Ally Elliot is cooking with gas as he fires Loanhead into the last 32
The hosts' 2-0 victory came courtesy of two expertly-taken goals by Ally Elliot at Loanhead's King George V Park, while Elliot's Bridgend counterpart Barrie Hesketh contrived to spurn a number of glaring opportunities which, if converted, could have earned his side a top-tier scalp.
Hesketh lacked any real composure or assuredness when presented with a gift of a chance after just four minutes, despite having time to control a cross from the right, look up and pick his spot. Still in acres of space by the time he pulled the trigger, the striker's natural instinct must have been sidetracked, for he fluffed his shot wide from eight yards out - much to the relief of Loanhead goalkeeper Darren Page.
The home side's line-up is a talented assortment of many former junior and senior East of Scotland players, and among the standout players on show right-back John Sanders was particularly impressive early on. After embarking on a trademark burst down the flank on 20 minutes, he curved a cross into the box that was met at the far post by Kenneth McMillan, whose stabbed shot back across goal was pushed away for a corner by Bridgend goalkeeper David Paterson.
Play swung back towards the other end a minute later, but again the unfortunate Hesketh succeeded in defying the odds to sidefoot an easy chance over the crossbar from close range, with no defender within five yards. It would be easy for a striker devoid of any confidence after failure to convert the easiest of chances to shy away and dissolve into the ether, but it was to the credit of the visiting No. 9 that he continued to show for the ball and attempt to atone for his mistakes.
It was his opposite number, however, who went on to steal the plaudits. Elliot notched the first of his two show-stopping strikes ten minutes after half-time, with a deft, lofted ball over goalkeeper Paterson as the two chased down a forward ball.
A quarter of an hour later, Elliot produced a goal fit to grace any league a he showed great understanding with strike partner Ian Herriot, playing a one-two to eliminate a clutch of defenders.
Elliot shrugged off the last remaining Bridgend stopper before lifting the ball with the outside of his right boot over the onrushing, sprawling goalkeeper and into the top right-hand corner of the net.
Craig Stewart, the Loanhead manager, was content with the 2-0 win that earned his side a Centenary Cup third round berth. "We managed a clean sheet and we'll take a win. The windy conditions weren't the best for football, but it was testament to the team that we got the ball down and played reasonably well. Ally Elliot has come up from the under-21 team and took his goals extremely well," he said.
Prior to kick off, the home side announced a new sponsorship deal with BSS Gas, the Penicuik-based business which has donated a set of strips to the club. Robert Drummond, Loanhead secretary, wished to thank BSS and Rab Connolly of the company for their support, saying, "BSS Gas have provided us with a new set of strips and along with our other sponsor, Loanhead Miners Welfare (social club), help to keep the club going."
Neil Williamson, a spokesman for the sponsors, said: "The football club contacted us and we were only too happy to help out. The company is currently looking at a more renewable and green way of working and we see the sponsorship as a way of promoting our new outlook while supporting local sports teams and facilities."
Loanhead Miners Welfare: Darren Page, John Sanders, Duane Campbell, Gary Steele, Scott Johnston, Scott McKenzie, Kyle McCulloch, Darren Robertson, Ally Elliot, Ian Herriot, Kenneth McMillan, Craig Gallagher, Andrew Gemmill.
Bridgend United: David Paterson, Mark Neil, Jamie Lewis, Rory Deacon, Barry Skene, Colin Brown, Francis Love, Barrie Hesketh, Barrie Lewis, Stuart Jack, Louis MacArthur, Graeme McFarlane, Callum Andrews, Glen McMahon.
"It was testament to the team that we got the ball down and played reasonably well" craig stewart