Scott McCULLOCH was Whitehill Welfare’s match-winning hero as his stunning strike fired the Rosewell club into the lead against Edinburgh City with only five minutes remaining of the Central Taxis East of Scotland League Cup final at St Mark’s Park.
A further goal in stoppage time from Scott Gormley ensured a 2-0 victory for Whitehill, who picked up their first trophy in four seasons to reward their recently-installed management team of Grant Carnie and Kevin Twaddle.
McCulloch’s goal would have been a contender for goal of the season at any level. City’s Shaun Harrison was robbed of the ball by Andrew Kidd on the edge of his own penalty box and when the ball broke to McCulloch he rifled an unstoppable shot from 25 yards which hit the underside of the bar, bounced over the goal-line and back into the roof of the net. It certainly was a goal worthy of winning a cup final.
“I thought that when the ball came to me some 25 yards out I decided it was time to take a chance. I know that I can strike the ball well so I thought that I would have a go and, luckily enough, the ball went in,” said McCulloch.
“I wanted to pay the club back after being injured for so long this season and for that I have to thank out physio, Frank Fleming, who has been treating me and had me well strapped up.
“My dad is terminally ill so it was a pity that he was not here but that goal is definitely dedicated to him. That meant everything and therefore it was good to go home and tell him all about it.”
The game was evenly balanced throughout the first-half with neither goalkeeper seriously tested, although there was plenty of goalmouth action for the large crowd to savour.
A tenacious run by City’s Ian McFarland was halted by the Whitehill defence, then Stevie Manson scampered down the right wing but his low cross bounced off the knees of Gormley and the ball rolled past the post. Welfare’s Aaron Somerville hit the side netting and Gormley saw a lob well held by Andrew Stobie.
There was drama ten minutes into the second-half when City’s Ruaraidh Scott made a late lunge at Alan Brown on the half-way line and referee Brian Colvin had no hesitation in showing Scott a straight red card. However, only three minutes later City created their best chance of the game when Paul Devlin picked out the normally reliable Robbie Ross but his weak shot was easily held by Darren Walker.
Gormley then shot over from six yards before McCulloch’s wonder goal to give Whitehill the lead in the 85th minute. Three minutes into stoppage time, Gormley raced through on goal where he was adjudged to have been upended by Stobie on the edge of the penalty box. The City goalkeeper was given a straight red card and although the decision seemed a trifle harsh, replacement goalkeeper Jamie Bain was beaten by Gormley’s expertly taken free-kick to confirm the cup was heading to Rosewell.
Kevin Twaddle, Whitehill’s assistant manager, said: “I thought that City put up a gallant fight and I was impressed with them. Scott McCulloch has been struggling with an injury and the physio said that he should not play but what a goal. I was also delighted for Scott Gormley because his work rate and attitude were great although, overall, it was a team effort.”
Whitehill Welfare: Walker, Brown, Young, W Kidd, Bruce, Herd (Robertson 77), A Kidd, Gormley, McCulloch, Somerville, Manson. Subs: Tansey, Hall, McDonald.
Edinburgh City: Stobie, Cennerazzo, Scott, Harrison, Bain, McFarland, Howat (Hunter 86), Gair, R Ross, Guthrie (Elliot 86), K Ross (Devlin 28). Subs: McFarlane, Macnamara.
• STIRLING UNIVERSITY beat Leith Athletic 1-0 in the semi-final of the King Cup thanks to a superb drive from Danny Denholm early in the second-half.