Whitehill Welfare boss Mickey Lawson admitted: “I’ve never been more disappointed in my puff,” after his side lost by a single goal to East Stirlingshire in the William Hill Cup second round.
The Rosewell club’s wait for a first-ever victory over a league side in the Scottish Cup goes on after Saturday’s narrow defeat.
A second-half David McKenna strike sent Shire through to the third round in a match their Lowland League hosts were unfortunate to lose.
Manager Lawson revealed the extent of his disappointment, saying: “I’ve been managing non-league sides for 25 years and I’ve never been more disappointed in my puff at not getting something out of a game than I was there. No disrespect to East Stirlingshire but I thought they were flat and I thought we had a chance.”
Lawson’s team started the match brightly, Kerr Dodds seeing an effort deflected wide before Aaron Somerville’s first-time effort went over within the first six minutes.
Whitehill’s top scorer Wayne McIntosh represented their biggest goal threat and his hooked volley sailed just wide of Richard Barnard’s goal after 13 minutes. East Stirlingshire were struggling to create anything clear-cut at this point despite a fair share of possession and McKenna’s tame overhead kick on 17 minutes was their first real attempt on goal.
Somerville again saw a first-time shot go narrowly over after he met Dodds’ clever low delivery from a 21st minute corner.
William Vidler found himself with a sight of goal at the other end two minutes later, but his shot from an acute angle was well parried by Bryan Young.
McIntosh was proving to be a threat in the air, but he could not keep his header down after Andy Martin’s deep cross had picked him out on the half hour. The same two players combined again four minutes after the restart but the end result was the same with McIntosh’s volley flashing wide.
McIntosh had his clearest chance yet on 55 minutes. Somerville’s header was spilled by Barnard but his strike partner was unable to turn the rebound home. He had the ball in the net a minute later, again following up after Manson’s shot had been well saved, but the assistant’s flag denied the No. 9 a 13th goal of the season.
Despite their concerted pressure on the visitors, Whitehill fell behind two minutes after the hour. A fortunate break of the ball sent David McKenna through on goal; he cut back on to his left foot and fired high past Young. The goal seemed to rattle the Ferguson Park team for a spell and the Shire should have added to their lead. Substitute Guy Tihan went one-on-one with Young but the keeper stood up well to block the striker’s effort.
Young then made a stunning one-handed save from Vidler’s downward header to keep his side in it with 19 minutes to go.
McIntosh looked to be the most likely source of an equaliser and he forced a good save from Barnard with a stinging drive from the edge of the area which was tipped wide. He came even closer from the resulting corner, rising to meet it firmly at the back post only to see his header bounce off the cross bar with 11 minutes remaining.
Whitehill continued to throw everything at their opponents but the game ended on a sour note when substitute Wayne Sproule overran the ball and he caught Neil McCabe with a crude challenge, earning a straight red in stoppage time.
Lawson admitted his side’s finishing had cost them. “You can’t fault the players for effort but we missed a couple of unbelievable chances,” he groaned. “I would say the ball never broke for us in the box either. Normally for a non-league side to beat a league side you need the football Gods shining down on you but that never happened on Saturday.”
Whitehill Welfare: Young, Hall, McKenzie, Martin, Dodds, McGlashan, Manson (McLaughlin 79), Kidd (Kerr 81), McIntosh, Somerville, Todd (Sproule 71).
East Stirlingshire: Barnard, Greene (Kinnaird 64), Gilmour, Bolochoweckyj, Tapping, Shields, Greenhill, McCabe, Brisbane (Tahin 58), McKenna (Doyle 73), Vidler.