National Competitions (402)
Celtic secured their passage into the SFA Youth Cup semi-finals on Friday afternoon, as a solitary strike from Josh Kerr midway through the first-half was enough to give The Hoops victory at the Oriam Centre in Edinburgh.
The match started in a manner which carried on for the rest of the 90 minutes; cagey, and Fraser Murray created the only opportunity in the opening 20 minutes for Hibs. Although his first-time strike from Oli Shaw’s neat knockdown went well over.
Shaw was then at the centre of attention again ten minutes later, as he was brought down by Conor Hazard when racing in on goal. Despite protests, the referee adjudged the incident to be nothing more than a booking for the Celtic goalkeeper.
As the first half progressed it was Celtic who began to seize control and dominate possession, and they nearly took the lead on 20 minutes when a sliced clearance from Mark Hill’s corner almost resulted in an own-goal, but the ball looped up over the bar and saved the Hibees from any blushes.
Archibald then came close for Celtic five minutes later, as his powerful effort from distance skidded off the surface, but ultimately drifted off target.
The Hoops, despite creating little, looked the more likely to open the scoring in a tight first-half, and they did just that on the half-hour mark. When a long throw-in went into Jack Aitchison, the tightly-marked striker did well to lay the ball off into Josh Kerr’s path, who was never going to turn down the opportunity from close range.
Calvin Miller, who had been a lively figure for much of the first-half on the left-wing, manged to get a half-decent shot away before half-time, but the angle was narrow and he failed to hit the target from just inside the box.
West Lothian Schools' secured their place in the semi-final of the SSFA National Trophy courtesy of penalty shootout against Dundee Schools'. The visitors lead 2-0 early in the second half courtesy of goals from Taylor Shelvin and Nathan Donnelly-Kay, but the hosts fought back with goals from Adam Brown and Nathan Scott levelling the tie. Donnelly-Kay’s second of the match put the visitors back in front late on but there was still enough time remaining for Harry Dow to find the net and take the game to a penalty shootout, that West Lothian went on to win.
After a back and forth opening, the visitors went ahead after 10 minutes. West Lothian’s quick corner caught the Dundee defence, who could only stand and watch as Taylor Shelvin turned the ball in from close range.
Dundee responded well, as Finlay Baird set up Adam Brown, but the striker’s effort was wide of the mark. Nathan Donnelly-Kay forced Dundee keeper Fraser Burnett into a save after 18 minutes, before Dundee’s Blair Whyte volleyed wide from the top of the box.
The windy conditions were influencing the game, and nearly brought Dundee an equaliser as Lewis Finnie’s cross landed just wide of the West Lothian goal midway through the first half. The hosts felt they should have had a penalty after 36 minutes as Rory Faulkner went down inside the area, but the referee was unmoved despite the appeals.
West Lothian nearly doubled their lead five minutes before the break. A mistake from Finnie allowed Shelvin in one-on-one with Burnett, but the Dundee keeper came out on top as he pushed the shot away from danger.
A Nick Ross brace secured all three points for Dundee in their Development League fixture with Dunfermline. The former Inverness man struck twice in a matter of minutes just before half to ensure the victory for the Dark Blues.
Dundee were moving the ball well in the opening stages, but failed to test Cammy Gill in the Dunfermline goal. Evan Horne headed just wide for the visitors before Dundee’s Marc Klok fierce volley after 20 minutes was Gill’s first test. James Vincent headed Ian Smith’s cross wide not long after.
With just over half an hour gone, Dundee took the lead. Danny Williams won the ball high up the pitch and laid the ball back for Vincent, who found Ross, and the midfielder drilled the ball past Gill from the top of the box.
It took Dundee just four minutes to add a second. Sam Dryden’s cross was met by Ian Smith, who volleyed the ball across the face of goal to Ross, who steered the ball home from close range.
The Dees were threatening to run riot, as Williams saw his shot blocked by a Dunfermline defender before Gill made a fingertip save to push Ian Smith’s shot round the post. Vincent was next to have a go, but was also denied by Gill.
It was a wet spectacle at Spain Park where 9th place Aberdeen welcomed 12th place Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Inverness had a bright start to the game and threatened the Aberdeen rearguard on a number of occasions however weren’t clear cut enough to test Robbie Mutch in the Aberdeen goal.
Dons boss Paul Sheerin handed starts to Miles Storey, Peter Pawlett and Jayden Stockley. Caley manager Duncan Shearer fielded a youthful side with only Alex Fisher over the age of 20.
The hosts took a while to get into the game and took the lead against the run of play after Storey played in Pawlett who went on a mazy run before firing home after 14 minutes.
Caley tried to get back into the game and Blair McLennan played in Fisher whose effort on target went straight to Robbie Mutch.
