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Somervell has been the venue for many classic Junior cup ties in the past but tonight it would be schools football that took centre stage as Clydebank High school took on Saint Margaret’s of Airdrie for a place in the Under 16’s SSFA Shield final.
Clydebank had lifted this trophy twice in their history but unfortunately for the current crop the most recent of those was 1935 but coach Paul Hamilton was hoping that this could be an opportunity to create a new legacy for his school, “Looking back for the time when Clydebank won trophies and you could be going back as far as the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s but the boys know what a great opportunity this is and for some of them it might be the biggest game they ever play."
Coming down from Airdrie were another team looking to make it hat trick of wins although St. Margaret’s last lifted much more recently in 2008 and, despite having to come back from 3-1 in their quarter final against holders Dunfermline, Coach Davie MacPherson was confident his boys had what it takes to win today, “If the boys play how they usually play I’ll be happy as long as they enjoy it and if they go out to a better team so be it they’ve had a great run and I’ll wish the other team all the best."
The wind was up and the sun was setting as we got under way and the hundreds in attendance watched the two teams kick off and it was St. Margaret’s in their blue and white striped home shirts that got us under way with the first chance of the match falling to forward Luke Tuite but his well struck shot was just over the bar.
Clydebank were quick to respond and poured forward like a red wave in search of the opener but shots by Aaron Graham and Jamie Henry just lacked the necessary accuracy to trouble Liam Tuite in the opposition goal.
Henry was beginning to make a nuisance of himself though and after jockeying for position with the blues Michael Creilly was able to get another shot away but the angle was too narrow and it was gathered easily.
Next to try his luck in front of goal was Saints captain Daniel Johnson as he ran onto a blocked shot by midfield partner Daniel Finnigan met the ball eight yards out but somehow managed to lift his shot over the bar and the scores remained level.
Henry and Johnson would have further chances go begging before the deadlock was finally broken, Tuite receiving a ball down the right wing and lifting the ball into the box and hanging it beautifully for the onrushing Cairan Reilly to nod past the stranded James Wheelans and give his side the lead.
But just as we approached half time Clydebank rallied one more time and a beautiful midfield move culminated in Scott Holms slipping in Euan Urquhart who took the ball on the run and timed his shot over the outrushing goalie perfectly so set the net rippling and send the teams to the dressing rooms locked at 1-1.
Half Time: Clydebank HS 1-1 St. Margaret’s HS
The second period seemed to start at a more sedate pace as both teams felt each other out looking for an opening and Johnson was the first to try his luck but his 25 yard effort was a yard over the bar.
Next up were Clydebank and they broke quickly from midfield following a St. Margaret's attack with James Ballantyne spotting another well timed run by Urquhart and before Tuite had time to set himself he struck it right footed first time sending it flying past the keeper and giving his side the lead for the first time.
The Bankies were in control now and after Henry nicked the ball yet again in midfield you sensed what was coming as he played in Henry who strode towards the box evading a challenge before sliding in Holms and his cool finish doubled his team’s advantage with twenty minutes on the clock.
A dubious challenge on Holms after he had beaten two players and made space for a shot gave Graham the chance to make it 4-1 from the spot but his strike was at the perfect height for Tuite and the score remained the same.
Marco Cozzari then lined up a free kick outside the Clydebank box following a foul and shot from fully twenty yards, Wheelans got down well to it but couldn’t hold it and the loose ball spun up for Reilly to stick it home and reduce the deficit.
Saints were now pouring forward in an attempt to stop the game slipping away from them and Creilly’s strike from range thundered off the bar. Seconds later a carbon copy of the previous goal saw a free kick by McClair saved but not held and before you could blink Reilly had both his hat trick and the equaliser.
It seemed almost inevitable that St Margaret's would grab a winner late on given the fact they had all the momentum and, when a long clearance found Reilly up front by himself, you knew there was only going to be one outcome. The ball bounce between him and Wheelans but he got a toe to it first sending it spinning past the goalie, into the net and his side into the final amid rampant celebrations.
Full Time: Clydebank HS 3-4 St Margaret's HS