The stage was set for an engrossing semi-final as these two league rivals faced off at Barrfields. In the end a confident second half performance from the league leaders proved decisive with Louis Bainbridge’s thunderbolt strike stealing the show. Colts now progress to the final to face Ayr Boswell next month.
And yet it took a while for the home side to find their stride as Valspar stunned Colts to grab an early lead. The visitors seemed to have soaked up the first half pressure, only for the hosts to grab a lifeline equaliser just before half time. There was then no looking back from Bainbridge’s rocket right after half time, as Colts took control in the second half.
For much of the opening half Valspar proved testing opponents, especially when they got the ball forward to Lewis Glass. The striker was a real handful up front throughout for the Colts defence and it was he who stunned the hosts to give the visitors the early lead on 2 minutes. Latching onto a through ball there were suspicions of offside but the striker showed great composure to control the ball and beat Jonathan Irwin from close range.
He could even have doubled his side’s advantage a few minutes later, before Colts started to find their passing game. This time Irwin was alert to parry his shot after a high ball through. Only thereafter did Colts start to get to their rhythm and passing game, as Bainbridge Robbie Coupar and Dylan Smith started to see more of the ball.
Good work out wide saw Smith lay on a couple of glorious chances on 10 minutes. From the first delivery Declan Barbour struck the woodwork and then another tantalising cross went just beyond Adam Brown as Largs pressed in midfield.
Largs continued to pass and move as they stayed on the front foot. They may even have started to wonder if it wasn’t to be their day as Glen McTaggart passed up a glorious chance with a free header not testing McKenzie Hill on 21 minutes.
Further efforts were off the mark from Robbie Coupar and Barbour as Valspar perhaps began to feel they had weathered the storm. Along with this Glass continued to be a menace on the counter, hanging on the shoulders of the Colts defence at every opportunity.
But the visitors could not hold out and Largs grabbed a deserved equaliser on 33 minutes. It required a bit of good fortune as McTaggart’s shot struck the woodwork and bounced around the box, only for Brown to tap home from close range.