National Competitions (419)
St Peters lifted the Scottish Youth FA Cup despite being three goals down with just 15 minutes of normal time left to play. The remarkable comeback saw the Saints defeat a bitterly-disappointed Syngenta Juveniles, who cannot help but wonder at what could have been.
Syngenta kicked off but it was St Peters who would dominate the opening 15 minutes. The first chance of the match fell to Saints’ Darren Rafferty following a short corner. Rafferty turned his defender and fired a shot straight at opposition keeper Ryan Dick.
Rafferty then came close from another corner, this time taken long. Lewis McGregor floated the ball into the box where Rafferty headed narrowly over from eight yards.
Immediately after Rafferty then showcased his impressive athleticism with a powerful run from the left-back position, driving through the Syngenta midfield before firing a tame effort from 30 yards.
The next chance fell once again to Rafferty after he sprinted down the left wing, cut inside at the edge of the box before fizzing a right-footed shot wide of the far post.
Syngenta’s first chance manifested when centre-forward Finlay Malcolm charged from midfield into the St Peters box, sliding in Jamie Stewart who tamely prodded the ball towards Jacob Pazikas.
Syngenta then took the lead when Malcolm sprinted through for a one-on-one with Pazikas who parried Malcolm’s effort wide, when Stewart tapped the ball into an empty net from a tight angle. Until this point, St Peters had conceded a solitary goal in their entire cup run.
Jamie Lapsley came close to doubling Syngenta’s lead after a high corner from William Seagust fell at his feet but the ball struck his standing leg and rolled out harmlessly for a goal kick.
The Saints then came close to equalising shortly before half-time. McGregor got on the end of a long ball down the left wing and passed infield to central midfielder Robbie Scullion, who then slipped an inviting ball across the face of the Syngenta goal but the defence managed to clear the ball to safety.
Spartans FC have been crowned Under 15 Scottish Youth FA Cup champions after narrowly beating Glenvale AFC.
With no goals separating the teams at full time, Lee Ewing’s men came out on top with a 4-2 victory in the penalty shootout.
From the first whistle, you could tell the Excelsior stadium was going to play host to a very tight final and that is how it turned out to be. Glenvale enjoyed some early chances with the first of these coming in the 17th minute as Harry Pittaway narrowly headed wide.
Spartans also created several chances of their own as Joseph Evenden’s shot went just over the bar following good passing movement with Lorca Gray on the left side of goal.
Not long after that Spartans striker Nicholas Reid did well to get a shot on target after manging to get into the box, however Vale keeper Aiden McMahon was there to keep the scores level.
Sean Borland was the Vale’s star player in the first half dominating the midfield and creating his team a host of chances. One of these came just before the half hour mark as Borland played a clever one two with Brian Connor just outside the box, then Borland fizzed a first time shot only to be denied by Spartans goalkeeper Niall McFadden.
Borland was proving to be a handful as moments later his free kick from the left-hand side forced McFadden to punch the ball away from his area. A minute later, the Glenvale midfielder put in another good ball from the same area forcing another punching save from McFadden.
Jack Crombie was the main playmaker for Spartans as he retained the ball well in midfield and pulled off some great passes for his fellow teammates.
With keepers in both ends pulling off some great saves, there was nothing to separate the sides going into half time.
Barrhead YFC 2003s produced a terrific second-half display to overcome Banks O' Dee Albion 2003s 4-1 in their Inspiresport Scottish Cup final on Sunday.
Both sides had been in terrific goal-scoring form in their run to the final, but after a cagey first half in which both sides cancelled each other out, Barrhead showed a clinical edge in the final third - scoring some terrific goals in the process.
Barrhead started the brighter, keeping the ball well and playing some terrific combinations down the left-hand side through Dylan Noone and the exceptional Paul O'Hare.
O'Hare would become a real focal point for everything good about Barrhead, with his pace and trickery down the left causing Albion countless problems.
An early counter-attack from Barrhead saw O'Hare whip in a terrific cross to the back-post for the unmarked Vincent Scott, but on the stretch he just couldn't get a clean connection and saw his effort fly high and wide.
However, despite not having the best of the opening exchanges, Albion stunned Barrhead when they took the lead after 15 minutes. A hopeful cross into the box saw Noah Campbell fail to punch clear, and Lyle Innes pounced opportunistically to give Albion the lead.
