This end of season dead rubber lived up to its expectations providing the meager crowd that turned up zero entertainment as two patched together sides battled away to a no score bore.
With the Ayrshire Cup final looming Talbot introduced Colville Park Amateur player Thomas Airlie at right back with 52 year old Tommy Sloan grabbing a jersey. The game should have been won by Talbot due to a few good chances that were fashioned the best coming to Graham Wilson in the second half where he beat the offside trap only to smash the ball into the body of Largs keeper Lundy.
Talbot best spell came in the later stages of the first half with Tommy Sloan heading a Mark Shankland corner off the post and minutes later Dylan Stevenson found himself through on goals but shot well past. On the 26th minute Shankland and Wilson combined to give Bryan Young an opportunity and he pulled a decent save out of Lundy.
Largs had a good effort by Bennet but it was easily saved by Leishman, and soon after Jamieson kept the home sides hopes up when he blocked a Thompson netbound shot. The first half came to an end with Graham Wilson forcing Lundy into superb stop, while James Marks should have done better with a free header.
The second half was void of any real action and apart from Wilson’s squandered effort the game petered out without any major talking points.
Leishman, Airlie, McCracken, White, McPherson, Thompson, Young, Sloan, Shankland, G.Wilson, Stevenson. Subs: Latta, Lyle, S.Wilson, Hyslop, Hewitt
Talbot traveled to Kilwinning for this Weekly Press Cup semi final with a depleted squad to face a “Buffs” side who were facing the same dilemma and couldn’t even muster a substitute. Talbot’s starting line up consisted of a back four made up of three central defenders and a midfielder with young Jamie Whyte at right back and Ross Harvey in the left back berth. The centre of defensive consisted of Steven White and Neil McPherson.
Talbot were first to show and racked up a number of corners but the home side defended well, but there was a decent shout for handball in the box which the referee and linesman waved away. Kilwinning took the lead nearing the end of the first half when the makeshift Talbot defence were left flat footed and Ben Lewis rattled a decent shot past Leishman.
Talbot made a substitute at half time when Hyslop replaced the injured Harvey which forced McCracken to play at left back. Talbot were back in the game early doors when Graham Wilson fashioned himself a good opening and as Strain came off his line he lobbed a decent shot over the keeper and into the net off the under side of the crossbar.
The game was put to rest later on when McCracken was found unmarked at the faraway post and he headed past the keeper to give Talbot the tie.
It was a much changed Talbot side that faced Kilwinning at a wet and dismall Beechwood Park. This league match was a dead rubber to the Bot while the Buffs had to get something out the game to secure their play-off position.
Two amateur players Michael McConnell and Alan Paterson made the line up while it was the first start of the season for keeper Brian Hewitt. Talbot started strongly and as early as the 6th minute Stevenson lashed a shot at goal which struck a defender and spun out for a corner. Four minutes later Shankland tried his luck at a free kick which he curled over the wall and went agonizingly past the post.
Talbot’s best chance came in the 26th minute when McConnell was fouled outside the six yard box and although Shankland looked to over hit the free kick Hyslop managed to head the ball across the goal line but there was no takers.
The opening goal came in the 37th minute when a ball down the wing looked to be safely headING for McCracken but the conditions underfoot saw him slip which Kilwinning took full advantage off wheN Monan was picked out and he controlled the ball on the side of his foot and curled a shot over the advancing Hewitt which hit the underside of the bar and into the net.
Talbot replaced White with Thompson at the start of the second half and made further changes with McGoldrick coming on for Hyslop, while Milliken replaced Patterson. They changes didn’t help Talbot in anyway as Kilwinning doubled their lead in the 75th minute when a break down the left saw Hanvey being left with all the time in the world to pass the ball into the corner of Hewitt’s net.
A poor performance but good to see Hyslop on the pitch for an hour while Shankland picks up more game time.
TALBOT: Hewitt, Harvey, McCracken, McPherson, Whyte, White, Stevenson, Hyslop, O’Connell, Shankland, Paterson: SUBS: Pooler, Milliken, S.Wilson, Thomson, McGoldrick.
