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When the dust clears after every competition, there is always one team standing on top. Today, it was the Syngenta Juveniles Under 16’s who reigned supreme after a hard fought victory against a strong Broxburn Athletic Colts side. A solid defence and battling midfield display were key as Syngenta ran out 3-2 winners to claim the Robert Macmillan county cup for 2013. Their battle for the gold could not have been more thrilling.
The previously soaked pitch at Livingston Stadium looked to be back in fine condition and it was Syngenta who got the ball rolling. A quick start saw winger Andrew Mcnee bombing down the right side, showing early on the pace that would trouble Broxburn throughout the match. Good switching play with his team mate Ross Weir saw several early attacks and dangerous throw ins.
Broxburn meanwhile were looking to spring on Syngenta in the early stages with a display of quick passing and sudden counter attacks. James Mcgregor almost broke free with this approach for Broxburn after just 6 minutes, but his quick run was stopped by a strong sliding challenge from Syngenta defender Nicholas Taylor. A second sliding challenge from Grant Walker stopped a second Broxburn attack just a minute later.
The first real challenge came with 8 minutes on the clock, Liam Gallacher stabbing a clever ball through to Andrew Drysdale. The attack looked promising but Drysdale was stopped as Synegnta goalkeeper Taylor Jackson showed excellent awareness to dash out from his line and challenge for the ball with his feet.
Syngenta’s backline looked solid and their possession was always threatening to turn into dangerous attacks. This was apparent through Mcnee as again he picked up possession and drove quickly through a gap in the Broxburn midfield. His rifled shot from the edge of the box forced an excellent diving save from Liam Wilson and showed the Broxburn boys that he was not messing about on the ball.
The breakthrough came after 13 minutes as Andrew Macnally shot a teasing ball into the Broxburn box. The keeper could do nothing but watch as a defensive header knocked the ball down to the feet of Ross Weir who fired the ball into the bottom right corner to break the deadlock. 1-0 Syngenta!
Broxburn looked to recover quickly with an excellent display of passing. Gallacher to Drysdale to Gallacher and on to Scott and back to Drysdale. The passing drill only needed a finish at the end of it but Drysdale’s shot was just sliced at the keeper. Further movements through McGregor and Henderson saw Broxburn captain Marcus Millar teed up for a shot, but the Syngenta Juvenile defence held up again to block it.
Andrew Morrison began to show his influence on the ball as the match approached the half hour mark. A mix of strong tackles and accurate passes were showing he had the ability to win and control possession. It was Morrison who won the ball well to force it into the path of captain Gregor Munro. Munro worked the ball out to the right side of the park and shuffled past two defenders before forcing the corner. The first of several excellent deliveries from Christopher Hamilton saw Syngenta come close to doubling their lead.
Broxburn were looking unsure how the handle the quick opposing midfield and Mcnee was seen leaving more defenders behind as he drove into the box after 35 minutes. A clever pass and a battling run from Munro saw the ball fall to Jay Mcmahon. Though the attempt was curled past the post, Syngenta were closing in on a second goal.
At the other end, a cheeky overhead kick attempt from Jon-paul Dickson kept Taylor Jackson awake as he was forced to make a quick save. The Colts were working hard but struggling to find that final ball.
38 minutes into the first half and that’s just what they got. A long clearance from their half saw the ball fall for Jamie Henderson in the Syngenta area. His first attempt forced a fantastic reaction save from Jackson, but the instinctive striker in Henderson had him first to the rebound and he made no mistake in firing into the top corner to equalise. 1-1!
The match looked destined to go into the break still locked even, until some late Syngenta pressure pinned Broxburn back in their box. A hungry Mcnee was not allowing Broxburn to rest as he forced two consecutive corners. And when Hamilton swung in the third corner perfectly, it was Mcnee who rose up high to head the ball to the back post where Jordan Paterson was lurking to fire the ball into the roof of the net! 2-1 to Syngenta on the stroke of half time!
