Hail Caesar – penalty hero for Whitehill

Whitehill Wellfare captain Nick Murray lifts the Cup along with new Kit man Derek Watt.
Whitehill Wellfare captain Nick Murray lifts the Cup along with new Kit man Derek Watt.

Substitute goalkeeper Caesar Hurst’s penalty heroics helped Whitehill Welfare lift the South Challenge Cup on Sunday afternoon.

Goals by Mark McConnell and John MacDonald either side of a Connor McGregor strike had Edinburgh City ahead 2-1 at half-time, with James Flynn levelling in the second half for the Rosewell side.

Hurst, who was thrust into action when Ben McGinley was sent off late on, saved four penalties as manager Steve Hislop lifted his first trophy just weeks into his Whitehill career.

“It was just as well we got another goalie on board!” he said. “I never like going without a goalie on the bench and thankfully that paid off. It wasn’t just about Ceasar though – every single player that played was incredible. What a shift they put in. I’m so proud of them. I’ve only been in a short time and to put in a shift like that and to work like that when they know that ultimately, they’re not the fittest team is great.”

City edged in front shortly after 12 minutes. John Williams’ poor touch allowed McConnell a clear run on goal, and the midfielder took full advantage by striding forward and calmly slotting past McGinley.

It didn’t take long for Whitehill to restore parity. Andy Martin’s knockdown teed up McGregor perfectly.

The Lowland League champions restored their goal advantage on the half-hour mark. Neat interplay between Gordon Donaldson and Ross Guthrie ended with the latter finding MacDonald with a clever ball and from distance the substitute sent the ball flying past McGinley first time in to the far corner.

Whitehill did manage another equaliser just after the hour. Amos found himself caught underneath Nikki Murray’s long free-kick delivery, and substitute James Flynn ghosted in behind him to nod into an empty net.

Proceedings appeared to have swung in City’s favour with just over ten minutes to go. Nico Gibson latched on to Ian McFarland’s through ball and knocked it past the onrushing McGinley. The Welfare ’keeper was shown a straight red for cleaning out the striker.

There was late drama when the ten men thought they’d won it as the game moved into stoppage time after Williams headed home a free-kick, only to be denied by the offside flag.

John Hall and Jordan Caddow went close with headers and Gibson clipped the bar with a free-kick. Neither could prevent penalties, however, and Hurst was the hero for Whitehill who won the shoot-out 3-2.