Leith Athletic kept their nerve to claim a 4-0 win over Blackburn United, although they were made to work hard for it for long periods of the game. Eventually though, Leith's greater squad depth proved the deciding factor as they pulled apart in the second half and held on well to lift the trophy.
The opening twenty minutes of the William Bauld Cup final was an understandably nervy affair as each team eased themselves into the game. It was filled with loose passes, long clearances and little work for either goalkeeper.
Each team created a few chances though early on, with Blackburn United’s Calum McDowall finding some space in front of the opposition defence and running well with the ball. First he set up Steven McClay with a looping cross from the right wing which he narrowly volleyed wide for a corner, and then from the resulting corner the ball found its way to Jack McGurk on the edge of the box, and his thunderous left-footed drive was bravely met square on the face by Leith Athletic defender Alan Murray. A great piece of defending, it left a fair number of onlookers wincing and after some treatment Murray was fit to continue.
Burnie started the game with an aggressively high defensive line, and in the eighth minute Leith’s Sean MacPherson smartly poked the ball beyond the offside trap and into the path of Steven Froude, whose first chance of the game in a one-on-one situation resulted in the ball being shot narrowly wide. An early warning for the Burnie defenders, but one they got away with.
From here though the game settled down slightly, and Leith began to pass the ball around in a more confident manner. Slowing the game down, they began to find a lot of joy down each flank, with left winger Callum Mein causing havoc every time he got on the ball. In the 21st minute, he cut the ball back across the face of goal from the left flank and into the path of Euan Morrice, but his shot was well blocked.
Starved of the ball, Burnie's play became erratic. Bodies diving into tackles, long balls downfield, they looked a team bereft of confidence. However after some encouragement from their coach, they began to pass the ball along the ground with a lot more confidence and looked to play it out from the back, rather than to simply hoof the ball clear. With Leith advancing more and more, McGurk began to showcase his defensive talent at left back, tackling well and advancing with the ball in an intelligent way. With five minutes left in the first half though, the back four began to get seriously tested.
First, Mein played a series of passes with John Robertson and was released into space on the left flank, only for his teasing low cross to be cut out. Minutes later, Mein had a chance to turn from provider to finisher, as Daniel Simpson bombed forward for Leith and hammered a cross into the box from the right, which a fully outstretched Mein could only knock over the bar from close range. Finally, taking the game into his own hands, Mein found himself clean through in the closing minutes, left one-on-one with the onrushing keeper in a more central position. This time though, Burnie keeper Darren Mitchell foiled him with a great low save to keep the score 0-0 going into half time.
Leith created the better chances during the first half, but Burnie defended admirably, with big centre back Fraser Clarkson proving to be a magnet for the ball and blocking every shot that came his way on the six-yard box.