Plastic's fantastic as Leith Athletic storm through in cup
Leith Athletic boss Derek Riddel says the fact Saturday's William Hill Scottish Cup clash with St Cuthbert Wanderers was contested on a synthetic surface played right into his side's hands.
The East of Scotland champions, playing their first game in the competition in 62 years, cruised into the second preliminary round courtesy of a 3-0 victory in Kirkcudbright.
The Capital outfit will now host Coldstream at Spartans’ Ainslie Park on September 3 with a place in the first round proper up for grabs.
A second-half brace from defender Kyle Fee added to Hugh Cameron’s own goal in what was an accomplished display from Riddel’s men.
The home side, on the other hand, were disappointing and rarely tested Iain Gordon in the visitors’ goal. Defender Jack Loudon was also shown a straight red five minutes before the end for a last-man tackle on substitute Daniel McKinlay.
Nevertheless, Riddel was more than satisfied upon learning that the game would be played on a synthetic pitch, given that his side play home matches at Meadowbank 3G.
“When I knew they played on a synthetic surface, I was absolutely delighted and that really gave me a lot of confidence. It really suits our game,” he said.
“The next round we can’t play it at Meadowbank due to the criteria, but it will be played at Spartans so that’s already confirmed. It’s good for football, guys know what they’re getting on this type of surface. Everybody enjoys playing on it so there should be more of them.
“This was a real tough tie for us, coming this distance away so it was into the unknown really. But the guys were fantastic and did everything we asked of them. We’re never going to win the cup so this was a reward for what we achieved last season and to give us a wee springboard.
“Coldstream is certainly a winnable tie but they’ve been in the Scottish Cup for a number of years now so they know how to win. I’m sure they won’t relish coming up to Edinburgh, but it won’t be an easy tie.”
Leith’s James Hainey, who proved a handful for Wanderers’ back four all afternoon, forced goalkeeper Ross Wilson to block with his feet early on.
The visitors grew in confidence as the half wore on and deservedly gained the initiative after 25 minutes when an unfortunate Cameron headed past his team-mate from Fee’s inswinging corner.
The hosts tried to respond but Andrew Donley couldn’t generate enough power to trouble Gordon, who held firm.
The South of Scotland League champions should have found themselves back on level terms moments before the interval though after a Phil Middlemiss cross picked out Scott Milligan, but the striker woefully shot wide of the target when afforded space inside the box.
However, Fee wasted little time in edging his side closer to the next round when he broke down the left wing ten minutes after the restart and sent an angled shot away from Wilson and into the bottom corner of the net.
Despite Wanderers’ best efforts, Fee wrapped up victory with a powerful drive from 25 yards in the 84th minute that flew into the bottom left-hand corner before Loudon was shown his marching orders for a cynical foul.
Goalscorer Fee admitted afterwards he couldn’t wait to get home to see his name light up on the big screen. It feels unreal – I’ve recorded Sky Sports Soccer Saturday so I can’t wait to see that!” he said.
“I’ve never played in the competition before so it was different class. I scored last week as well, but I’m usually lucky if I get one goal a season! Hopefully we can go that bit further in the competition.”
St Cuthbert Wanderers: Wilson, Jackel (Henderson 86), O’Sullivan, Cameron, Loudon, Dingwall (Rudd 74), Middlemiss, McMurdo, Donley, Milligan, Carnochan (Hunter 65). Subs: Cunningham, Gordon, Ourham, Wilson.
Leith Athletic: Gordon, Black, Fee, Lowson, Glynn, Beaton, Tracey (McKinlay 82), Wilkie, Hainey (Mason 73), Kneeshaw (Combe 73), Wilson. Subs: Fairnie, Allan, Laverty, Simpson.
Referee: Steven Reid.