Cavalry PARK Under-19s enjoyed a 5-2 victory over Polbeth United in the final of the Sportsassist South East Region Cup at a sun-baked Hallhill Park in Dunbar.
The game was evenly matched with regards to the score line for the majority of the 90 minutes until Cavalry upped the tempo in the closing stages.
Cavalry Park coach Kevin Douglas was thrilled to have come through victorious but offered credit to some stern opposition in Polbeth United.
He said: “This competition has always been held in high regard so it’s great to get a victory. It was a lot closer than I expected and to be fair to Polbeth they fought very hard. But I think the better team won on the day. We’ve got quite a few more finals before the season finishes so we’re going to be jam-packed.”
A terrific free-kick from Dale O’Hara almost gave Cavalry an early lead when his curling effort caused difficulties for Brian Simpson in the Polbeth goal, who had to turn the ball around his far post, and from the resulting corner, Sean Guiney’s header rattled the crossbar with Polbeth struggling to clear their lines.
However, Cavalry’s early dominance finally paid off as striker Kris McLoughlin found space and drove through on goal before slotting beyond Simpson to hand the Duddingston-based side the advantage.
McLoughlin had another chance to add to his side’s tally but shot just wide from a free-kick fractionally outside the Polbeth penalty area.
Guiney’s superb aerial ball then found winger Stewart Adams in acres of space on the right and he skipped past his opponent but fired wide of the target as Simpson came out to narrow the angle.
Polbeth’s Craig Waddell then squandered a superb chance to equalise when being put through on goal but chose to delay his shot and the ball ricocheted off a defender and out for a corner.
O’Hara is clearly gifted with technique at set-pieces and he once again produced a goal-bound effort which Simpson had to turn around the post.
Then, against the run of play, Daniel Hogg nodded in from a cross to restore parity shortly before the halftime interval.
Cavalry were fast out the traps at the beginning of the second half and should have had a penalty when McLoughlin was tripped by Jack Hamilton but referee Barry Duncan failed to point to the spot.
Good play down the right from Polbeth’s Stuart Smith was almost rewarded when he found Neale Bentley hovering inside the Cavalry penalty box but the player miscued when he perhaps should have done better.
Cavalry then regained the lead when Michael Park cleverly chipped the ball into the back of the net 15 minutes into the second half after finding space from ten yards. Ten minutes later, Polbeth were awarded a penalty when Chris Joyce was adjudged to have used his hand to control and Mark Pritchard fired into the bottom left corner from 12 yards to level it at 2-2.
Cavalry went 3-2 in front when the lively McLoughlin found space down on the right side and as he cut in, an unmarked Adams was waiting to knock the ball home after receiving the cutback.
Polbeth’s Bentley, with the bright coloured yellow boots, tried his luck from fully 30 yards but the ball was always rising as he failed to trouble goalkeeper Andrew MacKay before a free header for Pritchard went wide of the target with the goal gaping. The game was settled, however, in Cavalry’s favour when Joyce’s great ball in from the left picked out Park and he showed great composure to round both defender and goalkeeper to add a fourth.
In the dying minutes, the score increased to 5-2 when Adams’ great flick over Simpson found Christopher Barron who couldn’t miss from two yards.
Polbeth’s David Somerville was disappointed but conceded the better side won on the day.
Somerville said: “We had to go for it when it was 3-2 and ended losing two more as we were chasing the game. But Cavalry were deserved winners make no question about it.”
Cavalry Park: Andrew MacKay, Chris Joyce, Dale O’Hara, Lyle Finney, Greg Douglas, Christopher Barron, Stewart Adams, Sean Guiney, Kris McLoughlin, Steven MacGregor, Fraser McKinlay, Jack McIntosh, Alex Borthwick, Tyrone Jimenez, Michael Park, Johnny Malcolm, Fraser Andrews, Craig Cockburn, Steven Handran.
Polbeth United: Brian Simpson, Stuart Smith, Jack Hamilton, Mark Pritchard, Daniel Hogg, Stephen Easton, Liam Airley, Connor Robb, Craig Waddell, JJ Yeats, Tom Somerville, Steven Guest, Neale Bentley, Kyle McQuade.