Midfield magic from FC Edinburgh send League One leaders to the final

FC Edinburgh are through to the final of the Championship and League One cup after a tense 4-2 victory over Ayr United in the semi final at Airdrie’s Excelsior stadium.

In a frantic game played at breathtaking speed, it was the capital club’s midfielders Danielle Forsyth, Emma Mitchell and Hannah Markley finding the scoresheet alongside forward Deborah Mcleod, amid a spirited response from Ayr United.

From the start Ayr United were timing their tackles well, but FC Edinburgh’s ferocious pace had the Championship side on the back foot from the off, with winger Jayden Simmons causing all kind of mischief on the right. On ten minutes, McLeod drifted past a defender on the same side and sent a cross across the box, with Edinburgh’s captain Forsyth drifting in at the back post to stroke it past Ayr keeper Mollie Mackenzie. Then five minutes later Emma Mitchell latched onto a ball on the edge of the box and rifled a volley in for Edinburgh’s second.

Ayr United worked to get back into the game, but with FC Edinburgh doubling up on Championship top scorer Rachel Scott, chances were limited. Edinburgh keeper Schenai Gamrot did well to get to a dipping free kick from Clare Docherty from distance on 24 minutes, with the rebound eluding the ever-dangerous Scott who had followed the ball in. Hannah Taysum got her head to a Docherty corner on 36 minutes but could not guide it towards goal.

At the other end, a corner landed at the feet of Forsyth at the back post again, but she blasted over the bar. A well-timed lob forward by Docherty gave Scott the space she had been looking for on forty minutes, the young Ayr striker producing a good finish to Gamrot’s right but the keeper dove acrobatically to palm the shot to safety. But Docherty would find the net two short minutes later, the ball rebounding her strike off the upright right back into her path for her to lash home and set up a competitive second half.

The second half continued the frantic pace, with both teams forcing each other into errors and fouls as a sense of frustration began to build. A clash of heads between Ayr’s Jodie Barbour and Hannah Markley on the hour mark saw both leave the field but able to return to play quickly.

Ayr defender Lauren McBlain saw yellow on 71 minutes for persistent fouling after twice body-checking the Edinburgh midfielder, but both sides were showing signs of frustration, the normally composed Mitchell skying a ball over the bar when she had had more time with twelve minutes to go.

A clever one-two between McLeod and Simmons carved open a great chance for Edinburgh to seal it, the cross finding McLeod unmarked on the penalty spot but she could only head into Mackenzie’s arms. But a similar cross from Simmons found Hannah Markley shortly after and she made no mistake for Edinburgh’s third.

Ayr surged forward with urgency, and found a reply within a minute, Jodie Barbour cutting through a goal-mouth scramble to poke the ball into the roof of the net from point-blank range.

But Jayden Simmons’ pace outdid Ayr again at the death, as the winger kept the ball in play on the touchline and threaded the ball into the path of Deborah Mcleod, who had ample time to place the ball into the net and send the SWF League One leaders into the final.

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