MURRAYS MATCH REPORT
Talbot advanced to the first final of the season courtesy of a hard fought away win over Beith.
The Bot made an uphill battle of shooting down the slope in a forgettable first half where the physios were kept busier than either keeper.
It was Beith who had the best of it in the 1st period & Bradley had the first effort at goal in the 10th minute when he fired a shot across goal & wide of Leishman’s right post.
Four minutes later Beith were back on the attack. A ball down the left found McIlroy just inside the area & he pulled a shot across goal & past the left post.
The home side had a decent chance in the 19th minute. Beith won a free kick inside their own half which Milliken lifted over to the far side. The Bot defence failed to cut it out & the ball came to Green in space on the right side of the penalty area but he slashed his shot wide from a good area.
Beith were forced into an early change after 24 minutes when Ramsay limped off to be replaced by Fisher.
A calculator would’ve been required to tally up all the free kicks the referee was awarding Beith & he granted them a particularly soft one in the 28th minute just outside the Talbot box. McGlinchey curled it over the wall & Leishman had to be on his toes to push it past the left post.
Then nothing very much happened, barring more free kicks & theatrics from Beith, until the closing minutes of the half when Talbot suddenly came alive.
A bout of heady tennis ended with Hyslop nodding the ball on into the path of McDowall & he drilled a low shot just past White’s right post from 25 yards.
Two minutes from the break Talbot nearly took the lead. A shy from the right found Glasgow who in turn passed it to Hyslop inside the area. He rolled it to his right where Stephen Wilson was in space & his angled shot was destined for the bottom corner until Milliken made an impressive goal line clearance to ensure the sides went in level.
The Bot made a change during the break with Stephen Wilson off and Corey Pearson on in his place.
Talbot had an early chance when Young surged forward from defence and played in Glasgow down the left. He lifted a cross over to the far side of the 6-yard box where Pearson volleyed well wide of target under pressure.
In the 49th minute Beith took the lead. Christie created it, haring down the right before cutting a low ball across the face of goal where MCILROY bundled it home from inside the 6-yard area.
Talbot responded positively to falling behind and came close to a leveller within a couple of minutes. Aiden Wilson floated a ball over from the left that Hyslop challenged for in the air. The ball broke to Pearson just outside the area & he fired a shot just past the right hand post.
The Beith defence were posted missing a minute later when Talbot grabbed the equaliser. Hyslop headed the ball on down the middle & JAMIE GLASGOW raced onto it past the static defence before drilling a low shot inside White’s right post to make it 1-1 in the 52nd minute.
Two minutes later the Bot almost went ahead. Hyslop’s pass to Glasgow was blocked at full stretch by a defender who knocked the ball straight into the path of Pearson who hammered an effort just wide of the left post.
The referee had to reach into his pocket soon after following an altercation between Glasgow & Green that saw both of them cautioned.
Beith’s main danger was Christie & the winger caused the Bot defence problems in the 61st minute when he picked it up midway inside the Bot half before driving into the box & hitting a powerful shot straight at Leishman.
Within a couple of minutes Pearson also had his name taken for a late challenge as the Bot conceded a free kick just outside their own area. McGlinchey took it & his effort clipped the wall before flying just past the left post.
In Talbot’s next attack Glasgow nearly raced clean through the centre of the home defence again but this time Milliken came good with a sliding tackle to deny him.
Talbot threatened the Beith goal twice in a row in the 67th minute. Glasgow capitalised on a defensive error to play in Pearson who burst through on the keeper; however, White stood his ground & Pearson went for power with the keeper able to parry it away. The rebound fell to Glasgow & his shot sailed past the stranded keeper only for Docherty to defy him with a goal line clearance.
White prevented Talbot from moving ahead in the 71st minute with a superb reflex stop. Lyle lifted it up the line to Glasgow who quickly fed it on to McKinlay on the right of the area & his shot was flying inside the left post til White dived to turn it past.
