Still All To Play For As Hurlford Edge Semi Final 1-0

Wishaw Juniors 0 Hurlford United 1

 

By Lindsay Robertson 

Photos by Wishaw FC Twitter

Anyone who follows or is involved with Wishaw Juniors will tell you that days like today don’t come along too often. While today’s opponents can point to winning the competition a few years back and some good runs to the latter stages the home side have no such history in the competition. 

Indeed, we have had 19 Prime Ministers, 3 Monarchs (2 King’s, 1 Queen) and Clyde, Queens Park, QOS and Albion Rovers were part of the top league in Scotland the last time that Wishaw were one of the last 4 standing in this competition. 

April 1935 to be exact when 16,512 watched them go down 2-1 to Tranent at Tynecastle to miss out on a final place. In an article I did for the match programme I wrote how a first half deficit was so nearly turned around and could well have been a different result entirely. How Ironic then that 83 years later the same could be said of the 1st leg of this year’s Semi-Final. 

With another healthy attendance at The Beltane the game got under way in typical cup tie fashion with both sides testing out the other to try and gain some control of the match. |A Coffey long throw was flicked on at the near post but cut out before it could pose any danger and a dangerous McKenzie cross was powerfully headed clear as danger lurked just behind. 

The first flowing move of the half came from the home side when McGeough’s pass found Coffey near the edge of the box his little reverse pass almost put Smillie free but the forward could not get any power in the effort as it was blocked away to safety. 

Hurlford were posing some of their own issues with some strong running down the flanks but the final pass was not really producing any clear-cut chances at this stage. 

McKenzie was posing a threat to the home side and his low free kick across the box found Danny Mitchell in a little space but the defenders snap shot flew high and wild over the bar. 

The home side tried again when a chipped Kindlan pass eventually found Smillie and his clipped cross back into the centre found Coffey who under challenge could not direct his header on target. Kindlan then tried his own low corner into the box which Smillie fastened on to and after shrugging off a challenged wheeled to get away a shot which ended in the side netting. 

Hurlford then produced the nearest opportunity of the first half when awarded a free kick around 25 yards out which saw Mitchell fire in a curling effort which bounced off the post and was hacked away to safety.  Watt and Roberts then tried to combine to open the home defence up but the danger was cleared for a corner which saw Thomson being fouled to bring the threat to the home goal to an end. 

A Crawford free kick was headed down by Coffey to McGeough who laid it back to McCafferty but his shot seemed rushed and flashed high and wide. 

Mitchell then brought out the best in Thomson again with a dipping half volley which the keeper got both hands on low at his near post to turn away to safety. 

With ten minutes of the first half left the visitors went ahead a long ball forward by Hodge eventually found its way somehow to the feet of Glen Mitchell with some space available the midfielder took a couple of paces into the Wishaw box and before he could be closed down sent a low shot under Thomson and into the far corner of the net.  

The goal deflated the home side a little and Hurlford tried to make the most by increasing their lead and put the home defence under some pressure leading up to half time. Solid defending and some poor passing meant the as the referee brought the first half to a close the visitors had a 1-0 lead. 

Quarter-Final goal scorer Dan Kindlan had been a little quite in the opening 45 minute but it took only 4 minutes after the restart for him to burst into life with a trademark burst past the full back to the touchline sadly though he got the cross all wrong which was too high and heavily hit for anyone to make connection in the middle.  

Back at the other end Glen Mitchell and Hodge swapped passes before the full back screwed a shot wide. 

Coffey and Danny Mitchell were then involved in a nasty head clash which saw the centre half having to leave the field straight away to be replaced by Robertson. 

Kindlan then sprung back into life with a cross that missed the Hurlford defence but McCafferty could not direct his header on target and it went wide. The pressure was building and McGeough and Kindlan combined again with the eventual cross falling to Coffey who had a swing on it but did not make great connection and it landed safely with Brown in the Hurlford goal. 

Around this point the visiting fans were getting restless in particular one who made his frustration loudly known to the management team of the Ayrshire side. 

On 65 minutes Wishaw thought they had themselves level another ball into the vising box saw and old-fashioned goalmouth scramble as defenders tried to clear and forwards tried to turn it home only for Smillie to smash it home but be ruled offside.  

Two minutes later Wishaw were on the attack again and a long throw into the box escaped almost everyone but substitute McGuire who stabbed it goalward but did not have the power to beat Brown. 

The game was becoming pretty one sided at this stage and when Dan and Dean Kindlan combined another effort went by as the latter’s shot drifted over the bar. 

Hurlford produced one of their better second half attacks just on the half hour mark when Robertson laid of a pass to Hodge but once more the full back pulled his effort wide. 

Coffey then set up McGeough with a square pass but the midfielder’s effort on the stretch drifted a bit high and cleared the crossbar. 

Hurlford were slowly edging their way back into the tie and from a McKenzie corner Robertson got in a powerful downward header that was blocked over to safety. 

Time was beginning to edge away and in one break away the visitors had the chance to double their lead, substitute Robertson who had looked lively since he came on looked to have a chance to shoot but squared it to Watt only ten yards out the with all the goal to aim at his shot took a clip of a defender and then the arm of keeper Thomson as they diverted his net bound effort over the bar. 

As we edged into injury time the home side were still straining to get the equaliser and managed to produce another two scares in the visiting box first goalkeeper Brown mis kicked a clearance badly allowing Grant to try and tee up Kindlan but his effort was blocked before a long cross into the box eventually dropped at the feet of Collinder and his low shot was screwed wide of the post. 

In the end the 2018 semi-final tie might well have been a flashback to those long-gone days in 1935, a half time deficit then and a fighting second half in which the team deserved at the very least a draw. This time though we have a second leg to go through. As the saying goes “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings” and the fat lady was no where to be seen at The Beltane on Saturday this ain’t over yet !!  

 

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