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Monday, 14 March 2016 21:13

Beechwood too strong for Haddington

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Beechwood FC overcame a strong defensive performance by Haddington Athletic to secure a comfortable win in the Michael Moran Cup.

The away side were camped in their own half for much of the game and frustrated their opponents throughout, but the home side were patient and turned in a professional performance.

Goals from Jamie McIntosh, who had earlier missed a penalty, Joseph Paterson and Jamie McDermaid ensured their team built upon their commanding lead in the group table.

Beechwood took control of the game from the off. With Paterson spreading the ball side to side from his deep lying midfield position, Beechwood had the majority of possession and it gave them the foundations to dominate the game.

It soon became clear that the home side were targeting the flanks with their greatest threat coming from wingers Blair Millward and Harry Devine. Indeed, it was Millward who first tested the Haddington keeper Aaron Jones with a couple of shots from distance.

Haddington were not making it easy for their opponents, however, and produced an organised and committed defensive performance to spurn Beachwood. Led by centre back Kyle Davis, who epitomised his side's first half display, Haddington were tenacious in the tackle and their midfield were constantly nipping in to rob possession and intercept passes.

Beechwood had to come up with something special to get through the Haddington back line. More often than not that came through Paterson who created the best opportunity of the first 20 minutes when he split the Haddington defence with a gorgeous outside of the foot through ball. This released Millward who could only shoot wide.

McIntosh was doing his bit from defence too, taking the game to Haddington by striding out with the ball and driving forward. He played it to Devine who, after a smart one-two with Charlie Carr, shot over.

After getting through the first 30 minutes, Haddington began to threaten. Josh Coppinger had his side's first shot of the game which was deflected narrowly wide and from the resulting corner the ball broke to Coppinger again who couldn’t find the target.

Haddington's pressure did not last long, however, and soon they were again on the back foot. Again it was Patterson who split the defence, floating an inviting pass behind the Haddington left back. It was met by Millward who took the ball down and beat his man. The defender, who was suddenly on the wrong side of his opponent, got tangled up and hauled Millward to the ground. The referee took a moment to make up his mind before pointing to the spot.

McIntosh stepped up to take the kick but his low shot heading towards the bottom left corner was wonderfully saved by Jones who then sprung back up to push the rebound out for a corner before being swamped by his jubilant team mates.

Perhaps at this point the Beechwood players were thinking that it was not going to be their day as it was almost half time and the game was still level but in the 41st minute they broke the deadlock.

McIntosh started the move by breaking forward from defence, he then played the ball wide to Millward who hoisted it to the back post. The cross evaded everyone but was rescued by Devine on the left, his ball in was not properly cleared by Haddington defence and it fell to McIntosh, who had carried his run forward into the box and finished calmly with a right foot shot that went in off the right post.

Loanhead had to produce a performance filled with guts, graft and goals to defeat an impressive Musselburgh Windsor side who had the man advantage and the goal advantage for a large period of the game.
 
The semi-final started at a frantic pace, with both sides flying into tackles and trying to get a foothold of the contest. 
The first effort came from the home side on four minutes, as Andrew Fleming won a tackle on the edge of the Loanhead box and had a dig at goal, but Jardine held onto the low shot. 
 
A couple of minutes later it was Sean Brown who crafted the chance for Ross Greig with a cutback, but his effort was too high to hit the target. 
 
Up the other end of the pitch Aiden McMillan had Loanhead's first effort, as he glanced a header which was tipped over by Grant Goodfellow, after Joshua Fital’s corner kick caused havoc.
 
Lewis Kynoch was relishing the occasion, as he showed the defender a clean set of heels with a dummy, and whipped the ball in, but Jardine held well. 
 
The Windsor number nine then had a great chance to open the scoring with 20 minutes on the clock, but a superb sliding tackle from Rory Rutherford forced the corner. 
 
It was all one way traffic for the home side at this stage with Jamie Baillie’s effort from just outside the box the closest sight of goal for the away side. 
 
Loanhead had to rely on some crucial interventions right at the last moment. Jardine was providing the heroics at this stage, clawing away Brown’s effort to keep the scores level on the half hour mark.
 
