The Gay Football Supporters’ Network (GFSN) has run a national, UK-wide league since 2002, and introduced the cup in 2006.
Edinburgh-based Hotscots secured their place in the final with a 5-1 home win against London Falcons last month. Glasgow’s Saltire Thistle appeared to have a tougher challenge, facing last year’s beaten finalists Village Manchester at Toryglen.
Thistle ended up securing a 5-2 win to reach their first ever GFSN Cup final, but it was far from plain sailing and there was a time when they had to fight their way into the game after an early setback.
Saltire Thistle could have been a goal up after just 30 seconds, when a ball played in from the left found Paul Spicer in space in the centre of the goal and his deft flick of the ball came off the inside of the post and into the arms of a relieved Manchester goalkeeper. Just 2 minutes later another golden opportunity presented itself to Spicer, who sent the ball over the crossbar.
The game continued much in this fashion with Saltire dominating but failing to take their chances. They were punished on the half-hour mark when a Manchester runner pulled the centre backs slightly apart, allowing Steven Holmes to hit a shot which looped over goalkeeper David Barbour and into the net.
With Village Manchester 1-0 up at half-time, Thistle needed to start the second half as they’d finished the first – by piling pressure on the Manchester defence. This approach eventually yielded rewards when Paul Spicer redeemed himself for earlier misses by slotting home through the legs of the helpless Manchester keeper from close range.
On 62 minutes, Jones scored his second, volleying home from the right side of the penalty area. This put daylight between the sides, but Village Manchester confirmed they were still in the game only three minutes later when Fairbrother netted for the visitors, connecting with a low cross to send the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.
With tensions rising, a foul on Spicer by Jordan Langford resulted in heads coming together and the referee showing a red card to both players. Moments later another foul, this time on Jones in the Village Manchester penalty area, resulted in the Saltire striker converting successfully his second spot kick of the afternoon.
The two Scottish clubs have had successful seasons to date, with Thistle top of the GFSN Division 1 and Hotscots leading Division 2 on goal difference from Leicester Wildcats.
The date and venue for this historic Glasgow v Edinburgh final is to be confirmed.
Photographs courtesy of Dan Twist. We are also indebted to David Barbour for assistance with the match report.