Wednesday 24 May 2017, 19.00, Olivebank
Semi-final of the Fife and Lothians Cup between Musselburgh Athletic and Tranent Juniors.
Our sixth look at Musselburgh of the season and the semi-final is their first game since they were relegated by a last minute goal the previous Saturday. When we saw Musselburgh win at Bonnyrigg on 8 May, they looked more than capable of getting one win from their last three games to guarantee survival. Two games later, we saw a very different performance from them when losing at Linlithgow. Having already lost the game inbetween, other results meant that a point at Jeanfield Swifts in their last game would have ensured their safety. Jeanfield’s late goal preserved their own Superleague place and sent Burgh down instead.
Their cup form has been very different from their league form, producing a level of consistency in these games which also saw them still in the East of Scotland Cup, where they would play Jeanfield, again, in the quarter final.
To reach the semi, Burgh had beaten Dundonald Bluebell and Blackburn United.
It’s the first time since pre-season that we have seen East Premier League side Tranent Juniors. They finished the season in fourth place after Kenny Rafferty and Darren Smith become Joint Managers in February.
While the fourth placed finish was commendable, it’s been the cups which had defined Tranent’s season. As well as the semi of the Fife and Lothians, they were also already in the final of the East of Scotland Cup.
Tranent knocked out Newburgh Juniors, Dalkeith Thistle on penalties and Superleague Kelty Hearts to reach the semi-final.
There was a bumper crowd in attendance of around 400 for what was effectively a local derby. This included Cowdenbeath’s former Burgh striker Kris Renton, Broxburn’s Grant Gavin and Preston Athletic physio Jimmy Hadden.
There was a minute’s silence before the game to honour those caught up in the terror attack in Manchester.
A long kick out by Renton in 9 minutes was only half cleared by the Tranent defence and Murray shot at goal. The ball was deflected slightly and Pucko spilled the shot, but managed to recover to gather it.
In the following minute a long ball by Tranent was misjudged by Lynch and Fisher ran in behind the defence, but he didn’t connect properly and Renton saved.
There was a chance for Kayne Paterson in the Burgh box in 14 minutes, but a heavy touch gave Hogg the opportunity to clear.
Ralton played a ball through for Moffat in 17 minutes and he ran in on the Tranent goal. He lifted the ball over Pucko who got a hand to it, but couldn’t prevent it from going in and Musselburgh were ahead.
A minute later some nice work down the left by Wojtowycz saw him exchange passes with Kayne Paterson before he crossed low into the Burgh box. The ball was blocked by Renton, but Fisher reacted quickly and fired the ball high into the net for a quickfire equaliser.
In 20 minutes Ralton was through for Musselburgh and rounded Pucko, but the flag was up for offside.
It was fast and furious stuff and very much end to end at this stage.
A ball over the top of the home defence by Jamie Paterson in 30 minutes saw Kayne Paterson running away from Hogg, but he couldn’t get his shot on target as he hit it over the bar.
With 39 minutes gone, Murphy played the ball back to Ralton who hit a well struck shot at the Tranent goal from 22 yards, which went just over the bar.
Murphy almost burst through the Tranent defence in 41 minutes, but a good tackle by Todd halted his progress.
There was a moment of confusion just before the break when a Musselburgh attack was stopped by the linesman’s flag and the referee blowing for offside. The ball had actually been played back by a tackle from Todd. The ref realised his mistake and ordered a bounce up. Burgh were very charitable in playing the ball back to Pucko as they had been on the attack and in possession.
The teams were level at the break and it was noticeable that Burgh seemed a little nervous and lacking in confidence. There had been a number of misplaced passes by both teams with Burgh’s O’Kane a particular culprit.
Three minutes into the second half a chip forward by Burgh saw Murray have a chance, but Pucko blocked.
A speculative effort by Moffat in 49 minutes caught on Pucko, but the ball went just over the Tranent bar.
