Updated: Mar 17, 2019
Kirkcaldy Eagles 3 – 4 Glenrothes Athletic
Starks Park, Kirkcaldy
Glenrothes scored memorable victory over their neighbours on an emotional night at Starks Park. Former team mates, opponents, friends and family gathered in Kirkcaldy to remember Connor Aird and Ethan King, the two teenagers tragically killed in a car accident last November. Both promising footballers, the match was a arranged as a way to pay tribute to them and to help the community come to terms with their loss.
The teams stood in front of the 1,100 strong crowd for a minutes applause before kick-off, and when the game got underway, it was Athletic who were quickest out of the blocks – Euan Belford catching the Eagles defence cold and clipping a nice finish beyond Zak Cairns with less than a minute on the clock.
Athletic then had the chance to go two up just a couple of minutes later when Belford was brought down in the box by Evan Dickson and the ref pointed to the spot. Belford took the spot-kick himself but went for a cheeky effort, trying to dink it over the keeper and although Cairns dived to the left, he recovered in time to stop the ball crossing the line.
It was all Athletic in the early part of the match and Belford got his second on 12 minutes, with another sweet finish from the edge of the box as the visitors looked like running away with it. A good quarter of an hour had passed before the Eagles registered a short on goal, Andrew McLeod with the long rage effort as the home side looked for a way back into it.
It took until the 25th minute for Eagles to pull one back, Jake Emmerson with the finish to hand the home side a lifeline. Five minutes later, it was all square Stevie Jeffries grabbing the equaliser for the Eagles as the hosts finally got into their stride.
It was a horrible evening as Storm Gareth raged around the stadium, but both sides kept trying to knock it around, the ball players enjoying the room on the big pitch. Although Eagles were much more competitive as the half wore one, Athletic still looked the more dangerous. Belford and John Smith were the men making things happen always willing to run at the defence and playing some nice passing stuff on the slick pitch, while Marc Baker was always looking for the opportunity to take him man on.
Stuart Clemison’s half-time team talk must have been inspirational, because the Eagles looked a different side after the break. A couple early corners giving them the opportunity to go in front, and Josh Sinclair managed to convert the second, heading past Joe Russell to put the home side 3-2 ahead.
It was a scoreline that had looked unlikely early in the first-half, but the Eagles had stuck to the task and got themselves back into it. Jeffries was pulling the strings for the home side now, finding plenty of space down the left and looking dangerous every time he got on the ball.
The weather wasn’t getting any better and with the wind and rain making for tough conditions, it wasn't a night to put a milk bottle out. The players weren’t deterred though, both sides giving it a good go as it was turning into a real end-to-end kind of a game.
The keepers probably had the hardest job of all, between trying to keep warm and deal with a slippery ball. Marc Baker made it 3-3 on 58 minutes as the game swung back and forth and with the rain showing no sign of letting up, it began to look increasingly like the ref was going to call it a night.
There was just enough time for Gina Caira to score the winner after another nice move by Athletic down the right hand side, before the ref had a quick chat with the both benches and decided enough was enough, blowing for time about 10 minutes early. On balance it was definitely the right decision and everybody was glad to get inside for a warm shower.
There was a brief ceremony in the Raith Suite afterwards, giving the organisers a chance to say their thanks and present Connor & Ethan's parents with commemorative strips. The emotions were still visible with the teenage players still coming to terms with the loss of their mates. In the end, and despite the weather, it was a fitting tribute to two young guys who will sadly never get the chance to fulfill their promise on the football field.
See all the match photos HERE