View Photo Gallery (First half action photos from Vicky Mitchell)
View Photo Gallery (Second half action & presentation photos from Ray Millum)
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The 2012 17's North Region Girls Football League Cup Final was to be a memorable occasion; a fast-paced encounter between two committed and hard-working teams who both sought to make their final mark on the competition. It was a tight affair in which several players impressed, Buchan's Hannah Stewart staking her claim to be considered for the Scotland set-up and Aberdeen's Amy Strath scoring two spectacular goals in a tie that would finish 2-2 after normal time.
As the referee sounded the whistle for the opening of the first half, Aberdeen FC Ladies took no time at all in trying to break the deadlock. Almost immediately, Rachel Brown raced clear of the Buchan back line, forcing a strong save from Sophie Anderson in the process. Buchan were not flustered by the scare as they stroked the ball about with composure in the early stages.
The second chance of the match would produce the opening goal. In the sixth minute Buchan's Stewart was released in on goal by an incisive midfield pass and she made no mistake, burying her effort into the far left hand corner of the net. The forward was merely signalling her intent as she continued to put pressure on the Aberdeen back line, who struggled to contend with her tenacious and fiery style.
Eleven minutes into the first half, Aberdeen were beginning to adjust to the high tempo and attempting to dictate the midfield play. Buchan's tactics, however, were effective in squeezing the midfield and isolating Aberdeen's wide players. Consequently, Amy Strath resorted to dropping deep for Aberdeen, linking up effectively and finding some joy bringing the wingers into the game.
In the seventeenth minute, Aberdeen's Jade Neill whipped in a dangerous ball from the right wing which was parried beyond the post. The quality of Aberdeen's ball delivery began to pose more problems for Buchan. Twenty-two minutes in, Johan Fraser displayed pace and excellent close control on the right as she burst forward but the final ball was lacking on this occasion.
Buchan seemed comfortable soaking up the pressure, protecting their lead and trying to exploit vacant space on the break. The side were well-organised, thwarting attacks early and breaking with pace and intensity. Stewart's direct running to the byline nearly carved out a second goal for Buchan but Aberdeen recovered well to intercept a dangerous cut-back and clear the danger. A thirty-fifth minute corner should have seen Buchan double their advantage before half-time, Louise Brown nodding inches over from close range at the front post.
The leading eleven were made to pay for not taking their chances, as Aberdeen levelled in bizarre circumstances upon winning a free-kick approximately twenty-five yards from goal. Strath stepped up and seemed to loft the ball into the area looking for a team-mate. The ball, however, floated towards goal and straight into the back of the net. Euphoric cheers erupted on the sidelines and the referee blew for half-time as Aberdeen found themselves right back in this final.
Half Time: Aberdeen FC Ladies 1-1 Buchan Quines
The tempo was not interrupted by the half-time break, as both sides maintained the high intensity throughout the early stages of the second half. Buchan's Lauren Boardman had the first half-chance of the half with an effort from the edge of the area but it sailed harmlessly high and wide. The play often got caught up in midfield, with both Aberdeen and Buchan resorting to strikes from long-range.
Nineteen minutes into the half, a long throw from the left by Buchan's Stewart fell kindly for Louise Brown who sliced her effort just wide beyond the right-hand post. Just four minutes later, Aberdeen edged in front with an excellent long range effort by the ever confident Strath, catching the Buchan keeper completely off guard in the process.
Strath's strike seemed to kickstart the final back into life as within a minute Buchan were back on level terms. The impressive Louise Brown danced past outstretched legs to rifle an equaliser beyond Matthews. The game was now poised perfectly for one player to emerge as the hero in the latter phase. It seemed as though it might be Strath who would become the hat-trick hero, Fraser threaded an inch-perfect pass into the area for the forward who cracked the woodwork from the tightest of angles.
Three minutes following, Buchan's Stewart found some energy in the reserve tank to burst forward again and force a foul from Aberdeen. 25 yards from goal, Danica Ritchie struck the ball with power but little accuracy as it flew off target.
The final chance of normal time would fall to Boardman as she managed to direct an effort from the wide right of the penalty area on target for Buchan but the Aberdeen goalkeeper was more than equal to it in order to ensure that the final would go to extra time.
Full Time: Aberdeen FC Ladies 2-2 Buchan Quines
Tiredness became evident throughout extra time as both teams seemed to have run out of steam. Clear cut chances were few and far between.
The best chance of the first period would fall to Aberdeen substitute Becky Beattie who displayed strength and desire to break into the penalty area but just could not find the power to beat the Buchan goalkeeper.
In the second period of extra time, Aberdeen were on the back foot. Goalkeeper Matthews stood strong to block the ball in a goalmouth scramble before minutes later, Buchan's Lana Fairbairn threaded a perfectly weighted pass through for Stewart but an excellent last-ditch interception by Aberdeen full-back Fiona Rennie averted the danger.
Buchan thought they had won the match in the last minute of extra time as another excellent corner kick was whipped into the six yard box. Louise Brown connected perfectly with the cross, flashing a header on to the bar. The referee sounded the whistle as the danger was cleared, signalling the need for a penalty shootout.
Buchan were to initiate the shootout and it was Hannah Stewart who volunteered to take the first penalty, calmy slotting the ball into the bottom right-hand corner beyond the outstretched arm of the goalkeeper. Aberdeen responded well with their first kick, Jade Neill burying her penalty with pace and power into the same right hand corner.
Danica Ritchie took Buchan's second and made the score 2-1 with a placed penalty into the right side of the net. Buchan would draw first blood with an excellent stop from Aberdeen's Emily Meldrum. The penalty was well struck but read well by Anderson who palmed it away strongly.
Louise Brown, however, could not seize the advantage for Buchan as she sent her penalty over the bar. Aberdeen had the chance to level the shootout through Fiona Rennie. Anderson leapt to her right to turn the strike away and ensure Buchan had another opportunity to force an advantage.
Shona Brown stepped up confidently to dispatch her penalty into the bottom left hand corner with ease, piling the pressure on Aberdeen's number ten Amy Strath to rescue the tie. Her shot was hit with power toward the bottom left hand corner but Anderson got down well again to make the save and win Buchan Quines the 2012 17's North Girls Football League Cup Final.
Final Result: Aberdeen FCL 2-2 Buchan Quines (AET, Buchan Quines win 3-1 on penalties)
|Amy Strath led the line well, linking up with midfield effectively and creating space for players to run into the channels. Played an important role in the majority of Aberdeen attacks, bagging an excellent brace worthy of any cup final.
|Hannah Stewart was excellent from start to finish. The talented forward worked tirelessly for her team, causing countless problems for the Aberdeen defence ensuring that they were permanently aware. Scored a very classy opener. Stewart edged Sophie Anderson, the outfield player turned goalkeeper, who commanded her area well and was the hero of the penalty shootout.