Auchinleck Talbot boss Tucker Sloan won his sixth Junior Cup – and his 25th trophy as club manager – in the most dramatic of fashions at Rugby Park last night. Trailing at the end of 90 minutes, his cup specialists scored twice in time added on to win the old trophy for the 12th time in the club’s history.
As another multi-trophy-winning manager might have said: “Football, bloody hell.” Sloan, however, could only say: “Wow! I thought we had lost it, but we found a way to win and I have never been involved in as dramatic a finish.”Even in victory, he had time for his former team-mate Darren Henderson, the Hurlford manager, who admitted: “I am still scratching my head as to how we lost that. But, fair play to Talbot, they have done this before to better teams than us and, if you cannot defend crosses, you lose.“I could not have asked for more from my players but this is the biggest kick in the teeth I’ve ever had. We are a small club but we gave the best a real game today.”As Sloan admitted, in the first half, United had bullied Talbot, going in front in four minutes after Ross Robertson – as he did in 2014 – won then converted a penalty. It was all Hurlford thereafter but, in 37 minutes, Talbot levelled when Gordon Pope’s deep free-kick was dinked back into the danger zone by Stephen Wilson for an unmarked Dwayne Hyslop to head home.Indeed, Talbot, having barely been in the game, might have led at the break but a Graham Wilson header was cleared off the line.In 54 minutes, Talbot’s Jamie Glasgow ran 50 metres but, with Graham Wilson unmarked and screaming or the square pass, he shot and the chance was lost. Wilson was clearly unhappy as he berated his team-mate.“We had started the second half well and maybe if we had scored then it might have been easier. However, credit to Hurlford, they made us work for it,” said Sloan.That missed chance seemed to come back and bite Talbot in 63 minutes when, with a handful of players waiting for a whistle which never came, Paul McKenzie kept playing, gathering the loose ball to drive past Pope and fire Hurlford back in front.Thereafter, Talbot appeared to run out of ideas before Sloan went to his bench and the inspired introduction of Mark Shankland and Gareth Armstrong. The changes took some time to work but, as the match moved into time added-on, they struck.Shankland’s corner from the left was nodded home by Graham Wilson and, from nowhere, Talbot had a lifeline. And how they grasped it.Time ticked on into the third added minute and Talbot won themselves another corner, this time from the right-hand side. Again, Shankland’s delivery was spot-on and the other substitute, Craig McCracken, pictured inset, rose to head home what, two minutes before, had seemed the least likely of winners, to take the cup to Auchinleck for the 12th time.As veteran football writers in the press box were only too ready to tell their younger colleagues, that’s what Talbot do in the Scottish: they find a way to win the thing and they keep on doing it.Shankland certainly did his bit – he had to, having been in the shadow of brother Stephen, who was a member of the Scottish Amateur Cup-winning Shortless team just a couple of weeks ago.But that’s the Talbot way. When it comes to the Scottish Junior Cup, nobody does it better………
Photographs by Paul Flynn.
MURRAYS MATCH REPORT
This year’s title chase looks like going right down to the wire & Talbot kept themselves in the hunt with a hard earned victory over local rivals Glenafton.
Talbot started the game brightly and tested McGarrity as early as the 3rd minute. McIlroy slid the ball through to find Glasgow on the right of the area & he drilled a shot on target that McGarrity saved low to his right.
Within a minute Talbot had another chance. McIlroy ran onto the end of a cross from the left touchline but headed wide of target.
The Bot kept the pressure up & were helped when the Glens conceded a needless corner kick. Glasgow whipped over an in swinging cross that the defence could only knock back out to him on the left. This time he fired a cross into the near post where Graham Wilson glanced it over the bar.
The Glens first chance came in the 7th minute. McPherson was deceived by the bounce of the ball when chasing a long ball down the centre. Andrew was able to nip onto the end of it & laid it back to McCann who blazed a shot over the bar.
Talbot grabbed the opening goal in the 8th minute. Graham Wilson sent the ball out to JAMIE GLASGOW on the left side of the penalty area & he took it past McAusland before drilling an angled shot back across goal & into the far corner.
Glenafton had an effort on targe within a minute of going behind but it was a routine save for Leishman as Andrew turned in the area & shot straight at him.
