Musselburgh Athletic secured just their second ever Scottish Junior Cup final and will face Ayrshire giants Auchinleck Talbot on Sunday, June 7 in a repeat of the 2010/2011 showpiece which Talbot won in extra-time.
Burgh goalkeeper Ally Adams is one of just three players remaining at the club who were in the squad at Rugby Park, the then 19-year-old an unused substitute as Talbot emerged 2-1 victors, but he’ll certainly be involved this time.
The Olivebank No.1 suffered the ignominy of being red-carded in Burgh’s first-leg 3-2 win away to Rose, with substitute Murray Jackson bailing him out with a series of stops to preserve their lead, although he was free to play on Saturday.
Adams credited their team spirit and heaped praise on manager Stevie McLeish and his backroom staff for the work they’ve put in behind the scenes at the club who were considered as no-hopers in the competition when the semi-final draw was made in March.
“To the bookies we’ve been underdogs, but for us we’ve not been,” said Adams. “The gaffer and Murray [Jackson] have put a game plan in place, they’ve watched countless hours of DVDs and we’ve just followed their game plan and it’s worked for us. They deserve as much credit as we’re getting – obviously the players win the match, but the amount of work they put in along with Alan [Todd] and Walter [Martynuik] is phenomenal.”
Burgh looked in command at the break after striker Jordyn Sheerin fired them into a first-half lead, but Rose came roaring back and levelled with two strikes within 15 minutes of the second period.
“We said at half-time that the next goal was vital, and they scored it and got the next one quite sharply after,” said Adams.
“Even when we conceded I still didn’t think we were beat as the team spirit here is unbelievable. We always had another goal in us and we’ve got a special group of players who battle for each other.”
The Olivebank men will be considered as the underdogs once more when they face ten-times winners Talbot, but Adams insists they won’t be there just to make up the numbers as they seek their first ever Junior Cup triumph.
He added: “Over 90 minutes we can beat anyone, without a doubt. Obviously Auchinleck will be heavy favourites, but with the team spirit and the group of players we’ve got here, we fancy ourselves to beat anyone. We won’t be there just to turn up, we’ll be there to win.”
Sheerin settled Burgh nerves seven minutes after kick-off, the striker having been the thorn in Rose’s defence with two goals in the first leg, although this was of their own undoing.
John Ovenstone completely missed his headed clearance and Sheerin pounced before prodding past keeper Scott Christie for his 35th goal of the season.
Rose were attempting long balls up to their front pairing of Tommy Coyne and Colin Strickland, but they weren’t having any luck in the air up against the solid centre-half pairing of Robert Wilson and Andy Munro.
Coyne engineered an opportunity for Roddy MacLennan after 19 minutes, the little midfielder doing well to escape the challenges of three defenders, but Adams got down well to save.
Jackie Myles, sitting in front of the back four for Burgh, was everywhere for the home side, making a last-ditch tackle to thwart Roddy MacLennan just as he looked to pull the trigger, before his shot at the other end was tipped over by Christie.
Rose showed a greater intensity after the interval and they were rewarded with two goals in seven minutes. Mick O’Byrne got his head on Adam Nelson’s free-kick which snuck into the back of the net via Adams’ near post, before the visitors were awarded a penalty by referee David Munro after Roddy MacLennan’s cross hit Wilson’s flailing arm and Coyne converted to level the tie on aggregate.
But just as Rose were beginning to pick up a head of steam, they were undone once more by a defensive error, which Sheerin and goalscorer Lewis Turner lapped up. O’Byrne was at fault as he failed to deal with a through ball and Sheerin picked the ball up before freeing Turner on the left and he finished coolly past Christie for the decisive goal.
Rose moved to a back three with forwards Kevin Kelbie and Calum Smith flung on in search of a goal to level the tie, but Burgh held out to go through deservedly.
Musselburgh Athletic: Adams, Christie, Martin, Myles, Hunter (Turner), Smith, Beveridge, Thomson, Sheerin, Wilson, Munro.
Linlithgow Rose: Christie, Thom, McGown (McKillen), O’Byrne (Smith), Ovenstone, Nelson (Kelbie), Batchelor, Ruari MacLennan, Strickland, Coyne, Roddy MacLennan.