Wednesday 19 April 2017, 19.45, Meadowbank

The East of Scotland Cup Final between Edinburgh City and Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale.

The East of Scotland Cup is made up of the finalists of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup, who join Berwick Rangers and Edinburgh City in the semi-finals.  Spartans were victorious in the Qualifying Cup Final, beating Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale in the final at Oriam, which we attended on 19 March.  Vale defeated a young Berwick Rangers team in one semi, while we were at the Spartans v Edinburgh City semi final on 28 March.

It’s a second viewing of City, with the semi our only other sight of them this season.  A third look at Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale.

City were fresh from a vital win at title challengers Arbroath in their battle to avoid the drop from League Two and were sitting a point clear of the relegation play-off place and four off automatic demotion with three teams below them.  With that very much being seen as the priority, they only had three players starting the game who started in the previous league game, with a further three on the bench.

Vale had won 2-0 at home to Stirling University in the East of Scotland League on the previous Saturday.  They sat 5 points behind league leaders Leith Athletic with two games in hand.

The game was being held at Meadowbank Stadium, the home of Edinburgh City.  As stated in my report of City’s semi final win at Spartans, they are moving out of the stadium as it is being developed at the end of the season, so a last visit before the old girl disappears.

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Meadowbank Stadium is a multi-purpose sports facility originally built to host the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.  It’s been used for a raft of sports (although not rafting) since then, including rugby union, American football  (and at the indoor facilities) squash, basketball etc etc.  It was also used again for the Commonwealth Games of 1986.

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It was home to Meadowbank Thistle between 1974 and 1995.  Since 1996, it has been where Edinburgh City play their home games, with a capacity of 5,000, which is essentially the giant stand on one side of the pitch.  The complex also hosts East of Scotland League’s Leith Athletic, who play on the 3G artificial pitch adjacent to the main stadium.

It has been a rare sight over the years to see the stand busy at Meadowbank and for this game there were 133 in attendance.

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In the third  minute, Vale’s Muir was eased off the ball by Harrison as he came forward.  Taylor–McKenzie shot for goal from the 30 yard free kick, but Antell had plenty of time to get in position to catch.

There was little in the way of chances as a midfield battle developed.

Riordan took a City corner in 14 minutes which was met by the head of Donaldson, but he nodded over the bar.

Good closing down by City in 17 minutes saw Vale left with playing the ball back to the keeper, but the pass was intercepted and quickly played to Riordan, whose shot from the right side of the box was saved by Swain.  The ball ran along the six yard box and Makofo looked to have a tap-in, but Crawford managed to deflect the ball wide.

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In 22 minutes a bouncing ball was played into the City box and Harrison ran into the back of Sherlock once it had cleared the box.  Taylor-McKenzie took the free kick and Antell made a diving save to push it around the post.

Wringe ran onto a through ball in 27 minutes into the City box, but Harrison showed good strength to ease him off the ball and let it run through to Antell.

A minute later and Caddow got to the by-line and picked out Guthrie in the Vale box, but he headed over.

A City free kick in 30 minutes was taken by Harrison and came to Riordan who controlled the ball then, under pressure from Crawford, shot well off target.

Hutchison did very well for Vale in 34 minutes, bursting down the right and putting a good cross into the area.  Hare got his head to the ball, but under pressure from a defender, couldn’t direct the ball at goal.  It came back to Devlin whose downward header beat Antell and found the net to give Vale the lead.

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Good play by Vale’s Devlin in 38 minutes saw him go past Donaldson and Harrison, but Gair covered well and got the ball away.

No further action in a first half which saw lots of overhit and misplaced passes, with neither side at their best.

The first minute of the second half saw Vale break and Brown fed Hutchison.  He couldn’t get his foot round the ball though and Antell was able to gather.

A minute later and Devlin was clean through on the City goal and lobbed the ball over Antell as he came out from his goal.  He chased the ball in and lost his footing as it came back off the post and the grateful defence managed to clear.  Devlin managed to hurt himself during the incident and was replaced.

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In 51 minutes, Makofo managed to get to the by-line for City, but his cross eluded McConnell in the middle.

The players swapped roles a minute later with McConnell’s ball across goal falling to Makofo, but from close range, a defender managed to block his effort and Swain gathered.

A Vale ball forward in 60 minutes caught out the City defence and O’Donnell broke clear.  With Hutchison well placed in the middle, he decided to go himself and saw his shot turned past the post by Antell.

A City cross to the back post in 63 minutes saw City’s McConnell and Vale’s Hutchison race for the ball.  It wasn’t clear who got there first, but a City corner was given, which came to nothing.

Vale’s Mungall was shown a yellow card in 73 minutes for dissent.

Hare managed to nick the ball off a City defender in 74 minutes and raced towards the City goal.  As Antell came out to meet him, he dinked the ball over him to put Vale two goals up.

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With 78 minutes gone, Riordan slid in Guthrie on the right hand side of Vale’s box, but he could only shoot into the side netting.

In 82 minutes, Guthrie found Riordan inside City’s box and he drilled a low shot through Swain’s legs to give City a lifeline.

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A slack pass by City in 85 minutes gave the ball to Hare and he stepped away from a defender and shot for goal.  Antell did well to parry the ball and smothered it before Hutchison could get there.

As the game entered injury time the last chance fell to Vale with a break of the ball falling to Brown who shot from distance, but it was just wide.

Not the greatest of games in which Caddow was solid at the back for City and Hare stood out for Vale.

A good win for Vale and another piece of silverware to add to their collection.

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Full Time: Edinburgh City 1 Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale 2

Admission: £5

Edinburgh City: 1 Calum Antell, 2 Jordan Caddow, 4 Shaun Harrison, 3 Gordon Donaldson, 8 Dougie Gair (Laird 63), 11 Serge Makofo (Walker 63), 7 Ian McFarland, 6 Dean Cummings (Deniran 83), 5 Mark McConnell, 10 Ross Guthrie, 9 Derek Riordan. Subs: 12 Josh Walker, 14 Marc Laird, 15 Ortega Deniran, 16 Kyle McLung, 17 Frazer Paton, 18 Christopher McKee, 20 Andrew Stobie.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale: 1 Kevin Swain, 2 John Sherlock, 3 Scott Taylor-McKenzie, 4 Paul Crawford, 5 Grant Munro, 6 Tony Muir, 7 Ryan Hutchison, 8 Kevin Brown, 9 Sean Wringe (Mungall 67), 10 Jamie Devlin (O’Donnell 49), 11 Willis Hare. Subs: 12 Jordan Mungall, 14 Liam O’Donnell, 15 Benat, 16 James Guy, 17 Charlie Simpson.

Referee: Evan Cairns

Programme: £2

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