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Cumbernauld Colts edged out Stenhousemuir Community in the FVFDA Under 14 Robert Paterson Cup Final on Sunday, winning 4-3 on penalties following a tightly contested 1-1 draw in regulation time. Cumbernauld left-back Ross Provan opened the scoring with a 30-yard screamer after 15 minutes. Stenhousemuir levelled the scores on the stroke of half-time when Tiwi Daramola bent in a precise curling effort from the edge of the penalty area. After a nervy second half the scores were still tied at 1-1, meaning the match would be decided on penalties. Cumbernauld were the side who kept their composure, winning the shootout 4-3 in sudden death.

The opening five minutes were fast-paced with both sides creating opportunities in their search for the opening goal. Cumbernauld looked dangerous down the wings with Andrew Tonner and David Dougan each firing menacing crosses into the Stenhousemuir penalty area. Stenhousemuir responded well to the early Cumbernauld threat by going on the offensive themselves. Man of the match Tiwi Daramola won the ball deep inside the Cumbernauld half before driving towards goal and forcing a save from Reece Johnstone.

After the initial period of end-to-end action, much of the action took place in the midfield with neither side creating many chances.

However, Cumbernauld’s Provan was becoming more influential from left-back and opened the scoring out of nowhere on the 16-minute mark. Provan received the ball near the halfway line and advanced into the Stenhousemuir half. He seemingly had not many options available to him and the Stenhousemuir players seemed comfortable with the situation. This proved to be a mistake however, as Provan unleashed a rocket from 30 yards which flew into the top corner leaving Stenhousemuir keeper Nathan Cowan with absolutely no chance.

Provan’s wonder strike seemed to give his opponents a new level of motivation as Stenhousemuir were the team in the ascendency for the remaining 20 minutes of the first half.

Daramola’s defensive work rate was a thorn in the side of the Cumbernauld players as he was a constant nuisance and did not allow his opponents time on the ball. He regained possession in the Cumbernauld half once again and tested the gloves of Johnstone who was unable to hold the shot. Daramola’s strike partner Dylan Young looked to benefit from the spillage, but Johnstone produced an outstanding save to preserve his side’s lead.

Stenhousemuir were a threat from corners throughout the game, mainly due to the quality of Jack Donaldson’s deliveries. His side were unlucky not to draw level from one of his corners with caused all sorts of problems in the Cumbernauld defence. Several Stenhousemuir players had swipes at goal as the ball dropped directly into the danger area, but their efforts were blocked by valiant Cumbernauld defending.

After coming close to losing their lead on more than one occasion, Cumbernauld looked to extend their lead further. Tonner’s cross from the left bounced awkwardly in front of Cowan and the ball was nearly turned home from close range. They went close again soon after when a long ball forward dropped to Dougan whose shot on the turn was deflected just wide of the post.

However, it was Stenhousemuir who claimed the all-important second goal of the game less than five minutes before half time. Donaldson’s corner caused havoc in the Cumbernauld area once again, although they eventually managed to scramble the ball clear of immediate danger. However, it was not cleared far enough as Stenhousemuir kept the ball alive in the final third. The ball was eventually played to Daramola who turned a Cumbernauld defender before curling an outstanding 20-yard effort over the head of a helpless Johnstone.

Daramola’s equaliser was to be the last meaningful action of the half, with the match perfectly poised going into the half time interval.

Jerviston got their hands on the LFDA Cup after a battling encounter against a resilient Larkhall side.

A late Kian Marshall tap-in was enough to separate the sides and take the cup home to Motherwell.

Jerviston had recorded 26 goals in the previous four rounds and their attacking prowess was evident right from the beginning. Ryan Mimnaugh came close before Mitchell Clark's dipping 25-yard effort went inches over the bar.

Mid-way though the half, Marshall found himself in plenty of space before unleashing a wicked shot from outside the box stinging the palms of Samuel Danks for the first time.

Larkhall captain Lewis Paterson  was fast becoming an important figure in the match, making vital interventions to deny a dangerous Jerviston side more goalscoring opportunities.

The team in orange had their first shot on target on the half-hour mark. Derrin Cross' tame shot lacking the power needed to trouble Ben McDougal.

Samuel Danks was called into action again seconds before half-time, Mimnaugh played in Nathan McConnell whose curling effort was turned past the post by Danks.

Chances were few and far between in this tightly contested affair at K-park, only three shots on target were recorded as referee March Lester blew his whistle for half time.

