Haldane United advanced to the last 16 of the Scottish Youth Cup thanks to a dramatic winner just three minutes from the end in the Highlands.
The game got off to a frantic start with opportunities for both sides within the first ten minutes. The opening chance fell to the hosts when Shaun Mackenzie whipped in a teasing corner which was met by Calum Douglas who headed wide from close distance.
Just a few minutes later the hosts forced the Balloan keeper into a fantastic triple save as Haldane looked certain to take the lead. From the resulting corner, the opening goal arrived. A fantastic deep corner found the head of Aiden Kelly and the big striker powered a superb header into the top left-hand corner of the goal to make it 1-0 to last season’s semi-finalists.
The game was being played a lot in the midfield with both teams fighting hard to create an opening on what was a wet afternoon in Inverness. Douglas was causing the Haldane defence a lot of problems from corners as he headed wide before Josh Goodwin fired just over for the visitors.
Balloan were playing some nice football in the middle of the park which created an opening for Miles MacClancy but Corey McGowan held his shot from the edge of the box.
Campbell was pulling the strings for Haldane as his fantastic footwork created a couple of openings for Goodwin, who was making a lot of space down the wings, but both efforts in short succession didn’t challenge the Balloan keeper.
Douglas nearly bagged Balloan an equaliser on the stroke of half-time. Another superb corner found Douglas in acres of room in the box but his header from 6 yards bounced narrowly wide of the goal. Haldane went into the break with a narrow 1-0 lead.
Haldane started the second half very quickly. Aiden Kelly broke through and found himself with just the keeper to beat but a tremendous stop denied the striker his second of the afternoon. Just minutes later Douglas worked himself some room about 20 yards from the goal, but McGowan held his effort well.
Ten minutes into the second period Balloan had a couple of superb chances. Calum Douglas broke through the Haldane defence and saw his effort bounce off the outside of the post where the rebound fell to Fraser Imlack but his snapshot went just over the bar.
Haldane were pushing for a goal to kill the tie off. Scouller was provided an opening thanks to hard work from Douglas but his shot from distance was well held. Not long after Rafa got some room on the left-hand side but his shot flew past the post.
With 10 minutes from the end, the home side grabbed the goal they deserved. A long throw into the box fell to Jamie Macleod who powered a left-footed half-volley which flew into the top corner, sparking huge celebrations amongst the home supporters.
This set up a pulsating final ten minutes in the Highland capital. However, it would be the away side who would score next. A throw-in was taken quickly and the ball found its way to birthday boy Anthony Scouller who fired a sensational left-footed volley over the Balloan keeper with just three minutes left to play. This sparked some wild scenes amongst the away bench as Haldane looked to grab victory at the death to progress to the next round of the cup.
Balloan were not done just yet. Cian McAllister jinxed through two or three Haldane defenders with just the keeper to beat but his low drive was pushed away by McGowan. A minute later Cameron Young found himself loads of space on the edge of the area, but his effort went over the bar.
A superb cup tie in Inverness as Haldane United went back down the A9 with their place in the last 16 booked. Hard luck to Balloan who put in a superb effort but just fell short.
Balloan United Player of the Match: Calum Douglas
Douglas caused Haldane several problems from set pieces and on another day could have had a few goals.
Haldane United Player of the Match: Calum Campbell
Campbell controlled the game creating several chances for the away side.
Balloan United U16s:
1. Charlie Maclennan
12. Louis Nicol
3. Aiden MacGillivray
5. Kai Bertram
9. Calum Douglas
2. Kyle Macrae
6. Cameron Young
19. Liam Mitchell
15. Lewis Hutchison
10. Jamie Macleod
18. Miles MacClancy
11. George Matheson
14. Samuel Mastylo
8. Jack Connor
21. Shaun MacKenzie
7. Cian McAllister
16. Fraser Imlack
4. Lewis Gardiner
Haldane United U16s:
1. Corey McGowan
2. Max Neeson
3. Josh Goodwin
4. Aaron Graham
5. Josh Banks
6. Euan Campbell
7. Noah Shields
8. Aaron Barbour
9. Aiden Kelly
10. Jayden Watson
11. Leo McCrea
14. Ross Parfery
15. Conor Mcmenimen
17. Antony Scouller
16. Dominic Jordon
18. Callum Campbell
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