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Wednesday, 17 October 2018 12:23

Hibs on the edge of success after top two draw

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Hibs Under 23s moved to within a fingerbreadth of the Division 1 South title after a 2-2 draw with nearest rival Celtic. Two equalisers and a strong second half garnered the point that means the final game of the season will require a 3-point and 24-goal swing to deny the Edinburgh club glory.

However, this was not an easy game in Ormiston. Celtic had inflicted Hibs’ only defeats this season - once in the league, and again in the cup - and were nearly ahead in the third minute when Shannon Nagle headed Darcy Molley’s right wing corner. Keeper Alicia Yates dived to her right to parry.  

Hibs duly responded as Holly Aitchison floated a corner against the top of the Celtic bar and the left wing Ellie Jai Reid curled a shot just beyond the right post. Yet the visitors were soon ahead, in the 18th minute, via a familiar move. After Jodie Bell’s shot had been deflected wide, Molley lofted in the corner and Nagle headed. This time Yates was unsighted and the ball was in the bottom left corner.

That lead was short-lived. In the 25th minute Reid played Kirsty Morrison to the left byline. The congregation of keeper, defender and striker at the near post could only slow the driven cross, with the ball politely rolling on. Cari Johnston followed in to thump the ball into the empty net.

An even game and an even scoreline, with the title on the line, matters were getting tenser. Celtic exerted pressure on the Hibs left back area, with Emily Shearer having one cross desperately blocked and Rebecca McAllister striking straight at Yates. Yates also pipped Megan Wands to a dangerous pass, the ball rebounding off the striker for a goal kick.

Hibs were not to survive. Bell was tugged away from a through-ball, giving Celtic a free-kick on the edge of the box. Molley’s clipped strike was almost slow-motion, hitting the underside of the bar, and as the world waited Bell put the ball over the line from a yard with the last kick of the half.

Dryburgh Athletic put in a wonderful performance against Murieston United to secure their place in the SWF Scottish Cup final.

Dryburgh came into this game on the back of another impressive victory over Raith Rovers in the quarter-finals whilst Murieston had defeated Bonnyrigg rose to progress to the semi-finals.

Both teams looked to attack the game and it was Murieston who looked the more likely to score in the opening stages, spurning a few half chances as the Dryburgh defence stood firm. Dryburgh had the first big chance of the game, Katie Shaw seeing her shot heading towards the bottom left corner well saved by Murieston keeper Alice Cowley.

The next big chance came from Murieston, Shannyn Masterson seeing her free kick hit the underside of the bar after an excellent header from Dryburgh defender Ellie Cook prevented the ball traveling into the top corner.

Glasgow City cruised into the final of the SWF Scottish Cup with a professional performance over a resilient Hibs side.

City had already won the league cup in May and were looking to make it to a second cup final in four months. Hibs themselves were keen to make the final and looked up for the challenge City presented.

City had started the better side and looked more comfortable with the occasion, with Hannah Scott coming close after a defensive mix up allowed her to get a shot on target.

18 minutes in and City had their first of the afternoon, Scott making no mistake this time around as she fired low into the bottom left from 10 yards out. 

Hibs seemed to bounce back from this and were beginning to put the pressure on City. City defender Abbie Warren put in a brilliant last ditch tackle to prevent Eve McFadden getting a shot on goal.

Sunday, 30 September 2018 11:11

Spartans move past Edinburgh City to hit round three

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On a day of typical Scottish autumnal winds, Spartans Youth progressed to the third round of the inspiresport Scottish Youth Cup with a 3-1 victory over Edinburgh City. Utilising a passing game that often and impressively moved the ball with one touch football, the away team managed to conquer both their opponents and the conditions.

The opening exchanges offered promise for both teams, with Spartans going close and then Edinburgh City closer. First Keir Russell’s deflected shot wrong-footed Edinburgh City's keeper Ross Wallace but avoided the net, before a loose ball in the eigth minute was seized upon by Liam Livingstone. He rolled Jose Benito in behind the back line but, from left of centre, his shot struck only the right post.

