Away cup match played on 15 February 2009.
Kicked off at 12:00 AM


Scottish Amateur Sunday Trophy
Sunday, February 15
Castlehill Vaults 3-2 St Mirrenoff
Brian Connell (pen)
Mullet o.g.

A DODGY late penalty scuppered Saints chances of progressing in this cup
competition. Not even the post-match pakora, pizza, chips and cheese, spiced onions, poppadoms and gateaux could take away the bitter taste from the award of the 90th minute spot kick.

While the match had clearly swung in favour of the Saltcoat’s side in the second half, the big decision left everyone perplexed, the Castle No. 11’s slip somehow deemed a foul by captain courageous Gordian Mothersole. Only the man in blue could explain the award which ruined an otherwise enthralling Scottish Cup tie.

Indeed, the men in black and white had bossed the first half and deservedly led 2-1 at the break - thanks in no small part to the all-action hero that was Brian Connell. More commonly known as Smuggy, the big centre-half scored a penalty and was at the heart of everything positive both at the front and back.

But Castlehill, the side with a name which sounds like a dictator’s lair, took control in the second 45 and wormed their way to victory. It all looked bleak for Saints after just four minutes. Keeper Liam Harkins performed his best Tim Flowers impression to let the ball sneak between his legs and in at the near post from a tame effort at the edge of the box.

Powerhouse midfielder Nicky Harkins flashed a half volley just wide as Saints looked to respond immediately, but when the ever reliable Barry ‘Barry’s up, Barry’s ball’ Johnston was forced off with a hamstring injury, Saints were soon
facing an uphill struggle with less than 10 minutes played. His replacement, Stuart Baungally quickly picked up the mantle and was soon putting his head in where it hurts.

Working (and moaning) tirelessly as ever up top, Ryan Keenan, along with strike partner Craig Muir began to turn up the heat on the Castle defenders. Keenan’s pace forced the Castle keeper to shank the ball out for a shy. At the other end, safe hands Harkins redeemed himself with a stunning save to deny the Castle No.10 who stung his palms from 12 yards.

Sub Bungle soon left his mark on the Castle frontline – and it could well be a permanent one - as the forward went on a Sunday jaunt in an ambulance after
picking up a deep cut to his head. After a lengthy delay, the match was back under way and the mighty Mirrenoff soon drew level on 35 minutes.

Keenan’s terrier-like ankle biting paid dividends as he won possession in the box and as David Walker looked to take over, he was sent tumbling by a double assault. Following a quick look to the heavens, Smuggy sent the keeper the wrong way and slotted home from the resultant spot kick.

Just four minutes later and the Paisley team were ahead. Keenan won a free-kick down the right and from Ants Harkin’s sweet delivery, the blonde-mulleted Castle defender sclaffed the ball past his own keeper. Saints finished the half in style as Chris Adam then Smuggy stamped their  authority on the game with key challenges as the Dennis the Menace striped Castle players toiled. But it was role reversal in the second half, with Saints surrendering too much space – a mistake the Ayrshire men took full advantage of.

Still, Duncan Johnston showed glimpses of his trickery, his pace countered by a clattering late Castle tackle. And Muir was cursing his luck when his half volley sailed over following a tidy interchange with Walker and Keenan. After littering the Saints box with crosses from either side, Castle finally equalised on 75 minutes.
A long ball caught the defence napping and nipping in behind, the Castle No.6
showed good composure to round the keeper and steer the ball past the defender on the line. Minutes later, Mirrenoff keeper Harkins kept his side in it, blocking with his feet from the No.10’s turn and shot 10 yards out.

But with extra-time looming, the ref singlehandedly dashed Saints hopes when he pointed to the spot and the No.6 netted his second. There was still time for Ants, Gordian and Adam to pepper the goalmouth in search of an equaliser, but a combination of wayward shooting and last ditch defending kept them at bay.

Man of the match: Brian Connell

St Mirrenoff: L Harkins, B Connell, B Johnston (S Baungally 9), C Adam, G
Mothersole, N Harkins, D Johnston, D Walker (D Brydson 76), A Harkins, C Muir
(C Sinclair 66), R Keenan. Unused sub: C Dailly.

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