A calamitous opening minute, in which they conceded a penalty and were reduced to 10 men, proved a mere speed bump for Hutchison Vale on their way to a 4-1 defeat of Drumsagard Blue in the inspiresport Scottish Cup. The comeback victory puts the Edinburgh outfit into the semi-finals, two games from glory.
Drumsagard could barely have envisioned a better start. Their first clearance, hit firmly by Alistair Gould, sailed over the hosts’ high defence but was caught by Cole Polson, who touched the ball past onrushing keeper Bruce MacKenzie. With an open goal before him, the striker’s heels were clipped by a scrambling defender. A penalty after 26 seconds; a red card after much official consultation; and a lead after Liam Miles took the spot kick.
Concluding that if it worked once, try it twice, Drumsagard utilised the very same tactic immediately. Surreally, another Blue’s forward was left alone and deja vu was only avoided by MacKenzie colliding with Cole Logan wide right of the box. With calls of “calm down” ringing from the sidelines, Vale were experiencing a horror start.
Possession, however, is good for the nerves, and Hutchison’s efforts to pass the ball brought the match ten minutes of equilibrium. In the 14th minute, it brought an equaliser. Neat play in midfield provided the chance to push Bryan Mwangi forward and he, in turn, located Ryan Finday on the left corner of the box. Finday cut onto his right foot and struck a shot over the fingertips of keeper Nathan Welsh.
Stirred with belief, Vale centre back Mario Gronell headed a corner centimetres over moments later, before the turnaround was complete in the 19th minute. Mwangi was played in behind the right full back by Mason Renton, forcing Welsh from his line. Mwangi opted to forego shooting, nonchalantly using the outside of his foot to lay across for Finday to control, swivel, and double his tally.
Right on half-time, the 10 men claimed a third. Mwangi’s free kick from the edge of the box was struck low and left, and when Welsh parried the only player following in was Hutchison striker Rayan Mohammed. From two yards he ensured the half ended in stark contrast to how it began for a now thriving Vale.