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All three goals in this fascinating game to watch were scored in extra time. Some spectators at the Murphy Cup tie may disagree with me and in fact some left before the finish. That was their choice but this game was one of the ‘long haul’ variety as both sides were so evenly matched. No one could possibly fault the energy of both sets of players and as the game progressed it was difficult to see where a goal was going to come from. But the lack of goals was down in the main to two excellent defences and as the tie went in to the second half, the tension increased and that is when I found it ‘fascinating’ to watch.
Spaces opened up in both halves of the superb pitch and the action in both goalmouths was exciting to watch. The longer the game went on - controlled brilliantly by referee Ian Baillie - so too did the anxiety among the players and club officials increase. Good players showed the way and there was none better in my view than Broxburn’s No 11, Calum Mallkiewicz. He was in my opinion the best player on the pitch. Calum was prominent in all the best moves throughout the game and led the way for the home side in the goal-less first half.
The weather in Broxburn for the cup tie was bright and, indeed, quite sunny for most of the game. It was even a change for the visiting club to get a game, as they have been prevented by the recent bad weather of fulfilling their fixtures. Calum was in cracking form from the start for Broxburn, while Ross Gowrie showed up well in Murieston’s moves. Joe Brady threatened the away goal but Kevin Ross was back in defence to clear. That was like most of the first half, when Broxburn attacked, Murieston defended really well and likewise, it was the same at the other end.
Murieston skipper Steven Fyffe was also prominent in midfield, but the score sheet was blank at the halfway stage. And so it continued at the start of the second half, but spaces opened up on the big pitch and the the players on both sides responded well. Sam Rae, who missed a great chance to put the visitors in front in the first half, continued to impress in the greater freedom of the second half. It was, as they say, end-to-end stuff and that was really when I felt the tie upped in anxiety as the tension started to mount. And, believe me, there many anxious moments at both ends.
When Murieston attacked the home goal, big keeper Stephen MacDonald showed good ability in both handling and blocking shots at his goal. Stephen did not mess about either, and he punched the ball clear when challenged in his goalmouth. And, believe it or not, Euan Marshall was the hero for Murieston at the other end. With 20 minutes of the second half played, no goals to celebrate and the tension mounted. Darren Fleming tested MacDonald with a good shot; Fyffe went close with shots that, sadly for him and Murieston, went screaming over the crossbar.
Mallkiewicz continued to lead raids on the away goal and the Broxburn start was frustrated when a good shot went wide of the target. Joe Brady joined in and he too let fly with a good shot at Marshall. Corners and free kicks galore were awarded to both sides, but still no goals at the final whistle and so on to extra time. And, then the Murieston defence was breached, in the very first minute of extra time and it was Mallkiewicz who scored with an exceptionally good header from a right wing cross.
The game got even better after that opener and play surged back and forward, from end to end. Then we were back to all-square again, with Craig Waddell scoring for Murieston from a move created by Darren Fleming. It was the turn of the away contingent to celebrate and they duly did just that. Fleming had two more good shots charged down as the game really took off.
At half-time it was still 1-1 and in the second half, it was the man-of-the-match, Mallkiewicz who scored the winner for Broxburn to leave Murieston down and out. The Broxburn No 11 followed up to score when a shot from Paul Mulvaney appeared to be spilled by the Murieston goalie. It was another change for me to cover and under-21 game and I must say I enjoy going to Albyn Park. It is a superb facilty and it is run by James Pegg on behalf of the home club. That, to me, is the most important aspect of this modern football stadium. Broxburn are the front runners in West Lothian and all I can say is they are making a great job of it. I enjoyed the game and congratulations to Broxburn on their hard-earned win and also to Murieston for making it such a sporting game to watch.
As Broxburn and Murieston are among my favourite clubs in youth club football it would have suited my just fine if both clubs could have won the tie. Stupid of me, but that is the way I felt.
Final Result: Broxburn Athletic Colts 2-1 Murieston United