Firrhill High’s senior boys eased into the fourth-round of the Scottish Schools’ Shield thanks to a double from Jake McDonald in a 4-1 win over Lasswade.
The match was in great danger of being called off after the grass pitch at Oxgangs was deemed unplayable due to it being frozen, but the referee agreed to play the cup tie on Firrhill’s nearby AstroTurf.
Both sides took time to adapt to the surface, with the tight area unforgiving in freezing temperatures. The home side gradually started to take control of proceedings and they were first to threaten after ten minutes when Greg Benson nodded narrowly wide.
Firrhill were forcing Lasswade back and it wasn’t long before they got the opening goal. McDonald did well to cut the ball back into the danger area and his pass was met by striker Joe Turner-Law, whose precise strike found the bottom corner.
Lasswade were level on 18 minutes though after their captain Sam Jones was tripped in the area and from 12 yards, Craig Forrest sent Firrhill’s Cameron Tulloch the wrong way.
Firrhill were well on top with Lasswade camped inside their own half and on 27 minutes the home side regained their lead. Benson did well to latch on to a through ball and with Lasswade stopper Ben MacKenzie advancing from the goal to shorten the angle, the forward instinctively fired under the keeper and into the net.
Backed by a vocal support – with a full song-book behind them – Firrhill continued to threaten the visitors goalmouth, but it wasn’t until the second period that they’d extend their advantage.
Ryan Clarke was close to increasing their lead 10 minutes after the restart, but his half-volley went wide of MacKenzie’s goal, much to his relief, after the keeper scrambled to his right.
Lasswade were starting to come into the tie more and began to pass the ball around well, but were rarely troubling Firrhill’s Tulloch and on 54 minutes McDonald got his first.
William Kerr’s low corner was driven across goal and Firrhill’s top goalscorer broke free of his marker before firing into the net from eight yards out.
As well as causing trouble going forward, Firrhill’s rearguard was solid, with central-defence partners Sam Leslie and Gavin Birrell combining to thwart Lasswade’s attacks.
When Lothian Senior Schools’ goalkeeper Tulloch was called into action, he produced the goods to preserve his side’s two-goal cushion as he dived to stop William White’s strike before Forrest tried his luck from the edge of the box.
Lasswade were piling players forward as they looked to reduce the deficit and this backs-to-the-wall tactic left them susceptible to a Firrhill counter-attack. Indeed, it was on the break that Firrhill rounded the scoring when, after Turner-Law’s initial shot was parried by MacKenzie, McDonald slammed in the rebound with 14 minutes remaining.
Lasswade’s Cammy McFarlane struck the post late on, but in truth the visitors didn’t have enough firepower in their ranks to merit more than one goal and if it hadn’t been for the efforts of MacKenzie, Firrhill would have run out even more comfortable winners.
Firrhill: Cameron Tulloch, Scott Hannah, Calum McGowan, Sam Leslie, Gavin Birrell, Jake McDonald, Nicholas Mortimer, William Kerr, Greg Benson, Allan Petticrew, Joe Turner-Law, Ryan Clarke, Angus Luff, Cameron Macpherson, Lewis Ross.
Lasswade: Ben MacKenzie, Harry McGill, Calum Preston, Scott Fairgrieve, Jack Fairgrieve, Euan Greig, William White, Sam Jones, Cammy McFarlane, Craig Forrest, Jose Herreros, Daniel Judge, Connor Brunton, Sean Norris, Blair Paterson, Michael Kennedy.