Hunterfield ran out 4-1 winners over North Merchiston in the second round of the South East Region under-14 Willie Bauld Memorial Trophy at Harrison Park.
The scoreline failed to tell the whole story as North Merchiston were without six players due to injury and other commitments, leaving them with just nine players.
Despite having a numerical disadvantage throughout the match, the Merchi players never gave up hope and matched their opponents for large portions.
However, Darren Samuel scored a hat-trick for Hunterfield to ensure they progressed into the third round.
Hunterfield opened the scoring after eight minutes when Merchiston defender Marc McCall handled the ball inside the penalty area and Samuel duly powered his penalty through the middle of the goal.
Merchiston continued to battle, and the effective front duo of Javier Sanchez and Sam Galloway combined to create their first chance. Sanchez flicked the ball on to Galloway who was one-on-one with Hunterfield goalkeeper Brian Taylor, but Galloway’s shot was saved by the keeper, diving to his left.
Galloway had another chance a few minutes later after Ben Pritchett chipped a ball into his path. This time, Galloway’s shot from 20 yards bounced narrowly wide of the right post.
Hunterfield’s Bree Dagg hit the bar from the right corner of the penalty area in the 25th minute, before Merchiston grabbed an equaliser a minute later.
It was third time lucky for Galloway when his shot from the edge of the area went past the dive of Taylor into the net, after he had intercepted Michael Sneddon’s pass.
However, Hunterfield retook the lead on the verge of half-time when Samuel scored his second goal with a well-placed shot past the right side of Merchie goalkeeper Kai Dishington.
Again, the nine Merchiston players persevered, and Galloway was causing all sorts of problems for the Hunterfield defenders. He surged into the area before forcing Taylor to tip his shot wide of the post.
After 60 minutes, Hunterfield added a third goal. Sneddon played a long ball to Greg Higginson who charged past Dishington and slotted the ball into the open goal. Samuel completed his hat-trick in stoppage time placing his shot coolly into the right side of the goal from ten yards out.
North Merchiston coaches Dale Heatlie and Gary Smith were proud of their team’s efforts. Heatlie said: “For nine boys to play as consistently and competitively makes me really proud of them. They showed a gutsy performance and that’s all I can ask of them under the circumstances.”
Smith added: “We’re always looking high and want to hit the targets that we’re aiming for and if we play like that every weekend with 11 men I don’t see why we can’t do that. If we had a full team it would have been a completely different game.”
David Samuel, Hunterfield BC’s coach, praised North Merchiston and now is looking to climb up the Division 3 table. He said: “It was a hard game. We were playing against nine men but they put in a good performance.
“They made us work hard but we got the result we wanted in the end. We’re ninth in Division 3 at the moment and haven’t had a good start so we’re looking to move up the division now.”
North Merchiston BC: Kai Dishington, Rowen Davies, Ben Pritchett, Ruraidh Murphy, Sam Galloway, Daniel Carlyle, Callum Harper, Javier Sanchez, Marc McCall.
Hunterfield BC: Brian Taylor, Greg Ovens, Jack Gillespie, Thomas Sim, Michael Sneddon, Greg Higginson, Nathan Quinn, Darren Samuel, Cameron Archibald, Lee Davidson, Jordan Wright, James Quinn, Bree Dagg, Calum Fowler, Daryn Brown, Morgan Hannah.