TT No.45: Mike Latham - Saturday 20 October 2012: Emirates Scottish Junior Cup Second Round:                    Haddington Athletic 0-4 Shotts Bon Accord; Attendance: 220 (h/c); Admission:£5; Programme: £1; Raffle ticket: £1;  FGIF Match Rating: 3*.

Matchday images (13)

A big day in the Juniors calendar with 64 scheduled ties in the major cup competition; I chose to watch the holders, Shotts Bon Accord in action at Haddington where some pundits were predicting a potential giant-killing.

Haddington is a Royal Burgh, a town of around 9,000 inhabitants in East Lothian, about 20 miles east of Edinburgh. There is some stunning architecture here, some beautiful stone built houses and a striking main square, befitting of a county town. Once famous for its mills, Haddington later became the centre of the agricultural revolution in
Scotland in the 1750s. Rugby union is the dominant sport here and the Junior football team, formed in 1939 has to battle hard to survive.

Haddington Athletic FC play in the third tier of the SJFA East Region and have a reputation of being a good, skilful side who like to pass the ball. Their home ground is Millfield Park, close to the sports centre to the south of the town located just off the Gifford road.

Athletic are nicknamed the Hi-His, and play in a smart maroon kit. Their ground, dominated by an old mill building which has been sympathetically restored is well-appointed and beautifully maintained. The playing pitch had coped remarkably well with a week of heavy rain leading up to the game and is surrounded by a smart, white-painted
railed fence. The ground has modern changing and committee facilities, added with help from the local council located behind the nearside goal and a covered shelter for the regular supporters.

Shotts brought with them a good number of followers for this important game, swelling the crowd to over two hundred on a dry and mild afternoon. The visitors looked like they were enjoying their rare opportunity to play against a team from the east region and the tea hut ran out of its stock of delicious baked pies soon after half-time. To
add to the importance of the occasion the club produced an excellent, informative programme which contained some detailed pen pictures of players from both sides; a superb effort.

Any hopes that Haddington had harboured of a cup upset diminished inside the first minute of the game when a deflected shot gave Shotts the lead. The visitors survived an anxious moment when a Haddington forward went down in a one-on-one challenge with the goalkeeper and was booked for simulation when some less experienced referees may haveawarded a penalty and sent-off the ‘keeper. A virtually identical incident midway through the half was dealt with similarly, a Shotts player yellow carded after going down in the area attempting to round the home ‘keeper.

Haddington did play neat, constructive football on an excellent playing surface but lacked a cutting edge. Shotts looked increasingly in control of the game and added to their tally early in the second half. Then Haddington’s final hopes ended as their no11 received a second yellow for a late challenge and a team-mate a straight red for
protesting too vehemently. Shotts took advantage of their two-man advantage by adding two more goals in the closing stages to cruise into the next round.

A number of scheduled ties failed to survive the waterlogged pitches throughout Scotland and will be rescheduled for next week. Shotts managed to not only win the Junior Cup but also win promotion to the top tier in the West Region last season despite an incredible backlog of games due to postponements. They will have been relieved to have
made progress at the first attempt in defending their hard-won trophy. Haddington return to league action as they look to maintain a good start to the season. I enjoyed my visit here and would recommend taking the opportunity to this friendly and well-run club. And, if time allows if heading back to England after the game, take the
opportunity to head south via Gifford and Duns towards Coldstream before joining up with the A1 south of Berwick. On a glorious autumnal evening the views were simply amazing.                                                                                            

contributed on 21/10/12