St. Patrick’s Vs East Craigie Swifts – 2004
St. Patrick’s 3 – 2 East Craigie Swifts
We booked our ticket into the next round of the Scottish Cup in a game filled with drama, heightened emotions and sheer passion. On both sides of the sidelines the frustrations were vocalised in support of their team. Screams, gasps, remonstrations and dramatic gesticulations filled the air. The goals, when they arrived were greeted with raucous roars of joy from each support group. After the game, some of us would most likely wish they were not caught up in the mix of emotions, however no one could deny the intensity of the passions on display.
Amidst the brouhaha on the sidelines, a game of great quality was taking place with our boys dictating the initial proceedings. In fact, we should have taken a well deserved lead in the first minute when Ben finished off an overlap run with a great inviting cross which unfortunately eluded our front line. East Craigie Swifts did definitely not travel all the way down from the banks of the River Tay to enjoy the sunshine that bathed Bothwellhaugh this morning. Although they did not test Joe in goals in the initial exchanges, their hard work could not be faulted. At the back their brilliant keeper and centre backs protected their goals well. In the middle of the park the battle raged on for some time before Mairtin single handedly unlocked the bolted door to glory. From the right side of midfield he took on one, then two; a gap opened up for him and he drove through into the penalty area. As the defense dashed to avert the immediate danger he beat them for pace poking the ball in at the near post. The home support cheered as the goal helped settle the nerves. The Taysiders tried to respond but were well contained right through to half time.
At the re-start we made a solitary change with Lennon taking over from Joe in goals. The team was urged on to put daylight between us and the visitors. They duly obliged eleven minutes in the second half. Mairtin was again the orchestrator breaking through the defense but saw his initial shot on goal parried. He picked up the rebound, drove wide to the right then shoots across the goals and the ball hit the diving Ricky with the deflection ending up into the net. On the sidelines the home support didn’t care. They celebrated regardless with praises heaped at both players. The rest of the subs were thrown on. Urged on by the travelling support to mount a fight back, the Taysiders rallied round. With eight minutes of the second half to go they earned a free kick in our half. We defended the free kick well but away from the ball an opposition player went to the ground and to the home support’s surprise a penalty was awarded to the visitors. From then on the game threatened to descend into absurdity. The visitors took the penalty kick but Lennon pulled off a brilliant save, parrying the shot into a corner. Wild celebration ensued. The visitors took the free kick quickly and this time made it count scoring with a looped shot. Eager to get the game quickly restarted a futile tussle went on in the goals to grab the ball and take it to centre. When retribution was dished out Lennon escaped with a yellow card for his part. East Craigie Swifts rallied round pushed on for the equaliser. Lennon pulled off an incredible save in the last few minutes as we held on to our advantage. But with three minutes into injury time the Taysiders struck to take the game into extra time to the unbridled joy of the travelling support. As for us it was back to the drawing board.
We went to extra time confident to see off a resilient East Craigie Swifts. We maintained our energy and the boys worked hard to ensure the visitors were contained. The first half of extra time went with no major incident. The supporters nerves had taken a battering with the second half of extra time to go. Some had nothing left. Coarse voices, drained energy and still hanging on to some sliver of hope. Half way through the second half of extra time Euan picked up the ball in the Taysiders’ half on the right wing. Urged on he drove past his marker out-muscling him for pace and power before delivering a great cross into the penalty area. The home support were on their feet for what felt like an eternity. We held our breath as the ball rolled on bouncing on the uneven pitch on its way to its destiny. It rolled on in a straight line past the first defender. The goalkeeper could not commit. It went past the second defender and then appeared Dom, the right man at the right place and at the right time. The ball was destined for him. With the left foot open he guided the ball into the far corner. The net shook and Bothwellhaugh erupted. The home support’s roar could be heard at the other side of Strathclyde Country Park. The relief was palpable because we knew that we would safeguard our advantage this time. East Craigie Swifts disappointment was in stark contrast. The quality of the goal had knocked the wind out of their sails. But not for long as they renewed their efforts to get something from the game. We stood strong with Beau and Dylan solid in the centre with Mairtin sitting in front. Ollie was intelligent in keeping tabs on his adversary. Aidan added much needed athleticism to nullify threats. With a unified team effort we held on to our advantage as we responded brilliantly from previously letting the lead slip twice to get the win our performance deserved and secure qualification for the next stage.
The boys were challenged today in a multitude of ways by a strong East Craigie Swifts. They responded with heart, courage and character in processing events on and off the pitch and successfully negotiating extra time. The atmosphere at pitch side was testament to the two teams’ desire to go far in this tournament. In the end, our support’s excitement at the end of the game was more relief after a roller-coaster of emotions and the joy of seeing the boys come through a tough challenge.