With Arbroath Lads’ Club’s under-14s reaching the last 32 of the Scottish cup the previous week, the under-16s were looking to emulate that.
They travelled to Hamilton to take on Strathaven Dynamo.
Lads’ Club lined up in their familiar 4-4-2 line up with the only doubt being Finn Sutherland who had a foot injury. Having failed a late fitness test, he found himself on the bench.
The visitors flew out of the blocks and immediately took the game to Dynamo looking to place a lot of pressure on their defence. They found themselves a goal up inside one minute of the start.
A superbly executed driven free kick on the left from Paterson found the home ‘keeper under pressure. He fumbled the ball only for it to fall to Gareth Mowatt who finished from eight yards past a throng of defenders legs.
This gave Club a major boost and they continued to press against a Strathaven side who looked, at this already early stage to be struggling. However soon after, Carnegie was judged to have raised his hands to the advancing attackers and Strathaven were awarded a penalty. Millar managed to save the penalty only for it to rebound to the alert Dynamo attack to finish and make it 1-1 after six minutes.
This did not deter Club who continued to play some great football on a surface they were unfamiliar with, but on 17 minutes they found themselves 2-1 down. After a succession of corners, Strathaven’s big central defender rose through a crowded box to power a header into the Club net.
Lads’ Club heads failed to drop and they knew they were still in with a shout of taking something from the game. A series of attacks from midfield quartet of Paterson, Land, Waddell and Clark assisting Lightfoot and Mowatt up front culminated in them drawing level on 26 minutes. A piercing run from Waddell through the floundering defence and a square ball across the box found Paterson who finished with ease with his ever reliable right foot.
Confidence was high when Club came out for the second half and they were determined to take the game to their opponents. They started the second half in the same mode as the first and found themselves 3-2 up inside two minutes of the restart. A driven corner from Paterson on the right was almost radar like onto the head of Waddell whose bullet header left the home ‘keeper no chance.
With the game still going from end to end Club found themselves under pressure for a period as Dynamo searched for an equaliser only to find the resolute back four of Bastow, Quinn, Carnegie and Yule standing firm. At 3-2 the game was on a knife edge and it was always going to take the visitors to score another to settle matters. Dynamo continued to press and were unlucky not to draw level on 70 minutes. After numerous forays forward and some gilt edge chances missed, the Dynamo forward struck the post with Club eventually clearing their lines.
Club at this stage were leg weary and made a couple of changes. Sime replacing Yule at left back and Sutherland coming on for Mowatt up front. Soon afterwards Sinclair came on for the tireless Clark who had tormented the Dynamo defence throughout. Fresh legs seemed to do the trick and Sutherland was a thorn in the side of the Dynamo defence and was unlucky not to increase the lead himself striking the bar from all of 25 yards.
With the clock running down and the ever impressive Waddell continuing to attack and take the game to Dynamo, it was on 75 minutes when the tie was secured. Having driven through on numerous occasions, resulting in some callous challenges and two bookings for the central defence of Dynamo, it was all of 30 yards out that he drove an unstoppable free kick past the desperate ‘keeper to take the tie beyond the reach of Dynamo .
Lads’ Club were not finished, however, with the ‘keeper pulling off a top save once again from Waddell.
Menmuir replaced Bastow with minutes remaining. The local referee played approx three minutes extra-time, it was a nervy few moments until he blew for full-time, with Club advancing into the next round in style and to the relief of managers Waddell and Paterson.
This was an excellent achievement for the Under-16s to go through against a very good Dynamo side who before kick-off had fancied their chances of progressing. They were, however, very gracious in defeat and very complimentary towards the players and management of the team and wished them well in the next round.
After some light refreshments for the players and travelling support, the squad made the long journey back to Arbroath by bus supplied by J.P Coaches.
Having only ever had one previous away tie in the Scottish Cup, this was a great experience for all the players who conducted themselves impeccably throughout the day.
They now find themselves in the last 32 where once again, they travel to the West to face Sir Alex Ferguson’s former youth team, Harmony Row, to fight for a place in the last 16.
With a performance like that, this side should fear no one and will go into the tie full of confidence.
The tie is scheduled to be played on Saturday, November 16.