“The proudest moment of my whole footballing career,” Penicuik Athletic manager Kevin Milne described Saturday’s rousing 3-0 Scottish Cup victory over League Two opponents Stenhousemuir on a day for the underdog.
Penicuik Park had never seen anything like it as more than 1,200 spectators turned out to back their local heroes, in what could undoubtedly go down as their greatest ever day... so far.
Their reward – a glory match up against Kenny Miller and company in the form of Championship outfit Partick Thistle in the third round on Saturday, November 23 when the little Midlothian town could be left deserted.
Milne has challenged his players to eclipse Saturday and give him a new highlight in his career after goals from Craig Stevenson and Sean Stewart, either side of a Stenny own goal, set a new benchmark.
“It was just one of those things where everything just clicked; we were underdogs and we weren’t in a good run of form. It was the proudest moment of my whole footballing career but now I would like the boys to make that happen again in the next round,” beamed Milne.
“If you think you’re going to win a game of that calibre it will usually be by nicking it or getting a wee bit of luck - we never thought we were going to win the game 3-0. I said to the boys all week that all it would take would be for us to have a bad day and for them to have a good day, and we could win - and we capitalised on that.
“We frustrated them, we never allowed them anytime around our box and we very good on the counter attack. We could have been 3-0 up at half-time, we had three really good chances, and then in the second half Paul Tansey had one right in front of the goalkeeper which he saved well.
“The defensive display from back to front was key for us - they have got good footballers and a good threat upfront - as we really nullified them, we were never cut open. We hadn’t had a clean sheet since the Whitehill Scottish Cup game back in August, so to get a clean sheet against a League Two team is incredible.
“I was so comfortable with the way we were playing that I never felt under pressure. Against a team which is a higher league than you, you are always going to be nervous the last 15 minutes of the game, especially if you have got the lead. It was a huge relief when the full-time whistle went, even at 3-0 I couldn’t relax. It was just one of those occasions which I wish I could relive it all again, but only if I knew what the outcome was going to be.”
Milne hopes people within SFA towers will sit up and take notice, with East of Scotland rivals Broxburn Athletic also knocking out League Two opponents, while Linlithgow Rose went through last weekend.
He added: “It’s great for the league and the club, and I look at Broxburn as well. It is just a great occasion for East of Scotland football and hopefully it opens a few eyes and we can get people looking at it saying ‘that East of Scotland League is strong, maybe we need to get two promoted into the Lowland League.’ I’m not saying it should be a given on the basis of the two results but maybe it should be a conversation next season or the season thereafter.
“You have three teams in the third round of the Scottish Cup from the East of Scotland League which is just incredible.”