WHITEHILL WELFARE and Edinburgh City clash in the final of the Image Printers East of Scotland Qualifying Cup at Spartans’ Ainslie Park on Sunday, with both clubs determined to pick up their first piece of silverware for several seasons.
Edinburgh City have the most unbelievable statistic of having lost the previous 13 cup finals in which they have appeared, last lifting a trophy in season 2002-2003 when they won this competition, while Whitehill Welfare’s last success in any competition was back in season 2008-2009, when they won the Image Printers Cup.
The two clubs met earlier in the season when Whitehill won 2-1 at Meadowbank in a League Cup tie although, by then, both clubs had already qualified for the knock-out stages. “That was a bit of a nothing game as both teams had already progressed,” said Whitehill boss Rab Paget. “I expect Sunday to be totally different because a cup final is a one-off occasion. Whitehill may not have won anything for a few seasons but I am putting no pressure on my players.”
Whitehill warmed up for the final with a 2-2 draw against Gretna 2008 in the Premier Division last weekend. Paget reflected on the result by saying: “It was a game which could have gone either way and that was due mainly to the horrendous windy conditions. Full credit has to go to all of the players who produced a good game. Our results over the past four games have been a bit inconsistent with only one win [against Edinburgh University], a draw [Gretna 2008] and two defeats against Bo’ness United in the Scottish Cup and Stirling University in the South Region Challenge Cup.
“I have had City watched in their last two games and had comprehensive reports so now I am working out how we are hopefully going to beat them. I have a feeling there could be a lot of goals. Their co-managers, John Green and Gary Jardine, will have City very well organised and they have some excellent players, including Dougie Gair, Ian McFarland and Paul Devine while Robbie Ross can score goals.”
The final will be played, for the first time, on Spartans’ 4G synthetic surface – a fact that pleases Paget. “The surface is geared for teams that want to play football and we are therefore looking forward to playing on it,” he said.
Paget has Aaron Sommerville and Wayne McIntosh in goalscoring form and has a full squad available, depending on late fitness tests to both Gareth Thom and Scott McCulloch.
Meanwhile, John Green, Edinburgh City’s co-manager, is still annoyed at having to play last Saturday’s game – a 3-2 defeat away to Civil Service Strollers – in a gale-force wind. “It was an absolute lottery trying to play football in these conditions,” said Green. “I am a football coach and I want my teams to play football. Teams don’t need coaches if all they want to do is lump the ball into the opposition’s penalty box. Tactics go out of the window. It is very frustrating for me and, when the weather is like what it was last Saturday, the conditions seem to suit other teams better than us. However, Green is optimistic that his side can rectify that damning statistic of losing 13 consecutive cup finals. “Sunday is the ideal opportunity for our players and they will certainly not be thinking about any previous finals,” stressed Green. “These previous results will have no bearing on Sunday’s game and on our day we can compete with any team in the league. For some of our players this will be their first cup final because we are basically a young team. Our players have confidence in their own strengths. We have experience as a team playing on artificial surfaces and the Spartans pitch will suit our style of play. The outcome could be down to the team which adapts better to the conditions.”
Green has injury doubts surrounding Kenny Ross, Ross Macnamara, Miles Hunter and Shaun Harrison although striker Robbie Ross looks certain to play. The final kicks off at 2.00pm on Sunday at Ainslie Park, with admission prices: £5.00 for adults and £2.00 for concessions.