Blantyre cruised into the quarter finals Scottish Cup with a comprehensive victory over Edinburgh outfit Edina Hibs. Blantyre profited from scoring early in the game and never allowed Edina appropriate opportunity to get back into it despite their very best efforts.
It was Blantyre who kicked off on what was a beautiful winter morning at Bent Recreation Park. The only problem might have been for the goalkeepers with the low sun perhaps likely to cause them sme sight problems. The AstroTurf surface gave each team the opportunity to pass the ball and look to impose themselves on the other from the opening exchanges. It was Blantyre that started slightly sharper, their early pressing leading to a corner in the third minute. They took full advantage of this early set piece opportunity, Michael McGinty fighting in a delightful corner that was begging for somebody to get their head to. Reiss Mulvanney did just that, nodding emphatically past the helpless Jordan Richardson in the Edina goal. A brilliant start for Blantyre and one which they were looking to build on immediately.
Edina looked to respond quickly however, Lewis Kynoch almost finding himself clean through but his advances were well halted by the brave Mark Cunningham in the Blantyre goal. Edina were looking to get Blair Ferguson on the ball too wide on the left but he was being well marshaled by Brian Martin. Daniel McKinnon was probing from the centre and seeking to set his teammates free with passes but these were being read well by Blantyre, determined not to concede a quick equaliser following their great start.
In the tenth minute Edina were dealt a further blow when Lee Brown made it two nil. A good passing move down the right saw Brown emerge with the ball in a dangerous position on the edge of the box. A neat piece of skill allowed him to create the appropriate amount of space, to which he then applied full composure by slotting the ball into the corner of the net. A finish of real quality by the Blantyre man and further proof of the clinicalness Blantyre were displaying today. Two chances and two goals saw their confidence soaring whilst Edina were left to wonder what had happened given they had not done a great deal wrong in the opening exchanges.
Brown was certainly feeling confident, turning well in the box before shooting just wide after receiving a bouncing ball from a throw in. In the sixteenth minute Blantyre made it three nil and no words can really do justice to the strike direct from a free kick by Michael McGinty but we will try. Wide on the right hand side of the box McGinty hit a high, arching and powerful left footed shot right past Richardson and in off the post. It was a goal of fantastic technique and certainly fit to grace any cup tie. McGinty had shown various examples of his technique in the opening exchanges and this certainly confirmed it. Brown and McGinty were proving to be the difference between the sides.
It appeared that Edina had a mountain to climb to get back into this game with Blantyre threatening to score almost every time they ventured forward. They did so again in the twentieth minute and it was from another set piece. This time Brown stood over the ball to the left of centre of the goal. The forward hit a low drilled effort past the wall and into the corner of the net, proving just too powerful and evading the diving Richardson’s efforts in goal. A different type of strike to McGinty’s earlier one but no less effective. Four nil to Blantyre and it looked like the game was very much over.
To their credit Edina kept going for the rest of the half and forced a series of corners which unfortunately for them came to nothing. Mulvanney and Ryan McGuinness were commanding in the centre, ably supported by tenacious full backs in Martin and Dylan McStravock. They were not going to give up a goal easily and in fact Blantyre should have made it five nil ten minutes with Luke McKibben shooting wide when free in the box. Brown was also keen to get a hat trick, drawing a fantastic save from Richardson who tipped over his twenty five yard effort. Ferguson had one final effort for Edina from a difficult angle that was easily held by Cunningham. The half time whistle blew which probably came as a relief to the side from the East.