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Hillfield Swifts saw off tough competition from Haddington Athletic as they progressed to the final of the South East Region Cup. Both teams put in a spirited performance but ultimately, it was the visitors who emerged victorious. Five goals to Haddington’s two ensured Swifts’ place in the final of the competition, where they will face either Leith Athletic or Victoria FC.
Both teams looked to stamp their authority on the match straight from kick-off but it was the home side who, in the opening stages of the match, had a more dominant spell of possession. The first real chance of the match came when Haddington’s Steven Kean delivered a cross into the box, which found the head of Murray Lorimer. Lorimer headed towards goal but saw his effort fall into the hands of Swifts keeper Dale Mason, who did well to hold onto the ball. A host of chances followed for the home side, none of which found the net, and Haddington could have perhaps felt slightly unlucky not to be a goal in front.
Hillfield battled to get back into the match, however, and enjoyed a sustained period of possession thereafter. Using the full width of the pitch to create several chances for themselves, they looked close to breaking the deadlock. They did so on fifteen minutes, when a free-kick was won on the edge of the box. Sam Glancy stepped up to take it and fired a great curling shot round the Haddington wall and into the side of the net, giving his team the lead in the cup tie.
Haddington responded in style, minutes later, when Jack Martin played a perfectly weighted ball to Lorimer. Through a pass from Lorimer in the box, Darren Handling was given a chance to equalise. He slid in to get a touch on the ball, just before the Hillfield keeper could get there, and knocked it into the back of the net to tie the scores.
The rest of the first-half played out in and end-to-end fashion. Both sides had great chances to go in front before half-time, notably Haddington who were presented with a golden opportunity, through a right-footed cross from Lorimer. The in-swinging ball found the head of Kean but he saw his header fly just over the cross-bar, to the delight of Hillfield, who could easily have found themselves a goal down.
However, the visitors also had chances of their own. Twice they were denied by the woodwork, firstly from a powerful shot by Glancy and then through an effort from Dylan Wilkinson.
Half Time: Haddington Athletic 1-1 Hillfield Swifts
Hillfield found themselves in front, just two minutes after the restart, when they were awarded a penalty, won by Wilkinson. Jack Matson stepped up to take it and scored, sending the keeper the wrong way. What followed was a series of attacks by Haddington, desperate to get themselves back into the game. Despite their best efforts, however, Hillfield remained resilient in defence, notably through Euan Munro who made several important tackles, to maintain his side’s one goal advantage.
This advantage was to increase on the sixty-fifth minute, however, as the away side scored their third goal of the match, through a fantastic move by Ben Robertson. Pushing forward on the right-wing, he cut inside, nut-megging a defender in the process. Then, with the ball at his feet inside the box, he unleashed a left-footed strike that flew past the Haddington keeper and into the back of the net.
Keen to hold onto their lead and not let Haddington back into the game, as had happened in the first half, the visitors continued to pile pressure on the defence of the home team. A couple of good saves from Haddington’s keeper Banks kept his side in the game but on seventy minutes, Hillfield increased their lead even further. Sam Robertson created a chance from nothing when he slid in perfectly timed, to retrieve the ball in Haddington’s half. He then sped towards goal, outrunning the defence to get a shot away which rolled into the left-hand side of the net, making the score four-one to Swifts.
The hosts sparked hopes of a comeback when Myles Doig skilfully dribbled past three Swifts defenders and set up Darren Handling for a tap-in at the far post. However, victory for Hillfield was sealed when Ben Robertson and Joshua McGonagal linked up, in a one-two passing move, which ended in a second goal for Robertson and a fifth for his team.
The visitors saw out the final few minutes of the game, to ensure their place in the cup final. They will go into the game full of confidence, after managing to put five goals past a strong Haddington side.
Full Time: Haddington Athletic 2-5 Hillfield Swifts