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Hutchison Vale emerged victorious after a five goal Scottish cup final thriller at the Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie. In a match packed with incident throughout they were able to recover quickly from going a goal behind to win the cup. Dundee United contributed massively to what was a terrific advert for youth football but Hutchie went back to Edinburgh with the silverware.
United got the game underway with the rain having relented slightly. Conditions could hardly be described as tropical however and were not of the sort normally associated with cup finals. United started the match on the front foot, Nathan Tosh flagged offside with their first attack. Kieron Gardiner was then wasteful with a free kick but early attacking intent had been signified by the Tayside outfit.
Both sides were passing the ball well and making appropriate use of the surface. Tosh had a half chance but was unable to connect after Alex Gibb had pulled the ball back towards him. Gibb was causing Hutchie problems with some neat hold up play, looking to link with Jordan Hornby on the left when possible. Tosh was also working to narrow the front three but the Hutchie defence continued to marshall this successfully in the opening exchanges.
Hutchies Feachen Hamilton was able to force the play down the left which led to a brief period of pressure on the United goal. Neither side was really creating anything, and, as tends to be the case when two good sides meet, were cancelling each other out. Hamilton continued to look threatening, forcing the first shot at goal with his left foot after working an opening in the box. This came after twelve minutes but it was straight at Clarkson who comfortably gathered.
United should have taken the lead moments later but Gibb headed over in front of goal after a great cross by Jack Hogarth. Gibb beat the ground in frustration but chances were now materialising. From a Hogarth corner in the fifteenth minute Byron Gibb in the Hutchie goal was able to punch clear. Gibb was then shut down at close range to prevent a tap in. United were on top and hoping to capitalise before too long. Cameron McAlpine then reminded United of Hutchies threat, breaking clear down the right and forcing a fine one handed save from Clarkson. The resulting corner was cleared but Hutchie were growing in confidence, quickly creating another chance for Ryan Fox but his rushed effort went wide.
Regan Hendry was beginning to get his foot on the ball for Hutchie, upping the tempo and keeping the ball well for his side. He also hit the top of the crossbar with a header following a period of pressure. If United were felt to have slightly the better of the opening exchanges, it was Hutchie who now looked the most likely to open the scoring. Hendry had a long range effort but this was again easily held by Clarkson.
It was United however who took the lead and it was with a goal fit to grace any cup final. Gibb had been involved in a couple of near things for them but when he picked the ball up just to the right of the box and a good twenty five yards out there seemed little danger. Gibb however was not interested in such predictions as he fired a spectacular effort high into the goal, the ball nestling in the net after hitting the inside of the post before nestling in the net. United ahead and Hutchie would now need to respond.
And respond they most certainly did. Hamilton broke down the left one again, forcing a save from the United keeper. There was a bit of a scramble but Hutchie number fourteen Gabrie Auriemma was able to keep calm to slot home. A fantastic response from Vale who rather than being downhearted at conceding the opener took the opposite approach to equalise. This fantastic action brought the first half to an end with everybody hoping for similar in the second half.rst half report.
Half Time: Dundee United SC 1-1 Hutchison Vale
United had a new man in goals as the second half got started, Ethan Glennie replacing Clarkson. Unfortunately for Glennie his first task was to pick the ball out of the back of the net after Hamilton rifled a fine, low, left footed effort into the corner of the net. The ball skidded on its fair in but it was a very measured and controlled effort from the ever dangerous Hamilton. Hutchie ahead and now up to United to respond to the early set back.
Hutchie were playing with a renewed vigour and confidence, making things difficult for United. As well as the threat being offered by Hamilton and Taylor, Cameron McAlpine was getting on the ball to drive down the right.
United gave notice of their intention to get back into the game however when Hornby dragged an effort wide when well placed. There was still plenty of time to go and both teams would be aware that momentum can often change over the course of any game.
Hamilton fired over a very dangerous corner for Hutchie after fifty five minutes but it somehow eluded everybody and was cleared. The old football cliché of the next goal being crucial was being mentioned by those watching the game. In an effort to get this United were looking to get the diminutive Derryn Kesson more involved, as when he was he showed a neatness of touch and poise that could be utilised to bring them level.
It was Hutchie though that made it three one and potentially game over in the fifty eighth minute. Terrific footwork and composure from Hamilton allowed him to release the galloping Fraser Paton through the middle. Paton did terrifically well to keep his cool to round the keeper and roll the ball into the net. A fantastic quick counter from Hutchie and they were now well in command. Gibb reminded them of his danger with a couple of long range efforts but these did not trouble his namesake Byron.
At least not initially. Gibb picked the ball up for United in space and never frightened to shoot, he did so again. This was not nearly as clean a strike as his opening goal but it found its way past the despairing dive of the Hutchie keeper. United were not going away and were right back in this cup final. They would certainly feel there would be further twists in this game.
Hutchie missed a great chance to seal it when after some slick passing play Cal Sheridan was unable to find the right pass to an unmarked teammate in the middle. The subsequent corner was cleared and United survived. Time was running out for the tangerines and their frustrations increased when Cameron McMahon had an effort ruled out for offside with ten minutes remaining. A tight call but further proof that they were not out of this.
Hutchie saw the game out in expert fashion however to emerge deserved victors. The match was a fantastic spectacle despite the inclement weather with both sides contributing to the entertainment on show. Hutchie edged it in terms of forward play, showing superb pace and poise to score goals at vital times. Their players were quite happy to brave the rain to lift the Scottish Cup trophy.
Full Time: Dundee United SC 2-3 Hutchison Vale
1. Darren Clarkson
2. Callum Edgcumbe
3. Brandon Hawes
4. Callum Cook
5. Connor Wilson
6. Kieron Gardiner
7. Nathan Tosh
8. Cameron McMahon
9. Alex Gibb
10. Lewis Fyfe
11. Jordan Hornby
12. Calum King
14. Derryn Kesson
15. Jack Hogarth
16. Ethan Glennie
17. Dominic Duffy
Free kicks won: 14
Free kicks conceded: 8
Shots on target: 4
Headers won: 17
Tackles won: 27
Passes completed: 104
1. Byron Gibb
2. Cameron Milne
3. Fraser Paton
4. Sam Birch
5. Cameron Begbie
7. Shaun O'Donnell
8. Cal Sheridan
9. Ryan Fox
10. Ethan Feachen Hamilton
11. Regan Hendry
14. Gabrie Auriemma
15. Cameron Fraser
16. Innes Goodall
17. Cameron McAlpine
18. Lewis Swaney
19. Arron Singh
Free kicks won: 8
Free kicks conceded: 14
Shots on target: 7
Headers won: 23
Tackles won: 19
Passes completed: 160
Alex Gibb was Dundee United Sports Club's star performer. He scored two great goals and filled his team with tenacity. All in all a great performance which helped his team push Hutchison Vale all the way.
Although pushed by a number of team-mates, Ethan Feachen Hamilton was Hutchison Vale's strongest performer on the day. His tireless running, constant showing for the ball and excellent goal combined in a fantastic all round display.