The goal sparked both teams into life in the midfield, but emerging standouts for Albion were Innes and Jordan Lynch, as both drove their team forward with surging runs from the midfield. Lynch at one stage bulldozed his way through the Barrhead defence, but fluffed his shot as the recovering defenders cleared.
Being 1-0 down never deflated Barrhead however, with O'Hare continuing to get the ball down the left and create with his clever movement and direct running towards Albion's defence. Several decent moments came from him, but it looked as though Albion were relatively comfortable in defence.
They'll be disappointed at how they conceded their equaliser. A corner from Noone was curled into the area, and with several Albion defenders leaping to clear it, it came off one of the unfortunate defenders and into their own net.
The equaliser brought a scrappy end to the first half in which both sides cancelled each other out. O'Hare's influence had waned towards the end of the opening period as the game was turned into a battle in the midfield and full of loose balls.
However, quality was on show for the majority of the half, and they went in at the break deservedly level.
After their heroic win at Dingwall on Monday night, Accies had given themselves one final chance to leapfrog Ross County and clinch the Development League crown at new Douglas Park. Try as they might though, Accies just couldn’t find the magic to overcome Celtic on the night. Ross County could finally celebrate.
Fittingly, Stuart Kettlewell’s players will receive their trophy to the acclaim of Staggies fans at their home SPL fixture with Accies next Tuesday. It marks the culmination of Kettlewell and his back room staff’s hard work in developing the best footballing talent in the Highlands, with the likes of Dylan Dykes, Ben Malcolm and Greg Morrison now pushing for a first team start in Jim McIntyre’s XI.
Guilleme Beuzelin’s young Accies side meanwhile will reflect on what might have been. On a day when a CIES Football Observatory report ranked the club the highest in the UK for the percentage of first team minutes played by home grown players, there is still plenty to be proud of. Four or five players from the youth system regularly feature in Martin Canning’s first team line ups, with players such as Steven Boyd and Ryan Tierney tipped next for the conveyer belt of talent.
Before a hopeful crowd of 1270, Accies also drew on the experience of former Rangers and Hearts striker David Templeton. He was at the heart of their best chances on the night, both sides carrying more threat in the opening 45 minutes.
And it could have been a very different night had Accies pounced on their best opening of the match, after just 4 minutes, with Boyd’s edge of box effort parried away by Conor Hazard from Jack Breslin’s cut back. It was to be another half hour before Accies could next seriously test the Celtic keeper, this time as Tierney and Templeton linked up twice for chances in quick succession.
Hazard was alert on both occasions, showing bravery to dive at Templeton’s feet on 34 minutes, before tipping over the striker’s header a minute later from Tierney’s cross to the far post.
Celtic came even closer though, striking the woodwork on 18 minutes after Regan Hendry released Calvin Miller in the box. From a tight angle he watched as his shot hit the inside of the post and clear.
Aberdeen saw off Dundee by two goals to nil in the final Development League game of the season. A brace from Scott Wright secured all three points for the Dons against a Dundee side that featured David Mitchell, Kosta Gadzhalov, Danny Williams and Henrik Ojamaa.
Aberdeen started the game on the front foot, Dean Campbell brought a save out of David Mitchell after 10 minutes. Chris Antoniazzi then glanced a header just wide.
Scott Wright’s surging run after 21 minutes resulted in another chance for Antoniazzi, but the Aberdeen man didn’t test Mitchell with his shot. Henrik Ojamaa had the Dees first real chance after 24 minutes, but his volley was saved by Aberdeen goalkeeper David Craddock. 60 seconds later, the Dons took the lead.
Reigan Thomson bundled Connor McLennan over inside the penalty area leaving the referee with little choice but to point to the spot.
Wright stepped up and sent Mitchell the wrong way as the ball nestled in the bottom right corner.
The Dons had a golden opportunity to double their lead three minutes later, but Antoniazzi was denied by Mitchell, before he sent his half volley off target.
With two minutes of the first half remaining, the Dons did get their second. The ball broke loose to Wright at the top of the box and the winger made no mistake as he rifled the ball past Mitchell from 15 yards.
