Hutchison Vale met North Merchiston in the second South East Region Under 19 cup final at Bonnyrigg Rose's New Dundas Park, in as many weeks. After a deadlocked first half, a devastating second period showing by the boys in black and gold secured the trophy. Dylan Moore's opener was added to by a Jordan Combe double, to give Vale their first trophy of the season.
North Merchiston entered the match high on confidence. They had convincingly beaten Musselburgh Windsor 96' 7-1 in the previous weekend's final, but knew they were likely to receive a sterner test on a blustery afternoon in Midlothian. Hutchison Vale hadn't been beaten in the league and this was the first of three cup finals they have to look forward to, with the South East Region Cup final against North Merchiston one of those. The sides could both meet in another final too, if they both win their ties in the Federation of Hibs Supporters Cup. Both sides had beaten each other once to date and form would suggest that these sides will guzzle up the majority of the eight local trophies to play for at this age group.
The match kicked off at the high tempo you come to expect at this level. The pitch was in good condition and both teams showed a desire to get the ball down and play in the early spells. Both sets of full backs were enjoying a lot of the ball, as central midfields battled for possession, before spraying the ball out wide and building from the back.
Merchi were the first to threaten, forcing a series of corner kicks, all invitingly delivered by Nathan Evans. Jake MacDonald saw his header cleared off the line, Calum Baptie struck an effort off the post and Anton Dowds thought he had put his side in front, only for his half volley to be blocked by some last ditch defending.
Jordan Combe was Vale's most likely source for danger in the opening exchanges. His non stop running off the ball were keeping the Merchi defenders on their toes and also giving them little time on the ball. His first chance came when the striker beat the offside trap, but just as he prepared to pull the trigger, North Merchiston goalkeeper Ryan Forsyth stole the ball from his feet and clutched onto it at the second attempt. Brave goalkeeping, which would become a common sight.
Another player starting to make his mark for Vale was Dylan Moore. He had a half hearted appeal for a penalty waved away, as he clashed with a Merchi defender inside the box. Moore appeared favourite to reach the loose ball with the goal gaping, but Ryan Clarke made a timely intervention.
More body on the line Merchi defending prevented Moore from opening his account minutes later. A shot bound for the bottom left hand corner was crucially deflected wide by Calum Windram. Not to be outdone, Hutchie's Matthew Joint showed his side's defending was equally effective, standing up strong to half a surging James Redpath run.
That proved to be the last action of an entertaining and very even first half. It was anybody's game at this stage and too close to call.