Stewarton United 1 Tarbolton AFC 1 (Tarbolton wins 2-0 on penalties)
The Ayrshire Cup encounter between teams two divisions apart started well on Saturday as United played hosts at Pennyburn, and although not out-shone by the First division team, United were sent crashing out at the hands of Tarbolton in a gripping finale.
Stewarton started well and looked composed going forward having continued success down the left flank, however the forced change at left-back of Currie for Dickson, after the latter’s sustained cartilage injury the previous weekend, seemed to throw the home side, who initially looked disjointed in defence. After the initial exchanges Stewarton looked to have settled best as they passed the ball around nicely with McArthur& Lavery never far away from the action. On ten minutes good passing football from the United midfield saw McNaughton break to deliver a dangerous cross from the left for Lavery who adjusted well to strike a fine half volley only to be denied by a great save high to his left by Clark.
Time and again good passing football from Dick, McArthur, Lavery & McNaughton created chances for United, but time and again well delivered crosses went unmet and simple through-balls were made to look hard as Tarbolton held strong. Tarbolton passed well in the middle of the park, but could not create a worthwhile chance and as the game continued, frustration set-in to cancel out the fizz with which it started.
On 27 minutes Tarbolton spread play to the right and after controlling well, S Ferguson unleashed a fine right footed strike from 18 yards only to loop agonisingly over the keepers’ right-hand corner. This was the last point of note in the half until overly-comfortable defending on the United right saw a short back-pass by Thomson; Cole pounced on the loose ball to slide under Wilson and make it 1-0 to the visitors at half-time.
From the restart United pressed with Scott Thomson determined to make amends for his error. The United right back continually surged forward with purpose linking well with Taylor and McNaughton to create a number of chances which the home-SUDE repeatedly squandered. Tarbolton were completely on the back foot and had keeper Clark to thank for keeping them in it, making two fine saves from McNaughton, first on 55 minutes, then on 63 minutes when Lavery won brilliantly in the air for McNaugthon to hit straight at Clark after a misfortunately timed slip.
In the dying minutes of the 90, great persistence from substitute Scott allowed Waddell to slip a perfect first-time ball through for Lavery who nut-megged the onrushing Clark to give Stewarton the equaliser they richly deserved. This paved way for Extra-time and the possibility of a ‘dreaded’ penalty-shoot-out. Despite having the superior fitness, United again fell victim to their inability to finish on the day, and a tentative 30 minutes passed without notice. Into penalties and United, having lost their previous two shoot-outs, must have been cursing their luck. Wives tales and superstitions rule as the adage that ‘bad-luck comes in threes’ fell true. Confidence was missing for the home-team as four missed penalties (two finely saved by Clark) were cancelled out by successful spot-kicks by D Ferguson and Armstrong for the visitors to send them through to the third round of the Ayrshire cup.