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Hazlehead Utd 3 – 2 Echt

North of Scotland Amateur Cup Semi-Final at Heathryfold on Sunday 3rd May

Hazlehead United progressed to their first major final in the amateur ranks following a fine 3-2 victory over Echt in an exciting North of Scotland Amateur Cup semi-final at Heathryfold on Sunday.

United went into the game as underdogs but they started confidently and had their first chance after six minutes when Lee Smith was fouled on the edge of the area and Cameron Smith’s effort from the resultant free-kick was deflected just wide of target. Echt’s best attempt on goal in the early stages came when Scotland flicked the ball on to Presslie who tried to catch Fraser by surprise with a volley from 25 yards which just cleared the crossbar.

Hazlehead then enjoyed the better of the play and they came close to going in front twice in the space of a minute when a well-timed challenge from Roger foiled Brough Colvin and a volleyed effort from Lee Smith was then saved by Garden. The Division One (East) side continued to pressurise the Echt defence and they threatened to break the deadlock once again on the half hour mark when Reid supplied Emslie who escaped the attentions of two defenders before unleashing a fierce shot which was brilliantly turned behind by Garden.

Echt were not without their chances at the other end and they looked to have created a great opening after 35 minutes when Murray picked out Presslie at the far post but Vass made a magnificent saving tackle to deny the Echt forward. However, the Premier Division champions were not to be denied for long and they took the lead seven minutes before the interval when McGillivray was tripped as he burst into the penalty area on the right and Presslie made no mistake from the spot.

Hazlehead made immediate efforts to get back on terms and they scored an equalising goal just before half-time when Lee Smith collected the ball on the edge of the area and fired in a shot which flew into the corner of the net giving Garden no chance.

There was still time for Hazlehead to mount a further attack in first-half stoppage time and only a last-ditch block from Stewart prevented Jamie Colvin from giving United the lead at the break.

Half-time: 1-1

The game was evenly contested in the opening stages of the second period and it was Hazlehead who almost went in front when Cameron Smith created an opening for Emslie but his shot finished just the wrong side of the post. United continued to press forward and they took the lead with a well executed goal on 57 minutes when Brough Colvin centred from the left and Reid controlled the ball with assurance before despatching it emphatically into the bottom corner.

Hazlehead had chances to increase their lead and Garden was at full stretch to parry a shot from Reid after an hour before Cameron Smith sent the rebound over the crossbar. With ten minutes remaining, United had a further opportunity to put the game beyond Echt when Macklin chested the ball down for Brough Colvin but Echt keeper Garden managed to divert his shot to safety.

It seemed increasingly unlikely that Echt would be able to break down the resolute Hazlehead defence and secure an equaliser but, just as the clock ticked round to ninety minutes, Aberdein floated a long free kick into a crowded Hazlehead penalty area and, in the ensuing scramble, Stewart sent a shot spinning into the roof of the net to level the scores.

United refused to be deterred by this late setback and, two minutes into stoppage time, they sealed victory in spectacular fashion when Milne released Cameron Smith on the left and he delivered an inch perfect cross into the path of Emslie who smashed the ball home to send his side into the final against University at Allan Park on Sunday 10th May.

Full-time: 3-2

Hazlehead United: Fraser, J. Colvin, Milne, Vass, Cheyne, Humphries, C. Smith, B. Colvin, Emslie, Reid, L. Smith. Substitutes: Evans, Thom, Cooper, Lawson, Macklin

Echt: Garden, Roger, Scotland, Stewart, Aberdein, Daun, Fegan, McGillivray, Presslie, Murray, Wood. Substitutes: Graham, Pawlett, Findlater, Mann, Thompson

Referee: M. Boyes