Today seen the visit of Lauriston Thistle to little old Longniddry and after a difficult few weeks in which we had been in control for long periods of games creating so many chances to win comfortably only to somehow lose. What would today bring? Joy? Tears? Or just total disbelief?
As always with this team nothing is ever simple. No game goes by without some sort of situation. No subs, kicking off with 10 men and even playing a whole game with 10 once, but today even had the referee puzzled. Due to circumstances beyond my control we had to play today’s game without a Goalkeeper. Yes you read correctly, no keeper! Never have I felt so downhearted looking at our guys having to break the news. 12 sets of eyes just looked at me puzzled (yes 12 more on that later). "What are we going to do?" was the collective reply. What could we do but sit in dressing room 20 minutes before kick off and ask one of my players to step up? And so they did. First of all Hamish agreed, and then Martin both said they would take a half each. inside I was both proud and scared we might be on the end of a heavy defeat, but I wasn't about to let the boys know that.
The first half was an even and honest contest played in good spirit, with both sides getting the ball down to play some superb football which was a joy to watch. Some light rain earlier in the day meant that the pitch was fast and ideal for passing beyond and behind the defence and into space. Both teams were hitting what looked to be good passes but due to the pitch, they were skidding away from the strikers and causing a real lack of chances being created in the first half. But I was happy and impressed with the first half performance under the circumstances.
Half time: Longniddry Villa Blues 0-0 Lauriston Thistle
The second half began,(remember I said 12 sets of eyes) and yes I finally got to make a substitution. The change seen Sam come off and Murray take to the field as lone striker. Hamish vacated his goalkeeping gloves and Martin took his place in the sticks for the second half. I had a sensing feeling we could get in-behind the Lauriston defence I was hoping Murray could break their backline.
Some neat passing in midfield played in Murray early in the second half, and he was on his way to goal. A great first time got him away from the chasing pack of defenders, then some good close control gave him the shooting opportunity and he fired the ball into the corner to break the deadlock.
Our joy was short lived as a corner from Lauriston forced Martin into a top save but the ball broke kindly to the Lauriston player inside the box as we failed to clear our lines and they managed to squeeze the ball into the net. A lovely finish from the lad as he somehow managed to find a way past so many players in a crowded penalty area.
This didn't seem to affect the Longniddry boys as previously the heads would go down and we would of lost this game. It was time to roll the sleeves up and get stuck in. There was a couple of nervy moments for the home side as Lauriston grew into the game but Martin more than once showed good safe hands to prevent the visitors from taking the lead.
Another good move from Longniddry played in Murray, and this time he rounded the onrushing keeper but the ball was skidding across the wet surface and looked to be heading out. Ah well, unlucky Murray. To my disbelief however, he got on the end of the ball and somehow managed to score from the most acute angle i've ever seen. What a goal son! Pure genius, and to the disbelief of everyone at the game, including himself.
We where now starting to boss the midfield more and goal number 3 soon followed. Murray once again escaping his marker then unselfishly squaring the ball for Ross to knock the ball home to give us some breathing space.
The lads seemed very relaxed now and with only 5 minutes to go an unfortunate mistake between their keeper and defender allowed Murray to pick up the loose ball and lash home for a very nice 4-1 victory.
Full Time: Longniddry Villa Blues 4-1
I was delighted with the boys today despite everything these lads have had to put up with over the last few weeks. Last minute call offs, no subs, extra time cup exit heartache and now losing our keeper, they have once again shown that they have the will, desire, ability and passion when faced with unbelievable hurdles. They all pulled together as a team their spirit will not be broken.
Credit must go to Lauriston Thistle though as the football they played was sublime and a very good match that was played in the best of spirits by both sets of players.
Massive well done to everyone of my little lions today it’s been a tough few weeks but our defence was solid, captain for the day Gregor was great pushing the team forward and barking instructions, the midfield battled and chased every ball, Young Sam ran his heart out in the 1st half being asked to play the lone striker role is never easy & Murray may have grabbed the goals but it was a team effort today.. And a massive thank you to Hamish and Martin for stepping up and filling the void in goal.