Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale boss Raymond Carr says his side froze as SPFL Championship outfit St Mirren sent the Capital side crashing out of the William Hill Scottish Cup 7-1.
It was a mouthwatering occasion for Carr and his players at Saughton Enclosure on Saturday but, in the end, was a bridge too far for the East of Scotland League champions, who had swatted aside League 2 leaders Stirling Albion 5-3 at Forthbank in the previous round.
Despite the home side’s Grant Munro having the first attempt on goal inside the opening 60 seconds of this third-round tie, the Buddies ran riot in the first half, putting seven past goalkeeper Kevin Swain – former Hearts striker Gavin Reilly netting four – as any hopes of another cup upset were quickly dashed.
Jack Baird, Cammy Smith and Scotland Under-21 captain Lewis Morgan were also on target for the Paisley club, who will discover their fourth-round opponents later today.
A crumb of comfort, though, for the hosts was a more assured second-half display, limiting the visitors to very few chances in and around the penalty box while taking one of their own.
Striker Sean Wringe found space 18 yards out two minutes after the restart and ruthlessly dispatched his shot past the experienced Craig Samson into the bottom corner that resulted in chants of “we won the second half” from the buoyant Lothian fans at full-time.
“It was always going to be difficult the task that was in front of us. We had a horrendous first 15 minutes which killed the game,” an honest Carr said afterwards. “If we’d taken the chance we had inside the first minute it might have settled us a wee bit. But they scored really soon after that and I think we just froze. I don’t know what was wrong with them because we’re not normally like that.
“You could see their heads going down, they weren’t looking for the ball or trying to put a block in so the thing we needed to do was get in at half-time and talk to them. We did that without raising the voice too much and they went out and put a much better performance in the second half.
“The guys were confident before the match, but that just nosedived as the first half wore on. St Mirren were always going to win the game. It would have been a major upset for a club like ours to have beaten them, but good luck to them and I hope they go on and win it. I just hope they go and beat someone 10-1 to make me feel better!”
Former Jambos frontman Reilly felt his side’s opponents acquitted themselves well.
“They had a chance straight away and you’re thinking ‘oh no’ but once we got the first goal, they had to come out which played into our hands,” the 24-year-old said. “We’d prepared for this game like any other, you only have to look at the upset they had in the previous round. I’d played at Saughton before when I was with Gretna 2008 so I knew coming here what these places are about. You’ve got to respect them, they’ve done very well to get to this stage so all the best to them for the rest of the season.”
As for Lothian goalscorer Wringe, the RBS worker was thrilled to get his name on the scoresheet.
“We went out and won the second half 1-0 so you’ve got to look at that as a positive,” he said. “Most of their goals came from our mistakes but I’ve got to be happy I’ve managed to score against a club like St Mirren.”
Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale: Swain, Sherlock, O’Donnell (Hutchison 68), Crawford, Munro, Muir, Moore (Hare 57), Brown, Wringe, Devlin, Swanson (Nhamburo 72). Subs: Robertson, Mungall, Simpson, Shala.
St Mirren: Samson, Demetriou, McGinn, Magennis, Morgan (Sutton 71), Smith, Baird, McShane (Hilson 56), Reilly (Stewart 66), Davis, McPherson. Subs: Buchanan, Duffy, Kirpatrick.
Referee: D Lowe