A BRACE from Steven Wilson secured St Bernards a place in the second round of the Scottish Cup as they outfought plucky Civil Service Strollers 3-2 at the Royal High School.
But despite their victory, Saints coach Ryan Dinse said: “We were nowhere near as good as we can be. There’s lots to address in training. The positive we can take is that we’re in the next round, but there’s lots to work on for sure.”
After a stop-start opening ten minutes the deadlock was broken with a goal out of nowhere. A throw-in from the right was half cleared by the Strollers’ defence straight to the path of William Mitchell and he laced an unstoppable effort into the far corner from 25 yards.
It was a sucker punch to the Strollers’ cup hopes but by the 20th minute they had established something of a foothold in the game. There was some encouragement when both David Hope and Patrick Gauson found space in the box to shoot but they were unable to generate enough power to really trouble Ronald McKellar in the Saints goal.
Saints continued to stick to their game-plan and they came close with strikes from distance. After Jason McGinness fired just over from outside the box, Wilson sent a drilled effort that crashed against the post.
As half-time loomed, both sides had chances to make a mark on the scoreline in quick succession. Strollers came close first as Sahid Sanchez latched on to a ball over the top, only to fire wide from the edge of the area. Saints responded with an attack of their own as Wilson held up the ball deep before putting through Brad Hainey, who could only find the side netting from a tight angle.
After the interval Saints were unlucky not to be two up. Lee Sinclair had his header cleared off the line by Bradley Parker before McGinness fired in at the back post, only for the referee rule the goal out for offside.
Saints persisted and again had the ball in the net, only to be denied by the officials for a second time. Darren Nicol fired in a loose ball in the box as the referee blew his whistle to halt play because Wilson had suffered a head knock seconds earlier.
The Strollers had been riding their luck a bit thus far and were understandably delighted to grab an equaliser in the 70th minute. A ball from the left fell kindly to Iain Ring-Macleod and he turned the ball in from close range for 1-1.
Parity did not exist for long however, as the Saints quickly found a reply from a set piece. Peter Newby’s corner picking out Wilson at the backpost and he headed in to restore their lead.
Two soon became three as Wilson grabbed another. Saints caught Strollers on the counter down the left through McGinness and he squared the ball to Nicol to tee up Wilson for 3-1.
Strollers seemed down and out but another goal for them brought hope of a late comeback. Ryan Cairncross picked up the ball left of the box and he found the far corner to reduce the deficit. For his side though it was too little too late as the Saints went marching on into the next round of the competition.
St Bernards: Graeme Finnen, Brad Hainey, Bernie Mathews, Jason McGinness, Ronald McKellar, William Mitchell, Peter Newby, Darren Nicol, Lee Orr, George Reid, Lee Sinclair, Steven Wilson.
Civil Service Strollers: Raymond Adams, Ryan Cairncross, Jules Cattanach, David Hope, Patrick Gauson, Ryan Lynch, Colin Maxwell, Iain Ring-Macleod, Sean Walsh, William Wells, Sahid Sanchez, Bradley Parker.