Bo’ness remain on track for a fabulous double of East Super League and Scottish Junior Cup after beating St Andrews 2-1 in Fife with a last-minute header from man-of-the-match, Paul Murphy to reach the last 16.
“It takes big players to win matches for you and Paul Murphy was a big player for us,” said a clearly delighted Bo’ness manager Alan McGonigal. “We had him in at the Hamilton Accies physio on Tuesday, who told him he needed three weeks rest but, he turned out for us and scored the winning goal when he stepped up to the mark.
“We had a lot of big players with the back four outstanding, but Paul put in a real shift knowing he would be hurting at the end if we didn’t win.”
Murphy said: “I knew the gaffer wanted me to play. This game was that important and I’m glad I made it.”
McGonigal knew it would be a real test against fellow Super League team St Andrews. Missing for a variety of reasons from the Bo’ness line up were Chris Donnelly, Robert Sloan and Brian Jaconelli.
In front of a travelling support of around 500 and in near freezing conditions, St Andrews started the quicker. They were first to the ball in the opening exchanges, but never troubled Bo’ness keeper Mark Peat. Gradually Bo’ness found their feet and spaces began to open up at the back of the home defence. First Stuart Hunter missed a great chance followed twice by Steve Hislop then Tony Jaconelli and finally Darren Gribben all had chances to take the lead, but missed or forced keeper Steve McEwan into action.
St Andrews’ first real effort at goal came from a Barry Sibanda free-kick which Peat saved well. The breakthrough for Bo’ness came just before the half-time whistle. A long through ball to Nicky Walker saw him round the keeper to a narrow angle. He rolled the ball back to Hislop, but his effort was blocked out to Andy Scott, who blasted a shot high into the net for a deserved opener.
St Andrews, now kicking down the slope and with the wind at their backs, forced the game to Bo’ness, but the back four of Snowdon, Murphy, Hunter and Devine were superb in giving nothing away. Bo’ness settled again and almost made it 2-0 when Walker again nipped in front of the keeper, saw his effort blocked on the line only for Hislop to collect the rebound, shoot, and see it blocked on the line.
With a quarter of an hour to go, St Andrews were awarded a penalty after Sibanda was brought down in the box.
Substitute Jamie Mackie stepped up, only to see Peat block his effort and the ball spin into the air. Mackie was quickest to react and headed the ball into the empty net.
The game was heading for a replay when the visitors were awarded a free-kick in the old inside right channel. Stuart Devine took yet another well-flighted kick straight to Murphy and he headed powerfully into the net from six yards to send the visiting fans delirious.
The referee barely had time to get the game restarted when he had to blow for full time.
McGonigal added: “I said before the game this would probably prove to be the hardest we have had all season and I was right. St Andrews wanted to win this one just as much as we did. We had top step up to the mark and with players of character like Murphy we were confident we could win this one but we had to dig deep.”
Murphy added: “I knew Stuart Devine would deliver a good cross because he does that week in week out and I just found a space where I thought he would send it to. He did and all I had to do was get a decent contact. ll we want now is a home tie in the next round.”
St Andrews: McEwan, McMullen, Seally, Ramsay(Mackie), Wedderburn, Drummond, McInnes, Patrick, Buchan(Port), Sutherland, Sibanda. Subs: Sloan, Morgan, Kidela.
Boness: Peat, Snowdon, Devine, Murphy, Hunter, C Scott, Walker, Jaconelli, Hislop (Miller), A Scott, Gribben (Nimmo). Subs: Anderson, Clark, Wallace.