THORN Athletic booked their place in the next round of the Douglas Smith League Cup on Saturday by edging out Westerlands.

Although the 3-2 scoreline and patchy performance may not have been what the Johnstone team's head coach Johnny McEwan hoped for, the result ensures the wait for their first win of 2022 is over.

It also guarantees that Thorn will be competing on more than one front during the second half of the season.

They controlled possession in the first half and a brace from Callum Kelly meant they had a commanding lead at the interval.

However, Westerlands provided a constant threat in that first period, with Thorn struggling to deal with their direct approach and physicality in the final third.

An inspired performance from Thorn goalkeeper Ryan Ward was typified by an outstanding double save from a penalty kick and the subsequent rebound after the referee had pointed to the spot for a handball offence.

Westerlands halved the deficit just six minutes after the restart and it looked possible that the momentum of the game could change in their favour but the Caledonian Premier League side restored their two-goal lead almost immediately as Cameron Armstrong converted a cross from the left from a tight angle.

Thorn invited Westerlands back into the match with 20 minutes remaining after their failure to clear a loose ball in the box resulted in a second goal for the home side,

However, some disciplined defending from Thorn in the final stages saw them hold on until the full-time whistle.

McEwan said: "We certainly were not anywhere near the levels we can reach but, in cup football, it's just about getting through on the day.

“We changed things up a little bit at the top end of the park and it was pleasing to see both Callum and Cammy get on the scoresheet. They both took their goals well and hopefully that will give them confidence and they can build on the performances."

Thorn will now hope to pick up their first league win since November when they face St Mungo AFC at home this Saturday.

McEwan added: “We've been playing catch-up in the league due to cup runs but now we have to get ourselves back in the mix again.

"The top end of the table is looking very competitive and we cannot afford to be at anything other than our best for this one.

“We suffered our first league defeat just before Christmas but, other than that, we had been doing pretty well, all things considered. We have started to get one or two boys back from longer-term injuries, so hopefully that bodes well going into the second half of the season.”