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John Ogilvie emerged victorious from a pulsating LSFA Cup Final at a sun kissed Beltane Park in Wishaw. The Hamilton outfit were the better side throughout but let a 4-2 lead slip late in the game before securing the trophy after a penalty shoot out in which Michael Duffy made the crucial save. This was a game full of commitment and endeavour but brought to life by some fantastic goals and a genuine belief that nobody could predict what was going to happen next.
The sun was splitting the sky as Airdrie kicked off, illuminating the excellent grass surface at the home of Wishaw juniors. Short sleeves were the order of the day amongst the healthy crowd as they looked forward to what promised to be an excellent game. They were not to be disappointed. The opening exchanges set the tone for both teams as a series of meaty challenges were witnessed. John Michael Devine did give notice of what he would offer to proceedings as he burst through only to fire over. This was to be the first of considerable involvement for frontman Devine.
Shortly after Devine’s chance Lewis Jack forced a save low to his left from Airdrie’s Gregor Mair. Devine then headed the resultant corner straight at the keeper. John Ogilvie were dominant, Devine also showing his ability to drop deep to link with Ben McNeill on a few occasions. McNeill’s pace represented another real threat to the Airdrie rearguard but they were managing to keep the scoreline blank. They also created their first chance but the opportunity was volleyed over.
Airdrie were to regret that rare opportunity in the fifteenth minute as John Ogilvie took a deserved lead. Devine forced a corner down the left which was nodded in by Andrew Ward past Mair who got a hand to the ball but was unable to keep it out. Macaulay Kennedy then gave a quick example of the confidence flowing through John Ogilvie with an effort from distance that unfortunately for him flew wide. Airdrie were struggling but then from nowhere forced a corner of their own. An almost carbon copy of the opening goal was the result of this as Connor Lyttle nodded home before celebrating in some style. Airdrie were level, with the fact they had not really been in the game until that point considered somewhat irrelevant.
Eight minutes after their equaliser Airdrie found themselves ahead. The goal again came from a corner with the final touch looking to come from a John Ogilvie player. The quality of Airdrie’s set pieces were proving decisive as with only two real chances they had scored two goals. John Ogilvie would need to react to these setbacks and continue playing in the manner they had been as they had done little wrong. The half time whistle came however and Airdrie were ahead, a position they would be looking to maintain in the second half.
Half Time: Airdrie Academy 2-1 John Ogilvie High School
The late evening sun was now lowering, threatening to cause problems for Mair in the Airdrie goal who sensibly donned a cap as the second half kicked off. Airdrie created an early chance down the right but a chipped effort floated wide. The usual cliché of the next goal being crucial certainly applied here and it was John Ogilvie who got it, equalising in the forty eighth minute. It was no surprise to see Devine heavily involved, floating a delicate ball to McNeill who had come in from the left. McNeill won the ball emphatically before smashing a fantastic right foot effort past Mair who had no chance. Two all and despite the tension both teams were taking positive steps to try and gain the initiative.
An offside flag denied Airdrie’s Nathan Liddle before just after the hour mark Devine got the goal his all round play had threatened all evening. Showing a great mixture of power, touch and composure he worked an opening on the left hand side of the box before smashing the ball past Mair who was yet again helpless. John Ogilvie were ahead again and it only took another two minutes before they were four two ahead. This time it was McNeill who rounded off a flowing move by firing the ball home. John Ogilvie had added a clinicalness to their play that was missing in the first half and they now found themselves four two ahead with seventeen minutes to go. If anything it looked like they would go on to add to their lead.
Airdrie seemed to realise the seriousness of the situation they found themselves in and spurred on by Darren Bowie they pulled a goal back via a superb Liddle strike. There looked little danger on the edge of the box but Liddle brought the ball down before drilling his strike past the despairing Duffy. A goal fit for any cup final at a crucial time. Five minutes later Airdrie were level. The tenacious Liddle taking advantage of hesitancy in the John Ogilvie defence to slot into an empty net. Quite unbelievably Airdrie were level and there were still about ten minutes left for either side to get a winner.
A dejected John Ogilvie managed to pull themselves together and the closing stages of the match passed without too much further incident. The full time whistle came and after an absolutely gripping encounter it had finished four all. Fantastic entertainment and a real advert for schools football in Scotland.
There had to be a winner though and the game went straight to a penalty shoot out. John Ogilvie held their nerve to score all four of their penalties, Airdrie missed two which meant John Ogilvie emerged victorious 4-3 sparking wild scenes amongst their players and management. On the balance of play you would say they deserved to take the trophy home but the spirit in the Airdrie side should not be underestimated. The ground cleared as an evening chill hit the air but everyone left immensely satisfied with the spectacle they had witnessed.
Full Time: Airdrie Academy 4-4 John Ogilvie High School (John Ogilvie win 4-3 on penalties)
Nathan Liddle put the opposition defenders under constant pressure, causing problems throughout, epitomised by his goal to make it 4-4.
John Michael Devine, the forward was a constant threat, dropping deep to get on the ball but also holding it up to great effect, easing the pressure on his team.