Local Heroes: Dunbar hold their nerve to triumph
With Star A scoring a late equaliser to ensure these two South East Region Division Three clubs were level at 1-1 after the regulation 90 minutes, and extra-time failing to produce a decisive goal, it was the East Lothian outfit who held their nerve to win 7-6 in the shoot-out.
Dunbar United Colts coach Graham McPheat was relieved to see his side come through as champions and paid tribute to their efforts shown throughout the match. He said: “I genuinely think we deserved to win so I think we have got our just rewards. We had a lot of pressure without having many clear chances but the attitude of our boys to come back from losing a goal in the last minute and play as well as we did in extra-time was just great.”
It was indeed Dunbar who started more prominently and had an effort within the opening minute. Fraser Souness’ free-kick from the edge of area went just wide of the far upright with James Quinn in the Star A goal rooted to the spot.
Star A were struggling to gain a hold of the ball with lively winger Alistair Fell proving a real asset for Dunbar, and it came as little surprise to see the No. 22 open the scoring after ten minutes. Fell collected the ball out on the left touchline and despite having support from team-mates inside, he opted to go it alone and cut in before producing a neat finish into the far corner from what was an incredibly tight angle.
Souness then found himself in familiar territory once again with a free-kick opportunity to test Quinn’s ability.
However, despite his effort finding the target on this occasion, the Star A goalkeeper had anticipated his opponent’s intentions and stood firm to block. Star A’s Sean Rice and Liam Sim then combined well to set up Thomas Wishart, but the distance to the goal proved too excessive with the player failing to find sufficient power to really trouble Dunbar’s Cameron McPheat as the half drew to a close.
The opening stages of the second half saw a repetition of the first, with Dunbar emerging the more assured and on the lookout for more goals. The industrious Struan Fenn showed great ability in flicking the ball over defender Matthew Smith’s head, but lacked composure in front of goal to dispatch the ball into the net after being presented with a clear sighting of the target.
Dunbar certainly had little trouble in retaining possession in their opponents’ half, however the final touch or pass often saw them fail to conjure up any real goal scoring openings.
With Star A desperately requiring a moment of magic in hope of giving themselves any chance of finding a way back into the contest, Adam Reid thought he would try his luck from the left touchline as he struck a powerful shot from distance which McPheat had to carefully monitor before gathering with both hands.
Then, just as Dunbar thought their one-goal lead would be enough to see them crowned winners, Thomas Duffield launched a deep pass forward towards Cameron Chisholm who, in turn, lashed a low-driven strike into the bottom corner to level the tie. It was to be, ultimately, the last action of normal time as the final whistle blew just as Dunbar restarted from the centre spot.
With very limited goalmouth chances in the 20 minutes of additional time, it was left to the players who possessed the courage to step forward and take a kick from 12 yards.
It was Dunbar who prevailed despite Star A having more than enough chances to land glory.
Star A coach David Duncanson was realistic in his estimations and felt his side were lucky to send the game into extra-time.
He said: “It was a hard game where we were second best all over the park and never really looked like scoring. It wasn’t one of our best performances but we had it in our hands on three occasions in the penalty shoot-out so it’s tough for the boys.”
Dunbar United Colts: Cameron McPheat, Charlie Skidmore, Struan Young, Reece Peffers, Fraser Souness, Dylan Chisholm, Ryan Bird, Jack Inglis, Struan Fenn, Harry Christison, Robbie Leslie, Jack Reid, Ross Barr, Alistair Fell, Andrew Bennett, Joe Cross.
Star A CYP: James Quinn, Greg Droudge, Sean Rice, Thomas Wishart, Matthew Smith, Liam Sim, Ben Kottrick, Cameron Chisholm, Jack Smith, Adam Reid, Thomas Duffield, James Monaghan, Stephen Charters, Robbie Gray, Robbie Muir, Jack Houston.