Beith’s defence was looking shaky and the home side conceded a penalty in the 74th minute. McPherson pinged a ball over the defence to find Glasgow breaking into the penalty area. He looked to cut in past Docherty who lost his footing & then prevented Glasgow knocking it past him by using his arm; resulting in a Bot spot kick and a booking for the defender. Glasgow took it but fired it more or less straight down the centre & White was able to save.
Having been well on top for awhile Talbot could have paid a price for failing to take their chances when Beith nearly regained the lead in the 77th minute. Hyslop lost the ball to Bradley who raced clear on the left before firing a dangerous ball into the near post that Lyle managed to clear.
A minute later Talbot had another close call down the other wing when Christie got away from Aiden Wilson & whipped a cross into the centre which McIlroy missed in front of goal.
Tucker now made a double switch up front with Graham Wilson & Shankland providing the fresh legs in place of McKinlay & Glasgow.
Pearson came close to breaking the deadlock in the 83rd minute when he gathered in space 30 yards out & drove forward before cracking a shot just wide of the left post.
Play was now switching from end to end with both sides looking for a late winner as the prospect of a penalty shoot-out loomed ever nearer. With a minute remaining of regulation time McIlroy had his name taken when he clipped the heels of a Bot defender.
AJust when it seemed penalties were inevitable Talbot popped up with an injury time winner. Graham Wilson played it up the right to find Shankland just outside the area. He squared it inside to find Healy whose shot was blocked but it spun back out to MARK SHANKLAND on the right of the area & he kept a cool head to steer a low shot across White & inside the right post to seal the win for Talbot.
Next up for Talbot it is back to cup duties as they travel through to the east to face Camelon in the 2nd preliminary round of the William Hill Scottish cup this Saturday.
Beith Juniors – White, McGlinchey, Milliken, Docherty, Green, Wilson, Christie, Frize, McIlroy, Ramsay, Bradley
Subs – Haggarty, Fisher, McMahon, McKenzie, McQueen
Auchinleck Talbot – Leishman, Lyle, Aiden Wilson, Young, McPherson, Hyslop, Healy, Stephen Wilson, McKinlay, Glasgow, McDowall
Subs – Shankland, Graham Wilson, Pearson, Armstrong, Pope
Photographs by Paul Flynn.
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
Beith 0 Talbot 1 ( H-T 0-0)
It was the Bot who settled first & made the early running as they shot down the Bellsdale slope. Frize was fortunate to escape an early booking when he went right through Hyslop 30 yards from goal. Graham Wilson took the resultant free kick & got it up & over the wall but straight at Grindlay who made an easy save.
The home side came close in the 7th minute. Frize read Leishman’s long throw & intercepted it on the right wing. The ball was swung into the centre where McPherson ran onto it but his shot lacked fizz & was easily saved by Leishman.
A minute later Hyslop looped a header wide when he met McGoldrick’s free kick inside the penalty area.
It looked to be advantage Beith in the 11th minute. A ball into the heart of the penalty area was cleared but cannoned off a player at the edge of the area & fell kindly for McGlinchey inside the box. He went down under Lyle’s challenge & the ref pointed to the spot. Christie struck it on target but Leishman went the right way & dived low to his left to turn it wide.
Talbot threatened the Beith goal on the quarter hour mark. McCracken led a counter-attack down the left before finding Milliken. He cut the ball back into the area where Young met it sweetly & his low drive was goal bound until it was blocked off a defender. It came back out to Young who squared it across to Steven Wilson who lifted a shot over the bar from 18 yards.
Beith’s defence had to be at the top of their game in the 24th minute when Milliken gathered out on the right & whipped a tremendous cross into the centre. Graham Wilson went for it at the near post but was just beaten to the ball by a whisker by McLaughlin who headed clear.
Frize had a lucky escape soon after. Already on a yellow card he blatantly tripped Steven Wilson as he raced forward but the ref decided it wasn’t worth a 2nd caution.
