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I am a victim of my own popularity! Like the advert on TV, “I should calm down, etc, etc!” But I just cannot help myself and over Saturday and Sunday, August 18 and 19, I covered FOUR games - three of these at the beautiful Pinkie St Peter’s Playing Fields on the east side of Musselburgh.
The first of the three games on the immaculate synthetic pitch was really something special, indeed, as Musselburgh Windsor Girls had the Murieston United side as their guests in the third round of the Scottish Cup for under-15 girls. It was a very special game of football and how both teams appeared to enjoy themselves and, in the process, show off all that is good in the game at this level.
Windsor are bottom of their league and have not, in fact, won any game in their league programme. Murieston, the famous youth club in Livingston in West Lothian were in their all-black outfit and they did look the more purposeful side throughout the game. In fact, they did everything BUT SCORE A GOAL! The neat football playing Windsor girls ‘played out of their skin’ and a glorious goal in the first half from Ellis Notley was enough to clinch Windsor’s place in the last eight.
I think the home side used up all their luck in this game, but they were magnificent in defence with Dion McMahon, a pupil at St David’s in Dalkeith, the best player on the pitch by a mile! Goodness me, the Windsor star player in the form of her young life. But it would be churlish on my part just to concentrate on the part played by Dion throughout the game. Windsor also had superb midfielders and in No 8 (Ellis Notley) and 10 (Chloe Shankie) they had two magnificent young footballers. As for Murieston, they were denied time after time from scoring by Dion McMahon and her fellow defenders in the Windsor rearguard. Goalkeeper, Whitney McManon (Dion’s sister, I think) had a day to remember and so too did her mum who is involved in the sidelines team for the Musselburgh club.
The home coaches did manage to cut out any extreme examples of emotions although at times, I think a whiff of oxygen would have possibly been welcome as play raged in the home goalmouth before excellent referee, Steve Harris, brought the curtain down on what must be the best win ever for the under-15 girls.
While the home coaches were quite subdued, not so on the Murieston touchline, with their male coach going through every emotion possible as chance after chance to at least square the tie came and went! This lovely man must have been close to being demented by the time the final whistle went, but like the good sport he is, he was first to offer his congratulations to the home touchline.
From the start, Murieston pounded away at Windsor and it was real backs-to-the-wall for the home side as they defended their goal. Lots of good young players in the West Lothian side, with big No 5, Heather Newlands, a class act on the right. Nicole Ferguson led the attack in her No 9 jersey and the tall striker caused lots of problems for Windsor, but not for Dion McMahon! Play fairly sizzled along - mostly in the Windsor goalmouth and it was quite incredibe how the home side survived. But, survive they did, and when the Murieston onslaught ran out of puff, the talented players in the Windsor blue showed their skills on the ball.
It was good to see young Scottish players with the confidence and ability to run at defenders with the ball at their feet and create openings for the home side. No 7, Chloe Stuart, was another who sparkled in this game for Musselburgh. I was stunned when Ellis Notley swept a wonderful shot from just outside the 18 yard box past the Murieston keeper at the left-hand post to put Windsor 1-0 in front.
I do think those reading this match report would have had to be the game in person to fully understand how Windsor managed to hold on to that slender lead from then on. There was another awful moment for the visitors when a pass-back was missed by the goalkeeper but fortunately for her, the ball ran wide of the goal. Wow, indeed! And it was sheer bedlam from then on - just ask the Murieston coach who possibly aged ten years in a few minutes! It was worth watching him as the chances came - and went! He was doing his proverbial ‘nut’ on the touchlines. It is an emotional challenge to look after a team of young girls but at the finish, it was all over for Murieston.
There was none of the intensity that is often found at Scottish Cup ties involving boys, but nevertheless it was exciting and as the time ran out, the nerves showed - how they showed! I think both clubs deserve all the praise I can give them. I loved every minute of the tie and good luck, indeed, to Musselburgh Windsor and I hope if they get a home tie in the quarter finals I will be invited back to write another report and also produce a gallery of pictures.
Full Time: Musselburgh Windsor 1-0 Murieston United