Local heroes: Hutchison Vale excel to lift trophy

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Hutchison Vale won the SYFA 14s Challenge Cup after beating Dundee United SC 2-0 at the Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie.

Hutchie’s trademark ball retention skills contributed hugely to the victory as Cameron McAlpine and Ryan Fox scored a goal in either half.

Hutchie coach Tam Smith was full of praise for his young side in what has been a fantastic season epitomised by an influx of silverware – with further opportunities to add more before the season reaches its conclusion.

He said: “It has been great for the boys and this victory puts a real shine on our season. When we went two goals up, they pressed further up the park so we had to change our tactics a bit. The pitch was the biggest we have played on all season and both teams showed an incredible amount of fitness to keep it going until the end.

“The aim now is to keep going and train three times per week. A lot of the players will be going to senior clubs down south, but hopefully they will remain with Hutchison Vale until it is the right time to leave.”

Hutchie striker Fox nearly had the ball in the net after just two minutes, but his shot was well saved by Dundee United goalkeeper Darren Clarkson.

United had their first opportunity of the match three minutes later. Striker Alex Gibb found space on the right side of the penalty area but his shot was well saved by Hutchie goalkeeper Byron Gibb.

With eight minutes played, Hutchie’s influential midfielder Regan Hendry shot over the crossbar from 25 yards and then Fox should have scored but Clarkson stopped his shot from six yards with his legs.

The eventual winners took the lead after 17 minutes with McAlpine smashing the ball high into the net from eight yards after Ethan Feachen’s low cross.

United pressured the Hutchie defence and were nearly gifted a goal after 23 minutes. A cross was not dealt with sufficiently enough and the ball landed at the feet of Cameron McMahon, but his shot from 18 yards went narrowly over the bar.

Hendry almost doubled Hutchie’s lead five minutes later, but Clarkson’s low dive kept his shot out after Feachen’s through ball.

United striker Gibb had a great chance to equalise on the verge of half-time but his namesake in the Hutchie goal dived at his feet to parry the ball away from danger.

Clarkson kept the score down again in the opening minute of the second half, stopping Feachen’s shot from the left side of the penalty area, but Fox did manage to get his name on the score sheet after 43 minutes adding Hutchie’s second of the game, finishing low past Clarkson after Hendry’s superb through ball into the box.

Hendry was constantly looking to test Clarkson from range throughout the match, but the United keeper caught his shot on the 50 minute mark.

McAlpine nearly grabbed a third Hutchie goal after 58 minutes, but his shot rolled inches past the left post after being played in by the menacing Feachen.

Despite being two goals adrift of their opponents, United never felt that a comeback was beyond them. Calum King’s shot was deflected by Hutchie goalkeeper Gibb before Alex Gibb’s rebound effort was gratefully caught. Four minutes later, Jordan Hornby’s free kick went past the right post.

Hendry deserved a goal for his performance and he nearly scored in the remaining few minutes. His shot from the left side of the penalty area struck the post before being gathered by goalkeeper Clarkson.

With their final attack of the match, Hendry played the ball across the area to Sean McKirdy, however, the striker sent the ball wide of the target but Hutchie had done enough to secure national glory.

Hutchison Vale FC: Byron Gibb, Cameron Milne, Sam Birch, Cameron Begbie, Brandon Archibald, Aiden Quinn, Cameron Fraser, Ryan Fox, Ethan Feachen, Regan Hendry, Cameron Sclater, Sean McKirdy, Innes Goodall, Cameron McAlpine, Lewis Swaney, Jack Cook

Dundee United SC: Darren Clarkson, Callum Edgcumbe, Brandon Hawes, Callum Walls, Dominic Duffy, Kieron Gardiner, Cameron McMahon, Alex Gibb, Lewis Fyfe, Ryan Smith, Calum King, Derryn Kesson, Jack Hogarth, Jordan Hornby