Hillfield Swifts produced an assured performance to claim the League Cup after dispatching Musselburgh Windsor 96 in what was a very entertaining, but ultimately one sided affair.
The tone of the game seemed to be set within the opening 10 minutes; Swifts seemed content to control the pace of the game and recycle the ball, while Musselburgh looked to take advantage of the direct ball and hit the opposition on the break. Scott Russell, playing as the lone striker for Swifts, hassled and harried the opposition defence constantly, not allowing them time to grow into the game while his captain, Yousaf Asam swept up well in midfield and picked up any loose passes; the combination resulted in a sustained pressure high up the pitch for Swifts, never allowing Musselburgh a chance early on.
However during this early period the back three for Musselburgh defended well, dealing with a series of crosses from the flanks with relative ease. With 20 minutes on the clock, neither ‘keeper had been forced to make any real save, until a few minutes later Scott Chapman picked up a bouncing clearance and hitting a hopeful half volley which James Donaldson in the Swifts goal saved well.
Just as Musselburgh looked to be growing into the game with some half chances, Swifts scored a breakaway goal. With 30 minutes on the clock, Ciaran Chalmers picked the ball up deep in his own half and produced a great run down the field, eventually playing it to Daryl Healy on the left wing. He squared the ball beyond the defence into the path of Ryan Barry, who just managed to poke the ball under the onrushing ‘keeper and into the back of the net.
Minutes later, Swifts created another chance. After the ball was won in midfield, it was played long downfield into the path of Russell, who was left one on one with the Musselburgh ‘keeper Craig Hunter, but his low shot was saved well with his outstretched right hand.
After more great pressure, Swifts doubled their lead with a expertly taken goal after a great assist from Aidan McGuire. He controlled the ball on the half way line and arched a ball into the path of Barry, this time popping up on the right of the Musselburgh box. His first touch took him clear of the last defender, and faced with the ‘keeper he smashed the ball high into the back of the net.
Swifts were not content with a 2-0 lead though, and minutes later added another goal. This goal was a well worked beauty, started thanks to Asam collecting the ball and playing a one-two that put him into space on the left flank. He then passed the ball to his midfield partner Ciaran Chalmers, who beat one defender and fired a low shot that the ‘keeper could only parry. Russell followed up though, as all great goalscorers do, and tapped the rebound in beyond the ‘keeper.
With the half drawing to a close, Swifts came close to a 4th goal. Russell, a constant thorn in the Musselburgh side, orchestrated some lovely one touch football and received the ball off Healy on the left of the box. He lifted his head and curled a low shot that bounced off the right hand post and bounced clear.
The referee blew his whistle and the first half came to a close. Swifts started well, but Musselburgh defended resolutely against their more composed approach. However as the half progressed Swifts began to move forward with much more urgency and exploited any little gap in the opposition defence; scoring three goals in quick succession and unlucky only go in at half time 3-0 up.