HUTCHISON Vale 15s fought back from a goal down to topple Dundee United 3-2 and lift the Scottish Youth Challenge Cup at the Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie.
Persistent rain once again provided a difficult surface for two teams who like to pass the ball, but both sets of players delivered and produced a thoroughly entertaining spectacle.
Hutchie’s Ethan Feachen-Hamilton was first to test goalkeeper Darren Clarkson from the edge of the area after digging himself into some space, but the United No.1 was equal to the task managing to thwart the talented midfielder’s shot with a fine block.
Dundee United should have been ahead just two minutes later when Jack Hogarth’s cross from the right was somehow headed over the Hutchie crossbar by Alexander Gibb from just four yards with the goal at his mercy.
A great interchange between the Hutchie midfield and attack resulted in Cameron McAlpine advancing through on goal, but his shot, aimed into the far corner, brought out a great diving save from Clarkson.
Hutchie No.11 Regan Hendry then saw his powerful header clip the top of the crossbar from Feachen-Hamilton’s delivery after 30 minutes.
Dundee United took the lead against the run of play four minutes before the break in spectacular fashion. Gibb collected the ball out on the right before the youngster cleverly turned his marker and sent an unstoppable left-footed effort into the far corner via the post from 25 yards.
However, the Hutchie response was immediate – a ball across goal should have been converted by striker Ryan Fox, but instead the ball broke to Gabriele Auriemma, who tucked it into the bottom left corner to draw the Edinburgh side level.
Three minutes into the second half and Hutchie had gained the advantage through Feachen-Hamilton’s clinical drive into the bottom right corner from 20 yards to make it 2-1.
A great break by United’s Derryn Kesson then enabled team-mate Gibb to thread a pass through to Jordan Hornby, who was in acres of space but could only drag his shot wide as the game began to stretch from end-to-end.
It was then Hutchie’s turn to break on the counter-attack and they made it 3-1 when Fraser Paton ran through on goal unchallenged to cleverly round the United No.1 and knock the ball into an empty net midway through the second half.
United desperately needed a quick response and it was their star player Gibb, who was later awarded the man-of-the-match award, that made it 3-2 from fully 25 yards with a strike Hutchie goalkeeper Byron Gibb could only get his fingertips too as the ball crept into the back of the net.
Hutchie went in pursuit of securing victory by almost adding a fourth when an in-swinging corner from Feachen-Hamilton caused panic in the United defence, but the ball sneaked just wide of the far post.
With one goal needed to send the match into extra-time, United applied some late pressure but failed to create a clear opportunity as Hutchie held on for a narrow victory.
Hutchie club secretary Les Trotter said: “The spirit of the team has carried us through in the end so it was a great performance by the guys and hopefully we’ll be back here next year.”
Hutchie team captain Cameron Begbie added: “It was a great performance so we’re all delighted.”
Hutchison Vale: Byron Gibb, Cameron Milne, Fraser Paton, Sam Birch, Cameron Begbie, Shaun O’Donnell, Cal Sheridan, Ryan Fox, Ethan Feachen-Hamilton, Regan Hendry, Gabrie Auriemma, Cameron Fraser, Innes Goodall, Cameron McAlpine, Lewis Swaney, Arran Singh.
Dundee United: Darren Clarkson, Callum Edgcumbe, Brandon Hawes, Callum Cook, Connor Wilson, Kieron Gardiner, Nathan Tosh, Cameron McMahon, Alexander Gibb, Lewis Fyfe, Jordan Hornby, Calum King, Derryn Kesson, Jack Hogarth, Dominic Duffy, Ethan Glennie.