Stenhousemuir 3 Waterford 2: Warriors win cup cracker in Tunnock’s tournament
Stenny left it late to secure themselves a place in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals on Friday night, with a 94th minute winner from Mark McGuigan breaking Waterford hearts.
It was a dramatic ending to a pulsating night under the lights at Ochilview, with the BBC Alba cameras capturing a cup cracker.
McGuigan’s winner was the fional act in the drama, but Scott McLaughlin played a starring role with a stunning free-kick to open the scoring for the Warriors, and draw them level, before the game ebbed and flowed further.
The first ten minutes were cagey, with the first breakthrough coming on 11 minutes, as Stenny’s Chris O’Neil whipped in a great ball from the right. Mark McGuigan nipped between the two defenders and met the cross with the header, but the ball agonisingly crashed against the top of the crossbar.
The game’s cageyness continued, but out of nowhere, Waterford took the lead on 23 minutes thanks to a sizzling strike from Will Fitzgerald. Waterford’s Cory Galvin broke into the box and looked to bring the ball onto his left foot, the tackle from O’Neil broke for Fitzgerald on the edge of the box, and he fired the ball into the far-right bottom corner.
Stenny reacted well to going behind, and were causing problems of their own three minutes later, as David Marsh headed a corner kick back across goal, and a goal-line clearance from Waterford captain, Rory Feely prevented McGuigan from capitalising.
But Stenny got their equaliser soon after, winning a free-kick on the edge of the box.
Of all people it was Scott McLaughlin who would take the freekick, and it was a miraculous effort from the Stenny right-back, as the ball was beautifully flighted up and over the wall, crossing the line off the underside of the bar. Stenny should’ve taken the lead just before half-time, as the corner kick was headed back across goal once again by David Marsh. This time it was on a plate for Connor McBride, whose header from close range was blazed over the bar.
But Waterford weren’t out of the picture, as in the last action of the half, Galvin and Fitzgerald played a nice one-two before Galvin hit a great curling strike on the edge of the box, cracking off the right-hand post, a warning shot for the Warriors.
The second half begun much like the first, little to talk about in front of goal, until just after the hour mark, when Alan Cook stole possession from Feely, he then slipped Hopkirk through on the right side of the box. And Stenny’s number ten fired the ball past Martin to give Stenny the lead.
Despite the Warriors’ dominance, Waterford levelled on 73 minutes as substitute, Jonathan Lunney flighted a freekick into the penalty area, combining with fellow substitute, Michael O’Connor, whose header beat Smith at his far post and get Waterford right back in the tie.
It seemed as if this game was a certain for penalties, but not if Mark McGuigan had anything to do about it. Wullie Gibson won it back from Galvin, he found Ryan Watters on the edge of the box, whose strike was parried by Martin between the sticks. McGuigan pounced, poking the ball home from six yards, giving the Warriors their place in the Challenge Cup semi-finals.