THE Emirates Scottish Junior Cup is back in familiar territory after Auchinleck Talbot put an end to Linlithgow Rose’s 15-month, 50-game unbeaten run and exorcised the ghost of last-season’s loss to Shotts Bon Accord as they lifted the trophy for a tenth time.
Scorers: Gormley (78)
Referee: N Walsh
The final didn’t live up to the pre-match hype but, there have been worse SPL games this season and with two such evenly-matched teams on the park it was always going to take something special to win it.
That moment of magic, which enabled the Ayrshire side to stretch their Scottish Cup winning record to an unp for the Ayrshire side, came in 78 minutes, when substitute Dave Gormley, who had only been on the field for seven minutes, collected a Bryan Young pass, cut in from the left, sashayed along the 18-yard-line and fired a great right-foot shot into the roof of the net to send the “Talbot Taliban” – the club’s ferociously faithful following, into ecstacy.
Gormley, who had been struggling with an ankle knock, failed to convince manager Tommy Sloan that he was fit to start but, after the game, the Talbot boss, who has now won the cup four times with the club, joked: “Dave was murder beside me. He gave me such a hard time that, with 25 minutes to go, I told him: ‘Go on there and win it for us’. I’m just delighted that he did.
“There is such a great history at this club but I feel, after winning the league without losing a game, and now lifting the Scottish, this side deserves to rank alongside even the great teams which Willie Knox managed.”
Gormley, whose cup-winning strike was his 18th of the season, paid tribute to Rose: “They are a very good team, but, I think, on the day, we were better.”
Some of his team mates felt Gormley had missed his chance, and might have shot earlier on in his goal run but he said: “I knew after I went round the keeper and he backed off that I had to hit it, so I did and I was so pleased to see it go in.”
Now Gormley and some of the team will celebrate their success during a four-day break in “Spenidorm” for skipper Colin Spence’s stag do – that is, if they survived last night’s celebrations in Auchinleck.
In the final analysis, Talbot deserved to win. They had great territorial possession and created the greater number of chances, all of which they missed until Gormley’s timely intervention.
Rose were neat and precise as they demonstrated the class which had taken them on that great 50-game run but, against the passion of a Talbot side determined to obliterate the memory of last season’s loss to Shotts, they lacked the necessary “devil”.
Rose had, in Tommy Coyne, the most-dangerous looking player afield, but, the fact he didn’t get a sniff of goal until the 53rd minute, when he headed a Gordon Herd cross wide, speaks volumes for the way he was policed by the Ayrshire rearguard.
Meanwhile, the Talbot midfield of skipper Spence, the under-rated Steven White and man of the match Keir Killiken were outstanding, ruling the crucial area of the park.
Once they went behind, Linlithgow never, in all honesty, looked like salvaging the match. Yes, they will be disappointed at losing this one at the end of their long unbeaten run but, they are not the first team to discover a Talbot team on a mission is a force of nature. Their disappointment was summed up by manager Mark Bradley, who said: “Congratulations to Talbot who showed what a good side they are but I felt we just didn’t turn up and learned a harsh lesson.
“Our big players were posted missing, we were out-battled in midfield for the first time in a long time today but we will take it on the chin and come back stronger.
“Talbot showed what is necessary to come back from disappointment and, hopefully, we can do the same next year.
“The boys are all gutted in the dressing room but they have an immediate chance to pick themselves up as we have another cup semi-final in midweek, so we have an early chance to get this one out of our system.”
Two Talbot players, skipper Spence for a foul and goalscorer Gormley, for time-wasting in injury time, were booked in a match well controlled by referee, Nick Walsh.
It was the last final to be sponsored by Emirates and there will be a new sponsor next season but Talbot will de determined to be back. As was pointed out to manager Sloan, he needs one more win to match the legendary Knox’s record of five wins as a manager, and, two more to hold the record outright. Ominously for the rest of Junior football, this Talbot team is young enough to keep that great run going.
Auchinleck Talbot: Leishman, Lyle, Pope, Pettigrew, McGoldrick, Spence (Faulds 72), Young, White, Wilson (Gormley 72), Milliken (McCann 90), Latta. Subs not used: Collins, McGarrity.
Linlithgow Rose: Hay, Gibson, Nelson, Mackenzie, Ovenstone, Ruari MacLennan, McArthur, Shirra (Tyrell 74), Herd (Strickland 57), Coyne, Roddy MacLennan (Smith (86). Subs not used: Manson, Scott.