MAUD entered this semi-final in good spirits, and with a few additions to the squad in the last couple of weeks they were confident a result was there for the taking, even against the current Cup holders.
In the first minute they made their intentions clear when John Willox collected the ball in the middle of the park and went straight at Culter’s defence. He then passed the ball to his left to Zander Davidson who went past the defenders and hit a shot right at Farquhar in Culter’s goal but he could only palm it away where the defenders hacked it clear.
On seven minutes it was Davidson’s turn to run at the defence. He took on a couple of defenders and laid it right to James Duguid who was in the clear in the penalty area but was deemed to be fractionally offside.
Culter came back into the game on 18 minutes when Youngson got the ball wide right in Maud’s penalty area and hit a low shot across goal that missed the far post.
A couple of minutes later a Culter corner was not properly cleared and the ball came out to Craik on the edge of the penalty area but his shot was narrowly over the bar.
Maud keeper Gatt had to make a fine diving save from Youngson to prevent the home side opening the scoring. Maud thought they had weathered the storm but on 28 minutes a simple long ball through the middle saw McKimmie in an offside position but the decision was not given so he ran at Gatt and although nearly getting to his shot, couldn’t prevent Culter taking the lead.
Maud stormed back on on 31 minutes after winning a free kick 20 yards from Culters goal when another Zander Davidson run was halted with a foul. The free kick was blasted past the wall by Kevin Simpson but Farquhar just managed to make the save and the ball was hacked clear for a corner that came to nothing.
A minute later Maud were level. Zander Davidson collected the ball near the halfway line and ran at the Culter defence, as he got to the 128-yard line. He played a great one-two with Luke Barbour which saw him free and with only Farquhar to beat he placed the ball low inside the near post for the deserved equaliser.
Half time came with Maud have a great offensive display behind them but knowing the second half would be just as hard.
Culter came out with more intent and within a minute of the restart Craik found himself on the end of a cross from the right one his own eight yards from the Maud goal, but his first-time shot was brilliantly saved by Gatt. Maud got themselves back into the game on 51 minutes when after some great closing down play by Bob Ritchie on the right of Culter’s penalty area saw him pass to Duguid on the edge of the area. He turned his marker and curled a shot which just cleared the post.
On 61 minutes a snapshot by Stott was blocked in the area by Iain Arthur and it seemed Culter were turning up the heat as they exerted more pressure on the Maud defence. But stout defending prevented any clear chances for Culter.
A rash of substitutions by Culter showed they wanted to finish this game in normal time but with John Willox and Bob Ritchie also both having to be replaced due to injuries, it was a matter of seeing the game through.
Nine minutes from time a long goal kick by Gatt found Duguid in the Culter penalty are but his clipped shot was over. Culter again responded and on 86 minutes thought they had scored but the ball came back off the bar and was cleared. So the whiste went on a very entertaining game but as it was level, the game went straight to penalties just as a rain storm started to add to the drama.
With the rain lashing down, Culter were to take the first penalty but Gatt made a great save from Youngson to give Maud the advantage.
Duguid scored his penalty and Culter followed with conversions by McKimmie, Shank, Robertson and Stott.
Maud responded with conversions by Barbour, Rae, Arthur and with one more conversion needed to win the game Kevin Simpson’s effort was saved by Farquar to go to sudden death.
McBain converted Culters sixth penalty and Strachan responded with Maud’s. Culters Craik then took the seventh penalty but it was high and hit the bar.
Murray Reid then composed himself, took a big run up and blasted Maud’s winning penalty well beyond Farquhar to put Maud into their first ever Grill League Cup final.
It was a history making win for Maud and for the new management team of Ian Bruce and Gordon Robertson, and along with the players, it was reward for the hard work done before the game and every Maud player gave 100% to ensure the chance of getting to the final was achieved.
The final will be against Inverness City on Sunday, September 25, at Islavale’s ground and will be just as difficult as this game.
Maud’s next league match is on Saturday at home to Forres Thistle with a 2.30pm kick-off.
MAUD: Gatt, B. Davidson, Reid, Arthur, K. Simpson, A. Davidson, Rae, Barbour, Ritchie, Willox, Duguid. Subs: Leslie, Clark, Strachan, Massey, Hendry, Hall, M. Simpson.