Connect with us

Match Previews & Reports

Rangers U18s edge Aberdeen to win their eighth Scottish Youth Cup

The 40th Scottish Youth Cup Final was contested between storied rivals Rangers and Aberdeen at Hampden Park. It was a tie which promised exhilarating attacking football – with both their CAS Elite League matches this year being total goal fests; the first being a 4-4 draw and the second a 6-1 win for the Gers.

The Dons headed into the high-stake affair having toppled Ayr United 7-2 in the semi-finals. Meanwhile, Steven Smith’s Rangers did it the hard way by beating Dundee United on penalties at the Rangers Training Centre.

Aberdeen’s Findlay Marshall got the ball rolling at an electric national stadium, and from the off it was the Glasgow side who took control of the encounter. Standing in their way, however, was powerhouse defender Timothy Akindileni, who showcased his aerial dominance early on with two towering headers serving as a roadblock closing off the blue frontline.

The Ibrox side stayed persistent in their play within the opening minutes, with Paul Nsio’s threaded pass finding Archie Stevens on the right wing. The energetic wideman excellently waltzed past his marker, but ultimately failed to create a clear-cut chance.

The pressure continued to mount on the Reds as Kerr Robertson’s curled cross took a few knicks on its path to Cameron Scott. The Rangers left-back managed to get his head on the pass, but his effort was no match for Rodrigo Vitols in the Aberdeen goal.

Further neat passing play from Rangers on the edge of the Aberdeen box crafted a shooting opportunity for their number ten Findlay Curtis. It led to nothing once more as the playmaker fired low and hard into the grateful grasp of the Latvian shot-stopper.

Scott Anderson’s Loons began to find their groove in the cup final halfway through the first period, spreading the spacious Hampden pitch as much as they could with their passing patterns.

Akindileni found himself back in the thick of the game, playing a teasing lobbed path towards the Rangers box. Mason Munn sharply dashed off his line to clear the red alert of an onrushing Alfie Bavidge.

Rangers, aiming to gain command over the game once more, saw a flurry of goalscoring opportunities pass them by in quick succession. The first came from a flashed ball across goal by Scott which met a sliding Curtis. His shot was tame and failed to trouble the keeper.

Not long after, the ball dropped to Nsio in the penalty area who unleashed a fierce shot which was impressively blocked by Kai Watson. The Portlethan lad showed true cup final passion to throw his body on the line for the club he has supported since a young age.

The ever-lively Nsio sparked once more, dancing by three red shirts and powerfully drove towards the opposing net. It forced an excellent save from the busy Vitols with his outstretched right foot.

It was Aberdeen’s turn to have a pop at goal – this time via the talented Fletcher Boyd. He cannoned an effort towards the Rangers net which Mason Munn caught with assurance.

The Hampden technical team were ready to adjust the scoreboard when Archie Stevens found Zander Hutton unmarked on the edge of the Aberdeen box. He struck sweetly, but it rasped inches wide with pace.

Following the chance, Aberdeen progressed up the other end of the park instantly when Bavidge cut inside and plated Fraser Mackie for a shot which flew high into the West Stand.

The second half commenced, and controversy soon followed. A penalty claim for Aberdeen saw Brendan Hamilton’s cross connect with an on-the-turn Zander Hutton. The referee awarded a corner despite the Reds’ claims of handball.

Dons’ full-back Hamilton avidly tried to provide the goods for his side, hitting a bending free kick with his left peg which was mere inches over the crossbar.

Rangers’ presence between the sticks Munn pulled off an outstanding save from striker Bavidge’s close-range effort. The Northern Irish goalie stretched low to his bottom left to prevent what looked to be a certain goal for the Kelty Hearts loan star.

The resulting corner is whipped right onto Munn’s head. He again did well to punch clear for another Aberdeen corner.

The Dandies’ third consecutive corner almost goes directly into the goal after the Dons’ set-piece specialist and captain Alfie Stewart drove a low cross to the near post which called Rangers’ number one into action again – steering clear with his foot.

Aberdeen were firmly in the driver’s seat in terms of possession by this point in the match as they continued to chase the opening goal.

Tidy play between Boyd and Cameron Wilson finds the midfielder in space for an attempt on goal. That man Munn again rushed out to block the shooting chance, adding to his highlight reel of stops in this enthralling Scottish Youth Cup Final.

