Newtongrange Star 1 - 2 Tranent Juniors
South Challenge Cup, 2nd Round.
New Victoria Park, Newtongrange
Tranent squeezed past Newtongrange in this South Challenge Cup 2nd round tie thanks to a late Matty Knox strike at New Victoria Park. Skipper Shaun Rutherford had given the visitors the lead midway through the first half, but Ryan Porteous levelled for the hosts on 61. With time ticking away and extra time on the cards, Knox struck in the 88th minute to knock Star book Tranent’s slot in the 3rd round draw.
Newtongrange lined up with McCathie in goal, a back 4 of Keane, Finnan, Hamilton & Webb, skipper Porteous in the center of midfield, with Dougall & Jones to his left and Muir & Smith on the right and Robertson up top. Tranent went with Adams in goal, captain Rutherford, Stevenson, Donaldson & Greig at the back, Miller, Murphy, Somerville & Watson in the midfield and Wringe & McIntosh in attack.
Although there’s virtually the full length of the East of Scotland Premier Division between these two sides, you’d never have guessed it for large spells of this game, Star giving as good as they got for most of the afternoon. As you might expect for a local derby, the game started at quite a pace, both sides giving it a red-hot crack right from the off. There were chances at both ends in the opening minutes, both McCathie and Adams called into action early doors.
Tranent looked dangerous down the left-hand side, Rutherford making it to the bye line on a couple of occasions. The visitors won a string of corners, Rutherford again with the delivery into the danger area. It took until 24 minutes for Tranent to break the deadlock and when it came, it was no surprise that it was the captain who made the breakthrough, drilling a low drive into the bottom corner from 25 yards out.
Given the league position of these two sides, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that might be the first of many for Tranent, but Nitten were having none of it. The home side got the sleeves rolled up and got stuck in. Although Tranent were enjoying more possession, it was Nitten who were creating the better chances. Porteous struck the base of the post from close range, and Ally Adams had to be on his toes as Star delivered a couple of dangerous corners of their own. Although both sides had the ball in the net, the linesman’s flag intervened both times and Tranent made it to the interval with a narrow lead.
It was more of the same after the break, both sides pressing hard for the next goal. It came on the hour after a quick Nitten counterattack. Porteous burst down the right wing, escaped a lunge from Rutherford, rode another tackle, cut inside and clipped a peach of a shot in off Adams far post to bring the score level.
Things almost got even better for Star just a couple of minutes later when Chris Robertson had the ball in the net, but the far side lines and had his flag up once again and Tranent were off the hook. Star had their tails up at this stage and were starting to look like they could cause a bit of an upset. But Tranent are on a really good run of form at the sharp end of the league table, and Calum Elliot’s side know how to manage a game. Bradley Donaldson was doing a fine job in the center of defence, taking the sting out of the game, while Ben Millar offers plenty of protection to his back four and provides an outlet to switch defence into attack.
The second half fair flew bye, and it was end to end stuff as both sides searched for the winner. There was plenty of bite in the game too, with plenty of strong tackling and the odd flash point, without the referee having to intervene too often.
As the watch ticked down and with extra time beginning to look more and more likely, Knox popped up with just two minutes left to break Nitten hearts and put Tranent’s name into the hat for the 3rd round draw. There’s more cup action for Tranent next Saturday as they make the trip to Alloa to face Broomhill in the Scottish Cup, while Star are also on the road with a trip to Fife for a crucial league battle with fellow strugglers Hill of Beath.
Man of the Match: plenty of candidates on both sides but for my money, Brad Donaldson played a critical role at the heart of the Tranent defence, helping to weather the storm when Nitten were enjoying a good spell of pressure.
See all the match photos HERE