Ardagh Glass Sectional League Cup Semi-final

Irvine Victoria 0

Auchinleck Talbot 1

It was not a game to live long in the memory but Auchinleck Talbot did enough to grind out a win which secures their place in the Ardagh Glass Sectional League Cup final where they will face local rivals Glenafton Athletic.

There was nothing wrong with Talbot’s start to the match and the Bot scored the game’s one and only goal after only a minute. Sean McIlroy burst away from Fraser McNab down the left before squaring the ball to Calvin Kemp who fired low past Chris Lamb to put Talbot 1-0 ahead.

Talbot kept the early momentum going and nearly doubled their lead in the eighth minute. Mark Shankland broke on the left before cutting the ball back to Gordon Pope and his shot bounced just wide of the left post.

Irvine Vics came within a whisker of equalising in the 14th minute. Talbot were caught daydreaming at a quickly taken corner and Kevin Adam was allowed a free header from six yards but it came off the underside of the bar and bounced out to safety.

The next effort at goal came from Talbot. Pope switched play in field to Kemp and he fired a shot from 20 yards that just cleared the bar.

A second goal for Talbot would have all but killed the tie off and they came close in the 36th minute. Kemp released Liam Weir down the right side of the area and Shankland side-footed his cutback just over the crossbar.

Talbot wasted a good chance to extend their lead after 40 minutes. McIlroy knocked a good ball wide to Klark Thomson and he sped down the left wing, cut into the box, and slid it across to Shankland who failed to convert from six yards.

Just as Talbot had scored early in the first half, Irvine Vics nearly repeated the feat, coming close within a minute of the re-start. Sub David Adams got free down the right and pulled it back for Eddie Ablorh who hammered a shot on target that Andy Leishman blocked inside his near post.

The same two Vics players combined again in the 51st minute with Adams squaring the ball inside to Ablorh who toe poked the ball wide of the left post from 15 yards.

Talbot blew a great chance to double the lead on 62 minutes. Dwayne Hyslop’s slide rule pass released Kemp in behind the defence and, when he played it across goal, McIlroy looked set to side-foot it home from six yards but he got his feet in a muddle and somehow the ball ended up stuck between his feet.

They were denied their second goal in the 77th minute by a poor call from the assistant ref. Weir bent a cross in from the left which Pope ran onto to glance past the keeper. He looked to be comfortably onside but the flag went up on the far side and the goal didn’t stand.

With the light fading, Talbot had a couple of opportunities to put the game to bed. In the 82nd minute Thomson’s accurate pass sent Kemp clean through on the right but his final ball across the face of goal had too much on it and no one could get a touch. Then, in the final minute Jamie Glasgow had a good chance to get on the score sheet. He controlled Pope’s ball over the top but scuffed his shot well wide from 15 yards.

Whilst Talbot weren’t at their best, especially in the final third, they did enough to get the job done.

IRVINE VICTORIA: Lamb; Craig, McNab, Young, Bonner, Davidson, Mears, Singleton, Adam, Ablorh, Hamilton. Subs: Hollis, Burt, Wilson, Scott, Adams.

AUCHINLECK TALBOT: Leishman; Weir, Pope, Harvey, McCracken, White, Hyslop, Thomson, McIlroy, Shankland, Kemp. Subs: G Wilson, Glasgow, Pettigrew, Armstrong.