Penicuik boss Craig Meikle hailed the effort of his players, but spoke of disappointment after his side couldn’t convert their chances and were held to a 0-0 draw by West Super League giants Irvine Meadow in the fifth round of the Scottish Junior Cup.
The Cuikie now face Meadow away in a replay this Saturday for a place in the quarter-finals.
“I’m actually a bit disappointed. I think we missed an opportunity there to win the game,” said Meikle.
“The back five were brilliant. I never singled anyone out in the dressing-room, because I thought everyone’s effort was spot-on. They gave everything. We played some good football considering the condition of the pitch. I’m proud of the effort the boys put in.
“Goals change games and early in the game we had a great chance, with one of their defenders clearing it off the line. We had another couple cleared off the line later in the game. There was definitely chances there for us to win the match.”
And what an opportunity it was, just six minutes in, when Ross Montgomery got in behind the Meadow defence before squaring across goal to striker Grant Killin, but from three yards out the frontman somehow missed, as a Meadow defender blocked on the line.
Meadow had the ball in the back of the net on 17 minutes from a Paul Maxwell header, only for the effort to be ruled out for offside – a let off for the home side, with the visiting fans voicing their disgust at the decision.
The match had been postponed last weekend due to a waterlogged pitch, and only passed an early pitch inspection on Saturday morning, but it was beginning to cut up easily as the first-half wore on.
Despite this, Penicuik were doing their best to play the ball along the deck and a deflected low strike from Charlie Brigain caused Meadow goalkeeper to scamper to his right to claw away the effort on 25 minutes.
Meadow’s Gary McCann looked the biggest threat for the Cuikie defence and came close on the half-hour mark after showing Penicuik’s defence a clean pair of heels but was unlucky with his strike from the edge of the box which was just over the bar.
Penicuik’s Dayne Robertson set up a great chance for himself just before half-time after piercing through the centre of Meadow’s defence from midway inside the visitors’ half. The attacking-midfielder worked his way into the box, and flicked goalwards from under his feet, but Hall stretched to tip the ball wide for a corner.
The hosts survived an early second-half scare after Meadow’s Willie McClaren sent in a dangerous ball from the right, straight into the feet of Maxwell, just three yards out. Somehow though, the mobile striker couldn’t connect with the cross, for what would’ve been a certain goal.
Meadow had the hosts pinned back, after upping the intensity at the start of the second half, but found Penicuik’s rearguard resolute.
In fact, despite having to defend for long spells for much of the period after the interval, Meadow couldn’t find a way through to trouble goalkeeper Youssef Bejaoui, with Penicuik captain Dougie Cunnison leading by example at the heart of their defence.
Both sides went in search of a winner in the final ten minutes, with chances at either end to steal the win. A Montgomery cross from the left wing, on the counter, was almost put into his own net by a Meadow defender, but was cleared off the line for a corner with nine minutes remaining.
Bejaoui then produced an incredible save to tip over the bar, after McLaren had let fly from the edge of the box, before Mark Thomson struck the outside of the post with a free-kick from 25 yards for the visitors.
Penicuik substitute James McPartlin then had a chance to win it at the death, after fellow sub Craig Millar got the ball out from under his feet to feed his team-mate inside the box, but the shot was parried wide by Hall.
Boss Meikle lamented his side’s missed chances, but conceded his side could already be out of the cup after Meadow also missed their fair share. He said: “I didn’t think there was anything between the two teams. It could have gone either way. They had some chances, they put dangerous balls into the box and caused us problems, so we could be out the cup. Likewise, it’s chances I hope we won’t rue going through their next week.
“My only worry is that when you play teams like Irvine Meadow, you only get one chance and sometimes when you don’t take it, you get punished. It’s obviously going to be harder going through there next week, but we don’t fear anyone.”
Penicuik Athletic: Bejaoui, McDermott, Cunnison, Young, Ross, Lister, Brigain (Millar), Gay, Montgomery, Robertson (McPartlin), Killin. Subs: Hill, Dickson, Harris.
Irvine Meadow: Hall, Darroch, Twaddle, Staunton, Campbell, Thomson, McCann, Fraser, Halliday (Miller), McLaren, Maxwell. Subs: Shepherd, Sideserf, Caddis, Bristow.