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Motherwell break Hearts in Scottish Youth Cup final

Hearts 2

McGhee 43', Zanatta 65'

Motherwell 5

Mackin 21', Cadden 38', Ferguson 61', Leitch 76', Falconer 90'

 
Simon Ritchie | YFS West Region Reporter
Articles by Author | Contact Author
 

Motherwell lifted the Scottish Youth Cup with a 5-2 victory over Hearts at Hampden Park. The Lanarkshire side led from the 21st minute through Dylan Mackin and never looked like losing it from there.

Captain Chris Cadden extended their lead before Hearts’ Jordan McGhee gave his side a lifeline before the break. David Ferguson got Motherwell’s third but they were again pegged back thanks to Dario Zanatta capitalising on a defensive error. It wasn’t enough to spur on a Hearts comeback though and two fantastic goals from substitutes Robbie Leitch and Dylan Falconer sealed a well deserved victory.

A crowd of just under 3,000 had travelled to Glasgow for this showpiece final, an encouraging number for youth football considering it was two teams from outside the city, and it was the Motherwell fans who were making all the noise - replete with singing section and drum.

It didn’t stop them but there wasn’t a whole lot to shout about in the opening quarter of this game. Motherwell set up in a 4-5-1 formation with Allan Campbell sitting in front of the defence and providing an extra layer of protection that Hearts couldn’t break down, despite seeing plenty of the ball, with neither side hitting a shot in the first 20 minutes.

Hearts lacked imagination or creativity in the final third and the Well defence were largely untroubled. They waited patiently for their chance to hit Hearts on the break.

It came from a Hearts corner that was knocked clear to Dom Thomas. He broke free down the right and should have played in the unmarked Chris Cadden in the middle, but was held up by a recovering Hearts defender for a free-kick. Thomas himself sent the ball in and it should have been claimed by Hearts 'keeper Kelby Mason who fumbled it into the path of Dylan Mackin for 1-0.

The game needed the goal and from then on it was a much more open contest as Hearts began to push that little bit further to get an equaliser and thereby left more space for Motherwell to break into.

If the Steelmen won the ball in midfield they broke quickly and with numbers, Cadden and David Turnbull racing forward from the middle to support Mackin up top. Without the ball they were happy to stay compact and tight at the back, the extra man in midfield preventing Hearts from creating.

Ben Hall put a glancing header wide of the Hearts goal as Thomas’s set pieces continued to cause trouble, then Ross MacLean had a goalbound shot headed clear by Jordan McGhee.

Hearts had rarely threatened but they came within a whisker of an equaliser. Liam Smith, who has impressed when thrown into Robbie Neilson’s Hearts first team this season and who was captaining the youth side, swung in a great cross from the right wing through the corridor between defence and goalkeeper that just needed a touch to send it goalbound. However, it evaded everyone except Russell McLean at the back post who turned it into the side netting.

It proved to be costly as Motherwell extended their lead. Cadden, who had just had a shot saved following a driving run from midfield, found himself in the right place after Campbell’s run and shot had been blocked, and the Motherwell captain fired in a low effort that wrongfooted Mason with the help of a deflection.

Motherwell should have taken the two goal lead into half time with them, but they were punished for holding up McLean right on the edge of the penalty box. McGhee stepped up to put a neat free kick low through the wall and into the corner of the net to hand Hearts a lifeline.

The second half was another slow burner like the first. But eventually tentative early stages made way for some skill and excitement.

Thomas looked liable to make something happen every time he got on the ball. His pace and trickery combined with the fact he was usually one-on-one with retreating Hearts defenders on the counter attack meant he brought the game to life every time he was involved including for the third goal.

Picking the ball up on the right channel he bobbed and weaved, cutting past his marker and into the box, before picking out Turnbull whose turn and shot was deflected for a corner.

That just meant another opportunity for Thomas to deliver a whipped near post cross that was met by MacLean and then slammed home at the back post by Ferguson.

Two goal advantage restored but not for long.

As they did in the first half, Hearts rallied quickly upon going two goals behind and Robbie Buchanan forced Brett Long into a save with his legs.

The 'keeper wasn’t so handy shortly after though as his ball out to Hall put the defender under pressure. Hall should have done better than to be dispossessed by Zanatta who then rounded Long with ease and stroked the ball into an empty net.

Hearts shuffled the pack, with Anthony MacDonald replacing Callumn Morrison. The sub went up top while Zanatta moved out wide.

It almost paid dividends immediately as Zanatta began to see more of the ball from a deeper position. He cut inside from the left and fired a shot over the bar, but already looked a more dangerous proposition than he had for most of the game until then. Testament to the good job the Motherwell defenders were doing at isolating the Hearts attack.

Motherwell made a sub of their own, however, and it proved to be even more effective.

Robbie Leitch replaced David Turnbull and didn’t take long to find the back of the net with a wonderful solo effort.

Having just had a weak header from a good position easily saved by Mason, Leitch ran inside from the left channel and curled an unstoppable effort into the far bottom corner of the Hearts net.

This time the two goal advantage would not be narrowed.

Zanatta tried, but found himself up against an impressive Ferguson and Motherwell almost extended their lead on the counter attack but Cadden could only find the side netting.

They did find the fifth before the 90 minutes was up and fittingly for the way they had played throughout the game it was on the counter attack and it was something special.

Leitch again was at the heart of it, his powerful run through the middle of the park leaving Hearts players in his wake then a wonderfully weighted lofted pass that was controlled perfectly on the move by fellow substitute Dylan Falconer who found an equally magnificent lofted finish over the stranded Mason.

It was a slick, well executed maneuver that was worthy of being the winning goal in a cup final.

The final whistle went not long after, and despite many of these boys having played first team football, you could see how much it meant for them to win a major youth football trophy at the national stadium.

Lineups

Hearts
Motherwell
1. Kelby Mason
2. Liam Smith
3. Liam Henderson
4. Daniel Baur
5. Jordan McGhee
6. Angus Beith
7. Callumn Morrison
8. Robbie Buchanan
9. Russell McLean
10. Dario Zanatta
11. Lewis Moore
12. Sean McKirdy
13. Conor Easton
14. Leon Jones
15. Alistair Roy
16. Anthony MacDonald
1.Brett Long
2. Luke Watt
3. Jack McMillan
4. David Ferguson
5. Ben Hall
6. Allan Campbell
7. Ross MacLean
8. David Turnbull
9. Dylan Mackin
11. Dominic Thomas
12. Peter Morrison
14. Christopher Cadden
15. Dylan Falconer
16. Jake Hastie
17. Robbie Leitch
18. Adam Livingstone
Star Player
Hearts
Motherwell
It was clear to see why Robbie Neilson has placed faith in so many of the young Hearts boys with Liam Smith and Jordan McGhee showing glimpses of the talent that has seen them force their way into the side, but Dario Zanatta looked lively and dangerous when they got him on the ball in the second half, unfortunately he just didn't see enough of it.
Dom Thomas was a handful from start to finish in this game. His set pieces caused bedlam in the Hearts defence and his pace and trickery instantly puts defenders on the back foot.
Magic Moment
Hearts
Motherwell
Jordan McGhee's free kick was well placed and came at the perfect time to allow his side to regroup and attack Motherwell anew in the second half, unfortunately for them it just didn't happen.
Both of the last two goals were special, but the last one epitomised this Motherwell team. Fighting to the very last minute and still full of energy and running to hit Hearts on the counter attack with every pass, touch, and shot in the move absolutely inch-perfect.

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