Parity was broken in the 16th minute, and came via a less common ‘underlap’. Christopher Cameron played the ball to Jack Ewing on the right touchline, who returned it inside for Cameron’s continued run. With the defence stretched, Cameron cut the ball back to Jack Crombie who neatly put the ball just inside the far left post.

Crombie nearly added a second two minutes later after a deft passing triangle on the D set him free, only to loft just over. Yet City’s response was strong. Just a minute later Benito caught a Charlie Malone cross from the right with a volley of great technique that went fractionally wide, before immediately blocking a Josh Scoon clearance and watching the ball rebound unfortunately over.

From there, however, Spartans began to exert control. A move between Ewing, Kieran McCallum and Joseph Evenden forced Jack Perris into a superb last-ditch last-man tackle. Evenden then knocked Kornel Durda’s cross onto the top of the bar. And, finally, in the 28th minute, the resistance fell. A quality passing move through the centre concluded with exchanges between Russell and Evenden setting McCallum clear to roll in for 2-0.

The last moments of the half almost gave Edinburgh City some reward as Dalziel Cron got onto a Ross Watson cross that had evaded all other feet. Cron's effort went back across the keeper but did not beat the clearing man on the line. Surviving that meant half-time arrived with Spartans established favourites.

Sunday, 16 September 2018 14:02

Goals galore as Albion Rovers defeat Rossvale

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Albion Rovers defeated Rossvale Rovers 7-4 in an intense Scottish Cup 2nd Round tie. Four goals from Luke Barclay and other goals from Declan Lochran, Aaron Sweeney and Harris Heath sealed the win for Rovers. Rossvale's goals came from Darrell Eadie, Lewis Stewart, Ben Hamilton and Kian Royle, but on the day, Albion were too strong for Rossvale.

Albion opened the scoring on six minutes from the penalty spot. A long ball into the box by Declan Lochran was dropped by Rossvale keeper Aidan Mulholland, who then pulled down Aaron Sweeney as he was about to put the ball into an open goal, leaving the referee no option but to point to the spot. Luke Barclay stepped up and sent Mulholland the wrong way.

Rossvale then had their first chance. Good work from Lewis Stewart on the right to press the Albion defence and win the ball. He then found the space on the wing to cross into the box for Darrell Eadie whose first-time shot was well saved at point blank range by Alistair McMillan in the Albion goal.

Albion then had a chance to make it 2-0. A lovely through ball by Aidan McCarthy into the Rossvale penalty area caused a defensive mix-up at the back, which led to Albion being awarded an indirect-free kick. From the resulting free-kick, Sean Holmes laid the ball back to Luke Barclay, who struck an effort through the wall which was well saved by Aidan Mulholland.

Rossvale then levelled the scoring in the 21st minute. Cameron McKay played a ball into Kyle Martin who had the space and played a great ball into Darrell Eadie, who took one touch and dispatched the ball into the corner of the net.

Albion were back ahead just two minutes later. A corner from Harris Heath was knocked on at the front post by Barclay which was not dealt with by Rossvale and the ball fell to Declan Lochran who restored his sides lead with a cool finish from close range.

Their lead was then doubled on the 25th minute. Harris Heath again heavily involved. He found Barclay on the edge of the box who controlled the ball and carried it into the area before smashing a shot past Mulholland into the corner leaving him no chance.

Rossvale grabbed a lifeline just before half time. They were awarded a free-kick 30 yards from goal, which Lewis Stewart stepped up to take and his effort sailed over McMillan. A fantastic goal which put Rossvale right back into the tie.

Sunday, 02 September 2018 17:02

Hearts and Rangers get point across in tough draw

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Hearts and Rangers were even in Edinburgh in a goalless match that saw plenty of the midfield, occasional bite, and few chances.

Bar an early Hearts shot drifting left, the opening exchanges were mild. Hope for the hosts came in the skilled touches and turns of Jennifer Margaret Dodds and the presence of strike partner Emma McFadyen, while Rangers’ effort to locate their opponent’s vulnerability by rotating the ball through midfield was admirable. Yet by the 15th minute there had been no further strikes at goal as both defences pushed play into the middle 30 metres of the park.

