DANNY Taylor came so near but so far to getting a perfect response to make or break talks he held with his St Anthonys players this week.

Experienced team boss Taylor had elected to bring his Govan squad together in the wake of last weekend’s dismal 6-1 hammering by Yoker Athletic hoping to galvanise them ahead of Saturday’s crunch Scottish Junior Cup clash with city rivals Ashfield.

And as a further spur, he made four new signings less than 48 hours before the second round tie in former Ants midfielder Jonny McKay, Steven Bain (Petershill), Ged Dobbs (Maryhill) as well as Aaron Henderson (Cumbernauld United) yet only deemed it necessary to list  the entire quartet as substitutes for the McKenna Park encounter.

His inspirational words and clever reverse psychology ploy almost did the trick as a suitably geed up St Anthonys side deservedly carved out a 1-1 draw against the more fancied Possilpark outfit only to lose out 4-2 in the resulting penalty kick shoot-out.

The Ants gaffer was a veritable mix of emotions when summing up his thoughts afterwards.

He said: “Today shows what can be achieved when our guys just  have a greater belief in themselves . 

“Ashfield are a very good side yet we more than matched up with them as I always thought we were capable of doing but the problem has been getting that same confidence instilled into the players.

“I asked them for a big performance today and from last week the improvement, both individually and as a unit was massive which makes the lottery of a penalty kicks defeat all the harder to take.

“On the plus side, this is a St Anthonys team that is still learning the game , as am I as a manager, and the hope is we can grow together.”

Danny introduced the Govan men’s four newcomers to the fray at various stages throughout the second half while youthful goalkeeper Justin Smith was an enforced early replacement for the injured Inigo Berho .

He admitted: ”The new boys  certainly freshened us up today and young Justin  did exceptionally well and made some decent stops after being thrown in at the deep end.

“When the game went to penalties, I thought it was written in the stars that he would emerge as our matchwinner but it wasn’t to be.”

Spanish born shotstopper Berho had picked up a thigh muscle strain during the pre-match warm-up but his discomfort was hardly noticed during an opening period totally bereft of goalmouth action however an injury sustained by  Ashfield midfielder Brogan Daly notably led to his replacement by the experienced Jamie Gilmartin.

His more physical approach was troubling the Ants backline however the opening goal when it arrived came at the other end of the pitch in  23 minutes when a swerving Rui Carbello free kick was parried out  by visiting No 1 Chris Prior but only as far as the home team’s Martin Mullaney(son of former Rutherglen Glencairn and Pollok midfielder Jim) whose first time shot found the corner of the net for 1-0.

Ashfield went looking for an equaliser and their pressure told just after the half hour mark as a flighted Dean Loveridge cross caused a coming together of bodies and when  the dust had settled , Gilmartin was getting backslaps for his header which had the ball  nestling in the net while Berho was signalling he was unable to continue.

Mullaney then came close to doubling his goals tally with a low drive just wide of the far upright however defences remaining on top for the first half’s closing stages ensured there was little in the way of clear cut scoring opportunities..

The bustling Gilmartin found the net again early into the resumption but his effort was disallowed for offside and the St Anthonys goal went on to survive a number of near things thanks to wasteful finishing as well as Smith’s handling skills between the posts .

He kept out another well struck shot by that man Gilmartin and also dived full length to beat away a Jack Crumlish drive however his best was kept for last in advancing from his goal to deny Darren Burns in 82 minutes when the Ashfield winger was clean through on goal.

Ashfield were impeccable in the penalty kicks, scoring all four of their efforts while  Prior making a superb stop from Anton Conway was followed by debutant Dobbs firing his spot kick high over the crossbar.

Winning gaffer Paul Maxwell insisted: “It’s a huge relief to get through not least because we probably deserved to edge it on our improved second half performance.

“That said , our first 45 minutes was nowhere near good enough  and there’s no denying that Jamie having to come  off the bench has worked in our favour as up until then ,St Anthonys were ruling the roost.”

Meanwhile, the battle for a place in the Scottish Cup’s last 32 was taken a bit too literally by Irvine Vics and Pollok whose Victoria Park contest was abandoned by whistler Ross Menzies after a 90th minute brawl broke out involving players from both sides and  backroom staff . .

