SATURDAY saw Inverurie Locos’ brave efforts to reach the Fourth Round of the William Hill Scottish Cup for the third time in five campaigns sadly drift away on the cold North Sea breeze that whipped across Gayfield, as the gallant Highland League side lost 3-1 to Arbroath in this Third Round replay.
The Inverurie side took to the field in the somewhat unfamiliar combination of white tops, red shorts and white socks, the colours of Spartak Moscow rather than the more appropriate Lokomotiv!
Gaffers Coull and Buchan gave John Maitland a starting berth with Andy Low making way, whilst home boss Sheerin left out Brennan and Malcolm from his Harlaw Park XI, bringing in Hamilton and Robertson.
The Locos were backed by a vocal and very well numbered travelling support pushing the crowd towards the 1200 mark, making it the best attended replay of the day, with the original match drawing the eighth biggest gate in the country.
The Locos started well and were frustrating Arbroath. A Steven Park piledriver from twenty five yards out flew narrowly over and the underdogs were sticking to their gameplan and refusing to be consumed by the magnitude of the prize on offer.
The restlessness of the natives was getting to the home players with misplaced passes being greeted with derision from the Red Lichtie fans. Alas Inverurie’s brilliant containment of their high flying third tier opponents only lasted until eleven minutes from the break when a crisp, clean strike from the four-time Scotland cap Brian Kerr stunned the visitors.
The opening goal was against the run of play and whilst the quality of the strike was undeniable the bagatelle richochet in the build up was crushingly cruel on the Locos. Stuart McKay was inches away from netting an equaliser at the back post. The Inverurie players were still visibly shell-shocked and only two minutes after the opener Derek Holmes was gifted a tap in to double the lead after indecision on the byline.
A half-time two goal deficit was hard to comprehend for the travelling fans and neutrals alike. The third goal was always going to be critical on a big playing surface and in the deceptively fierce wind, tragically for the Locos Stevie Doris was afforded the freedom of Gayfield to pick his spot after cutting in from the right flank just after the restart.
Referee Aitken had only shown one yellow card at Inverurie but was more card-happy in this replay and booked Begg and Park when a firm word could have sufficed.
Unfortunately the referee was also to brandish his red card in 76 minutes and although Neil McLean’s whole-hearted challenge with Paul Currie was of the spicy variety the man in the middle could easily have just booked both players for being slightly reckless.
Not for the first time in the tie the Locos had perhaps been undone by just a wee bit of extra experience and football street-wisdom.
The dream of a tie at Parkhead in the Fourth Round was gone but the Locos never gave up and were rewarded by at least netting the goal of the match, maybe of the round. Scottish Cup specialist Neil Gauld gathered the ball and swivelled to bend a long range shot into the postage stamp corner in 88 minutes.
Scott Begg then smashed another long range effort just over the crossbar as the Loco Works took their leave of the Scottish Cup with heads held high and pride thoroughly intact.
Co-manager Kenny Coull was gracious in defeat and after wishing Arbroath all the best in the next round commented: “Arbroath were really frustrated for the bulk of the first half, although I felt even then they had a little too much quality for us, made more apparent by the bigger playing surface.
“We can do nothing about that first goal after a deflection set-up the lad Kerr. We are hugely proud of the players and of the massive support from Inverurie. It just a step too far.”
The Locos get back to Highland League business this Saturday, November 17, with a trip to Grant Street, Lossiemouth, the scene of two somewhat controversial defeats last term.
The Locos U21 side remain undefeated in the Aberdeenshire League after a pulsating 3-3 draw at Buckie Thistle on Monday. Locos scorers were Gordon, Reid and Christie.
Inverurie Locos: Reid; Michie; McLean; Bain; Park; Broadhurst; Souter (Begg); Stewart; Gauld; McKay (Adams); Maitland (Ross) Subs: Bell; Low