Gourock headed into this match knowing only a win would do after close defeats in their opening two games had left them with no points from a possible six. However their Coach John Rush had no inclination to criticise any of his players pointing to quality opposition rather than poor performance. “First and foremost it’s been an excellent tournament and the other teams have been excellent and produced top quality performances. It’s been a great experience.”
Milngavie coach Paul Mooney was equally happy with his teams’ efforts heading into this match “We played well in our first match and were unfortunate to lose by a single goal but if we can learn our lessons from the Hamilton game we’ve got a good chance of making it into the final”
Both teams lined up knowing all was to play for and as the referee blew his whistle those of us in attendance knew we would be in for an intense encounter. The first chance wouldn’t have pleased Mooney as it came from yet another mistake at the back, Scott Hutton laying the ball back to goalie Ryan Gillies only to see his clearance land straight at the feet of Gourock midfielder Callum Rush. Rush saw that the keeper was off his line and attempted to beat him with a drive from 30 yards but his shot was well wide of the left hand post.
However the mistakes weren’t in abundance as we were being treated in the greater part to some sublime moments of skill. Soon after Rush’s chance some beautiful interplay between Caleb Elliot and Rory McInnes for Milngavie saw McInnes tearing past his marker to the by-line to deliver a cross that was cut out by Adam Houlihan for a corner.
From the set piece the ball fell to Mitchell Duffy of Milngavie but his shot failed to trouble Kieran Devlin in the Gourock goal. Next Bailey Williams stepped up for the boys in blue after flying winger Ben Jenkins had his heels clipped just outside the box but his shot from a free kick was well over Devlins' bar.
Next up was the best chance of the match as Gourocks’ Jack Purdue received the ball in the middle of the park and sent a defence splitting pass forward for Lee Bartlett. Gillies came out to meet the attacker but mistimed his challenge as Bartlett easily rounded him and stroked the ball home with his left foot to give his side the lead.
Milngavie rallied well before the end of the half but Jack Carson’s shot was bravely saved by Devlin at the cost of a blow to the face and just as we headed into the break Carson, Elliot, Jenkins and Duffy all had shots blocked from point blank range but Gourock held on to take a slender lead into the second half.
The second half began much the same as the first with intensity being the word that sprang most easily to mind. Good interchanges on the right between Elliot and Ryan Bannon for Milngavie provided several chances up the right wing but their crosses came to nothing and substitute Nathan Carmichael was doing well to impose himself on the game without being able to swing it back in his sides favour.
Just as the result was beginning to look a foregone conclusion Carmichael received the ball outside the box from Duffy and although his path seemed to be blocked managed to drive the ball through the legs of his marker and to the goalies right, putting the teams back level terms.
Both teams tried valiantly for the winner in the closing moments but to no avail. A draw was the final result and it was well deserved.