COURAGEOUS Jackie Myles Jnr produced a performance for Musselburgh that earned him the man-of-the-match honours on the day after being joined by his manager and team-mates at his father’s funeral.
Burgh boss David McGlynn was prepared to let the midfielder take as long as he needed to think about pulling on his boots again after Jackie Snr’s death from brain cancer last week at 52.
But, after bravely turning up for training on Thursday night, he was handed the captain’s armband on Saturday in this Junior Cup fourth-round tie and he delivered a display that would have made his dad the proudest man in Olivebank.
It couldn’t have been easy for Myles Jnr as the afternoon started with a minute’s silence in honour of his dad, a former Musselburgh manager and Junior legend.
But he put in a couple of thumping tackles early on, never wasted a pass all afternoon and deserved the second bite at the cherry Burgh earned in a dramatic conclusion.
“I wanted to play and I think my dad would also have wanted that, too,” said Myles afterwards. “He would probably have played himself if he’d been in the same situation I found myself in.
“It was hard, especially when I looked up and expected to see him standing in his usual spot on the sidelines. He used to come to every game and it was a big part of my day.
“We’d meet up in the morning and drive to wherever the game was being played. It’s a massive loss for me, no doubt about it. It was nice to get the captaincy – I didn’t expect it. I had to try to get into the game as quickly as I could, especially as any Scottish Cup tie is a big game.
“I wanted to show from the start that I meant business and it was good to be able to do that with a couple of challenges early on.”
Musselburgh, the beaten finalists two seasons ago, were twice ahead, first through Matti King then strike partner Ryan McCallum.
But shocking defensive mistakes from Gary Hamilton, eight minutes before the break, and Calvin Shand, midway through the second half, allowed Pumphy back into the tie through goals from Kallum McAulay and David Swan.
The South Division side were then on the verge of pulling off a shock when Steven Noble glanced Swan’s header into his own net in the 90th minute.
But, deep into the injury time created partly by an injury to Brian Murray and also visiting keeper Mark Reid’s time-wasting tactics, Burgh lived to fight another day.
Shand turned from sinner to saint, the defender latching on to a flick from McCallum to rifle an unstoppable low shot past Reid.
“We were under the cosh when they went 3-2 ahead,” admitted a relieved Myles. “It looked as though we could be heading out of the Cup so it was a case of panic stations for us all at that point.
“Having controlled the majority of the play, it would have been a real sore one to go out to such a late goal, especially as we’d gifted them their goals.”
Looking ahead to this weekend’s replay, Myles added: “It’s a hard place to go. I’ve been there a few times and it’s not the best of places to try and get a result.
“The pitch isn’t great and to go there in the Scottish Cup will make it a harder test for us.
“It will probably be harder than it was for us on Saturday, so we’ll need to make sure we’ve got our heads screwed on and are ready to go in the replay.”
McGlynn hailed Myles as a “brave boy” and now the player is hoping he can repay the support from his manager and team-mates by enjoying an extended run in the team.
“I’ve been off my work this week so it was nice to get out there and try and take my mind off what’s been happening,” he added. “I’ve been suspended as well so it’s good to get playing again.
“We’ve got a lot of good young boys here who are starting to find their feet in the Junior game. It’s just a case of them getting a bit more experience at this level under their belt.
“We’ve got the makings of a good squad. We just a need a bit more consistency and also try to cut out the errors that almost cost us.”
Musselburgh Athletic: Adams, Moyes, Noble, Russell (Sinclair 77), Hamilton, Shand, Murray, Myles, King, McCallum, Miller. Subs: Ponton, McWilliams, Wilson, Cornet.
Pumpherston: Reid, Gerrard, Bremner, Coyle, Robinson, McNee, Jack (Farquhar 52), Drummond, Park (McLean 52), McAulay, Swan. Subs: Quinn, Morris, Whyte.