BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Even if Linlithgow Rose’s Scottish Cup fairytale ends this afternoon, the competition has left Ryan Baptie with a poignant moment he will never forget.
The 20-year-old produced a sensational strike from 35 yards against Wick Academy in the third round to help the Lothian juniors to a handsome 5-1 triumph.
However, a remarkable feat had added resonance for Baptie, whose thoughts ahead of the fixture were with the late David Paul on the second anniversary of his death.
Academy prospects together at Hibernian, the duo were best pals off the field before David’s sudden death at the age of just 18 in December 2013.
Baptie took to Twitter following the win over Wick – which secured safe passage to today’s fourth round tie against Forfar – and dedicated the goal to his absent friend.
He said: “David was one of my closest friends so, stepping onto the pitch that day, I was aware of the anniversary and he was in my thoughts. And he always will be.
“It was a tough day, a really hard day, but things like that spur you on and give you additional motivation. It was special to score that goal.
“It was a bit of a nightmare that the Wick tie kept getting called off. Then it was strange that, with game postponed so many times, it ended up falling on that date.
“I’ll never forget that goal and that moment for the rest of my career, and for it to be my first senior goal – and first in the Scottish Cup – was special.”
Indeed, Baptie could not have produced a more fitting way to honour the anniversary, producing a stunning effort from distance which whistled past Sean McCarthy between the sticks for Wick.
Forget goal of the third round; it will be a solid contender for goal of the tournament when the dust settles in May.
Renowned for possessing an educated left-foot even during his days in the Hibs youth academy, Baptie admits that is easily his most memorable goal to date.
He recalled: “I don’t think I realised how far out I was until I watched it back! It was a good strike, fair to say I’m happy with it.
“I look back at it and say ‘why did I shoot from there?’ But it goes to show that if you don’t shoot, you don’t score.
“It’s definitely the best goal of my career and one which obviously means a lot to me. I was also a really important goal given how much this cup run means to the club.
“Another one like that against Forfar would do nicely.”
Linlithgow are aiming to secure a place in the last 16 for the first time in their history, while Baptie, who is on loan from Peterhead, hopes to continue catching the eye after a challenging two years.
He was released by Hibs in 2014 following the disastrous reign of Terry Butcher – despite early indications suggesting he would be handed a new deal – before joining Inverness.
However, he left Inverness just one year into a two-year contract and signed for Peterhead during the summer.
He continued: “Linlithgow are a small club, but they are a great club and it’s a fantastic town. Saturday will be a great occasion for everyone involved.
“With it being at home, hopefully we can get a really big crowd in and do the job.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time on loan, it’s been really beneficial. I’m playing with good players and getting regular football. There are plenty of experienced ex-pros here and I’m learning a lot.
“We’ve got guys like Graham Weir, who has played for Hearts and scored in Edinburgh derbies, so that all helps you develop.
“Hopefully, I’ll be back at Peterhead in the long-term but, for the moment all my focus is on getting to the next round with Linlithgow.”