Blackburn United 4 (Millar 44mins, Heath 65mins, Garrad 80mins & 120mins)
Stoneyburn 3 (Hendry 7mins, Scott 24mins & 87mins)
Stoneyburn got off to a bright start in the seventh minute when a defensive mix-up allowed HENDRY to nip in ahead of his marker and knock the ball out of goalkeeper Craig Saunders’ hand to give the Fulshie the lead. With Stoneyburn continuing to impose themselves on the game, Blackburn pressed forward to try and nab a goal and won a corner-kick despite protestations that they felt a stonewall penalty should have been awarded in the twenty fourth minute. It was the Fulshie who capitalised on the set piece though by breaking forward on the counter from the corner with Robertson drawing Saunders out before squaring to SCOTT for the centre forward to tap into an empty net. In fact, the closest United came to scoring arrived from Stoneyburn’s ex-Blackburn man McConnell when his clearance came too close to the net for Craig’s liking with the goalkeeper forced to parry it over the bar just to be safe. The Burnie eventually reduced the arrears just before half-time when a free-kick was lifted onto the head of Marcus MILLAR who nodded back across the face of goal and home to grant Blackburn the momentum a minute before the break.
The hosts were much improved from then on, but Stoneyburn were resolute in their defending, sensing the opportunity to cause a cup shock. However, United deservedly drew level after an unfortunate error from Craig which saw the ball fall at the feet of Calum HEATH who scooped the ball past the despairing goalkeeper in the sixty fifth minute. Inside the final twenty minutes Blackburn had the ball in the net twice more, first when Richie Hutton rounded the ‘keeper to slot home and then when Andy McQuillan lashed into the roof of the net, but were denied by the offside flag on each occasion. With ten minutes to go though, GARRAD believed he had snatched the winner for Blackburn after his low strike from the edge of the box found the bottom left hand corner of Craig’s net to seemingly complete the comeback. However, there was another twist in the eighty seventh minute. Determined play saw Lyall Cameron lose out on the Blackburn right and when a near post ball arrived at the feet of SCOTT he tapped it home to send the game into extra-time.
With the cold weather beginning to bite, the tension was palpable as the clock ticked closer to what seemed to be an inevitable penalty shoot-out but GARRAD flipped the script in the final moments when the ball fell to him from a free-kick and his half-volley was whacked firmly over the line with the aid of a deflection to send Blackburn into the third round of the South Challenge Cup.
Blackburn United line-up: Saunders, Cameron, Millar, Mildren, Drummond, Meikle, Heath (Devine 92), Howe (Browne 66), Sweeney (McQuillan 61), Garrad, Smith (Hutton 56) Subs (not used): McClung, Kane, Kidd
Stoneyburn line-up: Craig, Calvey, Guatella, McConnell, Gallagher, Hendry, Brady, Brown, Scott, Donaldson, Robertson Subs: Hislop, McLay, Mooney, Wilson, Young, Mackie
Referee: Mr. Robert Thomson
Assistants: Mr. Boise Allan & Mr. Jack Leslie
Blackburn United 1 (L.Devine 88mins)
East Stirlingshire 2 (Flynn 23mins & 63mins)
Not so long ago the visitors were operating in the SPFL2 while United were on the bottom rung of the Junior football ladder in the East Region South Division, so this first ever competitive meeting of the sides was indicative of just how quickly things can change in football and it was the ‘Shire who showed their greater pedigree in the early stages with both Flynn and Millar providing a constant menace to the Blackburn rearguard. Indeed, just when it seemed as though their threat was being harnessed it was FLYNN who opened the scoring midway through the half when his terrific glancing header from an Orr cross was behind Darren Mitchell before the ‘keeper had any real time to react. Moments later though Mitchell was able to keep out another headed effort, saving from Tapping who had got onto the end of a McCafferty delivery. Before the interval the visitors came close a couple of times more but Dishington saw one effort hit the side netting while another was blocked by Mitchell.