The visitors were made to pay for that chance when Aberdeen went 2-0 up after 28 minutes. Pawlett played in Storey and the former Caley forward tucked the ball home.
Aberdeen had a great opportunity to be in an even more comfortable position going into half time after a dangerous ball came in by Frank Ross which was met by the head of Harlain Mbayo whose goal bound attempt was blocked off the line by Chris Brown.
Rangers sealed their place in the Scottish FA Youth Cup semi-final with a dominant 5-1 victory over Falkirk at Ibrox.
Although the score line suggests a one-sided demolition, Falkirk gave the home side a scare when Kevin O’Hara opened the scoring from the penalty spot, knocking in the rebound when his original effort was saved.
It proved to be a false dawn for the Bairns however, and two Jamie Barjonas goals of supreme quality put Rangers in control at half-time. It was one-way traffic from there and second-half strikes from Zak Rudden, Billy Gilmour, and Jack Thomson sealed the win.
The game started slowly as Rangers struggled to breakdown a defensively minded Falkirk side. There was no question they had come to Ibrox to try and frustrate Rangers’ normal quick pass-and-move game, with a 5-4-1 formation that left little room for the Gers to manoeuvre.
By leaving O’Hara up front on his own they were relying on keeping Rangers at bay and hoping for a goal on the break, using wingbacks Mark Finlayson and Cieran Dunne as an attacking threat, but for most of the first half they were stuck in defensive roles.
For the first 20 minutes the plan worked. Denied by the offside trap on a couple of occasions, Rangers failed to trouble the Falkirk keeper Lewis McMinn, who was only called into action to clear a long ball over the top from Ross McCrorie as an impatient Rangers went route one.
Falkirk’s patience bore fruit as they then got the break they were looking for. Striving to get back to stop a Rangers counter attack through Josh Jeffries, Finlayson won the ball and started a counter-counter-attack of their own. O’Hara eventually forced his way into the Rangers box and striked the ball off Aidan Wilson’s arm.
The referee blew for a penalty, but it looked a harsh decision with the Gers defender’s arm by his side and no intent obvious. O’Hara’s first attempt was saved by Robby McCrorie diving to his left but he couldn’t prevent the Falkirk striker burying the rebound.
Rangers certainly didn’t let their heads drop after conceding however and they evened the game up within five minutes in spectacular fashion.
Having forced a corner, Liam Burt whipped in a cross at the second attempt and found Wilson looking to make up for giving away the penalty. His diving header struck the post, before being half cleared out to Gers midfielder Barjonas 30-yards from goal.
Without hesitation the Spaniard struck a sweet effort into the far top corner, leaving McMinn rooted.
It was something special for the watching crowd to savour, and he had them cheering again on the half hour mark.
Jeffries seemed to be chasing a lost cause on the right flank, somehow keeping the ball in play on the by-line and finding a low cross towards Rudden.He was being too tightly marked to make anything of it but the Falkirk defence’s clearance again fell to Barjonas.
Significantly closer to goal this time, he picked his spot and again placed it in the corner away from McMinn who once more could only watch it nestle in the net.
Falkirk were on the ropes now and when Gilmour’s delicious chipped through ball sent Rudden in it looked like being 3-1 but for a dramatic saving tackle from Jonny Mitchell. It was fantastic last ditch defending from the Bairn’s centre half.
The away side weren’t completely out of it yet and knowing they had to go for an equaliser gave some freedom to wingbacks Finlayson and Dunne to push forward. They combined to almost great effect just before half-time with Dunne’s cross finding Finlayson unmarked in the box but his header was straight at McCrorie.
There won’t have been many Ayrshire derbies down the years to have topped the Sunday drama which ensued before a packed main stand at Somerset Park. Ayr looked to have finally subdued their old foes after 120 pulsating minutes, but an astonishing Jack Whittaker double in the final two minutes turned it all around to fire Killie into a Cup semi-final.
Victory must have been all the sweeter for the visitors in a match which swung to and fro. Ayr had even missed from the spot in the final minute of normal time and this was a tough way to go out. Agonizing in fact, but neither side deserved to lose in the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
A goalless first half didn’t seem to point to the fireworks which were to follow. Killie had shaded things for the opening period, and passed up several clear cut chances. They should have been ahead at the interval.
Their best prospects came when they got the ball quickly up to Innes Cameron. The big forward held the ball up well and built a platform for the attack with Whittaker and Scott McLean getting into good wide areas in support.
A couple of good Cameron layoffs within the opening 20 minutes had carved out sights at goal for McLean and Lewis Morrison but neither’s effort was able to trouble Lyle Avcii in the home goal.
At the other end there were slimmer early pickings with James Hilton having a couple of efforts off target, the second when he had a better chance to test Devlin MacKay from the set piece on the edge of the box.
