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Linwood Rangers booked a place in the Under 13's Scottish Cup final after defeating Rossvale in an old-fashioned battle of a semi final. The game took place at Adamslie Park in Kirkintilloch on a bumpy pitch muddied by a cold March drizzle. The conditions didn’t hamper attendance for the match however, as both clubs were well supported from the old stands at the home of Kirkintilloch Rob Roy.
Linwood began the game on the offensive and within minutes a Ryan Muir right foot shot was blocked on the edge of the box. This led to a Linwood corner kick from which there was a massive goalmouth scramble, the Rossvale defenders valiantly threw their bodies in front of the ball to block multiple efforts before Liam Corr had a header cleared off the line. The danger was cleared but the pressure wasn’t released as Linwood pressed the game high up the park in the early stages.
Linwood’s striker Muir was pulling into good positions on the right flank and this movement was dragging Rossvale players into areas they didn’t want to find themselves in, leading to space for Linwood‘s attacking midfielders to exploit. On one of these occasions Muir crossed into space inside the Rossvale box for Reece Gallagher who was arriving late in the box. Gallagher’s effort struck the side net but served as a stark warning to the Rossvale backline.
Up the other end of the park and a smart Rossvale throw-in on the right wing found Conor McBrearty running in on goal. He elected to cut the ball back for his onrushing team-mates, rather than have a go himself, but the cut back was well blocked by the Linwood defence.
Christopher McLeod was looking dangerous on the right wing for Rossvale. He is very direct, has a presence and links very well with Calum Holland who pulls the string in midfield for Rossvale. McLeod’s strength and running ability combined with Holland’s eye for a pass was to be a fixture of Rossvale’s attacking efforts throughout the match.
It was Linwood however that was the more aggressive and caused Rossvale problems again when a great run by Tony Gallagher behind the full back opened up the angle for a shot on goal. Alan Devlin between the sticks for Rossvale was out very quick to block Gallagher’s effort but the ball fell kindly for Muir whose lob over the defender on the line also cleared the cross bar, but only just.
Rossvale came close to opening the scoring when McLeod went on a powerful run down the right flank, he whipped the ball into the box but his cross-turned-shot landed on top of the net. The ball could have landed anywhere and certainly had Irwin Gray in the Linwood goal beaten all ends up.
The deadlock was broken on the cusp of half time by Linwood’s Muir. It came from some great work by the impressive Tony Gallagher on the right touchline to hold off two Rossvale players then play an inch-perfect pass behind the defence for Muir to run onto. One-on-one with the keeper, Muir was composed and slid the ball into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.
Half Time: Rossvale FC 0-1 Linwood Rangers
The opening to the second half raced from end-to-end and began when Linwood’s Harvey Brown went surging forward to set up Reece Gallagher, but an excellent last gasp challenge blocked the shot and sent Rossvale on their way up the park.
Robbie Brown went wriggling his way into the Linwood box for Rossvale, he found McLeod who snapped a shot towards the bottom left corner only to be saved at full stretch by Gray down at the post.
Rossvale came close to equalizing when a John McCrae looping long range shot was plucked out the air by Gray with red and yellow Rossvale jerseys all around him. The pressure was on and the Linwood keeper was doing his bit to keep his side in the lead.
Both sides produced moments of quality in the second half. Linwood’s Reece Gallagher frequently produced some sparkling footwork and combined very well with Muir and Tony Gallagher. Meanwhile, Rossvale were pressing the better of the two as the second half progressed with McLeod, McCrae and McBrearty heavily involved in the pressure and producing the goods.
As much as Rossvale pressed they left themselves vulnerable at the back and were nearly punished by a quick Linwood break. Blue Linwood jersey’s zipped up the park and Muir got onto a Tony Gallagher flick into the box. Devlin was out like a shot to save when Muir looked certain to score in what was a piece of truly wonderful goalkeeping.
Rossvale went on the hunt again and McBrearty flaunted some fabulous skill on the left to beat 2 defenders and shoot right-footed from the corner of the box. Gray dived to save at the near post then smothered the rebound at the feet of Holland who was lurking with intent.
Linwood put the game to bed with ten minutes remaining. A corner kick was lobbed into the Rossvale box and Cameron Coughtrie latched onto a lucky break in the penalty area to slam the ball into the back of the net and make it 2-0.
With daylight between the teams Rossvale threw the kitchen sink at Linwood and straight from the kick off Holland went flying forward. He caught the Linwood defence napping and found himself in the box with just the keeper to beat, but Gray saved well and kept the two goal advantage in tact.
Michael McLean then sent a lovely pass over defence for Holland to run onto but Gray was out quick once again to clear the danger. Rossvale began to look like a spent force when Linwood broke again with Tony Gallagher galloping down the right wing. He switched the ball to Bill McIntosh who was arriving at the far post but his first-time left foot shot skimmed the post on the way past.
The referee blew for full time and Linwood celebrated a well deserved victory that will take them to the final in Airdrie.
Full Time: Rossvale FC 0-2 Linwood Rangers