Auchinleck dream is over – but at least they did better than Chelsea

Michael Smith gets  treatment before leaving the field with a torn thigh muscle. Picture: Dave Johnson
Michael Smith gets treatment before leaving the field with a torn thigh muscle. Picture: Dave Johnson
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Auchinleck Talbot’s Stephen Wilson bemoaned an offside decision that robbed him of a goal at Tynecastle but was far from downcast after yesterday 4-0 Scottish Cup defeat by Hearts.

One consolation was knowing the Ayrshire junior side had managed to make a better fist of things than St Johnstone – and Chelsea for that matter. Both clubs fell to defeats by bigger margins yesterday at the home of rivals from the same league.

Auchinleck are currently in fourth place in the West of Scotland Super League Premier Division but proved impressively resilient at the home of their Premiership hosts after conceding three goals in the first half. Only a late goal by Aidan Keena prevented them drawing the second half.

An offside flag shortly after that robbed Auchinleck of the chance to celebrate a goal in front of their 1800 visiting fans. A controversial offside flag in the dying minutes denied the side the last time they were at Tynecastle on Scottish Cup duty seven years ago. That was particularly agonising since it would have earned the Ayshire side a draw.

It was not so close this time but Wilson was looking on the bright side. “I will watch it tonight on Sportscene,” he said, with reference to his disallowed goal in the 86th minute. “It was one of those ones – we wanted something for our fans to cheer about. That wee goal would have given them something to cheer about.

“Obviously you get a wee buzz when it goes in the net, scoring at Tynecastle. But it was not to be.

“We just said ‘listen, let’s go out and win the half’,” he continued. “They beat us 1-0 in the second half but I feel we did our fans proud. You see the other results, Celtic pumping St Johnstone 5-0. I feel we have done no’ bad for a Junior side coming here.”

Informed that Chelsea had lost 6-0 to Manchester City, he replied: “Well there you go. It could be worse. We could be Chelsea!”

Craig Levein summed up the victory as job done. One concern was Michael Smith limping off with a torn thigh muscle with around 15 minutes left, leaving Hearts to play out the rest of the game with ten men. The left-back will undergo a scan today to discover the extent of injury but could face up to six weeks on the sidelines.

“We are obviously not allowed to have them all fit, are we?” lamented Levein, after Hearts’ injury problems seemed to have been relenting.

“The big downside was Mick. He was as professional as ever today and his performance was very good.”

Levein did get satisfaction from watching Uche Ikpeazu continue his comeback from injury.

Yesterday was the big striker’s first start since October and he proved a handful for the opposition.

“Uche showed some nice touches today,” said the Hearts manager. “I thought he was a bit over-eager to score but I can understand that because he’s been out for a while now.

“He will help us because he’s different,” added Levein. “He’s still got that first season effect because players have not really played against him yet so they don’t know what he is about.

“He can occupy a defence on his own, which is unusual. He’s been a miss. Naisy [Naismith] has been a miss and so has Christophe [Berra]. But we don’t have another

Uche.”