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A calamitous opening minute, in which they conceded a penalty and were reduced to 10 men, proved a mere speed bump for Hutchison Vale on their way to a 4-1 defeat of Drumsagard Blue in the inspiresport Scottish Cup. The comeback victory puts the Edinburgh outfit into the semi-finals, two games from glory.

Drumsagard could barely have envisioned a better start. Their first clearance, hit firmly by Alistair Gould, sailed over the hosts’ high defence but was caught by Cole Polson, who touched the ball past onrushing keeper Bruce MacKenzie. With an open goal before him, the striker’s heels were clipped by a scrambling defender. A penalty after 26 seconds; a red card after much official consultation; and a lead after Liam Miles took the spot kick.

Concluding that if it worked once, try it twice, Drumsagard utilised the very same tactic immediately. Surreally, another Blue’s forward was left alone and deja vu was only avoided by MacKenzie colliding with Cole Logan wide right of the box. With calls of “calm down” ringing from the sidelines, Vale were experiencing a horror start.

Possession, however, is good for the nerves, and Hutchison’s efforts to pass the ball brought the match ten minutes of equilibrium. In the 14th minute, it brought an equaliser. Neat play in midfield provided the chance to push Bryan Mwangi forward and he, in turn, located Ryan Finday on the left corner of the box. Finday cut onto his right foot and struck a shot over the fingertips of keeper Nathan Welsh.

Stirred with belief, Vale centre back Mario Gronell headed a corner centimetres over moments later, before the turnaround was complete in the 19th minute. Mwangi was played in behind the right full back by Mason Renton, forcing Welsh from his line. Mwangi opted to forego shooting, nonchalantly using the outside of his foot to lay across for Finday to control, swivel, and double his tally.

Right on half-time, the 10 men claimed a third. Mwangi’s free kick from the edge of the box was struck low and left, and when Welsh parried the only player following in was Hutchison striker Rayan Mohammed. From two yards he ensured the half ended in stark contrast to how it began for a now thriving Vale.

