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Glasgow emerged victorious following a pulsating game with rivals Lanarkshire to win the Senior National Trophy Final for the first time in thirteen years. They left it very late before winning on penalties to leave Lanarkshire rueing throwing away a two goal lead and squandering opportunities to add to that.
Glasgow kicked off with the pleasant early evening sun now colouring part of the pitch, in stark contrast to the driving rain and hail that was battering off the ground just thirty minutes previously. The Fir Park pitch was in terrific condition with the supporters in the main stand hoping to see as enjoyable a match as many have been at the stadium this season.
Glasgow forced a corner almost immediately following a misplaced back pass from Daniel McNulty. Chad Meechan’s delivery was easily dealt with however. McNulty then turned provider for Lanarkshire with a terrific cross from the right hand side. This was met by Glasgow’s Mikey Hopkins whose header rattled off the bar, the ball then being cleared. A let off for Glasgow who would need to try and stop McNulty down the right if that was an indication of his crossing ability.
Meechan was getting involved down Glasgow’s right and managed to force a free kick. This was floated in by Hopkins right onto the head of Thomas Porter, completely free six yards out. Porter seemed to lose the ball in flight however and glanced it wide. A terrific chance for Glasgow, with Lanarkshire now relieved not to be a goal down. Mark McKenna fired over for Glasgow not long afterwards from the edge of the box.
Glasgow were beginning to force the play with Kieron Duran pressing down the left. An ambitious effort from Connor Murray went harmlessly wide in the fifteenth minute. It was Lanarkshire however who took the lead and it was a fine solo goal from Chris Cadden who showed terrific pace and determination down the left hand side to hold off his marker before matching that with a calm finish low past Kieran McWilliams into the corner. A real indication of how dangerous Lanarkshire could be on the break. Glasgow found themselves a goal down after having slightly the better of the opening exchanges.
Cadden and Daniel McDonald then forced a corner as Lanarkshire took confidence from their opener. This led to a Nicky Fraser effort being cleared off the line and then a further two corners, the latter of which was headed over by McNulty. Glasgow were now in danger of conceding again and seeing the game get beyond them. Noel Makomba Emboua was determined for that not to happen anyway showing fantastic skill in the box to beat his man and square to his strike partner Murray whose effort was deflected wide.
Emboua was dropping deeper to try and influence proceedings. His efforts were well contained by the Lanarkshire midfield though who were working excellently as a unit. Players were switching positions and covering the space; it was difficult to determine an exact formation for the team in red such was the fluidity of their movement. Hopkins in his role just in front of the Glasgow defence was showing he was an adept passer though, his ball from deep touched on before the onrushing Murray was denied by a solid challenge.
McNulty was defending superbly for Lanarkshire, his last ditch challenge this time denying Duran who threatened to break through. Perseverance was essential here for Glasgow whilst also ensuring they didn’t get caught on the break, Cadden a continual threat in that respect. Duran again burst into the box but was probably unsurprised when McNulty slid in to deny him a shot at goal.
Glasgow were now the more likely side to score and they did exactly that in the forty third minute. Mark McKenna found himself free in the box and he made no mistake by steering the ball into the corner past the despairing dive of Mark McRoberts. A deserved equaliser for Glasgow on the balance of play and the sides went in level at the break.
Half Time: Lanarkshire 1-1 Glasgow
A clash of heads was the most notable incident in the opening stages of a tight second half. Thankfully Meechan and David Ferguson were able to continue. Not long after this Cadden forced McWilliams into the first save of the second half which lead to a corner. The corner was nodded emphatically home by the aforementioned Ferguson who showed no after effects following his clash moments earlier. Lanarkshire ahead again and Glasgow tasked with finding another equaliser. Robbie Wotherspoon could have increased Lanarkshire’s lead but shot meekly at McWilliams when well placed in the box.
Ferguson again went close but he knew little about this effort as a cross struck him on the head and flew over. Glasgow were again going to have to find a spark from somewhere to get back into this. With Duran and the tricky Emboua in their ranks there was always hope but Emboua was struggling to get the ball in his new wide left berth. Duran took matters into his own hands by breaking down that side before firing wide.
McDonald then grabbed what looked like the vital goal for Lanarkshire in the sixty second minute. Fraser showed great strength and determination to win the ball right on the byeline inside the box before pulling it back. A grateful McDonald slotted a left footed effort past McWilliams into the net. Lanarkshire were now well in command and continued to press for a further goal, McDonald nearly providing it with a headed effort.
Duran kept threatening for Glasgow and it was his driving run that set up Ryan Smith to get Glasgow right back into it with ten minutes to go, the substitute cleanly striking the ball home from the edge of the box. Lanarkshire had looked more likely to add to their lead but Glasgow were now right back in the match with time left to force an equaliser. Their spirits visibly lifted whilst nervousness began to take over Lanarkshire. Barry Cuddehy came very close to equalising soon after, diverting his header just wide.
Cuddehy was becoming more involved but his terrific cross from the right found no willing takers. There had been a shift in momentum and Glasgow were determined to capitalise, pushing more men forward. Lanarkshire were not helped by an injury to Cadden which forced them to play with ten men for a number of minutes. Cadden eventually made it back on to help his team’s efforts with just moments left.
A late corner for Glasgow saw McWilliams make the trek forward where he meet the ball with his head but not solidly enough. There was still time for some spectacular late drama as Glasgow did equalise when Andrew McLaughlin lofted a beautiful angled shot over McRoberts and into the net from the edge of the box. A fine time for such a goal and Glasgow had squared the cup final right at the death. Real drama and Glasgow celebrated wildly.
The match went straight to penalties with no extra time. And it was Glasgow who prevailed scoring all five of their efforts to take the trophy with a 5-3 shootout success. Daniel McNulty was the unfortunate man to miss for Lanarkshire, his man of the match display probably of no consolation to him at the end. A terrific match that Lanarkshire looked to have won but Glasgow showed tremendous fighting spirit to score twice in the last ten minutes, the second one very late indeed, to take back the trophy they last won in 2000.
Full Time: Lanarkshire 3-3 Glasgow (Glasgow win 5-3 on penalties)
Daniel McNulty, the Lanarkshire full back, put in a terrific performance. Number of excellently timed tackles and ranging runs from deep. Epitomised the quality in his side and very unfortunate to be the man that missed crucial spot kick.
Kieran Duran never stopped trying to drive his team on with a number of forceful runs. Always represented Glasgow’s best chance of getting back into the final and his determination paid off in the end, fittingly scoring the winning penalty..