Bo’ness United boss Allan McGonigal slammed referee Craig Napier after a controversial red card threatened to send the Newtown Park side out of the Junior Cup, although they held on for a 2-1 win away to Rutherglen Glencairn.
The visitors looked to be in control after doubling their lead through Stuart Hunter on 68 minutes, only for referee Napier to flash a straight red card at Hunter for gesturing to his own supporters as he celebrated his goal.
Rutherglen then pulled a goal back from the penalty spot just a minute later, as Bo’ness’ bid to win the Junior Cup for the first time in 20 years looked in danger.
McGonigal was not happy with the sending-off and penalty awarded against his side and he revealed that they are likely to appeal the red card ahead of Saturday’s quarter-final away to Irvine Meadow.
He said: “The red card is a joke. All he has done is run over to his own supporters and celebrated. It’s put a dampener on the result. I think we’ll appeal it. We’ll certainly look back and see how it is. How can you get sent off for going straight over to your fans? It’s a poor decision.”
McGonigal, however, was full of praise for his side as they remain on track for a league and cup double. “To get through to the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup is a fantastic achievement,” he said. “We’ve had some difficult ties along the way, but I’ve got to commend my squad, they keep on producing the goods.”
Bo’ness had a shout for a penalty of their own after just five minutes, when Darren Gribben’s corner kick appeared to strike Rutherglen defender Ross Ballantyne on the hand, but Napier waved play on.
The Super League leaders then came close through Nicky Walker, whose driven shot flashed narrowly wide of goal after a knockdown from Steven Hislop, before Gribben tested out Rutherglen goalkeeper Jonny Duncan with a rasping shot from 25 yards which was curling underneath the bar until the stopper tipped over well.
Despite not playing their best, with several passes going astray as they looked for the opener, Bo’ness took the lead ten minutes before half-time.
Hunter picked out Walker wide on the right and the tricky winger cut inside before placing a shot under Duncan and into the back of the net.
Hislop came close to a crucial second on 51 minutes after Gribben’s pass out wide found the striker in space, but he couldn’t hit the target.
Then came two manic minutes which brought the fifth-round tie into life. Hunter and Rutherglen’s Gavin Ross were both shown a yellow card after jostling with each other in the box before a corner. Robert Sloan then swung a cross in and Hunter sent a header crashing into the back of the net, before running off to celebrate with his team-mates. However, their celebrations were cut short as Napier flashed a straight red at the Bo’ness defender.
Straight from the restart, Rutherglen pulled a goal back. With McGonigal having shuffled his pack as a result of the red card, Hislop joined Paul Murphy at centre back, and it was Hislop’s challenge in the box that led to the spot kick, which Nicky Sullivan finished high into the roof of the net past Mark Peat.
The home side pushed for an equaliser to send the tie to a replay, with Bo’ness having to defend for much of the remaining 20 minutes. However, they couldn’t find a way through.
With Super League title rivals Newtongrange Star having slipped up at home to Lochee United – their fourth league defeat in a row – McGonigal reflected it was good news for their title hopes.
He said: “It’s a great boost for us. We are not too worried about the league just now. We are just delighted to be in the last eight of the Scottish Cup. The league will take care of itself when we get back around to that.”
Rutherglen Glencairn: Duncan, Ballantyne, Moore (Docherty), Neil (McGuire), Eadie, Muir, Irvine (McCarry), Esplin, Ross, Sullivan, Donaghy. Subs: MacLeod, Colquhoun.
Bo’ness United: Peat, Snowdon, Murphy, Hunter, Donnelly, Craig Scott, Walker, Sloan, Andy Scott (Jaconelli), Gribben (Miller), Hislop. Subs: Anderson, Clark, Wallace.