WHITEHALL Welfare lifted the SFA South Region Challenge Cup for the first time when they triumphed 3-1 against the South of Scotland League champions, Dalbeattie Star, at Galabank, Annan.
Whitehill Welfare 3 - 1 Dalbeattie Star
This competition replaced the now defunct Scottish Qualifying Cup (South) in season 2007-2008.
Whitehill dominated the early stages with Wayne McIntosh, Dayne Robertson, Andrew Kidd and Aaron Somerville all testing Graham Wright in the Dalbeattie goal. However, it was Dalbeattie who missed the best chance after 28 minutes when Grant Parker set up Gary Kerr who somehow managed to scoop the ball over the crossbar from six yards. It was to prove to be a costly miss as Whitehill raced up the park and were awarded a free kick wide on the left. Andrew Kidd floated over the free kick which was missed by everyone except Willie Kidd who side-footed the ball into the net at the back post.
Only three minutes into the second half Grant Parker had the ball in the net for Dalbeattie but the goal was ruled offside.
Whitehill increased their advantage from another set piece in the 56th minute. Andrew Kidd swung over a corner from the left and Somerville pounced to head the ball powerfully into the net at the near post. A few minutes later the cup was heading to Ferguson Park when Andrew Kidd found Somerville scampering down the right wing. His low cross from the bye-line was calmly slotted behind Wright by McIntosh. Dalbeattie did grab a consolation goal when a Scott Milligan free kick deflected off Whitehill’s Darren McGlashan and hit his own defender Michael Bruce on the face before the ball bounced into the net.
Rod Petrie, the SFA Vice-President, presented the trophy to winning captain Michael Bruce.
Somerville, who was named as man of the match, said: “You can see how much winning this cup means to everybody in our dressing room – it’s a crazy atmosphere. Our plan was to try to get a foothold on the game but Dalbeattie are a good side and we found it difficult to break them down. They had chances in the first half as well as us.
“We edged the game and I felt that if we had to we could have upped our game a few gears although I also felt that we should have scored more goals. At the end of the day we were happy to come out as winners.
Mike Lawson, picking up his first trophy since returning to manage Whitehill at the beginning of the season, said: “I’m delighted for our new group of players and for the people who have been around Whitehill Welfare for many years. We were disappointed with our first-half performance because we didn’t adjust to the wind or the surface and even although we were winning 1-0 it was a very flat dressing room at half-time. I wanted our players to get the ball down and bring some width to the game and we played so much better in the second half.
“Dalbeattie were always dangerous on the break and I was worried right up until the last few minutes.”
John MacBeth, the Dalbeattie player/manager, said: “We were guilty of slack marking and failing to take our chances. Whitehill just went route one back to front the whole game and we struggled to cope although we knew that they were going to do that.”
Whitehill Welfare: McGurk, John Hall, Thom, Bruce, W. Kidd, McGlashan, Robertson, A. Kidd (Manson 71), McCulloch, McIntosh (Gormley 85), Somerville (Jordan Hall 85). Subs: Dolan, Haldane.
Dalbeattie Star: Wright, R. Maxwell, MacBeth, Wells (A. Maxwell 80), MacPherson, Ferguson, Kerr (Cameron 57), Harkness (Wilson 61), Parker, Milligan, Sloan. Subs: Cook, Cathro.
Referee: George Salmond.