There was to be a sting in the tail of this end of season clash between Edinburgh South Reds and CSS Development.
As the rain fell on Inch Park, South looked to be worth their second place as they poured forward in numbers. Dean Walker curled corner after corner curled into the danger area as third placed CSS found it difficult to clear their lines.
South's Liam Ewens started the game brightly with a few nice dribbles alongside midfield powerhouse Connor Burke, with both players looking to release Bradley Kaye down the right wing at every opportunity.
It was to be CSS who had the first clear cut chance though. Looking dangerous on the counter throughout the game, the CSS forwards linked play well, inviting the CSS midfield to push forward looking for Kier Smart's clever runs. With 8 minutes on the clock Smart broke past the imposing back line of Mukara and Mathers and was through on goal until South stopper Harry Cairns dove bravely at his feet to snuff out the chance, to the praise of the home crowd.
Up the other end, Kaye was a thorn in the CSS defence and 10-minutes in he unleashed a dipping volley that Rory Anderson was relieved to see go over his crossbar and a first goal for South seemed inevitable. And it came soon after.
CSS' James Meldrum conceded a free kick for a push in a dangerous area 25-yards from his goal. Anderson organised his defence into a four man wall but was powerless to prevent Darren Clegg's high, looping free kick from landing in the top left-hand corner of the net.
The goal was well deserved and prompted CSS coach Ty Brown into a reshuffle of his attack to try and gain a stronger foothold in the game with his midfield sitting too deep. It seemed to work. CSS began to make themselves felt as an attacking force, especially down the right with the commanding presence of right-back Ali Greig, impressive throughout, showing great anticipation and launching the ball forward at every opportunity.
It was one of these searching balls that CSS captain, Aaron Porteous, controlled on the right of the field midway into South's half on 21 minutes. Threading the ball onto the ever available Smart, he ran forward to collect a clever reverse flick from Smart, starting a one-two that ended with Porteous sweeping an unselfish return past Cairns from 8-yards out to level the tie.
The abating rain brought a quieter spell as the match settled into a pattern: South's Kaye causing all sorts of problems at the left side of CSS' defence and Porteous sliding clever passes around the midfield and puttting Smart through on goal. Indeed, CSS could have got a couple of breakaway goals had Cairns not put his body on the line on a couple of occasions.
Edinburgh South won the first half on points if not goals but the second was to be a more balanced affair. Porteous started the second period like he had finished the first, looking to get on the ball and link up play.
He was a threat bursting forward too, breaking into South's box from the left with the taste of halftime oranges still in the mouth, winning a foot race against Mukora, and hitting a goal-bound low shot at the corner of Cairn's goal. The keeper showing great reflexes, getting down well to push the ball wide. Porteous volleyed over from 12 yards from the resulting corner as CSS gained in confidence.
As the second half took shape Burke fought bravely in midfield to win the ball for South with substitute Ryan Martin battling well on the right of midfield. Meanwhile, CSS were combining well and always a threat with Smart and Jamie Vinton pulling out to the wings and stretching the home defence.
South looked strong all over the park if they perhaps lacked the incision of CSS. South's other substitute, Denim Collins looked to remedy this by floating in off his wing, forming the pivot between the industry of Burke and the cunning of Ewens with the South attack. On one such foray he cut into the CSS box from the left and flashed a shot wide from a difficult angle.
For all the pressure South had exerted on the blues, they didn't warm the hands of Rory Anderson until a flurry of activity at the midpoint of the second half. Clegg was at the heart of this, firstly pouncing onto a loose ball but volleying straight at Anderson. Only seconds later Clegg fed Burke who unleashed a 25-yard drive but again Anderson got his angles right and saved comfortably.
Hungry for a goal, Clegg then fired a shot across goal after Collin's had flicked on one of Cairns' massive punts. Finding his feet in the game, Collins fed Clegg who fired a low shot destined for the CSS' net until Anderson pulled off the save of the match, instinctively diving low to his right to parry.
As Clegg and South were left thinking what might have been the pace of the game dropped and looked to be heading towards an entertaining draw. But the CSS skipper and number 10 hadn't yet given up the ghost and fought to win the ball in the centre circle and hitting a sideways pass to Keiran Marshall with two minutes to go.
Vinton and Smart smelled blood and were off and running as Marshall found space between South's lines. Looking up he floated a ball through the right channel toward Vinton only for Smart to appear on a diagonal run controlling the ball at full tilt as Cairns, for the first time in the game, lost the race to the ball. Smart adroitly rounded the keeper but pulling left of the goal. As Mukora formed an imposing barrier on South's goaline, Smart paused, picked his spot and curled an expert finish over the defender's head into the far top-hand corner of the net.
As Smart was mobbed by his teammates, South looked on in disbelief, unable to comprehend how they could be behind in a game in which they had dominated. Launching one last attack they were unable to carve out an opportunity as the referee called time on this game and their season. No doubt they'll be a force to be reckoned with in the league above next year.
Final Score: Edinburgh South Reds 1 CSS Development 2