Antonine FC Blacks welcomed Bonnyton Thistle to the serene settings of Colquhoun Park this weekend and put on a splendid second half display to match the scenery in this tie draped in history.
Antonine managed to fight their way back from two goals down to advance to the next round of the Trans World Soccer Scottish Youth FA Cup, thanks in no uncertain terms to a standout performance from Daryl McMillan.
From the moment the match kicked off we knew we were in for a tight, intense and fiercely competitive game with tackles flying in and 50-50 jostles taking place all over the pitch – not to mention the fervent waves of support from both sidelines.
Bonnyton were the first side to create an opening. In the second minute they spread the ball from left to right and Kerr Samson beat his man to the outside and crossed low for Steven McCarrison to finish eight yards from goal but the striker could only latch a toe onto the ball as he watched it scuff wide. If McCarrison’s boot was an inch longer it was a certain goal for the away side.
Antonine had their first sight of goal in the fifth minute when Bonnyton keeper Stuart Cowan could only partially clear the danger following a free kick launched in high from the left. The ball fell to Daryl McMillan on the edge of the box who swung the outside of his boot with lethal venom but could only watch as the ball skimmed its way through a raft of players but wide of the target.
After the early end-to-end skirmishes the flow of the game settled slightly and began to form the basis of the type of match that would unfold: Bonnyton playing the ball predominantly on the ground, looking to use the trickery of their wingers and Antonine playing a much more counter attack-orientated game with pace, power and cut-throat precision.
In the 21st minute Antonine exhibited this approach to perfection after winning the ball just outside their box and breaking forward down to the left at terrific pace with McMillan on the charge. He cut the ball across the box for Andrew Nixon but his strike partner’s half-volley was saved well by Cowan.
Only a minute later Bonnyton had taken the second of their chances and put themselves 1-0 up. Soon after Cowan had scooped up Nixon’s effort he sent the ball to left back Andy Hunter. He sent the ball down the line for troublesome winger Brandon McEvoy. He jinked his way to the by-line before crossing to the edge of the six yard box. Antonine’s defender slipped as he tried to stick with McCarrison who lurked in the centre and this allowed the striker to take a touch, control the ball and pivot before picking his spot and dinking the ball past keeper Scott Wright to his left side.
Thistle were very close to going 2-0 up just before the half hour mark, this time midfielder Declan Adam the solo architect. Adam manoeuvred his way in and out of the tackles of three defenders inside the box but his finish didn’t match the nifty footwork as the keeper gathered the angled effort from eight yards out with both hands.
Antonine then set about shutting up shop, disrupting Bonnyton’s play and pressing for an equaliser before half-time. McMillan was again the challenger who came closest after a mazy run that started just inside his opponent’s half out by the sideline and finished in the centre of the penalty area, thwarted by a dual effort from Fraser Jackson and Cowan in goal.