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Hutchison Vale met Loanhead in the final of the Stewart Brien Cup at New Dundas Park. The game turned out to be one of high drama and action, with seven goals being scored in total, two coming from penalty kicks. It was Hutchison Vale who were ultimately victorious and lifted the trophy.
It was Hutchison Vale who started perhaps the sharper of the two teams. Pushing forward, they put pressure on the Loanhead defence and from this they created the first chance of the match. Gregor Lamb threaded a pass through to Ben Swan who took a slightly heavy touch, allowing the Loanhead keeper Bryan Cairns to rush out and clear the danger. Moments later and Hutchison Vale had another chance to score. Euan Henderson found himself in space, on the edge of the box and, taking one touch to steady himself, he unleashed a shot that rattled off the crossbar and bounced awkwardly in front of goal. Loanhead managed to clear their lines, however, preventing Hutchison Vale from scoring an early opener.
Loanhead’s first clear-cut chance of the game came when Ewan Hopper created a chance for himself on the edge of the box. His right-footed shot flew just wide of the goal though. After a nervy start, Loanhead were finding their way back into the game. However, they were soon to be punished for a defensive error, as the referee ruled that a pass-back had occurred when their keeper Cairns caught the ball, knocked back to him by the defender. Hutchison Vale were then awarded an indirect free-kick almost on the edge of the six-yard box. Lamb stepped up to take the set piece and skilfully struck his shot high over the Loanhead defensive wall and into the back of the net. Loanhead could rightly feel hard done by in terms of the way in which they had conceded the free-kick. However, no complaints could be made about the way in which it was scored, as Lamb’s great gave his side the lead in the cup final, with twenty-five minutes played.
Loanhead looked to respond quickly as Bradley Barrett played a weighted pass through to Ryan Cottrell. Without taking a touch, Cottrell fired a right-footed effort at goal but unfortunately for Loanhead, the ball swerved away from the Hutchison Vale net and just wide of the left post. Barrett himself then had a chance from long-range, but his speculative strike was well held by Hutchison keeper Robbie Stirling.
It was Hutchison Vale who went into half time with the one-goal lead and perhaps deserved to do so given that they had slightly more possession than their opponents. However, Loanhead began to create a lot more opportunities to score towards the end of the first-half.
Half Time: Hutchison Vale 1 – 0 Loanhead Miners
The second half was to prove very different from the first in terms of chances finished by both sides. Straight from the kick-off Loanhead pushed for an equaliser. Kieran Williamson’s ball to Matt Reitvelt almost resulted in them getting one as Reitvelt’s shot on goal almost snuck in at the back post. Hutchison keeper Stirling did well to get an outstretched leg to the ball however.
Another chance fell for Loanhead just minutes when Declan Glass had an opportunity to strike the ball from close range. He did so but saw his effort met by a great block from Steven Mackay. From this, Hutchison Vale broke on the counter attack and a great run from Ben Swan presented him with the chance to score one on one with the Cairns. He duly slotted the ball past the Loanhead keeper, doubling his side’s lead.
Leaving their opposition with no time to ponder on their mistakes, Hutchison Vale continued to press for another goal and just minutes after scoring their second, found themselves further ahead. Lamb was unfairly challenged in the box and a penalty kick was awarded as a result. Taking on the responsibility himself, Lamb stepped up to take it and confidently struck the ball high into the middle of the Loanhead goal for his second, and his team’s third, of the match.
Not disheartened by losing two goals in quick succession, Loanhead carried on the way in which they had played the game so far. They brought the ball down well and worked hard at trying to produce passing moves. Having a lot of possession in the final third of the park, they would have felt slightly unlucky to be three goals down at the start of the second half. However persistence and continued pressure paid off when, on the fifty minute mark, they were awarded a free kick within shooting distance of goal. Declan Glass opted to shoot instead of cross; a decision that paid dividends for his team, as he saw his effort fly into the top right-hand corner of the goal, making the score three-one and giving his side a chance of getting back into the game.
Hutchison Vale, however, were not willing to sit back and let Loanhead attack. Almost straight from kick-off an attack down the left flank resulted in Grant Rose obtaining possession. Taking one touch, he released a lobbed effort that was perfectly struck, flying over the heads of the Loanhead defence and goalkeeper and finding its way into the back of the net. Hutchison Vale again had one hand on the Stewart Brien Cup.
However, those who thought that the game would peter out in the final ten minutes were to be proven wrong, as more action was to unfold in the form of another penalty kick being awarded. It was to be Loanhead who would benefit from this as Bradley Barratt was fouled in the box, with no complaints from the Hutchison Vale squad. Declan Glass was given the chance to double his tally and did so, placing the ball low into the left corner of the net. Loanhead had showed great spirit to shorten Hutchison Vale’s lead and gave them a lot to think about in the latter stages of the game.
Given the dramatic way in which the game had panned out, it was fitting that the match would end in a similar fashion. Not showing any signs of slowing down or letting up, Hutchison Vale piled bodies forward in the final stages of the match and grabbed yet another goal. Before the ball crossed the line, however, they were twice denied by the woodwork. Euan Henderson’s shot rocketed off the post and Swan managed to connect with the rebound, sending it goalwards and cueing scenes of wild celebration from the Hutchison Vale players and coaches. In a match in which they may briefly have feared of a Loanhead comeback, with the score at five goals to two in the final minutes, they had finally secured the win in the final.
It is Hutchison Vale then who are crowned the champions of the 2013 Stewart Brien Cup after a thoroughly entertaining match that hung in the balance at times. Ultimately they deserve the title and played some great football for long periods of the game. Credit must be given to Loanhead though, for the way in which they battled their way back into the game, particularly after being three goals down.
Full Time: Hutchison Vale 5 – 2 Loanhead Miners