Kilmarnock Academy clashed with South West Region Rivals Douglas Ewart High School in a thrilling Scottish Schools FA Shield Third Round match. Fine goals, a red card, handbags and more, it was a pleasure that I had stayed to spectate the game.
The game was being held at the Grange Academy in Kilmarnock as the Kilmanock Academy have no 3G AstroTurf of their own. The game certainly could not have went ahead had the game been forced to be played on grass - sensibly the venue was switched so as not to risk it for the visitors travelling North from Dumfries.
The visitors started the better side. Robert Hughan had a half chance on the hour mark, but his steered volley was always on the rise. The same player was then almost gifted a goal when he was presented the ball thirty yards out with the opposing keeper Craig Spiers out of his goal. Hughan's effort however just didn't have the legs to squirm past Spiers and he gathered comfortably.
The Kilmarnock Academy made them pay. Spiers through the ball out to Ross Black, and after a neat interchange, the former Ayr United central midfielder sent a superb through ball for Matthew Cree to sprint onto at pace. The winger made no problem of dispatching the ball beyond Douglas Ewart keeper Euan Drysdale for 1-0, against the run of play it must be said.
For the next ten or so minutes, the game became a total midfield battle. However, on the twenty-five minute mark the home side, playing in a light maroon rather than the usual red and black which clashed with the visitors, should have been 2-0 up. It was great work from Fraser Smith (reverted back to his old central midfield position) and he put the ball on a tee for Tony Murphy to tap in, but incredibly he screwed his effort over.
The good link up play did give the Kilmarnock Academy a huge boost though, and they did start putting intense pressure on the opposing defence. Smith tried his luck from distance, his dip-and-spin shot was moving set from Drysdale but he made a smart stop nonetheless.
From there, Corey Ross almost thought he had gotten a goal. In a rare venture forward from the left back position he had made his own, he squeezed the ball beyond a crowded penalty area and the ball was trickling towards the back of the net. However, in just the nick of time Ryan Jackson slid the ball away off of the line.
The home side were not to be denied though. After a ricochet around the area following a long ball , the ball dropped nicely for Black who dispatched the ball home for 2-0 with less than four minutes left of the first half.
The Kilmanock Academy were on total control at this point, and they should not have started conceding chances with so little time left on the clock. However, that is precisely what happened. A wild air kick from my mate Darryl Biggley allowed Conal McDonald a run in on goal, but the captain put his effort high and wide when he should have at the very least made the keeper work. However, Douglas Ewart did not have to be asked twice to dispatch a second gift wrapped chance. A free kick was given to the away side on the edge of the box. Hughan curled the ball onto the cross bar with a magnificent effort. With the defence completely static, Martin Jolly headed home from the rebound to make it 2-1 on the stroke of half time.