McChesney made an important interception in the 18th minute to deny McIlroy a free header. Graham Wilson whipped a great cross over from the left that was heading straight for McIlroy 6 yards out but McChesney was able to stretch & head it to safety.
The visitors came close to levelling in the 23rd minute. Cairns cross took a slight deflection & floated right onto the head of McCann whose header clipped the crossbar.
Talbot’s next chance came on 28 mins. Glasgow stole the ball just inside the Glens half & raced through the centre before releasing it to his right to find Graham Wilson inside the penalty area. He could have carried in on goal but opted to hit it 1st time & belted a shot straight at McGarrity.
Down the other end Talbot had a close call when Lynnas broke down the right & squared the ball into the near post where McCann met it unopposed only to trundle a shot wide of goal.
Lyle had his name taken in the 34th minute for a late challenge on Moore out on the touchline.
The Bot’s next half chance came in the 36th minute. Pope fired a low ball into the centre which Graham Wilson steered on target but McGarrity got down well to make the block.
Within a minute the Glens were all square. They broke down the right where Lynass sent the ball across the face of goal. DALE MOORE ran onto into beyond the back post & side-footed it on target. Lyle hooked the ball clear but the linesman signalled it had already crossed the line.
Talbot almost regained the lead in their next attack. Glasgow cut in off the left wing & curled a ball over to the back post where McIlroy stretched out his boot to get on it but couldn’t make a clean enough contact to steer it inside the left post.
Shortly before the break Cairns had his name taken for a rugby tackle on Stephen Wilson but there were no further chances and both sides went in locked at the interval.
The 2nd half got off to a sluggish start with neither side making much of an impression early on. In the 53rd minute McCann crumpled theatrically in the box looking for a penalty but all he received was a yellow card.
Talbot managed to exert some pressure and force a string of corners but the Glens rearguard held firm.
In the 61st minute the first changes of the evening were made. The Glens brought on Borris for Lynass & Talbot made a double switch with Shankland replacing McIlroy & Armstrong on for White.
Glenafton could easily have found themselves a man down in the 68th minute. Cairns caught Stephen Wilson late in midfield but having already booked the Glens full-back the ref kept his cards in his pocket.
The Glens completed their changes in the 69th minute with a double substitution. McCann & Moore making way for Dallas & McGill.
Talbot’s next opportunity came from a corner. Shankland rolled it back to Armstrong who in turn teed it up for Stephen Wilson. His low drive was blocked off a defender & spun out right to Shankland who hammered it across goal where it hit off Stephen Wilson at the near post & flew just wide.
In the 73rd minute another Talbot corner saw Shankland’s cross from the left find Pope in space at the back post. He headed it down & back across goal but no Talbot player had anticipated it & the Glens defence were able to clear.
With quarter of an hour remaining Talbot’s pressure & persistence finally paid off. MARK SHANKLAND gathered out on the left & cut in on his right foot before swerving a low cross cum shot across goal. Hyslop & Graham Wilson couldn’t quite reach it but neither could McGarrity & the ball nestled into the bottom corner.
Another goal would have settled matters & Talbot went looking for it. McPherson made a great break out of defence before releasing the ball to Glasgow on the left with Menzies scrambling across to turn it behind for the corner. When the corner came over to the back post Pope got his head to it but sent it just the wrong side of the post.
As the clock ticked down it was apparent that Talbot’s punishing schedule was catching up with them, making for a nervous closing spell for the Bot support. With three minutes to go Stephen Wilson went down with cramp and had to be replaced by McCracken.
With a minute to go Talbot had a scare when McGill swung a dangerous low cross over from the left wing. It skipped off the turf just before it reached Leishman but Andy got his handling spot on & smothered the ball with Dallas waiting to snap up any rebound.
The Bot saw out injury time without any alarms to hold on for a vital win. Now they have it all to do again on Wednesday night when they host Girvan in the league.
Talbot – Leishman, Lyle, Pope, McPherson, Harvey, Hyslop, White, Stephen Wilson, Glasgow, McIlroy, Graham Wilson
Subs – Shankland, Armstrong, McCracken, Faulds, Thomson
Glenafton, McGarrity, McAusland, Cairns, Menzies, McChesney, McKernon, Lynnas, Park, McCann, Andrew, Moore
Subs – Borris, Dallas, McKnight, McGill, Scott
Photographs by Paul Flynn.