Shotts Bon Accord 4
Haddington’S hopes of causing an Emirates Scottish Junior Cup shock were smashed after a minute when the holders took the lead before finishing as comfortable winners.
Colin Williamson’s effort took a defection past goalkeeper Daryl Johnston in the opening minute of play, giving the visitors a huge lift as they started out on their bid to retain the trophy.
Indeed, in the opening 45 minutes of the match, the visitors created enough chances to win a handful of games with only some poor finishing and superb goalkeeping from Johnston keeping the score down to that single goal. However, when Haddington’s Brian Martin unleashed a terrific effort just before the break, it took a super save from Shotts keeper John Murdoch to prevent an equaliser.
Both teams had strong penalty claims turned down by the referee, who booked both players involved for simulation.
Shotts started the second half the same way they did the first, pushing forward at a high tempo. They had chance after chance to finish the game off but couldn’t find the net.
The longer the game went on, East South League leaders Haddington were still in with a shout against their West Super League opponents. And they came close to equalising when Andy Scott was played in down the right wing, but, with only the keeper to beat, he lashed the ball into the side-netting and the chance was gone.
As often happens, Shotts took a lift from that let-off and scored their second on the hour. They forced four corners on the bounce to put the home side under pressure and from the fourth they scored. A short ball was played back out to Thomas Hanlon who crossed high allowing striker Adam Coakley to glance a header into the net.
Still, Haddinton weren’t finished and once again Scott forced the Shotts keeper into action with a couple of great efforts.
But any hopes Haddington had of fighting back and possibly forcing a replay were dashed again in the 70th minute when they had two players sent off in the same incident.
Brian Martin was tackled down the left wing but the referee allowed play to go on. Martin, with the adrenalin pumping, tackled back and fouled his Shotts opponent. The referee blew for a Shotts free-kick to the disgust of team-mate Jordan Cropley, who was given a red card for foul and abusive language. As the Shotts player was receiving treatment, the referee gave Martin a second yellow card and sent him off too.
Shotts took advantage of the extra men and added to their tally with five minutes to go. Substitute Kenny Wright slammed the ball past keeper Johnston from 20 yards and, with the full time whistle approaching, scored a fourth and final goal. Again, it was Wright who side-footed the ball and it hit the bar before slamming down over the line and bouncing out. The referee, who was in a good position, waved aside the Haddington protests and pointed to the halfway line.
Haddington boss Steve McLeish was honest enough to admit the stronger team won, saying: “They were better than us. They created lots of chances but we defended well and the longer the game went without them adding a second then we were still in with a chance.
“When they scored their second that was the turning point in the game. They scored in the first minute with a half chance and that was the difference between the sides. A Super League side will kill you off and take advantage of any slip-ups. We didn’t disgrace ourselves with the scoreline flattering them a bit because they only scored again after we had the players sent off.
“I don’t think the referee covered himself with glory at the sending off because it was a free kick for us which he didn’t give that started it all off. It would have been a different game if Andy’s chance had gone in but it wasn’t to be.”
Shotts stand-in boss Stuart Ralston was happy with the result. “We came here expecting a really tough game and we got it,” he said. “We showed a wee bit of class right from the start and, if our finishing had been better, then we could have been four or so to the good before half-time.
“I had to keep the players focused at half-time because they were becoming frustrated at not scoring. However, they started the second half the same as the first and we eventually ran out winners in the end.”
Haddington: Johnston, Lynch, Noble (Campbell), Carter, Wilson, Bracks, Conaghan, Motion (Bernawi), Scott, Cropley, Martin. Subs: McEwan, Simpson, Slight.
Shotts: Murdoch, Finnigan, Burns, Wharton, Walker, Williamson, Hanlan, Scott (Kerr), Coakley (Wright), MacKenzie (Boyack), Sideserf. Subs: Goodall, Whelan.