On a cold Sunday morning when most games had fallen victim to the freezing temperatures, Middleshot 3G in Prestonpans played host to a thrilling battle in the latter stages of the Under 16 inspireSport Scottish Cup between Longniddry Villa and Rowallan SC.
As expected in a fixture with so much at stake, the action started right from the opening whistle and much like the large crowd in attendance, the Rowallan defence were caught cold. As the ball came in from the right hand side, the Rowallan defence could only partially clear to the edge of the box where Adam Matthews swept home a controlled finish in to the bottom left hand corner to give Longniddry Villa the lead with only 55 seconds on the clock.
Instantly after Rowallan had restarted the game, Villa had their tales up from the early goal and began to press the visitors at every opportunity to regain possession. This led to Tyler Bolochoweckyj robbing his man of the ball and feeding in Aiden Walsh who broke the offside trap and lifted the ball over Taylor Callaghan in the Rowallan goal but could only watch on as it went agonisingly past the post.
Moments later Bolochoweckyj switched the ball to Walsh again who drilled a perfect ball along the six yard box that was parried by Callaghan. The ball broke to Jack Macdonald who hit a powerful effort towards the left hand corner that was blocked by a sea of Rowallan bodies on the goal line.
Pressure was beginning to mount on the Rowallan defence and once more Longniddry Villa came close to doubling their early lead. An inswinging corner was met with a towering header by Ben Wright however Callaghan smartly caught and held his effort to the keepers left.
Further heavy pressure from the home side led to another half clearance by the Rowallan defence which Matthews very nearly doubled his tally with. Another strong left footed effort to the goalkeepers right hand post, this time just narrowly whistling wide.
Matthews then turned provider for Walsh who again sprung the offside trap and raced in on goal. Callaghan was alert once more and rushed from his line to win a vital 50/50 with the Longniddry number 11.
After a scrappy period in the game and having weathered the initial storm, Rowallan hit back with a goal of their own. A long ball over the top was not dealt with by the Villa defence and Barrie Preston pounced immediately, getting the wrong side of his man before unleashing an emphatic finish past a helpless Sam Capes in the home goal.
Longniddry seemed to use this minor set back as wake up call for not taking their earlier chances. Straight from kick off once more, the ball was worked out wide to Walsh who brilliantly skipped by the Rowallan full back before hanging up a delightful cross at the back post for Bolochoweckyj to head in from close range.
Down the other end saw Rowallan's best move of the half. Preston received the ball in to his feet with his back to goal and played a clever one-two with Keir Miller before rifling another fierce attempt at Capes' goal which the keeper smartly stopped with his feet. 
However every Rowallan attack seemed to spur the home side on further and almost cause Villa to shift up a gear in retaliation. Macdonald cut back for Euan Donaldson who had a snap shot on the volley but could only direct it straight at Callaghan who held it well.
The half hour mark brought the best move of the half. Macdonald held the ball in around 25 yards out with his his back to goal, he shrugged off his man and slipped a great ball out to Bolochoweckyj on the left wing who delivered a wicked first time cross for Walsh at the back post who was inches away from adding to his sides lead.
With half time approaching, Rowallan launched a counter attack where the dangerous Preston was tugged back in cynical fashion and a freekick was awarded to the right of the box. The visitors worked a set piece from the training ground to nullify the Longniddry wall by rolling the ball across the 18 yard line for Andrew Spencer to hit, however he could not get over the ball amid pressure from the onrushing defence and blazed his effort well over.
With the game still finely poised, there was a moment of controversy as Longniddry wrongfully had a goal chalked off. Walsh was slipped through one-on-one with Callaghan and after rounding the Rowallan keeper the winger lost his footing. Bolochoweckyj was alert and ran in on goal to tap in to the empty net before being incorrectly flagged offside.
Seconds later however and the home side had the third goal that their performance deserved right on the stroke of half-time. The impressive front three of Bolochoweckyj, Macdonald and Walsh all combining once again with the former feeding the ball in to Macdonald who was able to release Walsh on the remaining defenders. The mercurial winger beat his man before checking inside of a recovering defender and calmly sliding the ball past Callaghan.

Cove Rangers' Balmoral Stadium played host as Aberdeen met in Kilmarnock in the Quarter-Finals of the SFA Youth Cup – a round earlier than last season’s clash in the semi-final where a Bruce Anderson hat-trick downed Killie.

Aberdeen recorded results against Inverurie Loco Works and Motherwell to reach this round. Meanwhile, their opponents knocked out Camelon Juniors and Dundee United in previous rounds.

The conditions were near perfect in Aberdeen for this match, with Aberdeen aiming to beat Kilmarnock once again in this competition, as they look to go one better than last season, when they were defeated in the final by Hibernian. While Killie had aspirations of gaining revenge on the Dons.

The match started off fairly equally, with both sides showing no fear of attacking – Kilmarnock’s high line was a clear potential opening for Aberdeen, while the visitors forward line were more often seen engaging their hosts defenders physically in the early stages.

Aberdeen’s Captain Ethan Ross – who has appeared on the bench for the senior side, as well as recently jetting away to Dubai with the first team – was the key man for the start and his jinking run from the right side just after the five minute mark got him past two Killie defenders. However, Ross’s cross flashed across Jamie Walker’s goal front.

Just a minute later a dangerous corner from Kilmarnock on the right hand side was met by the head of Josh Walker, but the wingers stooping header on the penalty spot just went over Archie Mair’s crossbar.

It was once again Walker almost giving his side the lead a moment later. Tomas Brindley delivered a cross from the left wing towards the back post and Walker’s volley into the turf bounced over the Aberdeen goal again.

Killie were made to regret those misses as on the quarter hour mark, Ethan Ross latched onto a through ball from his striker Kevin Hanratty after some neat link-up play in the middle of the park. The attacking midfielder made no mistake as he slotted past Jamie Walker to give the hosts the lead.

Dean Campbell and Connor Barron were beginning to take control in the centre of the pitch for the home side. Barron’s excellent ball to his midfield partner drew in the Killie defender who fouled Campbell, resulting in a free-kick right on the edge of the area. Campbell’s cheeky low free kick deflected wide of the mark.

