Kelty Hearts 1 - Linlithgow Rose 2 AET, 1-1 after 90 minutes Scorers: Kelty Hearts - Mauchlen (84); Linlithgow Rose - Carrigan (82), Whyte (120) Reports of the death of Scottish Junior football have been exaggerated, judging by the pulsating vigour with which Kelty Hearts and Linlithgow Rose slugged out an engrossing Cup final at East End Park yesterday.

For the first time in more than 30 years, there was no live television coverage but, unperturbed, the clubs were cheered on by a sizable crowd. Alex Salmond, the first minister, positively beamed amongst the throng, and a harassed- sounding MC was forced to announce that the scheduled 3pm start had been delayed by 15 minutes because of traffic congestion resulting in a flood of late arrivals at the ground.

Once the crowd, all 9304 of them, had eventually found their way in and the usual raucous revelry started erupting from the sidelines, the match itself boiled up slowly, but gradually regaled us with a twisty script and dramatic finale worthy of any competition.

Linlithgow, who had already been crowned East Superleague champions, were understandably the favourites in advance, and created the more clear-cut openings as the tussle developed. They also boasted the star man of the proceedings, Brian Carrigan, the former Stockport County and Clyde striker, whose tireless labours were decisive as the contest stretched beyond 90 minutes.

Yet if the day ultimately finished in heartache for the Kelty warriors, who not only missed out on lifting the Junior Cup for the first time in their history, but also relinquished the opportunity to join their conquerors, as well as Pollok and Culter in next year's first-round Scottish Cup draw, they could be proud of the resilience and commitment which they displayed in their struggle.

Indeed, there was scant indication in the early stages that the Fifers were rank underdogs. From the outset, their personnel roared out of the blocks and, bolstered by their aficionados, who whipped up a din reminiscent of a revivalist meeting in the Deep South. The likes of Iain Mauchlen, Lee Bailey and Shaun Graham refused to be overawed and briefly disrupted their rivals' equilibrium. Mauchlen, the son of the former Leicester City stalwart, was a constant menace to the Rose brigade, sniping at those in his path, and whilst his approach owed more to Viz than the Victor, his team applauded his efforts and derived tangible confidence from him.

Unfortunately for Steve Leighton's men, they had to contend on a regular basis with the wiles of Carrigan, the 27-year-old Glaswegian who has been gorging on goals with a Bunteresque appetite in the league this season, and who looked here as if somebody had thrown him the keys to the school tuck shop.

Granted he lined up his first free-kick with all the poise of David Beckham, only to produce a dismal sclaff which might well have embarrassed Victoria, but from that juncture, Carrigan was ubiquitous, chipping, passing and dribbling with the confidence of somebody who knows he is a class apart from the majority of Junior performers.

In the 25th minute, his rasping shot required a smart save from Kelty's goalkeeper, Alan Fleming, before he then carved out a splendid opening which was squandered by Dennis Currie and, as the Linlithgow supporters chanted: "You're Not Singing Anymore", the balance appeared to be shifting.

Nonetheless, their triumphalism was not rewarded with the deadlock being broken. On the contrary, once the players had emerged from the dressing room for the second period, and Leighton replaced Adam Moffat with Scott Lawrie, the manager's charges responded with a renewed surge, which saw John Martin spark panic in the Linlithgow defence, prior to a scrambled clearance temporarily restoring calm.

It didn't last long, however, and the livewire Lawrie almost seized a goal with a tremendous 30-yard drive as the intensity increased amidst a lung-bursting spell of endeavour and close shaves.

One sensed that the result would not be settled without overtime, and yet Linlithgow sensed victory when Carrigan - who else - latched on to Ian MacSween's pass, as the prelude to volleying past the unavailing Fleming in the 82nd minute. But Rose's celebrations proved premature, Kelty, to their immense credit, replying almost immediately when Lawrie's treacherous shot was parried out by Steven Oliver to Mauchlen, who rammed home from short range to level matters at 1-1.

By this point, exhaustion was creeping through the ranks, and before the extra session commenced, several players collapsed onto the turf and lay motionless, as if begging their bosses to withdraw them from the battle. There was also controversy when referee Andrew McWilliam chose not to send off the previously-booked Shaun Graham when he blatantly tripped Carrigan as the latter advanced in search of fresh mischief.

But this was never an x-rated clash in the infamous tradition of past slashers, invariably involving Ayrshiremen. Instead, it was a rollocking cup tie which captivated even neutrals, in which light, it was entirely fitting that Carrigan should stride up in the 120th minute and plant a delightful free-kick on the head of substitute Mark Whyte, who made no mistake in dashing Kelty's aspirations at the death.

The West Lothian section of the stadium went wild. But even they would admit they had been forced to endure a tough passage before enjoying last night's bacchanal.