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.