BOTH Inverurie Locos and Deveronvale were desperate to advance to the Breedon Aggregates Highland League Cup semi-finals after morale-damaging midweek defeats and it was Inverurie Locos who came out on top by 4-1 They will now play Brora Rangers at Harlaw Park on Saturday, April 20.
Neil Gauld was first with a shot which was just too high after a minute, unable to keep his lob on target.
Deveronvale had shown inventive signs and were playing the game at a good tempo but missed a good chance on the half hour.
Graeme Watt set up Craig Morrison on the left, his deflected cross sitting up for Colin Charlesworth but the right winger failed to get his balance right and the opportunity was wasted.
Locos deservedly went ahead in 33 minutes, Andy Reid’s searching free kick from the half way line was there for the rearguard to clear, but John Maitland took up good position in the box, swivelling and striking a fierce left foot strike into the net.
Two minutes into first half injury time the lead was doubled. Low fed on a Neil McLean free kick for Neil Gauld to stab the ball into the corner of the net for his 24th goal of the season.
There was debate about the legitimacy of the third goal. A throw-in near the halfway line was hotly contested. Locos took it, Gauld raced away with the ball before passing to his left for Craig ROSS to steer with confidence into the net
The Banff side felt aggrieved but at three down had their best spell in the match.
In 58 minutes they brought themselves back into the tie, Reid out of his goal punching with insufficient power at the edge of the box. Substitute Robert Morrice collected the ball and fired through a group of players retreating.
Reid made amends with superb saves from Craig Cowie and John Urquhart, while a header from Tom Hutchinson was headed off the line. Clark Bain, Stuart McKay, Ross and Low all went close at the other end.
McConnachie made a succession of saves to keep the score down but was powerless to prevent the fourth. It came right on full time. Gauld accelerated to the left bye line before squaring for John Maitland to side-foot home for his second goal of the game.
INVERURIE LOCOS: Reid, McLean, Forsyth, Bain, Kieran Adams, Park, Ross, Low, Gauld, McKay (Strachan 80), Maitland Subs: Begg, Bagshaw,Young, Gray
DEVERONVALE: McConnachie, Rodger, Kevin Adams (Barclay 68), Hutchison, Hendry, Cowie, Charlesworth., Urquhart, Morrison (P Watt 86), Duncan (Morrice 54) G Watt Subs: Bruce, Macdonald
Man of the Match Neil Gauld gave the Deveronvale defence a thoroughly uncomfortable afternoon with his strong running. He said, “It was very pleasing to get a win for a change, we’ve not been on a great run, our form has been quite poor. The boys battled today, we knew we had to win the game to get into the semi finals.
“The goal I scored came at a good time for me and the team, I didn’t realise it was so late into the first half. To be fair, I thought the third goal was a bit fortunate. It was their throw in but the referee said differently and gave it our way. You have to keep alive. I tried to make the same pass to Craig Ross on Wednesday night and fluffed it so it was good to set him up properly to score this time.
“We now have to keep going in the League to win points as everyone wants to earn their place in the semi final against Brora Rangers. Nobody likes to miss out on Cup action. It is the only chance we have of picking up silverware this season”
It was a very delighted co-boss Kenny Coull who reflected on an afternoon’s proceedings which had gone very well. He said, “At the end of the day we have to be happy with the win and performance which was exceptional. The players worked hard and got their just rewards. We knew from early on in the tie it was going to be end to end, this was a young Vale and a strong Vale so we have to be delighted to get into the semi finals
“They looked dangerous from early on and caused us problems with their pace up front and midfield movement. It took us a while to get to grips with that and when we did I felt there was only going to be one winner.”
The old cliché about goals winning games was certainly true but Coull also felt the timing of the goals was vital. He added, “The second goal coming right on half time was great to go into the dressing room with and the fourth one was good as well to tie up the game perfectly in injury time. But even at three up they got one back due to our defending
“We could have had more goals. Neil Gauld is a top Highland League striker and needs to be doing that more often, he was the difference with his pace and causing trouble. We were certainly creating the chances”
The rest of the month has a different feel to it and Coull emphasised the importance of the day’s result, “It’s a massive day for the club to be getting into the semi finals. Inverurie Loco Works FC should be in these positions. We also have to do what we can in the League and show a bit of pride in our play”