Coventry sends East Linton packing to secure the Ian McDonald Cup

LBC celebrate with the Ian McDonald Cup after beating East Linton
LBC celebrate with the Ian McDonald Cup after beating East Linton
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LBC Lochend added the LEAFA Ian McDonald Cup to their season’s haul by beating East Linton 2-0 at Ainslie Park.

Scott Coventry was the hero for LBC, scoring in each half, to ensure his team built on their Centenary Cup final victory the previous week as East Linton struggled to threaten the LBC defence until the closing stages of the match.

LBC’s Marc Lothian nearly scored a fluke goal after only four minutes when his cross from the right wing went narrowly over the crossbar.

Both teams were playing neat, passing football in the opening 20 minutes, with a midfield battle for possession ensuing.

In an attempt to create more chances, the LBC management pushed more players into the midfield which appeared to work as the LBC attacks started to flow.

On the half hour, Martin Cairney’s 20-yard effort nearly wrong footed East Linton goalkeeper Craig Pucko, who gathered the ball gratefully into his arms at the second attempt. Stuart Smith then nearly opened the scoring moments later, but his powerful header went into the side netting after Michael Smith’s deep free kick.

Coventry did break the deadlock after 32 minutes, however, heading into the centre of the net from six yards, after a superbly placed corner kick by Lothian.

LBC goalkeeper Dean Walker was tested for the first time on the verge of half-time but was equal to Stuart Laing’s low-driven free kick. Pucko then pulled off a good diving save to keep Michael Smith’s long-range drive out of the bottom left corner after 53 minutes.

East Linton’s Kevin McKillop missed a superb chance to equalise nine minutes later. Ross Cowan’s skilful dribble deceived a LBC defender before he fired a cross into the danger area, but McKillop could not stretch far enough to divert the ball into the net.

Coventry added his second goal four minutes later as the East Linton defence could not cope with his aerial ability. Craig Hume’s cross from the left by-line was headed into the right side of the goal by the LBC forward.

East Linton finally began creating a good run of chances, but still struggled to test goalkeeper Walker. Jamie Jackson volleyed wide from 20 yards before Cowan sent his header wide of the left post. Cairney should have put the game beyond doubt for LBC with five minutes remaining. The midfielder received the ball on the left and dribbled into the area, but after taking the ball round Pucko, he somehow shot high and wide of the open goal.

Walker kept his clean sheet intact by pulling off a top class save with moments remaining. Julian Anderson forced a powerful shot on target but Walker deflected the ball over the bar with a brilliant diving save.

LBC coach Jason McRindle was pleased with the final outcome, saying: “They tried to make it hard for us to break them down but I told the guys to be patient and keep playing the ball around. We kept playing that way and got the result in the end.”

East Linton co-manager Chris Craig was disappointed to lose but is delighted with the players’ performances this season.

He said: “We were up against it from the start. A couple of players were carrying knocks and we decided to start them. We did okay. We have played them a few times before and they are very good at keeping the ball. We have had a fantastic season. We are still in with a shout of winning the league and have the Holyrood Cup Final in three weeks time.”

East Linton: Craig Pucko, Gareth Hughes, Iain Kennedy, Jamie Jackson, Gary Fairgrieve, Paul Bestford, Stuart Laing, Kevin McKillop, Ross Cowan, Julian Anderson, Jamie Ingle, Jack Findlay, Craig McIntosh, Gary Cymber, Neil Barnard, Gordon Rollo.

LBC Lochend: Dean Walker, Stuart Smith, Simon Riley, Lee Pyrkosz, Michael Smith, Marc Lothian, Martin Cairney, Craig Hume, Scott Coventry, Craig Rankin, Craig MacIntosh, Colin Waddle, Gary Low, Ean Gilhooley, Jamie Reynolds, Allan McRindle.