A double for East Linton, but only just

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East LINTON won the LEAFA Holyrood Cup defeating Edinburgh University Reserves 3-1 after extra time at Ainslie Park.

The torrential rain did nothing to harm the quality of football on display, as both teams combined to create a thrilling encounter. With four minutes remaining, Jamie Jackson equalised for East Linton to send the match into extra time, and two Gary Fairgrieve goals ensured that East Linton added a second trophy to this season’s haul after securing the league title.

The Uni tested East Linton goalkeeper Craig Pucko after five minutes when Iliya Stoev’s free-kick was tipped over the top right corner. With 20 minutes gone, East Linton player Gordon Rollo headed the ball against the crossbar after Iain Kennedy’s corner.

Edinburgh Uni pressured the East Linton defence in the first part of the second half. Stoev and Charlie Hunter played a neat one-two but Stoev’s shot from 18 yards was stopped by Pucko’s low diving save after 55 minutes. Three minutes later and Stoev’s long-range free-kick was diverted over the bar by Pucko and then the frame of the goal saved the Uni again after 78 minutes as Jackson’s lobbed shot struck the crossbar after a defensive mix up.

East Linton nearly scored two minutes later, but Mark MacArthur dived to his left to stop Kennedy’s 25-yard shot.

With four minutes of regulation time remaining, Matt Vincent looked to have won the game for the Uni when he bundled the ball into the net from six yards after Harald Buchart’s pass.

An injury to Hunter earlier in the match led to eight minutes of stoppage time being added, and East Linton took advantage of it in the 94th minute when Jackson scored from eight yards after MacArthur parried a cross from the left wing. East Linton nearly scored a dramatic winner with the last attack, but Julian Anderson’s header struck the crossbar after Fairgrieve’s chipped through ball.

Both teams had chances to score early in extra time. The Uni attacker Roberts saw his shot saved superbly by Pucko and, once again, East Linton hit the crossbar when Jackson shot from ten yards.

Five minutes later, it was the Uni’s turn to hit the crossbar when Roberts’ cross flew towards the goal but the bar kept it out before it was cleared behind the goal line.

Fairgrieve grabbed his goals to win the tie within the space of two minutes at the end of the half. The first came when the ball fell to him in the six-yard box after Kevin McKillop’s cross. A minute later, he unleashed a powerful shot into the right side of the net from 18 yards after a good passing move.

Edinburgh University coach Carlo DeAngelis thought the team was unlucky to concede in the final moments of regulation time. He said: “I thought it was a game of chess with two good teams who both tried to play football. We deserved our lead and it was just unfortunate that we could not hold on for just a few minutes longer.

“Our season has been absolutely excellent. The boys have really applied themselves and we’ve had some terrific victories. All the players really enjoy it. They are obviously a bit down at the moment but they will bounce back as there will be plenty more cup finals for them.”

East Linton coach Chris Craig was delighted to add a second trophy to the season’s total.

He said: “It was great. We were here a few weeks ago playing against Lochend in another final and were disappointed to lose that one but the guys have been brilliant. Since then we’ve won the Lothian East title and have now added the Holyrood Cup so it’s been brilliant.”

East Linton: Craig Pucko, Jamie Ingle, Daniel McNeil, Gordon Rollo, Gary Fairgrieve, Jamie Jackson, Craig McIntosh, Stuart Laing, Kevin McKillop, Julian Anderson, Iain Kennedy, Graham Higginbottom, Callum Smillie, Alaster Leslie, Chris Craig, Craig Wells.

Edinburgh University Reserves: Mark MacArthur, Greg Turnbull, Matt Vincent, Chris Melvin, Michael Huckerby, Neil Brotherston, Will Rowett, James Aubrey, Harald Buchart, Iliya Stoev, Charlie Hunter, Adamos Efstathion, Nick Roberts, Angus Ramsay, Nick Florence, Andy Cumming.