After progressing through seven rounds, Musselburgh Amateurs’ long journey in the Scottish Amateur Cup has come to a halt after being crushed 5-0 by Hurlford Thistle in a quarter-final tie at Pinkie St Peter’s.
The Ayrshire side, on a surface devoid of any moisture whatsoever, controlled the match from the very first minute as their passage to the last four never looked in any real doubt.
Musselburgh coach Cris Kay was realistic with his post-match reflections and believes there is every chance his side have just been defeated by a group of players who can go on and lift the coveted prize.
Kay said: “We were never at the races in the first half and had a mad ten minutes when they scored three goals. If we’d scored the penalty after the break, we might have seen a different game, but they are a very fit and physical side.
“I’m delighted how far we have come as this is a completely different level to what we are used to playing at so the guys have never been under any pressure.
“It’s certainly a learning curve for us and I think it will take a lot for Hurlford to be beaten as every player in their team is technically very good.”
The physicality of the visitors was evident within the opening stages, difficult to dispossess when on the ball, but also robust in the challenge.
Hurlford’s Ryan Caddis was proving a real threat down the right hand side with his trickery and awareness with Musselburgh goalkeeper Ross Taylor having to bear the brunt of a powerful shot from the No.7 after only a few minutes.
The home side were struggling to retain possession with Hurlford’s ability to press the ball proving difficult to counteract. A couple of decent blocks from Taylor prevented the visitors from gaining the initiative early on, but he could not be blamed when the opening strike did arrive on the 20-minute mark.
A terrific move involved a late surging run from Michael Mullen, who in turn laid the ball to the unmarked Joe Gold – the midfielder had made a break from the centre of the park – and he fired it past Taylor to give his side a deserved lead.
Taylor was proving to be a real star in the Musselburgh goal with further saves to prevent Hurlford from moving out of sight, blocking efforts from both Mullen and Keir Knapp. However, it was the latter who added to his side’s tally only moments later with a powerful strike from the edge of the area which clipped the underside of the bar and over the line via Taylor’s fingertips.
The match was over as a contest only a minute later when the visitors added a third. Confusion in the Musselburgh defence allowed Robert Robertson possession in the penalty area and he unselfishly squared the ball to the lively Mullen who drew the goalkeeper before slotting into an empty net. To the home side’s credit, they returned to the pitch after the half-time interval in positive spirits and had the first attempt on goal. Giovanni Crolla fancied his chances from distance, but couldn’t keep his strike below the crossbar, and the Ayrshire side’s keeper, Ryan Farrell, was untested.
The home side were then handed an opportunity they desperately required as panic in a crowded Hurlford penalty area saw the referee award a penalty for a handball offence. However, Jamie Kay failed to convert from 12 yards as he dragged the spot-kick wide of the left post.
With Musselburgh struggling to find any fluency going forward, Farrell was rarely tested or put under any significant pressure. Hurlford did add a further two goals late in the game to put some gloss on the outcome of what was a very accomplished team performance from the men from the west.
Mullen added the fourth and his second of the match after being set up from Robertson’s chipped pass as he headed beyond Taylor, before Musselburgh’s misery was extended in stoppage time when substitute Steven Gare deflected the ball into his own net from Gold’s cross.
Musselburgh Amateurs: Ross Taylor, David Glynn, Andrew McDonald, Allan Cornet, James Henderson, Jamie Kay, Scott Barclay, Craig Darcy, Keith Darcy, Giovanni Crolla, Paul Marshall, Kieran McCluskie, Steven Gare, Eamonn Reynolds, Allan Bain, Neil Thompson.
Hurlford Thistle: Ryan Farrell, Richard Reeder, Andrew Gilgannon, Billy Mason, Jamie Philipson, Joe Gold, Ryan Caddis, Gary Broadfield, Michael Mullen, Robert Robertson, Keir Knapp, Graeme Broadfield, James Caldwell, Owen Quigley, Allan Hunter, Kevin Campbell.