A ruthless first half performance from Arniston set them on their way to victory in the Pilmar Smith Cup final on Sunday. Goals from Euan Donaldson and Cameron Catteroll proved to be the difference in a tight, scrappy game where neither side wanted to give the other an inch.
The match started off at a frantic pace, with both sides pressing high and forcing the other side into mistakes early on. The closest any side came to an opening was in the seventh minute when Jack Dewer hit a low strike which skidded across the ground and had Sam Capes’ in Lochend’s goal scrambling, but ultimately drifted wide of the post.
The first shot on target in the game resulted in the first goal, and it came for Arniston in the tenth minute. A long thrown in found Euan Donaldson on the chest, it looked difficult to create something from the scenario, but not for him. He took the ball down, swivelled and hit a shot low into the far corner. In such a tight game, it required a piece of individual brilliance to break the deadlock.
The goal seemed to open up the game to some extent, and Arniston nearly pulled themselves level four minutes after the opening goal. Jacob Riley for Lochend manged to flick the ball over the head of an opposing defender, followed by the goalkeeper, and would have leveled the scores if it wasn’t for Dylan Akkur being on the line to clear. A goal that would have matched the brilliance of the opening one if it wasn’t for some alert defending.
Such was the nature of this now free-flowing game that Arniston managed to double their advantage moments after Lochend nearly drew level. Once again, a throw-in proved to be Rangers undoing as Cameron Cateroll was found making a run into the box. After venturing into the area, the finish was never a problem as he rolled the ball underneath the advancing goalkeeper to put his side two goals to the good with fifteen minutes played.
Arniston came close to putting the final to bed just before half time when Denim Power headed the ball down into the path of Donaldson, but his first time strike was wide of the target and leaving the gap to just two goals.