Battling Fife Thistle depart cup at the hands of Leven United
Leven United……………....3Fife Thistle…………….….....2
Fife Thistle’s Jon Harrison Memorial Cup run came to an end in the last 16 at the home of Kingdom of Fife AFA big guns, Leven United.
With several players unavailable, there was a shuffle in the Thistle line up with five changes to the starting 11 that drew with Balgonie Scotia to secure progression from the group stages.
Thistle made a strong start to the match and found themselves in front after only 10 minutes when a free kick from Bell found the roof of the net.
The lead was to last only seven minutes before Bell missed a header to clear a Lornie cross into the box with the ball falling kindly to Austin who made no mistake with a composed finish.
Just before the half hour mark, Leven took the lead when a weak shot from Graham looked to be covered by Anderson.
However, the Thistle keeper misjudged the path of the ball to concede a soft goal.
There were concerns that Thistle would collapse but, these days, the local side is made of sterner stuff.
Mackie and Carson were leading by example and United were unable to get a real foothold in the match.
Thistle looked the more likely to score next with Harris and Allan going close.
The second half followed in similar fashion with little between the sides. Shortly after the hour mark Thistle were back on level terms when a sliced clearance from McManus cannoned off one of his own players.
The ever alert Barnes latched onto the loose ball before rounding Snaddon and showing great composure to fire home, despite the pressure of McManus.
Houston came within inches of giving Thistle the lead shortly afterwards when he got on the end of a Mackie free kick only to see his header shave the outside of the upright.
In the 77th minute Leven were awarded a penalty when a breakdown in communication between Fraser Spence and Anderson saw Spence adjudged to have committed a foul on Lornie.
There appeared to be no contact but the referee deemed the challenge a spot kick which Anderson made no mistake with.
Spurned by a sense of injustice, Thistle began to push forward in numbers in search of an equaliser and only a great save from Snaddon denied Houston from finishing a Barnes through ball.
Harris then forced Snaddon into a point blank save from the resulting corner.
Five minutes from time Leven were reduced to 10 men as Thistle threw everything at them.
But they stood firm to claim their place in the quarter final where they will travel to face Kirkcaldy YM.
A&R Finnie MoM – Liam Carson.
Thistle: Anderson, G Spence, F Spence, Badu, Bell (Munro 85), Mackie, Carson, Houston (Simpson 85), Allan (Rintoul), Barnes, Harris
Subs not used – Foulkes, Wortley
With the end to the competitive cup fixtures for Thistle there are now a few friendlies lined up before the first team take a short break. On Saturday they will face Glenrothes at Balmullo with a 2pm kick off.