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Derek Hall’s report on this game, Bonnyrigg Rose v Auchinleck Talbot on Sunday 23rd May

todayMay 24, 2022


Bonnyrigg Rose 1-3 Auchinleck Talbot

A very decent crowd at the Falkirk Stadium for the South Challenge Cup Final between Ayrshire giants Auchinleck Talbot and the SPFL’s newest club Bonnyrigg Rose. George Hunter forced a corner for Rose in the first minute and after Lee Currie’s first set piece came back to him, his second cross saw Talbot keeper Andy Leishman claiming the ball on his six yard line. After four minutes, a good ball down the right from Talbot’s Mark Shankland sent Bryan Boylan away but the Rose defence were able to clear the cross. With seven minutes gone, Hunter was held on the edge of the Talbot box by Craig McCracken and referee Ross Hardie awarded the free kick 20 yards out and it was no surprise to see Currie step up and clip the ball beautifully left footed over the wall and in off the inside of the post giving keeper Leishman no chance to give the Midlothian side the early lead. Some casual play in the Bonnyrigg box saw possession lost but Shankland couldn’t take advantage from Boylan’s cut back as he skied a right foot effort over from ten yards. Chris Stafford then worked hard down the right for Talbot to create another crossing opportunity for Boylan but his cross drifted long at the far post. Rose responded with a Currie through ball looking for Hunter but keeper Leishman was alert and out to grab the ball. On the quarter hour, Scott Gray found Robert Wilson and he dropped the ball back for Lewis Turner but the Rose no7 sent a disappointing cross well over. Turner had another go from a corner on nineteen minutes but a push by Wilson relieved the danger for Talbot. Aiden Wilson then drove strongly down the left wing for Talbot but Gray was across with an excellent tackle, just before a long defensive clearance almost released Hunter, but the Rose striker couldn’t get the ball under control. On 25 minutes, Currie found Bradley Barrett with a lovely 35 yard pass down the left flank with Talbot looking for offside and when he was brought down by Keir Samson, referee Hardie issued his first ticking off of the match to the Talbot no10 but Currie couldn’t find a team mate with the resultant free kick. With 29 minutes gone, Rose should have doubled their advantage as Neil Martynuik sent Barrett to the goal line and he picked out Hunter ten yards out with the cut back only to see the normally reliable striker mis hit his left foot shot four yards wide, a golden chance missed. Talbot responded immediately and Shankland got to the goal line and it took a good block from Wilson to turn the ball behind. Shankland took the corner himself and it tempted Rose keeper Michael Andrews into no man’s land, but the Rose defence were able to clear. Martynuik then caught a rap on the ankle from McCracken as he shielded the ball over his own goal line and the referee had a quiet word in the passing with the Talbot defender. With 32 minutes gone, Wilson dispossessed Rose’s Callum Connolly and fed the ball on to Shankland, who moved into the Rose box, but he eventually ran the ball behind. However with ten minutes of the half remaining, we were all square as a ball into the Rose box caused confusion in front of keeper Andrews and after a bit of head tennis, the ball struck the head of Wilson who could do nothing to prevent the ball going into his own net from around five yards to bring Talbot level. Bonnyrigg looked a bit shell shocked and a poor defensive pass by Martynuik was intercepted by Boylan and only a heavy first touch from the Talbot no11 prevented another decent opportunity developing. Nice combination play then created another chance for Boylan who turned the ball wide at the near post and Talbot suddenly had a real spring in their step. On 40 minutes, Currie headed on to Barrett who quickly tried to pick out Hunter, but a timely interception from Talbot’s Neill McPherson brought the ball away. Two minutes from the break, Bonnyrigg had to make a change with Kerr Young coming on for Martynuik and he was on just in time to see Shankland fire a 25 yard right foot snap shot on the half volley over the Rose crossbar, and the Ayrshire side were now finishing the half on top after a sluggish start. All square at the break and this final was nicely poised and after being on top for half an hour, Bonnyrigg had then found themselves under pressure towards the end of the half from a Talbot side who had clearly got a huge lift from their equalising goal.
