Cavalry PARK booked their place in the final of the South East Region under-19 Royal Edinburgh Cup after an epic encounter against Hillfield Swifts at Meggetland.
With both teams performing well in their league campaigns, it took a penalty shoot-out to separate them following a 2-2 draw.
Swifts striker Jamie Forrester was, in one sense, the unluckiest player on the pitch. After scoring both goals for the Inverkeithing side in regulation time, he was the only player to miss the target in the shoot-out. Cavalry, who subsequently triumphed 5-4 on spot kicks, will face either Tynecastle or Lochend in the final.
Cavalry coach Kevin Douglas had encouraging words for the Swifts team. “In the end, penalties are a lottery which can go any way and my man of the match was the only player to miss one. I spoke to him after the match and I don’t think there is any question that his time will come.
“It was a very good game and both teams did very well. I was surprised that Hillfield Swifts were such a good team. They kept the ball down and put us under a lot of pressure. They looked a lot fitter than us on the day.”
Cavalry opened the scoring after 19 minutes when Stewart Adams powered the ball into the bottom left corner of the net, despite Swifts goalkeeper Kyle Marley’s best efforts to divert the ball wide. Adams almost added a second four minutes later when his spectacular shot hammered off the crossbar from long range. Striker Kris McLoughlin was first to the rebound but his shot from seven yards was deflected over.
Swifts almost equalised after 25 minutes but Dylan Wilkinson’s shot from inside the penalty area was well saved by the low dive of Cavalry goalkeeper Andrew Mackay. Dale O’Hara then had two opportunities to score for Cavalry. After 37 minutes, his shot, from 22 yards out, flew narrowly over the crossbar and, seven minutes later, his shot was saved by Marley after a skilful dribble down the left.
Swifts grew into the match in the second half, and Forrester finally had an opportunity to show off his goalscoring prowess after 59 minutes. Murray Fraser sent in a low cross from the right wing and Forrester half-volleyed the ball into the goal, off the right post.
Forrester was troubling the Cavalry defence again eight minutes later. This time, his shot went into the right side netting after a good passing attack down the right wing.
Adams was sent through on goal by O’Hara but Marley’s diving save stopped Cavalry retaking the lead.
The Duddingston-based outfit did go ahead again after 79 minutes when Adams cut into the area from the left wing and powered the ball into the goal.
Swifts replied quickly to take the match into extra time. With six minutes remaining, Calum Whisker’s long-range shot came off the crossbar but Forrester was in the right place to tap the ball into the net from close range.
The drama did not relent in extra time. In the first half, Forrester had a shot blocked on the line and O’Hara forced a brilliant diving save from Marley.
The main talking point of extra time came after 111 minutes when Fraser appeared to be pulled down in the penalty area but referee Brown refused to give Swifts a penalty.
The match went to penalties and both teams showed that they could control their nerves as just one out of the nine penalties were not scored. After Forrester’s outstanding performance throughout the match, no one would have foreseen that he would be the unlucky player in the shoot-out, but his penalty struck off the crossbar. O’Hara scored the final penalty to send his team through to the final.
Swifts coach Shaun Marley is hoping to win a competition this season. He said: “It was a very close game with two very good teams. It’s a bad way to go out and I thought that we were probably the better team. We’re obviously disappointed with the end result but we worked so hard today.
“We want to do as well as we can this season. We are still competing in a number of competitions and can hopefully pick up some silverware and win the league as well.”
Cavalry coach Douglas added: “We’re still in a lot of competitions. We never look too far ahead and we have a free week next week which will give the guys a bit of extra time to recover.”
Hillfield Swifts: Kyle Marley, Sean McGrowther, Euan Munro, Liam McCulloch, Corin Anderson, Jack Matson, Murray Fraser, Calum Whisker, Dylan Wilkinson, Ross Stewart, Jamie Forrester, Gregor Steedman, Alisdair Brown, Stuart Condie, Wesley Lockwood, Ryan Smith, Dale Mason.
Cavalry Park: Andrew Mackay, Dale O’Hara, Greg Douglas, Christopher Barron, Stewart Adams, Sean Guiney, Kris McLoughlin, Steven MacGregor, Alex Borthwick, Michael Park, Johnny Malcolm, Lyle Finney, Fraser McKinlay, Fraser Andrews, Craig Cockburn, Jack McIntosh.