Musselburgh must improve or face Junior Cup misery

Musselburgh Athletic manager Stevie McLeish

Musselburgh Athletic manager Stevie McLeish

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Musselburgh Athletic boss Stevie McLeish admits his side will have to raise their game considerably on Sunday if they have any hope of returning to East Lothian with the Scottish Junior Cup.

The Olivebank men head west to take on Ayrshire giants Auchinleck Talbot at Rugby Park this weekend as the underdogs, with Saturday’s 4-1 home defeat against local rivals Newtongrange condemning Burgh to their seventh defeat in ten games – a run in which they’ve tasted victory just once.

“It’s been a really difficult four weeks, but that kind of topped it off really,” said McLeish after Saturday’s defeat. “We’ll have to perform significantly better next week.

“We are still in the Super League and that’s all that matters and we’ve just got to turn our focus to the cup final now. It’s probably been in the back of their minds since we qualified.

“They are certainly not down, they’ve got something to look forward to.”

Burgh rested Jackie Myles, Lewis Turner, Robert Wilson and Alex Christie, while Darren Smith and Graeme Beveridge were on holiday.

Newtongrange, eager to pip Linlithgow Rose to third place, were quick out of the blocks and forced the opener after just five minutes.

Craig Thomson’s deep corner found Blair Tomlie, who headed back across goal and striker Matti King poked the ball home from close range.

The visitors were well in control of possession and they doubled their lead through King again after 24 minutes. Kris Renton fizzed a low shot from the edge of the box which ‘keeper Ally Adams did well to get his fingertips to and divert onto the post, but the former Musselburgh man hammered in the rebound.

John McManus’ low cross from the right found Jordan Cropley inside the area and he showed neat footwork to round Adams and finish into the empty net for number three of the afternoon.

Left-back Steven Noble, though, produced the best of the bunch for Star with a cracking strike just after the hour mark as his effort nestled into the far corner for Star’s fourth.

Brian Martin pulled one back for Burgh and they held control of the ball for the remainder of the match, but couldn’t break down a resolute defence.

A 94th minute winner for Linlithgow denied Star a third-place finish, but manager Alan Miller was just happy to end the season with three points after a run of poor results.

He said: “There was an end of season air to it, but from our point of view, it’s good to finish with a good result.”

Musselburgh Athletic: Adams, Martin, Hamilton (Christie), Hunter, Thomson, Sheerin (Russell), Ralton, Davie, Trailist 1 (Trialist 2), Doig, Munro.

Newtongrange Star: Kieron Renton (Amos), McManus, Noble, Tolmie (Kerr), Dunn, Thomson (Swaney), Gillon, Kris Renton, Cherrie, Cropley.