The scoreline might suggest that this was a bit of a breeze for League Two leaders Arbroath but for over an hour the outcome was very much in the balance, with Bo’ness having cause to reflect ruefully on a borderline offside decision which ruled out what would have been an equaliser by Darren Gribben.
An electric eight-minute spell in the second half by the Angus men, in which they found the back of the net four times and striker Simon Murray, pictured, completed his hat-trick, ended the East of Scotland Junior side’s aspirations of a history-making place in the last 16 in cruelly emphatic fashion.
Having seen off League Two Elgin City in the previous round, Bo’ness opened the match showing no fear and were the better side in the opening 45 minutes. Showing impressive pace and a capability to repeatedly get in behind the visitors’ defence, they scorned a decent opportunity to take an early lead when Kieran Anderson shot wildly over from just outside the six-yard box. The impressive Nicky Walker created several openings with his running down the right flank, while they also applied some real pressure from a number of promising set pieces.
Arbroath looked short of composure at this stage but they managed to get themselves in front thanks to some wretched indecision in the Bo’ness defence after Bobby Linn’s deflected shot was left by almost everybody except Murray, who pounced to slip the ball past goalkeeper Mark Peat on the half-hour mark.
The game’s turning point arrived shortly afterwards as Scott Pittman raced clear for the hosts and squared for Gribben to side-foot into the net, only for the referee’s assistant to hold his flag aloft to disallow the goal. “I didn’t think there was anything between the teams at that point,” reflected the disappointed Bo’ness manager Allan McGonigal. “I didn’t think it was offside. It’s a talking point, but if the cameras prove otherwise that’s fine”.
Equally decisive was Arbroath’s second goal midway through the second half, with Murray setting up Paul McManus for a composed finish.
After that the floodgates burst open as the home side’s heads and legs went. Murray scored twice more to claim the match ball and then strike partner McManus made it a brace for himself to make it five.