The penalty apart, Beith hadn’t offered much of a threat but they did come close on the half hour mark. A Beith corner was headed clear by Boyle but came out to J Wilson who met it on the volley & sent a shot just over the bar.
MacDonald became the 2nd Beith player cautioned when he up-ended McCracken as he bore down on the Beith box, resulting in a free kick 20 yards out. G Wilson took it but his shot clipped the top of the wall.
In the 42nd minute Beith almost capitalised on a slice of luck inside the Talbot box. McGlinchey’s mishit shot broke into the path of McPherson 15 yards out but he hesitated for a fraction & was challenged as he hit it with the ball spinning high into the air where it was gathered by Leishman.
The referee again erred on the side of leniency a minute before the interval. MacDonald should have received a 2nd yellow card for his late challenge on Milliken but the ref kept his cards in his pocket & contented himself with awarding the free kick. McCracken fired in a low shot from 30 yards that was blocked clear & the sides went in goal less at the interval.
The opening spell of the 2nd half was evenly contested with both sides having half chances to take the lead. Firstly Milliken cut into the area from the right & fired on target but sent his shot straight at Grindlay then down the other end MacGowan met McGlinchey’s hanging cross but hit a tame shot at Leishman.
Beith made the game’s 1st change in the 58th minute when Burke came on in place of McMenamin.
Graham Wilson very nearly provided the breakthrough in the 61st minute. He jinked inside the box off the left wing before firing narrowly over the bar.
Milliken picked up a yellow card in the 64th min for dissent when Beith won a free kick out on the right. MacGowan curled an in swinger into the box which Milliken headed over the bar. When the corner came over McLaughlin ran onto it but steered his free header over the bar from 8 yards.
Beith made a double switch in the 67th minute with McLean on for McPherson & Watt replacing MacDonald.
Two minutes later Talbot had a chance to take the lead. Graham Wilson released Young in space on the left of the area. He might have gone for the shot but instead opted to square it across the face of goal & the defence were able to clear.
Talbot enjoyed a bit of good fortune in the 70th minute. Watt got free on the right & sped a dangerous low ball across the 6-yard area. Christie was lurking unmarked at the back post but the ball clipped off McGoldrick’s heel & out to Harvey who completed the clearance.
A few minutes later Leishman produced his 2nd crucial save of the afternoon. A corner from the right came over into a packed penalty box & McLaughlin met it to direct an overhead kick on target. It looked a goal all the way until Leishman threw out his right arm to turn it away.
Tucker made his 1st change in the 81st minute with Shankland coming on for the tiring Milliken.
Shankland was only on the pitch two minutes before being flattened by J Wilson who received a yellow card for his troubles.
With 5 minutes to go Tucker made his 2nd change with White replacing McCracken in midfield.
Young nearly won it for Talbot soon after. Boyle met a ball in from the left & headed it back across goal where Young’s volley flew just past the right upright with the keeper beaten.
Just when it looked as though the game was heading for a replay Talbot made the breakthrough. White gathered by the right touchline & slipped the ball up the wing. The Beith defence were looking for an offside flag that never came & G Wilson carried on into the area where he took it wide of the keeper who sent him crashing to the deck. The ref pointed to the spot but there was a lengthy delay before it could be taken to allow treatment for Grindlay. The delay didn’t faze STEVEN WILSON who coolly stepped up & slotted the penalty home.
Beith threw bodies forward as the game moved into injury time but it was too little, too late & the Bot defence stood firm to knock the holders out.
This was an impressive away win against tough opposition & hopefully Talbot can kick on from this & maintain a similar level of performance next Saturday when they visit Hurlford in the league.
Beith – Grindlay, MacDonald, McMenamin, McLaughlin, Sheridan, J Wilson, McGlinchey, Frize, McPherson, Christie, McGowan
Subs – McLean, Watt, Collins, Burke, Martin
Talbot – Leishman, Harvey, Lyle, McGoldrick, Boyle, McCracken, Hyslop, S Wilson, Milliken, G Wilson, Young
Subs – Shankland, White, Stevenson, McPherson, Pope
MURRAYS MATCH REPORT
It was honours even as Talbot & Beith shared 4 goals in this Scottish Cup preliminary round tie; leaving both sides to face off again next Saturday at Beechwood.
