A 16 and 17 year-old change the game for Haddington Athletic to secure semi-final spot, as boss Scott Bonar praises his young stars

Scott Bonar hailed his Haddington Athletic starlets for keeping their season alive as they came from a goal behind to advance to the semi-finals of the East of Scotland League Cup.
Ethan Williams steps up to make it 2-1 from the penalty spot in extra-timeEthan Williams steps up to make it 2-1 from the penalty spot in extra-time
Ethan Williams steps up to make it 2-1 from the penalty spot in extra-time

The Hi-Hi required extra-time at Millfield Park last night against an impressive Coldstream side, who took an early second half lead through Gary Windram’s 25-yard stunner. 21-year-old Ethan Williams restored parity from the penalty spot, before Williams gave Haddington the lead in the first half of extra-time from another spot-kick.

Impressive 17-year-old substitute Riley Haston secured the victory in extra-time with his first goal for the club, a curling left-foot strike from the edge of the box which nestled in the bottom corner.

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Bonar hailed the impact of Haston and fellow substitute, 16-year-old Robbie Peffers, for turning the game in their favour.

“I thought Coldstream played really well. Sometimes you have to give the other team credit; they passed the ball well, they worked hard for each other, and they were organised. Their performance belied their league position,” said Bonar.

“It was credit to us that we managed to overcome that – I said that to the players – “Don’t come away from tonight thinking you played particularly bad, you’ve just had to find another avenue of how to win a game of football.”

“I think bringing on the two young laddies in Riley and Robbie [Peffers] actually changed the game for us, they gave us that energy that we were maybe lacking in certain areas. We managed to get in behind them, whereas in the first half we were playing more in front of them.

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“I said to the players at half-time to just keep going and keep our season alive, otherwise it would have been the end of the season for us. We had a gameplan to try and get back into the game and it worked – we wanted to get Gabri [Auriemma] more on the ball, which helped us to break the lines a wee bit as they were really compact.”

Haddington host Bo’ness Athletic next Tuesday for a place in the final, and Bonar is delighted with the progress of his young side, who secured a fifth-place finish in their first Premier Division campaign.

Bonar continued: “The players deserve their wee semi-final for the efforts they have put in season. Bo’ness are another team who will thrive on this surface so it should be a right good game. It should be a cracking occasion.

“I don’t think the club has been in many cup finals, I think it’s four in 60 years or something. We won the league last year but we want to build a team that can compete for things and if they can get to a final, then that shows that we are on the right track.

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“Compared to other teams in this league, our budget is miniscule. I would rather keep producing our own players or try and get a wee gem from a lower league and try and polish them up. I think you have a better team spirit when they are all working hard for each other.

“The season is just starting for us, we still look fresh. When the final whistle goes next week, we will decide if the season is over or not.”

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