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Valspar clinch semi final place on penalties

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Fixture: Valspar v Kilwinning
Competition: Presidents Cup Quarter Final
 
The U19’s Presidents Cup Quarter Final should have been a routine affair for league challengers Kilwinning Rangers against struggling Valspar. More so after the two met in December to contest another Quarter Final, with Kilwinning running out comfortable 4 – 1 winners. 
 
On Sunday, with the Valspar team down to 9 men after 70 minutes, this game should have only gone one way. The ‘romance of the cup’ means that the great stories are when “should have” is ignored by the wee teams and “could”, “would” and “will” galvanise teams and become “did!”
 
Glen McKnight and Calum Nairn, both 20 years old, recently took over the reins at Valspar after the previous coaches had left due to work commitments. 
 
It was a chance to cut their teeth with a team of willing players who had not yet gelled. With 7 losses and 1 win out of their first 8 games, expectations could best be described as low. 2 wins and a draw from the previous 3 games suggest that the team was reacting well to the new coaching partnership.
 
The game started with Valspar aided by a strong wind at their back. The teams were fairly evenly matched until a poor clear out by the Kilwinning goalie saw the ball fall to Valspars Corey Hay, and with the net unguarded he scored to put the home team 1 – 0 up. 
 
Later in the half Valspars, Steven Clark overhead kick landed at the feet of Decci Dunlop who scored, however the referee ruled it offside and the half ended 1 – 0 to Valspar. 
 
Half Time: Valspar 1-0 Kilwinning
 
The second half saw Kilwinning making a number of changes.
 
Valspar were comfortably dealing with the threats until a ball down the Kilwinning left saw Valspars Dean Galloway bring down the Kilwinning substitute on the edge of the box. The referee awarded them a penalty and sent Galloway sent off. Kilwinning’s Patrick Hamill calmly slotted home the penalty to level the game, 1 – 1.
 
Down to 10 men and with a further 35 minutes to go, it seemed unlikely that Valspar should have expected anything from the game.
 
The task got even harder after 60 minutes when Valspars were reduced to nine men. In spite of this, both teams still had chances and normal time ended with the game still 1 – 1.
 
Yet again Howie was pushed forward. The Valspar team went straight up the park and the excellent Howie put the ball through to Dunlop who, through one on one with the keeper, calmly slotted the ball home with the last kick of the ball to force extra time. 
 
Full Time: Valspar 1-1 Kilwinning
 
A herculean effort by the nine remaining players saw the first period of extra time negotiated with no further score and an unlikely penalty shoot-out was only 15 minutes away.
 
Kilwinning clearly had much of the pressure, however the deadlock was broken when Valspars Steven Clark hesitated in the box and eventually poked over a soft own goal to gift Kilwinning a 2 – 1 lead. 
 
With the likelihood of the floodgates opening, the young Valspar coaches made the decision to push the excellent Ben Howie from centre half to attack. It was all or nothing and the team responded.
 
Stewart Millarvie raced down the left wing and sent over a cross that fell to Ben Howie at the edge of the box. The right footed Howie confidently met the ball on the volley with his left foot to drive a stunning shot past the Kilwinning goalie. 
 
Maybe not miraculous but certainly unlikely, Valspar were 8 minutes from penalties and Howie was back in defence mopping up everything that came near him.
The game was surely over in the final minute of added time when a great cross was met by Grant Fordbes, and they went 3 – 2 with surely no time left. 
 
Yet again Howie was pushed forward. The Valspar team went straight up the park and the excellent Howie put the ball through to Dunlop who, through one on one with the keeper, calmly slotted the ball home with the last kick of the ball.
 
Full Time in Extra Time: Valspar 3-3 Kilwinning
 
The giant Valspar goalie, Peter Hilderley, stepped up to the mark, determined to do his bit for the cause. The big stopper saved the first two Kilwinning penalties whilst Valspar scored theirs.
 
The next two penalties were missed and Hilderley faced the 4th Kilwinning penalty with the fate of the cup in his hands.
 
A great penalty to the bottom right looked certain to hit the back of the net until Hilderley unbelievably managed to push the ball above the bar to take the Valspar team into the most unlikely of semi-finals.
 
Full Time: Valspar 3-3 Kilwinning (Valspar win on penalties)

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