View Photo Gallery | Discuss the Match | Buy Photos and Souvenirs
Irvine Meadow snatched victory from the jaws of a plucky KSC Phoenix side at Hurlford's Blair Park this Saturday, after a close game saw KSC dominate most of the second half before succumbing to a deadly Daniel Orr double.
The sun was splitting the clouds as the game kicked off in the late morning, and straight from the off both teams set about attacking. Nerves were clearly abundant as the opening 10 minutes were truly end-to-end in style.
Meadow had the first real shot on goal of the game on 11 minutes. Captain Jamie Lambert skimmed the bar with a volley from the edge of the area, giving KSC their first scare.
Irvine's Kieran Connelly was next to try in vain when he smacked the bar with a header, unable to match the good run and cross from the left.
Meadow were really turning it on now and looked to be the team settling into the game more quickly and after 20 minutes they had KSC on the back foot.
The pressure continued as Phoenis goalkeeper Craig Maxwell was forced into a great save low to his left after 23 minutes to deny Orr before he did enough to warn off Ben Cunningham who advanced towards him 1-v-; the striker scuffed wide.
There was a sense that a goal could be coming at any moment and indeed KSC Phoenix were looking dangerous on the counter attack, in particular through Morgan Loudon on the right, Paulo Harkness on the left and Ryan Strain up top. The trio were key to KSC's attacking phases and helped in establishing a more even match towards the end of the half. Indeed, the defence had coped well with the early onslaught as well.
Irvine had created most of the chances but KSC had made their way towards goal on a few occasions. For the boys in black it only really got as good as half-chances however as either no-one reached the final pass or cross or play broke down at the crucial moment.
Half Time: Irvine Meadow Youth 0-0 KSC Phoenix
The second half kicked off in much the same manner as the first, with Irvine asserting an early dominance. Nice one-touch play allowed Jack Rodden to be played in through the middle by Orr. Rodden seemed to hesitate in pulling the trigger however as he attempted to outwit Maxwell but the keeper forced him wide and eventually got a touch to his shot before Jack Ryan cleared the ball from danger.
Morhan Loudon had saw a shot in the first half from long range saved but that didn't stop him having another go in the second period. This one was more powerful bit it flashed wide by inches.
3 minutes later Loudon thought he had put his side ahead (the fans too) but his shot from inside the box hit the wrong side of the side-netting, via a delfection.
KSC had now edged their way into the game for 10 minutes and were soon on top of proceedings - in terms of possession and chances. This continued well into the second half; Mark McKenzie was the next man to have a go from just outside the area, but he missed the target.
As Phoenix began to dominate they still had to be alert and Maxwell exemplified this with a very good save from Orr once again. Kieran Connelly raced onto the ball on the right of the box and clipped a cross from the by-line in between two defenders but Maxwell was equal to the effort from Orr.
For KSC, Loudoun linked up well with Strain only for the former to miss another chance with just over 5 minutes left. Unfortunately for Phoenix, and chiefly Loudoun, it began to look like it wouldn't be their or his day.
Those thoughts were almost proved true but once again Maxwell was there to deny Orr in the latest in their terrific battle. Orr was played in behind the defence on the ground but his touch was just too hard and Maxwell rushed out to block the next effort towards goal.
Maxwell couldn't do anything about Orr's next shot though, as the troublesome striker made it 1-0 with only a few minutes left. The Phoenix centre backs failed to learn from their last scare in behind from Orr and this time he punished them, firing low from just inside the area under Maxwell. He was free and had time but didn't waste a second and it looked like he'd won it.
It could be argued that this goal came largely against the run of play, certainly in the second half, and more controversy followed as Irvine were awarded a penalty. On first look it did look as though Orr was tripped and indeed it would be up to him to seal the game.
Orr stepped up, took a long run up and smashed the ball low into the net and celebrated accordingly with his team mates, knowing the immensity of the goal: The cup was going to Irvine.
The whistle blew only moments after this goal and the scoreline showed it was 2-0 to Meadow and perhaps a comfortable victory. This was not the case however; it was an extremely close game and a very plucky performance from KSC Phoenix. One thing that can't be taken away from Irvine though was their grit, determination and clinical touch. They just had that cutting edge that Phoenix lacked.
For Irvine the stand out man really was Daniel Orr. He grabbed the crucial goals and he never stopped running and was very strong in leading the line. Captain Lambert put in a good shift as well but Orr was the difference between the sides.
For KSC, goalkeeper Craig Maxwell pulled off a number of good saves and Morgan Loudon threatened going forward, but for me Ryan Strain was the best player on the park. Despite not managing a shot on target, the mobile striker did a power of running and linked up with his team mates well. His passing and dribblnig was good, and his touch was class.
Full Time: Irvine Meadow Youth 2-0 KSC Phoenix