Trinity and Chryston High School’s met at Castle Park, home of Blantyre Victoria, in a fight for the Lanarkshire school’s league title. Both sides served up a fantastic match for the assembled crowd that saw nine goals and some great action as Chryston took the title with the help of hat trick hero Sean Slaven. It was a close run thing with Chryston scoring against the run of play at times, but their accuracy in front of goal proved to be the match winning formula over a very good Trinity side.
Trinity got off to a decent early start with a good ball played from midfield towards the Chryston penalty area for Trinity captain Liam Scullion to chase down. He won the race and brought the ball under control before going past a defender and striking from fifteen yards, only for a fantastic save from keeper William Quinn to deny the local side from taking the lead.
Trinity had enjoyed the bulk of possession but were left feeling stunned as Chryston broke from defence with a speculative ball into the Trinity half, Sean Slavin reading the situation, took control, rounded the goalkeeper and put into the back of the net from a tight angle.
Within minutes, Trinity had almost levelled when Sonny Coll passed to Kyle Doherty who rounded a defender and his shot was only inches over the crossbar from fifteen yards.
With fifteen minutes on the clock, Chryston managed another break from their penalty area as Ciaran Collins made a strong run into the Trinity half and passing inside for Daniel Gillespie, who managed to evade a defender but found himself being pushed wide. He knocked back to Collins who then unfortunately struck over the crossbar from eighteen yards.
Trinity took control of the first half and put the Chryston defence under some intense pressure. From an Aidan Tierney throw in, Scullion received the ball and turning, beat a Chryston player in the process before passing inside to Doherty. He took a touch and shot low past the left hand post from twenty yards.
On twenty five minutes, Trinity were awarded a free kick on the edge of the Chryston penalty area, Scullion stepped up and struck the ball off of the crossbar.
The pressure eventually told, and within a minute they had been awarded a penalty when Deaglan Moynes was brought down by a careless challenge inside the penalty area after running riot in the Chryston defence. Unfortunately, he failed to convert and sent the ball a foot wide of the right hand post.
Undeterred, Trinity kept pushing on and keeper Scott Kelly sent the ball deep into the heart of the Chryston half,. Moynes brought the ball under control with his chest, turned, skipped past a challenge then passed to Kyle Doherty who struck over the crossbar from twenty yards. 
Moynes was in the thick of the action seconds later when he combined well with Scullion to pull off a nicely manufactured one-two at close quarters, fended off a defender before shooting wide from the edge of the box.
The search for an equaliser before half time continued when the ball was hoisted into the Chryston penalty area from the wing. Doherty managed to get on the end of the cross and back heeled towards Scullion who then struck wide from eighteen yards.
The hard work though was to eventually pay off in the last minute of the first half when Scullion struck a corner into the six yard area for Doherty to put into the back of the net and take the teams into the break level.
Sunday, 31 May 2015 22:02

Dalziel delight at Cup final triumph

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An early goal in each half was enough to help Dalziel BC overcome Westwood Rovers in a tight and feisty LFDA Cup Final at K Park. Goals from Dustin Trella and Andrew MacFarlane had seemingly put Dalziel on easy street before a reply from Lewis MacFarlane set up a nervy and exciting final 15 minutes.
It was a thrilling end to a match that had taken a while to get started. A series of niggly fouls coupled with both teams showing signs of nerves meant that chances for both teams were few and far between.
In fact, it wasn’t until the opening goal after 12 minutes that either team threatened, and even then there was a huge slice of luck involved. Having been awarded a free kick on the halfway line, Trella launched a hopeful ball into the Westwood box, only for it to get caught in the wind and evade everyone before bouncing over the helpless Andrew Dolan in the Westwood goal and into the net.
Westwood almost replied immediately when a fantastic right-sided free kick found the head of the unmarked William Whitecross six yards out, but he couldn’t direct his effort on target.
With the deadlock broken the game began to open up a bit, although clear cut chances were still at a premium. Dalziel in particular looked dangerous through the pacey MacFarlane and Jamie Sheldon up front, and it was the two of them that linked up well to create Dalziel’s best opportunity to double their lead before half time. Following a cleared Westwood corner, the ball fell to Sheldon who, after a brilliant piece of skill on the halfway line to beat a man, found himself driving at the last defender. He picked out the unmarked Macfarlane who was denied brilliantly by the dive of Dolan when clean through on goal.
Before the referee brought an end to the first half, there was still time for Westwood striker Connor Thompson to sting the hands of keeper Callum Rankin, who had to get down low to his left to save a goal-bound effort from the edge of the box.