Chances then were few and far between, as Loanhead were able to establish a foothold into the game towards the end of the second half and reduce Musselburgh’s chances. Although, Kynoch’s corner nearly led to a goal, but the resulting shot was deflected just wide for a corner.

An enthralling cup tie like fixture ended with Gala Fairydean Rovers Colts taking all three points, despite a spirited comeback from Musselburgh Athletic Whites.

Gala took a two goal lead at the start of the second half but were reduced to ten-men shortly after. Musselburgh used this advantage to claw it back to 2-2 thanks to a penalty by Jamie Boothman and Smaeel Hamouda’s strike.

An end to end finish saw both teams throw everything at trying to win the game, and it was the home side who managed it. The third goal of Matthew Murray’s hat-trick was the pick of the bunch and was a worthy clincher.

Frustrated Whites coach Andy Grubb said: “It has been the story of our season. We play well and then receive a sucker punch. The boys are distraught.”

The tone was set by a fast start. Athletic’s Lewis Fitzpatrick had two chances early on but was denied by Jayden Smith.

Murray was lively right from the off and had already threatened before a lovely drag back created space but his shot was also saved.

The breakthrough came on 26 minutes. Murray got his goal with a delicate lob just after being denied by another save.

Fairydean Rovers continued to attack and could have extended their lead with two chances in quick succession for Daniel Hollywood. He was alert to pounce on a back-pass but rolled his shot wide and then was denied by the keeper after a pass by Lee Edwards.

Whites responded and Alex McGrogan forced Smith into action again.

The toing and froing continued, with Hollywood making space to allow Edwards a strike.

Sunday, 28 February 2016 21:48

Musselburgh Windsor overcome valiant Gala in style

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First division Musselburgh Windsor comfortably beat second division Gala Fairydean Rovers to progress to the third round of the Ken Ritchie Cup, where they will face their own second team.

They dominated from start to finish but Gala performed well against strong opposition. They defended resolutely in the first half to keep the score to 2-0 at half time. Kieron Butler in the Gala goal also made numerous saves to contribute to this.

And commendably they continued to try and pass out from the back despite heavy pressure from the Windsor attackers.

The first goal arrived after only four minutes. Josh Campbell broke down the right before cooly slotting across Butler.

Jack Main hit the post shortly after and Butler made a terrific double save from Ben Gearty and Main.

But the keeper was helpless when Musselburgh scored a second in freak fashion. Jack Dickson’s attempted cross from the left sailed high over him and in.

The assault on Fairydean Rovers’ goal then stopped, with the defence organised by Adam Moffat keeping the men in blue at bay.

In fact, it took Gala getting a shot on goal and allowing Windsor a counter attack before Butler had anything more to do. Bryce Ormiston’s shot was dealt with and they broke quickly up the right wing. Main passed across goal for Gearty but Butler saved with his foot.

Main then passed up another chance, dinking into the keeper’s hands after good set up play from Adam Clark.

Saturday, 27 February 2016 09:42

The future's bright for South East Region side

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The South East Region representative team began their journey together with an excellent win over St Johnstone. The team, containing players from clubs around the South East Region, have only recently been put together. Spartans FC and Tynecastle will be proud of the large number of players representing their club, as will the other clubs from around the region whose players were picked for the side.
 
In their first game as a team, they linked up with St Johnstone U14’s at Forrester High School for a friendly. St Johnstone had been without a game in three weeks before their weekend match against Dundee so for both teams this was an opportunity to get minutes under their belt.
 
Left winger, Kyle Burns was involved in two attacking chances early on for St Johnstone. The first saw a good free kick evade everyone and come to nothing and the second, his shot from the edge of the area was well defended by a combination of goalkeeper and full back. Ivan Aplapiki also created a chance when he combined with Blair White and got a cross away, but it was again well defended.
 
At the other end of the pitch, there was a scary moment for centre back, Andrew McKenzie, as his headed back pass almost evaded on-rushing keeper, Jack Wills. As South East Region settled down and got used to their new teammates, they began to get the better of St Johnstone.
 
