In the last of seven Scottish Cup finals of a marathon weekend, Longniddry Villa met Falkirk Foundation Blue in the eagerly anticipated 2003s final.
It was a fairy-tale moment for Longniddry to find themselves in the Scottish Cup final, their first, and they had certainly exceeded expectations, but they had more than deserved to be in the final.
In their run to the final, Longniddry had a relatively comfortable run, with wins including 7-2 over Portobello CFA in the second round and 5-2 over Stenhousemuir BC round four. However, the most difficult games came in the quarter final against Celtic BC, which finished 2-2 after extra time and Longniddry prevailed 5-4 on penalties. In the semi-final they narrowly defeated Tynecastle 1-0 to reach the final.
Falkirk will also be delighted with their cup run, as they have juggled it with a successful league campaign so far in which they have only lost two games and sit third with games in hand.
Falkirk’s run was simlar to Longniddry in terms of their biggest challenge being in the semi-finals. The run included a 10-1 win over Wishaw in the first round and a 9-2 win over Musselburgh in round four. In the semi-final they were pushed all the way by Johnstone Burgh but prevailed 2-1 after extra time.
Longniddry kicked the game off, playing in light blue with Falkirk in all black, and the match began at a good pace as both sides wanted to set a marker down early.
Jack MacDonald, who looked lively early on, had the first strike of the afternoon for Longniddry but his left-footed strike sailed over the crossbar.
The first good chance of the match fell to Falkirk’s Euan Hunter who, after some great work from Liam Fagan to square the ball back, missed his shot completely from only eight yards out.
Despite this early chance for Falkirk, it was the team from East Lothian who started the match stronger, as they were dominating possession and causing their opponents problems.
After ten minutes Falkirk began to get a grip of the game and put some pressure on their opponents, winning three successive corners but nothing was to come of them.
Halfway through the first half and the game had become somewhat scrappy, as loose passes from both teams had resulted in the game simmering down.
A well worked free-kick from Longniddry on the edge of the box allowed Euan Donaldson some space on the left-hand side, but his cross was well punched away from Gregor Fullerton.
Longniddry produced another good opening and perhaps Aiden Walsh should have done better as his strike from only ten yards out was well saved by Fullerton.
From the resulting corner a flick on at the near post gave Matthew McMillan a great chance to open the scoring but he couldn’t quite reach the ball.
Longniddry’s good pressure at the end of the first half was rewarded as they took the lead five minutes before halftime. A mistake at the back from Falkirk resulted in MacDonald going clean through on goal, his initial effort was well saved by Fullerton but the ball fell to Ben Dixon who finished well to put his team in front.
Falkirk equalised only minutes later and it was a mistake from the Longniddry goalkeeper that handed them the goal. Michael Beattie’s long free-kick looked comfortable for Sam Capes but he dropped the ball onto Fagan who inadvertently equalised for his side.
In what was otherwise a quiet first half, it was a manic end to it and the sides went into halftime in the final level.