Riverside FC met East Stirlingshire in the FVFDA League Cup Final at Recreation Park with both sets of spectators nervously anticipating the occasion. The same could be said for the players as the match kicked off in frantic fashion with neither side able to gain a solid foothold in the encounter during the early stages.

Riverside perhaps had more of the initial proceedings winning a series of free-kicks and exerting consistent pressure in the final third, but were just unable to find the end product. The first clear cut opportunity of the match would arrive in the 9th minute when Riverside’s Alex Parkin struck a low effort on target from the edge of the box with Shire defending well to block for a corner. An inswinging corner was delivered and Scott Mitchell rose highest to power a bullet header on to the bar before Shire managed to scramble the ball clear. An inch lower and Riverside would have had the opener they so craved. 

The boys in red were encouraged and began to dominate. Good possession in the 13th minute culminated in Parkin having a pop at goal from outside of the area. Dipping towards the target with pace, the effort forced a top class save from Mark Gordon. The Shire goalkeeper acrobatically tuning the ball over the bar with one hand. 

Riverside continued to ask questions of Shire with Parkin hitting a free-kick right of centre from twenty yards against the wall. The rebound would fall to Steven Welsh who fired into the stand. 

A few opportunities for Riverside seemed to catalyse a reaction from East Stirlingshire as they flooded forward in numbers. In the 23rd minute Ciaran Barr played an excellent reverse through ball into the feet of Scott Shand but Addison was off his line quickly to smother at his feet. Arguably the best chance of the match would then fall to Shire’s Jason Weir in the 25th minute, the Shire player broke clear on goal but could only fire straight at the goalkeeper’s feet.

Alex Parkin entertained the fans with neat footwork but both teams cancelled one another out with only a single half chance to come before the interval. Shand teed the ball back for Weir but his effort was swept over the bar from range.

Monday, 25 May 2015 01:06

Rangers conquer Carbrain in cup final clash

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Two Aiden Reilly goals either side of a Dylan Brown strike were enough to see Rangers Supporters Association defeat Carbrain Boys Club and claim Open Cup glory.

A Lee Whitmore penalty had briefly given Carbrain hope, but Reilly’s second capped a deserved victory for Rangers and ensured the trophy would be making its way to Glasgow.

Rangers looked the more dangerous of the teams from the first whistle, with Brown in particular causing the Carbrain defence all kinds of problems down the left side. In fact, it was another run of his that created the opening goal - driving at the opposition, he skipped past a number of Carbrain defenders before playing the ball to Reilly 15 yards from goal. Taking a moment to compose himself, he drove the ball low past Dan Stewart in the Carbrain net to give Rangers a deserved lead.

And one became two not long after as Brown, again driving inside from the left, smashed home a left-footed shot across the keeper and into the far corner at a period of the match when it looked as if Rangers could run away with it.

To their credit though, Carbrain did not let their heads drop and managed to create a number of half chances in the latter stages of the first half. Lee Whitmore in particular was a constant threat, fizzing a shot across the face of goal at one point and firing just over from a free kick at another.

Scotland national team boss Gordon Strachan was recorded this week stating that the solution to producing better ball players at grassroots level is simple: “Hours and hours of practice. If you want to be better than the other group of players, you have to work twice as hard.” He went on to qualify that statement with, “That doesn’t just mean footballers running about closing down. It is working with the ball all the time.”

The FVFDA League clash between Stenhousemuir Community Football Club and Milton Football Club under 14s would have provided the Scotland gaffer with ample encouragement as players on both sides showed a willingness to put their foot on the ball. As is often the norm in Scottish youth football, the weather conditions favoured neither side with blustering winds and buckets of rain but that was not to deter either team from showing spectators that they were capable of playing football. 

The game kicked off at a high intensity as both teams competing at the top end of the table looked to find their bearings on a difficult grass surface at Larbert High School. Milton were marginally sharper in the early stages and it took just three minutes for the away side to register their first shot on target when Connor Reid found himself clean through on goal following a hopeful long ball. Reid showed delicate close control to steady himself but did not connect cleanly with the effort, allowing Robbie Lyall to make the save. Milton would not have to wait too much longer to open the scoring, however, as the ball fell to Declan Cairney on the right edge of the penalty box in the fourth minute. Cairney showed no hesitation to rifle a low effort beyond Lyall at his near post. The tempo and high line adopted by Milton was paying dividends early on. 

The early opener undoubtedly spurred Milton on as they began to grow in confidence in midfield, switching play with aplomb and moving the ball well in congested areas. Cairney continued to look lively hugging the by-line on the right flank and in the ninth minute would find himself with an almost identical opportunity to his opener but this time slicing the ball over the crossbar. 

