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Bonnyton Thistle Strike Early To Reach Cup Final

Bonnyton Thistle 1

Kelly 7'

Tower Hearts 0

  • Sunday, 10 April 2016
  • Meadow Park, Irvine
  • Under 21´s
  • Scottish Youth FA Cup - Semi Final

Mark Gillespie | YFS North Ayrshire Senior Reporter
Author's Bio | Articles by Author [email protected]

With a place in the final at stake, neither side was to give an inch in this second semi final. It was a war of attrition as both sets of players and fans contributed to a highly charged contest at Meadow Park. in the end Thistle had just enough to hold off Tower Hearts and book their place in the Airdrie final, courtesy of Chris Kelly's early header.

Having drawn first blood, Bonnyton would have hoped to establish some momentum in the game, but Tower recovered from a slow start to make them work for the win. In a match of few clear cut opportunities they will wonder what might have been after striking the woodwork twice late on.

Hearts set themselves out determined to push their full backs into the attacking third but were caught cold for the opener as Bonnyton crafted a fine flowing move down the right. Kyle Gilroy found some space down the flank and his cross was inch perfect for Kelly at the far post, stealing a yard on Sean McCall to head past Calum McBain for the opener.

You might thought a goal would be starter for a few more, but what followed was something of a midfield stalemate, as both sides struggled to get hold of the ball and get on top. It was no less of a contest though as both sets of raucous fans roared on the ensuing midfield tussle.

After their slow start, Hearts began to grow into the game, continuing to drive their wing backs forward at every opportunity. McCall was still encouraged to get into the attacking third with a couple of shots to test Scott Purdie in the Thistle goal. Along with this Connor Brannigan was also running the channels for his team to provide some rays of hope for the Shettleston side.

For all of that neither side was succeeding in crafting clear cut chances and the game became something of a physical chess match. Bonnyton almost found a way through the Hearts rearguard on the half hour as Ewan Barrie decided to take the initiative with a driving run at the defence. He set up Gilroy, who shot narrowly over. 

3 minutes later McBain clung on well to Andrew Strachan's powerful shot from just outside the box as Bonnyton continued to threaten. As the clock ticked down to half time, Hearts were perhaps shading it in terms of possession, but Thistle were carving out the best of the limited opportunities, and crucially they retained their one goal advantage at the break.

  • Half Time:
  • Bonnyton Thistle
  • 1-0
  • Tower Hearts

Hearts began the second half trying to lift the tempo of the game even further in a bid to get through a well organised Thistle back four. It began to look like it would take something special though as the half wore on. Brannigan ran all day for his team up front, as they tried to fashion chances but was well ushered by Kieran McCrum and Andrew Strachan at the back for Bonnyton.

There were some meaty challenges throughout in a highly charged atmosphere, with the referee content to keep his cards in his pocket for the most part. Callum Nolan was perhaps fortunate to escape with just a yellow after a last ditch tackle on Gilroy on 66 minutes. His team mate Stephen Kerr had produced a better timed goal saving intervention a minute earlier to prevent Craig Patterson from doubling Thistle's lead from Reece Lapham's layoff.

Tower began to throw a bit of caution to the wind with 20 minutes left and the game in a deadlock, pushing numbers up at every opportunity. On 71 minutes substitute Kyle Gallagher cracked the woodwork after good interplay between McCall and Brannigan. Was this their big chance missed?

Bonnyton kept pushing high, refusing to be pushed back into the closing stages, bringing on Steven Hill and Chris Gardiner to freshen things up front and keep Hearts on the back foot. Tower were playing an attacking four as they tried to get good supply forward.

Two final chances fell their way, with Dale Simeon forcing a strong point blank save from Purdie. Alessandro Savarese then grazed the woodwork after a goalmouth scramble on 88 minutes, as Bonnyton finally heaved a huge sigh of relief to hold on.

Thistle had survived this fierce battle with another great day out in store for players and fans at Airdrie next month. Johnstone Burgh await in a final which is sure to be another highly competitive encounter.

  • Full Time:
  • Bonnyton Thistle
  • 1-0
  • Tower Hearts

Lineups

Bonnyton Thistle
Tower Hearts
1. Scott Purdie
2. Marc Maguire
3. Reece Lapham
4. Kieran McCrum
5. Andrew Strachan
6. Ian Paterson
7. Chris Kelly
8. Sean Mears
9. Craig Patterson
10. Ewan Barrie
11. Kyle Gilroy
12. David Shedden
13. Stuart Cowan
14. Conner McMillan
15. Steven Hill
16. Chris Gardiner
1. Calum Thomas McBain
2. Sean McCall
3. Jonathan Forrest
4. Stephen Kerr
5. Callum Nolan
6. Marc Houston
7. Dylan Hendry
8. Dale Edward Simeon
9. Connor Brannigan
10. Alessandro Savarese
11. George Scott
12. Christopher Byrne
14. Lee Thomas Martin
15. Ryan Kerr
16. Kyle Gallagher
17. Drew Boult
Star Player
Bonnyton Thistle
Tower Hearts
Kyle Gilroy - He was a lively presence for Thistle in the attack, laying on the only goal of the game.
Connor Brannigan - He kept running the channels, trying to earn space and chance for his team throughout.
Magic Moment
Bonnyton Thistle
Tower Hearts
Kelly's opener set the game alight and was enough to see Thistle through.
Kyle Gallagher did everything right on 71 minutes to almost equalise, instead striking the woodwork.
  • Match report and photos copyright Youth Football Scotland.
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