Red cards mar finals festival
EASTERN Region Youth FA's Festival of Finals in the City Financial Edinburgh Eastern Region Cup events at the magnificent facilities at Hallhill in Dunbar got off to a disappointing start, with four players being red carded, two apiece, in the opening under-17 final and then in the under-19 age group final.
All six finals at Hallhill were brilliantly organised by Allan Archibald and his team of hard-working and dedicated officials from the ERYA, with an informative programme produced at enormous effort by the vice-chairman of this massive association, Chris Dale.
The main sponsor, Andrew Ramage, from City Financial Edinburgh, was in attendance at all of the six games to present the trophies and individual awards to the winners and losers alike, while Edinburgh City Youth FC chairman Jim Brown was also on duty over the two days to present the man-of-the-match awards. And to his great credit, Brown was spot-on with his choice in each of the six games.
The organisation was brilliant, the facilities on the same level but, even then, the importance of the occasion apparently did not get through to all the players - and some of the spectators taking part. Certain people let the side down with a vengeance.
Two players from Musselburgh Windsor brought shame on this magnificent youth club from East Lothian when they were red-carded by referee James Sim in their opening under-17 game against Hutchison Vale.
Sim was given no choice in his decision to send off the two players, and the Windsor goalkeeper was lucky not to also make an early exit in this game.
The Under-19 final between Edina Hibs and Leith Athletic was always going to be a difficult game to referee and one of the best young officials possible, Michael Banks, was the man in charge.
He handled the game brilliantly but had to send two Edina players to the dressing room during a tempestuous game. The second sending off was accompanied by the player leaving the field of play shouting what appeared to be abuse at the referee and two more red cards were shown to the Edina player as he left the pitch, with a fracas on the sidelines causing further unpleasantness for the organisers. The eagerly-awaited first two finals were, in the circumstances, a bit of a non-event.
With only nine players on the pitch, Musselburgh Windsor lost 2-0 to Hutchison Vale.
And the second final was almost a walk in the park for Leith Athletic. Playing with the advantage of two extra men, they were never in any danger of losing and they went on to comfortably win 4-1.
Both Musselburgh Windsor and Edina Hibs effectively handed the Under-17 and Under-19 trophies to their opponents.
Hutchison Vale were not put under any pressure by Windsor in the first game and they went on to register a comfortable 2-0 win with goals from Robbie Dunn and Omar Ali. Vale's Johnny Kelly was the perfect choice as Edinburgh City FC's sponsored man-of-the-match award. The huge turnout of fans on the sidelines were left disappointed with that one-sided game and they were let down again in the Under-19 final between Edina Hibs and Leith Athletic.
Edina, unlucky to finish runners-up in their Scottish Youth Cup final against Lenzie in Airdrie recently, can have no excuses for finishing runners-up again in the final at Hallhill. Leith were in charge of the game from the kick-off and good value, for their 4-1 win. The brilliant Shaun Martin opened the scoring for Leith then Edina got themselves back in the game when Kyle Hay scored from the spot after Kevin Smith had been brought down in the box.
The game was building up to the expected high level when the first of the two Edina players was red-carded by Mr Banks.
The pressure on the short-handed Edina side built up and it was man-of-the-match Martin who put Leith back in front, 2-1.
Alistair Speakman started the second half in impressive form for Edina but Leith broke away for the talented Niall Crick to send over an inviting corner into the Edina goalmouth and Martin out-jumped the static opposition defence to head home a spectacular third goal for Leith. With Edina producing some wonderful passing moves they, unluckily, lost another goal to go 4-1 behind with Martin completing his hat-trick.
That was followed by the second of the two red cards and, from then on, it was virtually mission-impossible for Edina Hibs. Despite an almost superhuman effort from their remaining players, they never really troubled the impressive Leith defence for the remainder of the game.
All the hard work being done by officials at both national and local level in youth club football was undermined due to problems caused by certain players and this was the reason again for the disappointing start to the Eastern Region Youth FA finals. Obviously, there is still a lot of work to be done to improve standards of behaviour - both on and off the field of play. Thankfully, the other four finals were an example of all that is good in the game at this level.
Match programme winners: 1, 381; 2, 276; 3, 68. Contact Allan Archibald on 0131-334 0135 on how to collect your prize.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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