The following five minutes saw South East Region have a lot more of the ball and the better of the chances too. On 11 minutes Jack Crombie played an excellent cross field pass to Aaron Laidlaw who played a one-two with Kieran Rafferty before getting a fierce shot away. The shot was saved by Wills, but South East Region had signalled their intent.
 
Four minutes later, South East Region did break the deadlock. Jack Carr found the ball at his feet 30 yards from goal. He sprinted forward, out pacing the St Johnstone full back and centre half. As he invaded the opposition area, he calmly slotted his shot into the far bottom right-hand corner, out of reach of the keeper.
 
South East Region continued in similar fashion following the goal. They had better possession of the ball, eager to win it back as soon as possible. St Johnstone were determined to play out from the back but with South East Region playing a high pressing game, they were unable to get the ball forward.
 
Despite SE Region’s superior possession, their best opportunities came from counter attacks. On 22 minutes, wingers Laidlaw and Carr and central midfielder, Kier Russel, exchanged passes in a swift counter attack following an opposition corner but it came to nothing.
 
Two minutes later however, they were successful. Another counter attack, this time after winning the ball in midfield; Rafferty played a perfectly weighted through ball to Laidlaw who sprinted forward and found the far left hand corner to make it 2-0 going into half time.
 
SE Region were looking like a team who had played together all season. The speedy front four of Laidlaw, Carr, Rafferty and Crombie combined well and caused Saints lots of problems in the first half. St Johnstone needed to keep the ball better in the second half if they were to get anything from the game.
 
Their forward passes were picked off by a SE Region team who were more switched on. Centre back, Andrew McKenzie, tried to play out from the back but his options were all closed down and Saints had little movement in a rigid 4-4-2 formation. Tall centre forward, Aplapiki, had little support when he did receive the ball so he was unable to cause a threat.

Possession of the football proved key as Hutchinson Vale overcame Musselburgh Windsor in the Tom Wilson Memorial Cup. The second round fixture list threw together two of the top sides from the first division. Following their 2nd round win in the Prison Officers Cup the previous week, Hutchinson Vale were looking to book their place in another 3rd round tie. Whereas Musselburgh were looking to bounce back from their loss to Airdrie United in the Scottish Youth FA Cup.

In the league, both teams are enjoying successful league campaigns, level on points in second position. With knowledge of this and the miserable weather conditions spectators would have been expecting a close-fought, cagy affair. However, this was not the case. Hutchinson Vale had a clear philosophy and it was not going to change, even for the likes of their closest league rivals, Musselburgh Windsor.

From the outset Hutchinson Vale were keen to play a slick possession game, determined to play the ball out from the back. The two centre backs appeared comfortable on the ball and the overlapping fullbacks created an overload in midfield which Musselburgh failed to deal with. However, whilst Hutchinson Vale probed with the ball they never penetrated the final third with any intent.

On 16 minutes, Hutchinson Vale nearly regretted not taking advantage of possession as Musselburgh almost scored an unlikely goal. A long free kick from Daniel Mackinnon into the box led to a scramble, with players falling like bowling pins in the box. Musselburgh managed to get a shot away but fantastic double save from keeper Fraser Britton prevented Hutchinson Vale going behind.

Around half way through the first half Hutchinson Vale began to play with a more attacking intent. Tireless right back, Harry Pullar found himself in the box on numerous occasions whilst Lewis McKay bombed forward on the opposite flank too. After prolonged pressure, in which Hutchinson Vale worked the ball around the opposition half, they forced a corner. Owen Richardson whipped in the corner which found its way to Murray Rose at the back post who headed back across goal. Callum Mackie rose above the rest to head into the bottom right-hand corner and put Hutchie ahead.

The final 15 minutes played out without incident and Musselburgh went in at half time only one goal down. The gulf in class between the two teams in the first half was remarkable, considering where they were in the league. Hutchinson Vale kept the ball as though it were a training drill, but in truth, Musselburgh made it look easy. They failed to close down the opposition and were a lot slower to react than their rivals.

