Hampden FC came out on top against Giffnock SC 4-3 on penalties in an enthralling inspiresport Scottish Youth FA Cup quarter-final at U16 level.
Hampden will take on Dundee West Royals FC in the semi-final.
Charlie Sharp put Hampden a goal to the good before Anthony McCrossan equalised for Giffnock. The match went to a nail-biting penalty shootout that was decided when Rio Bradley made the match-winning save.
There was an excellent turnout for this match, which was at Toryglen Regional Football Centre, and the atmosphere made it a great advert for the grassroots game.
The first half was hotly contested, with the midfield battle taking up most of the minutes. There were a few moments in each penalty area but both goalkeepers did well to keep danger at a minimum.
A goalmouth scramble led to Hampden nearly taking the lead when the ball bounced off a number of bodies and struck the base of the Giffnock post.
The lack of action in the box didn’t discourage either team, who were both more than happy to shoot from range in search of a cup-tie screamer to remember. Romano Poli came the closest for Hampden with a curling effort from 25 yards.
After the break, the match got off to a stormer. Sharp, who had mostly been on the wing in the first half, found himself between the goalposts and showed a commendable ability to keep cool in big matches with his finish to put Hampden in front.
Giffnock weren’t to be easily beaten though and managed to spend a good several minutes probing in the Hampden half. Anthony McCrossan, wearing the number 9 on his back, lived up to the classic striker’s number as he found a yard of space in the box to tuck it away and reward the resilience of his side.
Each side having a goal to their name seemed to make every attacking player more confident, and all of a sudden the game was very open in contrast to the first half which was largely contained to the midfield.
The cup tie was booming at this point and both sets of supporters were right up for it. This energy spilt onto the pitch and every duel was given 100% as the match picked up a fast pace as it went into the final few minutes.
Despite both sides huffing and puffing, it was defending you would expect from much older players that prevailed, and the game went to a penalty shootout.
You could forgive these young boys for being nervous in a cup penalty shootout, in front of a crowd this big, but some cracking penalties went flying in. However, when the score stood at 3-3 with Hampden winning if they kept the next one out, Bradley stood firm on his line to do exactly that. His teammates and the Hampden faithful went into hysterics and will hope to take that energy into the semi-final against Dundee West Royals.
Player of the Match: Rio Bradley
Even aside from his penalty heroics, the Hampden stopper had an excellent command over his penalty area throughout the game. His anticipation meant that he often snuffed out danger before it could pose a problem.
Romano Poli got the ball on the left-hand side and skipped past a few challenges before hitting an excellent effort narrowly over the bar. An unlucky moment, but one of real quality. That wasn’t the only moment where Poli looked lively, and he could have found himself on the scoresheet on a few other occasions.
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