North Merchiston Vale progressed to the Centenary Cup second round with a penalty shoot-out victory against Musselburgh Windsor at Harrison Park.
Manager Scott Newby said: “We’re delighted to be in the next round. It was a tight, well-fought game and, although penalties are a lottery, I thought we created the better chances and deserved to progress.
“We can still get better, but it’s been a really positive start to the season and the boys are showing a great attitude and strength of character.”
The game finished 1-1 with Windsor taking the lead through Luke Willmott but Stuart Millar equalised.
Both sides stuck away three out of the first five penalties and so sudden death was required. Steven Ret was up first for Windsor but his penalty well saved by Merchie goalie Gordon Stuart. It paved the way for Cameron Hook to step up and send Michael Welsh the wrong way and secure a spot in the next round for his side.
Both Merchie and Windsor were keen to press forward as the game began and Merchie created the first chance with five minutes played. Hook sprinted along the left wing and sent a cross into the danger zone that Eoin Anderson volleyed tamely straight at goalkeeper Welsh.
With that first shot on target, the cup tie came to life with neither side sitting back. Windsor really should have gone ahead when Scott Gourlay showed a turn of pace from wide on the right and passed to Matthew Tulloch. He shot at goal but Merchie’s Stuart saved well. Gourlay looked to constantly pose a threat and within the space of two minutes he fired into the box but none of his team-mates were able to get on the end of his cross.
Despite the attacking efforts of both sides it remained 0-0 with 25 minutes played. Another chance went begging for Merchie as Hook stole in behind the Windsor defence but he decided to try and chip keeper Welsh and his effort drifted wide.
Both sides looked like they had goals in them and the shots on target kept coming. As Windsor were foiled by goalie Stuart, his opposite number was busy as he twice kept out Ryan Stewart, with the post also denying Merchie.
As half-time neared Windsor had a great opportunity to get ahead as James Carlyle had the goal at his mercy from six yards, but he blasted the ball over the crossbar.
It wasn’t to matter though as, just a minute later, the right-back redeemed himself as he drilled the ball across goal for Willmott to stab in and make it 1-0 to Windsor.
There was still a long way to go and neither team changed their game plan as the second half got underway. Merchie had been a little wasteful in front of goal before the break but early on in the second half they were much more clinical and got back on level terms. Alan Bannon’s corner from the left was headed straight into the Windsor goal by Millar at the back post, making it all square.
There was little to separate the sides and neither team wanted penalties, so it remained an open attacking affair. There were few clear chances of note until 20 minutes remaining as Merchie looked to bag a winner. Fraser Seywright hit a stinging half volley from the edge of the Windsor box that spun wide of the left-hand post.
As the second half progressed neither team could really grab the cup tie by the scruff of its neck. It was begging for a moment of genius or fortune but despite the numerous crosses into the box from both teams, the ball wasn’t to find the back of the net again. The full-time whistle went, and it was down to penalties, which neither side really wanted.
North Merchiston Vale: Gordon Stewart, Scott Gordon, Stephen Notman, Stuart Millar, Alan Bannon, Fraser Seywright, Marc Ritchie, Craig O’Rourke, Cameron Hook, Per Leijonhielm, Lewis Mitchell, Ryan Stuart, Eoin Anderson.
Musselburgh Windsor: Michael Welsh, Mark Finlayson, David Glynn, Scott Gourlay, Daniel Howie, Graeme Gillan, Steven Ret, Luke Willmott, David Wood, Matthew Tulloch, David Halley, Barrie Arthur, Rory Russell, James Carlyle.