Glenvale must have prepared for this West Region Cup final by collectively watching Real Madrid’s 4-1 demolition of Juventus in the Champions League final the night previous. The Paisley side ran out 5-0 winners and proved to be a class above Airdrieonians, and they too had a talismanf figure to thank for a brace, in the form of Brian Connor.
In contrast to the mild Cardiff evening football’s current elite battled under, this clash of western Scotland’s finest youths was a duel in the sun, and its rays split through the clouds like Glenvale splitting open the Airdrie defence in the first minute.
The Lanarkshire outfit kicked off but surrendered possession far too easily and their opponents duly pounced. Cameron Crooks spotted the run of his strike partner 25 yards from goal, sticking the ball in between the full back Callum Guthrie and centre half Taylor Lindsay to the path of Connor.
The quick-footed forward nipped in front the on-rushing Jay McCarron in goal to poke the ball into the net. Vale couldn’t have asked for a better start but within another two minutes they were very nearly two goals to the good; Connor shuffled the ball out from under his feet at the left corner of the box and evaded the challenges of three defenders, only to drag his shot wide of the near post.
Airdrie’s first chance came through a decent bit of link up play between Blair Cole and Kai McKillop, and if not for a bit of undue hesitation by McKillop they could have equalised.
Cole ran at the middle of the Glenvale defence, delaying his pass as McKillop curved his run on the outside, before slipping him in at the last second as he approached the box.
McKillop’s first touch set up the space for a shot but he elected to cut back, and the Glenvale defence piled bodies back to thwart the route to goal. McKillop passed the buck to his team-mate but Cole had his shot blocked, and then the responsibilities lay with McKilop again.
This time he did pull the trigger and the Airdrie fans came off their seats in expectation as the powerful shot zeroed in on goal, but Aidan McMahon produced a great save from the point-blank range.
The game entered a lull for the next ten minutes, with neither side threatening each other’s goal. When Glenvale’s Cameron Crooks won a free kick in a dangerous area just to the left hand side of the box, Declan Curran stepped up and arrowed the ball towards the far top corner with his laces but it narrowly skimmed the top of the bar and that was the closest anyone came to scoring.
Kyle McLaughlin had two pot shots from distance saved comfortably by McCarron while at the other end, McMahon had to be alert to be equal to Callum Drummond’s low shot, with the tall forward drilling it to the near post.
Glenvale showed their cutting edge again on the stroke of half time and it was that man Connor again fulfilling the goalscoring duties. Again it was Crooks who played him through and it was in a similar position to his first, about 20 yards out.
This time McCarron opted to stay on his line initially but as Connor dinked the ball over the foot of Skiffington with his first touch and bore down on goal, eventually the keeper had to make a decision. He slid out at Connor’s feet but the Vale hero coolly and effortlessly swerved around him and tucked the ball into the net with his left foot.