It was a quiet opening ten minutes of the Forth Valley Football Development Association Cup final with both teams finding their bearings on the artificial surface at Recreation Park in Alloa. Milton will have been feeling confident following their recent confirmation as league champions, while Callander Thistle will have fancied their chances at a cup upset.
It was not to be quiet for long however. The match was kickstarted into life in the 11th minute when Callander drove a low corner in the direction of Gavin Campbell. The forward controlled the ball on the turn before being clipped by his marker. No sooner did Campbell hit the deck before the referee pointed to the spot, a stonewaller. Campbell brushed himself down and controlled the adrenaline rush to roll the into the back of the net. The Milton goalkeeper diving in the opposite direction.
Milton responded with the swagger of champions, looking to thread the ball through the eye of a needle. A series of almost inch-perfect through-balls were intercepted by Thistle before Milton found their breakthrough. In the 16th minute a lobbed ball over the top found Calum Findlay in space in the box. Findlay allowed the ball to bounce before demonstrating exquisite technique to half volley the equaliser into the roof of the net.
The leveller opened up the encounter and Thistle were back on the offensive in the 19th minute. Innes Manders switched a diagonal pass to Reuben Lazell on the right . The wide player darted menacingly into the box and sent a teasing ball across the face of goal which bounced around before being cleared by the Milton defence.
The next clear-cut opportunity would arrive in the 27th minute. Lazell’s trickery on the right was rewarded with a corner. The midfielder’s deep cross took a bounce before Campbell attempted an effort. The striker was perhaps a little off balance as he lifted his strike over the Milton crossbar.
Innes Manders then decided to test his shooting boots with a couple of efforts from range. The first dropping just wide of the left post and the second effort deflecting before being gathered by the goalkeeper.
With 30 minutes on the clock Lazell once again showed good close control, interchanging well with his teammates before poking an effort towards goal. The goalkeeper doing well to hold. A minute later Thistle went ahead for the second time. Steven Buchanan was released in on goal. The midfielder showed excellent composure under pressure from Milton’s defence to slide the ball beyond the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
Milton almost equalised for a second time when Josh Hope demonstrated vision to play in Jack Stevenson. The centre midfielder burst towards the goalmouth but knocked it just past the post to ensure that it remained 2-1 going into the interval.