Hutchison Vale took on Fernieside in a Trans World Soccer Scottish Youth FA Cup semi final that captured the imagination. The winner of the last two trophies, Vale, against the underdogs from the second tier of South East Region football. Could the south Edinburgh side pull off a 'giant killing'?
Fernieside kicked off and looked to go forward immediately but Kieran Young intervened with a strong tackle and Hutchison got it on the deck and started to get comfortable on their touches. They managed this with aplomb then for the next 2 minutes before a good big tackle almost put paid to it and Fernieside flooded the Hutchison field area. From a throw though, Hutchison broke right down pitch and through Ryan Fox got to the edge of the box where Jack Doyle made the tackle and after a cross from Lewis Swaney for Hutchison into the box, Fernie made the clearance and Hutchison settled back into a passing rhythm, working the ball out left through defence and up field before Fox came a bit deeper to look for a killer ball into the box. He was prevented and Fernieside went down the pitch in the modern Spartans Academy, Charlie Adams drawn into the box and he almost got a shot away winning a corner.
The Hutchison team brought a bit more tempo back into their game again with Sam Birch carrying his side out from the right and down before Fernieside got out of a tight spot with a strong tackle to retrieve the ball which was then touched on cleverly by Adams to get by his defender and then lobbed gently into the path of Ben Gardiner who, now tracking out of the box, was blocked on the cross and won a corner. Only some last ditch blocks prevented a shot from there but Hutchison worked their way down the field again calmly and then Fernie came back with another corner and Hutchison cleared out through Birch who was looking streetwise and composed and got the ball into Kieran Young on space on the edge of the area. He was tackled and with just 5 minutes gone the game was looking to level out after the early probing exchanges.
Adams for Fernie again found the ball and a way through on the left, getting it inside to Gardiner once more with a high shot. Now Hutchison made two good attacks both with Fox breaking down the left wing, coming inside and laid a grand ball back for a shot from a teammate which was blocked.
Then another attack and shot followed up before Fernieside got down the other end and Brendan Ogg came into the box and put a good pass into Lee Dillon who couldn’t quite find the return through ball in on goal. Now Hutchison Vale F.C. laid on a good few minutes of pressure in and around the Fernieside box, even controlling play in their own half after Charlie Adams for Fernie again looked dangerous.
On ten minutes, and after a moment of opportunity with a loose ball for Sam Birch almost getting in on goal, Fernie found Adams who played an exceptional ball in onto the area for Gardiner. Then, the key moment of the game so far, a young lady with a toddler who ducked a ball pile-drived out of play like it was all just a usual part of a Sunday stroll! Play continued on unabashed and Hutchie did the same with the pressure with Young and Fox going forward and Fernieside looking lethal in attack.
A rasping low shot came in which the Hutchison keeper Byron Gibb showed good technique to hold. Hutchie played it in and around the Fernie box not quite finding the opening to shoot before their right back Cameron Milne saw a pass early and intercepted the ball coming forward into the area, finding a colleague with the pull back and winning his side a corner.
Then a period of indecisiveness got a hold of both sides for a few minutes of stop start play and a time out and then Hutchison got things back on the deck and Milne found an opportune ball out to his winger down the right.
On the twentieth minute, Fernieside with Adams collected again and found Gardiner who headed neatly passed the defender and took a shot which was met in the area and retained. For a few minutes it was Fernieside who shifted play in and around the box whilst there were sporadic but consistent quality bursts from Hutchison Vale.
It was Adams this time though who had the clearest chance of the game so far, when bearing down on the keeper Gibb, his chipped attempt was prevented by an outstretched palm and cleared. 23 minutes gone and Ogg was standing ominously over a free kick just 7 yards outside the box after a strong challenge drew a foul. The shot, in the swirling wind, didn’t quite come down though and play resumed from a goal kick.
Next, another free kick was floated in by Fernieside, clearly having the upper hand in play at present, and this time it was looping and deep and the header down almost found two alert collectors but the goal keeper Gibb was quick and pulled it into his arms.
An injury curtailed action on the 27th minute and a Fernieside goal kick restarted play with Birch looking to get in amongst Fernieside and Fox finding himself disappointed at the awarding of a free kick to his team just as he had broken the line of midfield in the Fernieside half. The free kick took play out wide left for Hutchison and then back inside for a marauding Cameron Fraser to come onto it and hit a mighty shot, controlled on the outside of his right boot that went arrowing towards the top left corner but passed just a little wide.
On half an hour, Kieran Young broke for Hutchi his line from left back and put it through to the byline where Ethen Hamilton took a touch to the line and then pulled it back into an area where he found Gabriel Auriemma and he turned it in to take the lead and make it 1-0 to Hutchison Vale F.C.
From the restart, Fernieside pushed down the left wing with a couple of throws and won a free kick on the edge which was curled in at a nice height and with stark pace but went spinning past everyone and out for a goalkick. Then Hutchi looked to regain a bit of composure after taking the lead but were re-buffed and Fernieside won another free-kick on the opposite side this time, which, although not quite as accurate this one had enough spin to cause a nervous moment in the area as Adams almost nipped a forehead on to it but the Hutchi keeper Gibb collected.
Vale broke and had a challenge draw a yellow for Fernieside. From the resulting free kick Hutchie had a good shot blocked from Lewis Swaney and then the corner very nearly curled in at the far post. A break through the midfield from Ethen Hamilton was then met with a crunching challenge drawing gasps from the crowd as the defender, obviously coming off worse, lay prostrate on the ground. This turned to consternation as well, as the released pass made had found goalscorer Auriemma through on the area and the advantage stymied by the referee’s whistle. There was a last defender coming across though and there was also a potential injury needing urgent attention so the referee deserved credit here.
As it was the injury was attended to for a good few minutes and the referee took the opportunity to call both teams over to him, obviously taking a very sensible approach and managing the game and the incident through communication. There was some indication that he had called half time as the teams wandered over to their respective sides, almost 8 minutes now gone and the player still lying on the ground receiving some care. The onlookers murmured and rumours of an ambulance abounded as the generally good atmosphere and reflectively end-to-end game had turned into something of an anxious commotion as sirens bleared into action away in the distance.
The sides tried to keep warm at their respective ends and the paramedics tended to the injury, now with 20 minutes of the pause in play, the lad was atop the stretcher and being carefully taken on to the ambulance with a warming applause accompanying him. Hutchison passed the ball back to the Fernieside goalkeeper and play resumed under a distinctly leaden sky. Hutchie played it around the width of the box and out to the left and Ryan Fox turned it into Auriemma in the area, it was a better opportunity than it felt but maybe football wasn’t the prime consideration just now.
As the play, went back down the right wing with Hutchison Vale, the referee blew for the long awaited half-time whistle and as the teams trudged back to their dressing rooms, the smell of rain tainted the air and the wind blew ominously through the stand. The ambulance did a 3 point turn and the 1-0 lead Hutchison took into the break seemed of little consequence where there was a mother and her concern for her son to consider.