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Hearts 1 Auchinleck Talbot 0

Jan 9 2012 By Gordon Parks

IT began with fizz bombs and pear drops only to end with soor plooms. But not before a few gobstoppers along the way.

Talbot secretary Henry Dumigan dished out the sweets and it was off to the capital for a Scottish Cup journey Auchinleck will never forget.

Rarely has the Road to Hampden experienced such a mixed bag of emotions.

It was a case of suck it and see how they would cope in SPL company.

As physio Mick McGinn’s general consensus concluded: “A 4-0 defeat would be an acceptable face-saver.”

The biggest day out in the club’s history started at 9.30am as players and committee members boarded
the William Hill bus and departed Beechwood Park.

It was to become an adventure to savour, long before last orders were being called at Tynecastle when
part-time bouncer and Bot keeper Andy Leishman finally waved
Hearts through.

For 84 minutes, getting past the 23-year-old who doubles as a doorman at Madisons nightclub in Ayr proved mission impossible for the Gorgie side.

A bitter end as “Big Shirley” as he’s better known was beaten after the game of his life.

Then to add insult to injury time, Gordon Pope looked to have earned a replay in the final seconds until assistant referee George Drummond wrongly raised his flag for offside.

The former Dundee United kid admitted the decision was a stomach churner. He said: “I ran away celebrating, turned round to see the flag and just felt sick. My heart sank completely.”

It was only half the story of the day a junior outfit jousted with a giant and came within a slide-rule call of claiming a draw.

Gordon Smith’s winner may have spared the boys in maroon’s blushes against a side who had arrived in Edinburgh without even bothering to agree on a bonus payment for the tie.

But their display sparked audible fury from one Jambo fan who roared: “Get a grip Hearts, it’s Auchinleck Talbot you’re playing, not Brazil.”

The biggest indictment came from Pope who claimed the quality gap between part-time players earning peanuts and those being paid thousands wasn’t clear to see.

He said: “I don’t think there was that much of a difference between the teams. Obviously on the ball you could see it.

“But there are a few players who could step up to the SPL in our team and in other junior teams. There’s not much of a gap.

“There are players out there. It’s hard to compare but the English Premier League are taking players from non-league and they’re getting right into the team.

“So it can be done by SPL teams.”

The truth lies somewhere in between and the gulf should have started widening immediately after Arvydas Novikovas made the most of a rare start by winning a 20th-minute penalty.

Debutant Fraser Mullen became the fourth consecutive Hearts player to miss from the spot as Leishman launched himself to his right to turn the youngster’s effort round the post.

A combination of guts, good luck and Leishman’s heroics kept the tie level until six minutes from the end when the keeper came to claim a high ball only to collide with skipper Bryan Slavin and allow the ball to find Smith who slotted home into the corner of the net.

Then, deep in stoppage time, Talbot’s role as the defeated brave underdog became something more unjust.

Television replays showed Pope running from an onside position and beating Jambos keeper Jamie MacDonald with a low shot, only for the celebrations to be called to a halt by referee John Beaton.

The defender made his case for being the victim of rough justice as it robbed his side of a money-spinning replay to add to the £50,000 already in the bag.

Pope said: “I heard them talking about it on the radio, saying it was onside. Obviously I felt it was. The ball was played out, I tried to keep on line and I was in line with Andy Webster when big Ricky Robb played the ball over the top.

“I timed it perfectly and put it in the back of the net.

“When I thought I’d scored, for that second or two I was thinking about the replay at Rugby Park. We were told it might have been on Sky too which would have been more publicity for the club.

“The overriding feeling is one of pride, I think. Everybody is happy with the way we played.

“Obviously we’re all gutted that it wasn’t a draw but, more than that, we’re proud of our display.

“It maybe feels similar to a win in the Junior Cup. Losing 1-0 at Hearts, the third biggest team in Scotland, who would have thought that? Everyone thought they would win by a load of goals. It didn’t happen.

“A draw wouldn’t have been unfair. We thought if we could hold it to half-time, the fans would get on their backs and that was the case.

“It’s just unlucky that an error has cost us the goal, although I thought we could score as they looked
vulnerable at the back.”

Talbot boss Tommy Sloan said: “The display from my players didn’t surprise me as they’ve been brilliant for me over a number of seasons now.

“I knew they would raise their game and we did the junior game proud.

“We’ll move on from this and hopefully enjoy a bit of success at our level and maybe be back on this stage soon.”

Taken from the Daily Record

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