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Leith edge tight clash to reach final

Leith Athletic 2

Smart 2, Prior 52

Shotts YMCA 1

Baxter 28
  • Tuesday, 04 February 2014
  • Meggetland 3G
  • Under 16´s
  • South East Region Cup - Semi Final
Leith Athletic progressed to the final of the SPORTSassist South East Region Cup this afternoon after prevailing against a dogged Shotts YMCA team.
 
With both teams performing respectably in their top division league campaigns, it was billed as being a tight affair, and right from the off this was proved to be the case.
 
Leith started sharply and were on the attack from the kick off, trying to penetrate the Shotts defence. It was real end to end stuff in the opening battles, with Shotts looking especially dangerous on the break, and having a solid penalty shout denied on the 2nd minute when forward Gary McGeouch was brought down just inside the 18 yard box.
 
The call was waved away, and Shotts were punished for not tracking back by an incisive Leith counter. Some fine play to evade a man by Ewan Stark allowed him to swing an inviting ball into the 6 yard box and it was caught sweetly by the head of the lurking Calum Smart to send it into the top corner past James Davidson, sending Leith one up in just 3 minutes.
 
After the early flurry of action, the game slowed down as Shotts tried to find a way to pull back their early deficit. A couple of probing through balls were intercepted well by the Leith defence as they began to get worked by the visitors.
 
Around 15 minutes in, a Leith move was broken down and again Shotts showed quick heels on the break, with lovely one touch play across the midfield opening up the hosts. A cross was blocked at the last, and Leith cleared their lines to relieve some of the pressure.
 
As if reacting to this phase of play, Leith began to muscle their way back into the game, sending tantalising balls down both wings, only to be scuppered by a stream of niggly challenges, with Kieran McColgan of Shotts being warned for persistent fouling.
 
 
In a game being largely fought out in the midfield, the next major chance saw Shotts’ Gary McGeouch take control of a throw on the left touchline and cut inside to set up Conner Matthews for a strike. Although the shot seemed to lack power, the swirling wind made it hard for Leith keeper Aaron King, who had to stretch to his bottom left and parry it away.
 
Shotts maintained their siege on the Leith box and it paid off when defender James Burt tangled legs with an opponent and a penalty was awarded.
 
Dale Baxter stepped up to take the spot kick and after a short delay, he coolly slotted the ball into the bottom left hand corner, sending King the wrong way.
 
Leith responded with flurries of attacks, but were struggling to get behind a solid backline. Indeed, Shotts could have taken the lead 10 minutes before half time when Bradley Stokes sent in a looping ball which made it all the way to Sandy Robertson at the back post, only to be put off by Ross Aitchison.
 
Ewan Stark, who had been working tirelessly up top for Leith, sent in another great ball, causing confusion in the Shotts box, eventually ending up with a foul in the hosts’ favour right on the edge of the 18 yard line. Calum Smart failed to find a corner however, and in the end his effort didn’t trouble Davidson.
 
Just before the interval, Leith winger Lee Thomson skipped past two challenges and lay the ball into Burt, whose 20 yard effort was accurate, but not strong enough to hit the net.
 
A frenetic first half was brought to a close, with both teams looking good, Leith just edging the possession battle, but Shotts looking the more likely to score with their excellent break play.
  • Half Time:
  • Leith Athletic
  • 1-1
  • Shotts YMCA
The start to the second period mirrored that of the first, the pace of play having slowed none. Again, the wings were the main areas being exploited, and two minutes after the restart, Shotts’ Andrew Paterson curled in a cross which fell to the feet of an attacker, with Jarek Wdowiak doing just enough to clear the danger.
 
Another Shotts ball was whipped in, causing trouble in the air for Leith and leading to a foul on King who had come out to intercept.
 
Against the run of play, Leith showed their strength in the air once again when a sublime corner taken by Smart drifted all the way to the back post and was met by the head of Conal Prior to send the home team back into the lead on 55 minutes.
 
Immediately after regaining the lead, Leith were desperately unlucky not to bag a third. A driving burst from midfield by Marco McBride opened up space for a shot, but his drive from the edge of the box was expertly tipped onto the post by Davidson and put out for a corner, the shot having looked netbpund from the time it left his boot.
 
The game became more bogged down after this, with fouls creeping into play and both teams struggling to link play up in the final third. On 65 minutes, Jay McManus broke free in midfield for Leith and yet another great effort from long range saved a top save to his bottom left by James Davidson.
 
Around 5 minutes later, the hard working Ewan Stark won the ball from a sleeping Shotts defender, only for his effort to stray wide of the right hand post.
 
Shotts were beginning to tire, and their frustration was shown, when after losing possession in the home penalty area, Declan Muir slid in with a hard challenge on Jamie Chapman, who was left writhing in agony on the turf.
 
With 10 minutes left to play, the physical exertions were showing on both teams and Leith began to shore up their play. With the exception of a glanced Prior header 5 minutes from time, the final period was largely scrappy, and with Leith holding the ball up in the corner to run the clock down, the referee blew for full time, sending Leith into raptures as they celebrated a hard fought win, and reaching the final of the competition.
  • Full Time:
  • Leith Athletic
  • 2-1
  • Shotts YMCA

Lineups

Leith Athletic
Shotts YMCA
1. Aaron King
2. Ross Aitchison
4. Murray Scott
6. James Burt
7. Lee Thomson
8. Coll Reekie
9. Calum Smart
10. Ewan Stark
11. Jamie Chapman
12. Ryan Young
14. Conal Prior
15. Calum Sandison
16. Jay McManus
17. Marco McBride
18. Janek Wdowiak
1. James Davidson
4. Jamie White
5. Patrick Duffy
6. Bradley Stokes
7. Dylan Pringle
8. Andrew Paterson
9. Sandy Robertson
10. Luke Brown
11. Conner Matthews
12. Gary McGeouch
14. Paul Hughes
15. Robbie McLean
16. Dylan King
18. Declan Muir
19. Kieran McColgan
20. Dale Baxter
Star Player
Leith Athletic
Shotts YMCA
Ewan Stark's tireless display up front for Leith made many opportunities for his team and his pinpoint cross on the 2nd minute allowed Smart to break the deadelock.
Dale Baxter was industrious in midfield and always looked dangerous in a tight game in which both teams struggled to open up the play.
Magic Moment
Leith Athletic
Shotts YMCA
The terrific corner in swirling wind from Calum Smart which drifted to the backpost and let Prior clinch the win.
James Davidson’s sublime finger tip save from McBride’s drive required him to be at full stretch and prevented Leith scoring twice in 2 minutes to go 3-1 up.
Club Views
Leith Athletic
Shotts YMCA
Tam Aitchison, coach of Leith said “It was a hard fought win, anyone could have won and it was a great effort from the lads to edge it.”
Rab Pringle, coach of Shotts said “We were unlucky to lose, I thought we were the better team in the first half, but tailed off in the second.”
  • Match report and photos copyright Youth Football Scotland.
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