(Newmains win 4-2 on penalties)
By Ben Banks at Dam Park
CRAIG GUPWELL hailed Martyn Meek’s display as Newmains’ new No1 helped the club shock Whitletts Victoria.
Meek, 28, signed for United from Lanark United less than 24 hours before kick-off after former goalie Gordon Bruce quit.
But he made an immediate impression, producing a string of fine saves over 90 minutes then pulling off a crucial block in a dramatic shootout.
Defenders Craig Scott and David Ross were also immense as Championship outfit Vics threw everything at League Two Newmains.
Scott, Marc Howson, Scott Ballantyne and Adam Robertson then kept their cool from the spot as Meek saved from Adam Forsyth and saw Isaac Kerr blaze his kick over the bar.
Saturday’s second round draw – made by former Coltness United player and ex-Scotland boss Craig Brown – handed Newmains a second round clash at home to League One East Kilbride Thistle on January 12
Delighted co-boss Gupwell said: “What a debut it was for Martyn. He was fantastic.
“He came in against a team that plays two leagues above us and kept a clean sheet. He also made some really good saves so we are delighted with him and for him.
“We defended really well too. If you take out the Vale of Leven game and the Lesmahagow performance our goal difference is really favourable.
“If we have lost a game it’s only been by the one goal. The defence work really well together. It just shows with a wee bit of consistency we can go a long way.”
The torrential rain in Ayr didn’t dampen Newmains’ spirits but they had to withstand a fierce onslaught from Vics, who had netted an incredible 36 goals in their opening ten league games.
There was controversy when Ballantyne missed his initial kick in the shootout but he did better second time around after being ordered to retake it because referee David Ingram decided Vics keeper Marty Fraser had encroached off his line too early.
Gupwell admits the wild weather conditions helped United but reckons they benefited from going into the clash as underdogs.
He said: “It’s a terrific feeling to come away with the win. We told the boys before the game the pressure was off. We told them to go and enjoy themselves.
“We have already proved we can compete with teams in a higher league and we have challenged well.
“If I’m being completely honest we rode our luck a bit in the last 20 minutes or so but we showed great determination and given the conditions it was good to see things out.
“They had a few set-plays towards the end of the game and there was an element of luck on our side but in games like that sometimes it’s what you need.
“The boys deserved that for the effort they put into this game.”
After two weeks on the road United now return to Victoria Park for a league clash against Meek’s former side Lanark, who sit second.
Gupwell added: “It’s good to give the boys that confidence again. We have proved we can go toe to toe with teams of the level of Whitletts.
“We just need to get back into league action now and continue our work there.”