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Winning a cup tie by six goals to nil was a good day’s work for Leith Athletic in their South East Region Cup clash with Chapelhall at Leith Links, but it was hard work for the home side. This game was a credit most of all to youth club football. It was played on a magnificent grass pitch prepared by Tam Currie and both sets of players and coaches did themselves proud.
All I can add to that is I thought the Leith and Chapelhall coaches came across as great role models for young football players. I also think it is right for me to mention the Chapelhall goalkeeper, Marc Airlie, for what I thought was an outstanding display. Marc was fantastic at coming off his line to block shots and also cleverly standing up in one-to-one face-offs with Leith attackers to force shots to be hit wide of the goal.
Chapelhall also defended high up the pitch and the Leith front-runners were caught offside... again... and again... and again! Brilliant match referee Jim Sim got all of his calls right, totally right regardless of a comment from one of the ‘so-called’ experts on the touchline. Jim, if it means anything to you, the very nice Chapelhall coaches thought you ‘were the best referee they have ever had’! Coming from coaches of a team beaten 6-0 is surely a great accolade for someone whom I also consider to be one of the best referees I have ever seen.
While the high-flying Leith combine struggled (i) not to stray offside and (ii) to get the better of Marc Airlie, it was only a matter of time before they scored. Robbie Ewing and Ross Larner will, I suppose, score a bucket load of goals this season but I lost count of the number of times these two very good players were caught in the Chapelhall offside trap and also their frustration at their inability to outwit big Marc Airlie in the Chapelhall goal. Leith did go 1-0 up in the 11th minute (I know that is right as I bought myself a ‘talking’ watch). Russell Hogg it was who scored from close in after a header was cleared off the Chapelhall line and Hogg’s trundler went in at the left hand post.
1-0 to the home side. But the Chapelhall defenders worked even harder to stop the Leith ‘battering ram’ assaults on Marc Lennie’s goal. After 30 minutes of non-stop attacks and good breaks from Chapelhall, it was still only 1-0 for Leith. Big Jamie Cook, wearing the No 2 jersey for Leith looked in tremendous form and his runs from the right side of the defence and also his lay-offs to team-mates showed him up as a real class act. The young man from Monktonhall in Musselburgh was no shrinking violet either when it came to tackling and also in ‘attack mode’ on the Chapelhall goal.
Ross Larner eventually cottoned on to the Chapelhall tactics and when he cut in from the right, he also showed great awareness when Marc Airlie again came out to block him on his run. But there was no stopping Ross this time and the Leith No 10, quite precisely and deliberately, chipped a great shot past the Chapelhall ‘last line of defence’ in to the empty net. That made it 2-0 and it was I have to add a superbly taken goal. Well done, indeed, to Ross Larner. Somehow or other, it was still only 2-0 at half-time.
Half Time: Leith Athletic 2-0 Chapelhall Thistle
Quite amazing, really, considering how the home team had so much of the play. Chapelhall did well to keep the score down to 2-0 and when they broke away, they did create quite good moves. Everything pointed to a Leith victory.
Where was Mike English when we all needed him? The big man parks his mobile food bar on the road at Leith Links and this popular man is renowned for his bacon rolls, etc, etc. But not on Sunday afternoon. Mike had up sticks and left and we, the spectators at the game, were left without food and drink to sustain us in the second half. I will have to have a word with the big man! I will have to be careful, however, as he is much bigger, younger and stronger than I am!
Leith Athletic again dominated the second half and it was ‘game time’ for all the players in this very good under-16 squad. The attacks on Marc Airlie’s goal were relentless and the goalie and his defenders used up all their ‘get out of jail’ cards in this game in the second half. Leith should have scored the proverbial ‘barrow load’ of goals. But Airlie and Co were magnificent and here I also mention their No 3, Paul Hawthorne, who had a superb game on the left-side of defence.
Robbie Ewing made it 3-0 from a header and Russell Hogg snapped up a rebound off Airlie to make it 4-0. Jake Owens and Liam Demianczuk eventully found the back of the net to make the final scoreline 6-0. Liam, in the No 17 jersey, had a really frustrating time trying to beat Airlie so it was good to see him eventually get on the score sheet.
On a personal level, I would also have liked to see Leith No 14, Michael Thorburn, get among the goalscorers. What a wonderful attitude and no lack of skill Liam showed in the second half. A player, I have to say. ‘after my own heart’! A wee dynamo of player if ever I have seen one. Great stuff Michael.
Before I finish, the save of the game from Leith keeper, Craig Kinnear. Chapelhall No 9, Kieron McCracken, looked certain to score from a few yards out and his shot did, indeed, looked destined for the back of the net, until Kinnear somehow or other got his left-hand to the ball and deflected it wide for a corner. What a great save that was from Craig Kinnear.
So, lots to enjoy and admire and I repeat again, to be at a game played in such great spirit and sportsmanship allied to the great role models on both touchlines, it was very good day for youth club football.
Full time: Leith Athletic 6-0 Chapelhall Thistle