Talbot were shooting down the slope in the 1st half & it was the Bot who made the early running. The first effort at goal came when Lyle gathered Pope’s cross out on the right touchline. He fed it inside to Millken whose low drive went wide of target.
Milliken did hit the target soon after. He skipped past Sheridan down the left & fired at goal, but the keeper was well positioned & made a comfortable stop.
Talbot were temporarily reduced to 10 men in the 9th minute when Latta fell awkwardly after being fouled by McGlinchey. He went off for treatment on his shoulder but couldn’t continue & in the 12th minute Stevenson came on in his place.
This was a physically bruising encounter with neither side being afforded any time on the ball & more tackles being made than passes played.
McGlinchey came to the home side’s rescue in the 24th minute. Steven Wilson battled well to win the ball out on the right & looked to be fouled just outside the area. The ball broke loose to Stevenson who swept a dangerous low ball across goal that McGlinchey hooked clear inside the 6-yard area.
A minute later Milliken ought to have put Talbot ahead. Wilson sped away from Sheridan down the right before sweeping an early ball across the area. Milliken ran onto it but from 15 yards out he hoisted his shot over Grindlay’s crossbar.
Beith then came close at the other end. Christie managed to get on the end of McGlinchey’s deep cross & succeeded in heading it back for McLean but he fired wide of the right post from a good area.
Hyslop came close for Talbot in the 40th minute. Young squared the ball inside for him & he drilled a low shot just past the right post with Grindlay beaten.
With a minute of normal time remaining McGoldrick was in the right spot to block Wilson’s low strike from just outside the area as it headed goal wards.
Talbot took the lead in the 45th minute. Young sent Milliken free down the left & he returned it into the centre where YOUNG volleyed home to make it 1-0.
It looked like Talbot would head in a goal to the good at the break but Beith had other ideas and they drew level two minutes into injury time. McGoldrick headed a cross clear but it only came out to WILSON who managed to evade the challenge of Young before slotting a low shot inside the right post from 20 yards to make it 1-1.
With the advantage of the slope & the fillip of their late equaliser, Beith came out strongly at the start of the 2nd half and soon had Talbot under pressure.
McLean passed up a decent chance in the 49th minute. He beat offside to break free on the right but hit a tame shot at goal that Leishman easily saved.
Tucker made a switch in the 50th minute with Graham Wilson replacing his brother Steven.
McGlinchey tested Leishman in the 55th minute from 25 yards; drilling a low shot on goal that Leishman held.
Talbot created a half chance in the 58th minute. Wilson ran onto a ball in behind the defence & did well to hook it back across goal. Stevenson ran onto it & climbed above Docherty to get his head on it but his header went wide of the left post.
Sheridan had his name taken in the 61st minute. Wilson laid the ball down for Milliken who was breaking away from Beith’s centre half until wrestled to the ground.
Route one nearly paid off for Beith in the 65th minute. Grindlay’s long ball down the centre skimmed off the top of McGoldrick’s head & McLean raced onto it inside the area. He flicked it over Leishman but lifted it wide of the left post.
Beith took the lead in the 69th minute with a well-worked goal. Docherty started and finished the move; playing it out wide left to find McGowan on the touchline & when he slid it across the area DOCHERTY coolly passed the ball into the net.
Playing against the slope & a goal behind, it was literally an uphill struggle for Talbot & Beith were looking comfortable in their lead.
White had his name taken in the 78th minute for a shove on McLean and two minutes later McLean joined him in the notebook for a foul on Pope.
With time running out Tucker decided to throw caution to the wind, replacing Boyle with Pooler as Talbot went with three up front.
In the 84th minute Milliken raced free of the Beith defence down the right & fired a dangerous ball across goal but there was no support in front of goal to take advantage.