Thanks to a couple of early changes at the outset of the second period United were becoming more evident as an attacking force with young Laurie Devine, who had played a full ninety minutes in the previous evenings victory for the U20s over their Spartans counterparts, linking well with both Danny Campbell and Stuart McLeod but when the games next goal did arrive it was again the men from Falkirk who provided it, Peggie whipping in an inviting cross from the left that FLYNN got his head on to direct past Mitchell for his second of the game. Six minutes later Campbell clipped in a similar delivery at the other end but Devine’s header flew past before Devine then returned the compliment for Campbell, setting him up for a shot from the edge of the area that was blocked by Malone. Going into the closing stages Blackburn continued to push for a way back into the game and full-back James Mildren saw an angled shot saved before a late lifeline did arrive when debutant Nathan Donnelly-Kay slid a well weighted pass in front of DEVINE for the youngster to direct his shot across Barclay in the visitors goal and in at the bottom corner. However, with time running out it was the Shire who held on to advance to the fourth round of the South Region Challenge Cup.
Blackburn United line-up: Mitchell, Mildren, S.Devine (Drummond 46), Lawrie, Browne, Howe (Donnelly-Kay 69), Young, Kane, Robertson (L.Devine 49), Campbell, McLeod Subs (not used): Welsh, McIntosh, Clements
East Stirlingshire line-up: Barclay, Orr, Dyer, Tapping, Malone, Horne, Dishington, Peggie, Flynn, Millar, McCafferty Subs: Murray, D.Ure, Shirra, Greene, I.Ure
Referee: Mr. Ryan Lee
Assistants: Mr. Graeme Leslie & Mr. Raymond Hume
Blackburn United 8 (Hutton 29mins, 48mins & 68mins, McQuillan 35mins & 41mins, S.Devine 63mins, Howe 71mins, Campbell 85mins)
St Cuthbert Wanderers 1 (Milligan 19mins)
The first ever meeting of the two sides almost brought an early goal when full-back James Mildren found space on the right to swing in a cross that Andy McQuillan rattled against the underside of the crossbar with only seven minutes on the clock. However, when an early goal did arrive it was the men from Dumfries & Galloway who claimed it, a long ball forward carrying just far enough for MILLIGAN to nip in behind the United rear guard and calmly beat the exposed Jonny Clements with his shot. Minutes later, Mildren linked with Calum McDowall who then swapped passes with Dominic Kane to lift in a back post cross that Richie Hutton knocked past. HUTTON, though, was more accurate just before the half hour mark when the ball was worked out to him on the left corner of the eighteen yard box from where he curled a beauty across the face of goal and in for the equaliser. Six minutes later Blackburn then had the lead when McDowall clipped a pass over the top of the visiting defence for McQUILLAN to run onto and beat Wallace with his shot. Before the break McQUILLAN grabbed his second and United’s third, taking advantage of hesitancy inside the Wanderers box to fire past an unsighted Wallace, although Black almost pulled a goal back with the last attack of the half, racing clear onto a McDonald’s pass but with Clements off his line quickly to narrow his options the striker rushed his effort wide.
Four minutes after the restart Blackburn moved further ahead when HUTTON claimed his second of the afternoon, heading home a McDowall delivery at the back post. At the other end Clements held onto a half hit Harris shot before United found the net again, McQuillan thumping a Danny Campbell cut-back against the post and, when the ball was cleared, Stewart DEVINE met it some twenty five yards out to send it sailing high past Wallace and into the top corner. It was then 6-1 shortly thereafter when Kane, David Howe and Campbell linked to create the chance for HUTTON to claim his hat-trick and the wide player gleefully did just that with a composed finish. Inside the last twenty minutes John Drummond saw his header from a Campbell corner swept off the line by McMurtie but with the ball not fully cleared HOWE followed up to net from just outside the edge of the box. Nine minutes from time Howe almost added an eighth but his twenty five yarder crashed off the bar. However, before the end the eighth and final goal did arrive, McQuillan holding off his marker to hit a shot that was blocked only for CAMPBELL to follow it in and net with ease.
Blackburn United line-up: Clements, Mildren, S.Devine, Lawrie, Drummond, McLeod (Howe 66), McDowall (L.Devine 71), Kane, McQuillan, Campbell, Hutton (Cowan 71) Subs (not used): Browne, Morajda
St Cuthbert Wanderers line-up: Wallace, Hall, Williamson, McConaghie, Peat, McMurtie, Harris, Pipe, Black, McDonald, Milligan Subs: McAdam, Hyslop, Jackson, Davis
Referee: Mr. Daniel Silva