REDPATH ALBION face a tricky away trip to replay their Scottish Amateur Cup tie against Fife club Benarty after throwing away a three-goal lead.
The Fifers almost sealed their comeback with a winning strike as they laid siege to the Redpath goal in the dying moments at Pilrig Park.
Redpath appeared to have the result wrapped up in the 55th minute when Ryan Weir fired them 3-0 ahead. But Benarty reduced the deficit to 3-1 with a goal from John Ford following a terrific cross from Rikki McCafferty on the left. That goal in the 57th minute was the signal for the Fifers to raise their game to quite incredible levels and they scored twice more through Craig McGuire and McCafferty.
It took some inspired play from home keeper Darren Wallace to keep the Fifers at bay.
Redpath started the game well and led 2-0 after a very good opening 20 minutes during which Danny McQuaid and Weir eased the home team into a very deserved and comfortable lead. The Fifers looked out of touch and Redpath had chances to score more goals, but the failure to find the back of the net was to cost them dearly in a concerted second-half fight back from the Fifers.
Redpath played very good football in the first half and Wallace produced several outstanding saves and blocks to keep Benarty from scoring.
The home side had the advantage of a strong wind in the first half and their 2-0 lead at the break looked good value for money with the visitors struggling to make any impression.
At the start of the second stage of the game, the home side went back on the attack and it was no surprise when Weir hammered the ball past Benarty keeper Chris Galloway from close in, following a corner on the right. Weir looked a very good player for Redpath and he was always comfortable on the ball.
But then Ford scored following a terrific cross from McCafferty on the left and the closing stages were a match for any other in the long history of the Scottish Amateur Cup.
Wallace was under constant pressure and his handling from crosses and shots was brilliant. Trailing 3-1 with 15 minutes remaining, Benarty freshened up their attack by bringing on their substitutes and that brought about a massive transformation in the game.
In another all-out assault on the home goal, Wallace was in the thick of the action and it took three attempts by the Benarty players before Craig McGuire managed to put the ball past Wallace to make it 3-2. Redpath also used their subs to less effect and, in fact, the home side lost their shape in the second half.
They had looked so comfortable and well-organised in the first period but they lost their composure and confidence in the frantic exchanges of the second half.
Trailing by only one goal, Benarty used route one to get the ball back in to the home goalmouth and the scenes in the Redpath goalmouth were chaotic at times. Wallace and his defenders looked to have weathered the storm as time ran out but the home players were all over the place when Benarty attacked again and, when a clearance came out from the home goal, it landed perfectly for the waiting McCafferty on the edge of the 18-yard box and the Benarty No.10 sent a screamer of low shot in to the Redpath net to square the game at 3-3.
McCafferty took off, grabbed a corner flag then threw it like a javelin thrower in the Olympic games, only to be booked for his excessive celebrations. Excellent match official Kevin Ferguson added time on and the Fifers went looking for a winner.
It took a great saving tackle from Redpath's Enda Connelly to stop another run on the home goal, while McQuaid could not get enough on a header from a fee kick at the other end. McGuire led the charge back towards Wallace and Benarty won three corners in quick succession before time ran out.
The home team could well have nightmares when they look back on losing a 3-0 lead, but Benarty were cock-a-hoop at the finish confident they can win the replay.
One of their coaches said: "It took a great fightback to keep us in the Scottish Cup, but we shouldn't be giving away stupid goals to give the other team a 3-0 lead. We made it hard for ourselves!"
Redpath Albion: Darren Wallace, Paul Ferguson, Enda Connelly, Richard Irvine, Gordon McCreadie, Andy Brown, Willie Minto, Danny McQuaid, David Kelly, Alan Morrison, Ryan Weir, David Stevenson, Andy Fraser, Gavin McCall, Gary Kerr, Sean Moore.
Benarty: Chris Galloway, Peter Adam, Darren Mackie, Brian Duffy, Steven Baxter, Barry Hatton, Scott Berry, Derek Beveridge, Craig McGuire, Rikki McCafferty, John Ford, Jock Devine, Robin Baird, Frank Hepburn, James Livingstone.
Referee: Kevin Ferguson.