It seemed mostly one way traffic towards the Ayr goal, and towards the end of the half it looked like Killie were beginning to turn the screw. Whittaker got to the bye line on 42 minutes but his cut back seemed to avoid everyone, before McLean had more time than he thought but couldn’t threaten Avcii in the final chance of the half.
It was a perfect start to 2017 for Tommy McIntyre’s side, with Calvin Miller’s goal on the cusp of half time enough to see off their Glasgow rivals at Murray Park. Yet despite controlling the match for long spells Celtic could not find the finishing touches to make sure of the three points, giving Rangers hope into the game’s closing stages.
It Is a Rangers squad in the process of transition, and Graeme Murty’s side boasted no fewer than three under 17s, including the highly rated Billy Gilmour. Murty’s players will have gained some valuable experience against opponents who have already tested themselves against Europe’s elite in the UEFA Youth League this season.
The European adventure has meanwhile left Celtic with a fixture backlog to fulfil, as well as taking its toll on the players at McIntyre’s disposal. A number of the squad made the winter trip with Brendan Rodgers’ first team, with only Ross Doohan returning in goal after the break in Dubai. All in all Celtic made five changes from the side which lost in December’s last league outing to Dunfermline.
They began purposefully enough though, keen to set the tempo and make up the ground lost in league after that disappointing defeat to the Pars. Celtic looked hungrier closing down in midfield and in getting Theo Archibald and Jack Aitchison running at the Rangers defence. Within the opening 10 minutes Aitchison was testing McCrorie with the home keeper called into action twice from two shots at goal.
Rangers were gradually being pushed deeper and were struggling to clear lines, with Aitchison and Luke Donnelly chasing down Bates and Wilson in their own half as Rangers tried to play the ball out from the back. The hosts tried to find a way into the game, their best chance arriving on 13 minutes, after a long ball over the top by Thomson had Burt bearing down on Doohan from the angle of the box. But under pressure he could only find the side netting with his shot.
And but for the that, the rest of the half was largely one way traffic as Celtic continued to press well up field and build momentum, seeking to switch the play quickly with angled passes down each flank. Yet despite Calvin Miller and Archibald getting into some dangerous areas they struggled to create further clear cut chances.
Murty’s side may have begun to think they had weathered the storm but with 1 minute to go until half time Celtic finally grabbed the advantage, and it was a goal which told the story of the half. Rangers were quickly dispossessed in midfield and Donnelly showed good vision to switch the play for Miller advancing down the left side of the area. His low finish flew past McCrorie who will have been disappointed to lose at his near post.
It was third time lucky as this rearranged fourth round tie finally got the go ahead at Greenwood Academy, and it was the visitors who marched through to the next round in a breathless nine goal encounter. This very open match hung in the balance until the second half, as the goals piled up at both ends. Eventually though the side from Tayside turned the screw in the second half to book their fifth round place in style.
They seemed the fresher of the sides as the match kicked off, and were a goal up inside just three minutes, as Leo Booth headed home from a corner in his side’s first attacking foray. Arbroath had settled well on their lead, maintaining good possession as Irvine sought to recover their shape. When they did so, they were level on 15 minutes, courtesy of Matthew Gemmell’s strike.
It set the pattern for a frantic, end to end, encounter, with two pacey attacks finding plenty of space to exploit in behind the respective defences. The emphasis was on all-out attack at both ends, with Arbroath perhaps carrying more of the early edge. They continued to press in midfield and were rewarded as they retook the lead three minutes later as Josh Paterson swept home from inside the box.
Meadow were shaken and pushed deeper into their own half, with Nairn Beaton next to test Jamie Cree’s handling skills on 20 minutes. This time the home keeper got a good glove on the free kick shot to keep his side’s arrears at the solitary goal.
Arbroath by now had a good grip of the contest and were in the mood, beginning to dictate play in the middle and stretch the Irvine defence. They extended their lead on 25 minutes as a through ball found Lewis Hutton inside the box to dispatch past Cree.
The home side were frustrated by their sluggish start and needed some magic to try and spark a revival. Their brightest hopes looked to come through the attacking surges of Alex Kirkwood, and in a fine individual effort he had pegged Arbroath back just on the half hour, flicking the ball over advancing Aiden Smith to score into the empty net.
Five goals in the opening half hour of a relentless cup tie, and we were not done yet, as Arbroath re-established their two goal lead just a minute later. This time Hutton was quickest to latch on to a high ball, with the home defence in disarray. The forward had time to pick his spot and finish low past Cree for his second goal of this eventful tie.
Hutton’s pace and awareness up front had caused chaos in the home ranks, with Arbroath establishing a good platform through Beaton and Paterson in midfield. Captain Nairn MacDonald steadied things at the back to snuff out an Irvine attack increasingly reliant on the dribbling skills of Kirkwood.