In 50 minutes Kayne Paterson ran clear of the Burgh defence, but Renton got a hand to his shot and the defence cleared.
Jamie Paterson played a good ball to Hawkins on the right in 55 minutes, but his cross was too high for Kayne Paterson in the middle.
A passback in 56 minutes by Kerr was miscontrolled by Pucko and he only just managed to get the ball from Burgh’s Murphy.
Tranent’s Miller required treatment in 57 minutes. He returned a couple of minutes later limping heavily.
Wojtowycz crossed into the Burgh box in 61 minutes and Hawkins knocked the ball down for Kayne Paterson who lashed the ball into the net on the half volley to put Tranent in front.
Miller succumbed to his injury in 62 minutes.
Tranent’s Jamie Paterson was booked in 63 minutes for a late tackle.
A through ball by Burgh in 66 minutes saw Moffat running into the box, but Pucko was out very quickly to smother at his feet.
After a poor Burgh corner, a local opined that “he couldn’t cross his fucking eyes.”
A fabulous cross from wide left by Waters in 70 minutes picked out the head of Kayne Paterson in the middle, but his header rattled the post.
Ralton made some space for himself in 73 minutes and struck for goal from 22 yards, but dragged it wide of the Tranent goal.
In 75 minutes, Murray played a clever ball to McKenzie on the left side of the box, but Pucko managed to save with his foot.
Fiddler was booked for Tranent in 83 minutes for a late tackle.
Musselburgh were having lots of possession, but had no penetration as the Tranent defence held firm and it was looking like they would hold on.
With three minutes left, Murray picked up the ball on the right from a Hogg pass and sent a cross into the Tranent box which found King who volleyed home from close range to tie the score.
In injury time Smith chipped the ball into the Burgh box for Murray, but the defence recovered well to clear.
So to penalties.
Musselburgh were first to go and King, Murray, O’Kane and Moffat all scored. For Tranent, Kayne Paterson, Murray, Smith and Wojtowycz were all successful.
Lynch stepped up to take Burgh’s fifth but put the ball over the bar.
Fiddler had the chance to win it for Tranent and it couldn’t have helped that he had to respot the ball before taking it, but he slotted it home to put Tranent through to the final.
Fiddler was engulfed by his team mates as they celebrated.
An entertaining game and a great win for Tranent who fought for everything. Burgh showed great resilience to fight back, but it wasn’t to be their day.
For Burgh, Murray and Moffat played well and despite a poor first half, O’Kane was excellent in the second period. He must have had some half time orange. For Tranent, Fisher and Kayne Paterson caused problems up front for the Burgh defence all evening and Todd was the best of an impressive defence.
Tranent would face the winners of the tie between Bo’ness United and Broxburn Athletic who were due to play in the other semi.
Full Time: Musselburgh Athletic 2 Tranent Juniors 2
Musselburgh Athletic: 1 Kieron Renton, 5 Barry Hogg, 3 Matty Lynch, 2 John McManus, 16 Jack Gillan (King 57), 6 Declan O’Kane, 8 Gary Cherrie (McKenzie 69), 7 Sean Murphy, 14 Michael Moffat, 17 Ewan Ralton, 9 Keith Murray. Subs: 10 Mathu King, 16 David Porcher, 14 David Dunn, 18 David McKenzie.
Tranent Juniors: 1 Craig Pucko, 2 Eck Christie, 4 Jamie Todd, 5 Guy Kerr, 3 Craig Wojtowycz, 7 Ben Miller (Fiddler 62), 8 Lewis Hawkins, 6 Jamie Paterson (Smith 67), 11 Thomas Waters, 10 Kayne Paterson, 9 Kenny Fisher (Murray 71). Subs: 12 Darren Smith, 14 Joe Murray, 15 Stephen Manson, 16 Lloyd Fiddler, 17 Neil Smeaton.
Referee: George Calder.
Programme: Team sheet free with admission.