Forth 1 Dufftown 0
Forth progressed to the 2nd round of the Scottish Junior Cup by the narrowest of margins, a first half Chris Lennon wonder strike the difference between the sides at Kingshill Park this afternoon. Forth dominated the opening period but the Tooners possessed a far greater threat after the break and it took three excellent saves from Paul Smith in the Wanderers goal to deny Scott Johnston and see Forth through.
The Wanderers welcomed back Jordan Smith in defence and gave a first start to full back Andrew Cockrell, as they began another Scottish cup campaign and wasted no time in taking the game to their North league opponents forcing a corner in the opening minute. The ball in from the left was headed on to David Grant but he couldn’t steer his header on target and the ball flew wide. A minute later a good Forth move ended with Tony Traynor shooting into the side net as the Wanderers continued to press.
The visitors first chance came on 9 minutes when they won a free kick on the edge of the Wanderers box, but Kevin Pirie fired narrowly high and wide. Pirie was again involved five minutes later, but his final shot failed to trouble Paul Smith in the Forth goal.
Then, after 18 minutes the Wanderers took the lead. There looked little danger as Chris Lennon cut across the park, evading several challenges on the way, but he then turned and fired an unstoppable 30 yard shot past Sean McIntosh in the Dufftown goal. A fantastic strike which even Manuel Neuer wouldn’t have got a sniff of !
The goal seemed to galvanise Forth and they almost went further ahead three minutes later when,after a good passing move, Martin Harty couldn’t get a clean connection on his shot and the ball flew over. At the other end, Scott Johnston broke away and after his first shot was blocked by David Grant, he chipped the rebound on to the head of Dale Wood who could only head weakly into the arms of keeper Smith.
Robbie Brown then tried a speculative effort from around 30 yards which flew over before McIntosh saved comfortably from Tony Traynor and Chris McGroarty in quick succession. Forth were looking likely to add to their lead and came close on 37 minutes when Jordan Smith met a McGroarty corner at the back post but his powerful header was just too high. A long Dean McLean free kick then found David Grant but his header was held on the line by McIntosh.
It was one way traffic at this stage as Forth sought to increase their advantage and only a fine save from McIntosh denied Lennon a second after Martin Harty had played him in. As half time approached, Lennon burst into the Dufftown box and appeared to be impeded but instead of awarding a penalty the whistler booked the Forth man for a dive.
So, 1-0 it was at half time and those in attendance were left to ponder whether Forth would have cause to rue their missed opportunities come full time.
Dufftown made a far brighter start to the second half and James Grant signalled their intent with 47 minutes on the clock, firing over from distance. For Forth, Chris Lennon had the measure of his marker and was causing the visiting defence all sorts of problems and on three separate occasions there were no takers for his dangerous crosses into the box.
However, it was Dufftown who were in the ascendancy and they seemed to have shaken off their inhibitions exhibited in the first half. Finlay Robertson shot wide on 53 minutes before striker Scott Johnston was denied on three separate occasions by in form Forth stopper Paul Smith. Firstly, after 68 minutes, Smith did well to block a Johnston shot with his feet before acrobatically turning over a header from the Toonsers striker on 72 minutes. A minute later he got down well to his left to turn another Johnston shot away for a corner, causing the Dufftown man to beat the ground in frustration.
Although Dufftown continued to press, the Forth defence, superbly marshalled by Jordan Smith, held firm and as the game drew to a conclusion it was the Kingshill men who were now on the offensive, McIntosh saving from Traynor and Lennon shooting wide. Ian Harty had the chance to wrap things up after 85 minutes when a Barry Canning cross picked him out, but McIntosh somehow managed to keep out the Forth strikers header and saved from the same player in the final minute.
The final whistle was met with audible sighs of relief from the Forth support and although Dufftown will feel their second half display merited a replay, the Wanderers can point to a first half which should have seen them out of sight.
We wish Dufftown continued success with their league campaign which has seen them win their first five matches and who knows, perhaps we will renew our rivalry some time in the future.
Forth team : Smith,Cockrell(Howson),McLean,Grant,Smith,Brown,Traynor,McGroarty(Canning),