Sunday, 14 February 2016 14:26

Spartans stroll past Broxburn and into the final

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Snow and rain belted down at Ainslie Park all match, but a place in the South East Region Cup final was the only thing on the minds of the Spartans and Broxburn players. In the end, the hosts strolled through to the final, sealing their place thanks to a comfortable 4-0 victory.
 
The opening minutes of the encounter certainly fitted the weather; cagey, with both sides struggling to take control and impose themselves on the game. Both defences were tested early on with some challenging long balls, but the two back-lines were up to the challenge and prevented any openings.
 
The first real chance came via a set piece in the seventh minute, as Lewis Hall swung the corner in for Spartans. The ball scrambled in the box and Murray Hand got his shot away, but it flew over. Lewis Cole then had a promising run four minutes later, but saw his final ball cut out to prevent an opening.
 
In the 14th minute, the towering Cameron Dawson headed the ball down for Hall, however Adam Sinner in the Broxburn goal held his shot firmly. Dawson was involved again only five minutes later, as Spartans broke from Ryan Robertson’s corner, worked the ball to their number 14 who showed some clever footwork, but couldn’t find the finish.
 
Spartans were certainly in the ascendancy at that point, with Mark Mackay being frustrated by Sinner on a few occasions, the Broxburn goalie keeping his side in the first half.
 
So it was only just rewards a minute before half-time when Spartans took the lead in this semi-final. Ryan Farrell and Dawson exchanged passes in such a manner that would have Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy foaming at the mouth, with Farrell finishing off the move and blasting the ball into the top corner, well out of reach for the goalkeeper.
Sunday, 07 February 2016 19:50

Spartans progress at City's expense

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Spartans Youth progressed to the next round of the U15s Division One League Cup after coming from behind to defeat Edinburgh City Whites at a windy Ainslie Park.

A goal from Kielan Denholm was not enough for City as Spartans replied with goals from Rhys Campbell, Brandon Blair and a late brace from John Balde to progress to the second round.

Spartans started strongly despite playing against the wind and began to take hold of the game.

The first chance however came to Edinburgh City after ten minutes with Archie Morris firing wide of the right post following a misplaced back-pass.

Callum Simpson was next to have a go at goal for the away side as they began to work their way into the game with the likes of Zion Dixon marshalling Balde well at the City end. Simpson's half-volley from 18 yards was wide to the right of the post.

Some quick passing movements down the left flank opened up space for the first shot on target for the home side with Matteo Crolla's effort caught comfortably by the opposition 'keeper on the 15 minute mark.

Spartans, playing in red, began to put real pressure on the opposition defence with Kris Gaff slaloming down the right flank into the box where his resulting shot with his weaker foot was tipped away by the City 'keeper from 10 yards.

It was end-to-end and with the wind on their side, Edinburgh showed their counter-attacking ability and could have scored through Morris, who caused home 'keeper Ben Ritchie to make a point-blank save from 5 yards after a low cross from the left.

At the other end, Blair rose highest following a Wallace cross from the left and his looping header was just over the bar with a quarter of the game gone.

Edinburgh City eventually carved open the strong Spartans defence to score the first goal of the game with half an hour gone. A route-one ball from 'keeper Luca Scarpa was missed by everyone except Denholm who latched onto the wind-affected clearance to finish calmly past the 'keeper into the far right corner.

Fraserburgh Link Up embarked on their long journey north following a 4-1 win over Tynecastle FC which sees them into the semi-final of the Scottish Youth FA Cup.
 
Before a ball was even kicked, this match had been dubbed ‘tie of the round’ and it was not difficult to see why with both teams enjoying success in their respective leagues. Having beaten Tynecastle FC in the same round two years prior to today’s meeting, Fraserburgh will have been forgiven for being cautiously optimistic.
 
However, Fraserburgh manager, Colin Simpson, was under no illusions that this would be a tough game and said he would have been happy to walk away with a 1-0 win. He will have been delighted, therefore, that Fraserburgh came out of the game as convincing winners.
 
