It is hard to shake the feeling fate was on Motherwell’s side as they claimed the SFA Youth Cup for the first time in their history with a 5-2 win over Hearts.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Steelmen’s Scottish Cup final triumph over Dundee United, a 4-3 win widely regarded as one of the greatest showpieces Hampden has ever seen.
Last night’s victory may have lacked the profile of that unforgettable afternoon when Stevie Kirk made himself a claret-and-amber icon, but it was fitting that Well turned in a prolific performance to claim silverware in another breathless final.
If marking that milestone was not enough of an indication of the heartbreak which was destined to follow for the Wee Jambos, a quick glance at the surnames on the Motherwell team-sheet certainly hinted at what script was being crafted.
Captain Chris Cadden is the son of Stephen Cadden, who was part of the only other Motherwell side to reach the final of this competition, only to lose 2-1 against Celtic in 1987.
Robbie Leitch has similarly vaunted parentage, with his dad, Scott, also part of that vanquished youth side before going on to enjoy a fine career north and south of the Border.
The young duo were always likely to be on a mission to claim the bragging rights over their old men.
Indeed, Cadden was magnificent, tormenting Hearts with piercing runs from midfield and appearing to bag the second goal of the game before it was ultimately credited as an own goal by Daniel Baur.
That added to goals from Dylan Mackin and David Ferguson, while Jordan McGhee and Dario Zanatta struck for the capital club. The narrative was completed when Leitch climbed from the bench to curl home a wonderful finish beyond Kelby Mason to make it 4-2. There was even time for Daryl Falconer to add further gloss to the scoreline for Well in the 90th minute.
Despite the historical symmetry, the win was anything but a cosmic fluke. Stephen Craigan’s side were superior to their Hearts counterparts throughout the contest and thoroughly deserved to pick up the silverware.
With both sides faced with the opportunity to become the first non-Old Firm side to win the trophy since Hibs in 2009, Motherwell were quickest out of the blocks and took the lead when Mackin prodded home from close-range, benefiting from a Kelby Mason fumble.
They doubled their advantage when Cadden burst into the box and fired a low drive into the bottom corner, via a cruel ricochet against the heel of Baur.
McGhee, Hearts’ most experienced player at this level with 69 senior outings, led by example on 41 minutes by rifling a low free-kick from 20 yards beyond Brett Long, but Motherwell’s two-goal advantage was restored when Ferguson rattled home a Dom Thomas cross. Jon Daly’s side, though, were afforded hope when Zanatta robbed Ben Hall, rounded Long and rolled the ball into the net.
That lifeline was short-lived, however, as Craigan’s substitutions proved inspired, with Leitch and Falconer both entering the fray and finding the net.