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Badenoch United and Grantown Rovers to meet in McCook Cup final

By Tom Ramage

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Iain Brooks (centre) comes under pressure from Badenoch United's Ty Cobb and Sam Cairns in the cup match. Picture: Aidan Woods.
Iain Brooks (centre) comes under pressure from Badenoch United's Ty Cobb and Sam Cairns in the cup match. Picture: Aidan Woods.

‘The magic of the cup’ is an expression often used by TV pundits given the sheer unpredictability of a knock-out competition.

With the season’s ‘big two’ already eliminated, this became a reality for Badenoch United and Grantown Rovers as the McCook Cup entered its penultimate stage on Friday.

Badenoch United 2-1 Cromdale

This was a battle between the third and fourth placed teams in the league, with Cromdale holding the upper hand.

But just like Rovers, the Cup Fairy sprinkled some magic dust of Badenoch as they reached their first ever cup final.

Indeed United came out from the whistle the more motivated of the sides, holding some good possession and offering a few threats on Dale’s goal.

Dale had a few half chances of their own, the closest being a header from Ewan Mackintosh that cannoned off the bar.

But neither side could convert their chances into goals so the half remained scoreless.

The deadlock was finally broken early in the second half when Finlay McBain swung over a corner, and Sam Cairns slipped his marker to nod home the opener.

Not long after this, United showed some nifty footwork when some delightful link-up play down the right found the feet of Svend Pedersen, and he duly placed the ball into the top corner to give the visitors a two-goal advantage.

Badenoch clearly decided the game was won and they reverted to delaying tactics to ensure Cromdale would pose no threat to their goal.

This resulted in a flurry of late yellow cards, with trialist Joe Selman receiving two in quick succession to see his side reduced to 10 men.

A defensive mix up at the back allowed Cromdale a chink of light as James Paterson pulled one back, setting up a grandstand finish.

Dale claimed for a penalty in the dying minutes for an apparent handball, but the referee wasn’t interested and United eventually ran out the clock to grab their historic Cup Final berth.

Grantown Rovers 4-1 FC Abernethy

Being rooted to the foot of the table without any points, it’s safe to say Rovers haven’t had the best of seasons so far.

But they turned the form book on its head when they secured their spot in the final with a decisive victory over Abernethy.

Abernethy dominated the first half but just couldn’t find a way past a tight Rovers defence and an inspired goalkeeper.

Ian Wraight, Jules Orsi and Matt Berry all went close but the breakthrough just wouldn’t come.

Rovers had a few decent chances too, the closest of which being a goal from Lewis Bingham which the referee disallowed for offside.

The goal may not have counted, but it was a portent of things to come as the second half kicked off.

The interval had only just concluded when Rovers made the breakthrough.

A powerful strike from Blair Bingham was too much for Nethy’s keeper as the ball slipped through his hands and into the net.

Minutes later Blair doubled his tally with yet another piledriver from distance which flew into the top corner of the net.

Kyle Scott came close to adding a third on the hour when he rounded the goal keeper only to see his final effort ping off the post and away to safety.

Abernethy continued to create chances though and eventually pulled a goal back when Ian Wraight finished off a nice passing move for his first goal with the club.

They kept pushing for an equaliser and thought they had it, but Chris Tilbury’s header was ruled out for a tight offside.

But Grantown Rovers hit back with some blistering counter attacks and Gordy Archer soon blasted home a third goal to put a bit of daylight between the teams and effectively kill off Nethy’s brief resurgence.

Kyle Scott completed a thoroughly deserved win for the jubilant Rovers side, coolly passing the ball into the bottom corner.

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