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Derek Hall’s report from the Haddington Athletic v Deveronvale Scottish Cup replay game on Saturday 25th September

todaySeptember 26, 2021


Derek Hall
Haddington Athletic 1-1 Deveronvale – Haddington win 5-3 on penalties
A historic day at Millfield with the second Scottish Cup tie played at the venue and a crowd approaching 500 turned up to see this tie being settled after last weeks dramatic 2-2 draw. Haddington showed first and Ross King fired in a long range drive which went wide as the home side started with clear intent. However with three minutes on the clock, Haddington were shocked as the visitors hit the front when King tried to shepherd the ball over his own goal line but he was dispossessed by Sam Robertson who moved into the penalty area before slipping a lovely ball to the near post where Dane Ballard got across his marker and clipped the ball into the bottom corner past the helpless Dale Cornet from no more than five yards. Haddington were immediately back on the offensive and determined not to let the setback disturb their game plan, and Shaun Hill broke down the right before finding Guy McGarry but his 25 yard drive was comfortably held by Vale keeper Sean McIntosh. After nine minutes, Seamus Russell and Hill worked a one two on the edge of the Vale box but Hill’s drive from 15 yards lacked power and caused McIntosh no problems. Deveronvale looked to be well organised at the back, as you might expect from a team in tier five of Scottish football and they looked pretty solid but despite this, it didn’t take long for the men from Millfield to get back on level terms and we had a real cup tie on our hands. Gabri Auriemma and Euan Watson combined down the left flank with the latter showing good feet before driving a nice ball into the box and picking out McGarry who took the ball with the instep of his left foot to guide a composed finish low into the bottom near post corner from around 10 yards and with thirteen minutes gone, we were all square. Vale responded with a speculative 30 yarder from Matt Wallace which keeper Cornet watched as it sailed over. However on 19 minutes, the home keeper was brought into action to turn behind an awkward bouncing header from Ben Allan after Robertson’s cross picked him out nine yards from goal. With 23 minutes on the clock, a powerful forward run by the dangerous Robertson released Wallace whose first time half volley for Vale again had to be carefully dealt with by Cornet. At the other end, another long range effort from McGarry went wide and both teams seemed to be having problems finding a killer pass in the final third, resulting in long distance shots being the norm. On 29 minutes, Max Stewart and Michael Watson tried to work an opening on the edge of the Haddington box but once again, Watsons final pass was overhit and Cornet gathered easily. Robertson then found Stewart and he picked out Watson with a nice wide pass but Corey Robertson was across and made an excellent tackle for the home side to snuff out the danger. On 37 minutes, Gabri Auriemma fouled Ross Aitken wide on the touchline giving Kyle Willox the chance to put a delivery into the home box but instead he chose to go short to Stewart whose shot was blocked. A long kick from keeper Cornet sent Hill down the right flank but from way wide, his decision to try yet another long range half volley wasn’t his best and then another through ball almost had McGarry in at the edge of the box but Vale keeper McIntosh was out to dive at his feet at the edge of the box. With 41 minutes gone, Vale’s Innes McKay picked up an ankle knock and after treatment, had to go to the sideline limping fairly heavily but was able to return. Two minutes from the break, Ali Simpson strode forward for the home side but his 35 yard effort went for a short nature ramble in the trees behind the goals. At the break it was honours even and after a whirlwind start with two early goals, the game had turned into a wee bit of an arm wrestle as both teams tried manfully but without success to make a further breakthrough.
Three minutes after the break, Willox played a long ball into the Haddington box and the home defence seemed to be ball watching as Stewart reached the ball but could only find the side netting with his cutback. A minute later, Hill flicked the ball on and Auriemma saw McIntosh off his line but his lobbed effort from around 22 yards cleared the Vale crossbar. Two minutes later, a long free kick from King towards the edge of the Vale penalty area saw Willox head the ball straight up in the air and McGarry was there to loop the follow up header just over as the home side began to up the tempo. McGarry then tried to play in Hill, but Aitken was there and calmly headed back to McIntosh in the Vale goal. With 56 minutes gone, Vale made the first change of the match as Grant Noble replaced Stewart just before a long ball from home keeper Cornet almost found Hill inside the Vale box but keeper McIntosh was alert to the danger and grabbed the ball. On the hour, Vale made their second change as McKay finally succumbed to his earlier injury and was replaced by Jamie Tinnock. Vale seemed a little less potent in attack and to be honest looked a bit leggy and a Wallace cutback into the arms of Cornet was about all they had mustered for a while although the fresh legs of Tinnock and Noble combined but when the latter crossed into the box, the support was lacking. A long throw into the home box then saw keeper Cornet punch clear to the edge of the box where Noble’s return drive was once again blocked. With 63 minutes gone, Haddington replaced goal scorer McGarry who seemed to have a slight pull and Fraser Eddington was on in his place. With 69 minutes gone, referee Andy Gamble brought out the yellow card for the first time as Watson of Haddington caught Aitken on the edge of the Vale box after a poor first touch saw him over stretching to try to retrieve the ball. Vale then made their final switch of the game as Watson made way for Robert Allan with 20 minutes remaining. A minute later, Ben Allan of Vale was the games second caution once the ball was out after having tried to clip Hill as he moved forward and referee Gamble applied the advantage before then going back to deal with the Vale No 4. A poor defensive header almost presented a chance to Auriemma but Aitken was there to clear for Vale and the visiting right back had had an excellent game so far. With a quarter of an hour remaining, Willox pulled down Hill on the edge of the Vale box but the normally dependable Auriemma fired the set piece high, wide and anything but handsome. Eddington was then the games third caution for a foul on Wallace and a few minutes later the same player was penalised for a foul on Vale keeper McIntosh but referee Gamble contented himself with the award of the free kick. Robertson then got forward for Vale and Nick Aitchison was there to make a solid clearance for the home side before at the other end, King fed Hill but the 25 yard drive was again high. Three minutes from time, Haddington were indebted to keeper Cornet as the ball dropped to Ballard 30 yards out and he took the right foot half volley early and the perfect strike appeared to have goal written all over it until the keeper dived full length to palm the ball wide from up in the top corner, a magnificent save. That proved to be the last significant chance of a competitive and hard fought cup tie which was now going to be decided on penalty kicks, with 180 minutes of football failing to separate these two excellent sides. Ross King, James Connelly and Gabri Auriemma all stepped forward to score before the fourth penalty kick became the pivotal moment of the shootout as Haddington keeper Dale Cornet dived low to his right to save from Vale’s Sam Robertson, 2-1 after four penalties. The standard of the kicks remained high and successful strikes from Shaun Hill, Grant Noble, Seamus Russell and Ross Aitken took the score to 4-3 which meant that Euan Watson came forward to place the ball on the spot for a kick which could send the home side into the second round of the Scottish Cup, a real pressure moment. The Haddington midfielder stepped up and showed real composure, not to mention nerves of steel, as he drove the ball confidently home past McIntosh and the 5-3 scoreline sparked scenes of jubilation all around Millfield as Athletic secured their place in the second round of the Scottish Cup, with the Sat Nav’s already being checked for the address of Glebe Park in Brechin. Commiserations on the day go to a very decent Deveronvale side who had come a long way to finally go out in one of footballs most heartbreaking scenarios, but no such worries for a home side who had gone into this tie as the underdog but had more than matched their higher team opponents over two games, and few could deny that on the balance of play, the final outcome was the right one, history made at Millfield and local public houses on red alert

Written by: Russell Aitken

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