League: William Hill Scottish Cup

Tranent vs Forfar Athletic

It’s frustrating enough when you dominate a game and end up losing.

It’s even worse to dominate against a side in the league above you, and go on to lose.

That was the unfortunate fate for Tranent Juniors in their Scottish Cup Third Round tie at home to League Two side, Forfar Athletic, which saw the away side progress through to the Fourth Round after a 1-0 win.

At a packed Forester’s Park, Tranent looked the more confident side from the first whistle, starting the game with an intensity and energy that meant they dominated the early exchanges.

Captain Sean Murphy set the tone in midfield, leaving a mark on his opposite number early on. That same aggression was seen across the Tranent side who picked up second balls time and again and nullified any Forfar threat.

After 20 minutes, Tranent’s midfield control finally produced some action in the final third; Cammy Ross pulling a shot agonisingly wide before a pull back from Broque Watson was miscleared onto the Forfar crossbar a few minutes later.

After making the Lowland League look easy so far this season and scoring 4 goals against East Kilbride in the previous round of the Scottish Cup, Ross looked a striker full of confidence. His combination of pace and power seemed to preoccupy the Forfar centre backs all afternoon and he was cruelly denied at the end of the first half after his speculative chip from the edge of the box was tipped over the bar.

Despite the first half ending goalless, it seemed only a matter of time before Tranent finally got the breakthrough they deserved.

That breakthrough never came though. Forfar matched Tranent much more effectively from the start of the second half and posed a much greater threat to the Tranent defence than during the previous 45 minutes.

Forfar’s front two were able to finally test Kelby Mason in the Tranent goal and after 65 minutes Forfar centre-back, Matty Allen was on hand at the back post to sweep the ball neatly into the goal following a corner.

There was a palpable sense of surprise, not just amongst the Tranent contingent but also from the Forfar players who couldn’t believe their luck that they were now ahead in a game they really should’ve been chasing.

Forfar certainly did not control the remaining half an hour of the game but the neat, quick football that was seen from Tranent in the first half was now missing. It seemed Forfar were able to control the pace of the game without actually having much of the ball.

The more time the ball spent off the pitch or in the air, the more frustrated the Tranent fans grew.

The final stages of the game saw groans and shouts ring out across Forester’s Park from the Tranent fans who, after watching the first half today, must have thought they’d be in the draw for the Fourth Round. Instead, Forfar saw out the win and their celebrations at full time indicated a real sense of relief, knowing full well that on another day the result could easily have been reversed.

For an ambitious Tranent side who are now to challenging for the top spots of the Lowland League, a performance like this against a side in League Two must be a great source of confidence moving on.

Even if they’re not in the hat for the Fourth round, they’ve proven themselves as a side that would not be out of place in the SPFL.

Ben Marshall