A thaw in that defensive dominance began to appear as the half evolved, with Hearts the first to threaten just before the 20 minute mark. McFadyen floated a lob wide right after miscommunication in the Rangers back line, and a minute later a challenge between Dodds and Rangers keeper Chloe Rae required a clearance from behind the Glaswegians’ number one. With Hearts pushing forward, Rangers went long, and Leah Mulrine almost reached captain Ellie Macdonald’s lofted pass.

Nonetheless, it was the home side for whom the chances were beginning to fall, and when Dodds emerged from some touchline tackling in the 27th minute she was free of the fullback on the right and able to cross. McFadyen’s header went past Rae but also the post.

Rangers’ ship steadied and the half subsequently fell into another midfield battle. The first signs of needle crept in as space diminished, and it was unsurprising that the final chance of the half came from pressing rather than passing, with Rangers almost undoing themselves from their own goal kick but McFadyen hitting wide.

Dundee advanced to the second round of the Irn Bru Cup with a 4-3 penalty win over Hibs. Dan Jefferies netted a late equaliser for the Dees, who opened the scoring through Tom Bradbury in the first half.

The first chance of the game went the way of the young Dees when Cammy Dow met Cedwyn Scott’s cross. The winger’s header didn’t trouble Hibs keeper Paddy Martin as it flashed wide of the far post.

Jack Lambert saw a shot deflected behind for a corner after good link up play from Scott and Matty Henvey. Hibs broke from the resulting corner and forced Sam Jackson into a smart save.

Callum Moore combined with Scott at the edge of the box after a darting run from midfield, but Martin was equal to his low strike after 12 minutes.

Sean Mackie let fly from the edge of the box for Hibs, but his effort sliced harmlessly away from goal.

Dundee looked to have opened the scoring when Scott met a Lambert free kick, but a point blank save from Martin kept the ball out. The keeper’s efforts would prove to be in vain as Lambert clipped in a cross that Tom Bradbury headed into the net after 22 minutes.

The lead would prove to be short lived as Fraser Murray fired Hibs level three minutes after Dundee had opened the scoring. The ball broke to the striker after a last-ditch block from Bradbury, and he made no mistake with an emphatic curling finish from 15 yards.

Hibs were quick to respond as Innes Murray fed the ball into his namesake Fraser, but the striker dragged his shot wide.

Scott was denied by Martin once again as Dundee looked to retake the lead. Henvey teed up his strike partner at the edge of the box, but he could only fire the ball straight at the Hibs stopper.

Henvey drilled an effort wide from 25 yards shortly before half time. A quick break from a Hibs corner saw a Lambert strike deflect wide.

Scotland squandered early chances and switched off in the second-half, allowing England relatively easy passage to the Toulon Tournament final. Mikey Johnston’s individual wondergoal put the Scots ahead, but a goal from Callum Connolly and a brace from Eddie Nketiah secured the win for the Young Lions.

Oliver Burke came closest to opening the scoring. The powerful winger received a high through ball, and his good first touch took him away from Jake Clarke-Salter, but his low shot smacked the face of the post and the chance was gone.

England's best first-half chance came to Everton midfielder Kieran Dowell. Keeping the ball in well, Eddie Nketiah curved a cross to the back-post. Callum Connolly nodded it back into the middle, but his knock-down evaded Dowell and Scotland cleared.

But, it was Scotland who took the lead with an absolutely stunning goal from Mikey Johnston. The Celtic winger picked the ball up on the half-way line, skipped past Connolly and Dowell and cut onto his right as the crowd got to their feet in anticipation. He then cut back onto his left, surged into the box past Jonjoe Kenny and blasted past Freddie Woodman from a tight angle.

Tempers flared before half time when two very late challenges seemed to go unpunished. Firstly, Nketiah went flying in late on 16-year-old Billy Gilmour, and then Ronaldo Vieira swung wildly at Jason Kerr. Handbags ensued, but the Mexican referee brandished no cards. 

