With the floodlights on and the light fading the rain began to fall but the mood in the crowd was not to be dampened ahead of the South East Region Youth Football Association Polar Foods Cup final. The two teams were going through their respective warm-ups, eager to start the game on the front foot, and although the pitch was quite bumpy passing drills were a signal of intent from both sides.
Straight from the kick off, it was Craigroyston who started the quickest and they applied the early pressure. They forced a series of corners and it was through one of these that they took the lead. The ball was swung into the box and escaped everyone except Jamie McEwan who controlled it and powered a shot at the near post which nestled in the corner of the net. It was a dream start for Craigroyston and one their coaches would be delighted with!
Craigroyston had their tails up and looked to press home their advantage but North Merchiston were standing tall in defence. They broke play up efficiently and were not afraid to get the ball down and play when they got the chance.
On the 10 minute mark, North Merchiston fashioned a good chance to get back into the game. Fergus Steel was brought down inside the box and the referee duly pointed at the spot. Steel brushed himself down and stepped up to take the penalty however Craigroyston keeper Darren Owen was equal to it and saved the shot.
The penalty scare prompted a response from Craigroyston and they pushed forward again looking to double their lead. They came very close to doing just that when Tyler McKinlay whipped in a free kick which was cleared through a glancing header at the expense of a corner. The resultant corner found the head of Max MacGillivray who saw his goalbound effort palmed onto the bar by Finn McNicol in the North Merchiston goal before being cleared by the defence.
Craigroyston continued on the front foot and stretched their lead before half time. Some more good work down the left by Chelsea Diamond forced the corner and when the ball was driven into the box Steven Pouton flicked a header goalward. The ball was cleared off the line but only as far as Ben Hunter who looped a header over the defender into the far corner.