WEST OF SCOTLAND CUP QUARTER-FINAL
Auchinleck Talbot 3
Talbot will face Cumnock in the last four of the West of Scotland Cup after overcoming Darvel 3-1 at Recreation Park.
The Bot signalled their intent early on, almost taking the lead in the third minute when Dylan Stevenson ran onto the end of Wilson’s hanging cross to drill a low shot on target that David Markey saved with his feet.
The opening goal wasn’t long delayed though as Talbot moved ahead in the fifth minute. Stevenson surged down the right before cutting inside and squaring it across the area to Bryan Young. His cross wasn’t properly cleared and fell at the feet of David McCracken who slammed it low past the keeper.
Young came within a whisker of doubling Talbot’s lead in the 10th minute. Graham Wilson laid the ball off to him inside the area and his shot beat the keeper only to come off the underside of the bar. Dylan Pooler latched onto the rebound and fired low on target but Markey made the stop.
The Darvel keeper produced an impressive stop in the 13th minute. Pooler and Young combined down the left before Young whipped a cross into the centre. McCracken’s header looked net bound but Markey dived low to his right to keep it out.
Talbot doubled their advantage in the 17th minute from a well-worked set play. Young angled a corner back into the path of Ross Harvey who ran onto it to side-foot home from 15 yards.
Wilson nearly killed the tie off in the 29th minute when he cut in from the right and fired a shot that flew just past the right hand post.
Talbot appeared to be on easy street, two goals ahead and unlucky not to be further in front but Darvel gave the home fans hope when they pulled a goal back in the 31st minute. Mark Armour spread play out to the right to find Jamie Henderson and he squared the ball across the area where Stu Davidson coolly passed the ball into, and through, the back of the insecurely tied net.
The goal took the wind out of Talbot’s sails and they coasted through the remainder of the first half, rarely threatened but rarely threatening in turn.
The home side made a change at the interval introducing Kenny Parris in place of Ian McCreadie.
As the footballing cliché goes the next goal was going to be crucial and it was Talbot who secured it in the 53rd minute to regain their two goal cushion.
Wilson met a ball into the area, cushioning a header across the box for Pooler to volley home.
Talbot made a double substitution in the 61st minute with Mark Shankland and Keir Milliken replacing Pooler and Wilson up front and, only a minute later, the changes were complete when William Lyle came on for Harvey.
Darvel tried their best to find a way back into the tie but weren’t getting any joy out of the Talbot defence. They did briefly threaten in the 71st minute when Andy Leishman scuffed a clearance straight out to Parris. He slid it into the feet of Murray Johnston inside the area but Steven White got across and tackled him before he could get his shot away.
Shankland tested the keeper in the 77th minute when Milliken’s cross found him in space on the left of the penalty area. He tried to lift it over the keeper at his near post but Markey was well positioned to make the stop.
Leishman was called into action a minute later when Darvel won a free-kick just outside the penalty area. Orr lifted it over the wall and on target where Leishman made a routine save, helping his shot over the crossbar.
As the game entered the closing stages Darvel had one final chance to reduce the leeway. Martin Findlay lifted a long ball down the centre where Parris managed to out-muscle Neil McPherson on the edge of the area. He carried on into the box and fired a low shot on goal which Leishman blocked and Talbot saw the game out comfortably to book their place in the semi-final.
Next up, Talbot are back on league duty where they face a tricky away day at Beith.
Darvel Juniors – Markey, Findlay, Orr, Moodie, Walsh, McCreadie, Armour, Henderson, Ryan, Davidson, Johnston. Subs – Gilmour, Gall, Parris, Wales, Biggar.
Auchinleck Talbot – Leishman, Thomson, Pope, McPherson, Harvey, White, McCracken, Young, Pooler, G Wilson, Stevenson. Subs – Shankland, Milliken, Whyte, S Wilson, Lyle.