Longniddry to face Gullane in Cup Final
Gullane are hot to favourites to add the East Lothian Winter Cup to their league title following a narrow win at Tantallon on Sunday. And if Jeff Aitken’s team are successful at Craigielaw on Sunday 9th March they will become the first club to complete the coveted winter double.
But their passage through to the final was no formality, especially after home duo Joe Lockie and Simon Holt became the first this season to inflict a defeat on the visitors’ top pairing of Scott Walker and Duncan Low. That match went to the final green, by which time Gullane had taken match 3 but home skipper Andrew Doig and Richard Helik were on the verge of a 16th green win for the hosts.
So that left Tantallon just one point away from a place in the final. But it was the visitors that boarded the final tee one up in each of the final two ties. Young gun Euan Bowden wasn’t able to repeat the tee shot he produced for the hosts earlier in the season against Dunbar – his effort on that occasion setting up a ten foot eagle putt – and his match alongside Fraser Symon ended in defeat to Murray Saunders and Scott Gillies.
So that left home hopes resting on Neil Park and Roddy Stevenson, and just when it looked like the veteran pair might take their tie into extra holes up stepped Greg Houlston to calmly roll in the birdie put that sent Tantallon crashing out. As home skipper Andrew Doig observed “that’s not the first time that lad’s holed a putt on the last green”, a reference to the birdie putt Houlston holed to beat Tantallon in the league last season.
Meanwhile there was another nail biter at Longniddry where the hosts, already relegated this season, faced Second Division champions Dunbar. And with the home team securing comfortable wins in the top two ties whilst the visitors romped to victory in the next two, there was never any doubt that the match would hinge on the final game. In the end home advantage was enough to make the difference as Peter Henderson and David Porteous prevailed on the final green against Lee and Steve Morgan.
So Longniddry have the unenviable task of stopping the Gullane machine in a fortnight’s time. Before then Jeff Aitken’s side will be looking to extend their 100% record for this season’s campaign as they complete their league programme with a home tie against the Glen. And if they deliver the expected win in that one they will arrive at Craigielaw looking to complete an unprecedented grand slam.