MATCH REPORT: ARTHURLIE 2-3 NEILSTON (AGG:4-4, 3-2 PENS)
ARTHURLIE 2-3 NEILSTON (3-2 on pens)
Scorers: Leyden (41), Carroll (90+3)
AT the end of an enthralling 90 minutes on Friday night at Dunterlie, the Kenny Hay Memorial Trophy was decided on penalties following an incredible finish to the game.
A stoppage time Gary Carroll goal levelled the scores on aggregate before Garry Black proved the hero for Arthurlie in the shout-out with three excellent saves.
The match itself had not been an enjoyable one for the home side, Neilston proving the better team for the majority of proceedings before the late drama.
With a string of players missing from the starting lineup, Andy McFadyen’s squad was further depleted after only a quarter hour when trialist Lewis McGee seemed to twist his knee and pulled up abruptly before being replaced by Kyle McLachlan.
There were more problems five minutes later when Alan Dunsmore was forced off the park after a knock to the head, but after a lengthy period of treatment he was able to return to the action having had the wound dressed with a bandage.
Neilston had dominated the opening half hour and they came close to opening the scoring on 31 minutes when Olly Smith’s curling free kick from the left eluded all-comers and went narrowly past the post.
Four minutes later Smith was involved again as the visitors did take the lead, his low ball across goal being diverted into the net by Kieron Maxwell.
On 40 minutes Neilston were reduced to 10 men when Peter Haggarty was red carded having appeared to say a little too much to the referee.
The home side immediately took advantage to level the scores, Jordan Leyden rifling in an unstoppable left footer into the top left corner.
Despite being a man short, the away side came flying out the blocks after half-time and Maxwell hit the bar from a Dom Reilly cross only a few minutes after the restart.
And on 51 minutes they took the lead again, Darren Kennedy scoring with a low shot to Black’s right hand side.
With an hour of the game gone that lead was doubled with a stunning strike, Darren Jones cracking a half-volley high into the net from the edge of the box.
Arthurlie were struggling to make an impact on the game but should probably have pulled a goal back on 67 minutes when Sean Ross could only head back across goal following a great cross from David Mackay.
Six minutes later Leyden nearly grabbed his second but his free kick from 25 yards was tipped on to the bar by James Digney.
Shortly after, McLachlan was the next to come close, with his header being cleared off the line.
With the clock getting closer to 90 minutes, Carroll saw a header saved by Digney and Leyden then put an effort narrowly over with the goal seemingly at his mercy.
But in the third minute of injury time ‘Lie finally found the goal that would take the tie to penalties, Mick MacNeil crossing for Carroll to head home from close range, making it 3-2 on the night and 4-4 on aggregate.
And in the shoot-out, ‘Lie were on top from the start, Kennedy and a trialist having their kicks saved by Black and Carroll converting before Aaron Healy hit the bar.
Smith levelled it for Neilston, but Leyden restored the home side’s advantage before Euan Smith and Liam Motherwell scored for each side to make it 3-2.
With Neilston needing to net their fifth kick, Black proved unbeatable again, diving to his right to stop the shot and claim the trophy for the Barrhead team.
Arthurlie team: Black, Dunsmore, Mackay (A.Catlow 70), McGee (McLachlan 15), MacNeil, Healy, Carroll (c), Leyden, Simeon (Motherwell 81), Ross (J.Catlow 84), Warnock (McGarry)
Subs not used: McGaughey, Scott (GK)