Hill Of Beath Hawthorn 2-3 Haddington Athletic
Alex Jack Cup
Kiers Park, Hill of Beath
Haddington knocked Hill of Beath out of the Alex Jack Cup in a pulsating tie under the lights at Kiers Park on Wednesday night. Athletic had to survive a late Haws comeback to make it through to the next round, with three goals in the last five minutes of a really entertaining game.
Haws have enjoyed some solid home form so far this season, while Athletic's best results have come on their travels. It was a tie that had a little bit of everything, between two sides equally happy slugging it out as the were doing the silky stuff.
The opening half hour was a pretty even affair, both teams creating scoring chances on a mild but blustery night in Fife. Haws were quickly into their stride, Watt and Adamson both with early chances to test Inglis in the Haddington goal. Haddington looked really good going forward too, Moffat and Jones attacking with pace down the wings, but just unable to produce the right delivery.
Althetic took the lead just after the half-hour, Jones cutting in from the left and rifling home a low shot that beat Hall at his near post. Hall had to be on his toes five minutes later, making a great stop from a fierce Hill shot to keep the Haws in it. Both sides were playing some decent stuff, and with the rain starting to blow in, the pitch had a nice zip about it. Haws were pressing hard, Kirby looking sharp on the ball, but the visiting defence was standing firm.
There was plenty of physicality about the game too, Leishman the first to get his name in the book for a rash tackle after he'd lost possession and Leslie getting a yellow for a late challenge in the middle of the park. There was a real flash-point on the stroke of half-time, when Patrick made a challenge on the touchline and his momentum carried him into the away dug-out. Ref Chris McNab sorted it out with a minimum of fuss though, and the half-time whistle gave everybody a chance to calm down.
The second-half was more of the same, plenty of decent football with just the right amount of needle for a cup tie. Grierson was next into the book for a strong tackle on Chapman as Haws tried to scrap their way back into the game. The Haddington players were unhappy, but it was a challenge that was there to be won and although he did catch the man, a yellow was probably about right.
Hall came to Haws rescue again in the 65th minute, with another top notch save from close range. Haws were leaving gaps at the back as they searched for the equaliser, and they paid the price in the 77th minute, Rose heading home from a corner to give the visitors a cushion.
It was only now that things really started to click for Haws, the passes starting to find the white shirts as they enjoyed their best spell of pressure. With five minutes left on the watch, Leishman gave the Fifers a lifeline, striding forward from defence and driving a low shot in off the post.
The revival only lasted two minutes though, Rose getting his second of the game to restore the two goal lead. Substitute Lewis Elder dragged Haws back into it again in stoppage time, with a neat turn and shot from the edge of the box, but the clock was against them and the game finished 3-2.
A narrow win for the visitors was about right, both sides played some decent stuff, but Athletic made the most of their chances and that was the difference between the two. There were plenty of decent performances for the home side, but the final ball just eluded them.
Both sides will be back in action this Saturday, with a visit to Dunbar in Conference A for Hill of Beath, while Haddington head to LTHV in Conference B.
Match photo galley HERE