A WEST LOTHIAN Schools Select produced an outstanding performance against their Ayrshire counterparts, beating them 4-0 in Group 4 of the Scottish Schools’ FA under-15 Inter Association Scottish Cup.
The staging of the game on the artificial surface at Bankton Mains in Livingston allowed the match to go ahead amid a torrential downpour, and both teams did well to exhibit their passing style of play in very difficult conditions.
Two goals from Kyle Gray helped West Lothian on their way to a stunning victory against last year’s finalists.
It took just seven minutes for West Lothian to open the scoring. David Porcher played a through ball into the path of Jack McMillan and he passed first time across goal to Gray who planted a simple finish into the centre of the net.
Four minutes later, Jordan Barr managed to create a chance out of nothing for Ayrshire. His shot from 20 yards nearly beat West Lothian goalkeeper Robbie Brown, but hit the bar.
McMillan doubled the West Lothian lead after 17 minutes. Fraser Cormack’s pass found him unmarked in the penalty area, and his shot went low past the diving Ayrshire goalkeeper, Lewis McMurdo.
Ayrshire almost pulled a goal back after 21 minutes, but Roy Barr’s shot was saved by Brown after the visiting player had cut in from the left wing.
On 28 minutes, Porcher dribbled for 30 yards into the penalty area, before executing a sublime left-footed finish into the bottom left corner of the net to bring West Lothian’s lead up to three before half-time.
Five minutes later, Porcher was at it again, dribbling past Ayrshire central defender Lee Williamson on his way forward, but this time his shot went narrowly wide of the left post.
Ayrshire began to play better football in the second half and Scott McLean’s shot forced Brown into a superb low save after 44 minutes, however they were punished once more by West Lothian six minutes later.
Once again, McMillan was the provider for a Gray goal, flicking on a throw from the right by Jack Miller before Gray showed his poacher’s instinct once again by hammering the ball into the net from close range to make it 4-0.
Barr looked to be Ayrshire’s main attacking threat and his long-range shot was saved after 57 minutes. Ayrshire substitute goalkeeper Conlan Stakim pulled off a marvellous save after 73 minutes, parrying Ryan Coleman’s 20 yard piledriver and he followed that by tipping wide Brannon Bunce’s effort just one minute later.
West Lothian nearly extended their lead with the last attack of the match. Porcher played in McMillan, whose shot hit the right side netting.
Andy Howat, manager of West Lothian Schools FA Select, thought that a good start was crucial to his team’s performance. He said: “We were fantastic. The boys took the game to Ayrshire from the outset.
“We’ve got boys from Hibs and Livingston who played really well and some of the interplay was unbelievable. One more point should take us through to the next round, but we want to build on that performance and win all our matches.”
Ayrshire Schools manager, Stephen Gilmour, praised the West Lothian team, saying: “West Lothian had control of the match from the start and the early goal really killed the match. From there, they saw it out really well and it was an excellent team performance from them.
“We’ve got a strong team, who got to the final last year. I’m pretty sure we can move on from this match. We know the standards we’re up against and we’re hoping to win the next two games and qualify for the next round.”
West Lothian Schools: Robbie Brown, Jack Miller, Marcus Millar, Leon Gopal, Ross McKechnie, Fraser Cormack, David Porcher, Ryan Coleman, Jack McMillan, Kyle Gray, Timmy McCallister, Matthew Campbell, Brannon Bunce, Jonni Turner, James McGregor, Tommy McKeon.
Ayrshire Schools: Lewis McMurdo, Rhys Wallace, Blaine Swift, Reece Ladham, Lee Williamson, Jordan Barr, Grant Forbes, Ross Black, Roy Barr, Lewis Neilson, Patrick Hammil, Conlan Stakim, Sean Robinson, Callum Haymarch, Zak Ross, Scott McLean.