The chances kept falling for Aberdeen in the following 15 minutes, Tyler Mykyta’s runs from left back were causing issues as he combined well with Kieran Shanks further down the line. Mykyta’s ball in from a free kick was headed wide by centre back Kyle Dalling. The big man may have felt he could have done better, the Kilmarnock defenders had stopped tracking, believing Dalling was offside, but the flag never went up.

Aberdeen had chances before the close of the first half to double their lead, Lewis Duncan saw a shot just go over and a mix up following a back pass almost allowed Kieran Shanks in for a tap-in. However, the Don’s looked like they would see themselves into the break with a lead.

Kilmarnock had other plans however and a cross from the left hand side from Killie winger Brindley met the head of striker Andy Monk at Mair’s back post and the forward nodded Kilmarnock back into the game. The scores were level at half time.

Rory Jagusinski’s cross-cum-shot sealed Fairmuir’s place in the Last Four of the Scottish Cup as they edged out Blantyre SA in the tightest of quarter finals.

A heavy pitch and near gale force winds meant that the match was never going to be a free-flowing affair as both sides battled hard in the midfield in search of an opening.

Fairmuir failed to trouble Blantyre with a series of free kicks, while the visitors went close breaking the deadlock when Anthony Hampson was sent through on goal, only to lift his shot against the crossbar.

A quick free kick played into Jay Swan threatened to unlock the Fairmuir defence on the stroke of half time, but Ethan Samson was on hand to deal with the danger.

Glenbrae Colts have a date with the quarter-finals of the Inspiresport Scottish Cup after a penalty shootout success edged them past Lochend in Edinburgh. Minutes from being eliminated in normal time, a Sonny Patterson goal brought the Paisley club to 2-2 and the chance to keep their cup run going.

The match was heavily influenced by a miserable northerly wind that blew straight down the pitch. This favoured Lochend in the first half, who found great success in having striker Jamie Bannerman play on the last man. As Glenbrae struggled to judge clearances and bounces, Bannerman frequently had them scrambling.

Colts’ did provide their opponents and the elements some resistance, and had either a Sam Hunter pass found Brogan Bradley breaking from midfield, or Bradley’s cross not located keeper Kieran Wood’s fingertips, they could have led. That honour, however, went to Lochend in the 17th minute thanks to a wind-assisted error: Jay Bett came to the edge of his box to claim a clearance from his opposite number, only to have it bounce up through his gloves. Bannerman duly rolled the ball into the empty net.

Lochend’s second, ten minutes later, was considerably more attractive. A pass from midfield revealed a gap between Glenbrae’s defenders, and Athan Barry was away. Despite a man coming back, Barry kept calm. Delaying the shot as the defender went to ground, he moved to his right before passing into the bottom left.

Two chances before the break for Colts did not bring a goal. First, Alex Clark hit a free kick centimetres over. Then neat wing play by Hunter fed Steven Cardy, who laid back to Lewis Kenmore eight yards from goal and with keeper Wood now out of position. The covering defenders ensured Lochend remained intact as the whistle went for half-time.  

It was Holytown Colts who hosted Dyce Boys Club in this eagerly awaited Scottish Cup Quarter Final, played at Keir Hardie Sports Centre.

Dyce had the better of the opening exchanges, winning several corners and freekicks but struggled to create any clear cut chances of note in the early part of the game.

In the initial stages, the game was scrappy and being stopped regularly through freekicks and throw ins with both sides unable to put together any significant passages of play.

Holytown began to edge into the cup tie and it was the home side who took the lead in what was the first real chance created by either team. Michael Small was played through on the right hand side and he still had a lot of work to do, but his dipping half volley was a fantastic finish and was too much for Kris Abernethy in the Dyce goal to give Holytown the advantage after 20 minutes.

The goal gave the home team the confidence they needed and they were now dictating the match and passing the ball around very nicely.

