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Airdrie United advance to Scottish Cup final following epic semi final battle against Dundee West

Dundee West 5

Fitzsimmons 14', Na Scott 59', Smith 88' 90+1', Brown 120'

Airdrie United 6

McKnight 4', Taylor 47', Boyce 48', McParland 86' 112', Henderson 114'
  • Dundee West 5-6 Airdrie United (AET)
  • Sunday, 03 April 2016
  • Thomson Park
  • Under 17´s
  • Scottish Youth FA Cup
Alasdair Hooper

Alasdair Hooper | YFS Dundee Senior Reporter
Author's Bio | Articles by Author | [email protected]

‘Football...bloody hell.’The mercurial quote from Alex Ferguson has never been more apt. You can forget El Clásico and you can forget the Champions League. If I see another game as barmy, tenacious, topsy-turvy, crazy or emotional as this Scottish Youth FA Cup semi final, before the year is out, then I will march into a Scottish independence rally wearing an England shirt with the St George’s cross emblazoned across my face.     
 
The cup-tie, between Dundee West and Airdrie United, exploded into life right from the start as Airdrie took a 1-0 lead early on through Jack McKnight. Dundee West soon found themselves down a man but managed to battle back as they equalized in the 14th minute courtesy of Liam Fitzsimmons’ header. Despite numerous chances the score remained at one apiece upon the half time whistle.
 
The second half was a goal feast as Airdrie scored twice in quick succession, early on in the period. Jack Taylor and Marcus Boyce were the men to give them a 3-1 lead. However, Dundee West, once again drew themselves back into it as Nathan Scott scored from a free kick to make it 3-2. Soon after Airdrie were, themselves, down to ten men and a Dundee West equaliser looked possible. However, the home side then lost another man to the referee’s red card as Fitzsimmons also walked. Kieron McParland looked to have given Airdrie the win as he made it 4-2 with ten minutes to go. However, a late Ryan Smith double ensured that the game would go into extra time.
 
A fourth red card emerged in extra time as Mitchell Hay was the third Dundee West man to be sent off before Airdrie took the lead once more in the 112th minute courtesy of a wonderful solo effort from McParland. Ross Henderson soon made it 6-4, which was enough to see Airdrie through to the final, despite a late reply from Mathew Brown.
 
Like I said, one ridiculous game of football…
 
Airdrie began the semi final in lightning fashion, netting after just four minutes. From a throw in, Christopher Lang was able to head the ball on into the Dundee West penalty area. McKnight rose above everyone else to meet the looping ball and headed past the ‘keeper to give the visitors a perfect start. 
 
Dundee West very nearly executed the perfect response to going behind as Nathan Scott found the back of the net a couple of minutes later. Unfortunately for them the linesman’s flag denied them an instant equaliser.
 
With seven minutes on the clock the game suddenly became a lot more challenging for the home team as goalkeeper, Donald Ferguson, was sent off after reacting badly to an Airdrie challenge. Dundee West now had to contend with a numerical disadvantage as well as being a goal down.
 
Despite the hindrance of being a man down Dundee West continued to be efficient and found ways to threaten the Airdrie goal. In the 12th minute Nicholas Scott unleashed a shot after the ball fell to him inside the penalty area. His effort, however, was headed clear off the goal line.
 
However, just a couple of minutes later the score was 1-1. Fitzsimmons was able to head home from a Nathan Scott cross to really get the pulses racing.
 
Both teams continued to produce an end-to-end spectacle. Christopher O’Kane very nearly scored with a free kick that sailed just over the crossbar and, a few moments later, the Airdrie boys put together a nifty move that allowed McKnight to have a pop at the target. Michael Ellwood, donning the gloves for Dundee West, made a terrific save to turn the number 14’s strike past the post.
 
In response Nathan Scott teed up Fitzsimmons for an attempt at goal which needed turning past the post by Tony Sharkey.
 
In the 34th minute Boyce came close to scoring, but Ellwood was there to make the save again and, shortly afterwards, Nathan Scott nearly turned a free kick into the bottom right hand corner but it was parried away by Sharkey. Both goalkeepers were getting a workout.
 
The goalmouth action continued to come thick and fast as Boyce smashed a strike against the post in the 37th minute, before Kieran Devine put the rebound wide of the mark.
 
With the last kick of the first half Airdrie United were standing in disbelief at how they had not scored a second. A header from a corner had been stopped on the line but Sean Mullen, pouncing on the loose ball, put the ball wide from just yards out.
 
It wouldn’t matter in the end because, after the half time break, this semi final started to rain goals. 
  • Half Time:
  • Dundee West
  • 1-1
  • Airdrie United
For a moment it looked as though Airdrie were almost cursed as they came inches away from scoring again. McKnight was able to turn his marker inside out and fired a low shot across the face of goal towards the back post. Of course, it hit the woodwork and was cleared.
 
However, just two minutes into the second period the near misses were a thing of the past as Airdrie grabbed their second goal. Taylor was the first to meet the ball after it had been cleared from a corner and belted it into the bottom right hand corner.
 
All of a sudden it was 3-1. Blink and you would have missed it. Straight from the restart Airdrie regained possession, drove at goal and, from the edge of the box, Boyce sent an absolute pile driver of an effort into the back of the net. Three minutes had passed in the second half and Airdrie suddenly had themselves a two goal lead.   
 
In the 51st minute Declan Wood almost tapped home, from a few yards out, to score Airdrie’s fourth goal. Lewis Curran, however, displayed some terrific defensive know-how to divert the ball away from danger.
 
