Ardrossan Winton Rovers Archive
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North Ayrshire Cup Final
SCENES of sheer euphoria erupted around Meadow Park as rampant Rovers ended a 14 year trophy drought in stunning style.
Derek Frye's fearless young side, who had bundled out higher league opponents Beith and Largs in the quarter finals and semi finals respectively made it a hat trick of scalps by overcoming the 2005 winners to land their first piece of silverware since the 1993 Cunningham Cup.
The highly rated boss stuck by the young team with an average age of around 21 he had perservered with most of the season and it paid off big style as they cut down the trophy favourites, demonstrating the art of clinical finishing and remarkably recording a second win of the season against a side who saw them as mere canon fodder only a couple of seasons ago.
While Scott Adam, Davie Wilson and Ray Montgomerie Jnr bagged the all important goals, the real hero of the night had to be skipper Stevie O'Neill, who produced a bravura performance between the sticks, pulling off some stunning second half saves to keep a Buffs side desperate for glory after a season which had seen them reach the Scottish Junior Cup and Whyte & Mackay West of Scotland Cup semi finals.
End of season finals can often turn into damp suibs but this was a hugely entertaining clash played in front of an impressive crowd of around 500 featuring two teams intent on attacking and to add to the intrigue Frye and opposite number Alan McTurk were looking to win their first trophy as managers.
Indeed remarkably the first action of the game was a goal, former Winton under 19's striker Adam, drilled home a 16 yard rocket to stun the firm favourites, who admittedly had some nine players sidelined through injury and holidays.
Buffs responded quickly and four minutes later veteran defender Paul Mullin slipped a through pass in the direction of the onrushing Scott Cowan but the ball just went out of play. Then Scott Cowan'sfierce shot from inside the box hit the side netting in 13 minutes.
Just three minutes later a thunderbolt from 13 yards by Craig Binham crashed off the crossbar and came back out. In 18 minutes former Kilbirnie Ladeside keeper O'Neill made a superb save from Scott Cowan's header just inside the box.
Buffs were continually pushing forward and in 23 minutes Bingham swung over an excellent cross to Nikki Smith, whose header from 12 yards was well held by the in form O'Neill. Buffs looked to have been the victim of a bad decision three minutes later when Cowan headed home a Chris McKnight cross from eight yards but referee Des Roache chopped the goal off for offside although there didnt seem much wrong with it.
A George Wallace shot from 16 yards was saved comfotably by O'Neill in 33 minutes as Buffs battled to go in level at the interval. The Winton number one tracked back to make a fine one handed save from Wallace just inside the box after he had been caught out of his goal.
Winton looked sharp after the break and just a minute in, Jamie Paton made a darting run before watching his 14 yard effort dip just over the top. O'Neill yet again proved his worth in 51 minutesas another one handed save kept out a strong shot from just inside the box by Bingham.
But four minutes later Winton remarkably doubled their tally as former Killie youth team star Sean Quinn's corner was powerfully headed home at the back post from eight yards by defender Wilson, who had suffered a foot injury a few minutes earlier.
As Buffs desperately tried to get back into the contest, Wallace sent a header over the bar from close range in 65 minutes. Twelve minutes later Paton blasted a shot over the bar from 25 yards.
In 80 minutes there were no more heroics from O'Neill as he brilliantly tipped McKnight net bound 25 yard screamer over the top. However the big number one was left powerless two minutes later as he did well to save a stinging shot from 18 yards by Gavin Orr but Cowan pounced to rattle home the rebound from all of six yards to set up a tense finish.
Then in 84 minutes O'Neill made a wonder save from Bingham. But five minutes from time the underdogs had both hands on the trophy with a wonderful winning goal.
Montgomerie, son of former Kilmarnock Tennent's Scottish Cup winning captain Ray, picked up a return pass from Adambefore sending a blistering shot from 12 yards low into the bottom corner of the net.
It was a goal worthy of winning any cup final and wild celebrations ensued in the Winton camp while jaded Buffs, remarkably playing game number FIFTY TWO in an exhausting season had to lick their wounds after ending what had been such a promising season empty handed. Best for Winton were O'Neill and defender Ricky little, the Scottish Schools Under 18 captain last term who strolled through the game.
Excellent young prospect Cowan and Bingham stood out for Buffs.
WINTON: O'Neill, Clements, McCann, Little, Wilson (Montgomerie 76),
Paton, Weaver (Patrick 66), McAvoy, Adam, Quinn (Milliken 78).
Subs not used: Caldwell, Gray.
Kilwinning: Ross, Bell (Grant 75), Mullin, Hay, Moore,
McKnight, Wallace, Orr, Cowan, Smith (Duncan 75).
Subs not used: Gilhooley, Picken.
This match report has been reproduced by kind permission the editor, Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald.