Auchterarder came out quickly at the start of the second half looking to level the scores. They nearly had an opportunity to do so when influential midfielder Rattray played Cailean O’Reilly in down the left channel. O’Reilly found himself in a good position to square the ball to a teammate in the middle of the goal, but his pass was well intercepted.
Milton responded quickly and nearly went 2-0 up. Josh Blyth laid it off to the raiding right-back Hope after some smooth build-up, but he saw his shot slip just wide of the post.
However, it was not long before Milton did make it 2-0 after starting to take control of proceedings. Once again it was Hope causing Auchterarder problems down the wing, playing almost as a right winger at times. After the ball was played infield, it broke to Blyth who had acres of space on the edge of the area. He remained calm and fired the ball firmly into the bottom corner, giving Jack Rutherford no chance in the Auchterarder goal.
The score did not remain 2-0 for long however, as Milton really started to assert their dominance. Midfield anchor Adam Canavan played a wonderful defence-splitting pass into space behind the Auchterarder full back; space which Hope was running into undetected. After getting the ball under control and out from under his feet, the right back drilled an unstoppable shot across Rutherford into the bottom corner giving his side a seemingly unassailable lead.
However, Auchterarder refused to go down without a fight. Corey Doris was looking to dribble through on goal, but he was brought down on the edge of the Milton box. Doris himself stepped up to take the free kick and decided to go for power over placement. This nearly turned out to be a profitable decision for his side, but his strike whistled narrowly wide of the Milton goal.
Soon after, Milton put the destination of the cup beyond any doubt, all but sealing victory with less than 15 minutes to go. Predictably, it was Hope who was the architect of the goal. His cross was not cleared effectively by the Auchterarder defence as the ball fell straight to Ferguson on the edge of the area. He took the shot on the bounce and as a result, the ball looped up and over Rutherford creeping in just under the crossbar.
Auchterarder struggled to mount much offence with Milton controlling the game. Milton extended their lead further in the closing stages with Blyth grabbing his second goal of the game. The Auchterarder defence struggled to clear once more with an attempted clearance ricocheting off another defender and falling kindly to Blyth. The midfielder still had a lot to do 20 yards from goal with the keeper still to beat and the ball rolling towards him from his right side. Instead of taking it closer to goal, taking a touch before shooting or hitting it first time with his left, Blyth opened up his body and timed his strike perfectly as the ball came to his right foot, bending a sublime effort over Rutherford’s head.
Milton were playing with bags of confidence and showed no signs of relinquishing their firm grip on proceedings. They went close once again with Blyth going close to sealing his hat-trick after a perfectly-weighted pass by substitute Keigan Flannagan.
It looked as though Auchterarder would be leaving with not even a goal to show for their efforts. However, James Carchrie ensured that his side and their supporters had something to shout about. Milton spent much of the second half camped inside the Auchterarder half and this turned out to be their defence’s eventual undoing. Two Milton defenders went to attack the same ball just inside the Auchterarder half, resulting in it rolling free for Carchrie to collect. With the full Milton half to run into and the pace to avoid being caught by any defenders, Carchrie went one-on-one with substitute goalkeeper Jack Gregory. Carchrie kept his composure, sending Gregory to the floor with a lovely shimmy before rolling the ball into an empty net.
Although Milton deserved to win on the balance of play and nothing should be taken away from them, the scoreline is slightly flattering. Large periods of the game, particularly in the first half, were spent in the midfield with possession changing hands frequently. However, the majority of the chances fell to Milton who were also impenetrable up until the last kick of the game, and their victory was well deserved.