Thomson fires Musselburgh into semi-finals

Steven Thomson's goals secured a last-four date for Musselburgh. Pic: Andrew O'Brien
Steven Thomson's goals secured a last-four date for Musselburgh. Pic: Andrew O'Brien
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Musselburgh striker Steven Thomson struck a dream double to send his side into the semi-finals of the Scottish Junior Cup and then lauded manager Stevie McLeish for making them believe they could get there.

The Olivebank men now have a two-legged last four clash to look forward to next month as they bid to reach the final for the first time since 2011 and, in their current form, will fancy their chances against anyone.

They’ve lost just one of their last 13 under former Haddington boss McLeish, who took over in October, and Thomson – in his third season with the club – is hopeful they can go all the way.

“It’s magnificent for the club to get through and we’ve got a great chance now,” he said.

“He [McLeish] has kind of changed the way we play a bit, but everybody has bought into it and we’ve kicked on since he came in and done really well recently. Hopefully we can keep the run going.”

McLeish was full of praise for his players, who he says are starting to build a “fortress” at Olivebank, but called on them to focus on forthcoming league games at home to Camelon and Kelty Hearts rather than a last four double header.

He said: “The boys have responded to everything we’ve asked them to do and are a credit to themselves. We have to park the thought the semi-final is miles away and concentrate on what is in front of us.

“It’s proving a bit of fortress just now Olivebank, but as soon as you say that it’s egg on the face next time you get someone here. As long as our home form continues, we’re happy.”

Both teams looked nervous in the early stages, which typified the significance of the tie, although it was Penicuik, with two upfront, who may have taken an early lead. Greg Ross provided the delivery from the left, but striker Ryan McCallum couldn’t direct his header on target.

With neither side being able to break the other down, it took 22 minutes for the first shot on target. Penicuik keeper Youssef Bejaoui had to be at his best to keep out Andy Munro’s powerful header, which looked set for the top corner.

Ryan Gay tried his luck for the visitors with a free-kick, but sent it wide of the post as the match approached the half-hour mark. It was the home side who’d profit from a foul outside the box a short time after, though.

Jackie Myles was felled around 25 yards out and Thomson stepped up to curl a sweet left-foot strike over the wall and into the net via the inside of the post on 38 minutes.

Penicuik began the second half on the front foot and McCallum came close with a volley from outside the area which nicked off the post.

Burgh substitute Lewis Turner added some impetus to their play when he came on for Michael Hunter on 60 minutes and almost instantly set up striker Jordyn Sheerin, but he couldn’t get a shot away.

Scott McCulloch then looked set to equalise for the visitors from McDermott’s low cross, but defender Robert Wilson made a timely intervention to send it out for a corner.

Penicuik were enjoying a decent spell of pressure, but again they couldn’t capitalise as Dougie Cunnison sent a shot wide after the ball broke out from inside the area.

Sheerin then almost made it two for the hosts with a free-kick which looked goalbound, but Bejaoui palmed it wide.

Musselburgh made sure of the win with five minutes remaining, as Adams’ long punt caught out the visitors defence and Thomson latched onto it, before sidefooting into an empty net after he had evaded Bejaoui’s challenge.

Musselburgh Athletic: Adams, Christie, Martin, Myles, Hunter (Turner), Smith, Beveridge, Thomson (Davie), Sheerin (Ralton), Wilson, Munro

Penicuik Athletic: Bejaoui, Cunnison, Ross, White, Young, Lister (Weir), Patterson, McCulloch, McCallum, Gay, McDermott (Killin)