Leithen Rovers 0
BEVERIDGE CUP FINAL
KENNY PATERSON reports from Stow Park
THERE are shocks, and then there are ‘slap you in the face with an iron bar’ astonishments.
Yes, Leithen Rovers were facing a Pencaitland team who had won their previous seven games and gone on a 13 match unbeaten run.
But the South Cup winners – who are also in the Waddell Cup final – had impressed all season and had been the last side to beat the East Lothian team.
A close match was therefore predicted. Instead, that forecast was as wildly inaccurate as Michael Fish’s claim 24 years ago that an impending hurricane was just a light breeze.
Pencaitland romped to victory with ease and style, scoring a series of stunning goals which left a tired-looking Rovers team helpless and devoid of ideas.
Right from kick-off, Pencaitland produced some attractive football and made several openings on the lush Stow Park surface.
Jamie Brown could have opened the scoring after just two minutes, while the fiery Innes Zenati was denied a goal by a last-ditch block in the 10th minute.
Brown’s blistering 20 yard shot was held at the second attempt by Mark Wilson, but Pencaitland finally found the goal their play deserved on 25 minutes.
Marc McCormack beat Rovers’ backline and chipped the ball over the onrushing Wilson, allowing Julian Anderson to slide the ball into the net from a couple of yards out.
The one-way traffic continued and a minute before the break, Scott Allan’s clipped pass found Brown, whose thumping but accurate shot left Wilson grasping at air.
Any chance of a Leithen revival ended with three incidents in the first eight minutes of the second period.
Impressive left back Allan scored the goal of the game, and maybe the season, on 50 minutes by beating three Leithen defenders and rifling a 25-yard angled shot into the top corner.
A hundred and two seconds later, and Dean Woods made it 4-0.
The final nail in the Leithen Rovers coffin came at the other end of the pitch a minute later, when a penalty awarded for a foul on Darren Thomson was sent wide by Rowland Gibb.
The rest of the match proved to be a procession towards a Pencaitland win, as Leithen tried vainly to get back into the final, but left themselves exposed to further damage to their defensive record.
It was not until the 88th minute that Pencaitland extended their lead as Woods finished well from 20 yards, and the winger capped his second-half hat-trick with an injury-time diving header.
Despondent Leithen Rovers manager Paul Graham said: “It is very disappointing because we had a full-strength squad and the same team which won the South Cup final.
“There are no excuses. It was nothing short of diabolical and not good enough.
“I am hopeful Pencaitland get to the final of the Waddell Cup so we can gain some revenge as we have struggled against them all season.”
Pencaitland boss Drew Thomson, an art teacher at Galashiels Academy, was surprised by the margin and ease of his team’s win.
“I did not expect that,” added Thomson. “But we do seem to do well against better teams. The first goal settled us and we played with more urgency in the second half.”
Leithen Rovers: M. Wilson, D. Scott (A. Jackson 70), G. Rathie, R. Gibb, C. Borthwick, C. Smith, D. Thomson, G. Shortreed, T. Fleming (P. Shearlaw 70), A. McMath, C. Hope.