East Region League Cup, 2nd round: Rosyth 2  Thornton Hibs 2 (Thornton win 4-3 on penalties)

A CONTROVERSIAL goal award was the main talking point at the Fleet Grounds as Rosyth suffered cup heartbreak against Thornton Hibs.

Brian Muirhead’s team were trailing their higher-division opponents thanks to Adam Drummond’s 29th-minute opener when they fell further behind four minutes from the break.

Ricki Cooper, from the goalline, fired a shot towards goal from an acute angle but, although Neil Lawrie cleared before the ball had crossed the line, the referee awarded a goal for Thornton.

However, the hosts bounced back quickly thanks to Tam Hampson’s 17th of the season and, in a superb second-half showing, equalised with five minutes left through Gregg Page.

Before that, Scott Gilfillan – twice – and Barry Sibanda had both hit the woodwork for Rosyth, while Mikey McMillan and Jack Henderson also had good opportunities to bring them back into it.

With no extra-time played, the tie went to penalties and, although Hampson, Stuart Gibb and Craig Anderson converted, MacMillan and Sibanda couldn’t as Drummond, Garry Thomson, Chris Ireland and Shaun Keatings all netted to send Thornton into the quarter-finals.

Muirhead, while conceding his team were second best in the first 45 minutes, was still in disbelief at the award of the visitors’ second, commenting: “It was never a goal.

“The referee was never in the correct position to make the decision. It was a mistake on his part but we needed to accept it, and I thought my guys handled it really well. It was more disbelief that he actually gave it; it was not even remotely close.

“After we went 2-0 down, we decided to play a bit of football. We came in at half-time and the guys were angry with themselves; they’re managing themselves as we’ve drummed into them what we expect.

“In the second half, we came out and annihilated them. We’ve hit the crossbar twice, the post once, missed open goals and had three great chances.

“I think if it goes to extra time, there was only one winner. Our guys looked like they had another 25 minutes of running in them, and they were dead on their feet.”

He added: “It’s sore to be knocked out. The players felt that if they could get past Thornton, they had a good chance to get to the final.

“It shows how far the guys have come.”

East of Scotland League, First Division, Conference A/B: Oakley United 0 Easthouses Lily 1 

SYMPATHY for both sets of players was Oakley United boss Stewart Kenny’s overriding feeling after they fell to Easthouses Lily.

Stevie Barrie’s first-half free kick was enough to separate the sides at Blairwood Park, condemning the hosts to a second successive defeat.

In their inter-conference matches so far, Kenny’s team have won just two of seven – losing the other five – and, while he concedes that record must improve, he said the windy weather ruined Saturday’s encounter.

“It was as poor a game as I’ve seen,” he reflected.

“I felt for the players on both sides; it ruined the game. The ball was out of play more than it was in, so it wasn’t the greatest game for the neutral. The wind was hellish and certainly made for a bad advert for the East of Scotland League.

“It’s hard to analyse. Defences were on top but they got a free kick about the 25-minute mark, it went through the wall and in. A set play was probably the right way to win the game.

“From my point of view, our inter-conference record has been abysmal, and not good enough for what we’re trying to achieve at Oakley.

“It’s up to me to turn it around. I have faith in these guys that we will turn it around but we need to make sure we scrape into a bit of form shortly.”

East of Scotland League, First Division, Conference A/B: Heriot-Watt University 1 Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts 2 

GRANT BROUGH was thrilled with his 10-man Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts team after they roared back from a goal down to win at Heriot-Watt University.

A sixth win in seven outings for the Ballast Bank outfit seemed unlikely as, with 10 minutes to go, they trailed to the students with a man short after Lewis Payne saw red.

However, after switching to a man-for-man system at the back, risk provided reward for Brough as goals from Liam Evans and Gavin Smith sealed victory for his in-form outfit.

They remain second in Conference B, and the Swifts boss commented: “We played the last 30 minutes with 10 men but we had three or four great chances in the first half.

“We could’ve been out of sight in the first 15-20 minutes. They’re a good football side; they train four or five times a week, and their ball retention is good, but we did well and pressed them.

“We went a goal down, went down to 10 men and struggled to get back in it. With 15-20 minutes to go, we made a few changes, and went man for man at the back.

“There was a risk of getting hit on the break but our defence was excellent and gave us the platform to go at them. We got two late goals, which was fantastic.

“We need to keep going and take it one game at a time. If you start to plan too far ahead, that’s when you can start to slip up.”

Lowland League: Dalbeattie Star 0  Kelty Hearts 4

KELTY HEARTS maintained their grip on the Lowland League summit after stretching their unbeaten run to 19 games with victory at Dalbeattie Star.

A double from Nathan Austin, as well as individual strikes from Ross Philp and Dylan Easton, gave Barry Ferguson’s side a win that keeps them six points clear of nearest challengers Bonnyrigg Rose.

Since being knocked out of the William Hill Scottish Cup by Auchinleck Talbot in September, the men in maroon have not lost in league or cup – except for a Fife Cup encounter with Cowdenbeath – and have won 18 of those matches.

With Bonnyrigg having two games in hand, and BSC Glasgow – knocked out of the Scottish Cup by Hibernian on Sunday – 14 points adrift having played three games less, victories are imperative for Kelty as they seek the title and the chance of a tilt at promotion to the SPFL.

Former Greenock Morton and Rotherham United midfielder Michael Tidser, recruited last week after departing League One Falkirk, made his debut but it was another midfielder that set Kelty on their way.

After receiving a pass from Thomas Reilly with his back to goal, Austin laid the ball off for Philp, who latched onto it and sent a fine effort into the far corner of the net.

Stephen Husband tested the reflexes of Star goalkeeper Vinny Parker as Kelty went in search of a second but they survived a penalty appeal from the hosts when Connor Graham went down inside the box under pressure from Tam Scobbie.

A second goal did arrive 20 minutes into the second half when Austin, having been played in by the felled Husband, slotted the ball confidently underneath Parker for his 45th goal of the campaign.

Kelty soon made sure of victory when, after being found by an excellent Tidser pass, Husband squared the ball from the right for Easton, who tucked home from around eight yards.

Austin completed the scoring when he converted from the penalty spot after being hauled to the ground by Ross Thomson.

East of Scotland League, Premier Division: Musselburgh Athletic 3 Crossgates Primrose 0

CROSSGATES PRIMROSE fell to a fourth defeat in five matches as Musselburgh Athletic blew them off course in wind-swept East Lothian.

But, while boss Alan Campbell acknowledged that the conditions were “absolutely horrendous”, he hailed home goalkeeper Paul Grant.

Campbell commented: “I thought their keeper was man of the match, which is a strange thing to say after losing 3-0. He pulled a couple of worldies out the bag.

“The conditions were absolutely horrendous but I’m a big believer that, if the pitch is playable and there’s a bit of wind, get the game on.

“I was disappointed to have come off with a 3-0 defeat having played OK at times but we’ve got to get back to it this week. Yes, I’d like us to be more consistent, but this is a topsy-turvy league and we’ve got to realise the standard of league we’re in.”

Saturday’s fixtures (kick-off 2.30pm unless stated): Lowland League – The Spartans v Kelty Hearts (3pm). East of Scotland League, Premier Division – Whitehill Welfare v Crossgates Primrose. King Cup, first round – Hawick Royal Albert United v Oakley United. Second round – Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts v Tynecastle (2pm).