It’s been an up & down season for Talbot so far & this game was no exception. A dominant 1st half matched by a lacklustre 2nd with the Bot fans relieved at the final whistle not to be facing a replay.
The 1st incident of note came in the 5th minute when C Fisher had his name taken for a late tackle on McCracken.
A minute later the home side had a half chance when McCowan sent the ball across the area to Paterson but he failed to test Leishman.
Talbot’s first real attack came in the 8th minute. Graham Wilson got the better of Ballantyne out on the right & burst into the area before squaring it across for his brother Steven who side-footed it straight at Fisher from 12 yards.
A minute later Talbot nearly took the lead. Shankland’s shy found Milliken on the left of the area & he pulled it back for Graham Wilson to stride onto but he drilled his shot wide of the right post.
The same two players combined a few minutes later down the other wing when Milliken laid the ball inside to G Wilson who fired on target but straight at the keeper.
How Talbot didn’t take the lead in the 15th minute is a bit of a mystery. Annbank conceded a free kick wide on the left which Pope delivered to the back post. Boyle climbed & headed it back down across goal but neither G Wilson nor Shankland could force it home & Fisher managed to smother it.
Talbot’s incessant pressure finally told in the 21st minute. Pope created it, breaking down the left before angling the ball back to SHANKLAND who steered it inside the right post.
C Fisher came to the home side’s rescue a few minutes later. Graham Wilson lifted a quality cross over from the right that was heading straight onto Steven Wilson’s head at the far post but Fisher did well to intercept it & head behind. Shankland’s corner wasn’t his best effort but Annbank’s defence fluffed their clearance & knocked it straight back out to him on the left. This time he had a better angle & his cross come shot from curled just wide of the far post.
Graham Wilson spurned a clear chance to put Talbot two ahead in the 26th minute. Shankland met Pope’s diagonal ball & cushioned it across the area for Wilson. He looked certain to score but drilled his low shot inches wide of the post from the penalty spot.
Talbot had another good chance on the half hour mark. White threaded a ball through the centre to find Milliken racing clear. He went for the early shot but Fisher dived to his right to make the stop.
Harvey had his name taken in the 34th minute for a late challenge.
The remainder of the half saw Talbot pushing for a 2nd goal but Annbank successfully defending their penalty area. In the last minute of the half Talbot had a chance to double their lead when they won a free kick out on the left after Ballantyne bundled over Graham Wilson. Shankland curled the ball across the 6-yard area & Boyle flicked the ball to the back post. His header looked to be heading in on its own but G Wilson prodded it home from close range & the goal was rightly disallowed for offside.
Although a one goal lead is always precarious there had been nothing in the 1st half to suggest Bot fans had any cause for concern & the start of the 2nd did little to change this point of view as Talbot again made all the running.
However, despite dominating the ball Talbot weren’t making much headway in the final third and all they had to show for it was a half chance in the 53rd minute when a ball over the defence found Milliken on the left of the area but his low drive was comfortably saved by Fisher.
The game turned on its head in the 59th minute. Pope slid in late in the tackle, receiving a yellow card, and conceding a free kick on the right, just outside the box. Before the free kick Annbank made a double switch replacing their front two of Paterson & S Granger with Martin & McLean. McCowan took the set piece & delivered it to the far post. Leishman came for it but couldn’t claim it & Fisher headed it back across goal for C GRANGER to tuck inside the right post to make it 1-1.
A minute later Talbot were on the attack, looking to regain the lead as Milliken burst clear down the left. He made the bye line & whipped a great ball across the face of goal but with no support in the centre it went to waste.
Tucker now made a double substitution with Young & Hyslop coming on for Shankland & Steven Wilson.
Talbot pushed forward & pressed Annbank back but had little to show for it. In the 65th minute Granger was cautioned for a late challenge on Wilson & when the cross came over Hyslop headed it wide at the back post. Two minutes later Ballantyne received a yellow card for disputing a corner & when Young’s corner came in Boyle got his head on it but put it straight at Fisher.
Milliken then had a chance when Young hared into the area & laid it back to him but Fisher got down to save his shot.