A minute later Talbot won a free kick just outside the Beith penalty area for a foul on Milliken. Young flighted it to the back post where Docherty headed it away but he got no distance on it & it fell for POPE who buried a shot inside the right post to level the score.
The final 5 minutes were nerve wracking for both sets of supporters. Firstly, Beith came close to snatching it when McLaughlin cushioned a header across goal from a corner. It came to Docherty but the ball broke off him & ran through to Leishman.
Down the other end, Milliken had a half chance to snatch a late winner when he burst into the box but he delayed his shot & the chance was lost.
As the game headed into injury time Beith won a couple of set pieces in the Bot half, allowing them to thrown the ball into the area but on both occasions Pope headed the ball away to safety.
Beith is never an easy place to visit, and most Talbot fans would have settled for a replay prior to the match. Now both sides will face off for the third time in a row with Talbot hoping for a similar outcome to the recent Ardagh semi-final at Beechwood.
Beith – Grindlay, MacDonald, Docherty, McLaughlin, Sheridan, Wilson, McGlinchey, Frize, McLean, Christie, McGowan
Subs – Collins, Watt, Burke, McPherson, Fisher, Martin, McBain (gk)
Talbot – Leishman, Lyle, Pope, McGoldrick, Boyle, Latta, White, Hyslop, S Wilson, Milliken, Young
Subs – Stevenson, Pooler, Harvey, G Wilson, McCracken, Hewitt (gk)
Talbot paid the penalty for failing to build on an early lead as they lost out in a spot kick shoot off to Beith following a 1-1 draw.
The game had an end of season feel about it & there were few clear cut chances created by either side.
The 1st to show was the home side, after 3 minutes, when Reid narrowly volleyed past the post from 18 yards out.
However it was Talbot who opened the scoring with their 1st real attack after 12 minutes. Hyslop’s pass released Young on the left & he in turn fed it on to G Wilson. He crossed to the far post where MILLIKEN volleyed it on target & Grindlay couldn’t prevent it going in at his left post.
A good passing move ended with Pope free on the left of the penalty area & Sheridan did well to knock his low centre behind for the corner. Shankland lifted the corner to the far post where Hyslop looped a header over the bar.
Talbot won a free kick 30 yards from goal in the 20th minute when Shankland was impeded by Sheridan. Shankland took it himself but his shot hit the defensive wall.
Grindlay kept the home side in it on the half hour mark. S Wilson ran onto a weak clearance and thumped a shot on target that the keeper did well to tip over his bar at full stretch.
McLean missed a good chance to level the match in the 32nd minute. He met Burke’s corner at the near post but steered his free header wide of Leishman’s left post.
The assistant ref got it badly wrong a few minutes later when he kept his flag down as McLean raced free down the left. He looked clearly offside, but in the end no harm was done as he lost his footing inside the area & the ball trundled behind for the goal kick.
The final chance of the half came Beith’s way in the 45th min. Watt lifted a cross over beyond the far post where Burke rose to head it on target but Leishman was well positioned to make the stop.
The home side made a change during the interval with Clark coming on for McArthur.
Shooting down the slope Beith started the 2nd half strongly & forced a save out of Leishman within a minute. Watt shifted the ball right to find Frize racing into the area & his low shot across goal was turned away by Leishman.
Tucker made a change in the 51st minute with Boyd coming on for G Wilson.
Talbot were unlucky on the hour mark when a slick passing move ended with Lyle inches from connecting with Shankland’s through ball. The pass took out the central defence but Grindlay read the danger & was quickly off his line to smother at the feet of Lyle.
Two minutes later Shankland carved out another opportunity. This time he whipped a cross over from the left that just required a touch to put it in but Boyd failed to make contact at the back post.
Within a minute Talbot threatened again. This time, Milliken curled a good cross over from the right which Hyslop headed for goal. Grindlay was beaten but his looping header just cleared the bar.
