LEAFA Select edged by senior counterparts

The LEAFA select team
The LEAFA select team
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Departing LEAFA select boss Alan McKay praised his players for their performance despite losing out 3-2 to their East of Scotland Football League counterparts at Ainslie Park last Sunday.

McKay, who announced his decision to quit this week, thought his side matched their senior opponents.

He said: “I think the lads more than coped with the East of Scotland team. It was an evenly matched game with us squandering a few chances in the first-half and EoS in the second-half.

“We knew a lot about their squad and Garry (Aitchison – EoS manager) had a good mixture of experience and youth in their side.”

Current assistant manager Andy Enwood of Spartans will take over the reigns as manager of the LEAFA select with immediate effect, with Dale McCall and Rangers’ Lee Wallace continuing as coaches.

Heriot Vale striker Jordyn Sheerin – scorer of five goals the last time LEAFA played on home soil – was presented with an excellent opportunity to open the scoring after just seven minutes.

A deflected clearance found its way straight to the big striker inside the box, but his low, driven shot was well saved by Coldstream’s Mark Walters.

The opening quarter featured little goalmouth action, with nothing to separate the two sides. EoS were next to try their luck after 23 minutes, though. Ian Ballantyne’s powerful strike from the right-hand side of the box had to be punched clear by John Nisbet, with the Tollcross stopper not risking a catch.

EoS striker John Crawford had given LEAFA a scare just minutes before he got the opening goal on 35 minutes, but they could do nothing to stop his downward header which crashed into the net from Ballantyne’s cross after 35 minutes.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale’s Callum Connelly had the chance to double EoS’s lead before the break, when after a good run into the box, he attempted to flick over the head of Nisbet. However, the keeper did well to flick out his leg to divert the shot over the bar.

Aitchison made five changes at half-time, including a change in goalkeeper, and the fresh legs injected urgency into their play early in the second-half.

LEAFA had to ride a storm early in the second period, as first Crawford shot over the bar from close range and then Ballantyne was through on goal, but shot just wide of the post.

Just as LEAFA began to find their feet in the second-half, EoS sub Ousman See doubled his side’s lead after shooting into the ground and into the net on the turn past Sam Gibson, in goal for LEAFA after being introduced at the break.

A gulf in class between the sides was starting to become evident, as 20 minutes into the second-half LEAFA hadn’t tested out EoS substitute keeper Stuart Burnside, while EoS were eager to go further ahead.

Just as the EoS select looked to be out of sight, substitute Craig Rankin, who along with fellow substitute Pieyam Khosrowpour had caused problems up front for EoS’s defence since coming on, pulled a goal back.

The Lochend striker showed determination to nip in front of Burnside to slide the ball into the net from a tight angle after a cross in from the right side.

John Williams of Lothian Thistle had the chance to restore EoS’s two-goal lead, but he headed inches wide of the post.

However, Lothian Thistle team-mate Connelly did it in style. From fully 20-yards, the midfielder found the top corner via the outstretched hand of Gibson to effectively end the contest with four minutes to go.

Connelly had scored what looked to be the goal of the game, but LEAFA striker Rankin trumped him with his strike in the last minute of normal time.

A corner for the amateurs caused chaos in the EoS box and after heading clear, the ball found its way to the Lochend striker, whose acrobatic bicycle kick rocketed past Burnside. It was too late for LEAFA, however, as EoS held on for a deserved win.

LEAFA Select: John Nisbet, Sam Gibson, John Diver, Peter Gilhooley, Nicky Murray, James Reid, Sean Lothian, Ally Anderson, Martin Cairney, Jordyn Sheerin, Alan Sherriff, Liam Stewart, Kyle Hay, Jordan Leishman, Craig Rankin, Pieyam Khosrowpour.

EoS Select: Mark Walters, David Jeffery, Craig Stevenson, Gary Black, Kieran Ainsle, John Dunn, Lukasz Rusin, Callum Connelly, Ian Ballantyne, John Crawford, Kevin Brown, Kenny Hall, Craig Dickson, Chris Barrie, Elliot Sutcliffe, John Williams, Ousman See, Lee Walker, Mark Weatherburn, Stuart Burnside.