This was a day to forget for Talbot & their fans with the Bot well beaten by Beith & the Glens clinching the league thanks to their win over Rob Roy.
Beith were on top from the off & had Talbot on the back foot as they shot down the slope. McGowan came close to opening the scoring in the 7th minute when he headed Bradley’s cross just wide of Leishman’s left post.
The home side threatened again in the 16th minute. Bradley cut in past Milliken into the penalty area before firing a shot across goal & wide of the left post.
Talbot had a rare chance in the 18th minute. S Wilson won the ball in a 50/50 challenge 30 yards from goal & made a beeline for the box. He had Pooler spare to his right but opted to go for goal & dragged his shot wide of target.
Beith’s next chance came from a set piece following a foul on Bradley. McGowan hit it but blasted his shot over the bar from 25 yards.
The opening goal came in the 25th minute. Leishman lifted the ball down the right where Milliken headed it in field. Burke latched onto it & released an early ball down the centre where MCPHERSON raced onto it & lobbed the ball over Leishman.
Sheridan received a booking in the 35th minute for a body check on G Wilson & Bradley ought to have joined him a minute later for a rugby tackle on Pooler out by the touchline.
Beith were forced into a change in the 41st minute with Watt replacing Christie.
Talbot had a chance in the last minute of the half when Milliken swept a cross over to the back post where McCracken headed it over the bar from 6 yards.
Any hopes Talbot entertained of a comeback were effectively ended in the 55th minute with Beith’s 2nd goal. McPherson sped onto a ball over the top & whilst he was halted before he could get a shot away, the ball broke out to BRADLEY who hammered an unstoppable shot in off the right post.
Talbot had an injury scare just after the hour mark when Young fell awkwardly & took a bad head knock. After a lengthy spell of treatment he was able to groggily leave the field to be replaced by Shankland with Thomson also coming on for Milliken.
The personnel changes didn’t alter the pattern of the match & Beith continued to look the more likely.
With five minutes remaining Beith completed the scoring.
WATT was played in down the right & although Leishman spread himself well to block his 1st effort, he was helpless to prevent him slotting home the rebound.
The final whistle came as a relief to the Bot support who will be hoping the team can pick their heads up for Wednesday night’s West semi-final clash with Cumnock.
Beith – Grindlay, McGlinchey, Burke, McDonald, Sheridan, Bradley, McGowan, Frize, McPherson, Christie, Elliot
Subs – Collins, Wilson, Watt, McArthur
Talbot – Leishman, Lyle, Pope, McGoldrick, Harvey, McCracken, Young, S Wilson, Pooler, Milliken, G Wilson
Subs – Shankland, Thomson, Stevenson, White, McPherson
Talbot 1 Troon 0 (H-T 0-0)
With a lot at stake for both sides this game had a very cagey opening with little happening.
The first chance came Troon’s way in the 12th minute. Milliken’s attempted crossfield to Pope was intercepted & Barbour raced clear down the right. He played it inside to Curragh who drilled a low shot inside on target that Leishman held inside his left post.
Lyle had his name taken in the 13th minute when he nudged Nisbet off the ball as they both chased a ball over the top. Keenan took the free kick but hit a tame effort straight into the wall and he was fortunate not to end up in the ref’s notebook moments later when he barged McPherson over.
Wilson became the 2nd Bot player cautioned, when he was booked for an innocuous challenge on Nisbet in the 18th minute. This time Barbour took the set piece & his low drive clipped the outside of Talbot’s wall, forcing a full length diving save from Leishman to prevent it heading inside the left post.
Talbot did have the ball in the net in the 20th minute but it was ruled out for offside. Pope curled a free kick into the area where Young guided a header back across goal. It looked as though it may have been drifting inside the right post on its own but McCracken slid in to make sure, and he had strayed offside.
In Talbot’s next attack, Wilson showed quick feet to burst through the midfield & race toward the Troon box but his final shot sailed high over the bar.
A close offside call thwarted Talbot in the 25th minute. Pooler slid the ball through to Milliken on the left, who looked onside as he bore down on Fraser but as he knocked the ball past the advancing keeper the flag had went up & although the ball ended in the net it didn’t count.
