Harmony Row hosted Rangers SABC in the very first of the 2013/14 Trans World Soccer Scottish Youth FA Cup semi finals. The stage was McKenna Park, home to junior outfit St Anthony's and a large crowd assembled for the first of two derby matches to determine the Under 13 national finalists - the other being the all Edinburgh affair of Edina Hibs vs Hutchison Vale.
A pulsating match saw Rangers go ahead through Dylan Brown and miss a series of chances, before Harmony Row equalised through a sublime Alistair Goodnight free kick. The sides couldn't be separated in normal time, but Brown scored his second during extra time before Josh Gordon sealed the Gers' victory and their place at the prestigious cup final at Airdrieonian's Excelsior Stadium.
The Under 13 'Scottish Cup' is special for many teams, as it is their first taste of playing in a national cup competition, played over the course of several months. It's safe to say the two sides who took to the field in this semi final tie had enjoyed contrasting journeys. Rangers had been simply devastating. Linwood Rangers, Renfrew FC, Formartine United, Kilsyth Athletic, Largs Spartans and Jerviston FC had all fell to the light blues. 35 goals had been scored and a grand total of zero conceded. At an age group where high scores are the norm, for a team to go so long without conceding a goal was quite remarkable. Whilst most of Rangers ties were close to home, they had also negotiated away trips to Aberdeenshire and Ayrshire, so they hadn't had it all their own way.
On the other hand, Harmony Row had endured a much tougher run to get to the semi final stage. After an initial comprehensive win over Giffnock Soccer Centre, they were matched against league rivals East End United, a match which eventually saw Row progress following a SYFA committee decision. Row then produced consecutive 3-2 wins against Lanarkshire outfit Drumsagard and Albion BC of Aberdeen, before enjoying a more comfortable Round 5 victory against Carbrain BC. The final leg of their journey saw a nail-biting affair at home to Newcraighall Leith Vics of Edinburgh, which eventually saw Row hold their nerve to win a penalty shoot out.
If the Scottish Cup form indicated Rangers going into the tie as favourites, the league form only vindicated that further. The wee Gers boast a 100% record in the Glasgow and District YFL, winning all 14 of their ties to date. Row ply their trade in the neighbouring Paisley & District YFL's top flight and have also been enjoying a good season, although their cup campaign has seen them rack up several games in hand on runaway leaders East End United - leaving them with a tough task to pull themselves back into the title race.
The match kicked off on a mild Glasgow afternoon, with Harmony Row getting proceedings underway, playing from right to left. An early period of cautiousness soon subsided, as Rangers started to stamp their authority on both possession and territory.
As the Rangers pressure grew, the first moment of excitement for the crowd unsurprisingly took place inside the Harmony Row penalty box. A lofted ball from the Rangers right, courtesy of John Gilmour, had Harmony goalkeeper Ross Kane scrambling to adjust his feet. At the Under 13 age group, it isn't uncommon to see goalkeepers helpless as a high crossed ball sneaks underneath the crossbar. However, on this occasion the ball went over the bar, before making contact with Kane from the other side of the net, and going backward. From certain angles it looked like the Row goalkeeper might have tipped the ball into his own net, however after a consultation with his assistant, the referee came to the correct decision.
However, it wasn't long before Rangers did take the lead. Andrew Paulley's superb outswinging cross saw Gilmour connect brilliantly, only for his effort to cannon off the crossbar. Quickest to react was Dylan Brown, who produced a scissor volley to smash the ball high into the net and give his side the lead.
Paulley's deliveries were causing no end of chaos for Harmony Row and it was from another of those set pieces that Rangers nearly doubled their lead. Gilmour produced a delightful lay-off and John Wilson's shot was well saved by Kane, before a crucial intervention from Cameron Clark saw the ball to safety.
The final chance of the half saw more good build up play from Brown, who surged through midfield before dinking the ball into the path of Gilmour. His effort was once again superly saved by Kane, before more heroic defending allowed Row to clear their lines.