Forth Wanderers 2 Cumbernauld United 5
The Wanderers welcomed Cumbernauld United to Kingshill in the 1st Round of the West of Scotland Cup this afternoon and after half an hour it looked to be a stroll in the park for the visitors as they raced into a 3-0 lead. However, Forth are nothing if not resilient these days and proceeded to give United a far stiffer test than they had likely envisaged before finally succumbing by 5 goals to 2, a final scoreline which slightly flattered the visitors.
Forth made several changes to their starting 11, giving starts to several players who had struggled for game time recently, including a welcome return for goalkeeper Paul McKane after his recent health scare. However, it was the visitors who started the stronger and McKane had to look lively after only 3 minutes, getting down well at the feet of the onrushing striker to prevent a likely goal. United came close again on 7 minutes, Scott Cumming rising unchallenged to head a free kick over the bar and it was no real surprise when they took the lead two minutes later. A long ball evaded the Forth defence and Dylan McGuigan gathered the ball and ran through to finish with aplomb.
The Wanderers first chance of note came after 11 minutes when Warren Grenfell found John Watson in space but the ball wouldn’t fall kindly for the midfielder and he dragged his shot wide. At the other end McGuigan shot over before their pressure paid off and Cumbernauld extended their lead on 14 minutes. Stephen Mullen found Michael McLaughlin on the left and his cross was swept home at the near post by Dale Clark. It was all Cumbernauld at this stage and Clark shot narrowly wide as they pressed for a third which duly arrived after 30 minutes, when Clark notched his second heading home a pinpoint cross from his namesake Alan. It could have been worse for Forth a minute later when McGuigan played in Mullen but McKane raced from his goal to block with his feet.
There looked no way back for the Wanderers at this point but they secured a lifeline when they reduced the deficit after 36 minutes. A good ball found Marc Howson advancing on goal but when his initial shot was blocked by keeper Barry Fraser, Howson crossed the rebound to the back post where Declan Walker stooped to head home. A goal from nothing but it seemed to rejuvenate Forth and when they pulled another back on 40 minutes, an unlikely comeback looked on. There looked little danger when a long ball found Martin Hannaway 25 yards out, but as the ball fell he volleyed it over Fraser and into the net for a fantastic goal to make it 3-2 at the interval.
Cumbernauld created the first chance of the second half on 49 minutes when only a fine McKane save denied McGuigan. Forth had began the half brightly though as they went in search of an equaliser and spurned two great opportunities to level things up within five minutes of each other. Hannaway found himself one on one with Fraser after 57 minutes but the keeper pulled off a fine stop to keep his side ahead and the big striker blasted another effort over the bar when sent clear 5 minutes later.
The visitors appeared to have weathered the storm and almost increased their lead after 65 minutes when a McLaughlin shot looked to be heading into the top corner until McKane somehow got his fingers to the ball and turned it over the bar for what was a tremendous save. Forth had another scare on 71 minutes when a powerful free kick from Kieran Brown cannoned off the inside of the post and out for a throw in with McKane beaten.
The visitors were in the ascendancy again and Mullen should have done better than screw his shot wide from a good position after 76 minutes before Stephen McDonald made it 4-2 with a fine individual goal after 80 minutes. Forth didn’t throw in the towel and came close to again reducing the deficit four minutes later when good play by Grenfell setup substitute Taylor Scott who rounded Fraser before hitting the post with his shot. Stephen Tait then had a free kick saved by Fraser at the second attempt and this proved to be the Wanderers final chance of the game. Scott McHaffie completed the scoring for Cumbernauld with a minute remaining to make it 5-2 at the final whistle.
All in all a decent Wanderers performance against a Super 1st team and one which shows the depth of squad being assembled by the management team. Back to the league next week when Port Glasgow are the visitors, with Forth hoping to continue their unbeaten start to the league campaign.
Forth team : McKane,S.Tait,Ward(Scott),McMullen,L.Tait,Hardie,Howson(Lafferty),Watson,