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South East Region (477)

Leith Athletic secured the Under 15 SERYFA Divison 1 title for the second year in a row last season, we heard from their coach Keith Owens as he reflected on another successful season.  

Owens was incredibly proud of his side’s success because of how difficult he felt the league was: “the standard of the opposition this year was fantastic and the league was very competitive with 6-7 teams able to take points off each other.”

Owens believes “Team spirit” is the major reason the squad has been so successful: “We do not make a lot of changes to the squad each season and the vast majority of the boys have been here for all three seasons. Our philosophy is to retain the boys who want to be here and then encourage and coach them as best we can to achieve whatever is the best the squad can achieve.”

For Owens and his side, making sure the players are enjoying themselves is paramount. “We pride ourselves on providing an environment where the kids learn the game but importantly enjoy the game.”

This also reflects in the style of football Leith try and play: “We wanted them to play football and be known as a good football team, we were not willing to allow success to be at the expense of their development, performance or enjoyment.”

Looking back over the season, Owens was able to pick out Leith’s biggest challenge of the season, way back on the first day: “The very first game of the season was our biggest challenge.”

Playing away against Tynecastle, a combination of injuries and holidays left Leith was just ten fit players. “Although we lost the match 3-2, I seen enough fighting qualities in our boys that day to know we weren’t going to be far away.”

Owens also picked out his favourite moment, a victory against Spartans Reds: “Deep down I felt that if we lost that game we would have been out of the running, even though it was away back in August.” “Our boys did brilliantly in securing the victory by the odd goal, I genuinely felt after that game, although the league was only four games down that it was going to prove pivotal in our season.”

With a new season upcoming, Owens is hopeful for further success: “We have been really lucky to have been able to compete at the top end of the 2003 year group for three years and instilling qualities into the boys that they can take into their life is always very rewarding, to watch the team grow into a very good football side.”

The success could very well continue as Owens has been able to keep most of the squad intact. Two players have departed but the rest are expected to remain: “Next season will be more of the same, encourage the boys to develop further, continue enjoying the game, put the effort and commitment in and see where it takes them.”

Leith will kick off their season at the Under 16 level on Sunday as they host Longniddry Villa.

