Watch returned to Station Road for the first time since September to play Antonine in the West of Scotland Cup third round.
In contract to last week’s Scottish Cup semi-final at Adamslie, this was an outstanding tie with both sides producing football of the highest quality.
Watch opened strongly but failed to make the breakthrough their leading in play deserved.
A shock opener for a clever Antonine side saw them going 1-0 ahead in the 16th minute. A corner from O’Neill on the right saw Brannigan react quicker than the home defence to head towards goal for teammate McNichol to head past keeper Preston.
This was followed by debutante keeper Preston making two outstanding saves from Harkins and Murray.
Blackies’ play from Elliot, Ketterer and Maguire in midfield was serving up chances for front players but somehow the clear opportunities in front of goal did not come.
At last the equaliser did come in the 43rd minute. From a corner on the left, Prentice sent the ball to the near post and saw it break to Maguire.
Despite having his back to the goal, the midfield player managed to turn and wallop the ball past keeper Gibbons.
There was no doubt both sides relished playing on this pitch - the disappointment being that teams do not get the opportunity too often.
Watch went 2-1 ahead in the 52nd minute with a goal of real class. Full back McCluskey’s pass down the right to O’Hear, to Elliot, and back to O’Hear.
The wing half, who had been on excellent for all game, raced away on the right, his ball perfection for Steven Aitken to finish off - brilliant goal.
In the 63rd minute Blackies deservedly went further ahead and again it was O’Hear. The wing half was pulled down 25 yards out, taking the free kick himself and hitting a spectacular strike past Gibbons.
This did not stop Antonine players from hitting back at Watch’s defence and they netted in the 85th minute. Harkins, from a suspiciously offside position, headed past keeper Preston.
Antonine, a new side to 21s football, were impressive and the play brought the best out in Watch’s play.
Team: Preston, McCluskey, Hammill, McWilliams, Pettigrew, O’Hear, Maguire, Elliot, Ketterer, Prentice, Aitken, Graham, O’Connell, Murney, Blackwood, Cassidy.
Watch play Goldenhill in the Golden Goal Cup away on Saturday. Kick-off 2pm.