Balerno Athletic upset the odds to be crowned Miller Cup winners with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Musselburgh Amateurs at Paties Road.
David Warnock’s tenth-minute penalty was to prove the defining moment in the final as they held off a determined attacking display from the Premier Division 1 leaders to lift the cup.
Balerno captain Scott Nicholls was understandably pleased with the performance his side produced on the day.
“I’m shattered but absolutely delighted,” he said. “We were the underdogs today and everybody thought we were going to take a beating. The boys were absolutely fantastic though and it’s a testament to them that we won it.
“We all believed we could get a result, we looked to keep it tight in the opening 20 minutes and then either create from a set piece or just by playing our normal game. Then, after the penalty, everybody did their job and everyone won their individual battles. They’re divisions above us and they thought they could just turn up today but we were outstanding and solid all game.”
It was a nervy start from both sides and it was clear neither team wanted to concede early on. By the tenth minute, however, the deadlock had been broken. Balerno came down the left-hand side and a ball into the box was adjudged by the referee to have hit the hand of Musselburgh’s Darren Combe. Warnock sent his penalty kick into the bottom left corner, just past the outstretched hand of Mussie keeper Ross Taylor.
The East Edinburgh outfit wasted no time in pursuing an equaliser, and 20 minutes in they had a half chance. Craig D’Arcy played Laurie Flynn in behind the Balerno defence but his shot, from an acute angle, could only find the side netting.
Flynn’s effort reminded Balerno that their lead was a slender one, and in response they threw caution to the wind and pushed upfield, looking to double their advantage. A free kick from the left found Michael Melville at the back post, but his header was just off target.
Musselburgh came close when Andrew Macdonald created space outside the box and set up Flynn, but the No 9 could only blaze the ball over the crossbar.
Musselburgh twice came very close to bagging an equaliser in the space of five minutes after half time. First Richard Rintoul had a header palmed away by keeper Daniel Mackenzie, then Scott Lane tried to catch the Balerno goalie off his line with an audacious chip from distance, but it fell just wide.
Mussie continued to push bodies forward as they became increasingly desperate to score, but were frustrated by their opponents who kept men behind the ball.
Despite their best efforts it seemed it wasn’t to be Musselburgh’s day but they had one final chance in the dying minutes which could so easily have changed the game. A long ball forward fell to Ross Cameron with time and space but one on one Mackenzie stood up to deny the number five and secure victory for his side in a hotly-contested final.
Musselburgh Amateurs: Ross Taylor, Eamonn Reynolds, Stuart Kennedy, Ross Cameron, Darren Combe, Jamie Waugh, Andrew Macdonald, Ryan Droudge, Richard Rintoul, Craig D’Arcy, Laurie Flynn, Ryan Cameron, Giovanni Crolla, Paul Marshall, Scott Lane, Mike Dorans.
Balerno Athletic: Finlay Blair, Sam Saddler, Daniel Mackenzie, James Higgins, Neil Munro, Alexander McComish, Michael Melville, Scott Nicholls, Andrew Eunson, Angus Matheson, David Warnock, Callum McColloch, Ross McColloch, Christopher Cavens, Steven Newton, Angus Bracks.