It was the second comfortable Old Firm victory at Hampden for Celtic in four days as their u20s side dismantled Rangers with a masterful display in a 3-0 win. Captain Sam Wardrop opened the scoring in the 37th minute before Calvin Miller doubled their lead moments before the break. Flying fullback Aidan McIlduff made sure of Celtic’s 15th win in the competition with their third. They had plenty of chances to add to their lead while Rangers were left chasing shadows.
Celtic came close to opening the scoring three times in the opening ten minutes. Aidan Nesbitt’s cutback was inches away from Calvin Miller who would surely have scored had he made any contact on the slide, while Nesbitt himself was similarly close with a header that went just by.
Rangers were under siege and Robby McCrorie had to be smart to keep out an Anthony Ralston cross that almost snuck in at the near post. A yellow card for a reckless Aidan Wilson challenge was as close as Rangers could come to stamping any authority on the game.
While Rangers eventually settled and managed to halt Celtic’s procession of chances, they were struggling to get the ball forward to mount any attacks of their own. The midfield was being bypassed in favour of long balls which left creative talent like Billy Gilmour as virtual bystanders and they failed to get Zak Rudden or Serge Atakayi to cut in from the wings in support of Dallas. It took until almost half an hour for Rangers to register a shot at goal, a wild effort from Atakayi.
Atakayi did show just what he is capable of moments later, latching on to a Jamie Barjonas ball over the top and forcing a Celtic defender into a last ditch clearance as his cross swung through the danger zone.
But it was a false dawn for Rangers.
Just when it looked like the half was in danger of failing to live up to the opening ten minutes, Celtic took a deserved lead. After winning a corner at the back post and putting a dangerous ball back across goal which no one got on the end of, Celtic captain Sam Wardrop must have thought his chances of helping his side score had faded. But the ball came back in and this time Wardrop took it down in the box himself and drove a low effort into the back of the net through a crowd of players.
Then, in the last piece of action before the half time whistle, they made it two. Rangers captain Ross McCrorie badly misjudged a long ball, only serving to head it perfectly into the path of Calvin Miller who took it round the other McCrorie and made it 2-0.
Rangers found the net five times as they saw off Dundee in the Development League. Three goals in seven first half minutes from Ross Lyon, Andy Dallas and Jamie Barjonas put the Gers in control, with second half goals from Serge Atakayi and Kyle Bradley sealing the points for the Glasgow side, against a Dundee team that featured Kosta Gadzhalov, Nick Ross and Henrik Ojamaa.
After a back and forth opening, Rangers took the lead after nine minutes. Fraser Kemp’s under hit pass back to Calum Ferrie was pounced upon by Ross Lyon, who curled the ball past the oncoming keeper from a tight angle.
Things got worse for the Dees as they fell further behind four minutes later. Lyon’s low corner was met by an unmarked Andy Dallas, who swept the ball home from close range.
Rangers added a third in controversial circumstances after 16 minutes. Liam Burt looked to go down inside the area with little contact from Ferrie, but the referee pointed to the spot, and Jamie Barjonas sent his penalty into the bottom right corner of the net, leaving Rangers 3-0 ahead.
Dundee’s best chance of the half came after 26 minutes, when Mark Smith pounced on a loose ball in the Rangers defence, but his shot was saved by Robby McCrorie.
Captain Kyle Banner gave Scotland victory over Ireland in the Centenary Shield, powering home a header from Calvin McGrory’s corner. In a scrappy match at Renfrew Juniors, it was the only shot on target for over an hour of play as both teams struggled to make their final ball count. Only in the final 20 minutes were the keepers brought into the action, but despite some late pressure, Ireland couldn’t find an equaliser.
The goal was the first meaningful action of the game, apart from a couple of set plays for Ireland around the Scotland box which came to nothing. McGrory’s corner was whipped into the box and from virtually the penalty spot Banner made a great connection to find the back of the net and leave the keeper helpless.
Chances were few and far between with possession given away far too cheaply and the killer ball always lacking. Ireland looked dangerous down the left hand side though with the skilful Ronan Manning making things happen. His through ball released Conor Layng who sped into the Scotland box and looked set to burst the net but he went down under a light touch in the back from Banner, with the referee unconvinced it was enough to deserve a penalty.
