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Shott in the arm as captain Boyack seals the biggest surprise of them all

SEASON 2011-2012, the one of shocks: Rangers in melt- down, Celtic lose the Scottish Communities League Cup final, Lionel Messi misses a penalty and Barcelona lose to Chelsea, a German team lose a shoot-out.

John Boyack is lost amid his Shotts team-mates after putting his side 2-0 ahead. Picture: SNS
John Boyack is lost amid his Shotts team-mates after putting his side 2-0 ahead. Picture: SNS

Then, yesterday in Livingston, the biggest shock of all . . . Auchinleck Talbot lose the final of the Emirates Scottish Junior Cup.

This was not supposed to happen, but unfancied Shotts rose splendidly to the occasion to make it two wins from two finals, 54 years apart.

Tony McInally, the winning manager, paid tribute to Talbot, calling them "a top side" and added: "I'm thrilled to bits and cannot speak too-highly of the boys, but we made a great start, our game plan worked and I think we've given Shotts back its pride."

Didn't they just? Certainly, the underdogs showed no sign of nerves with a brisk start, forcing a corner after two minutes, then taking a lead after 10. Shotts played a long free kick down the left, Mark Sideserf's low cross was only half-cleared by Gavin Collins to Stefan McCluskey. The man whose semi-final penalty earned Bon Accord a place in their first final in over half a century jinked past two before firing past Andy Leishman.

The Talbot defence was still in shock mode four minutes later, when John Boyack, the Shotts captain, got the most-subtle of touches to a knee-high Sideserf corner from the right and from eight yards, his shot flashed past Leishman to put the rank outsiders 2-0 up.

Talbot have been here before, though; in 1986 they went 2-0 down to Pollok yet won. Gradually ratcheting up the pressure on the Shotts' goal, they began to seize the initiative. Keir Milliken twice came close; Johnny Murdoch, the Shotts goalkeeper, made a tackle any defender would have been proud of to thwart Bryan Young; then James Latta shot wide of an open goal. Shotts were well-worth their half-time lead, but could they defend it? They certainly did in the third quarter of the tie, slowing play down, frustrating Talbot and defending in depth and with courage. Shotts used all three subs in this spell but they had taken the sting out of Talbot's attacks and the longer the game ran, the less likely an Ayrshire revival seemed.

Then, with just two minutes left, Kyle Faulds threw Talbot a life line when he prodded in a loose ball after Murdoch could only parry a Young shot. The match moved into four minutes of added time and, just as it did so, Young missed a great chance to take it to extra time, shooting over with only Murdoch to beat.

Those four minutes were fraught for what seemed like the entire population of Shotts, sitting in the main stand chewing their nails, but, their heroes held out and for the second time in two finals, separated by over half a century, the trophy was heading for Shotts.

Captain and match-winner Boyack, who was a pre-match injury doubt, said: "I sensed our belief before the game. We got a great start and to score from a set-piece move was a bonus. We worked for this and got our reward."

Victory gives Shotts entry to next season's Scottish senior Cup and Tommy Sloan, the Talbot manager, said: "I think they'll do well there, they were worthy winners today and while I am jealous, I wish them all the best."

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