Unlike the first half, Hutchison Vale started the second period on the front foot, and twice in the opening minutes home goalkeeper Brooks was tested by efforts from McMahon and McCann, and on both occasions he displayed exemplary handling despite the slick condition of the pitch.
With 45 minutes played Hutchison missed a huge opportunity to take the lead, when good wing play by Scott Latto produced a cross which found McMahon unmarked, but his first time volley was too high with only Brooks to beat.
The second half developed into a midfield battle, as the respective sides opted for only one striker supported by attacking wingers, but EKFC’s Kelly and Hutchison’s McMahon were starved of service, aside from occasional set pieces.
As the match entered the final ten minutes, however, the match became stretched as the effects of an hours’ exertion in the heavy conditions, and chances came at both ends. Firstly, Kyle Brooks excelled himself yet again to keep the scoreboard blank, as Brandon Blair’s cross from the left found Nathan Hill on the 18-yard line, and his drilled low shot was held superbly by Brooks. Then McMahon was again thwarted by the brilliance of Brooks, as his attempted chip was tipped wide by the fingertips of the keeper at full stretch.
With less than three minutes left on the watch, EKFC forced a corner after strong play by Sol Kelly once more, but just seconds later, Callum Anderson had threaded a perfectly weighted through ball to Lewis McCann for Hutchison, after launching a quick breakaway from his own clearance. With most of EKFC’s players still in the opposing penalty area, McCann had the freedom of the EKFC half to bear down on Brooks. As he advanced in line with the penalty spot he slotted the ball towards goal, but Brooks spread himself to produce a heroic save, which was celebrated like a goal in the stand by the home support.
It seemed like the crowd was preparing for an extra 20 minutes to decide the winner, but with the match seemingly destined for extra time, Brooks was finally beaten. It always seemed like it would have to be something special to beat the superb goalkeeper, and the strike that broke his resistance was worthy of winning any game. Lewis McCann picked up possession on the left hand edge of the EKFC box, and dribbled across the entire 18 yard line, weaving away from challenges before unleashing an unstoppable strike from the opposite angle of the area, which flew into the roof of the net for a stunning solo goal.
There was hardly time to kick off again, and the imminent final whistle was met by delirious celebration from Hutchie and EK players slumping to the turf.
After 70 minutes of two evenly matched teams trying to play football the right way, passing and moving with pace and accuracy, strong attackers meeting strong defences and excellent goalkeepers stopping everything that was thrown at them, no team deserved to lose. It was fitting then that a truly superb goal proved to be the only difference between EKFC and Hutchison Vale.