Discuss the Match | Create a Souvenir Newsprint
Hutchison Vale travelled West to take on Celtic Boys Club at Ravenscraig in this under 21's SYFA Challenge Cup Quarter final on the excellent indoor pitch, which created a unique atmosphere for what promised to be a tightly fought contest between two evenly matched sides.
Before the match, the teams had lost only four times all season between them, with the visitors still chasing honours on five fronts, while Celtic BC were still involved in four competitions as well as flying high in the competitive West of Scotland 21's First Division.
Pre-match preparations were disrupted by the late arrival of one of the assistant referees, which forced the teams into extended warm ups, while also increasing the inevitable big game nerves, but when the game finally got underway, both sides quickly found their rhythm.
Hutchison Vale were first to test either goalkeeper when James Guy was fed through, but from a tight angle his shot was easily saved by home goalkeeper Nathan Wharton.
On their first foray into the visitor's penalty area, Celtic had a good chance to take the lead. David Reid's left wing cross found Christopher Lennon at the back post, but after controlling well he rushed his shot under pressure and fired over.
The pace of Reid and Lennon on the wings was causing Vale's defence problems, and Lennon created the chance which would see the Edinburgh side's goalkeeper forced into his first save when he burst into the box and cut back for Kieran Connachan, but his shot was well held by Matthew Banks.
Vale's lone striker Guy, who was playing all game on the shoulder of the last defender, set up Louis Swanson for the best chance of the game so far after half an hour, when he picked out Swanson with a switch of play, but Wharton in the Celtic goal did well to save with his feet and keep the game goalless.
Until the stroke of half time, chances for either side were limited to long range efforts which failed to trouble the respective goalkeepers, though Celtic captain Greg Steele did very well to block Guy's goal bound effort in the 40th minute.
In first half stoppage time both sides had glaring opportunities to take the lead. Firstly Swanson and Guy, who were at the heart of all Vale's best moments of the first half, again combined. This time Swanson crossed to the striker in the six yard box, but with the goal gaping he sent his free header narrowly over the bar.
Seconds later he was almost made to regret the missed opportunity when only the brilliance of Banks prevented his side going into the break a goal down. Daniel Sneddon was found unmarked in the box by Reid, but his header from point lank range was miraculously saved by Banks, who spread himself to claw the ball off the line.
Half Time: The Celtic BC 0-0 Hutchison Vale
The second half became largely a midfield battle, with very few goal scoring chances created, and the defences on top. Celtic skipper Steele, who was injured when his studs became caught in the surface in the first period, had strapped his ankle up and continued his strong first half performance, combining strength and skill with an excellent range of passing.
Meanwhile, Vale's most likely goal threat continued to be provided by Louis Swanson, whose pace and movement from the right wing was troublesome to the home defence, and he created a half chance for Zane Nicholson from a free kick, whose header was off target.
In the 70th minute Celtic almost broke the deadlock with a freak cross shot from Reid, which flew over Banks’ head and came within inches of finding the top corner.
In the final 10 minutes, the match suddenly burst into life, with both sides seeming keen to avoid a further 30 minutes of extra time.
Celtic did look most likely to get the all-important goal, and once more it was David Reid creating openings for the West of Scotland side. He came within the width of a post of scoring what would have been a wonderful goal. Having collected the ball on his left wing, he moved inside onto his right foot before unleashing a venomous strike which had Banks rooted to the spot, but the post came to Vale's rescue and the ball cannoned to safety.
However, Celtic were not to be denied. Deep into the four minutes of added time signalled by the referee, Reid won a free kick when he was tripped on the left wing. He picked himself up to whip the cross into the area, and when Banks misjudged the flight and allowed the ball to slip from his grasp, it was left to Daniel Sneddon to tap in after his initial effort bounced back to him off the post, to prompt jubilant celebrations from the home side's players, coaching staff and supporters.
With only seconds to go, Vale restarted, though there was no time to respond and the final whistle was soon to follow.
When it did less than a minute later, the Hutchison Vale players slumped to the turf deflated in contrast to the joy of the Celtic squad, who progress to the last four of the national cup for the first time since the club's success in the Under 21's SYFA Challenge Cup two years ago.
Full Time: The Celtic BC 1-0 Hutchison Vale