FLOWING FOOTBALL FROM SWEET AFTON
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 4 Cumnock Juniors 3
Scorers : Agnew (2), Blair , Deeney
Glenafton's finest first half in many a long season must have had any neutral Ayr United fan in the crowd wondering what they have been watching all these years. "So this is what football can look like! ", I'm sure I heard an Honest Man say. Credit to the groundstaff at Ayr United the playing surface looked like a freshly brushed snooker table and the Glens football flowed gently on this green baize.
An early sweeping move released Craig Bingham on the right and he reached the bye-line effortlessly before crossing the ball into the box, but on this occassion there were no takers. Minutes later a Scott Houston header had Cumnock goalie Potter scurrying to his back post to escort the ball to safety.The passing was crisp and disciplined and the Glens appeared to be relishing the Cup Final stage. But it was Cumnock who struck first. In 7 minutes they won a free kick on the edge of the box and this was defended well by the Glens but at the expense of conceding a corner kick. The kick was delivered with great accuracy and McGowan stormed into the box to bullet a powerful header home, a goal Maxie McCulloch would have been proud of. The Cumnock players ran to the touchline to celebrate, wringing their hands with glee in a mocking manner.
The Glens however kept their composure and Stevie Agnew on the left and Bingham on the right were having a free rein at times, but just as threatening were Houston and Darren Johnstone who between them were winning every through ball in the air and setting up exquisite lay off after lay off. Those players that previously had been wringing their hands were now having rings run round them. Yet, unbelievably and despite the Glens dominance all over the park, Cumnock had a great opportunity to go 2-0 ahead. Uncertainty in the box between Peter McAninch and Gary Matthews, saw the goalie pick up a pass back from about 8 yards out. Cumnnock were awarded an indirect free kick, whilst the Glens team spread themselves across the goal-line, consigning themselves (you could sense) to the inevitable , like army redcoats on the front-line in battles of yore. The ball was tapped gently to the right and the 'Nock player elected to fire the cannon, blasted the ball into the roof of the ...... Stand (at the Killie End).
A wake up call for the Glens, and a timely reminder that without the end product the Cup was heading for Cumnock. O!, how they responded. John McCaig won a tussle on the shy-line deep in his own half, no big hoof up the park, but instead a precise pass to Blair who in turn found Houston who rolled the ball into the path of Agnew as he burst into the 'Nock box from the left and he lasered the ball into the far top right hand corner beyond Potter. Minutes later Peter McAninch from almost the same spot as McCaig, took advantage of another option, and duped the 'Nock defence by playing a long ball brilliantly up the touchline into acres of space for Darren Johnstone to chase and the big man, in his finest game for the Glens, captured the ball with time to spare, bided his time before releasing it from the bye-line, for the unchallenged Blair to thrash it home. Johnstone repeated the feat in the dying minutes of the first half. The brave Houston was pole-axed on the half-way line as he won yet another 40-60 ball; play on waved the ref as Houston had managed to knock the ball into that prime space on the right hand-side; he must have seen Johnstone bound after it before he hit the deck. Again Johnstone took the ball to the bye-line and this time hit it to the far side of the box for Agnew, who appeared to have been waiting an age, and then took even longer to put Potter out of his misery and thrash it home, to the dismay of the Cumnock supporters behind that goal. To see fans bedecked in 'black and white' scarves and standing totally dejected in the Coo' Shed, brought a tear to this old Killie fan's eye. In contrast the Glens left the park to a standing ovation.
Half-Time Glenafton 3 Cumnock 1.
The second half started off at a frantic pace and both teams had reasonable chances in the opening minutes, before Cumnock were awarded a penalty kick in what appeared to be controversial circumstances. A high ball into a crowded box bounced about like a pin-ball in the amusements at the low green at Ayr, and as player after player fell to the ground in an attempt to score or defend, the mayhem finally subsided with the ball safely in the arms of Gary Matthews. However, the 'Nock players invited the referee to speak with his assistant and the spot-kick was duly awarded and then dispatched, by Dean Muir. The legendary stoor in the Coo' Shed was now billowing as the Cumnock fans celebrated and sensed a come-back. On the hour mark, the stoor was given another airing. The Cumnock attacker managed to outfox Davie Stewart near the half-way line but was then impeded, and to chagrin of Bobby and Coby on the Cumnock bench, the ref failed to play advantage. The resultant free-kick was hit deep to the back post and fell kindly for Henderson, to slam home the equaliser.
The Glens were now under considerable pressure and Cumnock were working the ball but couldn't find the were through the Glens rearguard, MacAninch, Stewart, Liam Paterson, McCaig and Matthews foiling them time after time, whilst Wiilie Howie made sure that any loose balls on the edge of the box were fought for and won. The Glens however were still carving out their own chances; a looping header from Johnstone was tipped over the bar by Potter; the keeper did well to run out his box and beat Blair to the ball who was within an inch of lobbing it into the vacant net; however the goalie could only watch when Agnew waltzed into the box and curved the ball beyond him but not for the first time in this competition , Aggie's shot bounced off the inside of the post.
Gerry Collins then went for broke and brought on three substitutes over a 5-10 minute period; Houston, Blair and Bingham being replaced by Deeny, Callachan and Miller, and all three played their part in what proved to be the winning goal. Callachan was fouled a few yards from the corner of the Cumnock box; Miller swung in a viciious free kick and Deeney popped up like Zebedee to head the ball home via the post. The action was not finished, including a point blank save in the injury time by Gary Matthews, but the scoring was. Glenafton 4 Cumnock 3
As Stevie Agnew lifted his Man of the Match Award and captain Willie Howie lifted the cup aloft, it became clear why the Cumnock players had wrung their hands in such a fashion; they were preparing for 4 of the tawse!
Glenafton: Matthews, McAninch, McCaig, Paterson, Stewart; Bingham (Millar), Howie, Blair (Callachan), Agnew; Houston (Deeney), Johnstone.