Super League title is sole focus as Penicuik pay the penalty

Penicuik's Sam Jones challenges Cory Hughes. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
Penicuik's Sam Jones challenges Cory Hughes. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
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Stand-in Penicuik Athletic skipper Lewis Barr hopes to use the heartache of their Scottish Junior Cup shootout defeat to spur them on to regain top spot in the Super League.

It was a cruel ending to an incredible two-game tie which more than lived up to it’s billing as the tie of the second round.

Aaron Somerville goads the away support after scoring. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

Aaron Somerville goads the away support after scoring. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

The fact Penicuik led four times over the first drawn game and the replay will hurt them even more, especially given the chances they squandered and the fact they held a man advantage for the final 15 minutes on Saturday after Kilbirnie defender Mick O’Byrne went from hero to zero in a crazy minute and a half when he scored and was then given his marching orders.

Barr, who wore the armband in the absence of regular captain Craig Hume as he missed the tie along with manager Johnny Harvey due to a family wedding, rued the three goals they gave away, all of which came from set-pieces.

He said: “I thought we chucked it a wee bit with the goals we lost. We talked about it before the game, set plays and second balls and that’s what has cost us in the end.

“We are gutted, but at the same time I thought we played some good stuff. We created a lot of chances and missed a fair few.

“I thought we were really positive, even from the start, which we’ve not done sometimes. It’s hard to digest. We’ve just got to bounce back. There’s only two ways you can: you can crumble or you can bounce straight back.

“I want a bit of silverware. I’ve tasted it with one trophy here and I think this team deserves it. The league is the priority and we’re in a good position. The Junior Cup takes up a lot of energy, it’s so big for all the clubs and everyone talks about it. For me, the league is more important and hopefully we can kick on.

“I think we’re good enough to be up there. We’ve just got to stick in and stay positive.”

After a frantic start, it was the home side, led by coach Davie Lees and Steven Hislop, who gradually began to get the upper hand, with striker Lumbert Kateleza hitting the woodwork on 19 minutes.

Their opener, which arrived four minutes before the interval, was somewhat controversial. No player in white and blue appealed for a penalty, but referee Duncan Smith claimed left-back John Williams had his shirt tugged by opposite number Ross MacKinnon and pointed to the spot. In-form frontman Aaron Somerville dispatched the spot kick confidently and enjoyed clasping his hand to his ear in front of the loud visiting support.

Those fans were jubilant six minutes after the break, however, when midfielder Arnault Bembo snapped up a loose ball following a low free-kick into the area and sent the ball past goalkeeper Kyle Allison.

The hosts should have been out of sight after Sam Jones, Somerville and Kateleza spurned three excellent chances, and they were made to pay as O’Byrne produced a stunning overhead kick to put the visitors ahead for the first time over the two games.

They were ahead for just a minute, however, as Barr smashed a strike into the top corner, before O’Byrne saw red in the aftermath for questioning referee Smith’s neutrality.

Penicuik must surely had thought they had got the winner eight minutes from time after Somerville picked out Kateleza with a fine through ball and he cut back for on-loan Livingston teenage striker Jack Hamilton to fire home.

Their lead lasted just a minute, however, as Peter McGill’s volley somehow found the back of the net from a corner – the ball appearing to hit off a Cuikie defender after Allison had saved.

Striker James Finlay was to be the match-winner though, as he scored the winning penalty kick after Williams and Hamilton had their attempts saved.

Penicuik Athletic: Allison, Forbes, Williams, Hamilton, Young, Jones, McCrory-Irving (Hamilton), Barr, Kateleza, Somerville (MacDonald), Ponton.

Kilbirnie Ladeside: Hughes, McLaren, MacKinnon, Bembo (Robertson), O’Byrne, Hughes (Juskowiak), McGill (Crerand), Tuohy, Finlay, Scullion, Williamson.