When Saturday’s East of Scotland Cup final went to penalty kicks after a goal apiece in 90 minutes, you just knew Tranent were going to emerge victorious.
The Belters have firmly established themselves as cup specialists this season with two remarkable cup runs, culminating in a stunning double secured in the space of three days, following Wednesday’s Fife and Lothians Cup win which ended a 40-year wait for a trophy.
They had beaten Super League opposition seven times prior to Saturday’s match against Bonnyrigg Rose – a tie Tranent co-manager Kenny Rafferty, who was only meant to take the job alongside Darren Smith for a week initially, described as their biggest test yet.
This was their sixth penalty shoot-out victory, as they maintained their impeccable record of having not missed a spot-kick in any of their six shoot-outs.
Goalkeeper Murray Jackson, who replaced Wednesday’s night’s man-of-the-match Craig Pucko – cup tied for the Fife and Lothians Cup – between the sticks, did his side of the bargain with two penalty stops.
The grandson of former Hearts and Hibs goalkeeper Gordon Marshall revealed his two saves weren’t down to instinct, but preparation he had undertaken ahead of the match.
“I did my homework,” he said. “I watched Bonnyrigg’s penalties against Kelty and that’s how I knew where Kiddo [Andrew Kidd] was placing his penalty. Unfortunately, I just didn’t get enough on it to stop the first one. Jamo [Sean Jamieson] took the next one and I knew what way he was going, then I knew where Deano [Dean Brett] was going with his run up.
“Before we came into the two games, we believed we were going to win them. We’d beaten Super League teams before the finals and we had total belief in ourselves. Everyone has confidence around the dressing-room and that showed – we have a great team spirit which goes through to the staff and committee.”
Jackson had almost given up on football before Christmas after a frustrating start to the season with Newtongrange Star where he wasn’t given a prolonged run in the No.1 jersey.
Now he’s ended the campaign with one cup medal and has set his sights on securing more accolades next term as the Foresters Park men look to put in a Premier League title challenge.
He added: “I thought that was me finished after Newtongrange, but I played with Darren Smith at Musselburgh and he gave me a call and told me to come along to Tranent. The boys, the committee and the fans really made me feel welcome and it gave me confidence in playing. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and I’ve been unbeaten in every game I’ve played in as well.
“We’ve always believed we could match any team and beat them. We’ve got players of the calibre that could play in the Super League. We’re definitely looking to go for the title next season but it’s going to be a hard league.”
Bonnyrigg dominated the opening half after an even first 15 minutes and took the lead on 37 minutes. Kidd converted from the spot, despite Jackson getting a hand to the strike, after Guy Kerr had handled.
Tranent responded almost instantly, however, through striker Kenny Fisher’s finely-placed effort.
Rose should’ve been ahead after the break, Wayne McIntosh tapping in Lewis Turner’s cross but he was ruled offside. The striker then had an effort cleared off the line.
Stephen Manson and Jamie Todd both passed up huge chances for Tranent, who looked more likely to score in the final ten minutes.
But penalties it was again and, after Jackson saved Jamieson’s spot-kick, Craig Wojtowycz wasn’t going to pass up the chance to win it – sparking delirious scenes on the Creamery Park surface as the Tranent fans joined their heroes.
Rose boss Robbie Horn felt McIntosh’s goal should’ve stood but was full of praise for Tranent. He said: “I’d like to see the offside decision again, it looked like it was a cut back. We’re not going to moan about decisions, though. Credit to Tranent because that’s a massive achievement winning two cups.”
Tranent: Jackson, Christie, Wojtowycz, Todd, Kerr, Smith (Fiddler), Miller, Hawkins, Fisher (Murray), Paterson, Manson (Waters).
Bonnyrigg Rose: Andrews, Horne (Brown), Brett, Young, Moyes, Turner, Gray, McIntosh, McGachie (Jamieson), Nelson, Kidd.