It was the turn of Auchinleck Talbot and Queen of the South in the Scottish FA Youth Cup Second Round this afternoon in what was to be a strong battle between both teams at Beechwood Park.
With the away team taking kick-off, it was a feisty first ten minutes. Both teams were pushing forward, defending well and exploiting the wide areas. It only took six minutes before Talbot’s goalkeeper Stirling made his first of many great saves of the game, denying Queen of the South right-back Cammy Bryson the opening goal. Over the next ten minutes, Bryson was whipping balls into the box providing his team with ample opportunity, but to no avail.
Auchinleck battled their way through the midfield during the first half an hour, with a beautiful pattern of play between Morrison and Darnbrough looking promising as they edged their way forward towards the Queen of the South goal, but not to be this time.
The first goal came in the 23rd minute after a lovely switch of play landed at the feet of Queen of the South’s Finlay Kennedy, who on the edge of the 18-yard box put the visitors 1-0 up.
Auchinleck’s McCluskie was a constant threat, firing balls into the box and effortlessly switching play throughout the game, ultimately providing the home team with their first chance of the match. The number two struck the ball with power, ricocheting off the crossbar, to fall at the feet of none other than Caden Campbell, who in the 26th minute sliced the ball past the Queen of the South goalkeeper making it 1-1.
As the second half got underway, the rain poured down on Beechwood Park and it was all to play for. Queen of the South came out strong, dominating possession and giving Talbot a tough job to do.
With the surface slippy and both teams not backing down, the first substitution came from Queen of the South in the 53rd minute, with Harry McCinden sprinting onto the park. Less than three minutes later, the striker had bagged the second goal for the visitors, putting them in the lead 2-1. McCinden was causing chaos up front, denying the Talbot defence any chance to get to the ball first with his lightning speed.
With time ticking, and Talbot tiring, Queen of the South controlled more and more of the ball. A wonderful switch of play from Billy Gray to Cammy Bryson, and a lofted pass into the box, found the head of McCinden who was ready for his second of the match. At this point, with 30 minutes to go, Auchinleck’s coaching team decided to take off goalkeeper Stirling, replacing him with substitute keeper Boyes.
With the game getting more spirited as time ran out for the home team, a late tackle on McCinden inside the box resulted in Talbot going down to ten men, with Hanlon being shown a red card and a penalty rewarded to Queen of the South. Could it be a hat trick for the young man who came off the bench in the second half? It was. Harry McCinden effortlessly slotted the ball into the bottom corner for his third of the game; a hat trick hero to make it 4-1. The away team were on a roll, and three minutes later had their fifth with a header from Shay Meacher.
Hats off to Talbot who never gave up and continued to press and cause Queen of the South problems up until the last minute. On the stroke of 90 minutes, a stray ball fell to the feet of Darnbrough in the box who knocked it past the goalkeeper to make the full-time score 5-2.
Auchinleck Talbot’s Player of the Match: McCluskie. Made the opposition fear him anytime they came down his side. He didn’t stop all game- wonderful effort.
Queen of the South’s Player of the Match: Robertson. Superb defending throughout the game- clearing balls and stepping into play very well.
Auchinleck Talbot Magic Moment: The noise of the home supporters when McCluskie hit the bar, only to fall to the feet of number seven Campbell to even the score.
Queen of the South Magic Moment: Harry McCinden coming on to score a hat trick.
Auchinleck Talbot U18s
Z. Kean (C)
Queen of the South U18s
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