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The first of two cup finals at lovely New Dundas Park on Sunday morning, May 5, ended in a 4-1 win for Hutchison Vale. They went on to lift the Bill Sheridan under-14 Division One League Cup with the hard-working and wee bit unlucky Fernieside the runners up. I never see the runners-up in a youth cup final as losers. Fernieside certainly were not losers on this special day in their young lives.
All the excitement and expectation among the young footballers at this lovely venue in Bonnyrigg were very evident from the start and with both sides well turned-out and the sun shining (honest) it was another very special occasion and many parents and family friends were on the terracing to see the teams in action. What a glorious sight to behold and this latest in the end-of-season festival of finals in local youth leagues was very entertaining and in addition, very sporting. Richard Menzies was the referee in charge with Calum Bryson and Euan Young on the touchlines.
Fernieside had the advantage of playing with quite a strong wind and they led 1-0 at half-time. Lots of good passing football and shots at goal, mostly at the Vale end. I have to say, some of the shots were just a wee bit ambitious! But it is all part of the learning curve in football for players in this age group. I felt privileged just to be there, particularly after the horrendous weather on Friday night at Saughton Enclosure, where I had to quit at half-time in the under-16 final between Tynecastle and Loanhead. I never contemplated leaving New Dundas Park at all and I how I enjoyed watching the two sets of young players in action.
This occasion belonged to the young players on the pitch. And how everyone enjoyed themselves? Particularly Fernieside in the first half and they went in to a well-deserved 1-0 lead with a sparkling goal (all goals in football are sparkling goals!). Fernieside’s goal came from a spot-kick when No 6, Lewis Wright, was brought down in a tackle in the box. Mr Menzies pointed to the spot and once Lewis got back on his feet and dusted himself down, he hammered the ball past Vale keeper, Jamie Mitchell, to put Fernieside 1-0 in front. It was really poor defensive play from Hutchison Vale that led up to the penalty but this was a game with lots of mistakes from players. Mitchell almost gave away a goal earlier on with a very poor clearance and the shot at the Vale goal went just wide.
At the other end, Fernieside keeper, David Cairns, was in cracking form. Just as well, as Vale looked good on the move, although the shots at goal from you-knowo-what-I-mean, Harry Girdwood, and his colleagues up front were not very good. But, when Vale did get shots on target, Cairns dealt with everything that was fired at him. Fernieside No 9, William Linton, with the very modern hair-style, had a frustrating time. He looked good, but the ball just would not run for him and as the half progressed, I got the feeling that one goal would not be enough for Fernieside to win the silverware. Lewis Sloan had chances to add to Fernieside’s tally, but Jamie Mitchell redeemed himself with good and, at times, brave saves. Cairns as well at the other end and the way the Fernieside keeper came off his line to save at the feet of Vale attackers was quite brilliant.
Half Time: Fernieside FC 1-0 Hutchison Vale
It was only 1-0 at the break and as things turned out, the second half was more or less dominated by Vale. Fernieside had their good moments too, but they did not manage to score again. Vale, on the other hand, found the back of the Fernieside net four times. Vale’s good players came alive and some of the football they played was nothing less than exceptional. In the second minute of the second half, Euan McGuire (what a natural great player he is) set up Blair Conway to score a superb equaliser, with a tremendous low shot from the left in to the far corner. That made it 1-1 and I think the Fernieside players let their heads drop.
Following that goal, it was an uphill struggle for Fernieside and to their great credit, when they managed to mount good raids on the Vale goal, things looked promising. Linton, on one memorable occasion, was back defending and he won the ball and set off on a lung-bursting run that took him in to the heart of the Vale defence, and he was closed down really well and Vale went back on the attack with their precise, good, quick passing. In the 12th minute of the second half, Vale went 2-1 in front with a wonderful goal. Jamie Mackay (what a truly great Scottish name that is) set up the goal with a dream ball from right to left inside the Fernieside defence and No 11, Robbie Polson (another star in this game for Vale) ran in to head the ball in to the back of the Fernieside net.
A minute later, it was 3-1 for Vale. Kacper Balaban joined in the Vale attack and the player in the No 4 jersey scored from close in at the right-hand post. At the other end, Fernieside No 7. Aiden George McMillan, finished off great work with a rising shot that went over the bar (unfortunately). For personal reasons, I would have liked to see Fernieside score and get back in to the game. Alas, it was not to be. Then it was the turn of Fernieside goalie, David Cairns, to shine. He brought off a superb save to deny Kacper another goal, in a great move involving Euan Lee (No 17).
The game, at that stage, was wide open and great to watch. I have nothing but praise for the hard-working Fernieside players but they were up against it - and the wind! Then, hello, hello - what went on in the Fernieside goalmouth. It looked as if Mr Menzies had awarded Vale a corner on the right, but referee’s assistant, Calum Bryson, had his flag up and to the consternation of the entire Fernieside squad, coaches and supporters, a penalty was awarded against Fernieside. What a joke, I thought to myself! But, nothing deterred Vale goalie, Jamie Mitchell, and up he stepped to the mark to slam the spot-kick past Fernieside keeper, David Cairns and make it 4-1 for Vale. That spot-kick conversion was Jamie’s ninth goal of the season from penalties. Quite remarkable and Vale still led 4-1 at the final whistle.
I think Fernieside will get their turn to win silverware - if only they could be made more aware of what is required to win finals. Good luick to them and well done, Hutchison Vale Under 14s. A good team, indeed, but it took until the second half before they showed their true skills.
Thanks also to officials from the SERYFA for putting on these finals at local level and also to Bonnyrigg Rose JFC for the use of their stadium at New Dundas Park. What a real pleasure it is for me and others to share in civilised facilities, such as those available at this venue in real football country of Midlothian.
Full Time: Fernieside FC 1-4 Hutchison Vale