UPHALL Station won the LEAFA Challenge Cup after defeating Loanhead Miners Welfare 3-2 after extra-time at Saughton Enclosure.
They had to come from behind twice in order to push the game to extra time, and Paul McCracken scored the winning goal in the 118th minute to grab the glory for the West Lothian outfit.
Despite trailing for much of the game, Uphall created the majority of the chances throughout the match.
Loanhead took an early lead. In the sixth minute, Stewart Davidson’s deep free kick caused problems for Uphall inside the penalty area and, in an attempt to clear the ball, defender Robert McGregor directed it into the roof of his own net.
Parity was restored eight minutes later when Gary Steele stroked the ball into the net from close range after Gary White’s cross was fumbled by Loanhead goalkeeper Craig McKenzie.
A penalty was awarded to Loanhead after 23 minutes when Craig Robertson was felled by McGregor. The Uphall faithful felt that offside should have been given in the build-up, but the refereeing team deemed that John Dixon was not interfering with play. Kris Shillito despatched the penalty into the bottom right corner to give his team a 2-1 lead.
With four minutes of the half remaining, Loanhead’s John Thomson broke into the area, dribbling past John Gerrard and Lee Adams, but his shot was saved when one on one by Uphall goalkeeper Robert Sinclair.
Uphall penalty claims were turned down after 68 minutes when White felt he had been fouled in the area.
A moment later, Chris Norris’s shot from 11 yards was saved, but Uphall felt they should have been awarded a penalty for a strong tackle on White. They found an equaliser four minutes later when Keith Robertson shot into the right side of the net from 18 yards. Loanhead were close to grabbing a late winner in the 84th minute. Kenneth McMillan’s header was tipped over the bar by Sinclair after Daniel Stewart’s well placed free-kick.
Uphall continued to attack until the final whistle, but failed to test McKenzie with any of their remaining chances in regulation time. Extra time began and Uphall continued to exert pressure on the Loanhead defence. In the 99th minute, White’s shot was parried by McKenzie and Bamba Jobarteh could not reach the rebound.
Two minutes later, George McGregor’s free kick went into the hands of McKenzie. From the counter attack, Christopher Fortune shot over the bar for Loanhead.
Uphall finally broke through with two minutes remaining, as McCracken placed his shot into the bottom left corner.
Loanhead secretary Robert Drummond felt it was a good match-up, but the team could not keep up their performance levels throughout extra time. He said: “It was a good game and either team could have won it. It went to extra time and we gave away a stupid second goal. We got caught on the halfway line and that was it. It was a hard game, but Uphall were stronger at the end.
“We started the season quite well, but fell away. We lost a lot of players and we have been down to the bare bones. We got to a final and consolidated ourselves in the Premier Division 1 for a second season in a row, so we are happy with that.”
Uphall manager Steve Clark was relieved that his team finally won the match after missing a number of chances. He said: “We had more than enough chances to win the game. In the first half, we were a bit sloppy but as the game went on we missed chance after chance. Loanhead worked really hard but in the last month we have been in good form.
“Our team really has not played that well and fallen below par this season but in the last four games I have been really proud of the way the team has played. We lost a the Centenary Cup final a few weeks ago, but have the Logan Cup final coming up, so hopefully we can win that.”
Uphall Station: Robert Sinclair, John Gerrard, Robert McGregor, George McGregor, Charles Wright, Scott Gillies, Lee Adams, Keith Robertson, Bamba Jobarteh, Gary White, Chris Norris, Liam Whyte, Paul McCracken, Derek Drummond, Kevin McGee, David Miller.
Loanhead MW: Craig McKenzie, John Saunders, Stewart Davidson, Kris Shillito, Sandy Munro, Darren Robertson, Kenneth McMillan, Craig Robertson, John Thomson, John Dixon, Gary Steele, Daniel Stewart, Fraser Richards, Barrie Arthur, Christopher Fortune, Scott Smith.