Blues edge into fourth round of cup

Manager Stevie Aitken salutes the Stranraer supporters after the Blues beat Auchinleck
Manager Stevie Aitken salutes the Stranraer supporters after the Blues beat Auchinleck

Auchinleck Talbot 2, Stranraer 3

Stranraer had to end a 19-month unbeaten home record proudly achieved by Tommy Sloan’s side to progress in the Scottish Cup.

And their hard-working shift in this replay set up a fourth round clash with Clyde at the end of the month.

Stranraer knew they had to get off to a better start and they took just under five minutes to deliver exactly that. A good ball down the right from Lloyd Kinnaird, back in place of the suspended David MacGregor, found Grant Gallagher. He outwitted Ally Park and crossed to far post where Jamie Longworth continued his fine recent run by poking the ball past Andy Leishman.

A few minutes later and the buzzing Blues forced a corner that Talbot cleared only as far as Andy Stirling and his dipping shot was tipped over the bar by Leishman. Another corner to the visitors gave Martin Grehan the chance to turn it goalwards but a combination of Leishman and former Stranraer full back, Willie Lyle, kept the Blues out again.

Eventually the home side ventured forward and enjoyed a spell of pressure and were only denied an equaliser by a superb David Mitchell save.

This served to re-engage the visitors and Stranraer forced a couple of corners and went two ahead in the 31st minute.

Chris Aitken swung a corner towards the back post that Frank McKeown won and headed towards goal where Longworth was again in the right spot to nod the ball into the net from close range.

Talbot are a feisty outfit who arte not accustomed to defeat and they weren’t going to lie down. Kier Milliken laid the ball off to the edge of the box and Steven White let fly but another acrobatic save from Mitchell foiled his effort. The home side piled on the pressure and a great ball from James Latta found Milliken in space but keeper Mitchell won another battle.

Auchinleck burst out of the traps after the interval but Stranraer hit back and when Stirling beat Lyle and crossed for Grehan it needed a timely intervention from Martin McGoldrick to snuff out the attack.

Grant Gallagher then embarked on a driving run and his long-range effort skidded off the surface but Leishman was well placed to deal with it.

Talbot hit back when Young played a ball down the left for Gormley who chipped a sweet cross for Latta to attack and head home from eight yards to halve the deficit.

Stranraer, however, passed up a great chance to kill the tie within five minutes when Sean Winter, returning from injury, played a low cross for Longworth but he steered the ball inches wide. Longworth had another chance to complete his hat-trick when he struck from 20 yards but Leishman produced a fine save.

Talbot levelled the contest 13 minutes from time. Milliken picked up the ball on the left and his shot flew across the Stranraer box to Gormley who headed home.

Stranraer retained their composure and, with two minutes left, the Ayrshire side ran out of luck as the Blues struck a lethal blow. Mitchell launched a free kick upfield and the ball fell to Longworth who tried his luck. The ball hit Pettigrew and broke to the Blues right where Grant Gallagher drilled the ball into the net.

A disappointed Tommy Sloan was pleased with the way his side had played offensively but rued some of the defending which had given Stranraer some cheap chances to score. It was a blow that Talbot would have to take on the chin and bounce back from to make sure they qualify for the competition again next year and he wished Stranraer further success and progression this year.

Stephen Farrell, the Blues assistant manager, expressed his delight and said he felt that over the piece in the two matches, Stranraer deserved it. He gave credit to Talbot, who had proved a difficult side to beat.

Auchinleck Talbot: Andy Leishman, Willie Lyle (Allan McKenzie 88), Ally Park, Craig Pettigrew, Martin McGoldrick, Colin Spence (Kyle Faulds 79), Bryan Young, Steven White, Kier Milliken, David Gormley, James Latta. Subs not used: Mick McCann, Kenny Connolly, Gavin Collins, Mark Armour, Robert Kerr.

Booked: None

Goals: Latta 59, Gormley 77

Stranraer: David Mitchell, Lloyd Kinnaird, Mark Docherty, Scott Robertson, Frank McKeown, Chris Aitken, Sean Winter (Ryan Borris 86), Grant Gallagher, Martin Grehan (David McKenna 90), Jamie Longworth, Andy Stirling (Mark Corcoran 90). Subs not used: Steven Bell, Chris Fahey

Booked: Docherty, Robertson, Kinnaird

Goals: Longworth 5, 31 Gallagher 88

Attendance: 1386

Referee: C Charleston