Great excitement surrounds the Scottish Cup semi-finals this year for the 2000s age group as Fauldhouse United and Rossvale FC face off for a place in the final, while Banks O’Dee Albion and Lewis United Youth are set to play each other in a North region derby.
The two North region sides have traditionally held a rivalry across the age groups, matching up in the later stages of local cups and fighting for their spot at the top of the league. Now the 2000s face their most important match yet, playing each other with a spot in the Scottish Cup final at stake.
North region reporter Claire Gulline looks ahead to the game and also both sides cup runs to the semi-finals:
Banks O’Dee breezed through their early rounds, scoring fifteen goals across their first three Scottish Cup matches without conceding any themselves, seeing off Bon Accord Youth in the first round. They then had a bye in the second round after Deveronvale withdrew from the league and cups at this age group and Blantyre Boys Club. St Andrews BC managed to put the ball past the strong Northern side, but Banks O’Dee progressed to the fifth round with a 4-1 win. Ayr Boswell BC put the pressure on Albion, with the score level at 1-1 at full-time but Banks O’Dee reached the quarter-finals with a goal in extra time. The Spain Park outfit also had a tight contest against Tynecastle FC where they eventually secured a 4-3 win to book their place in the semi-final.
Lewis United Youth had a similar start to their Scottish Cup campaign, scoring fifteen goals and conceding none in their first two matches. They comfortably saw off Culter Boys Club, Colony Colts FC, Seafar Villa Cumbernauld, Syngenta Juveniles and Lochgelly Albert Colts in the first five rounds of the competition, playing all of these fixtures at home. However even away from home, United were not to be denied their semi-final spot, securing a 4-1 win against Gleniffer Thistle BC in the quarter-final.
Despite the rivalry between the two sides, their meeting in the Scottish Cup semi-final will only be the second time the clubs have played each other this season, having met in a league fixture in January of this year which resulted in a 2-2 draw, a reflection of how evenly matched the two sides are. Yet Banks O’Dee are unbeaten in the league this season, while Lewis United have had to deal with numerous postponements and have therefore had limited game time.
This may give Banks O’Dee, who were also Scottish Cup semi-finalists last year, an advantage as they go into the match, but Lewis United are not to be discounted as their fantastic Scottish Cup run amidst their league postponements is taken into consideration.
However, one thing is certain. Both of these teams will give it their all as they fight for their place in the final and it will be a very close game. The match kicks off at two o’clock on Sunday the 20th of March at North Lodge Park, home of Highland League side Formartine United FC, Pitmedden. Good luck to both teams involved in this match that is not to be missed!
Fellow North Region reporter David Reid caught up with both camps ahead of the game and starts off with the hosts Lewis United when he spoke to coach Keith Leslie. Leslie said: "Albion will be favourites going into the game however we picked up a 2-2 draw away to Albion back in January which gives us confidence and hopefully we can go one better come Sunday.
"We aren't taking the fact that the game is being played on grass as an advantage, Albion play on grass every 2nd week and still pick up results, all the boys are looking forward to the game.
"We know each others players and there will be nerves on both sides and the training sessions will be the same, both teams will be up for playing at a good venue and the facilities at Formartine are good and also the players are playing on a Highland League pitch.
"It would be great to win the Scottish Cup however we have got to get past two big hurdles to do it, it's going to be extremely difficult.
"It's going to be a great boost for the ADJFA to have a representative in the Scottish Cup final."
On the other side is Banks O'Dee Albion who have already had experience at the semi-final stage of the Scottish Cup and Mr Reid caught up with Albion coach Patrick Ritchie to gather his thoughts on the game when he said: "When the draw was made I was very happy with it and it's a huge advantage that the game is local, we went up to Ayrshire last year at the semi-final stage and lost 1-0 and it took it's toll on the players.
"There are nine boys still here at Banks O'Dee Albion who played in the semi-final last year and you can't buy that sort of experience, we fell short last year however took in specific players who would take the team forward, we are delighted to be playing the game at Formartine United.
"If you look at the squad they are a close, together bunch and they have played against sides who are a year above them in the Highland League under 17s east league and it is also a calm group that we have here at Albion."
Patrick has dismissed suggestions that Albion go into the game as favourites when he added "Neither team is favourites I think going into the game, it's all about who turns up on the day, last time it was a 2-2 draw in January however we were the better team, this is a derby and a bit like a Rangers v Celtic game."
David also spoke to Neil Paterson who is the manager at fellow A league side ALC Athletic who thinks Albion will be in Airdrie come May when he said "I can't see past Albion but think it'll be a fiery game, I hope it's a strong referee."
Youth Football Scotland will have unrivalled coverage on the game with interviews from both camps after the game and also pre-match, half time and full time opinions from North Region reporters Claire Gulline and David Reid along with a full match report and Ray Millum's photos from the match.