Edina Hibs versus Hutchison Vale in the Scottish Cup semi finals. You don't need to know a lot about youth football in the south east of Scotland, to know that this would be a fixture which would get people talking. Despite the direct clash with the professional Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle, a large crowd descended on Dalkeith to watch an absorbing contest between two sets of Edinburgh's brightest young players. After a deadlocked first half the magic moment came midway through the second period, when Liam Edmonston stepped up to curl a free kick into the top right hand corner. Vale fought until the end, but they couldn't break down the Edina wall and it was the boys in green and white who celebrated reaching the national final.
Despite both playing a huge part in the history of youth football in Edinburgh, the contrast in fortunes between Edina Hibs and Hutchison Vale in this prestigious competition has been stark in recent seasons. Edina Hibs last won the trophy in 2003/04, a year which also saw Vale triumph at two age groups. Since then, Hutchie have racked up eight competition wins across a variety of age groups. Edina's last appearance in a final came in 2010/11, when the (nearly) all conquering 1996 born squad fell short at the final hurdle. Since then the club has somewhat reinvented itself, with a focus on the younger age groups, and perhaps this year's Under 13 squad is the start of a renaissance.
There was no doubt who took the favourites tag going into this tie. Hutchison Vale. Top of the table, without a defeat to their name, they put no less than 15 goals past Edina in two early season meetings. However, a more recent meeting which saw Vale progress in a local cup with the help of extra time, indicated that the gap was getting narrower.
In this competition both teams had been in fine form. Vale had succeeded against Leith Athletic, Musselburgh Windsor, Elderslie Amateurs, FC Rochsoles, Edinburgh City Real and EKFC Blue - with only the first and last ties providing them any cause for concern. Fauldhouse Foxes, Longniddry Villa, Dundee West, Stonehouse BC, Spartans and St Mirren YFC had fell to Edina. Notable milestones for them were the banana skin slip avoided when Longniddry Villa of the league below forced extra time in Round 2, and a penalty kick victory over Spartans in a thrilling last 16 tie.
The match kicked off at a high tempo with both teams largely cancelling each other out in the opening exchanges. The first chance fell to Vale's Lewis McCann, who half volleyed wide after a good lofted pass from Callum Anderson. Anderson was next to have a go from the edge of the area, but his effort couldn't find the target.
Edina Hibs had the first clear cut opening of the match. Seamus Russell produced a well timed challenge before sending the ball in the direction of Owen Bryce, who in turn picked out the run of Alassan Jones. Jones raced in on goal but his low drive was excellently saved and held by Vale goalkeeper Ciaran Cairns.
The South Edinburgh outfit were growing into the game and had another chance to open the scoring five minutes later. Mitchell Robertson and Liam Edmonston combined to set up Bryce, but his effort was well dealt with by Cairns.
Vale ended the half as they started, with the better of possession and territory, creating a flurry of late chances. Brandon Blair shot over; McCann tried to round Edina goalkeeper Thomas McLean but saw the ball smothered by the alert stopper; and Blair hit a final shot just wide of the post to wrap up the first half action.