EVEN the greatest of adventures must come to an end. After five rounds, seven matches and 18 memorable goals, Linlithgow Rose finally bowed out – more than just valiant losers in Dingwall.
In truth, David McGlynn’s men were heroic and noised up the team from four divisions above. Leg-weary by the end, the trailblazers from the East Superleague had twice flirted with an earth-shattering upset, grabbing a leveller on half-time and then dragging it back to 3-2 deep in the second half.
Brian Graham’s double proved important in calming County, but it was never comfortable.
“I’m very proud,” Rose manager McGlynn said. “We competed brilliantly. Our cup final was beating Forfar, and getting this was a bonus. To come to Dingwall and score two is tremendous – a fairytale.”
League Cup finalists County, fresh from humbling Celtic at Hampden Park, knew the underdogs’ boot was firmly on the other foot.
The hosts started the day six cup games unbeaten but, then again, so too were the team from their opponents from the junior ranks, in Scottish Cup action alone across almost 1,600 road miles.
For the Staggies, the opening could hardly have gone any better. Ian McShane’s corner delivery inside four minutes found Jackson Irvine striking the base of the left hand post.
Only half-cleared, it fell to skipper-for-the-day Paul Quinn who drilled low into the far corner of the net from a tight 15-yard angle inside the box.
Linlithgow were feisty and full-blooded in everything they did, showing good composure on the ball. Just before half-time, the away fans’ roar – with almost 600 present – nearly lifted the roof off as the equaliser materialised. Ruari Maclennan’s and then Blair Batchelor’s shots were blocked, only for the latter to ricochet off County’s Jamie Reckord and in.
It was dawning on a subdued home support there could be a calamity in the making, but Graham bulleted a fierce eight-yard header past keeper Adams.
Alex Schalk swooped close-in to swipe in the County third from a Irvine flick-on. Just when the Rose obituaries were being written, Ruari Maclennan was left completely unmarked in the centre of the box to score after Conor Kelly’s winding run and cross.
But, within two minutes, Graham had settled the tie with a fourth.