RYAN FOX secured Hutchison Vale 17s their second trophy of the season as they ran out 1-0 winners against Shotts YMCA Reds 17s in the South East Region Cup final at Hallhill.
Ten minutes in, the No.9 pounced on a ball over the top to score what would prove to be the all-important winner. But it could have been a very different story for his side.
On a sun-soaked afternoon in Dunbar, the side in black and yellow began the brighter of the two sides, making their attacking intentions clear from the off. Both Arran Currie and Keiran Young looked to test James Davidson from outside the box, but neither could force a save from the goalkeeper.
Then, just as Shotts looked to be settling into the final, they were caught short at the back as Hutchie quickly turned defence into attack. Davidson’s goalkick was headed straight back from halfway by Hutchie and, with Fox finding space behind the back four, he ran onto the ball before dinking an effort over the keeper.
With the Edinburgh side on the up, they continued to attack and almost reaped the rewards once again. A corner from the right-hand side was directed towards Stewart Johnston at the back post but just as he looked to steer the ball in with his head, Davidson got a hand on the ball to touch it out of play.
The North Lanarkshire side eventually composed themselves and had their best spell of the game as half-time drew near. They came mighty close to pulling things level as Kerr Fraser’s free-kick flew straight over the wall, heading for the top-left corner. However, Byron Gibb in the Hutchie goal got the faintest of touches to divert the ball onto the crossbar.
That encouraged Shotts and they pressed again in search of a goal minutes later. In what could have been a potential turning point in the final, Gary McGeouch was involved in a 50-50 race to a loose ball in the box with Gibb that ended with the Shotts player on the floor in the area. His team-mates were adamant a penalty should have been given but the referee wasn’t impressed and turned away the appeals.
After the restart, Shotts picked up where they left off in a bid to find an equaliser and Fraser was in the thick of the action once again, forcing another top save from Gibb with a snapshot on the edge of the box.
It was then the turn for his opposite number to shine when Fox spun in the box, rifling a shot which Davidson did well to keep out. As the game progressed, it was unclear which side would come out on top, with both Hutchie and Shotts pressing high up the field. The Edinburgh side’s defence looked to be coping well with the threat posed from the opposition but they almost came unstuck when Patrick Duffy broke free from his marker in the box to narrowly nod over Fraser’s corner.
As the final moved into the last ten minutes, both sides had opportunities to influence the scoreline. Hutchie could have been out of sight when Lewis Swaney cut down the left before sending a shot across goal that nobody was on hand to tap in.
It looked like they had done enough but, in stoppage time, Shotts were given one last chance. A corner from the left fell to Declan Muir in the box, but he was unable to steer his effort in to force extra time and with that the final whistle was blown, much to the delight of Hutchison Vale.
Hutchison Vale 17s: Byron Gibb, Cameron Milne, Sam Birch, Stewart Johnston, Cameron Begbie, Thomas Prior, Arran Currie, Jack Cowan, Ryan Fox, Keiran Young, Elliot Taylor, Jordan Mungell, Lewis Swaney, Reyce Kay, Adrian Shala, Tommy Simpson.
Shotts YMCA Reds 17s: James Davidson, Greg Murray, Shaun O’Donnell, Jamie White, Ryan Welsh, Patrick Duffy, Dylan Noonan, Andrew Paterson, Sandy Robertson, Luke Brown, Kerr Fraser, Gary McGeouch, Paul Hughes, Robbie McLean, Dylan King, Declan Muir, Kieran McColgan, Adam Berry.