Sub’s show the way as EK leave it late to progress in Cup

  • Late goals as EK beat St Anthony’s 3-1
  • Darren Smith gave Kilby early lead
  • Ndlovu leveled before Kean saved Bembo penalty
  • Subs Kidd and Malcolm strike late for Kilby

Craig Malcolm prepares to fire in the 3rd goalCraig Malcolm prepares to fire in the 3rd goal

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Holders East Kilbride left it late to book a spot in Round 3 of The Soccer Shop South Challenge Cup after a tough tie with a spirited St Anthony's at McKenna Park.

With a busy week of League matches coming up, EK boss Stephen Aitken took the opportunity to freshen up his starting 11, making no fewer than 8 changes to the side which drew with Bo'ness last Saturday while Paul Paton, Chris Erskine and Paul Woods were given the day off.

A solitary Darren Smith goal gave EK a half-time lead before The Ants hit back early in the second half, and Kilby had to rely on late strikes from substitutes Lewis Kidd and Craig Malcolm to get over the line.

EK took the lead just after the half hour, when Smith ran onto a fine Anton Brady through ball and finished well with a left foot strike at the near post to give Stevie Aitken's men the advantage at the break.

But it was the home side who started the second half better, and they were rewarded eight minutes after the break, when Ndlovu took advantage of Jacob Kean dropping a cross, and the midfielder rolled the ball into the empty net to make it 1-1.

The game was then almost fully turned on its head three minutes later, when Warin Omar was tripped right on the edge of the EK box, and the referee pointed to the spot.

But this time it was Kean who came out on top, diving brilliantly to his right to palm Bembo's penalty wide of the post and preserve parity.

Despite a lot of huffing and puffing, EK struggled to find many ways to threaten The Ants goal, and the home side always looked dangerous on the counter, but it was a shuffle of the EK pack by Manager Aitken on the hour which would prove decisive. A bold triple substitution saw Miller, Kidd and Malcolm replace Leighton, Winter and Healy, and all three subs proved pivotal in the closing stages.

Ricky Miller brought strength and calmness to the back-line whilst Kidd and Malcolm's quality would prove the difference late in the game.

With eight minutes remaining, Malcolm showed great awareness to take the ball on the turn before finding the on-rushing Kidd with a beautifully weighted pass, and the midfielder found the net with a great low finish to put EK ahead with his first goal for the club.

With The Ants throwing men forward to salvage the tie, it was Malcolm who put the game beyond any doubt in the final minute, reacting first to a Greig Stewart knock-down before pivoting and slamming a low shot into the corner.

East Kilbride now progress to Round 3 of the competition perhaps more relieved than happy, after a fine showing from hosts St Anthony's.

Next up for Kilby in the Lowland League is a visit from Caledonian Braves on Tuesday, and a trip to face Bonnyrigg Rose on Saturday.

Jacob Kean saves a penalty from BemboJacob Kean saves a penalty from Bembo

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