Bonnyrigg started on the front foot and Wilson found Kieran Hall who passed to Turner, but his cross was safely claimed by keeper Leishman. Healy then scampered down the right flank for Talbot and his cross took a deflection off Young and reached Samson at the near post but he could only turn the ball wide from a tight angle. On 50 minutes, Healy then sent Samson away and his dangerous low cross into the Rose box looking for Boylan was turned away by Wilson, but Dwayne Hyslop’s header from the corner drifted tamely wide. Turner then caught Hyslop with a high boot in midfield and Talbot played the free kick wide to Stafford and his pass sent Samson to the goal line into the Rose box. The Talbot no10 got his head up before picking out Boylan with a perfect clipped pass and the winger deftly prodded the ball past the helpless Andrews from seven yards to earn the Ayrshire side a 52nd minute lead. Bonnyrigg responded with a Connolly effort being blocked and the ball ran to Gray who rifled in a stinging 25 yard drive which keeper Leishman took no chances with as he parried the ball over the top. After 56 minutes, Rose got into the Talbot box again and Hunter managed to turn and get an effort away from around eight yards but the ball struck his team mate Hall and went out for a goal kick. A cross into the Rose box then saw Healy barge into Currie to concede the foul and the Rose no10 required treatment before being able to carry on. Just before the hour mark, Rose went to their bench again and looked for more power up front as Hall was replaced by Kieran McGachie. Shankland then swung another corner in for Talbot but Hyslop’s less than subtle push on Connolly had the referees whistle halting the game. McGachie’s first involvement was to be penalised for holding McPherson and he was then warned by the referee a couple of minutes later for a foul on McCracken. With 65 minutes gone, Samson of Talbot was first into referee Hardie’s book for a foul in midfield on Currie, with the referee making it plain that it wasn’t his first offence. Two minutes later, Bonnyrigg made a further change as Dean Brett was brought on for Turner and a number of the Rose players were, unsurprisingly, looking a bit leggy at this stage. Young then slipped and went down in a challenge with Boylan and the big Rose defender then indicated to his bench that he too was now struggling. With 70 minutes gone, a Currie free kick found the head of McGachie in the Talbot box and there were half hearted claims for handball as Talbot cleared and right after this, Talbot replaced Boyd with Andrew Heaney. On 74 minutes, there were loud claims again from Bonnyrigg for a spot kick as Barrett saw a cross turned behind by Stafford but referee Hardie wasn’t interested, and Rose manager Robbie Horn strongly pleaded his case with the fourth official but to no avail. Wilson was really struggling with cramp for Bonnyrigg and required some treatment but it was Talbot who made the next change and the last thing a tiring Rose defence needed to see was a player with the pace of Jamie Glasgow taking the field for Shankland. Gray found Connolly on the edge of the Talbot box but his left foot drive was blocked before a foul on Samson gave Healy the chance to look for Boylan in the Bonnyrigg area and eventually Wilson had to head behind for a Talbot corner which didn’t come to anything. Seven minutes from time, a superb crossfield pass from Hunter reached McGachie who drove strongly forward but once again McPherson was the covering defender for the Ayrshire side. Bonnyrigg were trying to press now and Young got the ball to McGachie inside the Talbot box and he held the play up before laying the ball back into the path of Young but the 20 yard drive raged a yard over the bar. Talbot keeper Leishman carried a Brett back post cross over his own goal line with three minutes remaining to concede a corner but Currie’s set piece was hooked away and resulted in a foot race between Gray and Glasgow and as the Rose midfielder tried to get the ball back to his keeper, Glasgow pounced on the short pass and raced to the edge of the Bonnyrigg box before calmly rounding keeper Andrews and rolling the ball into the empty net from sixteen yards to send the travelling Talbot fans into raptures. A minute from time, Talbot replaced Healy with Robbie McCracken but Auchinleck were able to comfortably see out the three minutes of stoppage time to deservedly lift the South Challenge Cup after an excellent come from behind victory for Tommy Sloans men, who now have the Junior Cup Final to look forward to. For Bonnyrigg, a disappointing result on the day and perhaps just one game too far, but the club can now look forward to SPFL football after the most momentous season in their history, but they will firstly be enjoying a well deserved break.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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