Of course, Dundee West are not a side who roll over. As one of the most determined sides in the district they soon began to create chances for themselves. Fitzsimmons blasted an effort over the bar in the 54th minute and, soon afterwards, Mitchell Hay bulleted a strike past the post.
 
However, in the 59th minute Dundee West pulled a goal back – a true testament of their character. Airdrie had conceded a free kick right on the edge of the box and Nathan Scott stepped up to bend a ball round the wall and into the bottom corner.
 
Shortly afterwards the game then witnessed its second red card as Reagan McDonald was sent from the field. With both teams now with equal numbers the pendulum looked to be swinging in the direction of the home team.
 
In the 71st minute Nathan Scott raced clear after latching onto a long ball from Ben Amos. He attempted to slot the ball past Sharkey but the Airdrie ‘keeper got just enough on the ball to see it go past the post.
 
Had both teams remained with the same number of players on the pitch then who knows how this game might have panned out. However, ten minutes from time, the red card was revealed for a third time. Dundee West were again down a man as Fitzsimmons received his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
 
It looked as if the man advantage would see Airdrie through as, with just four minutes remaining, McParland restored their two-goal advantage. The number three picked up the ball in the box and, after a neat touch, he successfully rifled the ball past Ellwood and into the roof of the net.
 
Of course, football is a strange game. When all looked certain suddenly Dundee West gave themselves some faint hope as, with two minutes to go, Smith headed home from a Nicholas Scott cross to make it 4-3. Could they bring it back?
 
Well, in this craziest of games, that equaliser arrived in the first minute of stoppage time. Nicholas Scott was, again, the provider for Smith as his long free kick found the number six in the Airdrie penalty box. His first touch took him past the goalkeeper and all he had to do thereafter was stick the ball away into the open goal. Amazingly the score was now 4-4 and the game was heading for extra time. Before people could catch their breath it was time to prepare for another half an hour of madness. 
  • Full Time:
  • Dundee West
  • 4-4
  • Airdrie United
Sure enough yet more talking points arose as extra time began. Within two minutes Dundee West found themselves down to eight men. Mitchell Hay was the fourth man to be sent from the pitch following a second yellow card and the home team’s job was made harder still.

The first chance in extra time fell the way of Boyce as he fired a shot wide after picking up Joshua Higgins’ knockdown. Soon after Boyce was granted another effort on goal but Ellwood played his part and made the save down low.

By the end of the first 15 minutes of extra time the score remained at four apiece. As soon as the second period of 15 minutes began legs were getting tired and space was opening up all over the pitch.

Brown went on a phenomenal solo run, in the 108th minute, straight through the midfield and managed to get a shot away at goal. Despite his efforts, his attempt was comfortably saved by Sharkey.

However, with 112 minutes on the clock, the game witnessed its ninth goal and it was the away team that grabbed it. McParland managed to dispossess Brown on the half way line and expertly drove at goal, winding his way through the defence. After breaking through he finished superbly by slotting the ball away.

Two minutes later Airdrie United grabbed another to make the score line 6-4. Henderson was the beneficiary as he prodded home from close range after meeting McKnight’s floated cross.

Dundee West threatened to mount another comeback as Brown prodded home, following several ricochets within the penalty box, in the final minute to make it 6-5. This time, however, despite their best efforts the home side ran out of time.

As the final whistle blew Airdrie could celebrate reaching the Scottish Youth FA Cup final after one of the most dramatic and, I’m sure, draining matches any of the players would have been involved in. Dundee West will obviously be disappointed but not many teams could mount comeback after comeback, with the numerical disadvantage, like they did.

The day, however, belonged to Airdrie and this game will be on the supporters’ lips for weeks and months to come.

I wonder if everyone has caught their breath yet...

Final Result: Dundee West 5-6 Airdrie United (AET)

Lineups

Dundee West
Airdrie United
1. Donald Ferguson
3. Josh McIntyre
5. Brandon Scott
6. Ryan Smith
10. Callum Bruce
11. Kiernan Nelson
12. Alan Miller
13. Liam Fitzsimmons
14. Nathan Scott
17. Nicholas Scott
18. Mitchell Hay
19. Lewis Curran
20. Ben Amos
21. Michael Ellwood
22. Mathew Brown
1. Tony Sharkey
2. Declan Wood
3. Kieron McParland
4. Sean Mullen
5. Reagan McDonald
6. Desean Nelson
8. Kieran Devine
9. Marcus Boyce
11. Christopher O’Kane
12. Jack Taylor
14. Jack McKnight
15. Christopher Lang
16. Ross Henderson
17. Joshua Higgins
20. Christopher Gallagher
Star Player
Dundee West
Airdrie United
Ryan Smith – scored those two goals right at the death but was an important player in the midfield for Dundee West. Performed superbly in testing circumstances and his absence was felt in extra time following his substitution.
Jack McKnight – performed superbly out on the flanks. Scored the opener, grabbed a couple of assists and was an all round menace for the home defence.
Magic Moment
Dundee West
Airdrie United
Smith’s second goal – a last minute equaliser to make it 4-4 and a pitch invasion. Magic moment personified.
Henderson’s goal – In a game blessed with so many magic moments this stands out. Not because it was any better than the others but you got the impression that, this time, Airdrie were not going to relinquish that lead.
  • Match report and photos copyright Youth Football Scotland.
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