East Belfast go extra mile for Cup triumph
Dundonald 0-1 East Belfast (after extra time)
Border Cup final man of the match Luke Wilson dedicated his trophy and match-winning goal to his father and East Belfast assistant manager Paul.
In a tense, tight affair with very little goalmouth action, it wasn't until late in the first period of extra-time that the 61st minute super-sub broke the deadlock.
"That one's for my dad," beamed Wilson. "He has won everything at this club except a Border Cup, and lost in the 1992 final. It's a massive honour to score the winner, especially as we hadn't won this competition since 1952.
"That was my first match back after three months out injured, so it's unbelievable."
Chances were at a premium at Seaview as the two teams edged their way into the game, with East Belfast's Warren Pinkerton producing a save from Andrew Fox with a close-range attempt on 10 minutes.
Two minutes later, the East Belfast back-line was kept busy as Simon Graham first cleared a shot from Keith Armstrong, then another from Johnny Tumelty was saved by Jake Halliday, before the same player launched well over from the rebound.
There were hardly any shouts from either the Dundonald players or supporters as Ryan Harvey went down in the box under a Steven Garrett challenge, and the skipper was subsequently shown a yellow card for simulation.
Soon after, Mark Reid played a lovely ball over the top to Gary McBride, who could only manage a tame header into East Belfast keeper Halliday's arms.
Dundonald could, and probably should, have put themselves ahead on the brink of half-time. A cleverly-worked free-kick played along the ground by Ross Orderly fell to the feet of Harvey, who struck the keeper with his attempt.
On the other side of the break, East Belfast were similarly unlucky with arguably the chance of the game up to that point - Ross McCaughan getting his head onto an in-swinging Pinkerton corner, but just guiding it wide.
The second-half was even more bereft of chances than the first, but during a brief flurry early on, a faint flick-on by Ryan Oliver from a Pinkerton free-kick failed to deceive Fox, while East Belfast had Halliday to thank for rushing out to claim Harvey's through ball to Tumelty.
So evenly matched were the teams that a penalty shoot-out appeared an inevitability as the game trickled into extra-time - but Wilson put paid to any thoughts of the dreaded spot-kicks as he stabbed home with a decisive finish from just inside the box in the 97th minute.
Mid Ulster Football League Intermediate A leaders Newry City AFC can look forward to a happy New Year with the Premier Cup in their trophy cabinet after beating fellow Intermediate A side Fivemiletown United 2-1 at Crystal Park, Banbridge yesterday.
Sean McMullan gave City a 10th minute lead before Matty Callaghan levelled matters in the 68th minute. Timmy Grant grabbed the winner seven minutes from time.
The Craig Memorial Cup final, which was washed out on Boxing Day, between Institute and Limavady United will be played at Mill Meadow, Castledawson tonight at 7.45pm.
Dundonald: Fox, Wolsey, Orderly, McBride, Simpson, Reid (Johnstone, 61), Armstrong, Duffy (Kelso, 100), Tumelty, Harvey, Youle (McMillan, 90).
East Belfast: Halliday, Graham, Davison, McNaul, McCaughan, Cousins, Pinkerton (Holmes 107), Beattie, Wright (Robb, 70), Oliver, Garrett (Wilson, 61).
Referee: Gavin Taggart (Londonderry)
Man of the Match: Luke Wilson (East Belfast)
Match rating: 5/10