Motherwell roared into their first Youth Cup Final in almost three decades with a superb 0-3 win over Ross County in Dingwall.
The Steelmen, who have already eliminated Premiership sides Partick Thistle, Kilmarnock and St Johnstone, as well as Stenhousemuir, on route to today’s Semi Final, were in sensational form with goals from Dylan Mackin and a brace for sixteen-year old David Turnbull.
The victory, Motherwell’s fifth in their last six games, sets up a fixture with either Hearts or Dundee Utd, who will contest the second Semi Final this coming Tuesday evening.
Craigan named three changes to the side that thrashed Hamilton Accies at New Douglas Park last Wednesday.
Over-agers Jack Leitch, Kieran Kennedy and Wes Fletcher all dropped out, replaced in the starting eleven by David Ferguson, David Turnbull and Dylan Mackin.
‘Well made a positive start to the game and Dom Thomas posted early intentions with a curling shot from distance that forced Mark Foden to save.
County took until the 9th minute to get their first shot away, and striker Greg Morrison perhaps should have done better after robbing Barry Maguire thirty-yards from goal. However, with teammate Ross MacIver screaming for the square ball, the striker’s low shot went a foot or so wide of target.
However, it was the Claret and Amber men who continued to set the pace though and they came so close to taking the lead on 24 minutes. Mackin turned Robbie Leitch’s delicate cross back into the danger area for Turnbull but his close-range turn and shot was somehow deflected over for a corner.
Turnbull was in the thick of the action again and he had a 20-yard effort straight at Foden before the ‘Well eventually got their noses in front with nine minutes left to the interval.
Dom Thomas was the architect, picking up a McMillan pass on the left flank only to dribble past his marker and whip an inviting near post cross in for Mackin who lopped a header into the far corner to put the visitors in front.
‘Well had two more chances to double their advantage before the break, but Turnbull sent a bouncing shot just wide before Thomas flashed a 25-yard hit high over the crossbar.
Craigan’s half-time talk will no doubt have concentrated on trying to get the second goal to kill the game, and they almost did after just fifty seconds when a forty-yard Luke Watt free-kick almost caught out Foden in the home goal, but they keeper managed to get a good hand up to turn the ball over the bar.
The game’s crucial moment was just minutes later though when County were awarded a spot kick, Morrison fouled in the box by Maguire who was scrambling to try and recover a poor back pass from midfield.
Left back Chris McLaughlin would take it, but would meet his match in Brett Long, who got down superbly well low to his left to turn the low shot around for a corner.
It took time for the Fir Parkers to clear their head after that, but Mackin soon settled any nerves with a fierce shot that narrowly flew past Foden’s right hand post.
However, ‘Well would make no mistake two minutes later when they grabbed their second of the match to all but kill any hopes of a recovery for the home side.
Thomas was again the man, sending in a delightful ball from the left for the unmarked Turnbull, who had ghosted in at the far post to nod home past Foden.
In a bid to try and salvage something, County changed things up and introduced Tom MacLennan from the bench in place of Blair Malcolm and the youngster almost had an immediate impact, firing a low shot inches wide of target after being on the pitch no more than forty seconds.
However, Craigan’s men were soon on the attack and Foden was again the man in the right place, when he stood up well to save from Mackin. However, he would be absolutely powerless to stop ‘Well securing their spot for the Hampden showpiece when Turnbull netted again with just fourteen minutes left.
Unsurprisingly, Thomas was again in the thick of it, skinning his marker on the touchline before whipping in another excellent near post cross which was controlled by the midfielder before being volleyed high into the net.
It was a fantastic way to end an amazing week with both the first-team and the Under 20s enjoying good results and performances.
Motherwell: Long, Ferguson, McMillan, Maguire, Watt, Campbell, MacLean (Hastie – 78mins), Turnbull (J.Moore – 84mins), Mackin (Falconer – 82mins), Thomas, R.Leitch
Subs Not Used: Morrison, Livingstone