Arniston Rangers 2, Neilston Juniors 1
(Scottish Junior Cup 3rd round replay)
Jock Landells’ Arniston Rangers climbed a huge mountain to reach the fourth round of the Scottish Junior Cup last Saturday in a replay switched to Foresters Park, Tranent, after three washed out Saturdays at Newbyres Park.
And Arniston had to dig deep being reduced to 10 men with some 20 minutes or so left in a tough tie that saw Arnie looking good at half time leading 2-0.
The 1-1 draw four weeks before at Neilston earned Arnie this rematch similar to their second round replay tie which saw them beat Larkhall 3-1 to gain the third round tie with Neilston so last Saturday was Arniston fourth Scottish Cup tie of the season.
It saw Arniston’s seventh win of the season netting their 32nd goal but which gives Arnie a third consecutive away Scottish Cup tie coming in mid January away to West Super League First Division third top Kilwinning Rangers.
Central District First Division Neilston were a physical side that fully tested Arniston’s resolve but despite the loss of red carded Scott Garden the Arnie notched another famous Scottish Cup tie victory.
Barely a minute had gone when Kieron Somerville was caught in midfield by Kennedy who raced away on attack only to be denied a certain goal by a brilliant block by keeper Dale Cornet.
Neilston had seized the early possession as East Premier League Arniston looked slower out of the traps.
Gradually however Arniston improved contesting midfield better denying a pressing Neilston.
But in 18 minutes against the run of play Arniston took the 1-0 lead.
A free kick award to Neilston saw Kelly’s free kick cleared upfield by Arniston where speedy Lumbert Kateleza took advantage to race through and net a superb goal past advancing keeper Dignan to break the deadlock.
Arniston were boosted by that goal and inspired by a solid defence and excellent goalkeeping by Cornet though in 30 minutes a raging shot by Cameron just cleared Cornet’s far post.
Lumbert had the ball in the net just six minutes from the interval but the referee ruled it offside. However Arniston were not to be denied a second goal just before half time when Danny McFadden miscued a clear chance only for the ball to fall to Lumbo who crossed to Kieron Somerville and his excellent header nestled in the Neilston net for a superb goal putting Arnie in at the break 2-0 ahead and one foot in the next round.
But it was Neilston who grabbed an early second half goal to put Arniston under pressure.
Just five minutes in and a controversial free kick to Neilston swung in by Murphy caught Arniston sleeping as McKay scored a fightback goal past Cornet to see Arnie take a wobble.
Neilston were pressing hard for the equaliser now as Scott Garden earned a booking for a foul on Cameron before Arniston’s first second half corner in 62 minutes saw no danger to the Neilston defence.
Arniston looked to be hanging on to their slender lead going into the final quarter of the game as a double Neilston substitution added to Arniston challenges.
And in 71 minutes the ultimate challenge for Arniston being reduced to 10 men as a second yellow and subsequent red to Scott Garden for a challenge on McKay who himself just seconds before had been booked for a foul on Garden.
In a grandstand finish which saw a hamstring injury take off Arniston’s Kyle Doig and substitute Kevin Moffat come on, Neilston pushed Arniston all the way to the finishing line with their own final third desperate substitute but brave Arnie held out for a cracking victory to give their supporters a very Merry Christmas.
Arniston Rangers: Cornet, McTiernan, Kerr, Callaghan, Faulds, Garden, Somerville, Jeffrey, McFadden, Kateleza, Doig. Subs: Moffat, McCaul, Landells, keeper Ritchie