The sun was shining, the coaches had to stay in the dugout to avoid getting serious sunburn and the team romped home to win the Cup. Carlsberg don't make sports stories but if they did......
Summer in Scotland began and ended last week so it was back to the usual dreadful fare of rain, wind and more rain. In fairness the rain did go off at the start of the game and the wind wasn't overly troublesome for either team. Cup Final day had arrived and 2nd division Baljaffray faced 1st division Lenzie Colts Thistle in a game, not quite up to David and Goliath standards but a tall order none the less. Baljaffray had stormed into the Final following storming 4-1 and 5-1 defeats of EDFC Villa and our local rivals, Westerton United. LCT's form had picked up in recent weeks with very creditable draws against the teams that will finish in the top three positions in division 1 so nobody was underestimating the challenge placed in front of the team.
With our club captain and both our right backs out, Lewis M fitted in there with Hendy being given the nod to take up the central midfield berth vacated by Lewis. Adam was moved back to provide the spark that Lewis would ordinarily give to the team with Blair in just behind Sam. Rory took the captain's armband from the absent Greg and then we were off. Lenzie were first to show when a dangerous cross in was headed by Lachlann at full stretch and the coaches watched with baited breath as the ball just went wide of the post for a corner which came to nothing. Baljaffray were finding their feet but on 9 minutes, a piece of brilliance from Adam sent Blair through on goal however with just the keeper to beat he sent the ball wide of target. With six goals in his last three games I would have bet on Blair scoring but it was not to be. Ten minutes later and this time it was Lewis who sent Sam clear on the right. With Blair bursting a gut to get up in support, Sam's shot was saved by the keeper and when he tried to reach the rebound he fell over the keeper but the referee waved play on and Lenzie cleared. Perhaps the better option would have been to square to Blair for a tap in however decisions have to be made in a split second and the boys were told to shoot at every opportunity. Baljaffray were nearly made to pay for this when the Lenzie striker went through on goal but his angled shot threatened the corner flag more than the goal. Half time and when the boys went back to the dressing room they could feel happy with their performance but slight disappointment that they were not a goal or two up.
Jamie had replaced Adam some 10 minutes before half time when he took a sore one to the crown jewels but Adam reappeared at half time. Matthew also came on for Sam. One minute into the half, disaster struck. For the only time in the game Baljaffray could not clear their lines and a Lenzie player rode through a couple of tackles and was first to react to the loose ball as he hammered it into the top corner of the goal with Jack having no chance. In a curious sort of way, this seemed to spoil the game as a spectacle as there were much fewer chances created by either team after this. The boys certainly provided effort in abundance but that vital spark was missing. There was certainly a really good shout for a penalty when Blair appeared to be pulled to the ground from a Lewis throw in and that was a clear one for me. Jake put a couple of deliveries into the box from free kicks with the keeper spilling one and Adam had four shots from outside of the box with the best being a vicious shot which the keeper dived across to his right to parry away. Sam was re-introduced for Josh and then Jamie came on for Lewis who also took one to the crown jewels in the final 10 minutes. It was all to no avail however as the referee signalled the end of a very fair and very even contest with players and coaches exchanging warm handshakes and pleasantries. It had been a good cup final and one in which the boys gave their all without the end result however their should be much pride from all of the parents at the way in which they performed.
Coach Comments On behalf of the coaches, I would like to express my thanks to all of the boys for a great end to the season. That is not just those who played today but in the games leading up to the final as well as their contribution over the season. There have been times when some of the boys would have felt that they should be in the team ahead of others on any given day and they may have been right in thinking that. At times it has been difficult for me as the head coach to leave people out of the squad, never mind the team. Today was another example where Scott and Michael would be disappointed at not making the matchday squad but still came along to support the team. Jack and Kyle would be disappointed at not featuring today as well as the end result. In the past I have given most players some game time however today was not a day for doing that given the scoreline and the fact that we were still in with a chance of sneaking a goal at the end. Whilst the coaches were also disappointed with the result we could not have been happier with the application and effort and no small amount of skill displayed by the boys today. For today was a day in which we are all very proud of the boys from Baljaffray FC.
There were lots of contenders for man of the match today and it would be difficult for me to go through boys individually however suffice to say that the referee, other match officials and DFDL Committee said that the two best players on the park were Baljaffray players with Adam and Rory named as the star players of the final. The website does not allow me to put joint awards therefore, if purely for no other reason than to keep Adam's head from getting too big, I have Rory down for today's Cup Final man of the match. He captained the team, he was controlled and composed at the back and in one move in the second half he must have thought he was on the Bearsden Academy pitch during school break as he waltzed round 4 or 5 Lenzie players before picking his pass. Well done Rory