Gala Fairydean Rovers 1
Lothian Thistle HV 4
Image Printers Cup quarter-final
Kenny Paterson reports from Netherdale 3G Arena
Mike McKinnon vowed not to return to football this season after a disappointing spell at Selkirk ended in October 2013.
But the former Cowdenbeath player is thankful to Lothian Thistle HV manager Kevin Twaddle for coaxing him back into coaching.
McKinnon was on the Thistle bench as the Edinburgh side defeated Gala Fairydean Rovers 4-1 on Wednesday night to make the semi-finals of the Image Printers Cup.
McKinnon said: “I am loving my time at Thistle.
“I had planned to take a rest from football after leaving Selkirk but Kevin took over in November and asked me to help out.
“I had almost forgotten how to win at Selkirk but we have won 11 games out of 11 since Kevin took over.
“We have such a good side with so many players who could go to the next level in the game.”
The star of Wednesday night was Connor McDonald, who bagged a hat-trick on his debut.
The former Livingston first team player opened the scoring under the Netherdale lights on 12 minutes with a stunning 30 yard effort past John Dodds, and five minutes later he added a second with a composed finish after good work by ex-Vale of Leithen striker Scott Moffat.
Gala quickly responded when Sean Paliczka drove a shot underneath Thistle goalkeeper Kevin Swain on 21 minutes.
And good work by Paliczka almost set up the equaliser just before half time, only for Stuart Noble to fire just wide from close range.
Gala started the second half strongly and looked certain to equalise on 48 minutes only for Swain to spectacularly palm away Dean McColm’s free kick.
Jamie Gibson had a great chance moments later but his chip just bounced wide of the Lothian goal.
However, the tie was over when Shane Greene brought down flying winger Willis Hare and John Williams converted the penalty on the hour. And 10 minutes later McDonald completed his treble with another sweet strike past Dodds.
Gala manager Steven Noble said: “You can see Lothian is a team full of confidence, while we are struggling at the moment.
“We were on top at 2-1 down but they hit us with a sucker punch.”
Gala Fairydean Rovers: J. Dodds, L. Stephen, J. Inglis, S. Greene, F. Forrest, D. Bonnar, D. McColm, P. Hossack (D. Sutherland 62), Stuart Noble, S. Paliczka (C. Jardine 79), J. Gibson.