The ETHX Energy Scottish Junior Cup is staying in Ayrshire for another year, after Beith, contesting their first final, won a dramatic penalty shoot-out to defeat Pollok.
In truth, we needed the drama of the spot-kick shoot-out, to make up for a regulation 90 minutes which was that old cliché – “a draw nae fitba”.
With each side cancelling-out the other’s main threats, it took 38 minutes before the crowd were roused, Beith striker Kenny McLean bringing forth a collective “Oooh” as he volleyed narrowly over.
The meagre fare continued into the second half, before, on the hour, Beith, who had gradually worked their way into the game after a poor first quarter, struck. They had switched the hitherto anonymous Darren Christie to the left wing and he gathered a long howk out of his own defence, danced inside and fired a low shot across Jordan Longmuir and into the far corner of the net.
Pollok did little to suggest they could save the game until, in the 70th minute, they made a double change, introducing Liam Rowan and 41-year-old former Scotland internationalist Robbie Winters. The move worked at once. Rowan fired in a shot which came back off the far post, and Winters got the equaliser with his first touch.
Neither team looked likely to add to their tally and thus it proved. The SJFA had decided this year to do away with extra time and go straight to spot-kicks, which was a blessing for the crowd after such a poor game.
In the shoot-out, Beith keeper Stephen Grindlay was the hero, saving from Allan MacKenzie and David Winters, whose nomination as Man of the Match even puzzled the Pollok fans. Pollok keeper Longmuir had saved Beith’s opening penalty, from Kenny McLean, but, after Grindlay’s two saves, it was left to Richard Burke, with his side’s fifth penalty, to end Beith’s long wait for the trophy.
Beith boss John Miller, adding this winner’s medal to the two he won as a player with Glenafton and Arthurlie, said: “It wasn’t a great game, but we won and that’s the main thing.
“Penalties are always a lottery, but I felt Stephen would save a couple. He’s been excellent all season, and this is a massive win for the town and the committee, whose backing has been terrific.”