Youths: Mackay saves day for Edinburgh Select

Ethan Houliston of Edinburgh battles for a high ball. Pic: SCOTT THOMSON
Ethan Houliston of Edinburgh battles for a high ball. Pic: SCOTT THOMSON
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An Edinburgh under-15 schools select side secured a draw in their first group encounter in the SSFA National Trophy against Perth & Kinross at Spartans Academy.

A goal by Edinburgh striker Lewis McKay – with minutes to spare – salvaged a well-deserved point for the home side to end the match at 2-2.

Edinburgh began brightly but it was the visitors who should have been ahead in the opening 15 minutes.

Edinburgh conceded possession in their own half and a quick break released Perth’s Joe Johnston, who raced in on goal only to see his shot smack off the post.

Ethan Houliston put Edinburgh ahead shortly afterwards, though, when he pounced on a loose ball inside the six-yard box and poked an effort past Perth & Kinross goalkeeper Mogus Mackay.

The home side’s lead only lasted nine minutes as Johnston put his earlier miss behind him to level for the visitors. The striker latched on to a ball from midfield and his finish left Edinburgh keeper Ben Corall with no chance.

In the second half, Edinburgh were intent on regaining their lead.

McKay was afforded an opportunity to put the select side back in front but his header from close range missed the target completely.

Indeed, Johnston made Edinburgh pay for that miss when he put Perth & Kinross ahead after 69 minutes. A long kick upfield by Mackay took out the Edinburgh defence, who were getting back into position after their own corner, and the ball landed at the feet of Johnston. The striker stepped inside before firing into the net.

However, Edinburgh got their deserved equaliser with just minutes remaining with a freak effort by McKay from 50 yards out. Edinburgh were awarded a free-kick on the left which McKay sent it straight into the box but he got a little more on it than he would have expected and it looped over a hesitant Mackay and into the net.

Meanwhile, an enthralling match took place at Harrison Park when first met second in Division 2 of the under-14 age-group.

North Merchiston went into the clash with 11 points but were up against unbeaten Tranent Colts, who sat in second with a game in hand and with morale high from their Scottish Cup second round 6-0 win over Alnwickhill.

In a topsy-turvy encounter, in which the lead kept changing, Tranent won 6-3.

Merchie drew first blood when Ryan Tilbrook found the net following an error in defence by Tranent after just five minutes. Bustling striker Lomond Gray then levelled for Tranent when he slid the ball into the empty net after rounding Merchie goalkeeper Struan Cant.

The goal-crazy start continued when Darin Waugh put Tranent ahead with a long-range effort which left Cant with no chance.

Tranent’s lead just lasted three minutes though, as Merchie got themselves back on level terms after 18 minutes. The ball was swung into the box from a corner and Sam Allison got a head on it to divert it goalwards, but Kieran Macdougall was on the line to clear. His clearance didn’t avert the danger, though, as the ball landed to Merchie striker Jack Pickup, who guided the ball into the net with a great finish.

Merchie then stole their lead back with a brilliant free-kick from the right side of the box. Lewis Pritchett’s strike flew over the head of helpless Tranent keeper Robbie Stirling. Merchie were revitalised.

Two chances for Merchie could have put them further ahead with Andrew Towns’ effort from midway inside Tranent’s half just dipping over the bar and then Glen McKay slid his shot just wide at the back post.

Tranent got their hold on the match in the second half. Gray had a chance to double his tally after a great turn on the edge of the area took him inside the box, but his effort came off the post.

With Cant in inspired form, it looked like Tranent would find it difficult to get the equaliser, but they got their route back into the match midway through the second half via the penalty spot after the referee adjudged a Merchie defender to have deliberately handled in the area, and substitute Tyler Ross sent Cant the wrong way.

With Tranent in the ascendancy it was only a matter of time before they went ahead and after a cutback by Kyle McFadden, Waugh side-footed into the net.

Goals by Ryan McMurdo – an excellent free kick into the top corner – and Gray’s second of the match sealed the points for the visitors.