Lothian Schools fought out a 1-1 draw with their West Lothian opponents in a match where both sets of players struggled due to severe blustery conditions engulfing the St Augustine’s pitch.
With both teams having already qualified for the quarter-finals of the Senior Inter Association Scottish Cup, Lothian only required a draw to finish group winners ahead of West Lothian on goal difference and land the prize of a seeded position in addition to a home tie in the next round.
The opening exchanges were far from entertaining with both sides trying to come to terms with the howling gale.
West Lothian’s Daniel Nimmo just failed to get his head on Stephen Bryant’s in-swinging corner with the goal in full view. It was Lothian, however, who made the breakthrough after 15 minutes.
Callum Donnelly’s surging run through the heart of the West Lothian midfield opened up space on the right where his precise pass was taken towards goal by Liam Ireland whose low-driven cross was cleverly executed by Mark McConnell from six-yards past the faultless Dylan Rooney in the West Lothian goal.
West Lothian’s Ryan Williamson could have perhaps done better when a neat interchange between Andrew Black and Andrew Davidson presented the striker with a clear sight on goal, but the No. 10 failed to trouble Lothian goalkeeper Mark Hurst.
Lothian’s Kamran Tufail, the former Musselburgh Windsor defender now on the books of Livingston FC, almost doubled his side’s lead when he unleashed a 25-yard effort which narrowly missed the top right hand corner of the goal.
Moments later, Lothian should have most certainly been credited with a 2-0 lead. Kyle Brown’s dribbling ability took him past two West Lothian defenders before his deflected shot sent goal scorer McConnell into the box. A perfect cut-back from the No. 9 presented creator Brown with the chance to finish a move he started but the little midfielder’s composure deserted him at the critical moment and he shot too high.
Then, just as the Lothian coaches had their half-time instructions on the tip of their tongues, West Lothian delivered a sucker punch. Good wing-play down the left hand side from Williamson opened up space and his clever pass sent Bryant in on goal where he coolly dispatched the ball under Hurst and into the bottom corner to tie the game at 1-1.
The second-half was largely unproductive for long periods with limited goal-mouth action due to the strength of the wind and rain maintaining control. When Black was faced with a chance to gain the lead, however, the West Lothian midfielder failed to deliver any power in his shot after being put through by Davidson.
Lothian’s best opportunity of the second half came in the final third of the match with a rasping drive from Ryan Malcolm but his shot missed the left hand side of the target.
Lothian: Mark Hurst, Euan Rodgers, Harvey McIntosh, Zach Szemis, Daniel Shields, Nick Pearson, Liam Ireland, Ryan Malcolm, Mark McConnell, Kyle Brown, Callum Donnelly, Brad Hainey, Sean Alexander, Ben Miller, Kamran Tufail, Liam Peden, Brendan Edwards.
West Lothian: Dylan Rooney, Connor Shaw, Michael Adams, Andrew Black, Stephen Bryant, Andrew Davidson, Rob Dent, James Drysdale, Scott Hislop, Scott Lister, Euan McLean, Kyle Miller, Daniel Nimmo, Graeme Thomson, Ryan Williamson.