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My last final of the weekend was for the David Murray Cup and I wonder if you will believe me if I say AGAIN just how good a game it was. Stunning in fact and it built up to the most incredible finish. It was another step in to the unknown for me as I did not know just what to expect from Bonnyrigg Rose and Leith Athletic. In the event, it was simply as good as it gets for me at this age level. If I tell you Leith Athletic won 3-2 you may think it was just an average under-19 youth club finale. It was not! In my humble opinion, it was a fantastic game to watch with wonderful goals and, well, Leith Athletic’s winner in the last minute of the game was simply something very special.
Bonnyrigg beat Edinburgh United Juniors 1-0 in a final the previous week and would you also believe me if I said they played even better, much better, against Leith Athletic - but lost! Even more of a mystery is the fact Bonnyrigg went 2-0 in front in the first half from two stunners of goals from No 11, Thomas Thomson. Was the Bonnyrigg player fired up for this latest final, no, he was simply on a different planet and in a world of his own. His celebrations when scoring in the 12th minute and again in the 24th minute. Help ma boab, I thought Tom was going to blow a fuse and from then on he just could not calm down. He was like a man possessed with the most incredible desire to win.
This game, as I have already mentioned was an old-fashioned humdinger of a cup final. The pace was frightening and every blade of grass on the big pitch at New Dundas Park in Bonnyrigg was covered and so too up the outside of the touchlines. It was damn scary at times, I can tell you and how I did not get the ball in my mush (face) I’ll never know. Even before the start, when Bonnyrigg warmed up, goalkeeper Liam McCathie almost clocked me one on the back of the head when practising his clearances from hand. And to think I praised Liam to the hilt for his performance the week before. There is gratitude for you. Liam tried to shut me up for good but the ball hit the wall near the changing rooms. I was just about to put my notebook in my pocket, Liam, and give someone my cameras to keep, while I sorted you out, but it was all in my head. I could not take care of a mouse these days. But the pen is mightier than the sword as they say, so read on baby doll. I will have my say about you!
Players from both sides played above themselves in this final, aye, including Liam McCathie (spoil sport). The blistering pace never slackened and when Bonnyrigg went 2-0 up from the David Bowie in their side - ground control to major Tom and all that jazz - people on the terracing just could not believe what they were seeing. I was at the end where Thomson scored both his goals and I can assure everyone he wanted more. I must say I do not know if Thomson arrived in a space craft but all that was missing was antennae sprouting from out of his head. Thomson just did not score two goals, he just about ripped the net apart with the force of his shots. When his team-mates got a hold of him to celebrate, I thought Thomson would have ripped them apart physically. I expected a blood bath! But, in my experience, all teams from Leith never give in and they are also full of character. And this current Leith under-19 squad fitted the bill exactly. Sorry Tom Thomson, but it was Leith who got ripped in to Bonnyrigg. Wonderful football all over the pitch and I have to give praise to Bonnyrigg No 8, Harry Tranent, who had a quite superb game in midfield for his side. Well done, Harry. You know what I mean, ‘Arry!
This game benefited from having a great referee in Kevin Ferguson. He was well nigh perfect in every way with his decisions. And, let’s face it, he had to or Thomson would have had Kevin for tea! With or without salad! Leith No 10, Sean MacPherson was just one of the many, many stars in the famous black and white colours of Leith Athletic. Trailing 2-0, there was no chance at all that Leith would not get goals. Urged on by inspirational skipper, Llyndon Leonard (No 6) the Leith players accepted the challenge from this tanked-up Bonnyrigg side and it was just brilliant to watch. And in such good spirit as well. I have tried to keep his name out of my report, but Liam McCathie had another very good day, indeed. Huh, why mention just Liam however, as all the players in both teams contributed to a great, great game of football. And the coffee, tea, bacon rolls, sausage rolls and sweets for sale in the café round the back were very good as well.