Beith now made their 2nd change with Collins on for Reid.
Talbot were left to rue those missed chances in the 66th minute when Beith levelled. McGowan flighted a high cross in from the right which Leishman misjudged. The ball came to BURKE beyond the back post & he passed it into the empty net.
Tucker now made Talbot’s 2nd change with Love coming on for Shankland & moments later S Wilson picked up the 1st caution of the afternoon when he prevented Beith from taking a quick free kick.
With quarter of an hour remaining Talbot won a free kick 30 yards out after Sheridan fouled Hyslop. The large travelling support weren’t slow in letting the ref know this was Sheridan’s umpteenth offence but the ref chose to keep his cards in his pocket.
Hyslop fired the free kick over the wall but it also flew just over Grindlay’s bar.
Tucker made his final change in the 82nd minute with Gillies replacing Milliken.
Beith had a chance in the 85th min. Following a bout of heady tennis around the Bot penalty area the ball came through the centre to McLean & he nearly got on the end of it but just failed to connect & the ball ran through to Leishman.
In the final minute of the 90 Talbot were denied a late winner by a great save from Grindlay. Young had his heels clipped 25 yards out resulting in a free kick on the right. Young rolled the ball square to Pope & he drilled a shot heading inside the left post until Grindlay tipped it wide. Boyd retrieved it but his attempted cross was blocked for a corner that the defence cleared & so it came to penalties.
MacDonald went first for Beith but Leishman saved his effort; Hyslop was 1st up for Talbot & he sent his pen inside the left post; Collins tucked his pen into the corner for Beith and Young sent Grindlay the wrong way to keep Talbot 2-1 ahead; Burke levelled the score, although Leishman was unlucky, guessing the right way & getting a hand to it but unable to keep it out; S Wilson was next up for Talbot & he hit a penalty he’ll want to forget, steering it well wide of the right post; McLean put Beith ahead before Gillies levelled for Talbot; Reid made it 4-3 to the home side & Pope sent Grindlay the wrong way to level at 4-4. Docherty put Beith 5-4 ahead meaning that McGoldrick had to score, but unfortunately Grindlay went the right way & dived to his right to make the save.
Next up for Talbot is Monday night’s derby clash with Cumnock at Rosebank in the semi-final of the Evening Times Cup.
Beith – Grindlay, McArthur, Docherty, MacDonald, Sheridan, McGowan, Watt, Frize, McLean, Reid, Burke
Subs – Collins, Clark, McGregor
Talbot – Leishman, Lyle, Pope, McGoldrick, White, S Wilson, Young, Hyslop, G Wilson, Shankland, Milliken
Subs – Boyd, Love, Gillies, Johnstone
Talbot produced the great escape with no Steve McQueen required as they staged an unlikely late fight back to snatch a point away to Beith. A point which could have a major bearing on the title as Hurlford were held to a draw by Glenafton meaning a draw at Blair Park now guarantees Talbot the title.
Talbot started the game on the front foot and nearly went ahead within the 1st minute. A free kick up the right skated off Docherty’s head & behind for a corner. When it came into the 6-yard area Beith failed to clear & the ball fell to Hyslop whose low drive was heading inside the left post until blocked by Docherty.
The Bot fashioned another opening in the 7th minute. Wilson fed the ball into the box from the right into Young & he squared it across for Milliken who powered a shot on target from 15 yards but straight at Watson.
Unfortunately Talbot’s strong start didn’t last & Beith took the lead with their 1st meaningful attack after 10 minutes. Burke jinked down the left, leaving Latta & White in his wake. He lifted a cross to the back post which S Wilson headed clear but it only came out to the unmarked CHRISTIE at the edge of the area & he carried it forward before burying it low into the bottom corner.
Beith came within a whisker of doubling their lead soon after. Burke played it into the near post where Christie looked set to tap it in but he failed to make contact & the ball ran across the face of goal.