Many teams would be happy with one piece of silverware to mark their first foray into 11-a-side football, but for Edinburgh South CFC they managed to secure a league and cup double in what was a memorable campaign for the SERYFA Division 2 champions.
Now as they move into Under 14’s football they can look forward to challenging matches against Division 1 winners Lasswade Thistle and Scottish Cup and South East Region Cup champions Hutchison Vale.
On top of this they were crowned Edinburgh Cup champions, beating Longniddry Villa to lift the trophy at the home of Bonnyrigg Rose Juniors.
It will certainly be a tough ask to compete with the quality of the teams in Division 1, but CFC coach Kenny Mantle believes that his side are ready for the step up.
“We're very excited about moving up to the first division next season and testing ourselves against the best teams at this age group.”
On his side’s achievements, Mantle said, “It was an amazing feeling and a fantastic achievement from my boys in what was a difficult league.”
To maintain a title challenge is no easy feat and a feeling of togetherness is sometimes all it takes to separate teams come the end of the season and Mantle was keen to point out that his side’s teamwork was extremely vital in the closing stages of the season.
“A lot of my boys are at school together therefore they're pals as well as team mates. This makes them even more of a team when their backs were against the wall. Everyone played for each other right to the end.
“We were away to North Berwick at the end of April. Everyone had been beating them fairly convincingly and my boys didn't travel well and we had a very poor game. We went behind in the first minute and struggled to take any kind of control in the match.
“We were behind three times and eventually ground out a 6-4 victory by scoring two goals in the last five mins. It was then that I realised the determination they had and they showed true grit to dig out the result.
“This gave them the belief that if they keep playing the game properly and don't panic you will always have a chance.”
Finally Mantle wanted to express his gratitude to his players and his pleasure in managing his players’ previous campaign.
“It's been an absolute pleasure coaching my team this past year and we had an exceptional first foray into 11 a side football together winning a double in our first season. I look forward to many more successful seasons in the future.”
Congratulations Edinburgh South CFC U13’s and best of luck for next season.
Heriot-Watt Under-20 sides league victory last season was an achievement of Leicester City proportions, reckons head coach Banji Koya.
The Watt held off a late Cumbernauld Colts challenge to win the Lowland and East of Scotland Development League for the first time back in May, an accomplishment Koya regards as remarkable considering the restrictions his team must work within.
He said: “It was a David and Goliath achievement.
“The league starts in August, but we don’t have our first trials until the third week of September [when the University term starts] so most teams have played four games before we even have a squad.
“And we can only use what comes into the Uni. Teams like Spartans can go and handpick players from the best teams, whereas we can only work with what we’ve got.”
But building a squad isn’t the only challenge Koya and his Heriot-Watt team face season after season; the realities of a University schedule means relying on a settled team is nigh on impossible:
“I’ve never had the same starting eleven at any point all season,” said Koya. “Because we are a University team a lot of the boys live away from Edinburgh and sometimes they go home for a week or so.
“Also, during Easter the University closes for a whole month and most of our players go home, so we just have to work with who’s here. It’s the same in December.
“In a nine-month season we only see the players for five months.”
It hasn’t been easy. In the three seasons Heriot-Watt had competed in the league prior to their title winning campaign they’d never finished higher than fourth – and finished rock bottom in their inaugural season.
Since that difficult first campaign, Koya and the coaching staff have developed ways to maximise their limited time on the training ground. It’s certainly working; even before becoming champions they’d steadily improved year on year – although Koya is quick to downplay the role of the coaches in the Watt’s upturn, instead praising the players for their efforts and commitment.
He said: “Our training methods are based around just playing football.
“We try and get the fitness together and work on communication, that way things that take six weeks might take us three because we’re getting them used to playing with each other.
“It does help a little bit but it’s still really difficult and I can only commend our players.”
So, how did they make the step up from a competitive side to a title winning team?
“We have a partnership with Currie Star and when their 19s folded five of them came into our 20s,” explains Koya. “Because they were all local they had the opportunity to do a pre-season, meaning at the trials we were able to fill the positions around them. I wouldn’t say it was a head start – but it was better than nothing.
“Also, the intake of players we had last year was good, as was our team spirit and our character - that was one of the key things for us.”
They got off to a great start; they won five of their first six league games – which included a 9-1 victory over Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale and a 9-2 defeat of Burntisland Shipyard in the season opener.
But, even as they started climbing the table, Koya admits that – clichéd as it is – the team were taking things one game at a time:
“We didn’t think we could win the league,” he said. “My role in the 20s is to develop the players. When we’re working in training we’re all focussed on the process, whether that be counter attacks, transitions or whatever.
“If we do all those things well, then we know there’s a good chance we can win but our feet were always on the ground.”
It wasn’t until a dramatic match away to title rivals Cumbernauld Colts in late January that that started to change. A depleted Watt side withstood a late onslaught from the ten-man Colts to win 2-1 -  a result Koya feels gave his team the belief that they may actually be able to upset the odds:
“I think there was a moment in the game with ten minutes to go that we had a left-back as a striker, a centre-half as a right winger and a guy who had not played for the 20s before playing centre midfield,” he said. “We dug out a 2-1 win and I think that gave us the confidence.
“I think from that day on we just kept pushing and pushing.”
And push they did. A difficult run of games towards the end of the season saw the Watt face the rest of the top five teams in the league during April – at a time when many of their players had returned home for the summer – but they battled through, meaning by the time they travelled to Bonnyton Thistle in the penultimate game of the season, they knew three points would be enough to seal the title.
They didn’t have it all their own way; trailing 1-0 midway through the second half it looked as if the title could be slipping through their fingers.
Or so it seemed until three goals in the last 20 minutes – including an incredible Mark McGovern free kick in the dying minutes – turned the game on its head and ensured the title would be heading to Heriot-Watt for the first time ever.
Koya described how he felt at the final whistle:
“It was unbelievable,” he said. “Personally, I was happy for the club to achieve something of such high prestige but for me the players we had were excellent people and to see all their efforts over the season come to fruition was the highlight for me.”
With the new season looming, attention has now been turned to the forthcoming campaign – and the challenge is only going to get tougher. The influx of Junior teams means that there will now be two conferences in the Development League (Heriot-Watt are in Conference A) so the standard of opposition looks set to increase. And - as ever - players move on and the cycle resets for the Watt, meaning once again they have to build a new team from the ground up.
Koya is well aware of the challenges the new season will bring, and is once again setting very modest ambitions. He said: “Winning the league won’t be our main target.
“It will be a rebuilding process. Our aim will be to compete in every game and then come the end of May we’ll just see where we are.”

