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Derek Hall’s Report on Preston Athletic v Auchinleck Talbot Saturday 23rd October

todayOctober 26, 2021


Derek Hall
Preston Athletic 0-2 Auchinleck Talbot
Scottish Cup 2nd Round day brought one of Scotland’s most recognisable football names to Pennypitt Park as Conference B pacesetters Preston Athletic welcomed Ayrshire giants Auchinleck Talbot and almost 900 fans were in attendance to witness a mouthwatering national cup tie. Within three seconds of kick off and with the ball having not even left the centre circle, Prestons’s Paul Currie was warned by referee Chris Gentles for dumping Keir Samson on his backside as he welcomed the Talbot No11 to East Lothian ! With two minutes on the clock, a foul on Kyle Somers some 25 yards out allowed Brandon Archibald to have a go but experienced Talbot keeper Andy Leishman was right behind the low driven set piece. At the other end, a poor clearance saw Bryan Boylan lay the ball back to Graham Wilson and his drive from the edge of the box had home keeper Jamie Newman making his first save. Kyle Somers then fired high over as Preston pushed forward and on seven minutes, a Talbot corner was cleared and Preston broke away and briefly had a four on two advantage but a heavy touch from Jonathan Grotlin gave Craig McCracken the opportunity to clear for the visitors. Somers fired another 20 yarder over the bar before a Samson corner found the head of Aiden Wilson and his header was deflected wide for another Talbot corner. On 14 minutes, a dangerous Boylan cross saw Somers head behind for yet another Talbot corner and Samson’s delivery went long for Wilson to arrive late and drive wide on the volley from 12 yards. Another Samson delivery saw Preston keeper Newman move quickly to gather at his near post with Boylan right there looking to profit from any mistake. Archibald had another effort from distance on 18 minutes which Leishman watched carefully as it cleared the Talbot crossbar before a superb 50 yard Somers pass released Archibald down the left flank but Neil McPherson was across to clear for the visitors and at this stage, Preston were looking a dangerous outfit. However after 23 minutes, the context of the game changed completely after a free kick had been awarded to Preston near the halfway line when referee Gentles pulled out a straight red card and dismissed Preston’s Currie for apparently making a remark which the referee took exception to. Despite this setback, the home side continued to press and another Archibald effort raged over the top. On 28 minutes, a Matthew O’Connor headed passback dropped a little short and Newman had to be quickly out to the edge of the Preston penalty area to grab the ball ahead of Samson before a foul on Grotlin 30 yards out saw Archibald fire in yet another long range set piece for the home side which was a yard over the junction of post and bar. After 33 minutes, Talbot showed their danger on the counter attack as Boylan got to the goal line and his cutback picked out Samson whose clipped effort from nine yards was finger tipped behind at his post by keeper Newman but a goal kick was awarded. Kieran Jack swung the ball into the heart of the Talbot penalty area and Marc Malloy was a whisker away from getting a touch although the offside flag went up anyway. Malloy was then warned for a slightly late contact on McPherson and then with two minutes remaining, Kieran Healy slipped a nice angled pass to Wilson and his 14 yard low drive was blocked behind by O’Connor. Samson swung the corner right onto the six yard line where McCracken rose completely unchallenged but somehow managed to glance his header wide of the far post and the best chance of an exciting first half had been scorned. Half time and an excellent showing by a now short handed home side who hadn’t changed their attacking set up after going down to ten men and had given their prestigious visitors a great deal to ponder as the players headed inside at the interval.
