Perthshire side edge thriller

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Merpro exited the Foster’s Scottish Cup for this season on Saturday at the second round stage, after yet another of their thrilling matches provided a dramatic finish.

Primrose elected to play the postponed match in Montrose due to their own pitch continuing to be unplayable due to the heavy rainfall over past couple of weeks.

Auchterarder, currently in their Premier League, have been a mainstay in the Perthshire league for many years and can include tennis major winner Andy Murray as one of their former players.

Primrose had a great opportunity in the first minute to open the scoring after a loose pass allowed an opening, but Gall made a great low save to deny the chance.

Merpro quickly began to dominate with some good pressing play and were rewarded when Bruce set up Craig ALLAN to show some nimble touches to deceive defenders and calmly slot home to make it 1-0 after 10 minutes.

The visitors immediately had an opening to equalise but their winger shot high over the bar.

Merpro could have gone further ahead when Hector set up a perfect sliding through-pass for Houston to run onto but his effort was well saved by the ‘keeper at close range in 15 minutes.

Lownie was next to create an opening, seven minutes later, breaking forward and slipping a pass for Hector to make a good run, beating a defender and drawing out the ‘keeper, but as he went wide he narrowed the angle and his effort hit the side netting.

Merpro were by then well on top and a well-worked free kick from Allan set up Greig. However, his 16-yard shot lacked enough power and the ‘keeper saved comfortably.

Just as it looked likely that Merpro would increase their lead Primrose were allowed back into the match as a series of defensive self-destruction lapses supplied some easy offerings.

A defensive mix-up allowed an easy tap in for the equaliser in 28 minutes.

Almost immediately, a break down the left flank and cross failed to be cleared and was easily slotted home to make it 2-1 in the space of three minutes.

Murdoch did well to clear a rebound shot off the line, with Wood booting to safety as the visitors scented defensive anxiety.

Merpro stabilised and at the other end Murdoch nipped in at the front post to glance a header just wide from a Bruce throw in 34 minutes.

Merpro almost snatched an equaliser when the ball fell for Allan in the box after a stramash of clearances, but his 38-minute effort went just over the bar.

Merpro’s first half came crashing down while Captain Nicol Duff was off the field receiving treatment. Primrose went further ahead after a wing run failed to be cleared and subsequent cross was volleyed home from eight yards with five first-half minutes to play.

And the visitors increased their lead further when more defensive slackness allowed a winger to run through on a long ball pass in the 44th minute.

In a first half they had largely dominated Merpro somehow contrived to shoot themselves in the foot.

Half-time: Primrose 4, Merpro 1.

Merpro came out strongly in the second half and Hector almost broke through but the ‘keeper managed to clear.

Allan had a well placed curling free kick acrobatically saved in 52 minutes.

Merpro’s good opening was almost undone when a loose pass-back was latched onto but great defensive work from Nicol Duff prevented a goal.

After this fright Merpro resumed relentless attacking with Lownie having an acrobatic snap shot blocked following a corner kick.

Merpro’s good play was rewarded with a fine move involving an Allan pass for Whyte to run onto and fire in a perfect low cross for Kevin HECTOR to strike home under pressure from 10 yards in 67 minutes.

Merpro scored again two minutes later when Euan DUFF fired in a dangerous low shot from 18 yards which took a deflection into the net.

Merpro were now swarming over their opponents and Bruce set up a cross across goal for Graham to latch onto but his shot was well blocked.

Bruce set up another chance for Allan but his glancing header was well saved by the ‘keeper with 10 minutes left.

Merpro then had what appeared to be a stonewall penalty, acknowledged after the game, turned down when Lownie was bundled over in the box in 84 minutes.

Primrose, who were rarely seen as an attacking force in the second half, made a quick break and again only excellent defending from Nicol Duff prevented them finishing the match in 86 minutes.

Merpro then snatched the equaliser their second half attacking play deserved when Houston floated in a left flank cross for the rarest of sightings ... Scott Graham outjumped his marker and glanced a looping header into the net from 12 yards to make it four each with only two minutes left on the watch.

But the drama was not over as both sides went for the winner.

As the match drew to a close an innocuous cross into the box was dropped, allowing a galling easy tap-in for the visitors to move into the third round.

Merpro’s defensive lapses proved to be costly but their spirited second-half fightback showed character and their offensive play was good.

Team: Gall, Murdoch, Whyte, Allan, Lownie, N. Duff, Bruce, Greig, E. Duff, Hector, Graham and Houston.

Match Sponsor: R. Coull and Son.

Next match: North of Tay Cup v Abertay University (h), 2pm kick-off.