On a huge day of football across Europe, the eyes of Lanarkshire were focussed firmly on Carluke’s John Cumming Stadium, as the region’s finest met in the LFDA Cup Finals. With the SYFA Challenge Cup finals to come later in the day, along with the small matter of play-off and Champions League finals, EK Burgh United and Jerviston kicked off the days’ cup final action in front of a healthy crowd in the main stand.
The recently renamed Albert Brown memorial cup final, in tribute to a key figure in Lanarkshire’s youth football picture, would take place between double chasing Jerviston and EK Burgh United. Both sides enjoyed goal-laden runs to the showpiece, with EK’s run including a 9-0 win over local rivals Calderglen, as well as handsome wins over Clyde Valley and Aston Villa, before an impressive 2-1 semi-final victory over high-flying Larkhall United.
Jerviston, who had already sealed the league title in a season which saw only one league defeat, saw off Blantyre Yellow, Mossend and Blantyre BC in close, high scoring encounters, before a narrow 1-0 last four win over league runners-up Wishaw Wycombe.
With the previous meeting of the two teams finishing 5-3 in Jerviston’s favour, the final was tough to call before kick-off, with both sides clearly fired up as they emerged from the dressing rooms to loud applause and cheers from the supporters who filled the stand.
The road to the final promised goals and within three minutes of kick off, Jerviston delivered the first of the morning. Matthew Sinclair disposed EK’s Jordan Mime on the half way line, and quickly threaded a through ball towards Kian Marshall. Despite suspicions of offside, the striker ran through on goal unopposed, but his effort from 12 yards was denied by a fine save at his near post by Matthew Todd. However, from the resulting corner, Eamonn Higgins lashed home at the second attempt after his initial effort was superbly cleared off the line by Alex Fish.
The early drama continued as Jerviston looked to build on their lead and an excellent move involving Jerviston’s Kieran Lawson, Marshall and Sinclair led to the latter firing towards goal from the right hand side of the area. Another fine save by Todd took the sting out of the shot, but the ball looped over the keeper’s head and seemed destined for the back of the net. However, as Marshall closed in, Mime did very well to hook the ball off the line despite the claims for a goal from the Jerviston supporters.
The combination of pace and power in the league champions’ attack caused havoc for EK as they struggled to get a foothold on the game, and despite Sinclair again being thwarted by Todd after nine minutes, Jerviston wouldn’t have to wait long to double their advantage.
This time, Todd could do nothing to stop Marshall, as he picked up possession on the left hand side of the penalty area, skipped inside away from the challenges of two defenders, and unleashed a fierce strike from 20 yards which smacked a post on its way to the back of the net, with only ten minutes on the clock.
EK Burgh were shocked again less than two minutes later when Jerviston completed a dream start to the cup final thanks to another magnificent goal by Marshall. Running onto a high through ball, the striker delicately lifted the bouncing pass over the advancing Todd with his instep, as Jerviston raced into a three goal lead with less than a quarter of an hour played.
The game became a midfield battle as the first half progressed, but just as it seemed like EK were beginning to work their way back into the final, two quick-fire Jerviston goals of the highest quality on the stroke of half time meant they went into the break with a commanding lead.
Firstly, after picking up the ball at least 25 yards from goal, Higgins took a touch to set himself and rifled an unstoppable drive into the bottom corner to add his second goal of a superb first half for him personally.
Then, captain Dean Bell, who dictated the pace of the play from his central midfield position, got the goal his first half display deserved when he rounded off a superb flowing move involving chief tormentors of the EK defence, Marshall and Sinclair, with a fine composed finish with the outside of his boot.