Wishaw High School F.P’s took on arguably the best side in amateur football on Saturday in the Scottish Amateur Cup Final and after what has been described by many as the best final for many years the resilient F.P’s side eventually managed to emerge victorious. This game had everything from the start. F.P’s manager Gary hailstones opted to field the same side who had done the job in the semi-final against Postal United at New Douglas Park back on the 15th April. In the opening 5 minutes Drumchapel United looked as if they might run all over The F.P’s as the F.P’s side struggled to get to grips with the pace and probing of the tricky Drum forwards. David Mackay and Alex Clearie in particular were causing considerable problems and only some poor finishing and superb goalkeeping by F.P’s no 1 Paul O’Hara kept the score sheet blank. Drum’s James Mulvey thought he had given his side the lead on 21 minutes only to see his celebrations cut short when he noticed the linesman flag for offside, a decision which must have been borderline. With The F.P’s backline still performing heroics and against the run of play, Brett Ansell battled superbly midway inside The Drum half on 41 minutes and after winning the ball in midfield and driving forward towards the Drum penalty area, he slipped an inviting ball wide to Alan Patrick who curled a stunning shot high over the outstretched dive of Drum keeper Jamie McGall to put The F.P’s into a 1-0 lead which stunned the large crowd who had packed the main stand.
F.P’s coach Gus Boyle warned his players to expect more of the same in the 2nd half as Drum would undoubtedly throw the kitchen sink at The F.P’s as they have done successfully against many Premier sides this season already and only 6 minutes into the 2nd period, F.P’s full-back William Montgomery was rather harshly adjudged to have checked Drums David McKay as he played a neat 1-2 in The F.P’s penalty area and the match official wasted no time in pointing to the spot despite the vociferous complaints from The F.P’s players. Thankfully the official only seen fit to flash a yellow card at Montgomery which angered The Drum players as they felt that McKay had been denied a clear goal scoring opportunity. McKay, dusted himself down and took the penalty himself but F.P’s Paul O’Hara dived full length to gather the ball at the 2nd attempt. O’Hara continued the heroics as time and again he saved from McKay, Murray and Mulvey. Just as it looked like The F.P’s might just hold out for a famous victory, Drum substitute Paul Wilson fired in a low corner on 81 minutes which was met superbly by Alex Clearie who headed firmly through a gap between O’Hara and F.P’s Kevin Burnside who was on the front post and the ball found the back of the net to level the score at 1-1. F.P’s substitutes Ally Wilson and Steven Murdoch who had replaced the tiring Alan Patrick and Stephen Mackie nearly combined in injury time to sneak it at the end for the F.P’s when Wilson met a good cross which came off the Drum crossbar and the rebound fell to midfielder JP Kerr who couldn’t keep his effort down and the ball sailed over the bar from 8 yards out.
In the 1st period of extra time play surged from end to end with The F.P’s having the better of the chances with Brett Ansell shooting just wide from the edge of the box and William Montgomery having a curled effort cleared of the line by a Drum defender. The 2nd period of extra time saw no let up as both sides now tiring gave their all in an effort to win it without the match having to go to the dreaded penalty shoot out. Drum’s Paul Wilson should have scored after he managed to elude his marker at the back post but thankfully his header from close range scraped the paintwork of the F.P’s post. The F.P’s driving midfielder Allan Littlejohn nearly won it for the F.P’s right at the death when he dived full length and must have failed to connect with a superb ball across the Drum 6 yard box from Steven Murdoch by the narrowest of margins.
With the match now to be decided by penalties, F.P’s manager Gary Hailstones looked around to see which of his players looked confident and there was no shortage of willing participants much to his delight. With the earlier penalty save of O’Hara from David McKay obviously still playing on The Drum players minds, The F.P’s management team hoped that this would maybe play in The F.P’s favour and so it turned out with Drum missing the 1st of their penalties before David McCluskey fired the F.P’s 1st penalty into the corner of the Drum net. Drum scored their next effort before JP Kerr kept the 1n goal penalty advantage intact by slotting his effort home. Drum then missed their 3rd penalty kick before The F.P’s Ally Wilson coolly slotted his effort home which left Drum having to convert their 4th penalty to keep them in it. Again O’Hara dived low to his left to push the ball to safety and win The Scottish Cup for The F.P’s for the first time in their 52 year history sparking wild celebrations at the end both on the pitch as O’Hara was mobbed rightly so by his team mates and the large Wishaw support nearly raised the roof in appreciation of a stunning and hard earned victory.
F.P’s manager Gary Hailstones said after the match “The spirit and belief that these players showed was absolutely 1st class. It’s been a tremendous season with winning promotion and to bring The Scottish Amateur Cup back to Wishaw for the 1st time in our history defies belief. I know we rode our luck today, especially in the 1st half but we dug in and managed to stay with them. We have plenty players out there with experience and that always helps when your under the cosh which we were for long periods. The goal which was superbly created by Brett Ansell and put away by Alan Patrick just before half time gave us something to hold onto and I thought we might just have got there in the 90minutes but it wasn’t to be. What can you say about the man of the match performance from Paul O’Hara, it was superb and hopefully he puts off his retirement for another season as we will need him when we are up against quality sides week in week out up in the Premier. As far as I am concerned though, to a man they were all outstanding today and were a credit to the club”
Everyone at Wishaw High School F.P’s would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the outstanding support we have been given by all our sponsors and supporters not only at The Final but over the past season. You have all been superb and we look forward to your continued support next season where although it will be difficult to surpass the achievements of season 2010/2011 we will try once more to strengthen both on and off the park. Our players can now enjoy a deserved rest but will need to look their suits out again to attend the Central Scottish AFL player of the year dance in Colville Park Club, Motherwell on Friday 3rd June, before our own player of the year dance which is this year being held in the Houldsworth Bowling Club on Friday 10th June. We would also like to thank The Waverley Bar in Wishaw for allowing us to host our celebrations and putting on the buffet after The Final and to their continued support.
Line Up: O’Hara, Burnside, Montgomery, Jamieson, McCluskey, Ansell, Kerr, Miller (McLaughlan), Littlejohn, Mackie (Murdoch), Patrick (Wilson)