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Hutchison Vale recovered from going a goal down to beat Tynecastle in the final of the John Crawford Memorial Cup, but only after a dramatic penalty shoot-out. Tynecastle took an early lead through Brok Robertson but Hutchie battled back well, and Alisdair McCann grabbed an equaliser three minutes before the break. The teams played out a hard fought second half and, with the score still at 1 -1, two further instalments of extra time but neither could land the killer blow and penalties were needed to separate the sides. Hutchie goalkeeper Jamie Mitchell took centre stage and he not only scored his side’s final penalty, but also forced Tynie’s last spot kick over his bar to claim the cup for his team.
The game started brightly, with Hutchie hitting the post inside the first two minutes. The Tynie centre backs failed to deal with a long throw and were fortunate to see the resulting poke at goal cannon off the post for a goal kick.
However, it was Tynecastle who broke the deadlock with just six minutes played. Cameron Dawson fired a low shot across the face of the goal which met an unmarked Brok Robertson at the back post, the wide-man making no mistake as he coolly slotted home to give his to the advantage.
After the goal, Tynecastle were on the offensive and, but for some excellent goalkeeping from Fraser Briton, would have doubled their lead from a fizzing, first-time shot from Robbie McPherson. His teammate Robertson continued to look dangerous down the right wing but Hutchie managed to fight their way back into the game. The Tynie defence still looked uncomfortable dealing with high balls as a series of long throws caused them problems, but made up for it with their tenacity in the tackle and held on to their lead.
As the teams gained some rhythm the match became far more open and raged from end to end. Mathew Brady looked to have flicked on a cross to Dawson, who would have had the whole of the goal to aim for, but the ball was millimetres beyond the Tynecastle number nine’s outstretched foot. At the other end, good work from Blair Conway and Robbie Polson saw Hutchison win two free kicks on the edge of the 18 yard box. Polson hit the target with both but was unable to get the better of a resolute Jamie Mitchell.
Tynie again went forward only to be stopped by a superb recovery challenge from Owen Richardson who recycled the ball well and launched the counter that saw his opposite number, Callum Downie, needing to acrobatically clear the ball off the goal-line, sending it out for a corner. Downie’s efforts were commendable, but the defending at the subsequent corner was not. After failing to deal with the initial delivery, the defence let the bouncing ball fall to Alistair McCann on the six yard line who, with a quick glance to pick his spot, hammered the volley beyond the despairing goalkeeper. He never looked like missing, a captain’s goal to draw his team level - right before the stroke of half time.
Half Time: Hutchison Vale FC 1 - 1 Tynecastle FC
The first half had been a close one and neither team could have strongly argued they deserved to be ahead. Tynecastle had been slightly more dominant but Hutchie had looked equally as dangerous when they went forward. The initial problems with long balls had been sorted by halftime and the Tynie defence looked strong, but the same could be said of the Hutchison back four who had coped well throughout.
As in the first half, Hutchison Vale started the second period as the stronger of the teams. They managed to earn a series of free kicks from the Tynecastle defenders with Jamie Mackay coming the closest to scoring from them, but again Briton held firm to keep the score level.
Cameron Dawson did well to wriggle himself some space inside the Hutchie penalty box but was unable to generate enough power to really test Mitchell in goals. Moments later though, Mitchell was well beaten by a thundering header from a Tynecastle corner but Alistair McCann somehow headed the ball off the line for the game’s second goal-line clearance.
Tynie’s Brady and Dawson looked lively when they were linking up with Robertson but Hutchie never really looked like conceding and their side was limited to firing shots from distance. Hutchison were finding the story much the same and Tynecastle refused to allow their forward line any real space. A shot from Robbie Polson that flew wide of the post was final effort of regulation time.
Full Time: Hutchison Vale FC 1 - 1 Tynecastle FC
Extra time loomed with the tie still hanging in the balance. The game had become more of a gruelling siege by this stage and the effect of having played two halves of football looked to have slowed the tempo a little.
Tynecastle had the clearer of the chances in the first half of extra time. Substitutes Callum Crawford and Tod Rowell both tested Jamie Mitchell but the keeper wasn’t in a charitable mood. Both sides looked to be waiting for the other to over-commit going forward but both were tactically astute enough to remain in position.
Tynie also had the lion’s share of the chances in the second period of extra time. Hutchie’s Robbie Polson hooked his side’s only effort on goal just wide of the post before Liam Willis rocketed a dipping shot that looked to be a bigger test of Mitchell’s credentials but the keeper managed to gather the awkwardly bouncing ball. Robbie McPherson and Callum Crawford both saw efforts sail over the bar before the referee blew to signal full time and the start of the ever popular penalty shoot out.
The standard of penalty was high but so was the goalkeepeing. With four kicks taken each, the teams were locked at 2-2. Conway and Hall had found the target for Vale, whereas Willis and Rose scored for Tynecastle. Vale's goalkeeper Mitchell then scored his penalty before saving Tynecastle's fifth kick and running to join his team mates and celebrate.
A fantastic final between two teams of talented players, who will no doubt clash many more times in the years to come.
Final Result: Hutchison Vale FC 1-1 Tynecastle FC (Hutchison Vale win 3-2 on penalties)