Three second-half goals from Linlithgow Rose secured the under-14s Tony Macaroni Cup in a 3-1 success against Broxburn Athletic Colts.

It was the perfect game of two halves, as Broxburn totally controlled the first half without being able to kill the game, before Linlithgow showed their clinical ability in the second 35 in a half of dominance.

Broxburn took a first-half lead through Sean Rafferty's terrific strike. However, Linlithgow struck back with three goals in the final 13 minutes from Kamil Spalony, Joseph Osborne, and Harry McMartin to win the cup.

Neither side really took control in the first 10 minutes, but Broxburn were determined to put an early press on to try and force some errors from Linlithgow. Credit must go to the likes of Fraser Iag and Osborne however, as they and the rest of the defence didn't budge and stayed composed.

But, with the game still to settle into a pattern - Broxburn stunned Linlithgow by snatching a 15th minute lead. Rafferty collected the ball in the box, before showing a pacey turn of feet to get away from two defenders and hammer a shot over Matthew Wallace.

The goal really settled Broxburn into an impressive pattern of play. Murray Lowe was a constant menace in the number 10 position, showing some great technique to take the ball under control and look for passes in behind Linlithgow.

However, it was more the general style of Broxburn's play that was impressing the spectators. They were determined to play with the ball on the deck, with many good ball-players in their side showing their skill as they looked for a second.

Maddox Ireland was making some promising moves in behind Linlithgow's back-line, and showed good feet to get away from Oag before sending a teasing cross into the middle. Unfortunately for Broxburn though, there was nobody to divert it goalwards.

Lowe continued to impress as he fed Craig Bailie, whose low effort was easy enough for Wallace, before Lowe himself had an optimistic pop off target.

Linlithgow were trying to mount attacks on the counter, but they were rushing their passes and struggling for composure on the ball. They did have one lovely move that involved Euan Walker, McMartin, and Andrew McGill. However, when McGill caught sight of goal in the box, he was quickly shut down.

With half-time just moments away, Broxburn should've doubled their advantage. A cross from Ryan Allan caused havoc in the Linlithgow penalty area. As the defence struggled to clear, it fell kindly to Jack Begg, who could only screw wide on the turn from yards out.

Corey Brown was the hero as his penalty save in the shootout saw Bathgate Thistle win the Under-13s Tony Macaroni Cup in a 4-3 penalties win against Broxburn Athletic Colts.

The shootout came after a stunning 70 minutes that saw the entertaining clash finish in a 3-3 draw, whilst the sides also couldn't be settled in extra-time.

Cameron Sheddon bagged a brace as Shay Hamilton scored the other for Broxburn, whilst a double from Matthew Ross added to a Toby Baldock penalty at the start of the second half.

Bathgate started the game looking bright and constantly looking for the run of Ross in behind the Broxburn defence. Twice in the first 10 minutes did the young attacker nearly get in behind, but Broxburn marshalled him well early on.

And it would actually be Broxburn who fired themselves into an early lead on eight minutes. Liam Crook showed some flashy footwork down the left before spotting Sneddon on the edge of the area. Sneddon took a touch before firing low under the arms of Brown and in.

Bathgate responded positively. Ross and Ben Drummond almost burst through, but touches let them down, before Ross slashed an effort wide on the turn in an impressive spell for Bathgate.

As Thistle just couldn't get the ball under control in front of goal in the first half, Broxburn nearly made them pay with 10 minutes remaining in the opening half. Ethan Grant created an angle for himself in the box. He sent a powerful low effort towards the far corner that was well parried by Brown and tapped home on the follow-up by Crook. However, unfortunately for the forward, he was flagged for offside.

And just moments later it should've been 1-1. The lively Toby Baldock collected a deep Evan Curtis free-kick. After darting past his man, Baldock then sent a teasing ball across the face of goal that was nearly met by Ross, but he miss-hit the ball and it went wide.

Bathgate continued to try and apply some late pressure before the end of the half, but other than a Ross strike on the turn, credit must go to Broxburn's defence for keeping Thistle relatively quiet.

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