Greenock Morton U18s have advanced to the Third Round of the SFA Youth Cup following a tight contest with SFA Youth Cup debutants Clydebank U18s.
The action started frantically as both sides sought an early lead. Morton maintained the majority of possession within the first ten minutes, however, Clydebank were not fazed by the opposition and played out from the back with relative comfort whenever they got the chance.
The home side began to grow in confidence within the attacking third, as full-back Barry Campbell’s run was met by Niall Graham. The Morton forward’s shot was saved well by Bankies’ goalkeeper Logan Bryce at his near post.
The constant pressure in and around the Clydebank box eventually resulted in the ball in the back of the net. A fantastic looping delivery from Morton’s Jay O’Donnell was met by Oli Fisher. The central defender’s emphatic header seemed to have given the Greenock side the lead until celebrations were cut short by the referee. He concluded that Fisher had committed a foul in the build-up, and therefore the goal was disallowed.
Niall Graham continued to look dangerous as the towering striker pulled a step-over out of his arsenal to skip by a jockeying Clydebank defender. Ultimately, Graham’s shot was foiled by a sliding Charlie Kinloch.
Clydebank’s captain and man between the sticks Logan Bryce was called into action three times in quick succession around the half-hour mark. The goalie first pulled off an important save, batting away a dangerous Morton cross from full-back Ciaran Moore. Mere moments later, Bryce prevented a dangerous free kick from the home side by storming off his line and clearing the ball with great distance. Miraculously, the Bankies stayed level after another razor-sharp reflex from their captain who kept Zac Johnstone’s darting header out to great applause.
The visitors found themselves in on goal as centre forward Aidan Dunne anticipated well to block an audacious pass from the Morton goalkeeper Sam Murdoch. Murdoch redeemed himself by gathering Dunne’s low effort impressively.
Morton midfielder Logan O’Boy struck well from twenty-five yards after a neat passing play between Rory Deveany and himself. Unfortunately for the men in blue and white, his effort sailed inches over the bar.
As the half seemed to be burning out, a late spark from Clydebank winger Franco Stewart lit up Parklea. The electric wide man waltzed by two Morton players as if they weren’t there, and then won his side a dangerous foul on the edge of the box. The resulting free kick by Alan Chudzio was blasted into the wall, much to the relief of the young ‘Ton.
The referee then called a halt to a half in which Morton dominated the chances but Clydebank impressed when in possession. Bankies’ Michael Smith was a standout due to his ball progression from his box to the opposition’s final third.
The first clear-cut chance of the second phase fell to Morton’s O’Boy. His effort was magnificently saved by Logan Bryce who seemed unbeatable at this point.
The deadlock was broken not long after, with Morton finally finding the back of the net. Barry Campbell’s zipped ball across the box ricocheted into the path of winger Adam Murray, who rifled past a rooted Bryce to give last year’s CAS Cup finalists a well-deserved lead.
Likewise in the first half, the officials ruled out a second for the hosts as Adam Murray poked home again. He latched onto a Logan Bryce parry and scored from an offside position which was well spotted by the linesman.
With an hour on the clock, one became two for the hosts when centre-back Oli Fisher scored almost a carbon copy of his first-half goal, rising highest and heading with power. The only difference with his goal this time round was that there was no foul beforehand and the goal, undoubtedly, was given.
Resolute defending by a well-drilled Morton side made life difficult for Clydebank. Their best chance of the remaining half an hour came when Michael Smith drove goalwards beyond a handful of blue and white hooped jerseys. His shot was collected by Murdoch in the centre of the goal.
The whistle then sounded on a wet, wild but wonderfully entertaining night at Parklea – and Greenock Morton have progressed to the third round of the SFA Youth Cup.
Greenock Morton Player of the Match: Logan O’Boy
The man central to the ‘Ton’s impressive attacking play was Logan O’Boy. The midfielder was the universal link between all of his teammates’ passing patterns from minute one to ninety – a tireless shift.
Clydebank Player of the Match: Michael Smith
Clydebank’s midfield man Michael Smith put on an eye-catching display under the lights. The box-to-box midfielder never shied away from the physical side of the match and looked after the ball immaculately.
Greenock Morton’s Magic Moment: Fisher’s Header
A goal straight from the training ground – you could tell this corner was meeting the head of Morton’s number 5 before a ball was kicked. From the early movement of Morton’s attackers, all within the six-yard box to the pinpoint assist via Jay O’Donnell, the set piece as a whole was a magnificent strategic play from the hosts.
Clydebank’s Magic Moment: Bryce’s Trifecta of Stops
Logan Bryce put in a stellar performance between the sticks today, and the highlight was his three saves within a couple of minutes of each other in the first half. They demonstrated multiple aspects of a goalkeeper’s game within each save – bravery, sharpness and agility.
Greenock Morton U18s
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