Beechwood FC overcame a strong defensive performance by Haddington Athletic to secure a comfortable win in the Michael Moran Cup.
The away side were camped in their own half for much of the game and frustrated their opponents throughout, but the home side were patient and turned in a professional performance.
Goals from Jamie McIntosh, who had earlier missed a penalty, Joseph Paterson and Jamie McDermaid ensured their team built upon their commanding lead in the group table.
Beechwood took control of the game from the off. With Paterson spreading the ball side to side from his deep lying midfield position, Beechwood had the majority of possession and it gave them the foundations to dominate the game.
It soon became clear that the home side were targeting the flanks with their greatest threat coming from wingers Blair Millward and Harry Devine. Indeed, it was Millward who first tested the Haddington keeper Aaron Jones with a couple of shots from distance.
Haddington were not making it easy for their opponents, however, and produced an organised and committed defensive performance to spurn Beachwood. Led by centre back Kyle Davis, who epitomised his side’s first half display, Haddington were tenacious in the tackle and their midfield were constantly nipping in to rob possession and intercept passes.
Beechwood had to come up with something special to get through the Haddington back line. More often than not that came through Paterson who created the best opportunity of the first 20 minutes when he split the Haddington defence with a gorgeous outside of the foot through ball. This released Millward who could only shoot wide.
McIntosh was doing his bit from defence too, taking the game to Haddington by striding out with the ball and driving forward. He played it to Devine who, after a smart one-two with Charlie Carr, shot over.
After getting through the first 30 minutes, Haddington began to threaten. Josh Coppinger had his side’s first shot of the game which was deflected narrowly wide and from the resulting corner the ball broke to Coppinger again who couldn’t find the target.
Haddington’s pressure did not last long, however, and soon they were again on the back foot. Again it was Patterson who split the defence, floating an inviting pass behind the Haddington left back. It was met by Millward who took the ball down and beat his man. The defender, who was suddenly on the wrong side of his opponent, got tangled up and hauled Millward to the ground. The referee took a moment to make up his mind before pointing to the spot.
McIntosh stepped up to take the kick but his low shot heading towards the bottom left corner was wonderfully saved by Jones who then sprung back up to push the rebound out for a corner before being swamped by his jubilant team mates.
Perhaps at this point the Beechwood players were thinking that it was not going to be their day as it was almost half time and the game was still level but in the 41st minute they broke the deadlock.
McIntosh started the move by breaking forward from defence, he then played the ball wide to Millward who hoisted it to the back post. The cross evaded everyone but was rescued by Devine on the left, his ball in was not properly cleared by Haddington defence and it fell to McIntosh, who had carried his run forward into the box and finished calmly with a right foot shot that went in off the right post.
Beechwood continued to dominate the ball after the interval but weren’t creating chances at the same rate as they were doing in the first half. Consequently, Haddington came back into the game with chances of their own.
First, Haddington had their first shot on target when left back Owen Tait got on the end of a chipped pass into the box. With the ball bouncing, Tait tried to lob the onrushing goalkeeper but didn’t get enough power on the shot as it went straight into his arms.
Then, a long range free kick from Harry Christison found the target as Beechwood keeper Calum Willis was called into action for the second time.
But despite the pressure from the resurgent Haddington, it was Beachwood that scored the game’s next goal. Substitute Finlay Amot floated a corner into the box from the left side right onto the head of an unmarked Paterson who didn’t even need to jump as he headed the ball into the bottom far right corner.
Beechwood continued to threaten, in particular from the fresh legs of winger Amot and striker McDermaid. Jones was called into action numerous times and did well to keep his side in the game, first saving from a swerving Amot shot and then from McDermaid who had cut in from the left flank.
With only 10 minutes to go, however, Haddington scored to set up an enthralling finish. Willis, who perhaps had a momentary lapse in concentration after having so little to do in the game, inexplicable threw the ball out to Cameron Middlemass. The striker, who still had a lot to from 25 yards out, instantly controlled the ball before volleying into the empty net. Wondeful goal
For the first time in the match Beechwood were under pressure but they responded tremendously well within only two minutes of Haddington’s goal. After some nice build up play with Amot on the left wing, Devine got to the byline and pulled the ball back to the six yard box where McDermaid was waiting to tap in his side’s third of the afternoon.
There was still time for Beechwood to strike the post while Willis redeemed himself by saving well to deny Tait and then, from the resulting corner, Middlemass. The referee blew the full time whistle shortly after to confirm the victory for Beachwood who look certain to clinch a place in the semi finals of the cup. Meanwhile, Haddington have some work to do but judging by their committed performance on Saturday they will give everything they have to join Beachwood in the last four.
Original Report: http://www.youthfootballscotland.co.uk/south-east-region/item/18871-beachwood-too-strong-for-haddington.html#itemManMatch