In the concave bowl of Davidson’s Mains park, set against the browning leaves of autumn and the shining sun of winter, Cramond FC welcomed a Leith side with whom, through a developing rivalry, they are becoming ever more familiar.
In a cracking contest which produced 7 goals, Cramond made a blistering start, taking the lead only 2 minutes into the game. Leith were then set the challenge of getting level in the next 5 by their coach. They waited a little longer than that but still achieved the objective before Cramond replied to take a lead into the break.
As it turned out the game was won through the tactical changes made by the Leith coach at half time, bringing on a raft of subs and slightly altering the formation. The front 2 played with a fluid link through an extra attacking midfielder and the more compact midfield and defensive block in the Leith side proved harder for Cramond to break down.
Supported by dynamic wing play, Leith were deadly in attack for a period of fifteen minutes in the second half when the game was essentially settled.
Cramond should take heart though. Their performance deserved a much more favourable scoreline.
After a brazen distribution around the back four and the keeper from kick off, Cramond switched rapidly to attack mode and send Richard Kerr scampering off down the left inside channel and into the area. A minute or so later Leith’s Ewan Stark attempted a cute spun flick inside the Cramond box into his oncoming colleague. Back in midfield James Burt then showed composure to set up a run into the area from Lee Thomson who’s touch was good but pushed the ball a little too far to reach a follow up cross.
As Stark stepped inside and sent a curling shot from the left just passed the upright with his right, Leith were threatening to make an opening before Cramond’s Rowan Fife laid on his number 10, Elliot Taylor who hit a powerful shot in to the Leith goal to make it 1-0 to the home side.
Leith promptly got a rise from the coach and a new ball were called for – the two aren’t connected but the Cramond shot certainly did. “You’ve got 5 minutes to get back into the game lads!” was the proposition and his team dutifully upped the intensity and set about their passing game.
It was a release in the Leith pressure which caused the next meaningful attack though and it came from Cramond’s Aiden Quinn playing at number 9, who surged through the midfield, passed short to a team mate and a foul and free kick was the outcome. Elliot Taylor hit a good strike but the wall did its job and the keeper, Aaron King was able to pounce on the loose ball.
At the ten minute mark, Stark threaded a through ball to Rory Pilbearn who nipped and tucked inside with a surging run. Shortly after, Calum Smart nutmegged high in attack creating an opportunity and taking a good low left footed shot. Then his teammate Stark got to the by-line and lofted a good deep cross which had Liam Lynch in the Cramond goal reaching and concerned as it looped above him and nearly crept in at the far post.
Liam had showed good body shape collecting a host of Leith’s low and hard shots with confidence and cutting out a fair few crossed balls aswell.
On 20 minutes, a high ball out of defence was taken well on the chest, controlled on the ground, turned and slotted out wide to the right by Leith’s number 9, Smart, showing the patience to wait for support which came from a marauding Jay McManus who with a fine touch took the play in to the area centrally and hit a low hard left footed strike passed the onrushing Lynch and into the bottom corner.
The coach’s plea had been heard but it was soon exceeded as Leith won a penalty that was saved minutes later.
Cramond were by no means being overrun though and shortly followed a burst out of defence and a long low pass from midfield forward towards Richard Kerr. The Leith central defenders were let down by the skid on the turf surface, now wet from a little rain, and Kerr broke free and took an early strike which didn’t allow the keeper to set himself. The ball flew from his left boot and into the back of the net to regain the lead for Cramond FC.
At the half hour mark, Elliot Taylor collected the ball on the edge of the Leith area, turned inside and was brought down for a dangerous free kick but the ball was blasted over just above the bar.
Again Taylor, with a good and direct run, earned a corner and now it was the home side pressing home their dominance and looking to take a further advantage into half time. Aiden Quinn was released out wide straight from a Leith free kick, he passed it to Kerr who returned it for a completed one-two collecting it on the edge of the area and jinking inside to hit a looping and dipping shot around and just passed the right hand post.
At half time, Cramond were in the ascendency and showing some inspired movement, taking the lead into the oh so crucial break.