Bonnyrigg No 14, Lewis Turkington, tried to steal some of the thunder away from David Bowie, sorry Tom Thomson (without a pee) with a good effort that fully tested Reece Smail in the Leith goal. Harry Tranent even tried to score from 40yd out - yes, it was that kind of game! A mistake in the Bonnyrigg defence - how do you account for that, Liam McCathie. Come on, tell me, own up! The ball went to Liam Conaghan (No 11) but the Leith player shot wide. How could you, Liam Conaghan! Did you not know I had it in for Liam McCathie. I wanted to criticise him for trying to belt me on the head with the ball! But, yes ha ha, Leith scored their first goal of the game. Euan Morrice (No 14) did all the hard work on the right before delivering the ball across McCathie’s goal and No 9, Ross Davies finished off superbly.
That made it 2-1 and it was hee haw time for Liam McCathie. Play did not just surge from end to end, it just about blew me away such was the speed and commitment of all the players on the pitch. A Jed Baxter corner for Bonnyrigg was headed goalwards by Harry Tranent but the net-bound shot was cleared off the line. I can only imagine what the celebrations would have been like if Harry had scored. Maybe the next time, big man! Then Bonnyrigg No 16 was aggrieved when he was shunted off the ball while on a run on the left by Llyndon Learnard. Calum Murray was next to make his mark on the game with a surging run at the Leith goal, only to lose control of the ball at a vital time. Up to the other end and a good cross in to McCathie’s goal was scrambled away. What the hell is the referee blowing his whistle for? Oh, sorry, it was half-time.
Half Time: Bonnyrigg Rose 1-2 Leith Athletic
Bonnyrgg started the second half as if they had rockets up their backsides. Bonnyrigg on the right; Bonnyrigg on the left; Bonnyrigg through the middle - but they met their match in the Leith defence. Then a sweeping Bonnyrigg move involving Dean Whitson and Harry Tranent produced a great shot from Whitson, but Reece Smail was perfectly placed to gather the ball in and clear. Oh, how close was that?
Leith No 8, Callum Mein, was so close to getting the equaliser. But it was coming. I knew because I could feel it in my water! McCathie came away off his line to clear from Ross Davies, but the pressure on Bonnyrigg built up. Leith No 5, Sean Melvin, slammed a wonderful shot off Bonnyrigg defender but McCathie’s time was running out. I could just feel it! No-one tries to down old Ian with a football! No, not even Liam McCathie! Hee, hee, I have to say some of Liam’s clearances in to the wind were erratic. Nice word, that! I will try to use it again!
Lewis Turkington continued to impress for Bonnyrigg (as well as Liam McCathie and big ‘Arry). Bonyrigg’s luck ran out in the 11th minute of the second half when a wonderful wind-assisted free kick slammed off McCathie’s left-hand post and No 10, Sean MacPherson followed up to score the equaliser. 2-2, hallelujah! The shit really hit the fans from then on! Some idiot or a spectator was told to leave the ground for alleged racist remarks and it appeared to me the group who were sent packing then appeared on a the roof of a garage behind one of the goals at New Dundas Park, outside the stadium.
Leith attacked as if their very lifes depended on it. It was simply marvellous and Liam McCathie was outstanding again. Darren Gallagher blasted a shot over the Bonnyrigg goal and, when play went to the other end, Smail was alert to clear. Then came the goal of the game - NOT! Leith broke out from their own half and when a wonderful cross was delivered in to the Bonnyrigg goal No 9, Ross Davies, met it perfectly to score with a header. But linesman Billy Connor had his flag up for offside against the Leith striker.
It was Leith Athletic who were on fire at that stage and they went hunting for the winner. And they duly got it - in the last minute of normal time. It was chaotic in McCathie’s goalmouth as the ball bobbed about all over the place until it landed just right for Callum Mein to score with a low shot in to the right hand corner of McCathie’s goal. That made it 3-2 for Leith and it also brought down the curtain of a wonderful under-19 cup final. In time added on, Bonnyrigg tried their best to get an equaliser of their own, but not this week.
Full Time: Bonnyrigg Rose 2-3 Leith Athletic