Cramond under-13s were crowned Polar Foods Cup winners after defeating South East Region Division Four rivals North Berwick Colts 3-2 in a hugely-entertaining clash at Saughton Enclosure.
The eventual winners stormed to a three goal lead courtesy of hat-trick hero and captain Mark Mackay, only to be pegged back by their gutsy opponents, who came close to sending the match into extra-time.
Striker Mackay, in particular, looked in a menacing mood straight from kick-off and was proving a real handful for the North Berwick defence with his energy in pressing the back four.
Mackay’s efforts were duly rewarded after only ten minutes, when he notched his first goal of the game with a fine finish into the bottom corner, breaking the attention of a North Berwick defender before running through on goal and converting past Jamie Wallace.
Prior to the half-time whistle, Mackay once again underlined his ability with a second finish that showed an agility way beyond his years. The youngster controlled the ball exquisitely with his right foot just inside the penalty area, before dragging the ball back with his left, and then unleashing a powerful strike high into the net from 12 yards.
If North Berwick were going to have any chance of overturning the score line, they were going to have to apply some early second-half pressure. A neat run-and-cross down the right from Watson presented a great opportunity for striker Gregor Griffiths, but the target man failed to keep his header below the bar as the ball sailed over. Griffiths was then presented with an easier chance to reduce Cramond’s lead but once again he failed to test Philip as he hooked it over from just six yards.
With North Berwick the more dominant force, it would have come as a real blow to see Mackay return to the fore as the striker grabbed his third goal of the evening to increase Cramond’s lead to three. A driving run and shot could only be parried into the net by Wallace and, with that, North Berwick’s dreams of cup glory were shattered.
However, there was still a real urge from the East Lothian side to get themselves back into the tie and their efforts were rewarded when Finlay Thain fired a crisp left-footed strike from a tight angle into the corner to make it 3-1.
Cramond’s nerves were tested further when defender Kris Harley pounced on a loose ball to fire into the net after good work from Griffiths.
Both sides had further opportunities to add more goals but it was Cramond’s superiority in the first-half that ultimately secured them the cup.
Cramond coach Alan Morrison was grateful for his side’s performance in the first-half as he acknowledged the severe pressure North Berwick applied after the interval.
He said: “We were certainly the better side in the first half where we took the game to North Berwick and really controlled the match. They came straight out the blocks in the second half and put us under a lot of pressure where we were camped in our own box on quite a few occasions. But I think we played well overall and just managed to sneak it in the end.”
North Berwick’s Scott Wallace was disappointed not to take the game into an additional period, but was heartened by the commitment shown by all his players.Wallace said: “It was a fantastic second-half showing and I am so proud of them. Our heads never dropped and we kept going right until the end. We still have another cup final to go so we’ll be giving it a real go in that one.”
Cramond FC: Sam Philip, Finlay Veitch, Jason Mackenzie, Fraser Rillay, Nikolas Zakrzewski, Lewis McAndrew, Dylan Robertson, Mark Mackay, Owen Logan, David Mclean, Dylan McGhee, Arron McMurray, Michael Morrison, Conner Reid, Daniel Wilson, T Jay McGhee.
North Berwick Colts: Jamie Wallace, Ren Quantrill, Andrew Steven, Joel Thomson, John Collins, Kris Harley, Alex Williams, Elliot Glynn, Gregor Griffiths, Johnny Harding, Sam Watson, Finlay Thain, Robbie Warnock, Robbie Gardiner, Lewis Cowan, Luke Ormiston.