Longniddry Villa lifted the Belmont Vauxhall Cup on Sunday after defeating Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts in a dramatic match at New Dundas Park. Penalty kicks were needed to separate the sides after an inspired Swifts comeback and late Villa leveller ensured the game was tied after ninety minutes. With neither team managing to grab a goal in extra-time, Villa sealed the win with a 3-2 victory in the shootout.
Longniddry Villa started the brighter of the two teams and looked to press high up the pitch in the early stages of the match. Hillfield’s Ali Bouhaddou did well to win the ball from Alistair MacLachlan who had worked himself into a dangerous position on the edge of the box. Swifts captain Robbie Hamilton also put in a couple of strong challenges early on as his side looked to stop Villa from bearing down on goal. Longniddry managed to break through however and their first real opportunity came when Kieron Douglas drilled a ball into the box, which managed to evade Hillfield’s defence. No Villa player came to meet the ball either however and the chance ultimately came to nothing.
Longniddry continued to press though and looked ever likely to open the scoring. They did so just short of ten minutes in when Joshua Fitzpatrick managed to capitalise on a defensive error. Villa swung in a corner which the keeper came to collect. The ball slipped out of his hands however and Fitzpatrick was in the right place to finish from yards out, giving his team the lead in the final.
Shortly after, Hillfield created perhaps their first real attacking threat through great link up play between Callum Murray and Robbie Hamilton on the left wing. Hamilton swung the ball into the six-yard box but much similar to the chance that Villa had created early on, no one was there to finish. Hillfield did continue to push for an equaliser but as the second half progressed it always looked more likely that the next goal would come at the other end of the field. Longniddry were getting the ball forward a lot more than their opposition and managing to retain possession better. They doubled their lead after twenty minutes when Douglas’ ball over the top of the Swifts defence fell at the feet of Alexander Williamson who finished in style. Letting the ball take a bounce, Williamson struck the ball past the Hillfield keeper and watched as it landed in the top left corner of the net.
Despite going two goals down, Hillfield showed great strength of character in the way that they looked to get themselves back in the game. Joseph Ciaraldi looked likely to score when he struck a volley on the outside of the box but Villa keeper Fraser Machray did well to keep a hold of the ball. A Hamilton corner met the head of Brogan Proudfoot who came agonisingly close to grabbing a goal back for his side but he saw his effort hit the side netting. It was second time lucky for Swifts though as, moments before half-time, they won a corner kick from the opposite side. This time Ciaraldi swung the ball in and Marc McGuire rose above the villa defence to power a header into the top corner, giving his side hope and a chance to get back in the tie.
Swifts looked a lot more confident thereafter and could have grabbed an equaliser if not for a fantastic last-ditch challenge from James Henry on Proudfoot. The last chance of the first half came from a close-range Fitzpatrick header but Swifts stopper Ronan Fox-Begley did well to keep the ball out. It was Villa who went into the break with the lead but Hillfield would have taken a lot of confidence from the manner in which they had battled their way back into the game.