"IT'S A KNOCK-OUT" WITH STUART HALL
THORNTON HIBS 2 GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 1
Scorer: JP Grant
In the surreal surroundings of Memorial Park supporters of both teams hugged every inch of the railings around the main arena waiting for the fun and games to unfold on the undulating topography before them. Sadly by way of spectacle there was little to get excited about in the opening 25 minutes and the only shoot on sight was the one in the nearby swing-park!
However, on 26 minutes the travelling Glenafton support thought the home side had played their joker when the referee awarded a penalty kick after Andy Gow had fairly dispossessed Hepburn in the box. McAllister stepped up and duly dispatched the ball beyond Gary Matthews much to the delight of the appreciative home support. The lead was short-lived as five minutes later Frankie Haggarty took the high road and burst up the right wing and crossed the ball to JP Grant down below, positioned on a knoll in the hollow of the penalty box, who cutely headed the ball home from five yards out past the outstretched arms of Stuart Hall . Neither Matthews nor Hall had been seriously tested before the goals had been scored nor after and the half ended it as it had begun, all square.
With 3 minutes of the second half gone Hall pulled off an incredible save from Frankie Haggarty, diving full length to his far post to get a strong hand to the ball which then deflected off the underside of the bar. The young keeper composed himself and got to his feet to block JP Grant’s attempt at burying the rebound and then stopped a third effort that emerged from one the melee of players that had congregated in the penalty box in search of glory, but that was safe in the hands of Hall.
Simon Eeles replaced Mark Casey, allowing Jamie Doyle to partner Willie Howie in the central midfield and Eeles to try and exploit the left flank, the prime area of the pitch. In an early attack he found JP in the box, but Hall was quick of his line and gathered the ball at the feet of attacker and defender.
With 10 minutes of the half gone the home side then took advantage of the elevated position of their right flank and a corner-kick was six-ironed to the back post where Dickson rose above Gow and although his header was on target Matthews was its match.
The Glens made a further change with Gavin Brown replacing Derek Anderson up front but within a minute the striker’s job was now one of netting an equaliser rather than a winner. Another six-iron from the elevated tee found Dickson at the back post, this time unmarked and this time needing to stoop to get his header on target, and this time beat Matthews to give Hibs the lead on the hour mark.
With 25 minutes to go Stevie Agnew came off for Frankie Haggarty and took up Eeles’ place on the left wing with Simon moving to the right. The Glens were now going for broke and even centre-half Steven McGregor had a pop at goal and although Hall couldn’t hold it he did enough to guide the ball to safety.
Sellars nearly sealed it for the home side on 75 minutes but his shot flashed past Matthews far post and then again five minutes later but this time he blasted the ball over the bar; in between times Hall denied Grant twice in quick succession.
High in confidence the keeper completed a fine day’s work by racing off his line to prevent Agnew poking the ball home and then outjumping Gow to clutch the ball to safety. Hibs held on and recorded a famous victory and whatever may be said about the Memorial Park surface, the home side’s performance merited their progression to the Semi-Final, where wish them every success.
Thornton Hibs: Hall, Mill, Shields, Dickson, McAinsh, Wright, Cunningham, Hepburn, Dursley, McAllister, McDonald. Subs: Sellars, Taylor, Braid, Renwick, Bryce
Glenafton Athletic: Matthews; Connolly, Gow, McGregor, Quinn; Haggarty (Agnew), Casey (Eeles), Howie, Doyle; Grant, Anderson (Brown)