Finally – Border Reivers make history

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Reivers 6

Dunfermline City 5

EAST MEN’S DISTRICT PLATE SEMI-FINAL

THE Reivers progressed to the final of the Activcity District Plate final for the first time in the club’s history with a tenacious team performance against Dunfermline City.

On a sunny Dundee day on the banks of the Tay, the Reivers took to the field against Dunfermline City – an unknown quantity to the Borders side.

A combination of nerves and raw determination in the opening quarter created passages of fractured, fast play with a number of strong tackles from both teams. The two sides were there to win and sought an early lead.

With the Reivers still adapting to the quick water-based astro turf, the opposition struck first.

However, the Borderers soon returned fire with a well-worked attack down the left and Kris Darling added the finishing touches.

But they found it hard to deal with the rapid counter-attacking strategy employed by City, going 2-1 down midway through the first half.

With the midfield dropping deeper, Reivers were able to shut down Dunfermline’s wide surges more comfortably. After a sustained period of pressure, Watkin slammed home in the midst of a goalmouth tussle, making it 2-2 going into the break.

In the dugout, coach Graham Lofthouse reassured his men of their ability to win the game and highlighted the hard work needed in the second half.

Stand-in captain Stephen Young reminded them “to play simple hockey” – a tip of the cap to absent captain Cairns.

Early into the second half, complacency crept in.

Reivers began making silly mistakes and committing unnecessary fouls, going behind again from a short corner.

The Borderers did not let their heads drop and, with a few ear-splitting shouts from club veteran Andy Bell, the team began to regain focus.

With a goal from stalwart striker Spencer Pitman and another from the opposition, the pace of the game eased, but with the Reivers still behind at 4-3.

However, a collective breather was not what the Tweedbank men had in mind. They turned on the style, scoring three goals in 10 minutes. A characteristic reverse-flick goal from a tight angle by Bell, a top corner reverse-flick from Mark Kulow and a fizzing low strike from Tim Watkin from the right, left the City side in disarray.

With time running out, Dunfermline pressed the Borders side back into their own half, attempting to claw back the two-goal deficit.

The hot, dry weather fuelled tempers and a number of mistimed challenges led to both Kulow and Watkin spending time in the sin bin. With nine men on the pitch for most of the last 10 minutes, it was left to the Reivers’ defence to repel a tirade of attacks.

Although City pulled one back to make it 6-5, Paul Conkie and Darren Johnstone parked the proverbial bus in front of the goal to hold on to the lead.

Young told TheSouthern: “City were unlike any team we have played this season – quick on the break and ready for a hard-fought battle. They are in a very similar position to us – underdogs with nothing to lose.

“Next Sunday, Inverleith will be a completely different prospect, but it’s a match the club is really looking forward to.”

Reivers: S. Young, J.Fletcher, P. Conkie, D. Johnstone, A. Bell, S. Pitman, T. Watkin, M. Kulow, C. Stockdale, K. Darling, G. Lofthouse, R. Girvan and C. Tucker. Match Sponsor: Magenta Construction.

z The final will be played on Sunday at Peffermill, Edinburgh. Time tba. All supporters welcome.