Newbattle High School Under 13 football side were crowned Scottish champions on Tuesday when the won the SSFA National seven a side trophy sponsored by the Government Cashback from proceeds of crime initiative.
Over 160 secondary schools entered the competition and to qualify for the National Finals the Newbattle side had prevailed in the Midlothian competition defeating Lasswade Penicuik and St Davids then winning the South East Regional event over Broughton, Boroughmuir, Gala, Stewarts Melville, St Margaret’s and Preston Lodge to join the five other regional winners at Toryglen Complex in Glasgow.
The Midlothian side faced a tough draw with their section including Grove Academy from Broughty Ferry and tournament favourites Braidhurst HS, one of the controversial SFA elite schools, and the job became harder as Braidhurst swept aside Grove 4-1 in the opening match of the section.
Newbattle’s opening match against Braidhurst saw the Motherwell school open the scoring in the early stages but goals from Jack Solway and Jack Neilson gave the Easthouses side take the lead before the half way point. Braidhurst equalised shortly afterwards and that was to be the end of the scoring although it was Newbattle who came closest to grabbing the winner with one effort cleared off the line and the post denying them on another occasion.
That scoreline meant Newbattle had to better Braidhurst’s result against Grange to reach the final and they did so with aplomb. Solway opened the scoring after 90 seconds and Neilson added a second before the five minute mark. Two further goals from Neilson and Andrew Muir then put the Midlothian side into a winning position just after the midpoint. Neilson completed his hat trick and with Solway adding his second Newbattle closed out the game with a 6-1 win to top the section.
Their opponents in the final were All Saints Secondary from Glasgow. Newbattle started the better and spurned two good chances in the first quarter. The Glasgow side fought back and dominated the second quarter of the game without seriously troubling Duncan’s goal. The second half was tense with Newbattle frustrated to see Evan Scott’s header came back off the crossbar with the goalkeeper well beaten. The breakthrough came with four minutes remaining, Andrew Muir broke from defence and cracked a fierce shot which the goalkeeper saved but Jack Neilson was first to pounce and drilled the rebound home. The drama was not yet over as in the final seconds the Saints got free on the left and Cammy Duncan somehow stopped the ball from crossing the line to secure the trophy for Newbattle.