Whitehill’s Wayne Sproule felt his side’s 2-1 win over French-influenced Edusport Academy at Ferguson Park was more like a European tie than a South Challenge Cup quarter-final.
Sproule, who was shown a straight red card deep in to extra-time, provided the cross for Wayne McIntosh’s winner after John Hall and Yassine Fartassi had each scored in the first half to ensure the game was level after 90 minutes. Hall himself and Alanedinne Riahl were also dismissed for violent conduct late on.
Sproule admitted it was different style of game than they were used to against opponents they didn’t know a great deal about, although the gale force winds and heavy pitch certainly weren’t alien to the wide man.
“It was more like the Champions League!” he joked. “To tell the truth we were very unaware of them so it was quite weird going into the game. We watched a couple of Youtube videos and going by recent results they seemed a really good side. Maybe Tuesday, Thursday we thought we’d win but come Saturday we knew we were in for a tough game.”
Sproule was dismissed for apparently kicking out after fouling Edusport’s Axel Bacquet – who certainly made a meal of the initial tackle – but protested his innocence post-match. “It was more of a lazy tackle to be honest. The boy got to the ball first. It’s maybe a yellow card but I don’t think it was a red. These things happen. The boys were saying it was seemingly for a kick out after but I’m not aware of that.”
A pitch that was rapidly cutting up and strong winds meant this was never going to be one for the purists, with the side playing into the wind at a territorial disadvantage. Despite that, Welfare took the lead, admittedly aided by the conditions, on 24 minutes. Danny O’Donnell’s hopeful delivery held up and left Edusport keeper Antoine Margun stranded, allowing Hall to fire the ball into an empty net.
The visitors were level just under ten minutes later however, Fartassi drilling a low shot in at the near post after Quentin Fouley’s thrown in.
Whitehill had the wind at their backs after the break and used it to put their opponents under some pressure. McIntosh’s header was well saved by Margun before Sproule showed great feet in the box and curled an effort just wide of the top corner. Edusport should have gone ahead when Charef Haifi intercepted Hall’s pass and raced in on goal, but Bryan Young stood up well and saved with his legs.
Manson and Sproule both went close before full-time, although McIntosh won it for the hosts ten minutes into extra-time. Sproule’s precise delivery was right on the front man’s head and he bulleted the ball into the bottom corner, leaving Margun with no chance. There was still time for three dismissals, and with tempers flared after Sproule was sent packing, Hall and Riahl soon followed.
Whitehill boss Mickey Lawson was delighted to book a semi-final tie with Civil Service Strollers. “With the ground the way it was and the wind – that’s not football” he said. “You just roll up your sleeves and get on with it. They had some really good players and it became a battle. We didn’t play well in terrible conditions but we’re in a semi-final.”
Whitehill Welfare: Young, Hall, Martin, Kerr (McKenzie 51), W Kidd (Thom 97) O’Donnell, Manson, A Kidd, McIntosh, Somerville, Sproule.
Edusport Academy: Margun, Gualino, Bacquet (Maillot 120), Leanor, Lacoste, Ndaw, Haifi (Riahl 81), Diallo, Ebwa (Gaumeron 51), Fouley, Fartassi.