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DDYFA U15s G Taylor League Review 2017/18

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The 2017/18 season was full of twists and turns, with a new side taking home all three of the domestic titles, new winners of the East Region Cup and a record breaking striker.

Here’s how the 2017/18 season went down:

The new format saw all 14 teams competing in the same league. The first set of midweek fixtures served up a Broughty United derby, as Broughty faced off against Broughty Panthers. It was the Panthers that took the bragging rights thanks to a 6-0 win.

That same set of fixtures saw Monifieth hold Fairmuir to a 1-1 draw at Graham Street.

Dundee West got the better of Pitfour when the sides met in 2016/17, but the reigning champions flexed their muscles with a 7-1 win in the last week of August.

The Watson McInally Champions quickly bounced back as an injury time penalty from Callum Rae held Fairmuir to a 3-3 draw at Charlotte Street before they knocked Blue Brazil out of the Scottish Cup.

Carnoustie knocked Monifieth out of the Scottish Cup with a 2-1 win.

Pitfour were the pacesetters early on, but they were run close by Ferry Athletic at Dawson Park. The St Madoes side lost keeper Archie Kelly-Barton early on but held on for a 4-3 to keep up their unbeaten run.

Dundee West ended Monifieth’s unbeaten run thanks to Nick Fletcher’s goal at Charlotte Street. Pitfour continued their run in the Scottish Cup with an 8-1 win over Deveronvale.

The winter weather was in full effect as most teams were put out of action for several weeks.

One match that survived the frost was Broughty Panthers and Dundee United SC’s Tommy Clark Trophy quarter final. Wilson Price was Broughty’s hero as the keeper saved an injury time penalty to earn Broughty a 3-2 win.

2018 began with a bang for Monifieth, who ended a seven-week hiatus by coming from behind to beat Fairmuir in the semi-final of the Jean Pierre Babin Cup. Aidan Lorente was Monifieth’s hero as he fired in a hat trick. Carnoustie were beaten by Pitfour in the other semi-final.

Pitfour visited Dundee West in the East Region Cup, and advanced into second round thanks to a 2-0 win. It would be the start of a run that saw the St Madoes side advance to the final, where they would meet Blue Brazil.

Riverside were one of the season’s surprise packages, and they served up one of the games of the season when they travelled to take on Broughty Panthers. Sam Grimes netted in the fourth minute of injury time to earn 10-man Broughty a 3-3 draw.

The second domestic cup final of the season would also be contested by Pitfour and Monifieth. Pitfour beat Broughty Panthers 4-3 while Monifieth needed penalties to see off Fairmuir.

With the business end of the season approaching, there was still plenty of football to be played.

The first of four Monifieth vs Pitfour matches kicked off the home stretch of the season, and it was the league winners that picked up a statement victory as they won 7-2 at St Madoes.

Pitfour were thrown back into action 48 hours later against Fairmuir and picked up a 2-2 draw while Monifieth recorded a big win over a depleted Dundee West, whose own title aspirations were slipping away.

While Monifieth took the points in their league meeting, Pitfour were still very much the 2003 age groups cup final experts. Despite this, it was Monifieth that grabbed the glory in the first final between the sides thanks to Arran Ferry’s strike that secured a 2-1 win.

Cavan McLaren scored a hat trick for Dundee West as they beat Pitfour 4-3. It was a result that left Pitfour relying on other results if they were to retain their league title.

Both Celtic Boys and Carnoustie were in fine form in the final months of the season, and the latter managed to do what only Dundee West and Fairmuir had done before them by taking points from Monifieth. Khalid Bjeirmi’s late free kick earned Carnoustie a 2-2 draw.

While Monifieth and Pitfour had been battling on three and four fronts respectively, Fairmuir had kept up their unbeaten run. Monifieth travelled to Graham Street knowing that the winners would likely be champions, and when Arran Ferry netted a double, it looked like the title would be heading to Monifieth.

After taking a big step towards the title, Monifieth and Pitfour met at North End Park for the second time and for the second time, Monifieth ran out 2-1 winners.

Once again, Pitfour were straight back into action with a league game against Fairmuir. A win would have kept their title dreams alive and when Pitfour found themselves 3-0 up it looked like the title race would continue, but Fairmuir fought back and ran out 5-3 winners to all but confirm Monifieth as champions.

Monifieth were confirmed as champions with a 7-1 win over Broughty United. Their final game saw them go down 7-2 against Pitfour. It was a consolation win for Pitfour, but the match saw striker Ally Alcorn break the club record for the most goals scored in a season.

The 2017/18 season ended in Tayport as Pitfour faced off against Blue Brazil in the East Region Cup final. After a season that saw them lose all three of their domestic titles, it was third time lucky for Pitfour, who thanks to Ben Clos and Alcorn’s 74th goal of the season, recorded a 2-1 win to be crowned East Region champions and end their season on a high.

While there was no silverware for Celtic Boys or Carnoustie Panmure, both finished the season strongly and will certainly be in contention for silverware in some form next season.

Another of the season’s surprise packages were Riverside, who finished fifth in last season’s Watson McInally League. Out with the top four, they were the “best of the rest”, and if they can turn some of their draws and defeats into wins, there’s no reason they can’t challenge for silverware next year.

Given some of the football they played last season it’s easy to forget that Dundee West were part of the second tier. Finishing joint third alongside Pitfour represents a strong season, especially when you consider the threadbare squad they operated with for most of the season. If they can recruit a few bodies, then they will fancy themselves to lift silverware.

While Fairmuir ended the 2017/18 season without silverware, there were still plenty of positives for a squad that looked stronger at the end of the season than it did at the start. Losing one league game is still an impressive achievement, but the four draws are ultimately what cost them the title.

They managed to get their long-awaited win over Pitfour, although they will need to get the better of Monifieth if they are to lift their first trophy.

There can be few teams that played as many matches as Pitfour did in the 2017/18 campaign. Their 2016/17 campaign consisted of 12 league matches, this season they had 26, and given the five-month gap between their ninth and 10th league games of the season, they were always going to be fighting an uphill battle.

Playing 20 games in 45 days, including four games against Monifieth, two against Fairmuir, one against Dundee West and the latter stages of the East Region cup is not just physically draining but mentally also. Despite all they had gone through ahead of their East Region Cup final, they showed their champions quality and picked up a well-deserved piece of silverware after the longest season of their footballing careers.

Monifieth are undoubtedly the success story of the season, going from bottom of the league two years ago, to champions of arguably the most competitive and unforgiving of the DDYFA leagues. In the biggest matches of their season, they were fearless and never strayed from their footballing principles.

Andrew Creegan

Andrew Creegan | YFS East Region Multimedia Journalist
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