MUSSELBURGH ATHLETIC shot themselves in the foot again before plucky Pumpherston ran out deserved winners of this fourth-round replay to earn a last-16 clash against Rutherglen Glencairn in the Emirates Scottish Junior Cup.
Having already gifted their South Division opponents two goals from dozy defending in a 3-3 draw at Olivebank, Burgh were left cursing another blunder at the back as they fell behind just before the break.
Colin Wilson, making his first start since signing from Raith Rovers, was the culprit on this occasion, seeing his pass back to Ally Adams falling woefully short to allow Kallum McAulay to nick the ball past the keeper and gleefully hammer it home into an empty net.
McAulay struck again early in the second half as the home side grew in confidence and, after Matti King had seen his 84th-minute penalty saved by Mark Reid, substitute Gary White added the icing to Pumphy’s cake as he made it 3-0 with a spectacular half-volley from close to the halfway line.
In the end, Robert Main’s men fully merited their place in the next round and bag-of-tricks David Swan, in particular, as well as gutsy defensive duo Freddie Coyle and Liam Robinson, all deserve their place on that stage.
Burgh will look back on the two games, though, and feel they pressed the self-destruct button in seeing their hopes of making the final for the second time in three seasons go down the drain. “It was definitely a feeling of deja vu,” admitted disappointed Burgh boss David McGlynn. “Silly goals have cost us over the two games and we left ourselves with a mountain to climb after losing a horrendous second one here.
“Steven Noble gave possession away needlessly by taking the wrong option at one end of the park then, for some reason, Hammy (Gary Hamilton) dives in near the corner.
“But fair play to Pumpherston as they worked their socks off. It’s a hard one to take as they hardly created a chance until we gifted them the first goal, but they got something to hang on to and all credit to them for playing to their strengths in the second half.
“I’ve had some serious words with my players in there as it’s as low as they will feel. Yes, we’ve got to respect opponents but it’s up to us to then go out and roll over the top of teams and we didn’t do that.
“There’s no doubting the ability of the players but they’ve got to show the mental strength to go with that.
“There’s no point playing Broxburn off the park and matching Linlithgow for long spells then not being able to win this tie against lower league opponents.”
Not surprisingly, McGlynn refused to be too critical of King, who failed to convert two one-on-ones with Reid – one early on and the other in the second half – before his late penalty miss. “It was one of those days strikers have sometimes,” added the Burgh boss. “We rely on Matti so much and he’s scored so many valuable goals for us over the years.
“We gave ourselves a chance when we got the penalty, but the fact Matti missed it probably summed up his day.”
One player McGlynn certainly wasn’t enamoured with, though, was Michael McKenna and not just because he got himself sent off in the final few seconds for a second booking.
The pacy forward proved a problem to the Pumphy defence early on and had a stinging shot beaten away by Reid, who also tipped a header from McKenna over the bar.
But, according to McGlynn, the youngster didn’t stick to his gameplan and was warned of the consequences of doing so again in no uncertain terms,
“We went with Michael up front to try and use his pace yet for 35 minutes he’s come short so I’ve told him that if he can’t take instructions I will get someone who can,” said the Burgh boss.
“There’s no point me coming up with a gameplan and seeing players go against it.”
While Main felt his players hadn’t received any credit for earning a replay, their second-half performance was certainly praiseworthy on this occasion and no-one shone brighter than Swan.
He had the whole ground buzzing at one stage after evading a flurry of tackles to keep possession and, on this evidence, it’s no surprise that he’s apparently attracting interest from Super League clubs.
“Swan relieves a lot of pressure for them as he’s tricky and has the pace to go past players. He’s a good player and he will get a move to a higher level,” observed McGlynn. “I hear that Bo’ness and Linlithgow are looking at him and it might just be a case of whether or not he’s got the temperament to perform week in week out in the Super League.”
Pumpherston: Reid, Farquhar, Bremner, Coyle, Robinson, Gerrard, McNee, Drummond (Jack 90), McAulay (Whyte 90), McCann (White 63), Swan. Subs: Park, Quinn.
Musselburgh: Adams, Coyle (Murray 46), Noble, Shand (Russell 71), Hamilton, Wilson, Miller (C Thomson 73), Myles, King, McCallum, McKenna. Subs: Sinclair, Cornet.
Referee: L Clark.