Despite the game being played at a fast pace with some tenacious tackles going around, there was a distinct lack of quality in the final third and both keepers managed to avoid saving a shot in the half. The visitors certainly seemed to have the better of the play up to a point but without the composure and patience needed to make it count. Scotland goalkeeper Ronan Fallens was replaced at half-time having had little to do.
Aidan Nesbitt’s first half strike was just enough to see Celtic through to meet Rangers in this year’s Hampden Final. But Motherwell had put up a stubborn defence of their cup, and Celtic weren’t home and dry until the very final whistle, and in fact anything but dry in some torrid conditions at Cappielow.
Celtic have yet to concede a goal in this year’s cup but knew they were in for a tough test against the reigning holders and a side which had beaten them just three weeks ago. Tommy McIntyre shuffled his team from the weekend’s league win, with Thomson, Ralston, Nesbitt and Johnston back in the starting line up.
Motherwell meanwhile had no such luxuries. With injuries to contend with Stephen Craigan added 3 under 17s to his depleted squad, with a number of his regular side forced to play out of their natural position.
Despite this Craigan’s side made a real game of it, with little to choose between the sides throughout. Nesbitt’s goal came at the end of an even first half of few clear cut chances. The difference between the sides ultimately was Celtic’s pace up front, with the dangerous trio of Johnston, PJ Crossan and Nesbitt the key to unlocking the Motherwell defence.
But it was ‘Well who began briskly enough and carved out the first opening in the third minute, perhaps the best they were to see all night. Jake Hastie hung a cross from the left flank to David Turnbull at the far post, but the striker couldn’t quite get hold of his header which drifted just wide of Conor hazard’s right hand post.
It wasn’t long before Celtic were up the other end. After a driving run Mark Hill released the Johnston inside the box with his shot blocked by Olly Pain, the Motherwell keeper also alert to stop Aidan Nesbitt’s rebound on five minutes.
Anthony Ralston then went close on 12 minutes, heading just over from a Nesbitt delivery into the box. Celtic went on to probably shade things in terms of possession, but the remainder of the half didn’t see too many further chances on target at either end.
Motherwell were organised and comfortable but vulnerable to the pace Celtic had up front.
Crosssan, Johnston and Nesbitt continued to provide a spark on the break, and Crossan’s dash and cross into the Motherwell box just needed someone to finish in the middle on 37 minutes. Joseph Thompson then had a great opportunity 39 minutes, after Nesbitt found him in the box, but fired just wide of the post.
It looked like things might peter out until half time, but Celtic finally broke the deadlock on 41 minutes, as Johnston played in Ralston on the overlap down the right edge of the box. Olly Pain could only block the full back’s shot straight out to Aidan Nesbitt, who from a tight angle despatched low into the empty net.
St Mirren found the net three times as they saw off Dundee in the Development League. Goals from Ryan Watters, Conor O’Keefe and Cameron Breadner secured all three points for the Buddies against a Dundee side that featured 11 players aged 17 or under.
Saints started the match on the front foot and with 12 minutes on the clock, opened the scoring. Ryan Watters drilling the ball past Calum Ferrie from the top of the box.
Dundee’s best half of the chance came after 18 minutes. Matty Henvey found Mark Smith with a clever flick, and the big striker saw his left foot drive beaten away by Saints stopper Chris Henry.
Saints were seeing most the ball, and would have extended their lead if not for some excellent goalkeeping from Ferrie. Kalvin Orsi was denied by the Dundee keeper before Watters follow up effort was cleared off the line by Matty Smyth.
Watters was then thwarted by Ferrie 60 seconds later before Orsi was again denied by the Dundee keeper nine minutes before the break.
A ruthless first half performance from Arniston set them on their way to victory in the Pilmar Smith Cup final on Sunday. Goals from Euan Donaldson and Cameron Catteroll proved to be the difference in a tight, scrappy game where neither side wanted to give the other an inch.
The match started off at a frantic pace, with both sides pressing high and forcing the other side into mistakes early on. The closest any side came to an opening was in the seventh minute when Jack Dewer hit a low strike which skidded across the ground and had Sam Capes’ in Lochend’s goal scrambling, but ultimately drifted wide of the post.
The first shot on target in the game resulted in the first goal, and it came for Arniston in the tenth minute. A long thrown in found Euan Donaldson on the chest, it looked difficult to create something from the scenario, but not for him. He took the ball down, swivelled and hit a shot low into the far corner. In such a tight game, it required a piece of individual brilliance to break the deadlock.
