Shotts and Benburb sweat over Emirates Cup bust-up

Emirates Scottish Cup holders Shotts and vanquished fourth-round opponents Benburb could find themselves in hot water with SJFA beaks following a fracas at the end of their Hannah Park clash last Saturday.

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Tony McInally was ordered from the touchline
Tony McInally was ordered from the touchline

Two official observers took in the game, and their report, along with that of referee David Lowe, will bring ramifications for both clubs, particularly Shotts, given they are about to lock horns with Pollok in their last 16 clash at Newlandsfield this Saturday.

As tends to be the case in these circumstances, there was hardly a bad challenge of note during the 90 minutes, albeit Shotts manager Tony McInally was ordered from the dugout at 1-1 for alleged scathing comments to an assistant referee.

But a dramatic finale kicked off when unlucky Bens defender Colin McInnes netted a 95th-minute own goal to put Shotts 2-1 ahead and the Govan side's last hurrah riposte was to throw numbers forward and launch the ball upfield straight from the restart.

Almost immediately the blast of the referee's whistle brought proceedings to an end, but not the action, because words, then blows, were exchanged between a feuding pair of opponents leading to players from both sides – some undoubtedly acting as peacemakers – piling in to form an untidy melee that took all of five minutes to disperse.

No red cards were shown on the pitch, and it is understood no players were called to the referee's room afterwards.

However, the crime-count sheets when handed over, showed Mr Lowe had opted for the even-handed approach of deeming two players from each side worthy of red cards for violent conduct.

Bizarrely, Shotts pair Paul Burns and Alan McKenzie, as well as Chris Jackson and Scott Hendry of Benburb, found themselves named as the main offenders in the fray, yet Hendry had been substituted during the game, while striker McKenzie was reported to be only peripherally involved in pulling team-mates away.

Bens assistant boss Lee Barr revealed he did visit the referee's room afterwards, but only to ask why Mr Lowe had added on six minutes of stoppage time.

He said: "I was at a loss to understand it because there were no injuries of any note, and neither was there time-wasting given Shotts had people behind either goal making sure the ball was quickly back in play."

Shotts gaffer McInally chose his words carefully, saying: "Benburb made things very difficult for us, just as we predicted they would, and I'm just happy and relieved to be through to the next round.

"I can confirm Paul and Alan are to be reported for alleged red-card offences but, given my circumstances, I am not prepared to answer any questions regarding the match referee or his assistants."

The SJFA were today awaiting the arrival of the referee's reports.

Looking on as Hannah Park events unfolded was veteran Pollok ace Brian McGinty, whose hamstring injury saw him deployed to "spy" on his team's Emirates opponents.

The race to get him fit for facing Shotts was given fresh impetus when his presence was sadly missed in the Lok midfield during the 1-0 defeat by Clydebank, which saw John Richardson's men drop down to sixth place in the standings.

Back in pole position are Petershill, who can open up a four-point lead on title rivals Auchinleck Talbot if they can overcome Glenafton at New Cumnock this week, while the only other league encounter sees Arthurlie striving to get clear of the basement fringes and stop the rot from four consecutive defeats when hosting third-top Rob Roy.

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