Eastfield 2 v 4 Leith Athletic

It was a successful, if unspectacular, weekend for Leith Athletic as they emerged 4-2 victors over Cumbernauld outfit Eastfield AFC in the M&M Cup on Saturday.

It was a relief for the Leith team to finally have a game after poor weather had seen off all but one of their games since the turn of the year.

The venue was Ravenswood playing fields, perched perilously close to the busy M80 midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow and despite the heavy rain in previous weeks the pitch was in decent condition.

However, despite playing lower league opposition, the enforced winter shutdown had a detrimental effect on Leith and they struggled to get out of second gear for much of the game.

Such was their sluggish start that it was the home side who took the lead midway through the first half when Leith’s Andy Fraser and Rory Stewart challenged for the same long ball to allow Eastfield’s no 11 a clear run on goal and he easily despatched past Iain Gordon in the visitors’ goal.

Leith drew level soon afterwards when burly striker Dale McCall (phrase copyright of Evening News reporter Ian Mackay) found himself unmarked in the box. To McCall’s amazement the home goalkeeper thought it best not to close down the Leith no 10 and he found himself with enough time to take a touch and find the bottom corner for his sixth goal in four games.

The visitors took the lead before half time when Chris “Gums” Beaton enjoyed a rather fortuitous bounce of the ball following a Jamie “Priest” Lauder corner from the right-hand side.

To anyone who doesn’t know him, Beaton cuts a menacing figure on the park as when he steps over the white line he is forced to relinquish his two front teeth to reveal a gaping smile that only a mother could love. But he was given ample opportunitity to show off his toothless grin when he challenged an intended clearance by an Eastfield defender and the ball found its way into the net via a kind ricochet.

Eastfield then saw one of their main goal opportunities evaporate when Leith sweeper Mikey “that was never a penalty” Stewart was forced to limp off with a badly bruised ego and a sore knee. Rumours that the injury was self-inflicted when he threw one of his toys out of his pram and caught the inside of his knee are unsubstantiated.

With Stewart leaving the field to be replaced by Gary “Guns” Young, Eastfield’s chances of being awarded a penalty during the 90 minutes were greatly diminished (he is almost in double figures for the season so far).

A half-time rollicking from manager Churchie inspired Leith to move further ahead shortly after the interval through Martin Wallace (Waldo). The defender found himself in the area following a set piece on the left hand side and he broke the offside trap to poke the ball past the static keeper.

The two goal cushion saw Leith go into cruise control with the second half passing rapidly without much incident. One pre-match prediction did, however, come to fruition with goalkeeper Gordon managing to land the ball on the opposite side of the motorway following a hurried clearance.

Thankfully a multiple pile-up was avoided but an Eastfield official had handily brought with him a lumninous yellow jacket (it must be a regular occurrence) and he was overheard muttering several expletives as he took his life in his hands to fetch the matchball from the other side of one of Scotland’s main transport arteries.

With Stewart sidelined, the mantle of serial penalty-surrenderer was up for grabs and almost taken by David Connor (yes, that’s me) but thankfully the referee didn’t spot the unintended but blatant display of volleyball inside the Leith penalty area.

A lapse in concentration at the back saw the home side reduce the deficit with just 10 minutes remaining through their no6.

However, the two goal lead was then quickly restored when Andy “he’s huffier than Anelka” Penman scored from the spot after he was pulled down in the area (not a stonewaller but I’ve seen them given.)

Shout of the day from an Eastfield defender followed the awarding of the penalty when he bemoaned the ref for “giving a cheap penalty when we’re playing one of the best teams in Scotland.”

Leith certainly did nothing on the day to deserve such lofty praise but as committee member and new grandad Mattie Hutchison has been known to utter: “You can’t win anything at this stage of the season. You can only lose it.” Job done.

Man of the match: Unfortunately there were few contenders in a Leith jersey but Waldo probably just about shaded it. He wasn’t as potent an attacking force from right-back as he would have liked but he hardly put a foot wrong defensively and capped off the performance with a well taken goal.

Dick of the day: No contest. Andy Penman for an outrageously bad (and ill-timed) attempt at a Roberto Baggio-style cross. You know the one where you kick the ball with one foot behind your standing foot? Yes, what a pillock indeed. His befuddled attempt resembled more Michael Flatley on horse tranquilizers than Il Divino Codino.

Special mentions: Congratulations to Mattie “Hootch” Hutchison junior who was able to celebrate both a Leith victory and the head-wetting of his first child Joshua James Hutchison  on Saturday night. (note to Social Services – young Joshua was born a couple of weeks ago, the father did not miss the birth of his child to turn out for Scotland’s best amateur side.)

Congratulations are also due to Grant Fairbairn who made his long awaited comeback from a nasty knee injury with a substitutes appearance against Eastfield. He almost marked it with a goal within seconds of coming on but unfortunately his physio treatment did not extend to giving him a new right foot as well.

A mention also for Scott McAuley, for no other reason than he is the only player not to have received a mention in this copy so far. Decent game although some woeful attempts at shots (I believe one actually went out for a throw). You should see him shoot in training though.

Leith team (4-4-2): Gordon, Wallace, M Stewart (Young), R Stewart (Hutchison), Fraser; Beaton, Connor, Lauder, McAuley; McCall (Fairbairn), Penman

Next fixture: Arthurlie away in the league. With Leith nine points (I believe) behind leaders Drumchapel with three games in hand, it is vital we start getting some more points on the board.

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