Nock box before firing over the bar.
Samson had his name taken in the 26th minute when he tripped Steven Wilson 22 yards out, just as he was about to shoot. Shankland took the free kick & curled it over the wall for the far corner. It looked to be heading in but Johnson dived full length to tip it round his right post.
Talbot were making most of the running & they threatened again in the 32nd minute. Love played it out right to find Shankland & he played an inviting ball across the face of the penalty area but there was no one in the 6-yard box to convert for Talbot.
Wilson ought to have put Talbot ahead in the 34th minute when he met Milliken’s cross from the left but he guided a free header over the bar from the centre of goal.
Finally, Talbot made their pressure count in the 36th minute when they moved ahead with a well-constructed goal. Talbot players swapped passes down the right before Milliken squared it across to YOUNG & he passed the ball inside Johnson’s left post from 18 yards to give Talbot the lead.
Cumnock hadn’t offered much threat but they did have a half chance right on the stroke of half-time when Boyd conceded a free kick 30 yards out. Scott hit it but whilst he got it up & over the wall it didn’t dip in time & flew over the bar & Talbot went in a goal ahead at the interval.
There was no let up from Talbot after the re-start & they made all of the early running in the 2nd half. Shankland sent Boyd free down the right in the 51st minute & Lundie did well to head his dangerous cross clear in the centre.
Moments later the Nock defence were stretched again. Love beat Wood to Shankland’s hanging cross & nodded it back across goal where Young attempted to steer it home, only to see his effort blocked by Murphy.
The pressure continued & Talbot won a free kick wide right of the penalty area which Shankland swept to the far post where Pope just failed to make contact.
Cumnock managed to force a couple of corners in quick succession but could make nothing of them and then Ronald had a half chance when he latched onto a ball over the top but he dragged it out wide left before firing a shot well wide of target.
Cumnock were thrown a lifeline in the 59th minute when hesitant defending allowed them to equalise. There seemed little danger when a ball came over the top but Lyle hesitated for a fraction, letting it bounce, and SCOTT nicked in behind him & slotted it past Leishman to make it 1-1.
Rather than lift Cumnock the goal seemed to energise Talbot who stepped up a gear.
Steven Wilson had a decent crack at goal in the 61st min when he cut in from the left & fired wide of target. A minute later Hyslop had a half chance to restore Talbot’s lead. Love closed down Crawford & blocked his attempted clearance. It spun inside the area to Hyslop who could have hit it 1st time but opted to take a touch & Murphy was able to block.
Milliken then tried his luck from distance, firing a powerful shot wide of target from 30 yards.
The referee bizarrely awarded Cumnock a free kick when Hyslop beat his opposite number to the ball & kicked it off him, and Talbot nearly paid for the referee’s blunder when Scott whipped a dangerous ball in from the right that glanced off the top of Murphy’s head & wide of target.
Wilson squandered a golden chance to put Talbot ahead in the 68th minute. He threaded the ball out to Milliken on the right of the area & Johnson could only parry his shot on target. The ball came out to Wilson 12 yards from goal but he shot past the right hand post with the keeper stranded.
Watt found himself in the book in the 69th minute for dissent & Steven Wilson joined him a few minutes later when he was penalised for a late tackle.
The longer the game went on the more Talbot asserted their authority, pushing Cumnock back deeper & deeper into their own half.
Cumnock had a rare chance to test the Bot defence in the 80th minute. Hyslop conceded a free kick out on the right for a foul on Samson, receiving a booking into the bargain, & Scott whipped the ball over to the far post but it proved to have just too much on it & no one could get a touch.
Talbot were unfortunate not to take the lead in the 82nd minute. Shankland fizzed a cross over from the right touchline for Love to attack. He dived to head it for goal but it cannoned off Crawford & flew just past the post.
A minute later Talbot missed their 2nd glaring chance of the evening. Love did well out on the wing, jinking past Wood into the penalty area. He pulled it back for Young whose shot was blocked by a defender. The ball broke kindly, falling to Shankland straight in front of goal but he opted to go for power & the spectacular finish & ended up volleying over from 8 yards.
Fortunately, no harm was done as Talbot took the lead in their next attack. Leishman knocked the ball out to Young & he scurried forward from midfield before releasing it out right to MILLIKEN who slammed a low drive past Johnson to put Talbot 2-1 ahead in the 84th minute.
Cumnock looked a beaten team & frustration got to Ronald who picked up a caution for a clumsy challenge on Milliken.
Tucker made a late change in the 87th minute when Love limped off the field to be replaced by Findlay. The sub almost made the perfect impact, lobbing a shot on target from out wide on the right that Johnson had to claw away from his right hand post.
In the closing seconds Wood managed to escape a yellow card despite persistent chirping at the ref, only to get booked in injury time for flattening Shankland by the corner flag. Talbot took the free kick short & worked it back to Hyslop who thundered a shot over the bar from 25 yards in the last action of the match.
This was a good performance from the Bot who could and should have won by a more convincing margin. Next for Talbot is the season’s finale at Newlandsfield where they will be presented with the league trophy before facing Renfrew in the Evening Times final.
Cumnock – Johnson, Wood, Crawford, Lundie, Murphy, Esplin, Ronald, Samson, Watt, Malone, McKenzie
Subs – Scott, Quinn, Lowe, Shepherd
Talbot – Leishman, Lyle, Pope, Hyslop, White, Boyd, Young, S Wilson, Milliken, Shankland, Love
Subs – Sloan, McLuckie, Findlay, Johnstone
|June 6, 2016||19:30||Evening Times Cup||2015/16|