Mayfield & EASTHOUSES edged out Links United 5-4 after extra-time to lift the Anderson Cup in what was a thrilling encounter between the Lothian and Edinburgh amateur sides.
There would have been minimal complaints from the lively crowd who had gathered at Ainslie Park as the match duration was extended by an additional 30 minutes in a bid to separate the two clubs.
Mayfield & Easthouses coach Robert Hogg was full of relief after watching his side snatch victory with the last kick of the game.
Hogg said: “I thought we dominated the majority of the first half where they scored against the run of play. But we managed to get ourselves back into it and grind out the victory in the end. We put a lot of effort in so I’m delighted with the result.”
It was Links United, however, who set the pace with the opening goal coming inside the first ten minutes. A poor clearance failed to make it out of the Mayfield & Easthouses penalty area and Links striker Dale Wight released a thunderous strike into the top left hand corner giving goalkeeper Barry Lindley no chance.
However, Wight’s brilliant strike acted as a wake-up call as Mayfield & Easthouses gradually began to assert their mark on the game. Scott Mitchell’s ambitious effort cleared the crossbar before Martin Hughes tested Euan Cole in the Links goal with a shot from a tight angle which the goalkeeper did well to block.
Cole was forced into action once again when he produced a great fingertip save to deny a powerful header from Craig Gow, as the defender rose above a crowded pack to produce an effort on target from Dale Thornton’s delivery.
Mayfield & Easthouses did restore parity shortly before the break courtesy of striker Hughes, as he nodded in from close range after an excellent cross from Douglas Morrison.
The opening ten minutes of the second half displayed a frantic, but hugely entertaining spell with four goals the result of some clinical finishing.
Mayfield & Easthouses wasted little time as they took the lead within a minute of the restart. Mitchell’s corner from the right found the unmarked Gow at the back post and he struck a low drive in at the near post.
However, Links were back on level terms within 60 seconds. A darting run from left-back Sam Chetwynd went unchallenged and he perfectly picked out Wight who prodded in from close range to level things up at 2-2.
Mayfield & Easthouses then went ahead again shortly later with a sublime finish from James Glodek. The No. 8 somehow managed to readjust his body and with his back to goal, produced a shot which left Cole and his team-mates wondering how the ball ended up in the back of the net.
Man-of-the-match Gary Craig then rivalled Glodek for goal of the game with a quite sensational strike from fully 25 yards. The midfielder picked up the ball out wide, skipped past a defender and cut in before bulleting it past Lindley into the top corner.
Links then went ahead 4-3 through John Mackay’s neat header, but Mayfield & Easthouses shattered the blue and whites’ dreams with only five minutes remaining as Gow added his second, and most crucial, to send the game into extra-time.
It took until the very last kick of the match to settle the outcome. With the seconds counting down, and penalties looking increasingly likely, substitute David Gillan fancied his chances to land glory with a deflected shot from the edge of the area which looped over Cole for the winner.
Links coach Gary McCardle believes the match served up was fit to grace any cup final.
He said: “We are gutted in the manner we were beaten as we didn’t get a chance to get back into it. It was an absolutely brilliant match and a great advert for our league. I thought we were going to be the side to pip it, but it just wasn’t to be.”
Links United: Euan Cole, Colin Kay, Sam Chetwynd, John Diver, John Mackay, Faron Gribben, Daniel Smith, Martin Bews, Jules Paterson, Dale Wight, Gary Craig, Cameron Luke, Mark Dickson, Danny Bee, David Pool, Terry Philbin.
Mayfield & Easthouses: Barry Lindley, Sean Dillon, Liam Hall, Craig Gow, Bryan Wilson, Dale Thornton, Shaun Thornton, James Glodek, Martin Hughes, Douglas Morrison, Scott Mitchell, Alan Reid, David Gillan, Steven Watson.