It's always an exciting time in Scottish youth football at this stage of the season and semi-final weekends are days that we at Youth Football Scotland always look forward to and this Sunday we are to be treated with another great match-up, this time at Under 17 level as Edinburgh City Whites take on Eask Kilbride FC Blue for a place in the Scottish Cup Final.
Edinburgh City Whites have had a great season so far in the SERYFA Division 1 League and currently sit at the top of the pack, just one point clear of nearest chllengers Hutchison Vale having played one game more.
Their cup competition record has been very solid as well. Despite the disappointment of being knocked out of the South East Region Cup in the second round by Selkirk FC, they are still already in two cup finals in the Tom Wilson Memorial Trophy and the Victor Paris Bathrooms Cup.
East Kilbride FC Blue have enjoyed an equally impressive season so far. The Blues are in second place in the Paisley and Johnstone District Youth Football League, just five points adrift of leaders Giffnock SC United having played two games less.
They still remain in all of their available cup competitions. They are due to play their next match in the West Region Cup against Clydebank United and will compete in the final of the Tom McPhillip Cup, where they will play Giffnock SC United.
Let us now have a look at how each side got this far:
Edinburgh City Whites
Edinburgh City began their Scottish Cup journey in the second round of the tournament and began in emphatic fashion. Their first obstacle was Murieston United CFC Reds but the WLAYFC outfit were not strong enough to repel their SERYFA opponents, eventually losing 9-0.
The third round conjured up a home tie for the Division 1 leaders as they welcomed East Region side AM Soccer Club. This match proved to be extremely challenging for the capital-based side and had to show great determination to advance to the fourth round by just the 1-0 scoreline.
The fourth round proved to be City's toughest match of their cup run as they were drawn up against PJDYFL's third placed team in Division 1, St. Mirren BC. The Whites were pushed all the way and after a 3-3 tie after extra time the match had to be settled by penalties, which Edinburgh won by the skin of their teeth, 5-4.
Next up, in the round of 16, Edinburgh City once again hosted a club from the Eastern Region of Scottish football as they welcomed Dundee-based side East Craigie Swifts. This turned out to be another very closely-contested contest, but City once again showed their quality, overcoming their opponents 2-1 to earn their place in the final eight.
Into the quarter-finals and the capital side were drawn to travel to the Central Region to take on Cumbernauld and Kilsyth League side Drumsagard FAC. This was another match in which City had to be at their absolute best, which proved to be enough to advance to the semi-finals by a scoreline of 3-1, setting up this match on Sunday against EKFC Blues.
East Kilbride FC Blues
Like Edinburgh City, Eask Kilbride began their journey in the second round. Up first for them was fellow PJDYFL Divison 1 side Clydebank United BFC. It was a very entertaining game for the neutrals, though I am sure that the Blues would have liked an easier first match in the tournament. Eventually though they succeeded 3-2 to advance to round three.
An away tie awaited the Blues in round three, though they did not have to travel particularly far as they were to be hosted by fellow Central Region side Rossvle FC. This appeared to be a more strightforward match for EK and they triumphed 4-0 to move on to the round of 32.
Round four happened to be a real test to East Kilbride's character and composure as they were taken to extra time by Gartcairn Football Academy. The Blues had more in the tank than their opponents and eventually secured safe passage into round five with a 4-2 win.
One goal was the difference in the round of 16 tie, as they travelled eastward to play against Hill of Beath Hawthorn. After a tense 90 minutes it took extra time once again for East Kilbride earn their spot, returning home with a 2-1 win and a place in the quarter-finals.
The quarter-finals produced what, on paper, was their toughest game as they were to travel to the capital to play SERYFA Division 1 side Hutchison Vale. Many were expecting a very close tie between the two sides, but EK put in an absolutely outstanding performance to win the match 3-0 and set up their semi-final tie against Edinburgh City Whites.
Both sides have had to show real heart and grit to make it this far into the competition and that makes this match a very difficult one to call. They have both displayed quality on their way to the semi-finals and have proven that they can both hold their nerve in very tense situations and it doesn't get much more tense than a Scottish Cup semi-final.
What it does mean is that we are set to be gifted with a very entertaining cup tie between two teams so close to each other in quality and belief. All that is left to say is good luck to both teams involved.