Sandys’ Champions Cup hat-trick bid Shotts to pieces

Sandys struggled to impose themselves on Shotts despite having a man advantage

Sandys struggled to impose themselves on Shotts despite having a man advantage

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Liam Whyte denied Sandys a third consecutive Champions Cup success as he struck late on to secure a 3-2 victory for Shotts Victoria at Paties Road.

The Edinburgh side, looking to make it a hat-trick of final victories in the competition, got off to the worst possible start as Jamie Callan’s corner found an unmarked Gary Barr at the back post to head into the top corner for Shotts.

Sandys responded immediately as they began the search for an equaliser. Tam Crease sent Stuart Kidd down the left and he whipped the ball into James Riley at the back post. The striker came inches away from making contact with what looked a certain goal.

Sandys came close again when Robert McKenzie cut in from the left to unleash a powerful drive at goal but Brian North in the Shotts goal just about managed to tip the effort over as it looked to be heading straight into the top left corner.

McKenzie sent the ball in from the resulting corner and Crease was at the back post to volley in unmarked to make it 1-1 with 13 minutes gone.

Then came what should have been a defining moment in the game. Riley was slipped in behind the Shotts defence only to be chopped down by Robert Murphy just outside the area. The referee adjudged Murphy to be the last man back and so he was given his marching orders, to give Sandys a man advantage.

Despite the odds being against them, Shotts defiantly rallied before half time. Patrick Shelley almost found the net for the Lanarkshire outfit but he could only volley over at the back post.

It was a warning sign that wasn’t heeded and Sandys conceded with five minutes of the first half remaining. Barr twisted and turned on the right of the area when he was tripped by Sean Lothian. The referee awarded the penalty and Jamie Callan fired home past Graeme Lennie, despite the keeper getting a hand to it.

After an eventful first half the second half continued to entertain the neutrals down at Paties Road. Eight minutes after the restart Sandys fought hard and found a deserved equaliser. Stuart Kidd leapt at the far post to head in from a corner delivered from the left.

With the momentum in their favour, Sandys bombed forward and minutes later had the ball in the back of the net, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag. Liam McCardle found the net from close range thanks to Crease’s pass, but the official on the touchline ruled the goal out because McCardle was in an offside position.

The game opened up as the second half progressed with Sandys going for the win, as did their opponents, despite being down to ten. Shotts’ Jamie Callan sent a lob from the edge of the area over the head of Lennie but the ball dropped on the roof of the goal, rather than under the bar.

Then, Sandys came equally as close to finding a winner. Darren Hainey looked to find the net with a close-range effort in the box, but he agonisingly saw his shot rattle the upright.

The next goal was crucial and despite Sandy’s best efforts, it was Shotts who found the net at the death. Callan provided the cross from the right and Whyte controlled the ball before sending a half volley in off the bar to crush Sandys’ cup final hopes.

Sandys: Graeme Lennie, Tam Crease, Darren Hainey, Steven Handren, Liam McCardle, Robert McKenzie, Dale Miller, Jamie Moore, Steven Philp, James Riley, Stuart Kidd, Sean Lothian, James Clarkson.

Shotts Victoria: Brian North, Gary Barr, Scott Barr, Ryan Fairley, William Fairley, Kris Ferguson, Graeme Millar, Robert Murphy, Kristopher Russell, Patrick Shelley, Liam Whyte, Jamie Callan.