Linlithgow Rose overcame a spirited performance from Boroughmuir Thistle to advance to the final of the South East Region Cup.
On a beautifully sunny night in the West Lothian town, it was the home side who started the brightest.
Grace Molloy found herself through on the keeper. Flying off her line in a style that has become indicative of Manuel Neuer, Niamh O’Neill-Berest came out to clear the ball away 40 yards from her goalmouth. A spectacular piece of sweeper keeping that we would see again in the match.
The match was a scrappy affair early on, with the visitors especially struggling to settle. Only the classy work of Raewyn Murphy was standing out for Boroughmuir, who were desperately seeking a way into the proceedings.
After 10 minutes, Linlithgow Rose knew they would get joy down the right flank. Grace Molloy fired a cross across the box, and Lucy McEwan found herself in on goal. Trying to sneak the ball in at the front post however, she could only find the side netting.
Again down the right, the ever impressive Rheanna Kennedy was waltzing down the touchline. Her angled ball found Fiona Tuckett, who from five yards on the swivel, could only sting the palms of the keeper.
With all the pressure, Linlithgow Rose were suddenly stunned. Elena Santioyo-Brown was found with a delicate ball that split the defence like the red sea. With just the keeper to beat, she delicately placed the ball into the bottom corner of the net, and gave her side the lead. Rose were stunned, and all their good play had been for nothing thus far.
It was not long before Rose were on level terms though. McEwan was the beneficiary from more stellar work from Kennedy on the right flank when a whipped cross from the wing caused pinball in the Boroughmuir area. A shot was released and the keeper could only fumble the shot into the box. There was McEwan with the easiest of finishes in to an empty net, and Linlithgow were deservedly level.
Shortly afterwards, McEwan had doubled her personal tally, and given her side the lead. It was a weak clearance from the Boroughmuir defence, and she found herself with just the keeper to beat. Calmness personified, she fired across O’Neill-Berest, watching on as the ball nestled in the bottom corner to give Linlithgow the lead.
Estelle Fuller was becoming a shining light for Boroughmuir, and her mesmerising dribbles were causing all sorts of problems in the host team's backline. After beating three players however, she could only fire over. Things were not going right for her, or for Boroughmuir, and the wondrous abilities of Kennedy were the driving force for the Rose attacks.
It was Boroughmuir who had the best chance before the whistle however. A towering header from Sarah McLaren was heading straight for the top right corner. Somehow, Beth Hopwood in the Linlithgow net managed to claw the ball away from goal, and pushed it away spectacularly for a corner. Linlithgow had preserved their lead, and were ready to push on in the second half.