Edinburgh City Colts weathered both a proverbial and literal storm to defeat Longniddry Villa Colts 1-0 and reach the final of the Division 3 League Cup on Sunday. Sean McLean’s goal five minutes from time settled a tight tie in which Longniddry were arguably the better team before falling to the league leaders.
The opening twenty minutes of this match were a write-off as an abject weather system drove freezing rain and sleet across the pitch. Bar a long range shot by Villa’s James Lithgow and City striker Ryan McElhinney being sharply closed down by keeper Steven Nisbet, the primary objective for the players during this time was to stay warm and not loathe seasonal football.
Eventually conditions improved, slightly, and the game could properly commence. Lithgow was fed a chance on an overlap but found his side-footed effort lacked sufficient power, while McElhinney too tried again: his deflected shot from the edge of the area wrong-footed everyone but fell wide left.
Yet it was four minutes before half-time when the serious opportunities arrived, and they did so in a flurry for Longniddry. The first saw Lithgow roll the ball a sliver wide after a long free kick drifted through the City defence and to his feet. Hearts may well have been in defenders’ mouths as the effort evaded the target in slow motion.
This was followed by Tommy Hughes being sent clear to face City keeper Saul Nelson one-on-one twice within a minute. The first was lost to a slightly heavy touch that enabled Nelson to close within centimetres, and the second required a good save. However Villa were outplaying the leaders, epitomised by how Ross Montgomery created the first Hughes chance by winning the ball in his own half, marching through midfield, and finding the pass behind the left back.