Strikers Jamie Devlin and Sean Wringe have taken most of the plaudits for Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale recently but teenager Sam Nhamburo is making his presence felt too.
The youngster scored the only goal of the game in the final minute of last month’s William Hill Scottish Cup preliminary round one victory at Kelty Hearts having stepped off the bench with just five minutes to spare. On Saturday, the substitute repeated the feat against Highland League outfit Inverurie Loco Works, a blistering half-volley securing a last-gasp victory to set up a mouthwatering second-round clash with current SPFL League Two leaders Stirling Albion at Forthbank in just under three weeks time.
It was the prolific partnership of Devlin and Wringe who had put the East of Scotland League champions 2-0 in front after half an hour at Saughton Enclosure before the visitors’ Martin Laing reduced the deficit six minutes prior to the interval.
Kyle Gordon’s 84th-minute finish deservedly had Inverurie back level at 2-2 before 19-year-old Nhamburo’s scintillating strike into the top corner won it for Raymond Carr’s men right at the death.
“There were a lot of tired legs out there so I took the gamble and threw Sam on and told him to get right up on the last man and you’ll get a wee break,” Carr explained afterwards. “He has that in his locker and everyone knows he can do that but it’s the other part of his game that he needs to work on, when he’s not on the ball. He’s not the finished article and is nowhere near it but, if he can improve the rest of his game, then he’ll not be with us long.
“Sam can push for a start and he’ll get his chance but I’ve got to see it on the training ground. He seems to want to go in goals in the wee games we do but, come on, get out there and play. He’s not far away, though, and he will be getting a start for sure.”
Carr was disappointed to let a two-goal lead slip but praised the manner in which his players responded.
“It’s down to the winning mentality because they don’t give up,” he said. “Players are disappointed not to be starting and others are annoyed coming off and that’s the way it is right throughout the squad. We’ve got goals all over the place but I think the game could have been over earlier because we missed a lot of good chances. They are a strong ,physical side and were the better team in the second half but we just don’t give up.”
Former Whitehill Welfare frontman Devlin pounced on Scott Mathieson’s hesitancy to nick the ball off the goalkeeper and give the hosts a deserved lead on 20 minutes. Mathieson then couldn’t hold Willis Hare’s fierce drive following a good run and Wringe was on hand to knock the loose ball home seven minutes later.
However, Neil McLean’s pass to substitute Laing was expertly-placed into the bottom corner to give the band of Loco fans some hope for the second half. It looked as if the Highlanders’ second-half persistence was to be rewarded when Kyle Gordon shot beyond Kerr Robertson to level the tie only for their hopes of a replay to be quickly dashed by Nhamburo’s late moment of quality.
The player, pictured inset, who was born in Zimbabwe before moving to Scotland with his family almost a decade ago, said: “I knew it was going in as soon as I hit it. I think I should be getting a call-up for Zimbabwe! This is the biggest competition we play in so that’s our motivation to keep going.”
Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale: Robertson, Sherlock, O’Donnell, Crawford, Munro, Moore (Swanson 61), Hare (Hutchison 73), Muir, Wringe (Nhamburo 85), Devlin, Brown. Subs: Cairns, Mungall, Simpson, Watters.
Inverurie Loco Works: Mathieson, Crisp, Mitchell, Duff (Gordon 82), Souter, Broadhurst, Charlesworth (Laing 19), McLean, Hunter, McCabe, McDonald. Subs: Booth, Rennie, Bolton, Gill.