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Hutchison Vale handed out a real beating to under-19 league champions, Musselburgh Windsor in a cup final at Olive Bank. Yes, they did! The final score in favour of Hutchison Vale was 6-1 but it could have been even worse for Windsor as goalie Daniel Laing saved hls side time and time again with wonderful saves and blocks, in the first half! In front of another good crowd many of whom bought the ‘best pies in Scottish Football’ at the refreshments kiosk, it was a cracker of a game.
Played at great pace and with no shortage of good individual skills and impressive team play. Vale looked in the mood from the opening whistle from strong referee Paul Crosbie and his good assistants, Callum Bryson and Nathan Dunn. It is never easy to control teams of under-19 footballers, but big Paul Crosbie was always in control of this cup final - although several of the more vociferous on the terracing at the school side were loud in their frustration at Paul’s decisions at times. But, as a neutral, I thought the match official was excellent. I would say that, as I support all referees whenever I can.
This final scoreline at the finish can be put down, simply, to the effectiveness of the Vale attack and the ineffectiveness of the Windsor attack. Goodness me, how the Musselburgh side are missing the good play from the injured Jordan Burrows and skipper, Jack Moffat. In comparison, Vale had fired-up attackers in abundance and they attacked the Windsor goal from all areas of the pitch at Olive Bank. Sad to say, but vandals had set the port cabin toilets on fire so these public facilities were boarded up. It was nothing short of tragic to see the damage caused, considering the amount of work done by volunteers at the home of Musselburgh Athletic JFC in a bib to keep the club afloat and part of the local community.
The game got underway at an electric pace, with Vale on the move up the left, the ball switched quickly and accurately between Chris Hendrie, Ryan Malcolm and Jason Coyle. That got the final up and running and that was the way this game was played. Windsor countered with good play from Craig Turnbull and Ewan Ralton, two more very good young prospects. Big Daniel Laing, as usual, looked fantastic in the home goal. Let’s face it, he had to be as he faced possibly the best and most impressive player on the pitch in Vale No 9, Jason Cummings. I think I can say Cummings had a ‘blistering’ game! Oh, yes he did!
Musselburgh again forced their way in to the game with a superb free kick and it almost produced an opening goal, with a fierce shot at big Thomas Cordery (in the Vale goal) taking a deflection off a defender and going behind for a corner on the right. Game, on, big man! When the corner came over in to the Vale goalmouth, Windsor No 4, Craig McLeod, rose high above everyone else to head the ball wide. Up to the dressing rooms end of the ground and hot-shot Cummings hammered a shot wide of Laing’s goal. Vale pushed forward in search of an opener. Oh, yes they did and the crowd roared, at whoever they wanted! I don’t think it was me, thankfully!
In the ninth minute of this cracker of a game, Windsor scored. Patrick Harrold supplied an excellent pass for Jack McIntyre to force the ball over the Vale goal-line at the left-hand post. Harrold, I thought, was one of the most accurate passers of the ball in midfield for Windsor, but he got subbed at half-time, so that put my gas at a peep! After going 1-0 behind, Vale upped the pace like crazy! Cummings, who appeared to me to have a ‘shoot-on-sight’ approach to the game, lashed shots in at and wide of big Daniel in the Windsor goal. Harrold then produced a bad tackle on Vale No 6, my great friend of many years, Connor McGregor, and the free-kick was in a good position. But the delivery was nice and easy for big Daniel in the Windsor goal. In the second half, Daniel was in ‘the lion’s den’ with a vengeance. But, more of that later!
Play pounded on and the crowd roared, when Cummings and Coyle combined on the left, but what a weak shot at the home goal! That was followed by another great move from Vale, with Rob Dent involved this time, then on to skipper Chris Deigon and then McGregor who switched the ball out to the left, to the waiting No 11, Ryan Malcolm - who shot in to the side net! Aye, Coyle and Cummings again, but Laing blocked the shot for a corner. Turnbull hauled down Cummings in another raid on the home goal and that produced a spectacular fall from the Vale No 9 - and another free-kick. Malcolm took the free-kick and hit a scorcher of a shot straight at Laing, and the ball rebounded off the big goalie’s chest and was cleared away. But it almost produced an equaliser for Vale.