Talbot replaced Gareth Armstrong at the break with Jamie Glasgow taking the field and within the first minute of the second period, G Wilson swung the ball into the penalty area and Glasgow headed the ball back across for Samson to find the net from six yards but the offside flag halted the celebrations. A minute later, a long ball to the edge of the Preston penalty area eluded the outstretched leg of O’Connor and Boylan was there to lash a 10 yard half volley goalwards, only to see home keeper Newman spread himself and stay big to make the vital block. Talbot appeared far more energised and G Wilson fed Healy who saw the ball bobble up in front of him and his effort flew well wide just before Preston made their first change on 51 minutes as Rory Young replaced Jack. Three minutes later, an excellent driving run by Craig Innes saw the Preston full back skip past three players before finding Somers and his cross into the area had to be turned behind for a corner. With 55 minutes gone, Grotlin of Preston went into referee Gentles book for a foul on G Wilson right in front of the Talbot dugout. A minute later, Archibald was dispossessed by Boylan and the Talbot man decided to shoot early and Newman made a good save in parrying the ball away low to his left as the ball bounced right in front of him. Glasgow fired an angled drive into the side net and referee Gentles then had to warn Archibald for yet another unwanted comment. On the hour, the home fans looked for a spot kick as Somers swung a cross into the box and Grotlin was flattened by Talbot keeper Leishman as they jumped but the offside flag had long since gone up prior to any contact. On 63 minutes, Dwayne Hislop of Talbot was next to be warned by the referee for a foul on Archibald and four minutes later, the visitors made a double switch as William Boyd and Mark Shankland came on for Boylan and Hyslop. Shankland immediately sent a dipping 25 yard drive over the home crossbar and Preston then responded to the Talbot changes as Mikey Hamilton replaced the excellent Grotlin who had put in a real shift and received plenty of applause from the appreciative home fans. After 72 minutes, Kai Austin of Preston went into the book after play was stopped having moments earlier tried and failed to trip Samson as he went away from him. A Glasgow drive for the visitors was blocked and then a heavy touch by the same player on the edge of the Preston box gave keeper Newman the chance to tidy things up. With a quarter of an hour remaining, Shankland fed A Wilson and his cross into the home box saw Somers head wide from a decent position as Talbot tried to make their numerical advantage count in the games latter stages. That breakthrough finally arrived for the visitors after 77 minutes as G Wilson tried to thread a pass through and the ball came back off a defender to Glasgow who took a touch to control before slamming a low left foot drive from 23 yards into the bottom corner of the net past the diving Newman. Glasgow flashed another angled drive across the face of the Preston goal with 10 minutes to go but on 82 minutes, they looked to have tied the game up when a nice move started by Shankland in midfield saw Chris Stafford loft in a cross which Glasgow headed back into the mix and Samson got his head to the ball just in front of keeper Newman to nod home Talbot’s second from around six yards out and at this point, Preston introduced some fresh legs in the shape of Nathan Stokes. Talbot’s McPherson picked up a yellow for a foul on Innes close to the touchline and then the ever willing Archibald fired another effort high and wide from a Somers corner as Preston courageously kept forcing the play right to the end. Four minutes from time, Glasgow beat three players before firing a left foot drive wide from 20 yards and the Talbot substitute had made a real impact on the game off the bench. Two minutes from time, Talbot’s Samson picked up a needless caution for delaying the restart when he hammered the ball away whilst it was already clearly out of play and before the game could be restarted, referee Gentles and his AR then had to sort out a fracas in front of the Preston dugout which resulted in further yellow cards for Hamilton of Preston and Glasgow of Talbot. Right on 90 minutes, a 22 yard drive from Samson clipped off the base of the Preston post and went wide although keeper Newman seemed to have his bearings spot on and left the ball at the last moment. However the full time whistle brought cheers of both delight and also relief for Auchinleck who now put themselves into tomorrow’s third round draw with manager Tommy Sloan commenting on Black Diamond FM later that his side had done just enough without ever hitting their straps and admitted at times in the first half, they had been ‘under the cosh’. Preston manager Jack Lynch will have loads of positives to take from a fighting performance full of invention and drive from his young side and now it’s back to the business of ensuring Preston remain firmly in the hunt for top spot in Conference B now that their Scottish Cup adventure has come to an end.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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