The Standard lost out in their second cup final in three weeks, going down 2-0 to Pavilion at Civil Service Sports Ground.
Second-half goals from Graeme Cummings and Paul Colford proved enough for Stuart Paterson’s men to lift the LEAFA Sunday section Stead & Simpson trophy. Paterson was delighted with the victory, but admitted the Standard provided a good test.
He said: “In the first half, the Standard played the better football. We’ve played well all season and we always keep playing until the end. We’re looking to press on for next season and improve and hopefully secure some more silverware.”
The opening period was a very cagey affair, with few real chances created by either side. The Standard did create the first real chance when forward Tam Gillian slipped a neat ball through to winger Jonny Wallace, who was wasteful in blazing his shot high over the crossbar.
The Standard continued to play on the front-foot working the ball well down the left channel with Neil Souness and Gillian showing a sound understanding of one another. They created the next chance of the match on 20 minutes. This time right-back Steven Wear provided a cross into the danger area but Gillian was unable to convert his effort, dragging the ball wide of Scott Walker’s goal.
The Standard deployed a lone striker in Struan Preston and attempted to give him support from wide areas through Gillian and Wallace, but all too often they found a resolute Pavilion backline, with Ross Baird looking particularly solid.
Pavilion upped the ante in the second half and began to show signs of quality, with midfield partnership Chris Crichton and Simon Walton complementing each other in the centre of the park. They were then rewarded for their efforts on 55 minutes when they struck the first blow of the match.
After a hefty challenge in midfield, the ball broke to the feet of Pavilion striker Cummings, who clinically dispatched his strike into the top corner when one-on-one with keeper Stephen Parker.
The Standard then had a strong appeal for a penalty kick waved away by referee Jim McGill. After Struan Preston struck towards goal, the ball appeared to rebound off a Pavilion arm, sparking cries for a spot-kick from the Standard players. McGill, however, waved play-on.
Pavilion compounded Standard’s misery soon after when they were awarded a penalty of their own. Cummings was brought down inside the area and midfielder Paul Colford duly converted the spot kick high into the roof of the net.
The two-goal advantage left Pavilion showing signs of complacency and they nearly let their opponents back into the match when they conceded a penalty of their own.
This time, winger Jonny Wallace was pushed over inside the area, giving Neil Souness the chance to claw a goal back. The full-back was denied, however, as Pavilion stopper Scott Walker made a tremendous save, diving low and getting a strong palm to his well-placed spot-kick.
Pavilion had further chances to kill the match off, with Alasdair Graham seeing his effort blocked by Stephen Parker, and Cummings also being denied by the Standard defence after rounding the goalkeeper.
In the dying moments, Pavilion had a further chance to go three goals to the good, but a misunderstanding between Cummings and Michael Stevenson meant neither could convert the opportunity presented to them at the back post.
The Standard are disappointed to end the season trophy-less, but player-manager Stephen Parker was proud of his side’s efforts throughout the season. Parker said: “We played some fantastic football in the first half and managed to use the width of the park well. At the end of the day football is about hitting the back of the net. We’ve got promotion and into two cup finals this season, I would have bitten your hand off for that at the start of the season.”
Pavilion: Scott Walker, Sam Dowie, Calum Alexander, Chris Crichton, Ross Baird, Donald Young, Paul Colford, Simon Walton, Graeme Cummings, Robert McVicar, Alasdair Graham, Stuart Paterson, Thomas Chisholm, Michael Stevenson.
The Standard: Stephen Parker, Steven Wear, Neil Souness, Jimmy Butcher, Fraser O’Neil, Ross Purvis, Calum Wallace, Stuart George, Stephen Gullan, Tam Gillian, Jonny Wallace, Struan Preston, Thomas Rea, Robbie Stewart, Chris Cannon.