Derby delight for East Belfast in late Border Cup final win over Dundonald
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 won everything at this club except for 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 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 back-line was kept busy as Simon Graham first cleared a shot from Keith Graham, 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 this, Mark Reid played a lovely ball over the top to Gary McBride, who could only manage a tame header into 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 were similarly unlucky with arguably the chance of the game up to this point – Ross McCaughan getting a header onto an in-swinging Warren 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 failing to misguide Fox, while the East had Halliday to thank for rushing out to claim from Harvey’s through-ball to Tumelty.
So evenly-matched were these teams that a penalty shootout appeared an inevitability as the game trickled into extra time - but Wilson put paid to any thoughts of the dreaded spot-kick, as he stabbed home a decisive finish from just inside the box in the 97th minute.
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)