EK Avondale 3
(after penalty flicks – score was 2-2 at full time)
EAST MEN’S DISTRICT PLATE
Reivers performance at Tweedbank on Sunday was as mixed as the sunshine and showers.
It took several fine saves from keeper Stephen Young to let the Tweedbank side progress via a penalty shoot-out, having failed to kill-off their West Coast opposition in regulation time.
Reivers were quick out of the starting blocks and completely dominated the opening exchanges, and found themselves a goal up after only five minutes, Tim Watkin lashing home from the edge of the circle.
Perhaps this unexpectedly easy start caused a measure of complacency. The Borderers started to over-elaborate and forgot the basics of their usual passing game. As Reivers tied themselves in knots, Avondale were allowed to score a simple counter-attacking equaliser and then converted a short corner to finish the first half a goal to the good.
The break gifted Reivers the opportunity to sort themselves out, and in the second period they were able to show their superior strength in depth. The Avondale goal was leading a charmed existence with both Kris Darling and Andrew Bell unlucky not to equalise.
However, the West Coast side were obstinate in defence and in the end it took a penalty flick conversion from Max Kulow to level the scores. With most of the possession, Reivers now pushed hard for a winner. Several near things ensued, but ultimately they ran out of match time, consigning what could have been an easy win, to the lottery of a penalty flick contest.
Still confident in his team’s ability, captain Peter Cairns opted for the Reivers to shoot first. Unbelievably, the contest took the same form as the match, with Reivers unable to force home an early advantage. Having almost been out, Avondale were let back in to level the scores 3-3 after the first round. But luck was with the Tweedbank side when Kulow converted his third flick of the match, and keeper Young made the save to force Avondale out in sudden death.
Cairns told TheSouthern: “Even during the penalty flicks I was confident we had the quality to progress.
“That’s two teams from higher divisions we’ve beaten this year - we’re delighted to be representing Borders Hockey in the semi-finals next month.”
Reivers: S. Young, C Stockdale, S. Girvan, P. Conkie, D. Johnstone, S. Ramsay, P. Cairns, A. Bell, A. Jameson, S. Pitman, T. Watkin, J. Fletcher, M. Kulow, C. Stockdale, K. Darling. Umpire (with thanks): Emma Pate.