Beith put a Downs-er on United’s cup effort

Beith Juniors.......................... 5

Cumbernauld United................. 5

Emirates Scottish Junior Cup second round

WITH six minutes remaining in this fantastic Scottish Cup second round tie, at Bellsdale Park on Saturday, Cumbernauld United were on the brink of recording one of the best results in their history.

Two goals ahead after having put on a magnificent display against Premier League giants ‘The Mighty’ Beith, the tiring United players finally succumbed to relentless home pressure. The two teams who provided such wonderful fare will have to do it all over again at Guy’s Meadow on Saturday. United, on this form, should have confidence about progressing to the third round.

United had a nightmare start in this match. A speculative shot from Beith defender Mark Staunton was deflected past a helpless David Buchanan in the Cumbernauld goal – time, two minutes.

Eight minutes later, following a Beith corner, the ball was headed across United’s goal where home central defender John Sheridan, unmarked, nodded into the net.

The United faithful were, understandably, at this point, fearful of a heavy defeat for their favourites, but not for long. A superb run upfield from midfielder Jim Steele and a great pass to Danny Burns saw the striker run on to cleverly chip the ball over Stephen O’Neill in the Beith goal.

The Cumbernauld boys were now oozing confidence as they outplayed the home team and their excellent football brought an equaliser when, from a Steele corner, Johnny Boyle rose above the Beith defence to head a brilliant goal.

The match was a great spectacle for the fans as play raged from end to end. After Gary Gibson brought out a terrific save from the Beith header, the home side’s Mark Staunton was ordered off for a bad foul on Gibson leaving them with ten men.

In the 37th minute United took the lead for the first time when Johnny Boyle was grounded on the edge of the penalty area and Kenny Jarvis expertly curved the ball round the Beith wall, and into the net.

The visitors should have increased their lead prior to the interval but Johnny Boyle unfortunately missed in front of goal. The half time whistle brought a wonderful first 45 minutes to an end.

As expected, Beith, their pride hurt, came out after the break with all guns blazing and equalised almost immediately. United keeper David Buchanan was caught too far out of his goal and Beith’s Kenny McLean seized the opportunity to float the ball over the keeper and into the net.

Once again though, United’s reply was immediate and a breakaway run from Johnny Boyle and a great pass across goal found Jim Steele on hand to tap into the net. What a game, what a tremendous display from all of the Cumbernauld boys.

United continued to impress and increased their lead on the hour mark when a terrific Gary Gibson shot left O’Neill helpless.

Beith brought on their substitutes in an effort to get back into the game and they certainly helped. It was however, the dismissal of Jim Steele that spurred on the home side – the midfielder picking up a second yellow card for a foul.

Beith were now exerting pressure on the United defence who had played so well. Special mention must be made of Craig Hill who probably had his best game for the Cumbernauld team.

Two late goals from Beith’s Robert Downs spoiled United’s day but a draw against one of Ayrshire’s top sides in the Scottish Cup is still an excellent result and United can take heart from this display.

Saturday’s replay will be well worth watching and a big crowd is expected at Guy’s Meadow where the kick off is at 2 p.m.

Come along and support manager John Queen and the boys.

BEITH JUNIORS: O’Neill, Dunlop, Staunton, McCulloch, Sheridan, Hughes, Hardie, O’Keane, Downs, McLean, Callaghan. Subs: McGrath, Reid, Fraser, Lang, Kisuka, Craig, Robertson.

CUMBERNAULD UNITED: Buchanan, Barclay, Hanlon, Petrucci, Hill, Jarvis, Gibson, Thompson, Burns, Steele, J. Boyle. Subs: N. Boyle, Dearie, Borland, O’Halloran, Cullen, McDonnell.