No tricks or treats, here (well, apart from a hat-trick)
There’s been some classic matches between these two sides down the years – especially in the Scottish Cup – but, from an overall entertainment value, this Halloween cup encounter, with two squads dressed up as hockey players, certainly didn't live up to the ghosts of great games past.
The first 20 minutes or so was a clumsy, scrappy game with lots of diving tackles, jostling, and people falling over – but, nothing much actually happened beyond the erratic nature of it all. Call it “cup fever”, with the temperature simmering at low.
Both sides had chances, but were ineffective in front of goal. Western - much to the audible frustration and at times despair, of long time front man Scott McCartney - saw their attacks break down just outside the Paisley men’s circle, due to indecision from their younger inexperienced players. The ball needed to come into the D far quicker – and if that was what was actually upsetting McCartney, he was absolutely right.
In fairness, you can’t expect brilliant, exciting hockey every time from these Western/Kelburne derby matches, but this early-round-cup tie desperately needed a goal. And after what felt like an eternity, it finally came. Kelburne opened the scoring with 15 minutes to go of the first half thanks to a Jack McKenzie goal, and that definitely livened things up. It all of a sudden became one of those familiar situations where Kelburne – regardless of who they’re playing - if they were to score a second quite quickly, would start to walk away with the match. Western kept pushing though and had other ideas, and were finally rewarded themselves, after a short corner awarded not long before half-time, was drag-flicked home by ex-Inverleith man Adam MacKenzie.
So, 1-1 at the 35 minute mark and the possibility of a different, more exciting second period, with the early cup win/early cup exit stakes ramped up for both sides. Yes? Well, despite all good intentions, the end to end thriller it could have been in the second half, didn’t happen.
None of that mattered to Kelburne, though. They cancelled out all neutral hopes of a close, tight game with a further three goals (one a PF), all from Johnny Christie.
The final score line of 4-1 was deceptively clinical, against a Western Wildcats side that worked so hard to stay in the game and did have chances. The match was well umpired by the highly experienced whistles of Martin Madden and Scottish Hockey Chief Executive David Sweetman. There was plenty of moaning and groaning of course, but both men didn't get flustered as they kept a sticky game flowing as best they could.
Both Western and Kelburne have changes to their personnel, with younger players in, and no doubt expected, to step up to the standard as soon as possible. Wildcats coach Harry Dunlop has some really exciting, young prospects in his squad, and it will be fascinating to see how they measure up in the coming months alone.
With the exception of a couple of other sides that progressed yesterday, it will take a lot now to stop Kelburne winning the Scottish Cup. It was a happy Halloween for them. For Western it’s all systems go as they concentrate on the rest of their league season.