The Windsor defence, with Dan Moffat in great form, had to work hard again to clear a high ball in to their goal from Vale No 8, Chris Hendrie. And that was the tone of the game, blistering pace up front from Vale, good raids on the Vale goal, it was as they say ‘a cracker’! Chris Deignon continued to impress for Vale with his runs up the right wing, while a high lob from Windsor No 8, Dan Moffat, failed to trouble Cordery & Co. Rob Dent again led the way for Vale in another good move before Deignon fed a pass through for Cummings to hammer a searing shot wide of the Windsor goal. A goal just had to come for Hutchison Vale and it surely did, halfway through the first half. A good ball from McGregor was not cleared by the under-pressure Windsor defence and there was Cummings, who else, to plaster the ball over the line and it was 1-1.
From then on, it was mostly all about Hutchison Vale. Windsor’s attacking options appeared to me to be very limited and in fact, the Vale defence were never really troubled. A poor clearance from Laing went straight to Cummings, but the Vale No 9 this time dallied too long and the chance went abegging. I thought Windsor No 3, did so well both in midfield and defence. But, what do I know? The home side then created a good move, with Jack Thomson and Craig McLeod involved up the left wing. That, too, was halted before Windsor got near the Vale goal. A free-kick to Windsor brought forth the comment from the terracing: “Referee, you’re having a laugh!” But I did not see a smile on Mr Crosbie’s face. Possibly I missed it in the heat of the moment. Windsor again on the hunt for a second goal with the two Jacks - Thomson and McIntyre - leading the way. Another comment from the terracing: “Is that not a push, ref? Oh, it was only with one hand!” Ha, ha, the banter was good! McIntyre was brilliant up front for Windsor, but he was ‘ploughing a lone furrow’ as they say!
The presssure on the Windsor defence was relentless and Kieran McHarg was one of the stars in defence for Windsor. Dent worked so hard on the right to create chances for Vale while the powerhouse shooting of Cummings was a constant threat to the home side. Hendrie headed wide of Laing’s goal in another raid but Vale DID score again, shortly before half-time, when Cummings ran in on Laing’s goal and placed the ball wide of the advancing keeper in to the net and it was 2-1 at the break.
I just did not know what action Windsor could possibly take to halt this Vale outfit. To my surprise, they took off Harold (what do I know) and brought on No 15, Ben Stewart. Goodness me, and how Ben made his presence felt, getting himself booked in to the bargain. Free-kicks galore mounted up for Vale and Cummings sent one of these wide of the target. A wee bit improvement required there, then, Jason? The pressure on the struggling Windsor defenders mounted... and mounted! No 7, Ryan McConville, was even back to help his Windsor defenders clear up a good Vale raid. Then Ralton broke away for Windsor, but his shot went in to the side net. Ben Stewart, a hard working No 15, set another move up for Windsor and Ralton and McConville kept it going - before the Vale defence stepped in to clear the ball.
I have to say, there was a better shape to the Windsor side at his stage (but what do I know?). It was the calm before the storm broke! And, break, it most certainly did! A free-kick to Vale was taken away out on the right by Hendrie and aimed at the back post. The ball was headed back across the Windsor goal and Rob Dent it was who headed the ball past the diving Laing to make it 3-1 for Vale. That was it, the dam burst and the Windsor defence went well and truly under! Deignon made it 4-1 as Vale threatened to run riot.
Windsor managed to break on the right, but No 7, McConville, shot wide. Poor Ben Stewart, his aggressive tackling brought him his second yellow card from Mr Crosbie and Windsor were then a player short. One of their coaches was also sent away from the side of the pitch and that indiscipline had a heavy price for Windsor. Cummings made it 5-1 before Coyle, another good player (what do I know?) lobbed the ball brilliantly over the advancing Laing to make the final score 6-1 for Hutchison Vale,
Quite unbelievable scoreline and it was then the turn of their coach, Alan Watson, to get the treatment from his jubilant players. They picked Alan up and tossed him up in the air time after time, until the wee man was like a sack of rubbish. Alan came down to earth with a real bump and then the Vale players piled on top of him. And that is what Alan got for seeing his team win the Hibs Federation of Supporter Clubs Cup!
Meanwhile, I was speaking to Jason Cummings granny, the lovely Margaret Ferguson (the Sophia Loren of Olive Bank), and I persuaded her brilliant grandson, Jason Cummings to pose with Margaret for a picture.
The trophy and medals were presented by that Rambo Jambo, Harry Smith, an official with SERYFA and the SYFA. To say Harry does not like the Hibees is a great understatement on my part, but he was all smiles and good manners when handing over the Hibs fans cup to Hutchison Vale - through gritted teeth!
Full Time: Hutchison Vale 6-1 Musselburgh Windsor