The Glasgow side’s 2-0 lead from second half counters by Adam Forde and Ryan McGregor was  halved by a Shane Jackson score for the Vics and an exciting finale looked on the cards when Lok substitute Shaun Fraser was then  sent off for two yellow card offences only five minutes after coming onto the pitch .

Any numerical advantage was wiped out by a  red card for a Vics player prior to mayhem erupting after  a lunging tackle felled visiting full back Danny McKenzie and brought both sets of players piling into an angry confrontation  as well as a reputed  member of the Vics backroom team whose raining a number of blows on Lok player Ryan McGregor further  exacerbated the situation and led to Mr Menzies walking off the pitch and declaring the match abandoned. 

In other ties, Ross McCabe , Roddy Patterson , Ronan Sweeney and Stephen Docherty were on target in Petershill’s 4-0 victory at home to North Region visitors Stoneywood Parkvale while Maryhill suffered a  3-2 defeat down at Ardrossan Winton Rovers and Glasgow Perthshire beat Scone Thistle 4-1 at Keppoch Park thanks to Baboucarr Mussa(2), Jordan Fraser and Cameron Murray scores.

And pride of place as the top scoring Glasgow based qualifiers are Benburb, 7-1 winners  up at Blairgowrie with Scott Jarvie(3), Lewis McTaggart(2) , Matty Adam and Jamie McDermott on the mark.

RESULTS: Scottish Junior Cup.Second Round: Rossvale 1 Cambuslang Rangers 0, Letham F.C. 2 Muirkirk 2 (Muirkirk win 4-2 pens), Culter 0 Beith 3, Girvan 2 Yoker Athletic 3, Blairgowrie 1 Benburb 7, Dundee North End 3 Colony Park 0, Irvine Vics 2 Pollok 2 (match abandoned 90 mins), Newmains Utd 0 Vale of Leven 4, Petershill 4 Stoneywood  Parkvale 0, Blantyre Vics 0 West Calder Utd 1, Ardrossan Winton Rovers 3 Maryhill 2, Aberdeen University 0  Lochee Utd 4, Largs Thistle 5 Larkhall Thistle 3, Carnoustie Panmure 3 Fraserburgh Utd 0, ,Banks O’Dee 4 Sygenta 2,  Glentannar 1 Rob Roy 6, , Carluke Rovers 1 Auchinleck Talbot 2, St Anthonys 1 Ashfield 1(Ashfield win 4-2 pens), Renfrew 3 Craigmark 4, Glasgow Perthshire 4 Scone Thistle 1, Brechin  Vics 1 Newmachar Utd 2, Irvine Meadow 4 Arbroath Vics 1, Livingston Utd 1 Cumbernauld Utd 4, Kilsyth Rangers 3 Arthurlie 4, Dundee St James 1 Johnstone Burgh 4,  Dundee East Craigie 7 Banchory St Tiernans 2, Thorniewood Utd 3 Whitletts Vics 2, Lanark Utd 2 East Kilbride Thistle 0,  Gartcairn 5 Tayport 2.

P.D.M. Buildbase Premier League: Troon 1 Hurlford Utd 0, Darvel 2 Kilbirnie Ladeside 1, Rutherglen Glencairn 1 Clydebank 2.

PDM Buildbase Conference League A: Shotts Bon Accord 4 Maybole 0, Glasgow University 1 Forth Wanderers 1,  Lugar Boswell 5 Saltcoats Vics 1.

PDM Buildbase Conference League B: Kello Rovers 1 Greenock 1, Dalry Thistle 2 Ardeer Thistle 3.

PDM Buildbase Conference League C: Wishaw 1 St Rochs 3.PDM Buildbase Division Four. Finnart 1 Kilsyth Athletic 1.

Scottish Cup First Round Replay:  Cumnock 1 Formartine Utd 5.

Strathclyde Demolition Cup First Round: Bellshill Athletic 3 Bonnyton Thistle 3( (Bellshill win 4-2 pens), Campbeltown Pupils 4 Harmony Row 1, Glenvale 2 Royal Albert 5, Kilwinning Rangers 1 St Cadocs 1( St Cadocs win 5-4 pens), Port Glasgow 0 Neilston 3, St Peters 0 Drumchapel Utd 4, Vale of Clyde 6 B.S.C. Glasgow 1.