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Tuesday, 03 April 2012 12:39

Antonine overcome Vale in five goal thriller

Written by  Ian Mackay
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Hutchison Vale Under 15s


Antontine BC Under 15s
Competition: Challenge Cup Semi-Final
Venue: Albyn Park, Broxburn
Date: 01/04/2012
Author: Ian Mackay
A big, strong Antonine squad from Clydebank knocked out Hutchison Vale with the winning goal in their 3-2 success coming late, late in the second half of extra time. I did not think there was a lot of good, passing football in this tough tie and I also think Antonine were too ‘streetwise’ for Vale in this shootout in the sun at Broxburn.
The winners in my humble opinion ‘played to their considerable strengths’ but what a great fight Hutchison Vale put up. The side from the capital took a bit of a pounding in the early stages with Antonine looking very dangerous each and every time they attacked the Vale goal.
Now that Hutchison Vale were bounced out of this age group event, it is the turn of Tynecastle FC to face Antonine in the festival of finals at the Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie in the weeks ahead. I do not know if Tynecastle had people at the semi-final in Broxburn, but if they did, they would have seen Antonine hammer away at the Vale goal from the opening whistle.
There were good players up front for the team from Clydebank in Liam Deane and Kevin Cavelle. These two were backed up by another cracking duo of midfield players - Andrew Hume and Craig Cowan. At the back, Antonine No 4, Chris Dooley proved himself to be expert in halting Hutchison Vale attacks with superb tackles. You may gather the Edinburgh side were up against it and even more so as early as the 7th minute when Cavelle rapped home the opener for Antonine with a low shot from the left of goal in to the bottom right-hand corner.
Vale at that stage struggled to get in to the game and play was concentrated mainly in their half. All things pointed to a runaway win for the team from Clydebank. But, I think this is rather clever of me, the ‘tide turned’ and this brave, committed Vale outfit raised their game and the hopes of their many fans in the sunshine of the touchlines and took the game to Antonine.
I thought Conor Bathgate was truly immense (I would say that) and all around him, his colleagues took everything thrown at them by Antonine - and hit back! Bathgate combined with Adam Corbett in one good attack and that was followed by another good rain featuring Ryan Currie and Alastair McDonald, another star performer in the Vale colours. Come to think of it, they all were despite losing by 3-2. 
When Antonine took the game to the other end, they looked capable of scoring again. Their style of play reminded me of the ‘old fashioned’ way in Scottish football of moving the ball quickly from back to front - and in the process the ball took a bit of a hammering. It fact, it must have had a ‘sair heid’ at times, such was the pounding it took, from Aaron Graham, for one!
However, enough of that, the game opened up, the tackles were tough and the Vale defence was under great presssure. But they survived and set up good breaks. Bathgate got beyond Dooley to fire a superb strike - just wide. Damn! A Currie run at the Antonine goal was abruptly halted by a magnificent tackle from Dooley! Cool as you like, the Antonine No 4 took the ball away from the Vale attacker. Enter then Aaron Graham, and what a wild wild shot he had at the Vale goal. Possibly, to the danger of planes taking off from Edinburgh airport!
The game livened up but still it was really tough going for Hutchison Vale against a team of players who had the advantage of being physically bigger and taller. Vale keeper, Jamie Shiel, was a busy young man as the last line of defence in goal. Sam Gallacher, in the No 10 jersey, looked impressive for Antonine and Dooley kept destroying Vale attacks on the away goal. Somehow or other, Vale reached the half-way point in the semi-final trailing by only one goal, quite an achievement I have to say considering the level of attacks on their goal from Antonine.
Half Time: Hutchison Vale Under 15s 0-1 Antonine BC Under 15s
I do not know how, but Vale lifted their game at the start of the second half. Mohamned Asam was outstanding in a central defensive role for the Edinburgh side, and all over the pitch, Vale started to play their own brand of good attacking football. I also thought Alastair McDonald was quite brilliant and so too was No 2, Jack Philp (I had to get his name correct as his father and grandfather were there). Phil McKenna in the Antonine goal was much more involved in the game as the pace increased. I just could not see where a goal for Vale would come from however. Antonine did not mess about when their goal was under threat. Wham, the ball was sent hurtling away from their goal! Along with any Vale player who happened to get in the way!
Ryan Forrester looked a good young footballer in the No 7 jersey for Antonine and he showed good touches. But it was not a game for touch players at all, it was all about ‘blood and guts’ football. And Hutchison Vale had both these attributes in abundance. Their raids on the Antonine goal increased but Liam Deane missed a good chance at the Vale end. It was indeed, ‘squeaky bum’ time for Vale fans. And so too for Antonine when McKenna dropped a shot at his goal but he recovered to win the rebound. Then, from out of nowhere, McDonald slammed the ball past McKenna to square the game at 1-1, 20mins into the second half!
That goal appeared to annoy the Antonine players and it was the turn of Vale keeper, Jamie Shiel, to produce the save of the game from big Callum Campbell. And Dooley was up in the Vale goal to knock the loose ball wide. You had no right being there, Chris! Get back to the other end where you belonged! But that was only one incident in the Vale goalmouth as Antonine went all out for a second goal. It got even tougher in the process with little incidents causing the referee to produce the yellow card. Cavelle had another good effort cleared and Jack Philp played magnificently on the right for Vale. It was thrilling to watch these young players put so much effort in to the game. Neither side managed to score again and it was 1-1 at full time.
The game looked like a certainty to go to a penalty shootout, or so I thought. I was wrong again! Seven minutes in to the first half of extra time, Cavelle managed to squeeze the ball over the Vale goal-line to put Antonine 2-1 in front. Frankly, it looked like curtains for Vale after that. Ethan Nicholson and Bathgate went close, but not close enough, to scoring for Vale.
But then fate took a hand and quite amazingly so when a free kick from McDonald to the left of the Antonine goal somehow went through the wall of defenders and past McKenna and Vale were level at 2-2. It was as they say ‘anyone’s game’ after that. Vale attacked magnificently, with Liam Thomson almost (but not quite) managed to put the Edinburgh side in front. The excitement mounted and mounted well into the second half.
Hutchison Vale had a great chance to go in front as time ran out. The chance was missed and the ball was belted up towards the Vale goal and to the consternation of the Hutchie fans, Andrew Hume it was who took advantage of poor defending to score the winning goal for Antonine. 
It was 3-2 for the team from Clydebank and possibly they deserved their success. It was a wonderful show for all that from Hutchison Vale. They were up against it from the start! The real beauty of games at this level was to be found among the fans on both touchlines.
The Antonine mums arrived at Albyn Park in Broxburn, laden with bags of prepared sandwiches and soft drinks. It was, I think, a great example of just how good Scottish women are at being prepared for all emergencies. And, you know what, the mothers and families of the Antonine players were lovely to speak to. So, too, were Hutchsion Vale fans and I was warned to get Jack Philp’s name correct. Or else!
Good luck to Antonine in the final against Tynecastle FC at Airdrie. It is a big synthetic pitch at the Excelsior Stadium and, although I will not be able to attend the seven finals this season, I do expect the wonderful mothers of the Antonine players to be fully prepared once again with an array of sandwiches and soft drinks. Good luck to everyone and I do hope the sun shines to grace what should be another absorbing under-15 final.
Full Time: Hutchison Vale Under 15s 2-3 Antonine BC Under 15s (AET)
Last modified on Monday, 05 August 2013 23:49
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