Easthouses strike back in dying seconds to stun Syngenta in Cup

EASTHOUSES BC and Syngenta Juveniles fought out a remarkable encounter at Penicuik Juniors' ground in the final of the South East Region under-21 John Murphy Cup, with Easthouses taking the honours – by the skin of their teeth.

With Syngenta in touching distance of cup glory and leading their opponents 3-1 with less than five minutes to play, the inscription of their name on the John Murphy trophy seemed a formality. But a resolute Easthouses side snatched two goals in the dying minutes to force an additional 30 minutes of play.

Despite playing one division below their opponents, Syngenta looked comfortable and began the match as the better side. Their early dictation of play merited the opening goal, which arrived within the first ten minutes.

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A darting run up the left wing from Chris Taylor outwitted two defenders before he sent a low drive into the box which John Mochan converted past Easthouses goalkeeper Bruce Paxton. The Premier Division One outfit appeared frustrated by their failure to obtain a hold of the game.

However, as the first half progressed, Easthouses enjoyed more chances in front of goal. Their wing back Darren Flyn's long range attempt appeared to deceive Syngenta keeper Allan Pacitti who had to readjust his body to scramble the shot to safety and was then left stranded as he watched midfielder Michael Linton's 25-yard volley clip the top of the bar.

Just as it seemed only a matter of time before Easthouses were level, Syngenta provided a sucker punch by gaining a two-goal advantage. Robert Mollon's ball in from the left caused havoc in the Easthouses defence and Mochan was able to take advantage with his second strike of the game.

However, there was an immediate response from a dogged Easthouses side. A perfect through ball from Alistair Elliot sent Andy Paterson through on goal and he finished clinically into the far corner to halve Syngenta's lead.

Syngenta then looked to have secured victory after adding to their two goal tally 15 minutes into the second half. Gary McInnes' corner from the left was met powerfully by an unchallenged Stuart Bell and he guided his header in from six yards. With Easthouses once again left with a two-goal mountain to climb, they failed to assert the pressure in front of goal to worry their opponents, with Syngenta striker Greg Stewart looking the most likely to score.

However, with three minutes left, Easthouses were handed a lifeline when Graeme Young lashed the ball past Pacitti from close range after Syngenta failed to clear their lines. And then, with literally the last kick of the 90 minutes, Barry Dillon showed great composure from the edge of the box to guide a shot into the top right hand corner which sent the game into extra time.

An amazing turnaround was completed with goals either side of the half in extra time. Firstly, Flyn headed home from Paterson's free kick from the right after McInnes had conceded a needless foul just outside his own box. However, goal hero Flyn was subsequently sent off for his second bookable offence after taking his shirt off during his celebrations.

Substitute Shaun McCallion then added the finishing touch to a nice move down the right hand side, rounding Pacitti and slotting in from a tight angle to register number five.

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Easthouses coach Rab Hunter reinforced the desire his players demonstrated in a tie he thought was un-winnable going into the last five minutes.

He said: "I thought Syngenta played very well and we didn't start playing until 85 minutes. I thought the game was gone but the subs we brought on made a big difference."

Easthouses BC: Bruce Paxton, Colin Walker, Sean Dillon, Darren Flyn, David McArthur, Scott Ritchie, Alistair Elliot, Craig McIntyre, Andy Paterson, Graeme Young, Michael Linton, Mark Rankin, Barry Dillon, Shaun McCallion, James Glodeck, Grant Gavin.

Syngenta Juveniles: Allan Pacitti, Fraser Lewis, Robert Mollon, Gary Dewar, Jordan Dale, John Mochan, Greg Stewart, Stuart Bell, Gary McInnes, Scot Russell, Eoghan Millar, Chris Taylor, Boyd Neil.

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