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Half time changes prompt fine Leith comeback

Cramond FC 2

Kerr 2, 24

Leith Athletic FC 5

McManus 20, 58, McBride 45, Stark 49, Reekie 60
Robin Haskins

Robin Haskins | YFS South East Region Journalist
Author's Bio | Articles by Author | [email protected]

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.
The first meaningful action was from Cramond’s Elliot Taylor releasing Ross Cairns down the left running hard and into the area. Followed shortly by a Leith counter, getting down the right and repeating the trick a few more times, each with a deft or dangerous cross, the third of which was only inches from being converted by Smart’s head at the far post.
 
McManus had continued where he left off in the first half with a series of strong runs to the Cramond right wing but it was down the left where the Leith equaliser originated from. A fine spread ball out from Coll Reekie into Marco McBride’s diagonal run was taken under pressure, showing strength to hold off the defender’s challenge and touch to set himself up to take the shot, right footed and low, it rasped by the keeper.
 
Only a couple of minutes later, Stark took the ball forward early, got in front of the defender and right footed hit a hard strike that the keeper got to but couldn’t prevent from going in. Smart had moved deeper and was playing in the hole behind the front two and as the game developed moved further and further back and had a growing influence on the shape and the game. By the end he was dictating play from in front of his own back line but having no less of an effect or an attacking threat.
 
Ahead of him Ryan Young offered a dynamic outlet in attack and between the front two and the wing play that ensued Leith took a dominant position in the game. Euan Smith was standing strong in the centre of defence but the tactics from Leith were pulling both him and his central defensive partner out into the midfield to prevent attacks, losing the line of the defensive back four and allowing the Leith attacks to expose the gaps running in between the lines. Everybody played well, but it was a tactical break-through that within fifteen minutes had finished the game in Leith’s favour.
 
Smith stepped in again on 58 minutes to prevent a burst through defence from McBride and Young but it broke to McManus and he powered in to the danger zone, feinted to shoot to buy some space before firing a stinger in on goal and it flew past the keeper to make it 2-4 to the visitors.
 
On 60 minutes, a good ball was controlled on the chest and half volleyed by Young. Then a headed ball forward was chased down by Young again and again Smith stepped in but the clearance was blocked, Coll Reekie picked it up with good control and pinged the ball into the back of the net to confirm the victory with 20 minutes to go. Leith were rampant and determined. Cramond were determined and over-ruled.
 
Cramond pushed forward through Taylor and substitute Finlay Hart had a good strike from distance keep rising when it might have dropped. Their persistence was admirable and on another day the tactics may have well fallen in their favour and their passing and all round play was on par with Leith’s, no question. Sometimes you just have to dust yourself down and move on to the next game.
 
Euan Stark who by now, maybe in competition with McManus, had nailed his man of the match performance, slalomed in between 3 players and strived into the area only to have his shot well blocked and win a corner. The ball arrived at Reekie who composed his shape on the edge of the box and fired a shot in to the keeper Lynch who had played well all afternoon and got a safe pair of hands to hold it. Soon after he did the same with a strike from Ross Aitchison before the final whistle blew and the game was claimed by Leith.

Lineups

Cramond FC
Leith Athletic FC

1. Liam Lynch
2. Ross Cairns
3. Liam Boath
4. Euan Nisbet
5. Euan Smith
6. Matthew McKenzie
8. Conner Holleran
9. Aiden Quinn
10. Elliot Taylor
11. Richard Kerr
12. Finlay Hart
18. Dillin Cairns
21. Brandon Mullen

1. Aaron King
2. Ross Aitchison
3. Rory Pilbearn
4. Murray Scott
6. James Burt
7. Lee Thomson
8. Coll Reekie
9. Calum Smart
10. Ewan Stark
11. Jamie Chapman
12. Ryan Young
15. Calum Sandison
16. Jay McManus
17.Marco McBride
18. Jarek Wdowiak

Star Player
Cramond FC
Leith Athletic FC
Richard Kerr sprinted away and finished with aptitude on two occasions in the first half to give Cramond the lead twice.
Ewan Stark started up front and became increasingly influential, first in the attacking hole after half time and then in midfield once the game had been settled. He also struck the 3rd goal to give the lead to Leith Athletic FC.
Magic Moment
Cramond FC
Leith Athletic FC
Taking the lead after 2 minutes of the game with a stunning goal and then regaining the lead with a vicious counter attack charge.
The flurry of attacks in the first 15 minutes after half time, relentless breaking between the lines with incisive passes and strong runs. The first equalising goal which was very well worked and clinically finished by McManus.

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