The village of New Cumnock will awake this morning to a massive hangover after Glenafton assuaged 25 years of hurt by beating Auchinleck Talbot to complete a Scottish Cup and West of Scotland Superleague double.
Their come-from-behind triumph – Glenafton’s second Junior Cup win – was richly deserved. They played like champions, produced the better football throughout and secured victory with a goal which was fit to win any final.
The Glen made the better start, but poor final balls let down some great approach play and, when they could not make their dominance count, it was no surprise to regular Junior watchers when Talbot, the 11-times champions, went in front.
The goal in 17 minutes was a typical Talbot effort. A quick counter-attacking ball out of defence found the Glen short of numbers at the back and Keir Milliken was left with time and space to slot an angled shot past Brian McGarrity.
For a time, the Glen were shaken but they regathered their composure and equalised in 28 minutes when man-of-the-match Daniel Orsi crossed deep from the right and Cammy Marlow volleyed home.
A storming run down the right from Milliken then set up Graham Wilson, whose effort rattled a post but the offside flag was already up.
That was just about Talbot’s last throw as the Glen gradually turned the screw in midfield and, with 15 minutes left, the cup was New Cumnock-bound.
What a winner it was too, Alistair Park picking up a loose ball in midfield and squaring it to left-back Alan Cairns who, from fully 30 yards, crashed the ball into the corner of the net.
He said: “I don’t often take shots like that but it was such a perfect pass from Ali Park, I decided to have a go and I’m glad I did. I remember how bad it was to lose to Hurlford. This feeling is so much better.”
That feeling was shared by skipper Craig Menzies, who had been unable to train with an ankle knock.
“I really felt it in the last ten minutes but winning has made the pain vanish”, he said.
Talbot being Talbot never gave up, but Menzies and centre-half Ryan McChesney stood firm at the back for Glenafton and saw their side home. McChesney, the New Cumnock boy at the heart of the side, was sent off in the 2014 final. He said: “I think drink will be taken tonight. This is such a far better feeling.”
Talbot boss Tucker Sloan, as ever, was a class act at the end. “Glens deserved to win,” he said. “They were the better balanced side but, for us, it was the story of our season – we didn’t take our chances. For instance, Dwayne Hyslop missed with a header he would normally bury at 1-0. That goes in, it’s a different game.”
Glens boss Craig McEwan said: “I thought we deserved to win. Our character showed. You have to be prepared to dig in to beat Talbot and we did. I learned a lot today.”
McChesney and Talbot’s Graham Wilson collected yellow cards in what was a very sporting but hard-fought contest.