Talbot were shooting up the slope & shot themselves in the foot when they gifted Beith a 2nd in the 19th minute. McCracken was short with a back pass from the left touchline & Watt raced clear on the right. He slid it across goal & although Christie couldn’t reach it MCGOWAN was following in behind to slide it home.
The game was slipping away from Talbot, and as the half wore on, the nervier Talbot looked, with passes going astray & no one looking comfortable on the ball.
Beith nearly killed the game off in the 25th minute. Once again a cross from the left caused the Bot defensive problems & when White headed clear it came straight to McGowan. It looked like he was shooting from 25 yards but instead slipped a pass through to Watt inside the area & his shot was deflected just wide of the left post.
Wilson had Beith’s next effort when he attempted a volley from 30 yards that flew just wide of the right post.
Talbot almost reduced the deficit in the 29th minute. Milliken headed Hyslop’s cross down into the path of Young & he blasted it on target from 8 yards out but Watson dived to his left to make an impressive stop.
Talbot’s next chance, in the 36th minute, also came to Young. A corner on the right was swept in low to the near corner of the 6-yard box where Butch met it but side-footed over the bar.
In the closing stages of the half the sides picked up a booking a piece, firstly Beith’s McArthur for holding Milliken and then G Wilson for a late challenge but there were no further chances & Beith went in with a two goal cushion.
Beith made the sprightlier start after the interval & nearly ended the game as a contest in the 50th minute. Burke forced a corner on the left off Hyslop & when it came into the near post Christie glanced a header across goal that flashed wide of the far post.
In Talbot’s next attack Steven Wilson had a real chance to pull a goal back when he raced onto Graham Wilson’s head flick, however he scooped his shot over the bar from a good position on the left of the area.
Watson did well in the 55th minute, coming out his area to thwart Milliken but at the expense of a corner. Young curled the corner to the far post where Clark headed it behind. This time when the corner came in it broke to Young 15 yards out whose attempt on target was headed clear inside the 6-yard area.
Tucker made a change in the 61st minute with Shankland coming on in place of Steven Wilson & a few minutes later Beith made a change with Elliot replacing Christie.
A goal for Talbot would shake things up & Shankland had a decent chance to pull one back in the 65th minute when he ran onto Wilson’s head flick but he drilled his shot wide of the left post from 18 yards.
Wilson came close a couple of minutes later when he turned sharply & fired a shot narrowly past Watson’s right post.
Beith now made a further change with Martin replacing Watt.
Hyslop joined Wilson in the ref’s notebook in the 70th minute when he tripped Burke.
Collins ought to have killed the game off in the 73rd minute. McCracken & White failed to cut out a ball up the right channel & it came through to Collins inside the area but he couldn’t beat Leishman who made a terrific stop.
Both sides now made their final changes with MacDonald coming on for Clark for the home side & Love replacing Boyd as Talbot went for broke.
As substitutions go, this proved an especially inspired one, and LOVE gave the large travelling support something to cheer in the 82nd minute when he ran through a gaping hole in the Beith defence before coolly slotting home to give Talbot some hope.
Talbot were now pushing all out for an equaliser & it was Beith’s turn to look nervy as the home side dropped deeper inviting pressure onto them.
It looked as though Beith were going to hold out but in the final minute a poor passback gifted a chance to LOVE and he took full advantage when sent clean through and knocked home the equaliser.
The final whistle saw loud cheers from the relieved Bot support, grateful to have earned a point the hard way, and buoyed by the news that Hurlford had slipped up against the Glens.
Next up for Talbot is a Friday night trip to Newlandsfield where they will face Hurlford in the final of the West.
Beith – Watson, Fisher, Docherty, McArthur, Clark, Wilson, Watt, McGowan, Christie, Collins, Burke
Subs – MacDonald, Martin, Ryan, Elliot, Grindlay
Talbot – Leishman, Latta, Pope, White, McCracken, Boyd, Young, Hyslop, G Wilson, Milliken, S Wilson
Subs – Shankland, Love, McGoldrick, Findlay, Johnstone