Sproule’s strike forces cup replay

SELKIRK, UNITED KINGDOM. - 29 / Sept / 2012 : 'William Hill Scottish Cup, Second Round'Ettrick Park, Selkirk''Selkirk 1-1 Vale of Leithen ... FT''(Photo by  Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance / � 2012)
SELKIRK, UNITED KINGDOM. - 29 / Sept / 2012 : 'William Hill Scottish Cup, Second Round'Ettrick Park, Selkirk''Selkirk 1-1 Vale of Leithen ... FT''(Photo by Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance / � 2012)

Selkirk 1

Vale of Leithen 1

SCOTTISH CUP SECOND ROUND

KENNY PATERSON reports from Yarrow Park

EXCITING, frantic and controversial – just your average Borders derby, only this time a place in the third round of the Scottish Cup was at stake.

While little quality football was served up by either team, supporters of both sides cannot complain about the entertainment on offer during the 90 minutes.

Euan Pritchard appeared to have taken on the role of Selkirk’s hero when he put the underdogs ahead midway through the first half, but 10 minutes from time Vale of Leithen’s Wayne Sproule ensured a sequel would be needed to decide this tie.

But this tale also had a villain in the shape of referee Craig Napier, who dished out nine yellow cards, including two for Selkirk’s Jamie Gibson, which will see him miss the replay at Victoria Park.

Vale manager Fraser Oglivie denied his side had underestimated their First Division opponents, who they beat convincingly three times last season.

He told TheSouthern: “I didn’t think we deserved to lose.

“We dominated possession and the game should have been out of sight. They scored with their only shot on target of the first half.

“We told the players it would be a hard game and within five minutes they knew that.

“If we play like we did in the final 20 minutes we can win the replay, but not if we play as we did in the first 70 minutes.”

Containing their Innerleithen opponents was the key to Selkirk’s tactics, with Gibson playing the lone striker role.

But it appeared the system would crumble under early pressure from Vale, with wingers Martin Cairney and Sproule providing plenty of problems for the Souters’ defence.

Kayne Paterson fired just past John Dodds’s goal, with the goalkeeper also relieved to see Chris Gray’s free header from a Chris Inglis’ corner fly wide.

However, completely against the run of play, Selkirk struck 25 minutes in. Jamie Aitken fired a shot across the goal and Pritchard managed to stab the ball beyond James Hudson.

Vale were shellshocked, but continued to batter at the homesters’ defence, only for Pritchard and Jamie Higginbottom to throw themselves at anything approaching their goalmouth to retain a half-time lead.

Within 30 seconds of the restart, Vale had the ball in the net, but referee Napier adjudged that Scott Devlin had fouled Dodds after Sproule’s cross.

Selkirk showed more ambition at the start of the second period, and Michael Holness and Gibson forced Hudson into action, before the stopper’s face almost went as red as his hair when Aitken’s 35yd free kick almost squeezed under his body.

Substitute Scott Moffat nearly provided Vale with a 68th minute equaliser, as he sped clean through on goal, only to delay his shot and eventually see his effort blocked by Barry Milven.

It seemed Selkirk would hold out, but the game changed in 60 seconds. Firstly, Gibson received a harsh second yellow card for a sliding challenge which was slightly late, but not dangerous in any way.

And from the resulting free kick, Selkirk failed to clear their box, allowing Sproule to fire a half volley high into the net.

The last 10 minutes was as frenzied as a group of teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert, albeit with a few more swear words.

Inglis looked to have secured a dramatic injury-time winner, only for the Vale man’s strike to fly just past Dodds’ left post, but ultimately a draw was a fair result which reflected both side’s endeavour.

Selkirk boss Mike McKinnon was furious with referee Napier immediately after Gibson’s sending off, but was more diplomatic after the final whistle, preferring to pay tribute to his tireless lone striker.

He said: “I didn’t think it was a yellow card and I also thought Jamie’s first booking was harsh. But that was the ref’s decision and we have to accept it.

“I feel sorry for Jamie. It is so hard playing up front on your own but he put in a great effort. He is a dream to work with.

“We will give it another bash next week. It is great to still be in the competition, I just love the Scottish Cup.”

Selkirk: J. Dodds, K. Munro, B. Milven, J. Higginbottom, E. Pritchard, L. Pyrkosz (R. Pepper 85), M. Holness (J. Watt 85), L. Stephen, J. Gibson, J. Aitken, D. Battle (R. McManus 74).

Vale of Leithen: J. Hudson, C. Gordon, C. Gray, R. McKenzie, J. Blaikie, C. Inglis, W. Sproule, K. Dodds (D. Thomson 87), S. Devlin (M. Smith 70), K. Paterson (S. Moffat 60), M. Cairney.