Loudoun had not threatened Stuart Cowan in the James Hamilton goals at all, however strikers Lyle Musuraca and Kristopher Graham's tireless work rate almost lead them into openings but often they'd have no support. The game was there to be taken by either team, but perhaps the match had a stale 0-0 written all over it.
However, that proved far from true. The second half was an extremely enjoyable affair - perhaps supported by the fact that the rain had cleared.
Loudoun would have wanted to force Cowan into a save as soon as possible, but they almost found themselves behind three minutes into the second half. Christopher Hamilton gathered the ball in defence and played it long - the ball ricocheted around the edge of Loudoun's box until Mason blasted a ferocious strike low off of the post with Hamilton finally beaten. Very unlucky.
That seemed to snap Loudoun into gear, and they were excellent for the next twenty minutes and ensured they got the win. Firstly, the excellent Matthew Balls' had a deflected drive that dipped dangerously and clipped the top of the junction of the framework. From the resulting corner, Jack Cotton headed over from a good spot in the six yard box. Christopher Barrie then demonstrated his quick feet when he jinked his way through a crowded box - however he opted to shoot when Graham was in a better position and Christopher Barrie's mishit went well wide.
Craig Black - who is in S4 but plays above himself with the seniors, and was excellent and MOTM in the last Loudoun Seniors match - had more dig in a fifty-fifty and charged out of left back and beat two men, before win chopped down just inside the James Hamilton half. Jordan Templeton took the resulting free kick, and his pin point delivery was nodded downward and across Cowan by Steven Lindsay for 1-0. 'Stevo' is a good mate of mine, and I'm pretty sure he hasn't scored since King Harold was defeated in the Battle of Hastings - so I'm glad I was there to capture this collector's item!
Three minutes later, Balls nearly doubled his side's lead in spectacular fashion. He chested a long ball down, held it up before speeding away and letting fly with his left boot, but the ball just went over the bar.
Loudoun were not to be denied a second goal though. Lindsay's hopeful through ball some how evaded every defender and Musuraca charged down Cowan - the goalkeeper managed to slide the ball to safety but Bryce Barrie was on hand to tap into an open goal for 2-0.
He nearly made it 3-0 just two minutes later. A fine solo run to the byline resulted in him cutting back and blasting into the side netting - which looked deceptively in. Luckily the referee did not award a Stefan Kiessling 'ghost' goal!
The James Hamilton finally created a second chance in the second passage of play and it resulted in them having the ball in the Loudoun goal. Martin Findlay beat everyone to the ball and his header was goal bound. However, Blair 'Big Mac' MacLaughland - whom I witnessed scoring a hat trick a few weeks back - attempted a 'goal snatch' from a blatantly offside position and the score line remained 2-0. The James Hamilton players then felt aggrieved when Christopher Hamilton was thrown to the ground inside the penalty area but nothing was given - I was surprised I must admit, Loudoun got lucky that referee had missed it.
From the resulting counter attack, Lindsay flicked the ball into the path of Musuraca's run, but the forward poked the ball over from a one on one position. He was then played in again by the same player, and rather than come inside to his favoured right foot, he blasted it with his left and Cowan made a comfortable save, forcing the ball into the side net. Balls then was played one on one but Cowan made a cracking save with his feet to deny Loudoun the right's to a glossy score line. The action was concluded when Adam Houston - excellent throughout again - sped forward from centre half and played a one two, and had the ball in the goal. However, his run was made too early and he was indeed in an offside position when he went for the return ball.
The cliche of a game of two halves rings in the ears here. Whilst the away side were not totally dominant in the first half, they should have been ahead with at least a goal, which when you consider the near misses of Mason and Findlay could have been pivotal to the outcome of the match. However, Loudoun 'brought the funk' in the second half, and a 2-0 score line could have been 5-0 at the very least when you consider the chances they created. I feel that the James Hamilton were unlucky, and got their heads down just too easily. I await the rematch of this game though - as I'm sure it will be another close affair. Hopefully the match will not be held in the worst conditions ever, and I can stand and watch in warm weather. I doubt it though, considering this is Scotland! Until then though, I wish both of these sides the best of luck, and thank them for their corporation with me.