Although reaching the last eight of any national competition is an achievement in itself settling for such an accolade is never enough and the two sides set to collide this afternoon were hungry to go further than they had before and enter the draw for the semi-finals for the first time having both come close in the past.
Visiting Hamilton today from the east coast were Townhill, an outfit who were no strangers to quarter finals having reached this stage last season and this year seeing off Hutchison Vale two rounds ago and Rossvale in their most recent tie to compile a healthy set of scalps heading into this fixture.
Barring their path were the imperious Blantyre Boys Club who had suffered their first blip of the season in their last match when an injury ravaged side lost their first match of the season, bringing to an end a run of 20 games unbeaten. They were back at full strength for today’s fixture however and included among their number six players who had been selected to play for the Central region and one who had been called up for national honours.
The wind had the trees around the pitch almost bent double by the time the referee brought the teams together for the kick off but all those in attendance were interested in was the storm about to be whipped up on the park and just after 12 o’clock we were underway.
The early exchanges would be focused around the centre circle as two evenly matched teams competed to gain a foothold against the other, challenges flew in from both sides and yellow cards were shown with the referee keen to inform that they would be keeping a tight rein on things today.
Just after the quarter hour the first chance would be created by Blantyre’s Michael McGinty as he moved well to open up space for a shot and his well struck effort was on target but covered by Owain Stark in the Townhill goal who got both hands to the ball and turned it round the post. Keen to keep the pressure up the boys in gold then swung a beautiful corner into the box where it fell invitingly under the bar and was nodded home by Ryan McGuinness after 17 minutes.
McGuinness would continue to make his presence felt as he yet again made space for himself moments after the restart although the resultant effort was just off target despite having Stark sprawling and soon after the goalie sent a wayward clearance straight to goal scorer Brown but was fortunate to see the strikers effort sail over whilst he was stranded off his line.
Townhill though were full of running and refused to buckle under pressure with their forwards keen to exploit any lapses and the back and the defence had to be quick to see off Jack George as he looked to run on to a through ball on the edge of the box. Minutes later Aaron Baxter would try his luck from distance only to see Mark Cunningham get a solid two fist punch behind his effort to send it clear of the danger zone.
The momentum was swinging from end to end and next try their luck would be Blantyre’s Luke McKibben whose snapshot sailed just wide before Townhill’s Gregor MacDonald attempted to restore parity before the break but his strike from outside the box failed to create any danger.