Weather more suited to late November rather than early May was what awaited the two teams ready to go head-to-head for a chance to play in the Ian Mackay cup final. AC Oxgangs and Longniddry Villa under 14s braved the elements on a bleak Sunday morning at Saughton Sports Complex.
The opening exchanges were scrappy with both teams looking to gain control of the ball and settle in to their natural game. It would be Villa who would have the first real chance of the game as a cross from deep by Ellis Grieve shaved the outside of ACO goalkeeper Arran Paterson’s post. Just minutes later, Longniddry would take the lead when a rocket left the boot of Cameron Laidlaw from distance out on the right side and found the bottom left corner of the net. Despite a valiant attempted save from Paterson, who saw the shot late and dived the right way, the score with just seven minutes played was 0-1.
The setback seemed to spur on AC Oxgangs and they responded in kind when Alistair McWhirter cut through the Villa defence with a perfectly timed through ball which found Ewan Evans advancing on the keeper. The forward made no mistake and coolly slotted past the advancing goalkeeper to level the game, 1-1 with just under 15 minutes played.
An early couple of goals can sometimes wrongfully convince the spectator that they are in for a cracker. This was not to be the case at Saughton as another goal was to follow just minutes after the equaliser. A well worked throw in routine saw space open up for Villa’s Alistair Maclachlan who dutifully dinked the ball in to the path of Grieve on the edge of the ACO box. Grieve made no mistake picking his spot for a calm finish, 17 minutes played the score 1-2.
AC would once again rally after conceding, and indeed they played some very nice football in spells. With around 20 minutes on the clock Reece Ferrier’s neat pass was played in to the feet of Gavin Wells who provided a chipped ball which was met by the head of McWhirter to play in Evans for a shot at goal. The resulting effort may have failed to unsettle the Villa goalkeeper but it was a moment of footballing skill and togetherness which really caught the eye.
Despite AC Oxgangs best efforts however the score would remain 2-1 to Villa in to the closing stages of the first half, and indeed it might be said that Villa were unlucky not to be going in at the break with just the one goal advantage. A long ball from the midfield on 25 minutes saw great control from Alex Williamson as he took the ball under control, only a brave tackle from ACO’s Christopher Sankey stopping the forward from pulling the trigger. Williamson looked a real threat for his team and indeed he would have the final chance of the first half as he got on the end of a fantastic crossfield ball from Jack Branley to power in to the box. Only a fantastic reflex save from Paterson kept the score 1-2 going in to half time.