The tone was set for the game when the first tackle came within the first 10 seconds with Tynecastle’s Jordan Smith being brought down 30 yards from goal. The resulting free kick came to nothing but it was clear the game was going to a competitive affair.
 
Despite their long journey south, Fraserburgh started the better of the two teams, forcing two corners inside the first ten minutes. However, they failed to make their early pressure pay by not testing the Tynecastle keeper. The early exchanges were scrappy; both teams tried to get the ball forward quickly in search of the all important first goal but cancelled each other out.
 
Fraserburgh’s left winger, Sean Douglas, seemed to be their main attacking outlet. He provided a constant threat down the left hand side but Tynecastle’s right back, Ben Voy, prevented Douglas from creating any clear cut chances.
 
Tyncastle’s first real chance of note didn’t come until the 29th minute. Jordan Smith picked the ball up on the right wing and produced a cross which was flicked on by Cal Thayers and found its way to Cameron Scott at the back post. Scott’s shot was smothered by Fraserburgh keeper, Sean Smith, but this chance signalled that Tynecastle were growing into the game.
 
Moments later Jordan Smith dragged a shot wide as the game really began to open up. With both teams looking to get the ball from back to front as quickly as possible the game became end to end.
 
The opening goal came from a quick break from the visitors eight minutes before half time. Following a cleared Tynecastle freekick, Fraserburgh counter attacked with the break spearheaded by Bailey Simpson. Evan Dyka managed to get a shot away, only for it to canon off the post but Blair Fraser latched onto the loose ball and fired it into the net to make it 1-0 to Fraserburgh.
 
With three minutes to half time, Fraserburgh scored to put themselves two ahead, the goal coming from another counter attack. Douglas, picking up the ball 40 yards out, drove towards the heart of the Tynecastle defence. With nobody in the box, Douglas fired across goal. The fierce cross/shot found its way into the Tynecastle goal following an unlucky deflection. Despite putting his team in a more comfortable position, Douglas looked less comfortable as he limped off the pitch clutching his calf following the goal.
 
With only minutes left, Tynecastle desperately attacked, looking for a goal that would put them only a goal behind at the half time interval. Cameron Scott came closest after the ball dropped to him on the edge of the area but he fired his volley just over the bar.
 
As the score suggests, Fraserburgh had the edge in the first half but in truth didn’t look the better team by much. The game was broken by niggly fouls and neither team managed to complete a string of passes. Fraserburgh had the all-important goals though and Tynecastle had the work to do in the second half to book a place in the semi-final.
Tuesday, 02 February 2016 12:58

Leith up to 2nd thanks to set piece masterclass

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Leith Athletic defeated Gala Fairydean Rovers in a match that was ultimately won by set pieces. The home side scored through a corner, a penalty and from two direct free kicks while the visitors scored a free kick of their own.

Goals from Jack Mackay, Blair Short and two from substitute Guy McGarry sealed the win for Leith who move up to 2nd in the table.

The match, which was Gala's first for five weeks, started at a frantic pace with both teams exchanging numerous chances in the first 20 minutes.

Leith, spearheaded by the busy Tyler O'Neill, were always a threat on the break and it took some smart defending by Gala's Thomas Porves to deny O'Neill when he was through on goal.

It was the home side's keeper who was busiest early on however, with Steven Chambers being called into action to produce an excellent double save first from James Delaney and then Sam Kelly who followed in on the rebound.

Kelly then fired wide moments later after a cutback from flying winger Finnen Gordon-Wooley. He then created a chance for himself but this time had his low shot saved after initially doing well to create some space on the edge of the box.

Both teams then had their first scare form set pieces. First, a Leith corner was cleared but only to Aaron Simpson whose perfectly struck half volley whistled just past the post. Gala then should have taken the lead, a driven corner from the left fell to Jack Nobel, who had peeled to the back post, but his volleyed effort went over the bar.

It was Leith's next corner, however, which opened the scoring. Just before half time in the 38th minute, Mackay took the corner from the left side and his in swinging ball fortuitously sailed over goalkeeper Joshua Bain's head and went straight into the net.