Jackson Pirie had the first shot in anger for Dyce in the first half as he was given too much space on the edge of the box but his effort went well over.

Jos McLaren thought he had equalised for Dyce but in fact the referee had pulled the play back for a penalty for a foul by Liam Boyle. McLaren brushed himself off and calmly slotted the penalty away to put Dyce level after 33 mins.

Dyce were on top towards the end of the half, but the teams went in level at halftime and it was probably a fair reflection of the game to that point.

Ten minutes to go, one goal in it, and a whole lot more than just a place in the Scottish FA Youth Cup quarter-finals at stake as Dean Ritchie stepped up for the third penalty of the game. The penalty may not have been bad, but Jay Cantley was equal to it.

In a ferocious Edinburgh derby at Oriam, where bookings felt more frequent than clearcut chances  - it was a missed opportunity that the Jambos were made to rue. 

Goals from Ryan Shanley and Mackenzie Weir either side of the interval had Hiberian two goals to the good, however lapses of concentration gave the home side a route back into it - if it wasn’t for the heroics Cantley that is.

Hibs certainly started the brighter of the sides, however they suffered a blow when Jayden Fairley limped off a few minutes after a nasty challenge from Aaron Hickey. Callum Wilson was the man to come on in his place.

The first chance of the game fell to Ryan Shanley of Hibs. Bearing down on goal, the forward could only drag his effort wide of the far post, much to his frustration. He then almost caught keeper Harry Stone off guard with a dipping effort from range, that had to be tipped over at the expense of a corner. 

Hearts striker Leeroy Makaovra went close with an impressive acrobatic attempt, before, on 23 minutes, the hosts smacked the crossbar following a scramble from a corner. 

The hosts very much grew into the tie and their best chance of the half fell the way of Chris Hamilton six minutes before the break. The big centre half met a dangerous ball in from the right firmly, and despite heading back across goal, Cantley scrambled over to deny.

It wasn’t until deep into stoppage time that referee Daniel Graves pointed to the spot: for the first of three penalties in the match. Skipper Kane O’Conner picked out namesake (almost) Josh, who neatly spun away from his man, and would’ve rounded the keeper too if he wasn’t dragged down by the right arm of Stone. 

Shanley was the man with the responsibility of firing his side ahead, and he did just that, despite a brief scare as Stone, diving to his left, got a hand on it - however he could only push the ball into the side netting as Hibs led at the break.

Kilsyth Athletic emerged victorious on penalties against Banks O'Dee Albion to progress to the Quarter Final of this year's Under 15 inspiresport Scottish Youth FA Cup.

Penalties were forced to decide the tie after the sides could not be separated in normal time as the game finished 3-3. Jamie Connelly scored the opener before a Joseph Bevan double had the home side 3-0 with half an hour left to play. However, Albion fought back with goals from Conor Sibson, Liam May and Elliot Brodie which brought the sides level to take the game to extra time.

Nonetheless, extra time still could not split the two teams. Joseph Bevan restored the Kilsyth lead with nothing short of a wonder goal, but amongst the celebrations, Liam Hogg was shown a second yellow card. Yet again, Albion came back and with two quickfire goals from Ryan Fraser and Bailey Milne and had their first lead in the game in extra time. On the stroke of half time, Kilsyth were reduced to nine men as Ciaran Clark was sent-off for a late challenge. But Louis Campbell, with moments left, nodded home from a corner to force penalty kicks.

Aiden Conway produced three great saves in the shootout for Kilsyth and sent the home side through to the Quarter Final to conclude an enthralling cup tie.

Kilsyth started the game on the front foot and their pressure paid off with 17 minutes on the clock. Robert Lang advanced with the ball on the left-hand side and found himself inside the Banks O'Dee Albion half before making a cross-field ball which found Jamie Connelly, who brought the ball down on the edge of the box and shifted the ball onto his right foot before smashing a shot into Archie Mackay's far corner.

Kilsyth continued to press and were unlucky not to double their lead when Joseph Bevan collected the ball on the right wing as Albion failed to clear a corner. Bevan whipped a ball across goal which Kirk Marshall just couldn't turn goalward.

