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Passing play not enough as Leith pay penalty

Written by  Gordon Spowage

 

Leith Athletic 96's
 vs
Edinburgh City
 
 
 
SERYFL Div 2 League Cup First Round
Leith Links
10 March 2014
 
 
 
In the 7th minute a flick through the midfield from Leith's Ryan Sanderson found Connor Thomson out wide but his cross was blocked by a City defender. This woke City up and the ball was immediately played from the back with Michael Darling expertly beating the offside trap and finding himself one on one with Campbell Johnston but the home 'keeper made a good save.
 
The action was quickly moving in both directions. Davidson had another dangerous cross sent over but City's Scott Johnston was there to head the danger clear.
Then came a five minute spell which was to ultimately decide the game. Edinburgh's midfield began to get a grip on the game and began a spell of concentrated attack. First, from a McKenzie corner Kieran Humphries nodded over the bar under pressure from the home goalie. Moments later a lovely through-ball from captain McKenzie released the nippy Hamish McFarlane. The striker's shot was blocked by the 'keeper and the defence mopped up well from the onrushing City attackers looking to feed off the scraps.
 
Things were beginning to heat up and eventually the pressure told. In the 14th minute Ryan Slater played a magnificent ball over the top of the Leith defence and with McFarlane dashing through, he kept his composure and chipped the ball over the onrushing Johnston to make it 1-0 City. It was to get worse for the home team just a minute later. Darling broke into the box and drew a foul from a despairing Leith defender giving the referee no option but to award a penalty. Johnston guessed the right way but there was just too much power on McKenzie's spot-kick to prevent the scoreline being doubled.
 
Many teams would buckle at finding themselves 2-0 down in the space of a minute but Leith had other ideas. They refused to let their heads drop and galvanised to go on to play some excellent football for the remainder of the match. Some excellent build-up play from Ross Stenhouse resulted in City remembering they still had a job to do – Humphries breaking up this particular attack. Leith were beginning to get a foot on the ball and control midfield. The excellent central partnership of Mark Reynolds and Thomas Davidson was causing City distress but they could not find a way through the solid back line of Humphries, Johnston and Andrew Greenhill in the away defence. A 10 to 15 minute spell of pressure from Leith followed with the Edinburgh back line remaining solid. Stenhouse had a long range effort sail wide, Peter Carvel made a crucial saving tackle in the box then Reds captain Robert Monkhouse hit a 20 yard free kick on target. City 'keeper Ben McGinlay got down to his right to save and Davidson tucked away the rebound only to be denied by an offside call.
 
City were on the back foot but were proving to be as good on the counter attack as they were in defence. Another lovely Slater through ball released McFarlane who beat two defenders and struck it left footed, drawing another good save from Johnston at his bottom right. Craig Slater in the City midfield was growing in confidence as the game went on and was combining some great passing with some tenacious defensive work in the middle of the park. At the other end of the park, Reynolds' corners were causing mild panic in the away penalty box but the score was to remain 2-0 as the referee brought the half to a close.
 
Half Time: Leith Athletic 96 0-2 Edinburgh City 
 
Athletic came out for the second half with the same game plan as they had finished the first: get the goal to get back into the game. The pressure on the City goal continued as it had at the end of the first period. Reynolds was taken out driving towards the Edinburgh goal and Dylan Edmond's resulting free kick was cooly dealt with by the rearguard. Soon after a Thomson counter attack showed promise when he waltzed past a defender, cut inside but couldn't get his shot on target.
 
City were on the back foot but their counter attacking play was a joy to watch at times. McFarlane was played in on 65 minutes from yet another wonderful through-ball and drew the save from Johnston. This pair were having a great personal duel throughout the match which added an extra spice to the game. Leith's Jed Haston then nicked the ball off the toe of Ruairidh Waddell, crossed into the area and Stenhouse attempted an audacious overhead kick which was unfortunately off target.
 
The City bench, realising the pressure they were under made a tactical switch with Humphries moving into midfield and Greenhill moving back to cover his place in defence. This switch was to have its desired effect but not before Leith's pressure eventually and deservedly led to a goal for the home side in the 75th minute. The ball broke out on the right wing to Ryan Sanderson who delivered a looping cross from deep. As the ball swirled in the air and dropped into the danger zone sub Steven Gibson was on hand to send a great header back across goal and into the top right hand corner of the City net. 2-1, game on.
 
It wasn't to be that way for the home side, however, as straight from the resulting kick off the battle between McFarlane and Johnston was to have one final round as the striker received the ball and drove into the box looking for the winner. He was taken out resulting in another penalty to take the wind out of the sails of the men from the Shore. Left-back Carvel stepped up and made no mistake.
 
Leith never gave up – Davidson with a 20 yarder just wide and the tenacious Edmond trying hard to pick a pass – but the resolute defending of Greenhill and the rest of his back line meant they just couldn't get through again. Some lovely build up play on the right wing allowed City sub Darren Clifford to hit a powerful strike from around 20 yards right at the death but Johnston got across to make a wonder save.
 
In the end the penalties, while both deserved, made the difference and Edinburgh City progress to the second round but Leith, too, have every right to be happy with their performance on a surface such as this.
 
Full Time: Leith Athletic 96 1-3 Edinburgh City
 
 
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