|Strathclyde Cup Semi Final|
|19th May 2007
|McCann (pen), McGinley|
Windlaw faced Tynecastle in the semi final of the Strathclyde Cup at the neutral venue of………………….Lochend, coincidentally, the home of Tynecastle. There was no intentional bias in favour of Tynecastle, nor was the league seeking to give them any sort of advantage. It was an agreement reached between both clubs after a monumental cock-up on the league’s part. Loretto was the original venue, however it hadn’t been booked so both teams reached the agreement late on Thursday night, less than 48 hours before kick off.
It was a risk for Windlaw, effectively giving Tynecastle home advantage, but it was necessary to take out the possibility of having no park and a looming midweek cup semi final.
Onto the action now, and any sort of win was welcome, regardless of quality of football. Semi finals are notoriously dull affairs with very little quality football served up. This one was a cert to follow protocol as the torrential rain and howling wind was making it very difficult for both teams to get the ball down and play any sort of football.
Chances were at a premium as both teams looked scared to make a costly mistake. However, Tynecastle didn’t need a Windlaw mistake to take the lead after 15 minutes. An out-swinging corner from Tynecastle’s right side was met superbly by McCarthy who powerfully headed the ball downwards, leaving Lunny no chance as it bounced high into the net off the greasy surface. An excellent goal fit to brighten up any dull semi final contest.
Windlaw had to lift themselves now and go up a few gears as they Tynecastle goal was not under threat as manager Martin Kerr would have liked. The attacking midfield three of McCann, McCaig and McKenna were struggling to make an impact and the service to McGinlay and Carey was almost non existent.
Windlaw came close to scoring near the end of the first half when Danny McKenna fired a vicious cross into the Tynecastle box. All it needed was a touch towards goal and the scores would’ve been level, but the ball skidded off the surface and evaded the Windlaw players queuing up to tap it in.
It seemed like it was going to be one of those days where it just wasn’t going to happen for us. A very poor first half from the team didn’t bode well for the crucial second period. However, we would have the wind behind us in the second half.
Half-time Tynecastle 1-0 Windlaw
Windlaw looked a different team in the second half. It maybe had something to do with the severe rollicking Martin Kerr gave his players half time. A few choice words were dished out to the underperformers and told in no uncertain terms they were being hooked off unless they improved. It certainly seemed to work as Windlaw took the game to Tynecastle in search of the equalising goal.
Windlaw did get back on level terms with what looked like a soft penalty award. Benny Carey insists it was a stonewall penalty, but it looked dubious from my angle. Anyway, a penalty it was, and Kevin McCann stepped up and converted to bring Windlaw back into the game, just like he did over a year ago when Windlaw were last awarded a penalty in the now infamous game against Vale Utd.
Windlaw were in the ascendancy now and looked the more likely to score. With the weather conditions what they were, all it would take was a simple slip or mis control of the ball to allow the other team in, so both teams had to be fully focussed.
As it was, Windlaw benefited from such a mistake on the 70 minute mark when the Tynecastle right back allowed the ball to bounce over his foot and into the path of David McGinlay. The on-form hitman drove towards goal and unleashed an unstoppable diagonal drive from the corner of the box past the helpless Burns.
2-1 for the third time this season and if the previous two encounters were anything to go by, there would be no more goals in this game.
Tynecastle were up against it now as they were shooting into the wind. Windlaw were happy to play possession football for the remainder of the game and allow a safe passage through to their second final of the season.
Windlaw made an unforced sub, bringing John McCabe on for the tiring Kevin McCann. John’s running power would be useful at this stage of the match.
The script took a twist on 80 minutes when Benny Carey and Danny McKenna both had to come off injured and were replaced by Wullie Thornton and Allan Dougall.
As the minutes ticked away, Windlaw edged closer to the final, however the most controversial moment of the game was to come, bang on 90 minutes.
Tynecastle played a long ball forward, which was flicked on by the player running off Allan Dougall. The ball fell into the path of the Tynecastle winger who superbly lobbed the onrushing Lunny and into the back of the net. An excellent goal from Tynecastle’s point of view, a kick in the proverbials for Windlaw. The Tynecastle players celebrated wildly as they were back in the tie and still on course to defend their trophy
But, and it’s as big a but you can get in the 90th minute of a semi final tie, the goal did not stand as it was ruled off for offside. Linesman Willie Harkness had judged the player heading the ball on ran from an offside position and immediately raised his flag, which went unnoticed by all players and spectators until after the goal had been scored.
Tynecastle were enraged and could not believe the tie had been snatched from them. Everyone in the Windlaw camp was relieved to say the least and felt like they got out of jail, big time. Not one Windlaw defender claimed for the offside decision, not one Tynecastle player double checked to see if the goal was legitimate. That perhaps tells a story itself. However, Windlaw would not refuse such a stroke of luck.
So that was it, Windlaw made the final after a dubious offside call went in their favour, but nobody was complaining.
Full Time Tynecastle 1-2 Windlaw
Verdict: In a match which promised so much, very little was delivered due to the horrendous weather conditions. Both teams struggled to cope with the swirling wind and rain and it showed in their quality of play. Windlaw battled back well after going a goal down and feel they deserved to go through. Tynecastle will feel robbed for a long time to come after a decision they won’t forget easily. The win came at a big cost though, with Danny McKenna and Benny Carey limping off late in the game. Their condition will be looked at in training. John Lunny also complained of a shoulder strain in the dressing room afterwards. Hopefully, all players will be fit for the final. We meet Clydebank in the final, who defeated Division 3 high fliers Riverside, who were tipped to win the cup by some people. With the Division 2 title looking good for them, Clydebank will be a very good side, and a very difficult side to beat. It promises to be a cracking game
Man of the Match: Shug Neeson