A more familiar looking Ellon United side lined up against Sunnybank in their McBookie McLeman Cup tie at Heathryfold last weekend with three goals from Keith Walker and two from Craig Morrison easing United through to a home semi-final tie against Hermes, thanks to a comfortable 5-0 win.
United took the game to Sunnybank from the off and in the second minute they broke on the right with Craig Morrison getting in front of his marker to meet Gerg Simpson’s cross only to send his first-time effort over. United’s early pressure paid off five minutes later when Keith Walker picked up the ball in the middle of the park and moved forward before firing home from outside the box.
Ellon eased off for a spell after scoring and were served a warning when Guthrie shot over. Ellon grabbed back the initiative with keeper Knowles managing to block a shot from Craig Morrison. Ellon had a penalty claim turned down in the 27th minute. The visitors kept up the pressure with another shot from Craig Morrison blocked. Ross Forsyth latched on to the loose ball but the tight angle saw his shot go wide. Keith Walker was then just inches from converting a corner from Blair Johnston on the half hour.
Two minutes later Knowles was unlucky when he was forced to rush out to prevent United moving on to a through ball with the keeper’s momentum in the wet conditions seeing him slide out of his box with the ball still in his hands. The keeper was booked but the defensive wall stood firm at the free kick.
A first-time shot from Chris Craib flew over but a second United goal duly arrived in spectacular fashion in the 41st minute. Another in-swinging corner from Blair Johnston was headed clear but found Keith Walker lurking outside the box and his volley flew past Knowles giving the keeper no chance.
United were strangely slow to get going after the interval and might well have been punished for careless play on a couple of occasions. Ellon keeper Ross Buchanan made an important save within a minute of the restart and was called into action a minute later, saving at the expense of a corner.
Ellon finally came back to life with Calum Annand making a good run up the right only to see his cross cleared for a corner which was dealt with by the Sunnybank defence. The home side’s Robertson shot over in the 61st minute only for United to show him the route to goal two minutes later. The damage was again done out wide with Calum Annand releasing Greg Simpson whose cross was headed home by Craig Morrison.
United made their first change in the 71st minute with Darren Bailey replacing Blair Johnston, Chris Craib taking a step back to accommodate Darren on the left side of midfield. United were soon back on the attack with the influential Niall Corser moving on to a Sunnybank clearance but sending his drive over the bar.
Lewis Forbes came on for Greg Simpson as United made their second substitution in the 75th minute. The Sunnybank keeper was only able to palm away another dangerous cross from Calum Annand with Keith Walker the man on hand to take advantage and grab his third goal of the afternoon and cueing Ellon to make their final change when Lenny Johnston entered the fray to replace hat-trick man Keith Walker.
The 88th minute saw Darren Baily charge down a clearance and skip past a defender to the byline before cutting the ball back to set up Craig Morrison for his second goal. A stoppage time header from Lewis Forbes flew wide before the referee brought a successful afternoon’s work from United to a close.
Ellon United: Buchanan, Annand, Johnston (Bailey). Corser, Ralton, Lawson, Simpson (Forbes), Forsyth, Walker (Johnson), Morrison, Craib. McKinnon, Gunn.
Sunnybank: Knowles, Watson, Small, Lynch, Dick, Oort, Lyon, Hutchinson, Guthrie, Robertson, Low, Stewart, Whyte, Duff, Smith, Lunan.
United showed the determination on the day that they were not going to fail at the quarter final stage of another cup competition this season and can now look forward to their semi-final meeting with Hermes, who saw off Lewis United 6-2. Ellon return to league duty next Saturday with a visit to Maud, kick-off 2pm.