Linlithgow Rose’s epic Scottish Cup third round tie with Wick Academy will stretch onto a replay on Monday night after they conceded an injury-time equaliser to draw 2-2.
The game went ahead at the fifth time of asking as Wick’s Harmsworth Park survived three pitch inspections to finally allow the protracted fixture to go ahead.
Rose twice took the lead through Colin Strickland and Kevin Kelbie, but a Richard Macadie penalty and Davie Allan’s dramatic leveller ensured both sides still have a shot at facing Forfar Athletic in the fourth round.
Linlithgow manager David McGlynn spoke of the pride he felt in his players despite that late sucker punch: “I thought the players were absolutely magnificent and they’re dead on their feet in there now. Considering we’ve travelled six hours, we’ve asked players to come off their work and we’ve ended up with only 11 fit players so they’ve done really well.
“I’d have taken a draw as soon as it was offered before the game. The late goal is obviously disappointing but I can’t fault them. We’ve had four strikers on the pitch and a 17-year-old and 19-year-old in the wide areas. We’ve asked them to do a shift for us and they were magnificent. The goal at the end is just football.”
After facing various difficulties regarding players availability for the mammoth journey north, Rose made four changes to their starting line-up from Saturday’s victory against Broxburn Athletic with Ryan Baptie, Callum Robertson, Andrew Shirra and Kevin Kelbie replacing the absent Colin Leiper, Blair Batchelor, Graeme Macgregor and Graham Weir.
The home side made the stronger start as Linlithgow struggled to adapt to their new surroundings and they had a golden opportunity to open the lead with less than five minutes gone when Grant Campbell’s cross from the right found an unmarked Gary Weir, but his tame volley was easily saved by Alisdair Adams.
A tactical switch from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 allowed Rose to get a foothold as the game went on and Tommy Coyne twice blasted off target when he could have done better.
Adams had to be at full stretch to keep his side level in the 22nd minute when he palmed away Jamie Pickles goalbound effort.
Linlithgow took the lead in the 27th minute with a classic bit of route-one football as Adams’ long ball was flicked on by Coyne and rifled first time into the corner by Colin Strickland.
Adams’ busy evening continued as he palmed away a Richard Macadie effort, but Rose’s keeper was to be given no chance as the home side grabbed an equaliser five minutes before the break.
Weir collected the ball inside the penalty and turned Chris Gray, who blatantly took down Wick’s striker giving referee Don Robertson no option but to point to the spot. Macadie stepped up and confidently drilled the ball low to the keeper’s right.
Rose should have retaken the lead just moments later, though, when Strickland’s weighted pass presented Coyne with a one-on-one opportunity, but Wick’s Sean McCarthy spread himself well to make a crucial save to keep the scores level at half-time.
Rose made no mistake with the next chance that came their way in the 49th minute when McCarthy beat away Strickland’s fierce effort, but the rebound fell kindly for Kevin Kelbie who had time to take a touch before finding the net.
The longer the game went on the more the tension racked up, with clear-cut chances becoming fewer and further between; Linlithgow content to protect their lead by sitting back and hitting on the counter.
Callum Robertson almost took advantage of one such break but his ferocious shot was tipped over the bar by McCarthy.
Adams would have been glad to have been experiencing a much quieter second half, but he needed to be at his best again in the 88th minute when Weir’s flick-on ran into the path of substitute Ross Allan whose shot was well blocked.
But with Wick throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the Linlithgow rearguard, they grabbed a dramatic equaliser well into stoppage time when Davie Allan latched onto a knock down and lashed the ball into the roof of the net from six yards out.
Wick Academy: S McCarthy, Campbell, M Steven, A Farquhar, D Mackay, Macadie (R Allan 69), Pickles, S Mackay, Anderson, Weir, D Allan. Subs not used: Macgregor, Manson, R Allan, G Steven, Hughes, D McCarthy
Linlithgow Rose: Adams, Thom, Baptie, Mackenzie, Gray, Maclennan, Robertson, Shirra, Stickland, Coyne, Kelbie. Subs not used: McKinven, King, McAdam
Referee: Don Robertson