Half Time: Broxburn Athletic Colts 1-2 Syngenta Juveniles
The players returned to the pitch after a furious first half. Syngenta had the edge after dominating the midfield area. They were in front but Broxburn started the second half looking determined to chase.
It was Henderson and McGregor who immediately looked to push the leading side back. Blocked shots from Declan Kerr and Marcus Millar began the pursuit for an equaliser.
It was not long before they found it. The pace of Mcgregor put Syngenta under a lot of pressure, and it was as he entered the area on the 44th minute and looked to hit a shot he was brought down. Penalty!
You’d be hard pushed to find something more stressful than taking a penalty at a cup final. But if this worried Marcus Millar at all he did not show it as he stepped up and placed the ball neatly into the right corner of the net. 2-2!
After 50 minutes if play and two equalisers, Broxburn were finding a rhythm. Andrew Drysdale looked dangerous on the ball again, beating tow men and setting up a decent effort for striker Jamie Henderson. A clever nutmeg from Jordan Grieve saw McGregor make a similar run past the Juveniles defence.
A header from Dylan Scott and an increasingly professional passing display was seeing Broxburn take charge of the final as the hour mark approached. Syngenta had attempted a few rousing counters but the confident Colts were looking strong.
It took until the 65th minute for the Syngenta midfield to grab hold of possession again, a clever run from Clayton Lancaster forcing a corner. Another dangerous ball from Hamilton saw Greig Rae fire a header at goal. Though Wilson pulled off another great save, Syngenta Juvniles looked bright.
The match moved into a tenacious midfield battle with the teams each so close to breaking through. When Macnally worked a through ball down the right wing after 70 minutes, Mcnee was more than capable of working the ball into another dangerous Syngenta attack. When his low cross was rifled into the Broxburn area, it was Greig Rae who made the great run to the back post and met it with a sidefooted volley into the net. 3-2.
As the clock ticked on, Colts did not lose heart after falling behind. With 4 minutes to go Ross Gorman worked hard for his side to create a chance for Dickson, but the ball was struck wide and Broxburn remained behind. The match was again locked into a tactical war in the middle of the park and both sets of players were showing how capable they were of excellent attacking football.
The final minutes of normal time had every fan of the game perched on the edge of their seat. A Broxburn corner with two minutes of time remaining had almost every player crammed into the Syngenta box. A perfect ball right into the mass from Drysdale saw the ball deflected towards goal and just cleared off the line before a second Broxburn effort was dived on by Jackson. So close for the Colts!
When the 4th official holds up his board to reveal 5 additional minutes to a furious cup final, the best of teams can find themselves under pressure. But the Syngenta under 16 boys reacted calmly, taking the ball to the corner at every opportunity and holding on to possession. The game was almost put to bed as Gregor Munro unleashed a powerful effort from long range, but Wilson showed his acrobatics to get level with the shot and tip the ball over.
Broxburn were desperately attempting to find a way through but the Syngenta barricades had been made well and truly air tight. After 85 gruelling minutes, the ball sailed towards the half way line and referee Paul Taylor called time on this year’s county cup. The stands erupted and the victorious Syngenta were in their glory.
Nothing negative could be said about the approach of Broxburn Athletic Colts. The fantastic performance put forward by the runners up was unlucky to fall short. In the end, a professional display, relentless attacking skill and that much needed final day luck was what separated the teams. The man of the match accolade was given to a deserving Andrew Morrison, and this year’s Under 16’s Robert Macmillan County Cup given to the talented Syngenta Juveniles.
Full Time: Broxburn Athletic Colts 2-3 Syngenta Juveniles
Both sets of players worked extremely hard today and every player should fele proud of their performance. For me, the Broxburn man of the match has to go to Andrew Drysdale. He constantly won the ball in dangerous areas and looked dangerous whe dribbling on his own but also linking up with his fellow attackers.
Syngenta took the title today and every player held their position well. It has to go for Andrew Morrison. He hardly put a foot wrong for the entire game and pulled all the strings. Every team needs a player who can link the play. Gregor Munro also has to be mentioned. He was the captain and he won the ball and drove it forward consistently to keep Syngenta in control.