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Wishaw go through after defeating Antonine

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Wishaw BC
Antonine FC
Under 16's Central Region Cup
07 December 2014
After successfully winning 12 games out of 12 in the league so far this season WBC faced what promised to be their toughest test of the campaign in this 3rd round tie of the SYFA Central Regional Cup against Antonine BC who currently sit top of the Dumbartonshire league.
The weather forecast certainly wasn't promising though with biting cold temperatures at kick off and the threat of snow showers during the game. Not a great prospect for the increasing number of supporters who turned up to cheer the team on.
With club captain Conor Smith passed fit to play after missing the last 6 games with ankle ligament damage and top scorer Nathan Livingstone back on the bench after missing 3 games with a broken collar bone the WBC squad had a very strong look about it for this clash of the league leaders.
Wishaw started the brighter of the two teams and looked the more determined outfit, but it was clear early on that this was going to be a step up in quality of opposition from what we have faced recently. 
The central midfield trio of Chris Bruce, Cammy Ballantyne and Chris MacNeil were soon imposing themselves on their opposite numbers and forcing most of the first ten minutes to be played in the Antonine half, although there were signs that Antonine had the potential to be very dangerous on the break. 
The first chance came after 5 minutes when lone striker Ross Wileman chased a long ball and caused the Antonine keeper to rush out of his area and panic before clearing the bouncing ball with his head. 
Chris Bruce had the next chance after 10 minutes, rising highest to meet a free kick but failing to get his attempt on target under pressure.
Despite WBC having the better of the opening skirmishes, chances were few and far between as a well organised Antonine back 4 made life difficult for Ross up front and were able to close the space whenever the ball was played through to him.
After 15 minutes the wind started to pick up considerably, and was blowing in favour of Antonine which allowed them to creep back into the game a bit more and brought their defence out towards the halfway line which in turn presented more space for Wishaw to run into behind them.
It was Ross Park who was to benefit from this most, using his pace down the right on a couple of occasions to deliver dangerous crosses which were well defended by Antonine, however it was third time lucky after 21 minutes after Ross' cross eluded Ross Wileman at the near post but fell beautifully for Chris MacNeil who was supporting at the far post and buried a firm shot into the back of the net. 1-0.
The goal was a fair reflection of the game so far, and a reward for the quality of performance from the whole team. Iain Hardie and Dylan Gibson were prominent at full back, frequently intercepting passes and starting attacks, and with central defenders Conor and Morgan renewing their Smith and Jones partnership the rearguard was making defending look relatively comfortable despite the very difficult conditions.
Most of the WBC threat was coming down the right hand side, with Ross Park taking advantage of the strong play of Chris Bruce, Chris MacNeil and Cammy in the middle and the tireless work of Connor Bohan on the left flank and Ross Wileman up front. 
It was Connor who had the next chance, firing a shot over the bar after a cross field run form Ross P. Cammy was next to try his luck, firing a neat snap shot from 18 yards which the Antonine keeper did well to hold. As the game reached the 30 minute mark Cammy was coming into the game more and more, looking for possession and linking well with his wingers and pressing forward to support Ross W up front.
It was no surprise when the second goal arrived shortly afterwards.
Following a foul on Ross Park wide on the right, Chris MacNeil turned provider with a great delivery into the area which was met by Conor Smith leaping magnificently to nod the ball low into the net. A great way to mark his return to the side. 2-0.
The final ten minutes of the half saw the wind pick up even more, and allowed Antonine to gain more of a foothold in the game. 
They began to hit more long balls over the Wishaw back four, and even though none of them caused too much danger, they were awarded a number of free kicks near our area as the game got a bit scrappy. 
Antonine seemed to have a very clear tactic of trying to hit every free kick at Jamie Anderson in goals, hoping the wind and pressure would force a mistake, but Jamie was up to everything that they attempted, coping with the aerial threat with his usual calmness and authority.
The half time whistle arrived with Wishaw on the attack again, looking to capitalise on the break and add to their lead. 
Half Time : Wishaw BC 2-0 Antonine 
Taking into consideration the opposition and the conditions, it was possibly the best overall half of the season. Every player was on top of their game, and putting in the requisite effort in going forward and back. Conor's return at centre half gave even greater solidity at the back, and with Chris MacNeil back in midfield the team was well balanced with ball playing and battling abilities, allowing the attacking players the freedom to cause problems right across the field.
WBC again started the brighter in the second half, with Ross Park narrowly ruled offside after a pass from Ross Wileman on the break. 
However as the wind began to swirl far more, the advantage that Antonine had in the first half was lost to Wishaw and the coaches decided to add a more physical presence on the left with Matthew Hillan replacing Connor Bohan.
Knowing that their progress in the cup was in severe doubt, Antonine upped their game and urgency levels and soon afterwards forced another free kick 30 yards from the WBC goal in a central position, but as the ball was floated into the area two Antonine players strayed offside and as the ball was falling into the Wishaw net, the goal was rightly being ruled out by the referee.
After 15 minutes of the half Jamie was forced off with a leg injury after being caught late in a challenge with an Antonine attacker and was replaced by Declan Hutton. The weather was making good football pretty difficult, and as the game was becoming even scrappier it suited the Antonine midfield, but even though they were putting pressure on Wishaw chasing a goal, it allowed more space for Wishaw to break into, and Ross Park came very close to adding a third goal forcing a sharp save from the Antonine keeper at the near post after an excellent ball from Chris MacNeil inside the full back. 
Wishaw then forced a sequence of corners, with the deliveries causing panic in the area, with Conor and Chris Bruce both dominating in the air and coming close with headers just off target.
Ross Park was still causing nightmares for the Antonine left back, and after another good run following a great pass from Cammy his cross found Ross Wileman unmarked at the back post, but Ross couldn't find the target with his header.
After a lovely shower of hailstones, Nathan was brought into the action in place of Chris MacNeil, with Ross W dropping back into midfield.
Antonine kept pressing for the goal which would bring them right back into the game, and a shot from outside the area was excellently tipped around the post by Declan. From the following corner Declan made an even better save, bravely diving at the feet of an Antonine player as he looked set to pull the trigger and fire into the net.
Shortly afterwards Declan was penalised for encroaching out of the area when taking a goal kick, but as Antonine looked confident of hitting the back of the net, the goal bound shot was bravely charged down by Morgan, epitomising the determination shown throughout the game by the whole back four who knew at this stage that keeping a clean sheet would mean winning the game.
Kieran Duffy then replaced Ross Park on the right and was straight into the action, showing the form which made it a very hard decision to leave him out of the starting line up. After seconds of entering the fray he drove down the right before cutting inside and hitting a shot which was well saved by the Antonine keeper.
Kieran was also heavily involved in the next chance too, after some very strong play from Dylan pushing forward from right back, a pass from Kieran found Cammy on the edge of the area, and his well struck shot hit the bar with the keeper helpless.
Chris Bruce was next to exploit the space on the right, after some good skill on the byeline, his cross was just cleared in front of Matthew who was running in from the left. However it was from the resultant corner that Wishaw finally made the game safe, with Nathan hitting a great delivery which evaded everyone and hit the back of the net at the near post despite the despairing effort of the keeper. Welcome back to the scoring charts Nathan! 3-0.
Wishaw then made their final substitution, with Ross Paton coming on for Ross Wileman. Ross was soon into the action with some determined clearances as Antonine desperately tried to rescue the game. However this was not to be a day where the defence was to be beaten, and the final whistle came as a relief as the Antonine efforts began to turn into frustrated challenges.
Full Time : Wishaw BC 3-0 Antonine
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