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Three goals, a goalkeeper sent off, a partisan crowd and a good natured pitch invasion at the end. This cup final had it all as Dalbeath Colts defeated Woodside BC 3-0 to lift the AFYFC U17 League Cup on Thursday 23rd May at Denfield, home of Kirkcaldy YM Juniors. Yes indeed, excitement aplenty in the Lang Toun on a bitterly cold evening, when the rain was never far away and a wicked wind blew in a straight line from one goalmouth to the other.
Dalbeath kicked off this well attended final on the stroke of 7pm with the wind at their backs and took full advantage with only two minutes on the clock. Poor Woodside were still trying to gauge the wind speed when a sliced clearance from defence looped high in the air and back towards Darryl Gear in goal. There seemed to be little danger as centre half and goalkeeper combined to marshall the ball to safety but Dalbeath’s Zak Cruickshank took a chance, nipped in between the two of them, rounded the keeper and tucked it away for the first counter of the evening.
What followed was end to end, Dalbeath using the wind to release a long, fast ball to their forwards, whilst Woodside tried to keep the ball down and pry open the Dalbeath defence, who were holding a high line, catching Woodside offside more than once. Two corners in the first 5 minutes brought no joy for Woodside although they were clearly settling into the game after their early setback, Raymond Crichton showing some nice control in possession. Much of the game was being played in midfield and both sides were guilty of wasting some of the opportunities coming their way; the elements taking their toll on final balls and finishing.
In 19 minutes Andrew Stark was unlucky not to put Dalbeath two up when he slid in on the end of a free kick but his effort went narrowly past. He made no such mistake 15 minutes later. After successive corners Aaron Keenan looked like he’d be the one to make it 2-0, his header seemingly goal-bound, but it was cleared off the line and fell to Stark who lashed it home from the tightest of angles. Dalbeath two up and in control.
In the final chance of the half Woodside’s Nathan Feeley found himself through with only the keeper to beat. The shot was sound enough but straight into the arms of the relieved Sean McKinnon in goal, and so it finished 2-0 to Dalbeath at half time.
Half Time: Woodside BC 0-2 Dalbeath Colts
The second half saw Dalbeath on the attack early to extend their lead, Connor Adamson, Gregg Page and Kenneth Stewart all unlucky not to add to the scoreline. Woodside’s Dylan Anderson then fizzed in a vicious low drive from the right which would surely only have needed a touch to make it count but unfortunately there were no takers. The game began to get a bit towsy, with both teams very keen to make something happen – Woodside to score the goal which would bring them back in and Dalbeath seeking their 3rd and what would surely be a clincher. The tackles were getting tougher and the contact heavier when Dalbeath’s Andrew Stark scored his second and Dalbeath’s third after a good move up the left wing, cutting in and dispatching it past the despairing hands of Darryl Gear.
We were treated to another smoke bomb by the local Ultras before Woodside’s goalkeeper compounded his own and his team’s misery in 71 minutes by getting himself sent off needlessly for dissent. The referee had stopped the game so Dalbeath’s no.5 Page could receive treatment for cramp, the ref surprisingly administering the treatment himself. Darryl Gear was clearly unhappy with this decision and made his feelings known, in no uncertain terms. Once Page had recovered the ref called Gear to him and booked him for dissent. Gear then mockingly applauded the referee, who had no hesitation in administering a second booking and sent the keeper packing. Liam Rolland was the brave team-mate who donned the jersey and gloves and took his place between the sticks. Woodside 0-3 down and reduced to 10 men.
Remarkably, the remainder of the match passed without further major incident, a booking for Woodside’s Crichton for simulation and another smoke bomb notwithstanding. Rolland was not sorely tested in the Woodside goal, apart from one fantastic double save, and Dalbeath seemed content to keep possession and latterly simply clear their lines. Woodside could find no way through a resolute defence and couldn’t take advantage of the strong wind still blowing behind them, overhitting too many long balls. The light was fading, the noisy Dalbeath supporters on the sidelines were getting louder, and when the final whistle blew there was a good natured pitch invasion to join the team in celebration.
Dalbeath were worthy of the win and were better able to harness the elements on the night to their advantage. They were more direct and dangerous in attack and used the ball more effectively when they had it. Woodside’s final ball needed to be better and they needed to make better decisions when in control, but to the credit of both clubs it ended sportingly with handshakes all round and well meant applause as the trophies were handed out. It was certainly a game this reporter won’t forget in a hurry.
Full Time: Woodside BC 0-3 Dalbeath Colts