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It is the time of the season when big games keep coming up and for Hutchison Vale, this Hearts Federation Cup tie was a prelude to next Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Harmony Row at the beautiful Broxburn Colts stadium, Albyn Park.
The final scoreline was a reflection of the second half performance from Hutchison Vale. They ended up completely dominating the game and the Leith players, who had played so well in the first half were, I think, quite glad to hear the final whistle from very good referee Tom Carter. It is no easy task being a referee and in the second half, when Vale were awarded a penalty when Fraser Paton went down in a tackle just inside the 18 yard box, the match official pointed to the spot.
It had all started so well and when Vale went 1-0 in front early on from a beautifully executed goal that saw the ball played up the right by Cal Sheridan to Ethan Feachan Hamilton, this excellent prospect delivered just about the most perfect pass inside for Ryan Fox to slot the ball over the line.
That goal, at that time, lulled Vale, again, I think, in to a false sense of security. In fact, Leith could have gone in front in the very first attack when a superb pass through in the inside-right channel set up the unmarked Ewan Stark to score - but a loud whistle caused the Leith No 10 to stop and look around and the Vale defenders got back to clear the danger. The loud whistle did not come from Tom Carter, however, it was from the adjoining pitch where a Sunday Amateur game was played.
I felt Leith had to score to make a game of it and they really set about the Vale defence with a wonderful performance from big No 19, Euan McGachie. It was at that stage, a super game to watch and it was livened up for me on the touchline by two Vale fans, both females. They did, shall I say, get a wee tad overexcited during the game.
Vale led 1-0 and looked full of confidence but how the Leith players knocked Vale out of their stride. The famous club in the Leith colours set about their opponents and McGachie rammed home a super shot from the right of the Vale goal and we were, as they say, up and running. That goal come in the 19th minute and in the 25th minute, McGachie was on target again, scoring from a corner taken on the right by Marco McBride. I must say, I like the name Marco.
So, Vale were behind and McGachie threatened to score more goals, every time he was on the ball. Vale, worked hard, with Regan Hendry looking good on the left. Ross Aitchison was the Leith player on the right of defence who halted Hooray Hendry on several occasions. The play was excellent and the game flowed from end to end.
I was so pleased for Leith, who were one of the best teams last season in the under-14 age group, but they appear to me to have lost that vital edge of confidence they had last term. Vale buzzed about the big pitch but the Leith defenders were inspired and they looked in great form, although they lost a second goal to Gabrie Auriemma and that slip-up by Leith in the 40th minute made the score 2-2 at the interval.
Half Time: Hutchison Vale 2-2 Leith Athletic
Vale team boss, Tam Smith, spoke quietly to his players during the break and it was, indeed, an entirely different Hutchison Vale in the second half. All roads led to the Leith Athletic goal and here I would like to praise big goalkeeper, Jordan Pettigrew. He was, indeed, in the eye of the storm as Vale laid seige to the Leith goal and the big goalie was just outstanding. Well done, indeed, Jordan, you had a wonderful game!
Everything clicked in to place for Hutchison Vale and their raids on the Leith goal were just relentless. Former Leith player, Fraser Paton, who played wide on the left, it was who went down in a tackle just inside the 18 yard line and the referee pointed to the spot. Much to the dismay of the Leith contingent! Paton had to receive lengthy treatment and the Leith player who made the tackle was sent off. That was, I think, extremely tough on the Leith player as he is very well behaved and equally sporting as a footballer. Really tough luck to get red card, or so I thought. After Paton recovered, Cameron Begbie stoked home the spot-kick and Vale led 3-2.
Vale never looked back after that and with the Leith players visibly tiring, Paton made it 4-2 with a tremendous shot from the left of the Leith goal. And big Jordan Pettigrew, literally, played out of his skin in denying Vale time and time again with great saves and blocks. Cameron McAlpine made it 5-2 from an excellent cross from Ryan Fox and before the finish, McAlpine made it 6-2 and that was the final scoreline.
There was a lot to enjoy in this game and how I felt for Leith Athletic when they were reduced to ten players. The incident in which Vale won a penalty changed the game in their favour. Tough, tough luck on Leith Athletic in my view to lose so heavily.
Now, it is the big one for Hutchison Vale as they face what is likely to be another great challenge to them in their bid to win a place in the Scottish Youth FA’s Festival of Finals at Airdrie. Harmony Row are a cracking Under 15 side so it should be a game to remember for all that is good in this age group in youth club football.
Full Time: Hutchison Vale 6-2 Leith Athletic