Keith 1 Darvel 2: Maroons exit Scottish Cup to Ayrshire outfit
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KEITH exited the Scottish Cup in the first round on Saturday after losing 2-1 against West of Scotland Premier League outfit Darvel at Kynoch Park, writes Charlie Simpson.
After going 2-0 down in the opening 13 minutes, Keith couldn’t quite come back to force a replay against a strong opposition.
While this was Darvel’s Scottish Cup debut – it was Keith’s 67th appearance in the competition for comparison – the Ayrshire side have plenty of financial backing and a host of ex-SPFL players in their ranks – including former Ross County midfielder Ian McShane.
Despite trailing early, a battling second half display saw the Maroons peg a goal back from the penalty spot. Had Lady Luck smiled a bit better on Keith, they would have been awarded what most thought was a stonewall penalty in the second half which would have seen the culprit receive a second yellow card.
The Maroons were threadbare yet again, with six players missing through either injury or unavailability.
The home side were on the back foot within seven minutes when Craig Reid gave away a penalty. He got up and brilliantly parried Darren Miller’s spot kick, but with the home rearguard caught napping, Miller pounced to rifle home the loose ball for 1-0.
Six minutes later another superb Reid stop went unrewarded, his defence in dreamland once again, as Allan McKenzie reacted to slam the loose ball into the net.
The cause was hit further with 20 minutes gone, young loanee Connor Grant being forced to limp off with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
Reid kept his team in the hunt with a string of fine saves.
The Maroons set their stall out in the second half, and within seven minutes pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after striker “Shamack” Nawrocki was upended inside the area. The number 10 duly rattled home the award for his sixth goal of the season.
Then on the hour mark, the homesters thought they had been given the opportunity to draw level when Nawrocki was sent sprawling once again, but the match officials deemed there was no foul.
It was end-to-end action after that with Reid excelling with several more fine saves. If truth be known, nobody would have begrudged the Maroons a second bite at the cherry.
Keith manager Craig Ewen said: “Darvel came out all guns blazing and we were on the back foot for the first 20 minutes.
“They started sharply and, to be honest, without some good saves and fortune it could have been worse in the first 25 minutes or so.
“But from then on we got a foothold. We kept them to 2-0 at halftime and second half we were quite decent without creating lots of chances.
“We felt we should have had a second penalty, which would have led to a red card. That could have been 2-2 with 25 minutes to go against ten men.
“The decision didn’t go our way but the second half was much better.
“We were under no illusions as to how good they are. They are very well supported financially and had a splattering of players with League One and League Two experience throughout their team, so it was a very big task."