Troon came close to taking the lead in the 32nd minute. Keenan’s pass picked out Nisbet down the right. He made for the bye line where he slung a cross over that clipped the top of the bar.
Pooler missed a golden chance to put Talbot ahead in the 34th minute. He easily intercepted Armstrong’s casual back pass to go clean through on the keeper, however he failed to take it round him & Fraser was able to smother the ball.
Talbot tested the visiting keeper again in the 40th minute. McCracken met Pope’s free kick into the area & powered a header on target that Fraser initially fumbled but gathered at the 2nd attempt.
The final chance of the half came a minute before the interval. Milliken ran onto Pope’s ball over the top, beating Fraser to it, and knocking it wide past the keeper. He gathered out on the left & swung a cross over to the back post for Thomson but it sailed over him.
Talbot had a good chance to grab the opener early in the 2nd half. Pope played the ball into the feet of McCracken inside the box & he returned the ball back to Pope. He slid the ball through to the unmarked Thomson who got his shot all wrong, tamely side-footing wide from a good area.
Keenan received a caution in the 55th minute for an aerial challenge, conceding a free kick just outside the area. Pope’s free kick struck the defensive wall & spun behind for the corner. Young whipped a dangerous corner over which Chatham headed just over his own bar.
Talbot’s task was made considerably harder in the 59th minute when they were reduced to 10 men. Wilson went charging forward down the right & dived into the tackle when the ball was running away from him. It looked as though he played the ball & his foot never left the ground, but the ref deemed it a 2nd yellow and off he went; a shocking decision, particularly as his 1st booking was a joke.
Troon failed to make the most of a good chance in the 63rd minute. Leishman bowled the ball out to McPherson 30 yards from goal but he slipped allowing Maley to nick the ball. He spotted Leishman stranded off his line & went for the early shot but hit it too near Leishman who was able to make the stop.
Talbot made a change in the 66th minute with Shankland on for Thomson.
The visitors made an attacking substitution in the 69th minute, taking Spence off & throwing Forsyth on to play up front.
The change almost paid off a minute later. Forsyth broke down the right, winning a corner, and when the corner came over & Talbot failed to clear their lines, he slid in to stab the ball just wide of the right post.
Curragh messed up a real chance to put Troon ahead in the 72nd minute. He raced clear on the left & simply had to square it across for Forsyth to roll it into the empty net but instead opted to try & go it alone. He lost control of the ball, dived to try & win a penalty, and ended with nothing but a yellow card for his troubles.
With quarter of an hour remaining Milliken climbed to beat Fraser to Pope’s hanging cross but his header drifted wide of target.
Tucker now made his 2nd switch with Stevenson coming on to replace McCracken & moments later Troon followed suit bringing Ure on for Maley.
Troon’s two subs combined in the 81st minute when Forsyth laid the ball back for Ure who fired wide from 20 yards.
Talbot’s next attack saw Shankland cut inside off the left & shoot for goal, his shot taking a slight deflection off Armstrong as it flew just wide of the left post.
Just when it looked as though the game was going to finish goal less, Talbot produced a dramatic late winner. Stevenson raced away from Chatham down the right & cut it back across the penalty area to find MILLIKEN in space 16 yards out. He worked it onto his left foot before drilling a shot past Fraser with the aid of a deflection off Armstrong.
There were contrasting emotions at the final whistle with Bot players celebrating a win that keeps them in the title hunt whilst the Troon players slumped to the surface as this defeat sealed their relegation.
Next up for Talbot is a mid-week trip to Darvel in the quarter-final of the West.Talbot – Leishman, Lyle, Pope, McPherson, McCracken, White, Young, S Wilson, Milliken, Pooler, ThomsonSubs – Stevenson, Shankland, Whyte, McLuckie, Hewitt
Troon – Fraser, Armstrong, Brown, Keenan, Collins, Chatham, Barbour, Spence, Curragh, Maley, Nisbet
Subs – Forsyth, Phillips, Simpson, Ure