SO, things are getting a little more serious in the pursuit of the Pawn Shop Plate as we move into the second round of matches. With the competition now down to 16 teams, this was the last round where fans could claim “I don’t care / this is a pointless cup” after a heavy defeat. It’s not totally clear whether or not some of the participants were taking it very seriously on the Tuesday night either, as several games of high-scoring “suicide football” ensued.
One of the more eye-catching scorelines came in the dreary suburban skidmark of Larbert where squatters Shire faced off against the Fake Diamonds. The Broomfield Fugazis went confidently into the game, having disposed of Hamilton Comicals in the previous round and with a high scoring opening league win on Saturday under their belt. However, the visitors’ form seemed to have evaporated in the fluorescent chemical fog of Grangemouth en route to the game. That, and a bit of frankly ill-advised midfield tinkering, saw the Shire stroll to a remarkably easy 3-0 victory. A feeble and apathetic showing from Ersatz Clydebank left their tiny knot of travelling supporters choking with rage, despite the safety valve of a ferocious foul mouthed cannonade aimed at Shire’s Rhys Devlin having been deployed.
The Miners had the opportunity to restore some kind of personal dignity after their terrible degradation by the Pars at the weekend. Another derby came along in the frankly-not-very-terrifying shape of Gordon Durie’s Methilated Spirits. For several years now, Cowden have held the Indian Sign over generations of cloggers from the Fife coast, and have seen off genuine greats such as Jimmy Bone, Jim Moffat and Dave Baikie from the volcanically hot Bayview manager’s seat. Durie’s rotten side was duly pulled apart with the calculating savagery of a spider dismembering a daddy-long-legs – Kyle Miller’s goal was the meat between Jamie Stevenson’s slices of white bread as the Miners reminded everyone why they were champions of the Second Division last term.
Speaking of spiders, the Gentleman Amateurs hosted Plastic Whistle at Hampden. A game between two maverick and eccentric sides with weak-ish defences was never likely to be dull, and the second and third biggest sides in the city produced an astonishing nine goals between them. The game’s momentum ricocheted between the antagonists like a ping pong ball; first the Spiders, then Thistle took the lead. In the final ten minutes, the First Division side led 3-2 before the football gods sprayed some loony gas over the park. With four minutes left, the Spiders looked like they had pulled their disintegrating web from the fire, Ricky Little handing them a 4-3 lead. Just as the Harry Wraggs jalopy seemed to lurch towards the edge of the cliff, a decisive handbrake turn on the point of disaster saw goals from Stuart Bannigan and Chris Erskine finish off the amateurs 5-4 in a plot so convoluted and twisted, even Roald Dahl would have rejected it.
Faarfir made the short trip to that rusting maroon cold sore on the mouth of Angus, Gayfield Park. This was a game likely to have a little bit of needle in it, with former “local hero” Gavin Swank-wank-wankie returning in whatever nasty, speciously squiggled polyester approximation Pendle have called sky blue this season. But it was the fans of the Red Schichties who were to waddle across the road to Tuttie’s Neuk for yet another XXXXXL-waistband-swelling session after a 3-2 win. Swankie cancelled out Paul Currie’s opener before a double from Darren Gribben (whom PA, Sky and the BBC will insist on calling “Grubben”) put the game beyond Uncle Fester’s side. Another ex-Smokie, Keith “the Shelf Stacker” Gibson pulled one back for the Bridies on the stroke of half time, but after the break, other than an eczemous rash of yellow and red cards, no further scoring was recorded.
Eyebrows were also raised at Cappielow where the Doonhamers put Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory XI to the sword after extra time of a tight game. Michael Tidser had put the First Division side ahead, but Queens equalised in the second half before Nicky Clark popped up with the winner at the end of the first period of extra time. The result was met with an apathetic shrug from “wee Mooro” who had clearly decided that he has bigger fish to fry in the league.
The final Tuesday night games saw hugely expected beatings for the Third Division sides. The Gable Endies, still smarting from their second half landslip at the weekend, headed to face the Pratt Street Boys in the hope of erasing the bad taste of defeat from their mouths. Alas! Stuart Garden’s wretched charges leaked five goals and never looked like seriously challenge the home side, despite Raith keeper David McGurn being sent off and conceding a penalty on the stroke of half time. Brian Graham appeared to enjoy himself the most in poking the sleepy sloths of the Mo back line with a sharp stick, scoring twice in a 5-2 victory.
Down at Galabank, the third seminar in the ongoing serious of practical demonstrations entitled Just How Bad are Annan Agricultural? continued. Tuesday evening’s example was presented by none other than Stenny, with Andy “Texaco” Rogers netting their third and final goal of the evening on the hour. It was a fine display from the Larbert Beetroot Stains and yet another worrying loosening of the rusty nail holding up Harry Cairney’s Stanno jacket to the stippled MDF veneer of the Annan gaffer’s cupboard. Many more results like this and Cairney will surely be obliged to reach for his pearl-handled revolver.
Once Sevco 5088 play the Bairns next week in a game we can’t be arsed waiting for (a re-run of last season’s League Cup humiliation at the Falkirk Stadium), the line up for the quarter-finals will be confirmed. If Elvis “Brown Plastic Shoes” Pressley can navigate his side past the cryogenically frozen Gers, then an intriguing Stirlingshire skirmish – featuring all three points of the Grangemouth-Larbert-Falkirk triangle – looms larger. What price a bare-knuckle bout between two of these three outfits on some wasteground in Skinflats for the final?