Alnwickhill made hard work of victory against league rivals Rosewell Miners, who played more than 60 minutes with just nine men in an entertaining cup tie.
Hosts Alnwickhill ended up 5-4 winners, but will feel they should have won by more considering their two-man advantage, and were made to work hard for the win as a resilient Rosewell fought back into the IME Cup Section A clash.
Rosewell had started brighter in the early exchanges, despite failing to test Alnwickhill goalkeeper Chanda Shula. However, the home side gradually found their footing and got the opener after 14 minutes.
Dean Millar won the ball midway inside Rosewell’s half and, after a great solo run which took him bursting through the Rosewell defence, he slotted underneath stand-in keeper Cameron Brown.
Buoyed by their opener, Alnwickhill got their second after 21 minutes from a 25-yard Ryan Avinou strike. Millar did well to steal possession and set up Avinou with a cheeky backheel, and the striker curled his right-foot shot into the top corner past Brown.
Things went from bad to worse for Rosewell four minutes later. Gavin Turnbull was given his second booking and a red card after the referee adjudged him to have put the ball into the net with deliberate use of a hand, although it appeared he may have been pushed.
Rosewell’s ten men pulled a goal back on the half-hour mark when Stewart Bruce found himself in the right place to bundle the ball into the net from two yards out after Shula had fumbled. Bruce wasn’t on the pitch for much longer, though, as he was given a straight red card just two minutes later when he kicked out at an Alnwickhill player on the ground.
Feeling a sense of injustice perhaps, Rosewell showed great determination to get an equaliser before half-time. Martin Snedden was causing problems up front on his own for the Alnwickhill defence, and after controlling the ball on his chest, he spun before volleying into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Alnwickhill got off to a flying start in the second half, though, as two minutes after the restart, Millar got his second of the afternoon. The frontman was played in one-on-one with Brown after a pass from midfield and he made no mistake with his finish as he slotted into the bottom corner.
The hosts then went 4-2 up, when Jordan Bate, who had come close just minutes before, got his first of the afternoon. Rosewell were finding it tough with just three men at the back, and Bate capitalised as he used his pace to motor through, before sliding the ball past Brown.
A minute later, however, Rosewell were back in it when they pulled a goal back from a Sean Jenkins penalty kick.
Snedden was close to getting an equaliser for Rosewell with 15 minutes to go, but an instinctive stop from Shula prevented that happening as the keeper tipped the ball over the bar.
Avinou worked tirelessly up front for Alnwickhill as he continued to put pressure on the Rosewell defence. He was alert to dispossess a defender on the the edge of the box before confidently dispatching past Brown to put his side 5-3 up on 80 minutes.
Rosewell defender Jenkins pulled another goal back minutes later with a goal an established striker would be proud of as he volleyed into the net inside the box.
Rosewell continued to press for an equaliser to make Alnwickhill pay for their missed chances, but the hosts saw the game out.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh Rose continued their impressive Scottish Cup run as they knocked out Paisley side Ferguslie Star at Davidson’s Mains to reach the last 16 of the national tournament.
Rose remain the only LEAFA- based side in the competition, but they looked as if they’d be on their way out of the competition after finding themselves 2-0 down at half-time. However, a ten-minute spell in the second half reaped four goals and Rose marched on.
Ryan Kane kick-started the Rose revival with a headed effort into net amongst a packed penalty area from Raymond Walker’s cross on 55 minutes.
Martin Mya then got Rose’s equaliser when he found the net after team-mate Darren Smith’s initial shot had ricocheted off a defender and into his path.
A well-worked team goal put Rose ahead for the first time as they made it 3-2.
Centre-back Euan Bisset burst forward and ran all the way to the corner flag before knocking a cross into the box and Liam Frost prodded the ball into the net.
Rose then got a crucial fourth on 65 minutes. Top goalscorer Walker provided the assist for Smith who rounded the keeper to score.
Elsewhere, Newcraighall Leith Victoria secured the bragging rights as they beat Premier 1 champions Sandys 3-0 at Castleview to move up to third place in the LEAFA top flight.
Robert Bennett got the opener for Vics after 30 minutes when he found the net inside the box from a corner kick.
Graeme Mills got a second on 60 minutes for the visitors after he reacted quickest to put the ball into the net after the Sandys keeper had spilled.
Stuart Kidd sealed all three points in an impressive away performance for Vics with a well-worked third late on as his shot sailed into the top corner from 14 yards.