Vics nearly spring Valentines Day Surprise

Monday February 16th 2015

Reporter Gordon Baird

Newtongrange Star 2 Blantyre Victoria 2

It looked a straightforward tie on paper for Super League Newtongrange Star but Blantyre Victoria ran them very close and might well have won it with better discipline.

Blantyre Victoria were the visitors to New Victoria Park for the much postponed Scottish Junior Cup fourth Round tie. The Vics have won the trophy three times – their last success coming in in season 81/82 and also been losing finalists. They boast famous names amongst their former players with the likes of Jock Stein, Lisbon lion Billy McNeill and Joe Jordan having worn their colours. Today they play in the Central District First Division, which is essentially the third tier of Central Football. In the league this season they sit mid table with games in hand and have suffered only one reverse. In the Junior Cup they have taken they scalps of both Bathgate Thistle and East Super League Lochee United, who they toppled 3-1 away from home.

The home side were going well on all fronts before their recent idle spell caused by the weather. They sit near the top of the Super League and boast Junior Cup wins over Scone Thistle, Greenock Juniors and Maud FC, scoring 16 goals and conceding none in the process.

The winners of this tie face a tough away tie against the winners of Clydebank FC or Shettelston Juniors.

The New Victoria Park pitch was playable but looked sure to cut up as the match progressed.

Star went straight on to the attack and after only two minutes, Kris Renton sprayed the ball wide to Jamieson on the right and his low cross was side footed home by Chris King – the home team ahead in the opening exchanges and ominous signs for the visitors.

Vics looked shell shocked and it took them a few minutes to recover their composure but after ten minutes of weathering the storm, they created their first opening. Galt burst through the middle and might well have won a penalty if he had gone down, but to his credit stayed on his feet and the opening was lost. It was a warning to the home team who were a little lethargic looking, perhaps the result of so few matches recently, and after twelve minutes they paid the penalty for that lethargy. Malcolm produced a fine dribble past two defenders but as he cleverly rounded goalkeeper Keiron Renton, the keeper pulled him down. The referee Duncan Smith immediately pointed to the spot and after some deliberation awarded Renton a red card. Vics Craig Smith kept his nerve during a short delay and stepped up to bring the visitors level shooting confidently past substitute keeper Amos, the young keeper replacing Nitten scorer Chris King.

The home side were clearly stunned and five minutes later they were shocked. Vics won a free kick 25 yards out and Caldwell stepped up to fire low into the corner. The game had turned on its head and ten men Star had a mountain to climb.

Star reorganised and slowly began to recover their composure. The game was punctuated by fouls which prevented either side gaining any real dominance. Star continued to be troubled by the pace and trickery of the Vics attackers but in Jamieson and Renton they always had an out ball.

After thirty eight minutes a lightning attack from Star saw Matty King find himself in on goal. His first effort was well stopped by Macklin as was his second, but he had the composure to cross the rebound for Jamieson to fire home – the ten men were back on level terms.

It was a even contest but as half time approached Caldwell brought out a fine save from substitute goalkeeper Amos to keep Star in it.

Half Time : Newtongrange Star 2; Blantyre Victoria 2

There were no substitutions at the break but within two minutes Vics were forced into a change when Malcolm went down under a heavy challenge – he was replaced by McLaughlan

The games continued to be punctuated with stoppages for petty fouls but after sixty two minutes Vics were reduced to ten men when McShane received a second yellow for what appeared to be an elbow into a Star player.

Nevertheless, they were still dangerous and after sixty five minutes it took a great block from full back McManus to keep Smith out and from the resultant corner, substitute Kirkwood had a header cleared off the line.

With both sides a man down, Star saw their chance to win the tie. After eighty two minutes Renton looked certain to score from a great Jamieson run and cross but couldn’t get enough on his header to direct it on goal – what a miss! Next a fine Deland cross was headed wide by Jamieson. With time running out a Thomson free kick found McManus but the keeper was up to it.

This cup tie was never a classic with too many fouls and a robust performance from the visitors defence. After losing the early goal all credit to Blantyre for getting back into the game as it would have been easy to buckle under. Losing a player for a second yellow was careless and might have cost them the win. Star will be wiser next Saturday and more match ready – they will be favourites to progress despite being away from home. Vics certainly carry a threat upfront but look suspect to pace at the back and a little indisciplined.

Best for the home team were Thomson and Jamieson with both full backs having decent games. The visitors were well served by Malcolm, Smith and Caldwell.

Referee Smith handled a difficult game well and got the big decisions right.

The reply is scheduled for next Saturday with an away trip to Shettleston awaiting the winners.


Newtongrange Star: Renton, McManus, Deland, Tolmie, Dunn, Thomson, Jamieson, Cherrie, Kris Renton, C King, M King Subs Cropley, Wilson, Kerr, Gillon and Amos

Blantyre Victoria :Macklin, Amos, Sinclair, McShane, Hewitt, McGarry, Malcolm, Green, Smith, Galt and Caldwell Subs McLaughlan, Ross, Kirkwood and Lochhead

Referee team: Duncan Smith, Colin Whyte and Lewis Hogarth

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