AFTER a long lay off over the festive and New Year period Ellon’s first game in 2012 was the long awaited third round tie in the North of Scotland Cup. Beacon Rangers were the opposition, and with Ellon’s last fixture being a feisty affair against the same, this was going to be a lively cup tie. Personal commitments and work meant that manager Willox had little room to manoeuvre in terms of team selection but still had a strong starting eleven with Cumming getting a long awaited return in goal with regular keeper Dickinson missing.
The game started in great conditions at the Meadows and it was Beacon who showed early intent when Scott fired a fine effort off the home bar. This really wakened Ellon up and Bain had a great shout for a penalty turned down.
Bain continued to terrorise the away defence and had chance after chance to put the home side ahead. With Barrett prominent in the midfield, Hamilton winning his fair share of aerial contests and Thomson wreaking havoc on the right, Bain was always going to get plenty of ammunition. Wilson fed the striker after 10 minutes but his strike went over. Bain was the twice through one on one with keeper McDougall but failed to convert.
With 25 gone, Ellon hit the post with Bain meeting a Dempster corner at the near post and directing a clever flick goalwards. Barrett and Thomson both had shots saved by the keeper and it looked like it could be a day of rueing missed chances and sure enough Taylor latched onto a long clearance and keeper Cumming had to look lively to save his effort.
Wilson fed Thomson crossed early to the near post, and Bain again met the ball well only to see his effort hit the post again.
Ellon had to be wary not to get punished on the break having had so much of the game and Cumming came to the rescue as Crombie found space at the back post. The home side eventually took the lead after 37 minutes when a long ball from Cumming was well won by Hamilton, who flicked on to Bain. Bain took the ball in his stride, beat two and smashed home for his 10th of the season.
Scott was looking the most likely of the Beacon attackers to score and he had a couple of chances to put his side level but failed to convert. Ellon doubled their advantage almost on the stoke of half time as Thomson cut in from his right wing berth and his cross floated over keeper McDougall and into the top corner.
Half time 2-0
The home side continued to press for the third which would have made the game safe. Another long clearance from Cumming found Bain who fired past with only the keeper to beat.
Beacon started to look more dangerous and Cumming had two point blank saves from Middleton. Bain was through once more, with only the keeper standing between him and Ellon’s third but once more he failed to finish. Another similar chance only minutes later resulted in Bain being unceremoniously upended by keeper McDougall. The referee was the only man on the pitch who did not think it was a penalty.
Ellon freshened things up with the experienced Taylor replacing Nicol with 20 to go. This resulted in a reshuffle as Morrison moved to left back with Taylor taking on the centre half duties. The home side kept searching for that elusive clincher as Hamilton flashed a header over and Barrett tried an intelligent chip which was just held.
Ellon still had to look to the defensive side of their duties as Middleton broke free, but again Cumming saved. The big keeper looked more and more as if he had never been away.
Crombie had a great chance for Beacon, but blazed over from 10 yards out.
McShea replaced Longmuir with 12 minutes left and he was involved in a great move which saw Thomson cross for Bain to again pass up yet another chance. Hamilton then had one effort saved and another just over.
Needless to say Bain found himself through again, but it just was not to be his day as McDougall saved,
Knox replaced Bain for the last 5 but with only 2 minutes left Beacon scored to make it a nervy finish. Middleton side footing home from 12 yards.
Final Score 2-1
Ellon should have had this game sewn up early on and the final score in no way reflects their overall superiority. Even though Bain continued his scoring run of having notched at least one in every game he has played, he could have bagged at least 7 or 8 if he had had his shooting boots on. After a long lay enough manager Willox must be pleased with the level of performance with young Grant Morrison stepping up for a particularly impressive first start of the season.
Cumming, Wilson, Morrison, Birnie, Nicol, Barrett, Longmuir, Dempster, Bain, Hamilton, Thomson
Subs : McShea, Taylor, Finnie, Knox
Man of the Match
Ellon : Grant Morrison
Beacon Rangers : Daniel Craib