Stenhousemuir looked to retaliate to the growing pressure with a tidy interchange between Dylan Young and Max Rintoul, releasing Tiwi Daramola. The forward was not helped by the surface, however, and lost his footing as he bore down on goal.

Daniel Ryan began to ease himself into the encounter, dictating the tempo of the match, and in the 18th minute a fantastic bursting run down the right flank from the midfielder created enough space to direct a teasing ball across the face of the goal. Ryan’s teammates just could not get on the end to convert. Milton’s Lewis Morrow excelled in holding on to the ball and stretching the play, freeing up Ryan and Cairney to continue to threaten on the attack. 

Stenhousemuir had their hands full at the back but were defending well, putting bodies on the line to maintain a 1-0 scoreline. In addition to working hard in defence, they showed graft at the other end of the pitch with Ross Buchanan hassling the opposition in the final third but being crowded out on more than one occasion. In the 25th minute, Rintoul displayed tenacity to break into the opposition box but was thwarted by the Milton defence as his effort on goal was blocked and the resulting loose ball cleared to safety. 

The desire shown by Stenhousemuir to even the scoreline only seemed to motivate Milton to extend their lead. A looping ball into the box in the 28th minute forced Stenhousemuir goalkeeper Lyall to come off his line and attempt to punch clear the danger. He couldn’t make clean contact with the ball, however, and Cairney was waiting to pounce and slot home from six yards for his second of the morning. Just two minutes following the restart and Milton had a third. Connor Reid showed excellent improvisation to flick the ball over his head on the by-line into a dangerous area and Ryan could not believe his luck as he thrust his head onto the ball to nod home his first goal of the game. 3-0 to Milton and the boys in blue were good value for their lead. 

Stenhousemuir had an excellent chance in the 31st minute to pull one back. An awkward bounce meant Milton goalkeeper Alistair Wallace spilled a free kick into the path of Jake Shearer who could not react quick enough to direct the ball on target from close range, lifting the ball just over the bar. 

Milton were growing in confidence with intricate one touch passing but Stenhousemuir sensed there was still a way back into this league tie. A short pass back from Brandon Morrow provoked Wallace into racing off his line to smother and keep it at 3-0 going into the break for the away side. An excellent display of bravery from the goalkeeper. 

Friday, 15 May 2015 14:05

Cathkin beat St Ambrose to claim title

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Cathkin High School came out on top in this closely-fought, league-deciding contest against Lanarkshire rivals St. Ambrose. The match took place in glorious conditions at Somervell Park, home of local junior side Cambuslang Rangers.

Cathkin certainly deserved to come out on top and the 3-1 scoreline was fair reward for their efforts. That being said, if a little luck had went the Coatbridge side's way, then the match could easily have been drawn. With the match heading into the last few minutes and with St. Ambrose two goals down, they managed to raise their game and put the Cathkin defence under intense pressure that  produced a goal and several chances but in the end their defence was left exposed when Cathkin counter attacked and settled the match with a third goal.

The match was finely balanced early on as both sides attempted to gain supremacy, and mainly played in midfield. It was a scrappy affair that started at a hectic pace that made it difficult for either team to settle down and feel comfortable on the ball, maybe down to nerves.

Calan Pacitti of St Ambrose was first to create an opportunity when, in the 13th minute, he managed to go past a Cathkin defender and shoot from 15 yards but Cathkin goalkeeper Kyle Miller saved comfortably.

With a quarter of the match played, Cathkin broke from defence with a ball played into the St Ambrose half. Lewis Ryan brought the ball under control and played it inside perfectly for Scott Williamson to blast off the crossbar from 15 yards.

Within five minutes Cathkin went one up when they were awarded a spot kick after a St Ambrose defender committed a clumsy challenge. Joe Dickson stepped up and confidently converted, 1-0.

Dickson showed a touch of class when he won the ball 30 yards from the St Ambrose goal, went past a player before nipping between two defenders and letting loose from the edge of the penalty area. The strike inched past the post.

St Ambrose finished the first half strongly and were awarded a free kick after a spell of pressure. Pacitti swung the ball into the six yard area and Daniel Zekaj managed to head towards goal but Miller was able to save comfortably.

Tuesday, 05 May 2015 13:43

EKFC ease to victory over Aston Villa

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The atrocious weather conditions were the most significant contributing factor to this football match with both sides finding it difficult in the extreme and struggling at times to create any meaningful moves whilst in possession of the ball. That being said, EKYC coped far better than visitors Aston Villa to the driving rain and stormy conditions and eased to a four goal victory.

