Edina Hibs came out on top to clinch the Stewart Brien Cup in a pulsating game that you could not take your eyes off. Some great goals, a fair amount of controversy and, above all, a great game of youth football helped to make it a final that would live long in the memory for all those in attendance.
Straight from kick off, Hutchison Vale showed their attacking intent and applied pressure to the opposition, which resulted in a goal within the first five minutes of the game. They kept hold of the ball well, passing it from side to side patiently before capitalising on an opportunity. The ball was passed into the edge of the box, and the onrushing Blair Houston calmly placed a shot beyond the keeper, who could do nothing to prevent it. The Hutchison Vale fans went wild in the crowd, understandably so, but it was short lived.
Minutes later, Edina Hibs grabbed an equaliser. After winning a free kick just beyond the halfway line, the initial cross into the box was half cleared. Sean Hogg pounced onto this loose ball and squared the ball across the face of goal, for Brandon McLaren to hammer in from close range.
The following 20 minutes was an attacking masterclass from Hutchison Vale though, motivated by losing their lead so easily. They dominated the game and cut swathes across the pitch, but crucially Edina Hibs managed to only concede one goal during this patch.
First of all, James Gordon was fouled on the edge of the box after a smart run had put the defence under pressure. The resulting free kick from Rory Hamilton was curled over the wall and looked to be nestling in the top right corner but it was denied by a brilliant sprawling save from Robbie Wilson in the Edina Hibs goal. The resulting corner, with a strong wind blowing towards the Edina Hibs goal in the first half, almost curled directly in before Hamilton again saved.
Hutchison Vale did eventually take the lead, although Edina Hibs would have been disappointed with the nature of the goal. A long ball downfield, which a defender looked to head back to his keeper, was intercepted by Cameron Fraser for Hutchison Vale, who let the ball bounce once before firing a right footed half-volley beyond the keeper.
They did not let up after scoring this goal however, with Justin Akugbo orchestrating some lovely one-touch passing maneuvers that really tested the Edina Hibs defence. Not only was the slick passing a danger, but Fraser was a huge threat during this period, always looking to run in behind the defence and pick up any loose passes, like he did in the 23rd minute. Winning the ball back from a defender in a dangerous position, he squared the ball to James Gordon whose shot was well saved by the keeper.
Throughout the first half, Edina Hibs' best chances seemed to all come from set pieces. Just before half time they came within inches of an equaliser. This time a corner was floated in from the right hand side, with William Scott rising high above the static defence to head the ball into the top corner only for Jonny Gordon to save well.
So the first half came to an end, with Hutchison Vale dominating proceedings but failing to establish more than a one goal lead.