It was a dramatic game in East Kilbride, as Barrhead YFC took on Bailleston Juniors in the semi finals of the Scottish Cup. The tone was set right from kick off as Fraser McLaughlin picked up a back pass from Thomas McHaughey; letting fly from 20 yards to smack the post.
Barrhead built off the move applying more pressure, eventually they found Brian Ashe who twisted and turned in the 18 yard box – but couldn’t direct his left foot curler on target. Bailleston’s defence managed to settle after the opening salvo, Stephen Paterson making several top notch slide tackles to deny the Barrhead strikers.
Barrhead again threatened to break the deadlock, only for Sam McNeil’s final ball to get away from McGaughey. The game shifted from end to end, Bailleston managed to ask questions of the Barrhead back four, with Chris Watson and Stephen Paterson coming close.
The game's tempo was ratcheted up by Barrhead and it allowed McLaughlin and Jack Easdon to cut apart the Bailleston back line with some crisp passing. Easdon finished the move with a shot that rocketed into Stephen Thomson’s gloves.
Dale Dickson was the next to have a go at the Barrhead goal, taking a 20 yard shot that deflected off John Planas onto the post. The following corner was met by John Middleton who looked absolutely dominant in the air, rising above four or five of the opposition.
But the scoring was finally opened when Brian Ashe blitzed forward in the middle, pulling McLaughlin’s marker to him before he laid a nice reverse pass through into the penalty area for McLaughlin to put into the bottom corner on the 30th minute.
Bailleston proved they weren’t rolling over; a magnificent sequence picked out Paterson on the penalty spot who tried for a spectacular (and unlikely) overhead kick. But it only got so far as Anthony Etherson who cleared it well after his vital block.
Watson picked up a switch and form out of nowhere let fly from 26 yards on the half volley, Alistair Hughes didn’t manage to get his gloves behind it and it went into the roof of the net to make it all to play for. As Watson wheeled away in celebration the tension reached boiling point as with 39 minutes played we were back where we started.
The pace was frantic and half chances fell everywhere, though nobody managed to convert. Barrhead went into the break looking the most likely to get themselves in front, as Ashe McLaughlin and Sam McNeil all came close.
The first half was a great example of what both sides were capable of, with both sides using the ball well and causing trouble for their opposition.