Penicuik High School emerged winners on a bitterly cold evening in Airdrieonians’ Excelsior Stadium. A tense Scottish Shield final went right down to the wire, but the Midlothian school held their nerve from the spot to make history.
Penicuik's journey started with convincing local wins against Trinity and Holy Rood. They then knocked out last season's winners St Ambrose away from home - at that point it was clear that the team meant business in this competition. It didn't get any easier, with a home tie in snowy conditions against a St Margaret's side that had reached the final of last year's U16 shield. Despite going behind, Penicuik roared back to a 5-3 win. Quarter final victory over Fife champions Woodmill was followed up by a stunning semi final victory over a Strathaven side that had previously swept aside Penicuik's own league champions, Newbattle.
Notre Dame were convincing winners over Castlemilk in the first round, before passing a stern second test in the form of Bearsden Academy. A narrow victory over Lenzie Academy then sent them on a lengthy trip to Lochgilphead, which saw them claim another win against strong opposition. Beath HS and Greenfaulds were next to fall to the Greenock school, before a thrilling 4-3 victory over Paisley Grammar secured their cup final place.
The 7pm kick off provided an action packed match. Competitors Notre Dame started the match with a 3-5-2 shape, Penicuik taking on the flexible 4-3-3 option.
The match began at a furious pace, each team offering meaty challenges to set the bar. It was the white and blue of Penicuik that pressed first. A looping free kick from close to the half way line was met by Stephen Scott inside the box who headed it home, only for it to be chalked off for offside with just a few minutes on the clock
The 200 strong attendance were in full voice on a miserable evening, suffering at least 3 seasons of weather. Their enthusiasm was rewarded with an end to end match.
Twins Kyle and Stephen Scott, who combined well throughout the match, played down the Penicuik left flank - where the Lothian side found most success. Stephen cutting inside from the left and right footing it, only for it to go slightly wide of Cleary’s goal.
Chances were aplenty at this point. Kyle Scott having three bites of the cherry for Penicuik in quick succession only to be denied by Cleary; Ryan Cannon and Jamie McKay finding good shooting positions for Notre Dame, but unable to find a way past Gibb.
Dame were making headway after spending the opening stages on the back foot. Kwame Antoine ventured down the left hand side, the effort petering out. Dame set up as a counter attacking team and did just that on the 14th minutes. Racing down the inside right channel through Mckay, who crossed low and hard for number 9 Cannon to fire a shot beyond the reach of a stretching Byron Gibb to make it 1-0.
After going 1-0 up Dame burst into life. Inspired by the goal players were provided with the confidence to have a go from distance. Ben Eardley tried just that on the 20th minute mark, only for it to go a few inches above the crossbar.
The crowd cranked up the volume to show their appreciation for the football on offer. Half an hour in and the Inverclyde school were looking to increase their lead, Corey Hughes found McKay, who attempted a first time volley but it was no threat to the Penicuik goal.
Penicuik felt hard done by after numerous offsides and two further goals disallowed. They went on the offensive once again and the pressure was equalled by the stubborn defensive treble until the 38th minute. Stephen Scott’s shot was spilled, brother Kyle’s follow up ensured Notre Dame couldn’t clear their lines and Joe Viola slammed the ball home. The Penicuik support went wild.
A determined Dame countered once more, winning a free kick close to the edge of the opposition’s box. The ball was lofted into a cluster of players, Cannon heading just over the bar on the closing stages of the first half.