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Red hot Merchi put Windsor to sword in cup final

Musselburgh Windsor 96 1

Ballantyne 79

North Merchiston 7

Own Goal 9, MacDonald 15, Law 27, 74, Dowds 52, Evans 62, 85
  • Sunday, 06 April 2014
  • New Dundas Park, Bonnyrigg
  • Under 19´s
  • SERYFL D1 League Cup - Final
Musselburgh Windsor 96 and North Merchiston contested the second of two cup finals on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Bonnyrigg. Despite a game jam-packed with chances for both teams, only one side - North Merchi - hit the goal trail and ended up deserved cup winners. An own goal set them on their way before Jake MacDonald doubled the advantage. Hamish Law made it 3-0 at the break and soon after the restart Anton Dowds headed home to put the tie beyond doubt. A further double from Nathan Evans, added to by Law's second of the afternoon, rounded off the scoring at seven. In the midst of that flurry, Dean Ballantyne got a well deserved consolation for Windsor.
 
For anyone who has followed the 1996 age group over the years, you'll never have a conversation about the top teams without mentioning North Merchiston. Over the years they've been known for a 'ball on the deck' style of play, pleasing to the neutral. From being a good footballing team, but not really a threat to the 'silverware challengers', they have kept the same core group of players and added to it season on season. Last year they weren't far away, in either league or several cups. This year, they have their sights firmly set on the prize. Today's cup final was the first of three they've reached, with the league title and one further cup also on the radar of the Scottish Cup quarter finalists.
 
Musselburgh Windsor 96 were another team dominated by 1996 born players, that have impressed this season. Although others have several games in hand, you can't rule them out of the title shake up. They are one of three Windsor teams in the Under 19 setup. While the teenage years drop out is a major issue for youth football across the country, this is a quite incredible reflection of the appetite for football in that neck of the woods.
 
The match kicked off in the sunshine with a good crowd packed into the Midlothian venue and both sides playing high tempo from the first whistle. Windsor were first to go close, when Darren Handling set up Dean Ballantyne, who fired into the side netting.
 
At the other end Merchi were dangerous from the outset and didn't have long to wait for their reward. A long throw into the penalty box from Nathan Evans was diverted into his own net by the unfortunate Windsor defender.
 
It wasn't long before the advantage was doubled. A Hamish Law cross was fired back across the penalty area by Evans and MacDonald was on hand to crash home Merchi's second.
 
Musselburgh then enjoyed one of their best spells of the match. Handling's tricky running created an opening for David Scobie, but his effort was comfortably saved by Darren Mitchell. Handling remained at the centre of the action, pulling a cut back agonisingly out of reach of the onrushing forwards and hitting a cross-cum-shot narrowly wide of the right hand post, with Mitchell scrambling.  
 
Then came a few minutes which potentially turned the game. Windsor were given a set piece opportunity just outside the penalty area. Ex-Haddington Athletic man Anes Subasic stepped up and curled a powerful strike onto the junction of post and bar. Had the excellent effort gone in, who knows what direction the game would have went in. As it happened, not long after Merchi ran up the pitch and hesitant defending was punished ruthlessly by Law, lobbing the goalkeeper with an inch perfect strike.
 
The rest of the half was played out in an exciting end to end manner, with both sides coming close in the closing stages
  • Half Time:
  • Musselburgh Windsor 96
  • 0-3
  • North Merchiston
Windsor kicked off the second half and would have been told by their coaching staff that they didn't deserve to be three goals down and that the next goal would be crucial. Unfortunately for the boys in blue, it didn't come for them. A James Redpath corner was powered home by Anton Dowds, make it 4-0 in the early stages of the half and putting the tie beyond doubt. A hammer blow for Musselburgh, who were playing well but just being out performed in both penalty boxes by their opposition.
 
Goal number four saw Merchi ooze with confidence and their passing football started to flow nicely. Jake MacDonald capitalised on a defensive error, but hit his effort straight at the goalkeeper. Goal number five was coming though and it was arguably the best of the lot. Evans played Law into the right hand channel, where he raced past his marker, looked up and played a perfectly weighted cross back in the direction of Evans. A cushioned header back across the goalkeeper made it 5-0. It was a joy to watch.
 
Although by this stage the Edinburgh side were dominant in both possession and territory, Windsor did have Ballantyne and therefore had hope. The energetic striker was more than a handful for the Merchi defence from the first whistle to last and midway through the half he had a penalty claim waved away by referee John Thomson.
 
After his last piece of setup play, Law got back in the goalscoring act for Merchi's number six. After outmuscling his marker, to win a ball he had no right to, he executed another perfectly measured lob.
 
With time running out, Musselburgh finally found their way onto the scoresheet and no surprises about the source - Ballantyne. A terrific solo effort saw him dribble past a series of defenders, before wrongfooting Mitchell with a neat finish.
 
Fittingly, the final goal of the match went to the cup winners. Calum Baptie's through ball was raced onto by Evans, who slotted the ball beyond the goalkeeper and took a sore one for his troubles.
 
Seventh heaven for North Mechiston and who would rule out them adding to their haul in the coming weeks and months. Windsor will bounce back, but today was certainly a character building experience for their group of young players.
 
  • Full Time:
  • Musselburgh Windsor 96
  • 1-7
  • North Merchiston

Lineups

Musselburgh Windsor 96
North Merchiston
1. Steven Howie
2. Daniel Taylor
3. Stuart Mackay
4. Callum Marr
5. Euan Greig
7. Darren Handling
8. Aaron Congalton
9. Sam Rintoul
10. Dean Ballantyne
11. Stuart Tragis
14. Steven Kean
16. David Scobie
15. Anes Subasic
17. Lewis Thomson
18. Robbie Watson
22. Scott Chapman
1. Darren Mitchell
2. Fraser Thomson
3. Gavin Birrell
5. Nick Mortimer
6. Calum Windram
7. Anton Dowds
10. Calum Baptie
11. Nathan Evans
12. Sam Tulloch
15. Fraser Eddington
17. Jake MacDonald
18. Greig Brown
19. Ryan Clarke
20. James Redpath
21. Andrew McBride
23. Hamish Law
Star Player
Musselburgh Windsor 96
North Merchiston
Dean Ballantyne just never stopped trying and never lost the will to be creative on the ball. On another day he'd have grabbed a few goals and possibly a few assists too.
Hamish Law and Nathan Evans both deserve a mention for two goals and an assist a piece. However, there's no getting away from the fact Anton Dowds dictated the game from the middle of the park. A class act and the star man on the day.
Magic Moment
Musselburgh Windsor 96
North Merchiston
Dean Ballantyne's goal was a fine solo effort and the least both team and player deserved.
Anton Dowds' bullet header was a bolt out of the blue. His celebration perhaps suggested he isn't one to make regular appearances on the scoresheet.
  • Match report and photos copyright Youth Football Scotland.
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