Musselburgh Windsor stay frosty to win 18s Challenge Cup in close final
Match report: Drumchapel United 2 Musselburgh Windsor 3 AET
Musselburgh Windsor 18s have claimed the Scottish Challenge Cup in a tight competitive final against Drumchapel United in freezing conditions at Ochilview Stadium, which saw them go a player down in extra time.
The teams took to the field at Stenhousemuir for the 18s Challenge Cup Final with the temperature dropping, and it took both sides a few minutes to warm into the game in what would prove to be a close final between two physically strong sides who cancelled each other out at times in the cold.
It was Drumchapel who had the first chance, Erin McGregor doing brilliantly to make space for herself but shooting wide with the Windsor keeper scrabbling across her line.
After eleven minutes Musselburgh found their groove, a clever bit of footwork on the left allowing time for a cutback to incoming Skye Feeley, who drove a low shot into the corner to open the scoring.
But Drumchapel were determined to make amends, and attacker Cara Anderson found the breakthrough six minutes later, latching onto a cross to poke home at the near post.
Windsor’s Emma Hume found herself one-one-one with the keeper on the 20-minute mark, but Drumchapel keeper Rachel Irvine did brilliantly to hold her shot.
The sides largely cancelled each other out until a good link-up on the right between Mia Brotherson and Emma Hume for Musselburgh resulted in a great delivery across the box from the latter on 37 minutes, but there were no Windsor attackers on the end of it. At the other end, Drumchapel floated in a dangerous corner but the header from Rebecca Watson went inches wide to leave it all square at the break.
The second half played out in a similar fashion, Nicole Hogg skipping past a Drumchapel defender early in the half but shooting wide, then Irvine saving bravely at the feet of Hannah Menzies.
Drumchapel fought their way back into contention. The referee had a word with Anderson for a forceful shoulder charge, before a deft free kick from Watson came off the upright and Eilidh Drain crumpled to a heap in the box amid the maelstrom, but the referee waved away calls for a penalty.
A quick counter-attack on 65 minutes saw the ball floated through the middle to Anderson, who beat the offside trap and finished well beyond Windsor keeper Rachel Fleming who had no chance.
But Musselburgh were quick to counter, Feeley holding off a defender to grab a brace herself at the other end two minutes later.
As Musselburgh keeper Fleming rushed off her line on 86 mins, the ref judged a handball just outside the box, but Drumchapel shot the free kick straight at the wall and the game would go to extra time.
There were clear signs of tiredness from both sides in the extra period, with defenders finding it difficult to chase balls in the low temperatures and an unnecessarily ill-tempered crowd berating the referee for every decision.
Just before the end of the first half of extra time, Mia Brotherson was perhaps unlucky to see red for kicking a ball directly at an opponent after a throw-in hadn’t gone her way, and left Windsor a player down. With the temperature dropping further, there were signs of cramp starting to show at the restart as Drumchapel looked to press their advantage. Hannah Menzies pulled up twice holding her hamstring and had to leave the field.
Windsor may have been down, but they were not out, and after 150 long minutes Emma Hume showed great strength to hold off a challenge and loop in a shot from the left-hand side to put Windsor in front. Good game management for the last few minutes almost came undone when the ball went unchallenged into the box from a corner, but tired Drumchapel legs couldn’t capitalise, and the cup would be heading to East Lothian.