Liam Downes put the home side in front with his first attempt on the Villa goal. With only four minutes on the clock, a dangerous cross was sent into the far post area from a corner kick, the defence failed to clear and Downes managed to read the flight of the ball and headed into the net, 1-0.

Aston Villa did not time to recover when Lewis Gillies managed to skilfully turn with the ball, beating two players before shooting low from fifteen yards, goalkeeper Kyle Cassidy saved comfortably. EKYC extended their lead to two goals shortly afterwards when Liam McCabe’s crossed ball was met by Parsa Esfahani inside the six yard box and touched over the goal line with ease, 2-0.

Villa managed to have a decent first attempt on the home side’s goal when Scott McNee’s shot from 25 yards was deflected for goalkeeper Kieran Scullion to make the save.

Although second best at this stage, Villa were beginning to look more comfortable with the conditions. EKFC came close to a third goal when Villa’s keeper made a poor clearance that managed to find the feet of Downes. He then went past a player before sending a pitch-perfect ball across the face of an empty goal towards Patrick Canning. Fortunately for Villa, his slide to meet the ball was inches from a successful outcome. Esfahani who had been proving to be a handful thus far for Villa, made a dangerous run towards the goal but instead of finishing himself, unselfishly passed inside for Canning to make sure of the third, 3-0.

At the end of the first half, Villa's Scott Roy produced a nice ball through for McNee inside the EKFC penalty area and shot wide from fifteen yards. Villa were then  awarded a free kick close to the eighteen yard line which Jake Wilson opted to take, his strike cleared the wall and dipped goal bound, Scullion was somehow able to track the path of the ball and got down low to make a pretty decent save.

Sunday, 19 April 2015 17:24

United take the points in Cumbernauld derby

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Doubles from Kevin Docherty and Nico Sbragia helped Cumbernauld United to a 5-0 victory over local rivals Cumbernauld Colts.

With both teams battling it out in mid table, this match was about bragging rights as much as anything. United have a five-point advantage over Colts prior to the game and with home advantage they started as favourites.

They were certainly out of the traps quicker than the opposition who had goalkeeper Reece Egan to thank in the early stages - first for rushing off his line to clear Docherty’s through ball and then for a fine save to stop Ben Smith’s curling corner going straight in at the near post.

Colts fashioned their first chance of the match through Reiss Rooney who cut in from the left wing, beat his man and flashed a shot across the front of goal, but it didn’t trouble United goalie Munro Chalmers.

The opening goal came from good play by Docherty whose shot from the edge of the box was tipped wide by Egan in the Colts goal. The resulting corner was a carbon copy of the earlier attempt except this time Smith managed to curl the ball away from Egan and into the back of the net. A goal direct from a corner is a rare thing but Smith seemed to have a knack for it.

With the goal boosting their confidence, United went in search of the second and got it soon after. Paddy Gillan’s hard work paid off when, after chasing after the ball to prevent a throw, he executed a lovely turn to beat his marker, before playing in Docherty who exchanged a neat one-two on the edge of the box with Daniel McGarvey and slotted home for the second.

United had bossed the early stages and were good value for their two goal lead but Colts were determined not to give up. Kian Docherty played in Jacob Kennedy but his shot was bravely headed clear by Martin Pollock and then Sean Paul Spiers gave Docherty a chance of his own but the Colts striker was thwarted at the near post by Chalmers.

Spiers next released Kennedy in the box, as Colts continued to search for a goal to get them back in the game, but United’s Dominic Boyle got across with a brilliantly timed tackle to stop the striker from getting his shot off.

Then, a quick throw in by Jake Lindsay gave Spiers the opportunity to cross to Kian Callaghan who forced another good save from the United keeper.

It was a good response from Colts who did not let their heads go down despite the scoreline. Unfortunately, they could not take any of their chances and United came back into the game.

They almost got the third in unusual circumstances. McGarvey showed good footwork on the left wing and his cross struck James Marshall on the shoulder and dropped just wide.

When it did come it was another Smith free-kick that created it. From the half-way line his lofted ball found Docherty unmarked in the box and he had time to take a touch to bring it down and then smash it into the roof the net for 3-0.

Smith almost created the fourth before half time when his corner fell to Ethan McDermott who shot wide. McDermott then turned provider with a ball over the top for Marshall to run on to. Marshall chose to take it first time and was unlucky to see it go a few inches by the top corner in the last action of the half.