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Irvine Meadow complete treble in style

Friday 17th May saw Irvine Meadow 2006 take on Maybole Juniors at Kilwinning Sports Centre in the West of Scotland Youth Football League 2023/2024 U18 Presidents Cup, which on paper was certain to be a feisty game… It was.

West of Scotland Youth Football League and League Cup winners Irvine Meadow were looking to make it a trio of accolades, adding the Presidents Cup to their already well-stocked trophy cabinet. Alex Webster’s Irvine Meadow side had been in fine form this season, winning all fourteen of their league games. Their previous meeting with rivals Maybole was in March and tightly contested, with Meadow pipping Alan Morrison’s Maybole 3-2. Could Maybole cause an upset? With only eight points between them in the League, it was going to be an interesting game.

It was Irvine Meadow who got the game underway, and within three minutes they had their first goal; it was a beautiful first touch in the box from Rory Prentice who cut the ball back to Clayton Hood and sent the Maybole goalkeeper the wrong way, slotted the ball into the back of the net with his left foot.

From the restart, Maybole had a point to prove and over the course of the next two minutes, their waves of attack kept on coming, with good passages of play between the players.

However, Meadow kept pushing hard, and the gift for their effort came quickly, as a cross from Rory Prentice on the six-minute mark met Reiss McCrindle at the back post who tapped it in making it 2-0 Irvine Meadow.

Following a break in play for Maybole’s Logan Findlay to receive treatment and with the words of their teammate Greg Robertson “lift it!” ringing in their ears, they did just that. In the ninth minute, Maybole won a free kick. Lewis Ross Morrison pinged a great ball into the box, but unfortunately, Euan Wilson couldn’t get it out from under his feet. A solid chance.

Dylan Small was battling in the midfield, turning his opponents inside out. Small and Wilson combined beautifully and their short, sharp passes on the edge of the box were unlucky to not constitute any reward.

With Maybole’s goalkeeper Keon Thurston perhaps feeling a bit deflated following the two goals against him, he never let his head drop. Fifteen minutes into the game came a third opportunity for Irvine Meadow to stretch their lead when Reiss McCrindle used his speed to nip in behind the defence, taking down a flighted ball and was one-on-one with Thurston. The goalkeeper used his strength and tackled McCrindle, ultimately getting the ball to safety.

As the first half ticked on, the sun continued to beat down on both sets of players. Fatigued, but never hesitant, Maybole continued to push for a goal. Wilson showed exactly why he made the starting eleven, with his excellent footwork impressing the crowd. Greg Robertson, Dylan Small and Brandon Arthur linked up well, making it to the edge of the box, but were ultimately denied by Meadow’s Louis McPeake. Arthur and Darren Jamieson’s ‘one two’s’ down the left wing made for an exciting end to the first half hour.

Small continued to be a defender’s worst nightmare, making runs all around the box, striving at every opening to get a shot away. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t to be, with most shots played into the hands of Kian Nelson or overhit. Nonetheless, an impressive player.

As the half-time whistle blew, tempers were running high. Irvine Meadow’s Liam Walker found himself the first player of the match to end up in the referee’s book after being shown a yellow card for pushing his opponent as the half ended.

After a quick turnaround play resumed for the second half. Two minutes in, Maybole’s Darren Jamieson made a strong challenge on Tyler Stuart making him the second player to receive a yellow card, and a free kick was given. Lucas Macdonald’s shot was on target, however just skimmed the bar. From this point on, it was to be a fiery finish.

Maybole came out strong, however they found themselves in an offside position more than once, much to their frustration.

Irvine Meadow didn’t want to settle for two, they wanted a third. Maddox Webster was a standout up front, linking up well with Tyler Stuart in the wide areas. The Maybole defence had to be on their game to stop this pair. On the hour mark, Stuart controlled a ball from in the air, bringing it down with the outside of his foot – a fantastic touch.

Unfortunately for Irvine Meadow, a moment of frustration from Lewis Graham resulted in him being shown a red card. A possible chance for Maybole Juniors to take advantage of their extra man?

With multiple substitutions being made by both teams over the next five minutes, it allowed a small rest period for both sets of players. This break in play gave Meadow’s McCrindle an extra burst of energy. Even after seventy minutes, he chased down everything, and it soon paid off. As the ball was knocked back to the Maybole defender, McCrindle’s speed put him under pressure and he had a decision to make – take him on or play it back to goalkeeper Thurston. He decided on the latter and McCrindle pounced. As the goalkeeper went to clear the ball it hit the striker and bounced back towards him, fumbling the ball and eventually bringing down McCrindle in the process. As the referee blew his whistle and pointed to the spot his head was in his hands. It was Clayton Hood who would step up to take the penalty. Cool as can be, he slotted it into the bottom left corner to make it 3-0 to Irvine Meadow.

It seemed like an impossible way back now for Maybole Juniors, however, just two minutes after the penalty, Kian Nelson made a mistake; coming out too soon gave Finn Monaghan an opportunity. He took it, and calmly put it past the goalkeeper to make it 3-1.

Maybole’s Lewis Ross Morrison never gave up. He was driving from his defensive position, through the midfield and trying to set up chances in the final third- it was just not to be on this occasion.

The final five minutes of the game will want to be forgotten by both sets of players after multiple red cards were shown. A fiercely contested game in warm conditions.

As the full-time whistle sounded, Irvine Meadow were crowned winners of the West of Scotland Youth Football League 2023/2024 Presidents Cup.

Irvine Meadow Player of the Match: Reiss McCrindle

A team player from start to finish who gave everything he had for his team. His work rate was exceptional, and his technical ability was evident.

Maybole Juniors Player of the Match: Lewis Ross Morrison

A standout at the back. He showed determination and a desire to win the ball and make things happen at every point in the game.

Irvine Meadow Magic Moment:

Rory Prentice’s pinpoint cross landed perfectly at the back post for the second goal.

Maybole Juniors Magic Moment:

All of Keon Thurston’s saves- a great show of determination.

Irvine Meadow U18s

Lewis Graham

Taylor Hamilton

Clayton Hood

Michael Love

Lucas Macdonald

Reiss McCrindle

Louis McPeake

Kian Nelson     

Rory Prentice

Ethan Shaw

Tyler Stuart

Zack Toye

Liam Walker

Maddox Webster

Maybole Juniors U18s

Brandon Arthur

Kevin Doble

Logan Findlay

Tomaz Fleming

Taylor Greenlees

Darren Jamieson

Aaron Lopez

Jack McCabe

Taylor McCreath

Taylor McDonald

Finn Monaghan

Lewis Ross Morrison

Greg Robertson

McKenzie Ross

Dylan Small

Keon Thurston

Euan Wilson


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