The resulting corner, hit by Stewart once again, looked to creep over the Rangers goal line directly but the referee continued play despite masses of protest from the Aberdeen players, coaching staff and travelling fans.

Corner after corner for the attacking North East side eventually led to the final’s opening goal. Stewart with another corner delivered onto the head of Findlay Marshall – who then flicked towards the impressive Akindileni. The centre-back kneed home an opener much to the jubilation of the red sea at Hampden.

Rangers responded to the opening strike in minutes thanks to the award of a penalty. The ball struck the arm of Lewis Carrol in the Aberdeen box and the referee’s whistle then followed promptly. Up stepped Curtis to guide his penalty into the bottom left corner with authority – equalising for the Young Light Blues and blowing the final wide open.

The goalscoring midfielder was at it again for Rangers, bringing a step over out of his arsenal to skip by his man and strike well. Vitols batted his effort away for a corner, injecting more energy into what was an already raucous crowd.

The following corner broke kindly on the edge of the area to Josh Gentles, whose volleyed effort bounced off of a few jerseys and into the goal. It was unclear who got the final touch on the ball as it found its way into the back of the Aberdeen net. Josh Gentles, Paul Nsio and Connor Campbell all veer off into celebration knowing that one of them had just given their team the lead in the Scottish Youth Cup Final.

It was nearly three for the team from Govan as captain Leyton Grant met a free kick delivered from left field, but his header hit the near post and the Aberdeen stopper claimed the ball as it broke loose.

Itching for a late equaliser, Bavidge latched onto a bouncing ball in the Rangers box. The centre forward had a pop which was on target, but Munn showcased his excellent reflexes to prevent the Aberdeen striker from bagging the goal they so dearly craved.

Four additional minutes were added on by the fourth official, which enlivened the support who made the three-hour journey to Glasgow in order to support their team to what they had hoped would be a cup final success.

However, Rangers showed a grittier side to their game in order to see this one out against their youthful Pittodrie counterparts, who ultimately fell to their knees at the end of the four added minutes in sheer despair. Steven Smith’s young team had done it; they won the Scottish Youth Cup 23/24 at Hampden Park in front of a crowd of 1,283.

Rangers Player of the Match: Mason Munn

There were many candidates for this award – namely Josh Gentles and Archie Stevens – but games with such tight margins can only be won when your goalie is in top form. The towering man between the sticks pulled off a plethora of showstopping saves to aid his Rangers team to glory.

Aberdeen Player of the Match: Timothy Akindileni

The left-footed centre-half was only scouted by the Dons in 2019 whilst playing for boys club side East End FC, but it looked like the defender was tailor-made for an occasion deserving of national coverage and the lights at Hampden Park. A formidable defensive display and a goal to top it off saw Akindileni awarded our Aberdeen Star Player.

Rangers Magic Moment: The Winning Strike

The national stadium erupted as the second goal was guided home. Seeing the young Gers feeding off the fans’ energy prior to the winning strike was awe-inspiring, and their celebration for the winner underlined how tight-knit a changing room Steven Smith has created with his Under 18s side.

Aberdeen Magic Moment: Breaking The Deadlock

Every onlooker knew that Aberdeen had to open the scoring as the tension built with every corner for the Reds. An incredible pinpoint delivery from Alfie Stewart, who was excellent all game, was won brilliantly by Marshall and Akindileni, with a call back to his striker days at grassroots level, he found the time and space to stab home and send the Dandy Dons wild.

Rangers U18s

Mason Munn

Zander Hutton

Cameron Scott

Leyton Grant

Jack Wyllie

Connor Campbell

Paul Nsio

Kerr Robertson

Josh Gentles

Findlay Curtis

Archie Stevens

Alfie Halliwell

Arran Kerr

Calum Adamson

Blaine McClure

Callum Burnside

Kieron Willox

Chris Eadie

Aberdeen U18s

Rodrigo Vitols

Brendan Hamilton

Lewis Carrol

Kai Watson

Cameron Wilson

Alfie Stewart

Alfie Bavidge

Fletcher Boyd

Findlay Marshall

Timothy Akindileni

Fraser Mackie

Theo Simpson

Dylan Ross

Ellis Clark

Cooper Masson

Joseph Teasdale

Christian Stephen

Christovie Kondolo



More in Match Previews & Reports