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Glasgow University's Men’s Football team suffered a devastating 2-1 defeat to Linlithgow Rose in the second preliminary round of the Scottish Cup.

In the halcyon days before the Scottish Cup and all other football beneath Scotland’s top two men’s divisions were suspended, Glasgow University’s men’s team began their Scottish Cup journey for another year on 13 December. Phil Storrie, head coach of the UofG’s Men’s Football first team, spoke to The Glasgow Guardian about their Scottish Cup record before the game; he spoke of games where the University team had competed hard against seemingly superior opponents but frequently came up short. Unfortunately, he would’ve been able to say exactly the same if asked prior to their Scottish Cup game next season as his side were knocked out in the second preliminary round of the Scottish Cup. They suffered a 2-1 defeat by East of Scotland Premier League side Linlithgow Rose at Glasgow’s home ground, the Penny Cars Stadium. 

The opening exchanges suggested the University side could be in for a tough afternoon, as they looked likely to be overpowered in the midfield by Linlithgow. It was no surprise when the first chance fell the way of the visitors as Aiden Wilson played through Jay Sandison, but his close-range shot was tame and goalkeeper Ben Fulton saved easily. Following this, the University side managed to settle by dropping deep in an organised fashion which prevented Linlithgow Rose from penetrating. Massive credit has to go to the University’s midfield three Lewis Gourlay, Calum Davidson, and John MacKinnon for their work preventing the Linlithgow midfield getting on the ball, particularly the dangerous Kyle Wilson.

The strategy of the University side required pace on the counter-attack and they had that in abundance through Jonny Baxter on the right-wing, who was a constant thorn in the side of the Linlithgow defence. However, the University side’s first big chance came down the other side, about halfway through the first half, when captain Robbie Smith dinked a ball through for striker Donald Thomson, who failed to find sufficient elevation on his chipped shot to get the ball above Brian Schwake in the Linlithgow goal. More chances were to come, as a rapid counter from Baxter saw him win a foul 25 yards out and Keelan Adams stepped up to curl a superb free-kick but his strike cannoned off the post. It was no surprise when the University team opened the scoring through an attacking transition. Gourlay, who had a strong game breaking up play in front of the defence, won a loose ball in the midfield and found Davidson between the lines. He subsequently threaded a slide-rule pass through to the menace that was Baxter and, amidst roars for offside from Linlithgow, he slotted the ball past Schwake with his right foot to give the University side a shock lead on the 35th minute. 

The disruptive ability of the University team was very impressive as they prevented Wilson, who Linlithgow wanted to tie their attacks together, from picking up the ball. If Linlithgow managed to penetrate the Glasgow midfield then one of the Granger’s, either Scott or Colin, at centre back was quick to step in and deprive him of possession. The frustration they brought about in Linlithgow’s lynchpin was demonstrated towards the end of the half, as he picked up the ball on the inside right only for Smith to immediately snap into the challenge and dispossess him. Wilson could not find an explanation for the intensity of the opposition, he shrugged his arms, perhaps desperately seeking to scapegoat his teammates. Almost as soon as he had finished his shrug the ball broke back to him and for once he had time to turn and pick a pass, but such was the frustration which the Glasgow side had caused; he chose to take on an audacious shot from 25 yards and it went well clear of Fulton’s bar. 

It is a credit to the University side that they forced Linlithgow into changing things up at half-time as they switched to a back four and, more importantly, introduced star striker Tommy Coyne, who has scored more than 300 goals during his time at Linlithgow. It is hard to overstate the impact of Coyne in the second half, Linlithgow got forward with far greater urgency due to Coyne offering a focal point which was missing in the first half. But Coyne’s main attribute has always been his goalscoring and, sadly for the hosts, he demonstrated his class in this regard on Sunday afternoon. In the 60th minute then a free-kick into the box was cleared poorly by the University side and the ball fell for Coyne on the edge of the box, a swift touch and hit from him saw the ball rocket past Fulton into the Glasgow net. From there on it was a difficult task for the Glasgow side under horrendous conditions. Linlithgow had Coyne to tie everything together, Glasgow was struggling to exit their own half. The writing appeared to be on the wall for the Glasgow outfit when suddenly Davidson intercepted a slack pass from Linlithgow Rose, again showing terrific composure to instigate a move which released Adams down the right. His drilled ball across goal almost found his on-running teammate but Schwake was out quickly to disrupt. Five minutes later, in the 86th minute, and it was heartbreak for the University side. Their dream of a Boxing Day trip to face Brechin City in the first round of the Scottish Cup was obliterated in devastating fashion when a lay off from Kyle Wilson set up Coyne for a 20-yard volley; he lashed it into the net with his right foot in a way few, if any, on the pitch could have done. Pre-game then both Storrier and Smith both sought to complement their squad’s overall consistency and solidity, with no outstanding talisman in the University outfit. Their dependability all over the pitch was undoubtedly shown in this game, but one must wonder what Storrier would give to have a player like Coyne in his line up, someone who can raise the game of everyone around them and come up with moments of magic that instantly change games. That type of player certainly decided this game.


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