Ellon United suffer semi-final knock-out

Ellon United were unable to book a place in the final of The Grill League Cup after going down 2-0 against Hermes in their semi final at The Meadows on Saturday. Hermes will now meet Maud who beat Forres Thistle in the other semi.

A fairly even and competitive first half saw the sides go in all square at the interval but United got off to a horrible start after the break when they conceded a penalty within a minute to present Hermes with the lead.

Boosted by their great start the visitors threatened to overrun United for a spell but the home side recovered some of their poise without really getting into contention.

Ellon conceded a soft second goal from a corner in the 68th minute and it was only from a very late spell of concerted pressure that United really looked like getting any reward in the second half.

United were rather harshly penalised for hand ball on the edge of their box in the 11th minute but fortunately the set piece came to nothing then the Ellon defence just managed to deal with a corner which was driven low into the box.

Play was held up for a short spell for attention to one of the referee’s assistants. A shot from Lewis Macaulay went narrowly wide then two minutes later Hermes forced a corner on their left.

The cross was well dealt with by the home defence leading to a promising United break which ended with keeper Sweeney diving to his left to turn Macaulay’s shot behind for a corner.

Neil Erskine forced a save from Sweeney in the 37th minute then two minutes later Callum Steer brought off a fine stop to deny Hermes the opener with Fraser Tate following up to clear at the expense of a corner which was headed clear by Grant Thomson.

Hermes came very close to going in front in the 47th minute when Stewart neatly turned his marker and fired in a shot which crashed back off the bar.

United found themselves behind within two minutes of the restart when a rash challenge gifted Hermes a penalty which was well converted by Smith although Steer, making his comeback for United after his preseason injury, almost got to the ball.

The early strike lifted the visitors who began to put United under pressure. Ellon made their first change with Scott McLeod replacing Dev Kennedy-Colbert.

United paid the price for slack defensive play from a corner with the powerful Winton moving forward to score with a free header near the back post.

A fierce shot from Chris Craib was ruled to have been deflected for a corner and Callum Tremaine was just unable to get a touch on a low in-swinging free kick from Shaun Robertson as United tried to get back into things.

Hermes were dictating proceedings in midfield without their front men managing to test Steer. United made a double change on the hour mark with Lenny Johnson and Aiden Greig replacing Tremaine and Erskine.

A final push by United in the closing stages did manage to put the Hermes rearguard in trouble as the home side created some late chances and keeper Sweeney was somehow able to tip over a net bound header to keep the visitor’s clean sheet intact and deny United any reward for their efforts.

Hermes proved just too strong and street wise for United overall for most of the second half, particularly after getting off to such a fine start but the home side gave a good account of themselves in the first period and for what was unfortunately too brief a spell right at the end. Ellon United: Steer, Tait, Craib, Thomson, Allsop, Millsom, Tremaine (Johnson), Macaulay, Kennedy-Colbert (McLeod), Erskine (Greig), Robertson.

Hermes: Sweeney, Nash, Smith, Winton, Pirie, Murray, Jack, Stewart, Shaw, Dawson, Stevenson, Close, Wyness, Thomson, Wilson, Watson.

Meanwhile, United will host Carluke in the first round of the Scottish Junior Cup on Saturday at 2.30pm, writes Jack Nixon.

For club president Billy Gordon, a former player, the occasion represents a great opportunity for the club to strut their stuff on the big stage of the junior game.

He said: “We are all judged by how we perform in the Scottish Cup, when suddenly the focus is not entirely on the central belt for a change.

“I’d like to think we can do well in the competition, but our Lanarkshire visitors will be a tough challenge, though we gave a good account of ourselves in the semi-final stage of the Grill Cup last weekend. I’m hopeful of a good performance.

“The players will have no difficulty in getting up for this one, if they have, they shouldn’t be playing.”

A busy month lies ahead of the club, not least in the hectic, demanding schedule of the Superleague, though the ambitious club will also have time to socialise on October 11 when they host a dance at the New Inn.