|EK Thistle's first tournament hailed a success|
Click here for photo gallery.
East Kilbride Thistle Youth Club Under-17s (pictured right, celebrating a goal) hosted their first annual football festival on Saturday in aid of Cancer Research UK. The tournament was an overwhelming success with coaches, spectators & match officials all praising the positive atmosphere & style of football on display.
The first semi-final, Ek Thistle Yc v Calderglen Thistle, started in a frantic fashion with both sides looking to gain control of the match. Ek Thistle Yc settled first & were piling on the pressure when a 25-yard strike from Conor McBride flew into the top corner to give Calderglen the lead against the run of play. Thistle continued to dominate & got their equaliser on 25 minutes when striker Dylan Barden composed himself to place a side-footed shot into the far corner. The second half was the complete opposite of the first. Caderglen started brighter & retook the lead only a few minutes after the break. They scored a third when Adam Fraser headed home from a corner. Heads began to drop in the Thistle side, & Caderglen added a fourth after some unconvincing defending. Dylan Barden missed a penalty for the hosts in the dying minutes; Calderglen progressing to the Cup final with Thistle going into the Shield final.
The second semi-final was a tightly contested affair between pre-tournament favourites Stonehouse Boys Club & Crookston United. The match was very even throughout, with Stonehouse taking the lead in the first half after an own goal. It was end-to-end stuff in the second half; Crookston snatching an equaliser with 10 minutes to go before scoring a dramatic last minute winner.
Semi-final results meant the Shield final would be contested by hosts Ek Thistle Yc & Stonehouse Bc. There were some tough words spoken in the Thistle dressing room after their opening game defeat, with coach Ryan Gemmell demanding a positive response.
He got one; the side recording an emphatic 8-1 win against the Stonehouse side that came into the tournament as the team to beat. A hat-trick from Dylan Barden along with goals from Lewis Rundell, David Mcgonagle-Thomspon, Adam Behan, Sean Maclean, & a penalty converted by stand-in goalkeeper Euan Whittingham saw the hosts end the tournament on a high. There were positives for Stonehouse however; a fantastic free-kick from Daryl Cooper & a second tremendous performance in a row from left-back Dougie Bell putting him in contention for Player of the Tournament. Ek Thistle Yc will be delighted with their showing though & finished the tournament as Shield winners.
The Cup final was played in testing conditions as the heavens opened; thunder & lightening providing a dramatic backdrop to a hard fought match. Crookston sped into a two-goal lead, however Daniel Drennan’s second goal of the day pegged one back for Calderglen with 15 minutes remaining, setting up a tense finale. Despite several near misses they couldn’t quite find an equaliser, meaning Crookston United (pictured, left) finished the tournament as worthy Cup winners.
Referee Liam Thom was asked to choose his Goal & Player of the Tournament. Stonehouse’s Daryl Cooper’s curling free-kick into the top corner won the Goal of the Tournament trophy, with Ek Thistle Yc captain Conor Davidson selected as Player of the Tournament for his solid displays at centre-back.
Organiser Ryan Gemmell said; “We would like to thank tournament sponsor Maccasports who very generously donated the trophies & medals, referee Liam Thom for covering all the matches & donating half his match fee to the charity, parent Paul Rundell who organised the banner for the day, photographer Mike Bishop for lending his expertise, & finally to all the teams for taking part & making the day such a success.”