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Despite finishing the first half 1 – 2 down, Hutchison Vale managed to launch a comeback and defeat Currie Star 4 – 2 in the final of the Ken Ritchie Cup. Passmore gave Currie the lead after 20 minutes but their lead was short lived as Swan equalised from the spot for Hutchie just 2 minutes later. But, again, the score line wasn’t to last as mere seconds later Cairns had restored the Currie advantage which the held on to until half time. The game restarted and after 18 minutes Henderson had put Hutchie level, for the second time, before Rose and Hall added the third and fourth respectively to fire their team into a 4 – 2 lead at full time.
Conditions were ideal as the teams met at Soughton Park and, with both having lifted silverware in their previous fixture, the game promised to be a good one. Currie kicked off, with both teams lining up with four at the back, five across the midfield and a lone striker up top.
Hutchie’s Euan Henderson had the first real chance of the game as a botched clearance from a corner found him on the edge of the six yard box. Under pressure, the midfielder had to hit the bouncing ball a little earlier than he would have liked and, with the ball refusing to fall fast enough, he was just unable to keep his shot down.
Russell Cairns answered back for Currie as he managed to pick up the ball following an attempt to play the ball out from the back at a goal kick. Cairns beat his marker to the ball before firing from distance and, although his shot was of target it should have served as a warning for Hutchie as seconds later, after another attempt to play the ball out from a goal kick, Currie did take the lead.
Jack Passmore dispossessed his defender and without even a touch to control the bouncing ball sent it over the head of Robbie Stirling with the most delicate of chips on 20 minutes. The young man finding the top corner at the far post with an un-saveable shot to hand his team the lead.
Within seconds of the goal Gregor Lamb had won Hutchie a penalty after he had lured his defender into committing a clumsy challenge in the box. Lamb went on to miss the following penalty but was fouled again as he followed up the rebound and the referee pointed to the stop for a second time inside a minute. Ben Swan stepped up to take the second spot kick and, although Sam Colley managed to get a hand to the shot, found the net with a low shot to the bottom right of the goal to draw the score level on 22 minutes.
Seeing their lead vanish Currie looked to respond, and respond they did through a Russell Cairns free kick seconds later. The shot was taken from a long way out and Stirling may feel he could have done better, but the strike was true and the ball only just dipped under the bar to cap a frantic few minutes. 1 – 2 Currie Star.
Max Bendle and James Cameron were working hard in the centre of the park to neutralise the Hutchie threat, but also to get forward in support. Bendle looked to have found himself in front of goal after weaving past two defenders but opted to pass instead.
The score line looked an accurate representation of play as the first half drew to an end, but Hutchie remained a threat to the end. Currie had Euan Mitchell to thank as the defender broke up a counter and won possession after showing great bravery to challenge for the ball – an injury looked a far more likely outcome than the ball. Russell Cairns came close to scoring with a final free kick before the whistle sounded.
Half Time: Hutchison Vale 1 - 2 Currie Star
In the first half Currie had exposed a few frailties in the Hutchie defence as willing runners had proved difficult to track and Robbie Campbell had held the ball up well making his defenders jobs tricky. Hutchie hadn’t been helped by poor distribution from set plays which had been a hindrance to developing an attacking rhythm, as had the tenacity of the Currie players. In contrast to Campbell, Gregor Lamb had looked a little isolated up front for Hutchie, but he had still found chances. With the teams lined up to start the second half, Hutchie would want to find a more fluid way to link the midfield and attack to find a way back into the tie.
Almost straight from kick-off Hutchie looked rejuvenated and after just six minutes Euan Henderson had found himself one on one with Sam Colley. Henderson latched onto a lovely lofted pass from deep midfield and lost his marker before releasing a shot that had the better of Colley but was cleared en route to goal. More direct and much better from Hutchison Vale though.
Henderson found himself on goal again moments later after another weighted pass from midfield defeated the Currie backline but Henderson was unable to direct his shot on goal. Undeterred, the Hutchie youngster continued to press forward as his team began to dominate possession and was rewarded for his efforts with 20 minutes of the second half played. A deft flick took him past three defenders and he raced into the box before showing composure to place the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal. A well worked, and well taken, goal to draw the game level at 2 – 2.
In a reshuffling of tactics and formation Hutchie’s Grant Rose, who had played at centre half in the first half, found himself up top in the second period and was looking to wreak havoc as the burly number nine looked dangerous whenever he was on the ball and had provided his team with a target going forwards. Unluckily, he rattled a shot from distance off the cross bar after being released down the right wing by a stunning ball from Calum Hall.
But, like Henderson before him, Rose wasn’t about give up and coming so close looked more to have annoyed the striker than anything else. With his next touch of the ball he went past two defenders before hammering another shot from distance – and with this one he made no mistake. It was a scorching shot that spun into the roof of the net after sailing over the hands of a hapless Sam Colley, giving Hutchie the lead for the first time with 10 minutes to play.
By now the same fight that Currie had shown in the first half was beginning to wane and Hutchie were in the ascendancy. Clearly feeling confident after taking the lead for the first time, they continued to press forward and Henderson was unlucky with a dipping volley that flashed just wide of the post.
Calum Hall was having more luck than his teammate though, as he played a corner short before picking up the return pass and firing in what initially looked like a cross but ended up lodged in the bottom corner of Colley’s net with only 3 minutes remaining. It was a remarkable goal that provided more or less ensured victory for Hutchie after a resilient and exciting second half performance.
Grant Rose had another one on one but Colley stood up long enough to keep the score at 4 – 2. While at the other end, Harris Neillings denied Robbie Campbell’s final chance with a strong tackle and Hutchie held on to earn a hard-fought but deserved victory, adding to the silverware already acquired this season.
The game was a closely contested affair for most of the game but the deployment of Grant Rose up front for Hutchie changed the complexion of the game. In the first half Lamb had looked isolated but having Rose playing higher up the pitch allowed him and his teammates, noticeably Henderson, to push forward in attacking positions. Currie can be proud of their performance as they battled hard for most of the game and arguably didn’t deserve to concede four goals but ultimately they ran out of steam a little. Hutchie asked more questions of their opponents late on and came out on top after a clinical second half performance.
Full Time: Hutchison Vale 4 - 2 Currie Star