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They say anything can happen in the cup, and in a game that really did have everything, Maryhill Juniors and Gleniffer Thistle served up a red-hot Scottish Cup feast of action at Lochburn Park, ending in a penalty shoot-out victory for Maryhill.
Gleniffer kicked the game off and set about piling on some early pressure but found Maryhill holding their shape well. The football was rapid and Gleniffer carved the game’s first real opportunity when a free kick into the Maryhill box resulted in a Michael Docherty header meeting the gloves of Declan Wilson low at the post.
The game was moving at exceptional pace and once they settled Maryhill began asking some questions of the visitors. Maryhill have plenty of dig and pace in their side and Jordan Wheeler in particular stood out as having bags of pace on left wing. Wheeler’s quick feet was clearly troubling Gleniffer in the early stages although their keeper had yet to dirty his gloves.
Michael Docherty was involved in everything productive for Gleniffer and some nice build up involving Docherty saw the Gleniffer number 7 feed Ross Armstrong in a dangerous position in the box. Armstrong stung the palms of the keeper, who managed to put the ball over the bar for a corner. When the corner whipped in, Daryl Convery won a free header but sent his effort over the bar.
Up the other end of the park, Maryhill’s Ryan McLaughlin strode forward from midfield sent a right foot shot floating into the goalkeeper’s arms.
Then Gleniffer passed up on a golden opportunity to take the lead. A thundering long range shot by Lee McDonagh was parried by Wilson and Lindsay Inch stuck his leg out but his reaction shot flew over with the goal at his mercy.
Midway through the first half, Maryhill came forward and Adam Roles beat Cianran McKean in the Gleniffer goal to a high speculative ball into the box but his header landed wide of the goal.
A moment of class then saw Gleniffer’s Kyle Sinclair strike the underside of the bar with a left foot shot from edge of the box. Wilson was helpless in the Maryhill goal but his side survived, scrambled the ball clear and surged forward.
As the first half powered towards a close, a defensive mix-up in the Maryhill defence following a great cross saw the ball drop to Michael Docherty in the 6 yard box but his reaction shot arrowed over the bar.
Maryhill’s reaction was instantaneous and Ryan McLaughlin bustled his way past two defenders before prompting a superb save from McKean with a hard right foot shot.
With just moments remaining of the first half, Gleniffer’s Lindsay Inch sent a free kick swinging round the Maryhill wall but the effort was well saved under the bar by the goalkeeper.
With both goals still in tact despite chances at both ends, the very even first half came to a close. The game was as competitive as they come and a rip-roaring second half seemed inevitable.
Half Time: Maryhill Juniors 0-0 Gleniffer Thistle
The sun was shining as the second half got underway and from the off Gleniffer’s George Scott was picking holes in the Maryhill defence. Scott found Daniel Colquhoun in the box and he curled a left-footed shot around the post.
Moments later, Maryhill’s Adam Roles won ball on half way line, skipped forward but dragged his shot and the keeper saved easily.
Then an unsavoury moment saw each side reduced to nine men and it changed the game. The game became massively stretched and raged from end to end at 100mph with chances aplenty. It also allowed the creative players on both sides more time on the ball to produce some magic.
Maryhill’s Jack McCord neatly brought ball down in box, and his right foot shot on turn was well charged down before the ball spun just wide of the mark.
Then a long range effort from Adam Roles bent the Gleniffer keeper’s fingers but he gathered well on the second attempt. Shirtly later, a sensational cross field pass by Gary Trussler for Jack McCord in the box saw the keeper race out and punch clear.
Trussler has great vision and passing range and is a real asset to the Maryhill midfield. He made a habit of firing measured passes around the park and always seemed to find his target.
Despite all the chances neither side could break the deadlock. By the final fifteen minutes the game was ferocious and charged to the max but both sides were clearly intent on winning. It had become a game of muscle and strength.
Gleniffer’s Lindsay Inch fired a shot on the turn from edge of the box but it was gobbled up by the goalkeeper. Then a sweet cross from the Maryhill right wing picked out Jordan Wheeler in the box; he flicked the ball passed McKean with his heel but the ball defied the laws of physics to spin on the line and clear.
Gleniffer’s Inch was involved in the thick of it again when he beat the offside trap; a collective sigh went up from the Maryhill support as Inch skinned his man and rattled the post with a left foot pile driver. Maryhill had survived a massive scare at the death.
With the full time whistle came the prospect of extra time and with each side down to nine men the game could go either way.
Full Time: Maryhill Juniors 0-0 Gleniffer Thistle
The pace of the game didn’t let up in extra time and the ball zipped around the park like a pinball. Midway through the first half of extra time, Maryhill’s Jordan Wheeler sent Adam Roles racing towards goal. Gleniffer’s keeper, Ciaran McKean, was out like a shot to narrow the angle and save well with his legs.
Wheeler, who had been impressive throughout the match, was constantly picking the ball up in the middle of the park then turning and running at every opportunity. Gleniffer were finding him very difficult to deal with. Likewise, Gleniffer’s Michael Docherty was causing problems on the left wing with powerful running and direct play. The first half finished goalless regardless of the penetrative play from both sides’ attacking players.
Half Time (Extra Time): Maryhill Juniors 0-0 Gleniffer Thistle
The second half of extra time saw each side presented with a golden opportunity to win the game. Firstly, Gleniffer’s Docherty went twisting and turning on edge of the box before unleashing a fierce shot only to see it saved at near post by Wilson. Then a long pass pinged into Gleniffer’s half found Scott Crawford tearing up the turf as he galloped towards goal. McKean flew out of the Gleniffer goal and the race to the ball was won by the keeper, but only just.
Extra time came to a close and the dark roulette of penalty kicks would have to settle the most even of cup ties.
Full Time (AET): Maryhill Juniors 0-0 Gleniffer Thistle
With the nerves jangling, Gleniffer opened the shoot-out and Kyle Sinclair stepped up to the spot first, finishing confidently.
Maryhill’s captain Jack McCord went first for the hosts. He placed his penalty into the top corner but an absolutely magnificent save denied him and gave Gleniffer the advantage.
Daryl Convery was next to the spot for Gleniffer and another superb save in the shoot-out, low at the right post, kept Maryhill in the tie.
Ryan McLaughlin levelled things for Maryhill before his keeper, Declan Wilson, gave Gleniffer’s Michael Docherty the Bruce Grobbelaar legs before saving his penalty low left.
Maryhill’s Scott Crawford stepped up to convert and give the home side the advantage while setting up a pressure penalty for Gleniffer‘s George Scott. With a goal all but a necessity for Gleniffer, Scott crashed his shot off the bar and gave Adam Roles the opportunity to win Maryhill the game. Roles, as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce, slotted the penalty into the bottom corner and wheeled away victorious with his ecstatic team mates at his tail.
Penalty kicks is always a cruel way for any team to lose a match but this game was so close they could have played all afternoon and cancelled each other out. Maryhill’s keeper Declan Wilson was the hero and his saves calmed the nerves within his side and gave them the chance to win the match.
Full Time (after pens): Maryhill Juniors 3-1 Gleniffer Thistle