LINKS UNITED impressed when winning the LEAFA Dunedin Cup final 4-0 over Cramond at Ainslie Park.
A double by Dale Wight as well as strikes by David Pool and John Mackay proved enough to sink Edinburgh West league champions Cramond, leaving Links gaffer Gary McCardle in joyous spirits.
McCardle said: “We knew what we had to do tactically and everybody did their jobs perfectly, so we’re absolutely delighted to win the cup.” Any latecoming supporters to the Ainslie Park’s 5G would certainly have missed the first goal of the evening and it proved to be the pick of the bunch.
After a corner from the right was only half-cleared by the Cramond defence, Links Captain Mackay was on hand to unleash a stunning left- footed volley into the top corner, leaving goalkeeper Greg Scott stranded and the Cramond players stunned.
Boosted by their early goal, Links continued to pile on the pressure during the first half, leaving Cramond to resort to long balls in order to muster any sort of attacking threat.
Links could have gone two up after 20 minutes. After battling hard to win the ball on the left flank, centre forward Pool cut into the penalty area, but saw his nonchalant chip go just over Scott’s crossbar.
McCardle’s men, however, scored their second on 25 minutes. After a defensive error by Cramond, Pool was allowed to break into the penalty area, only to see his effort rebound off the crossbar, but fortunately strike partner Wight was on hand to tap into an empty net. This seemed to spark some life into Cramond and it set up a frantic end to the first period, seeing great chances for both teams passed up.
Firstly, Cramond centre-half Scott Aitken had a powerful header saved by Euan Cole in the Links goal, before Pool’s low shot at the other end struck the woodwork.
The second-half saw a resurgent Cramond emerge from the dressing room, with stern words from the manager no doubt ringing loudly in their ears. It wasn’t long before they created a chance to claw one back, but Michael Dwyer was only able to steer his header wide of goal from Darren White’s floated ball into the area.
Cramond continued to pin Links back for much of the second period and were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty on the hour. Midfielder Kevin Walker appeared to be brought down inside the area, sparking cries for a spot-kick from the Cramond support. Referee Paul Bradford adjudged Walker to have gone to ground too easily, however, and showed him a yellow card for simulation.
For all Cramond’s hard work in the second period, Links put the game to bed on 70 minutes on the counter-attack. Midfielder John Diver picked the ball up 30 yards from goal and slipped a deft ball through to striker Pool, who calmly rounded Scott before slotting home from a tight angle.
Cramond continued battling until the final whistle, attempting to salvage some pride from the match, but their efforts were in vain as they struggled to find a way past two solid banks of four in midfield and defence for Links.
Striker Wight sealed a memorable night for his Links side by adding the fourth with the last kick of the match. After Russell Scott cut the ball back to the edge of the area, the energetic Wight was there to drill it low under the body of Scott in the Cramond goal.
Cramond manager Kris Todd showed disappointment after the match, but has the consolation of a league championship to comfort both himself and his players. “We didn’t really start well and I think we gifted them the first two goals. The boys believed they could do it, but we didn’t trouble their back four enough,” he said.
Cramond: Greg Scott, Stuart Dempster, Murray Carnie, Scott Aitken, Grant Chalmers, Kevin Walker, Danny McFadden, Darren White, Ryan Stewart, Fraser Seywright, Kyle Fee, Michael Dwyer, John Lang, Mark Cowan, Kris Newbigging, Darren Affleck.
Links United: Euan Cole, Colin Kay, Sam Chetwynd, Mark Dickson, John Mackay, Faron Gribben, Daniel Smith, John Diver, David Pool, Dale Wight, Terry Philbin, Jules Paterson, Martin Bews, Russell Scott, Danny Bee, Robert Hood, Gary Craig.