The goal seemed to open up the game to some extent, and Arniston nearly pulled themselves level four minutes after the opening goal. Jacob Riley for Lochend manged to flick the ball over the head of an opposing defender, followed by the goalkeeper, and would have leveled the scores if it wasn’t for Dylan Akkur being on the line to clear. A goal that would have matched the brilliance of the opening one if it wasn’t for some alert defending.
Such was the nature of this now free-flowing game that Arniston managed to double their advantage moments after Lochend nearly drew level. Once again, a throw-in proved to be Rangers undoing as Cameron Cateroll was found making a run into the box. After venturing into the area, the finish was never a problem as he rolled the ball underneath the advancing goalkeeper to put his side two goals to the good with fifteen minutes played.
Arniston came close to putting the final to bed just before half time when Denim Power headed the ball down into the path of Donaldson, but his first time strike was wide of the target and leaving the gap to just two goals.
They don't come more action packed than this. A helter skelter semi-final came down to the dreaded shoot out at James McGrory Park, and after sudden death spot kicks, Spartans finally booked their place in next month’s final. It was drama all the way though, a great home turn out cheering on opponents who pushed them all the way.
Somebody had to lose, and it was tough on the Jimmy Johnstone Academy who had forced two last gasp levellers at the end of both regulation and extra time. This will have been a two hour nerve shredder for both dug outs and some exhausted players, and it’s unlikely that this reporter will see too many goalkeepers equalising direct from a set piece at the end of extra time.
The sides were well matched throughout, but Reece Mason’s early opener had begun to look like the winning goal, until with one last throw of the dice JJA lobbed a set piece into the box and the ball cannoned off a Spartans body, forcing extra time.
The home support erupted and it would have folded a lot of teams, but Spartans showed great spirit in extra time and retook the lead, only another last dash JJA special to force spot kicks.
The opener on 12 minutes was Spartans’ first real foray up the field, as Mason showed great pace and strength to shrug of his marker on the quick break down the right side of the box. The front man looked up and picked out Jack Crombie in the middle to dispatch the opener, against the early run of play.
JJA had been pressing well up the pitch with a lot of possession to this point, only to be undone by that sucker punch. They continued to build the play in the middle, but lacked the cutting edge of their opponents, whose goal scorer remained the focal point of every swift counter.
There really wasn’t much between the sides as the opening half drew to a close, with few further clear cut chances. Joseph Evenden could maybe have doubled Spartans lead midway as he latched on to a Mason through ball but Josh Ashburn was alert to rush out and block, while JJA struggled to carve out a clear sight of goal.
Syngenta Juveniles withstood late pressure from Harmony Row YC to secure a 2-1 victory and progress into the Scottish Youth FA Cup final.
An emphatic strike on the quarter of an hour mark from Michael McQueen edged Syngenta in front before Robbie McCafferty extended the lead in the 35th minute. Lewis Carey pulled one back for Harmony Row but despite a flurry of late chances, a heroic performance from goalkeeper Allan Dickson ensured the Grangemouth team emerged victors.
The tie started at a frenetic pace and it was Syngenta who would carve out the first clear cut opportunity. Callan Stone showed vision to pick out Sean Fagan, who drilled a shot inches wide of the left post.
Minutes later Stone was again showing promise as he megged his man and drove infield. The winger found Alex Thomson with a low pass, who in turn reversed the ball into space for Flynn Gray. The forward’s strike was expertly touched past the post by Matthew Boyle.
The Dyes’ early pressure paid off in the 15th minute. Mitchell Speirs whipped in a cross, which Harmony Row failed to deal with and McQueen was on hand to bury the loose ball into the back of the net.
Row responded and were denied an equaliser by Dickson. Thomas Seagrave created space on the edge of the area and fired an effort towards goal but Dickson diverted the ball over the bar.
Syngenta were caught sleeping from the resulting corner allowing Daniel O’Neill to meet Ross McKenzie’s delivery on the volley. However, the defender could only direct the effort into the side netting.
The Dyes managed to double their lead with the last clear cut chance of the half. McCafferty’s pace saw him break through on goal and the midfielder was clinical as he rifled home to make it 2-0.