2001 OVD SCOTTISH CUP FINAL
The Gowfers, as they are known, have only themselves to blame for not emerging victorious from their first appearance in the final. They enjoyed the bulk of the possession and the chances, but were denied by their own poor finishing and a quite outstanding display of goalkeeping by Scott Strang in the Renfrew goal.
When pompous sportswriters descend on Junior Cup finals, the talk tends to be of gangrenous jockstraps but, whether it was because the game was restored to a Saturday afternoon or, more likely, the absence of a representative from gentle Ayrshire, this was almost a fragrant occasion.
Those who had arrived expecting to watch the team version of an alley brawl saw instead a well disciplined match. There was scarcely a bad tackle, never mind a head butt, and if referee Crawford Allan, who had an excellent game, did brandish his yellow card twice in the first half and once more in extra time it was more in sorrow than anger.
That this game went to extra time was almost entirely due to Strang. The keeper was on Hearts' books for four years, and will surely be back in senior football before long. A second half save from a Darren Bonella header was superb, as was his extra time dive to foil substitute Jackie Devine.
The match kicked off in front of a decent and enthusiastic crowd, and Carnoustie assumed the ascendancy from the outset with forwards Kenny Cameron and Bonelli, supported by some sterling work out on the left by Iain McLeod, causing havoc in the Renfrew defence.
Those of a certain vintage will remember Cameron's father, a bundling forward who scored barrowloads for Dundee , Kilmarnock and Dundee United. Now the youth development manager at Dens Park , he is also employed as Carnoustie's tactical adviser. Cameron Jnr may not have the nuisance value of his old man as a player, but as early as the sixth minute he was forcing Strang to make the first of many saves .
Although the Gowfers had the bulk of possession, there was little evidence of the excitement which was to build up . The battle of wits which was developing between Strang and his tormentors appeared to have reached a critical point in the 40th minute, though, when Cameron rounded the flailing keeper and was lining up a shot from an acute angle when he tumbled and fell. Penalty, screamed the Carnoustie supporters, and it seemed a decent shout, but instead referee Crawford awarded a corner, a decision which in television replay hindsight was probably correct.
HALF TIME Carnoustie Panmure 0 - 0 Renfrew
Renfrew, who had not troubled Bobby Geddes in the Carnoustie goal in the opening 45 minutes, were more adventurous in the second half, but when they almost went ahead it was thanks to a loss of concentration in the Gowfers' defence. Gary Ogilvie, who had otherwise been a rock in defence alongside Keith Galbraith, made a ridiculous pass back which was rolling into his own net before Geddes, who had been elsewhere, managed to clear it off the line.
It was just after this incident that Strang made the first of his two fantastic saves. Nicholson supplied the cross, Bonella sent a firm header towards the top of the net, but somehow the Renfrew keeper got a glove to it to save his side.
Injuries and tiredness were starting to take their toll, but this only added to the mounting excitement as the game moved towards the end of 90 minutes and both sets of supporters knew a single goal would be enough to lift the trophy. There were good chances at both ends, but equally there was an inevitability that the game would go to extra time and penalties.
Strang made sure of the second outcome midway through the first period of extra time. Carnoustie substitute Devine manoeuvered himself into a shooting position, struck the ball low and well towards the rigging, but again the goalkeeper somehow contorted his body to fingertip the ball against the post.
FULL TIME Carnoustie Panmure 0 - 0 Renfrew
Cue penalties, and much more drama. Twice it seemed Carnoustie had the cup in their grasp, but each time it was their own failings, rather than the extraordinary Strang which proved their undoing.
The sides had each scored with their first penalties, but the Gowfers got the advantage when Grant Miller scored and Alan Prentice had his effort saved by Geddes. Immediately, though, the Angus side threw it away when Garry Buick missed and Neil Farquharson converted for Renfrew.
Even Steven, but advantage the Gowfers when Devine was successful and Jamie Ross went wide. Cometh the man, cometh the hour, but Cameron Jnr was also off target and when Foster scored for Renfrew, Carnoustie's card was well and truly marked.
Bonella scored with the sixth spot kick, but Strang took his side's next attempt and slammed it past Geddes. Barry Gray and Gary Elrick both converted as the tension mounted, but then, entirely in keeping , Strang saved from a very poor Iain Wilkie penalty to give his side the edge for the first time in over two hours.
Up stepped bulky skipper Neil Shearer, Renfrew's longest-serving player, and when the net behind Geddes bulged the blue and white party began. If not exactly deserved, perseverance and the admirable Strang got their reward.
Scott Strang, John Hammond, Alan Foster, Neil Farquharson, Neil Shearer, John Peacock (Jamie Ross 76 mins), Brian McKeown( Gary Elrick 82 mins.), Scott Findlay, Andy Morrison, Jim McNally (Neil MacKinnon 61 mins), Alan Prentice.
Bobby Geddes, Gus Malone, Scott Kopel (Iain Wilkie 46 mins), Wayne Morrison ( Jackie Devine 78 mins) Keith Galbraith, Gary Ogilvie (Barry Gray 97 mins) , Grant Miller, Garry Buick, Kenny Cameron, Darren Bonella, Iain MacLeod.
Attendance : 5252