Tranent manager Gary Small believes his side can clinch the South Division title this season – if they reproduce the kind of performance that ran Auchinleck Talbot close in Saturday’s Scottish Junior Cup second-round tie.
Record 11-times winners Talbot were under the cosh but progressed thanks to a goal in each half.
In front of over 1000 spectators at a packed Foresters Park, Small’s side battered the Auchinleck defence in the second half as they chased an equaliser.
Small was full of praise for his players after the game, saying: “I kept the players on the field at the end to tell them what a brilliant job they did. But we need performances like that every week now to win the league.
“I asked for backing from our supporters and they turned out in their hundreds and they really got behind us.
“This is a game the fans and players will remember for a very long time. We we’re the better team and Auchinleck know that. They got out of jail.”
Cup holders Talbot forced the play in the opening stages but, apart from a couple of near misses, Tranent were holding them comfortably. Goalkeeper Sinclair Inglis produced a double block to keep his goal intact but, as the half-hour drew near, disaster struck when the stopper came out to the edge of the box to tackle Graeme Wilson only to send him crashing to the ground. A penalty for the Talbot and Gordon Pope drove the ball home. As half-time approached, Tranent stepped up the pace with Joe Murray coming close to getting a leveller.
Whatever boss Small said to his troops at the break it worked as Tranent came flying out of the blocks.
Auchinleck were sent back on their heels as the Belters sensed it was their time. Midfielder Darren Smith had three great efforts at goal with goalkeeper Andy Leishman up to the task.
Kenny Fisher produced a great run to the back post but hit the side-netting. Steve Manson was sending over some inviting crosses from the right.
Murray thought he had brought Tranent level but his lob beat the keeper only to came crashing back off the bar.
Talbot soaked up all the pressure before clinching the tie with just a couple of minutes remaining. They won a free-kick wide left. Gordon Pope sent over a cheeky chip to the near post where Bryan Young looped a header into the net for a goal which killed off any hopes Tranent had of earning at least a replay.
Tranent midfielder Smith, who played for Musselburgh in the final against Auchinleck a few seasons ago, was clearly disappointed after the match. He said: “We were the better team – especially in the second half. At half-time we realised we weren’t being smashed by them.
“We took the game to them and they didn’t like it. Their goals were soft and they know it.
“The boys are feeling low because they know we were just as good if not better than them over the 90 minutes. However, if we continue to play like this, it’ll be a good year for us.”
Tranent: Sinclair, Patterson, Wojeowycz, Gordon, McKenzie, Miller (Hawkins), Manson, Smith, McMillan, Murray, Fisher (Hunter). Subs: Smeaton, Beaton, Flynn.
Auchinleck Talbot: Leishman, Lyle, Pope, McGoldrick, Campbell, Boyd, Young, White, G Wilson (Milliken), Love (Shankland), Hislop (Latta). Subs: S Wilson, Cochrane.