A pulsating clash between Hillwood Boys Club and Glenvale FC ended with a dramatic penalty shoot-out win for Hillwood, coming after an incredible 3-3 contest in this West Region Cup semi-final clash.
Glenvale threw away a 2-0 lead after goals from Owen Conaghan and Kyle Deans had them in cruise control just after the break. Hillwood hit back to turn the game around in the second half thanks to strikes from Lewis Cannon, Ceejay McGregor, and Cameron Kelly. Yet the drama in this 70-minute contest wouldn't end there, with Conaghan curling home a terrific free-kick to take the game to penalties.
Hillwood came into the game with a depleted squad that contained no substitutes, showing just how much energy and fight they had to show in order to come away with victory over a very game Glenvale outfit.
The hosts started brightly, and were trying to play the ball through to Ayaan Ali, who was a handful all afternoon with his power. There was also an early penalty shout when Ali went tumbling down in the box after running in from the right, but the referee saw nothing wrong.
Up the other end, Glenvale started flexing their muscles after a slow start. Lewis Brown cleverly slipped in Caden Barr, who made a smart run in from the right side of the penalty box. However, Barr's effort was too high after his clever movement.
Both sides were playing some lovely football, with just a final ball missing from most moves as the half wore on. It was a typical cup semi-final with plenty of commitment in the challenges and a desperation not to give the opposition a sniff.
However, after Glenvale had warned Hillwood about the space down the right side of the penalty area earlier on, they used it again to strike first. It was Conaghan who this time made the run to collect a lovely through ball, and, on the spin, lashed home a superb right-footed effort into the opposite bottom corner.
There was a chance to equalise just minutes later for Hillwood, but Cannon could only blaze Aaron Duff's cross over the bar from yards out. It was a lovely piece of play from Duff, who turned his man expertly before setting Cannon up with an inch-perfect cross.
It was end-to-end stuff towards the end of the first-half, with Glenvale starting to see more of the ball down the flanks. Conaghan drilled wide after a storming run down the left saw him take the ball past Archie Dickson, whilst McGregor miss-hit an effort from 20 yards after space opened up for the Hillwood midfielder.
Both sides huffed and puffed before the break, but it was to be the second-half that would contain all the excitement.