The longer the game went the more nervous Talbot grew & Annbank won a free kick in a dangerous area in the 71st minute when McCowan went over on the left outside the box. Hilton opted for goal & fired it across goal and over the bar.
The Bankies nearly produced a coupon buster in the 76th minute. McCowan skipped past a couple of weak challenges inside the area to get free down the left & drilled a low shot across the area. Hilton looked set to turn it home inside the 6-yard area at the far post but Pope made a vital tackle to deflect it up & over the bar.
The closing stages were a nervy affair with Talbot pushing all out to grab a late winner leaving themselves open to a potential counter.
Two minutes from the end Talbot looked to have won it. Milliken cut back onto his favoured left foot & whipped a tremendous cross over from the right. Young looked set for the tap in as he ran in at the far post but somehow he failed to connect & it went for the goal kick.
Just when it seemed as though the game was destined for a replay Talbot produced a winner in the last seconds of regulation time. MCCRACKEN got his head to Hyslop’s cross from the right & it somehow eluded the Bankies keeper to trundle inside the left post in slow motion.
A poor performance from the Bot but when all’s said & done Talbot’s name is in the hat for the next round of the Scottish.
Annbank Utd – M Fisher, Sloan, Hainey, Ballantyne, C Granger, C Fisher, Hilton, Faulds, Paterson, S Granger, McCowan
Subs – Martin, Wilson, Baird, McLean, Tait
Auchinleck Talbot – Leishman, Lyle, Pope, Harvey, Boyle, McCracken, S Wilson, White, Milliken, G Wilson, Shankland
Subs – Hyslop, Stevenson, Young, Pooler, Thomson
Talbot made their annual pre-season visit to New Pebble Park to take on the new look Annbank United who had recently been involved in a deal to incorporate the Ayr United Academy hence the “Bankies” having a youthful look about themselves.
Talbot on the other hand were limited to 13 players, two of them goalkeepers which forced manager Tucker Sloan to don a strip on the subs bench. Brian Hewitt got the nod in goals over Andy Leishman, and with injuries still plaguing the squad there was another start for Michael McGoldrick on the right of the midfield. The playing surface left a lot to be desired with the council giving the pitch a cut but failing to remove the grass, this meant the game was very seldom played on the ground,
Talbot were unlucky to take the lead in 4 minutes when Milliken got a decent strike toward goals but the shot went agonizingly past the post. 10 minutes later Grant Drummond tried to scissor kick a Mark Shankland corner towards goal and although he got enough on the ball it just flew past the post.
Annbank were working hard and Hewitt did enough to turn a Baird shot past the post and minutes later he had to turn sweeper when a bad passback put his goal under threat. The game was bogged down in the middle of the park, but on the 36th minute Steven Wilson headed a Shankland free kick into the net but the referee adjudged that he had used a hand. With two minutes remaining of the first half Neil McPherson was unlucky to see his header just slide past the upright.
The second half was minutes started when Drummond got his head to a Shankland corner but the ball was easily collected by the keeper. On the hour mark Danny Boyle replaced Drummond in the heart of the defence, no doubt to give the big stopper a bit of game time.
Talbot went 1-0 up on the 69th minute when McGoldrick broke down the right flank and unleashed a superb 30 yard pass with the outside of his foot which found Shankland in the home 18 yard box. With everybody anticipating a cross into the face of the goals he took a touch, turned his marker and rifled a superb drive into the roof of the net. Talbot won a corner on the 75th minute when a goal bound Milliken shot was deflected, and from Shankland’s short corner James Latta swung a looping cross into the box that Gordon Pope headed past the keeper.
James latta was to turn provider once again seven minutes later when Keir Milliken chased a long ball into the corner of the pitch and as the home defence closed down on him he back heeled the ball into the patch of Latta who once again delivered a wicked cross which Steven Wilson nodded into the net. In the dying minutes Annbank reduced the deficit when their trialist substitute curled a great strike past Hewitt.
TALBOT: Hewitt, Lyle, Pope, McPherson, Drummond, White, Latta, S.Wilson, Milliken, Shankland, McGoldrick: SUBS: Boyle, Leishman, Sloan.