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St Augustine's High School of Edinburgh hosted Wallace High School of Stirling in the last sixteen of the SSFA Plate. Early goals from Ruaridh Henderson and Jake Davidson put the visitors in control and it remained 2-0 at the break. Henry Arthur pulled a goal back for a resurgent home side, but Henderson scored again before a late David McKinnon double sealed a fine 5-1 victory.
Both sides went into Friday afternoon's game in contrasting runs of form. St Augustine's had only registered one victory in the Edinburgh Secondary Schools FA, whereas Wallace were sitting top of their section in the Forth Valley Schools FA. Both sides had came through two tight matches to make it to the final sixteen of the supplementary competition, for those who exit the Scottish Shield at the first hurdle. Saints had won on the road at Whitburn and Armadale, whereas Wallace won at home to Lasswade and Taylor.
The visitors from Stirling got off to a bright start, dominating possession and dictating the tempo. It wasn't long before they were rewarded on the scoresheet. David McKinnon picked the ball up on the right flank, jinked inside and found a cluster of purple shirts inside the penalty box. The ball eventually fell to Ruaridh Henderson, who tucked his finish into the bottom left hand corner (click here to watch video).
It wasn't long before Wallace doubled their advantage. A free kick was awarded at the angle of the penalty area and Jake Davidson stepped up to guide a low shot into the near corner.
Henderson and Davidson were the dangermen and they both came close to adding to their respective tallies in the ten minutes which followed. Both times they were denied by solid saves from Saints goalkeeper Adam McLean. Henderson then came close again, nipping between defender and goalkeeper but lofting his half volley over the crossbar.
At the other end St Augustine's huffed and puffed, but found it hard to get any change out of the Wallace defence well marshalled by the impressive Alan Hughes. In the closing stages of the half the home side's first good chance was carved out, with Gregor Musial rampaging down the right and cutting the ball across the box. Justin Lipinski raced onto the ball at the back post, but couldn't connect with sufficient power to trouble Craig Martin in the away goal.
It proved to be the final goalmouth action of a high tempo first half. The visitors went in the happier at half time with a two goal cushion.
Half Time: St Augustine's HS 0-2 Wallace HS
St Augustine's were given an encouraging team talk at the break and it made an instant impact. The ball fell to Henry Arthur on the edge of the area and he drilled a low shot past Martin.
The home side had shuffled their pack at the break, rotating a few players in key positions. It had definitely stemmed the tide, with Saints enjoying a better portion of the ball and more positive territory.
However, there was only so long Wallace could be kept on the back foot for. McLean was coming into his own in the St Augustine's goal, pulling off a string of fine saves. First up was a double stop top from Davidson, blocking his powerful free kick and follow up shot.
The pressure intensified on the home goal with Blair Gilmour whistling a shot just wide of the post. Davidson and Gilmour then both hit shots narrowly wide of the right hand post.
Aiden Kemp had impressed throughout the afternoon in the centre of the park. The Wallace midfielder executed a well struck volley from outside the box, which flashed just over the crossbar.
Eventually the away side got the goal which allowed them to breathe slightly easier. McLean pulled off a point blank stop from Henderson but play was brought back for an earlier foul inside the area. This time, there was nothing the goalkeeper could do as the striker sidefooted the ball accurately into the bottom right.
Henderson and McLean resumed their duel, as the forward went in search of his hat-trick. Despite surging past two defenders and having the freedom of the penalty area, there was no way past the in form goalkeeper, who produced a fine diving save.
McKinnon had been excellent on the right wing for Wallace throughout the afternoon and in the closing stages he sealed his team's victory. Twice in the final five minutes he found space at the back post and finished with composure, putting the icing on the cake.
The final few minutes elapsed and the final whistle blew. Sporting handshakes took place, as Wallace High School deservedly looked forward to a quarter final tie. Next for the Stirling school is a home tie against Gryffe HS or Carrick Academy.
Full Time: St Augustine's HS 1-5 Wallace HS