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Two Ayrshire-based rivals prepared to square off today as GADYFL side Bonnyton, from Kilmarnock, welcomed WOSYFL club Valspar of Ayr. There had been weeks of build up to the game as both teams prepared to go hammer and tongs to get through to the semi finals . Valspar came into the game with a 100% record in league form, while Bonnyton are champions two years running, with a wealth of medal winners from their own previous sides and ex Bellfield players. The home team opted to go with a 4-4-2 formation while Valspar opted to shape up as a 3-5-2. The weather was fairly mild which made for a great day for some Scottish Cup football action. A hotly contested game would eventually result in a 3-0 win for Bonnyton, who dominated almost from start to finish despite not playing at their peak. Valspar were dangerous on the counter attack but their influence on the game faded in the second half.
The whistle got us underway and after a frantic and energetic first five minutes the first sight of goal comes to Bonnyton. Ewan Barrie sprayed the ball wide to Sam McCloskey who skipped past Valspar’s Aidan McCartney with ease. He proceeded to shoot but it was deflected over. David Shedden headed off target from the resulting corner.
Four minutes later, Bonnyton goal keeper Scott Purdie had to be alert as a flick on fell loose in the box. The keeper came out to clean the ball – and two Valspar players in the process – to avert the danger.
Bonnyton were the next to threaten when McCloskey drove forward but was tackled by Cameron Barr. The ball went for a corner and McCloskey swung it in towards the head of Ryan Golightly but he lifted it over from five yards: 0-0 after 15 minutes.
Bonnyton had been exerting most of early pressure in the opening 20 minutes, with Valspar venturing forward a couple of times on the counter and looking dangerous without creating a clear cut chance.
Just as we passed the twenty minute mark: goal. And it went Bonnyton’s way. McCloskey whipped in a free kick that was only half-cleared and this allowed Steven Hill to nod the ball towards goal for Andy Strachan to put the ball in from close range. 1-0 to Bonnyton and deservedly so; the game had been close but Bonnyton had created all the chances and enjoyed slightly more possession.
David Shedden had been absolutely terrorizing his opposite number so far in the game and he continued to threaten when he met a cross from the right with a leaping header – only to see it caught by Cameron Cruickshanks.
In the 35th minute, Bonnyton won another corner and McCloskey’s deliver again reached Golightly – this time at his feet – but his left footed strike fizzed over from ten yards.
Ewan Barrie hadn’t put a foot wrong for Bonnyton in the first 30 minutes and he was again instigating play moments after Golightly’s chance. With Valspar firmly penned back in their half, Barrie’s work allowed Jordan Muir to find McCloskey who fired a shot at goal from an angle. Cruickshanks needed two bites of the cherry to catch the powerful strike and hold it. Bonnyton were now the dominating team by far with Valspar only looking dangerous on the counter. George Reid was looking the liveliest of his team as we neared the whistle.
Bonnyton went 2-0 up on 42 minutes thanks to a beautiful strike from Muir. The ball came to him twenty-five yards out and he struck it first time with his right foot and his curled at speed away from Cruickshanks and into the bottom corner. That goal put a severe dent in the Valspar cause as they struggled to find ways to trouble Bonnyton in the final third despite battling well in defence and midfield.
Bonnyton were caught sleeping in defence however moments before the end of the period and this allowed Brandon Hendren to steal the ball. He shot from the edge of the area but it flashed wide of the goal. This marked Valspar first noteworthy attempt on goal in the game – something they would need to improve on to have any chance of creeping back into the tie. The Ayr-based side had battled well and worked the ball nicely at times but lacked that cutting edge and killer ball in the final third.
Half Time: Bonnyton Thistle 2-0 Valspar FC
The second half got underway after long team talks from both sets of coaches at the break. Within five minutes though, Ewan Barrie was at it again – playing out of his skin from midfield. A brilliant piece of play from the number eight saw him win the ball forty yards out and play in Steven Hill on the edge. Hill laid off Muir with a neat touch before his striker partner found the the on-running Barrie in the box with an inch-perfect through ball. The midfielder squared up Cruickshanks in goal before he looked to be fouled. Honest as ever though, he never went down and instead tried to round the keeper but he fired into the side netting from the tight angle he forced himself in to. Deserved more.
Moments later, a cross from McCloskey was diverted away from the head of Hill by a crucial interception from Andrew Irvine which helped keep his side in the game for the mean time.
On the hour mark, Valspar’s Mark Campbell rifled a shot in from the edge of the area but it deflected wide for a corner. The corner looked dangerous but it came to nothing.
Valspar were starting to enjoy a little bit more possession and knew they had to make this spell count if they were to mount a comeback. The red and whites won a free kick twenty yards out on 65 minutes that Brandon Hendren took. He curled it with power and swerve – only to see Purdie scramble and parry it wide. This was the first time since the beginning of the match that Purdie had to make a telling save to keep a clean sheet.
Five minutes later, Hendren whipped in another free kick - from further out this time – and again Purdie was equal to it. The keeper caught the ball and this ended Valspar’s spell of pressure – which, despite their efforts, had only mounted to two shots on target and they were both from free kicks. Bonnyton were now looking to seal the win as Valspar failed to capitalize on their period on top. The away side would start to feel the strain as a fitter Bonnyton side would step things up in the last twenty minutes.
Indeed, the home side made the visitors pay moments later with an all-important third goal. It was the clinical Jordan Muir who grabbed it to round off a good performance. Shedden found Muir in the box who timed his run perfectly to half-volley into the corner. It was a great strike following a great move that sealed things for the exuberant Bonnyton side.
Blair Larmour entered the fray on 75 minutes and almost scored with his first touch. He spun and shot from a loose ball at a corner but it was cleared off the line. Barrie crossed for McCloskey five minutes later as Bonnyton keep the pressure up - but the stabbed wide from inside the six yard box.
The home side almost made it 4-0 with a great move in the dying seconds. Chris McFadzean played a nice through ball to Sean Mears on the left who found Andy Hunter twenty five yards out. He played a one-two with Muir but his shot skimmed wide.
The referee blew his whistle to end an enthralling game, won deservedly by the home side who are gunning for three in a row. The match was more even in first half than the second as Valspar faded towards the end - only threatening from set pieces. The game had never been in much doubt and Valspar will be disappointed that they never put up much of a threat on the attacking front. While they battled well and looked capable on the counter attack – they lacked a cutting edge that saw them fail to really trouble a younger Bonnyton in the final third. Bonnyton were not at their peak according to many of the staff and players, and indeed they missed a handful of chances in either half. Nevertheless, Scottish Cup games are all about the result and Ian Higgins & co will know this all too well. Valspar will look to concentrate on domestic affairs in a promising league season, while Bonnyton continue to march towards multiple trophies for consecutive seasons.
Valspar moved the ball about well at times and fought hard despite losing by three goals. Calum Nairn and Brandon Hendren were the pick of the bunch in their all-action displays. For Bonnyton, Andy Strachan was solid in defence and picked up a goal at the other end. Jordan Muir played well up top and capped a good performance with two great goals - he was key today. Nothing got past Craig McLaren while Ryan Golightly had a good first half but he faded in influence in the second period. David Shedden and Sam McCloskey also caused problems but man of the match was Ewan Barrie. He did a lot of the dirty work in midfield while his distribution was excellent. He played a big part in attack and defence and his energy was key to this almost faultless display.
Full Time: Bonnyton Thistle 3-0 Valspar FC