But with just four minutes to go in the half, Kilsyth had a second goal. Again, Lang started the passage of play on the left and again played the same cross-field pass for Jamie Connelly. This time the midfielder had the intelligence to head the ball down the right-hand side for Bevan who cut back inside and from just outside the penalty area, unleashed an unstoppable shot into the bottom left corner.

A first half winner from Lyall Booth was enough to settle a close contest between Aberdeen and Hearts, as the young Dons lifted the first trophy of the new youth academy competition.

Cove Rangers’ Balmoral Stadium played host to the showpiece event, in front of a healthy crowd of expectant supporters for both teams.

Aberdeen made the best of the early running. Midfielder Kevin Hanratty, who was influential throughout, had a couple of long-range shots at goal, looking to test the Jambo’s nerve. Both were easily smothered. At the other end, neat link up play through Hearts’ Jai Charleston-King almost put Ryan Schiavone in the clear, but goalkeeper Tom Ritchie was alert to the danger.

On eight minutes, the first real chance. An Aberdeen freekick from the left by Ramsay was driven low, evading the gloves of Harris Spratt. The outstretched leg of Chris Aikamenze was not enough to force the ball home though, as the striker saw his effort cleared by the Hearts defence.

The Edinburgh side were having chances of their own, and were particularly threatening down the wings. On 21, right-back Sean Docherty won a freekick on the edge of the box. Charleston-King delivered a good curling ball, but skipper Arron Darge could not make a clean connection on his header. On the half-hour, some clever interchange on the left would put Leon Watson free. His shot blocked.

Then on 32, the breakthrough. Aberdeen’s Simone Zanda got the ball on their right. His first cross was deflected away to Hanratty on the edge, who fed him again. On the second attempt, the bouncing ball reached a gambling Lyall Booth, who pounced between defenders to turn the ball in for 1-0.

Late in the half, Hearts had a penalty claim waved away when Schiavone went down, whilst the Don’s Aikamenze flashed a header wide off a Calvin Ramsay cross. The players sought half-time warmth: the game simmering nicely at the interval.

Sunday, 18 November 2018 22:53

Leith cross Clyde obstacle to enter final 16

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Leith Athletic forwarded their name into the last 16 of the U16s Scottish Youth FA Cup thanks to a 3-0 victory over visiting Clyde SOF in Edinburgh. A combination of consistent strength at the back and goals at backbreaking moments ensured the capital side progressed with confidence.

This was a game that took some time to warm up. Against the backdrop of a blinding setting sun, it was not until the 15th minute that either team had a keeper concerned. Leith’s Robbie King dribbled across the park from right wing to left touchline to cross, leading to captain Ethan Wynne’s 18 yard effort being parried out of the top right corner by Clyde keeper James Graham.

It was a crisp strike by Wynne, yet not as eye-catching as team mate Rhys McMurdo’s free kick seven minutes later. 25 yards out and just left of centre, McMurdo drove a shot that Graham did fantastically to touch onto his post. Alas for Graham, respite was short-lived: the same attack saw a cross fall to an unmarked Sulaiman Ashraf, and his deflected shot opened the scoring.  

At the other end, for all the Glaswegian’s running and effort, they were finding no softness in the home defence. Not only was this an organised unit, but fullbacks Ryan Campbell and Ewan Howie were keen to run and weave forward. Indeed, Campbell had a go himself that Graham parried away to his right.

Leith’s second, like their first, followed a fine free kick, this one a foot wide left from Ashraf. When the goal kick was eventually won in midfield, McMurdo surged past multiple men on the left wing. His cross came to Ashraf, then on to King, who pummelled a bouncing ball into the roof of the net from six yards. 2-0 and six minutes until the half.

And on the half it was nearly three, as Cameron Stewart almost gained reward for his own skilful and effective central performance. A sweet move - Howie, to King, to Ashraf - put Stewart breaking beyond the back line from midfield. The pass, however, was centimetres too heavy and he was unable to lift the ball over the sliding Graham.

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