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Saturday, 26 January 2013 01:54

Slick Lanarkshire cruise to victory in capital

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Fox 30
Kelly 13
Smith 33, 74, 79


U15 SSFA National Trophy - Q/F
Spartans Academy

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Edinburgh vs Lanarkshire - Under 15sEdinburgh hosted Lanarkshire in the quarter finals of the Scottish Schools FA's National Trophy competition. The visitors got off to the perfect start courtesy of Marc Kelly, but Ryan Fox put the home side back on level terms. Ian Smith restored Lanarkshire's lead before scoring twice more in the second half to secure his hat-trick and a 4-1 victory for his team.

Lanarkshire had left it late to seal their place in the final eight, taking runners up spot in Group 4 after a final day victory over West Lothian. Edinburgh had topped their group, beating last year's champions Fife to the summit of Group 1.

The visiting team started at a frantic pace, threatening inside the first sixty seconds. A half cleared corner was laid back into the path of Jack Rose, who drilled a shot into the near side netting.

Lanarkshire remained on the front foot and it wasn't long before they caused further problems to the Edinburgh rearguard. Aaron McNeil contested a 50/50 with home goalkeeper Cameron Gill, which resulted in the ball squirming free of the keeper's grasp. McNeil turned and played a cross into the danger area, but there were no takers.

After two escapes Edinburgh's luck ran out in the 13th minute. Lanarkshire found space in the centre of the park and when the ball arrived at the feet of Marc Kelly on the edge of the penalty area, he made no mistake in curling a fine shot over Gill and underneath the crossbar.

Going behind appeared to flick a switch amongst the home players, who began to grasp a foothold in the match. The front two of Ryan Fox and Ben Gardiner were full of running and it was through the former in the 30th minute that Edinburgh found themselves back on level terms. Gabri Auriemma picked the ball up in the centre of the park, drove into the final third and laid the ball into the path of the onrushing Fox. The Tynecastle HS pupil was denied by Kenny Giles but made no mistake with the rebound, firing it past two defenders on the line.

They always say you are most vulnerable at the back when you've just scored and that proved to be exactly the case for Edinburgh. Just three minutes after getting back on level terms, the boys in white found themselves trailing once again. Ian Smith couldn't believe his luck when a bouncing ball fell to him 20 yards from goal and nonchalantly lofted the ball over the helpless Gill.

One final chance fell the way of Edinburgh in their bid to get back on level terms before the break. However, Gardiner couldn't add to his tally, blasting over from inside the box.

Half Time: Edinburgh 1-2 Lanarkshire 

Edinburgh vs Lanarkshire - Under 15sAfter the all action first half it was no surprise to see the second period take a more conservative approach. Spartans Academy was swept with wind and rain by this stage, but to be fair to both sets of players, they did their upmost to keep the ball on the floor.

Fifteen minutes after the restart the first half chance came about. Jay McManus, who had worked tirelessly all afternoon, surged down the right wing in an Edinburgh counter. The Leith Academy winger covered a full 40 yards before crossing the ball, which narrowly eluded the run of Fox.

Two minutes later the game witnessed its first moment of drama. Fox found space inside the Lanarkshire box and flashed a shot just wide of the right hand post, but the referee awarded a penalty kick, judging that the Hutchison Vale striker had been impeded. Fox stepped up to take the kick himself, but was denied by a superb diving save by Giles.

Having been quiet in the attacking third for most of the half, Lanarkshire sprung to life. Smith went close twice in quick succession but was denied first by the legs of Gill and then by a superb goalline clearance from Daryl Henderson.

However, Smith wasn't to be denied at the third time of asking. McNeil showed neat footwork on the left wing, before playing in the overlapping Lewis Clark. The Lanarkshire full back's first cross was blocked, but at the second bite of the cherry he picked out the unmarked Smith, who sidefooted the ball beyond Gill (click here to watch a video of the goal).

The goal punctured any hopes Edinburgh had of turning the tie back in their favour. The Lanarkshire defence mopped up any attempted attacks, and as the home side poured bodies forward, Smith and company thrived on the space.

Smith fired a shot narrowly over in pursuit of his hat-trick, whereas Kelly forced a full stretch save from Gill, when at first glance the ball appeared to be lofting over the Edinburgh goalkeeper. One further goal was to come Lanarkshire's way and unsurprisingly it was Smith who found the net. Despite Gill's best efforts to pounce on a loose ball inside the box, he could only divert it into the path of Smith, who showed composure to dink the ball into the right hand corner.

The final whistle blew and for the second year in succession Lanarkshire put pay to Edinburgh's hopes of reaching the final of the National Trophy at the Under 15 age group. The Central Region outfit now face a home tie against North of Scotland or Dumfries & Galloway, as they seek to reach their second successive final.

Full Time: Edinburgh 1-4 Lanarkshire

Edinburgh Lanarkshire
1. Cameron Gill
2. Sam Laverty
3. Sean Watt
4. Daryl Henderson
5. Jarek Woswiak
6. Gabri Auriemma
7. Jay McManus
8. Sam Birch
9. Ben Gardiner
10. Ryan Fox
11. Fraser Paton
12. Jake Hughes
13. Jackson Barker
14. John Timmins
15. Kieran Green 
1. Kenny Giles
2. Lewis Clark
3. Aaron Gray
4. Aidan Bickerton
5. Josh Kerr
6. Josh Moore
7. Aaron McNeil
8. Jack Rose
9. Ian Smith
10. Marc Kelly
11. Jordan Allan
12. Josh Payne

For long periods Edinburgh defended excellently against top quality attackers. Daryl Henderson made countless tackles, headers and interceptions.
Ian Smith was the star man for Lanarkshire. He oozed quality and invention in the final third. His well taken hat-trick proved the difference between the sides.
Last modified on Friday, 23 August 2013 17:22
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