Merpro progress to Mackie Cup semi-final

Merpro’s continuing good form was maintained at the weekend with a fine 4-3 victory over Barnhill to set themselves up with a Buckman Mackie Cup semi-final.

They got off to a poor start conceding a goal in the first minute after Bisset curled a shot into the net in the first attack of the match.

Merpro then immediately created a good opening from a Bruce cross falling for Duff but he somehow pulled his close range effort wide.

The fast opening continued as Merpro equalised after Euan Duff picked up a loose clearance to control a low 22 yard shot into the net for 1-1.

The match finally settled for a spell until Rausch created himself an opening dribbling inside to fire in a curled 20 yard shot well turned round the post by the keeper in 14 minutes.

From Rausch’s resultant corner kick Aaron Stephen rose highest to power in a 10 yard header high into the net for 2-1.

This was the youngster’s third goal in three games.

Barnhill had only briefly threatened but should have equalised when McWilliam broke through but fired high over the bar in 20 minutes.

Merpro then had another couple of openings when Whyte set up Rausch in front of goal but was denied by the keeper with a follow-up header from Bruce going over the bar in 28 minutes.

A few minutes later a lofted Whyte cross-shot just went over the bar.

Whyte was in the centre of the action after the normally mild mannered player took angry exception to a late tackle.

A few minutes later Merpro lost Bruce after a flailing arm caused a deep forehead gash necessitating first aid and minor injury treatment.

Second half Merpro started strong with Stephen making a foraging run to fire in a low shot parried by the GK with Rausch’s follow up effort saved at the post in 48 minutes.

Turriff then set up Duff with a deft pass but he fired wide in 52 minutes.

Barnhill began to raise their game and a series of corner kicks caused pressure.

They did equalise after an opportunistic 30 yard dipping effort flew into the net for 2-2 in 55 minutes.

Merpro quickly re-established their lead when Craig Allan made space for himself on the edge of the box to superbly loft a driven shot into the top of the net over a despairing goalie in 58 minutes for 3-2.

Barnhill almost immediately snatched an equalising goal with an impudent shot from Whyte straight from the kick off but Glennie did well to get back to tip over the bar.

Glennie then became busy saving well on a couple of occasions to deny opposition pressure.

Merpro settled and Turriff had a chance to extend the lead but shot hurriedly wide from 12 yards in 70 minutes.

Merpro were pushing to extend their lead and Graeme Allan came close from brother Craig’s cross in 72 minutes.

However the penalty box predator was not to be denied.

Graham did well to hold off a heavyweight challenge to force himself into the box but in the process ‘the Boulder’ lost control of the ball to run free. Graeme Allan, lurking like a fox in the box, gleefully latched onto the ball to score from close range for 4-2 in the 75th minute.

Graham then did well again to cut inside and fire a curling 20 yard effort just wide in 78 minutes.

Merpro then created a couple of good openings when Graham fired high over the bar and a few minutes later also shot wide.

Just as the match looked to be comfortably running out Barnhill clawed a goal back when Thompson hooked a shot into the net after a corner kick in 88th minute.

Merpro should have sealed the match when Rausch and Graham combined well to open up the defence but over elaboration allowed the opportunity to be blocked in 90 minutes.

Injury time caused some anxiety but a last gasp chance for Barnhill went over the bar.