Lasswade Thistle were crowned Under 13s South East Region Youth Football Association Division 1 champions for season 2017-18 beating Scottish Cup winners Hutchison Vale in the process to be victorious.

The club were only formed back in 2011 and the Under 13s have certainly done their club proud with this incredible achievement. Thistle won 14 out of 16 games racking up 43 points to win the title and demonstrated their quality throughout the season with impressive wins over Vale and Spartans Youth which were key in their quest to be crowned champions.

Thistle made it as far the third round of the Scottish Cup, losing 2-1 over eventual finalists Cove Youth FC, however despite this defeat it is clear that the future is bright for this young group of players. 

Coach Alan Young said, "To be league champions in the first competitive season is an amazing achievement. The players totally deserved it and both coaches and parents were delighted for them.

"It’s hard to pick a favourite moment but just watching the boys develop throughout the season into a very good footballing side was pleasing. Some of the team goals were tremendous to watch with the quick passing and moving. Watching them celebrate together when picking up the league trophy was brilliant.

"Portobello BC were probably the most challenging and they managed to get a draw in our last encounter. They played very defensively looking for the counter, which worked for them. Thereafter we knew every game was a must win."

Young made it clear just how hard his side worked throughout the season and was keen to express his gratitude towards his players for their hard work and attitude, which led them to the title in their first competitive 11-a-side season

"Every player gives 100% in training and the games and it’s their determination to succeed and better themselves that drove them to the title. The team will move on to next season with a view of continuing their development, whilst looking at winning more silverware."

Alan Young revealed that he is stepping down from coaching and Young had these words to say for the parents and players of Lasswade Thistle 2005s, "Having just stepped down from coaching I want to thank the parents for their support throughout my time with Lasswade Thistle and wish the boys every success for next season."

It is certainly hard to predict just how far these young boys can go in the game but one thing is for certain, the future looks incredibly bright for the SERYFA Division 1 champions.

Congratulations to all at Lasswade Thistle 2005s and Youth Football Scotland wishes them well for season 2018-19.

The GoFitba project came to a close last week at Spartans and it is clear to see that it has been a tremendous success for everyone associated with the Edinburgh club.
Spartans have been running the project, started by the Scottish Football Partnership Trust to teach children from disadvantaged areas about the benefits of exercise and healthy-eating, to the children of Granton Primary School.
The club is very excited to be a part of the GoFitba project, as was emphasised by Club Community Coach, Kerr Allen.
“We got involved because we thought in the local area to be working it would be something that would benefit the kids that we work on and overall on a whole it has definitely helped them.
“The kids have come in from Granton Primary School, it’s probably one of the closest schools to our academy that we’ve got. So when they got involved we thought, who would benefit from it, what kids would benefit from it?
“The project went really well. I think at the start the kids weren’t really sure what exactly it was going to result in but I think by the end of it definitely, from the first week to the last, you could see a massive development in the kids and especially what they do about healthy eating.
“The main highlight for me was probably speaking to the parents at the end. We made a couple of phone calls just to try and get some feedback and just to see how it was affecting them back home and the comments we had were that the boys were coming home wanting the food that we’ve given them for lunch and their dinner and they were discussing with their parents exactly what they’ve been doing.
“So for me that’s what we wanted to happen. We wanted the kids to take on board what we’ve been telling them and for them to go home and be speaking to their parents and asking their parents to make these meals that we’ve been giving them is probably the biggest highlight for me.
“The last day was really good. The kids loved it. Because it was the last day we said that the kids could choose what they ate and the big thing for me was when we said kids’ choice for food we were expecting chippies, McDonalds, etc... But the kids actually chose chicken fajitas.
“It might not be the healthiest thing but for kids to choose chicken fajitas over McDonalds, takeaways and stuff like that I think that was massive.
“I think that was a result of what we’ve been learning over the last few weeks. I think if we’d asked them on the first week their answers might have been different.”
It is clear to see that this is a project that has had a positive impact on the children of Granton Primary as well as the wider community and it may not be long before we see other schools in the area get involved in the initiative in the future.
The squads for the Senior Lothian Schools Cup Final between Broughton High School and Firrhill High School have officially been announced.
Both sides have performed very well to reach this stage of the competition and will both be keen to compete against each other on Friday 11th May.
The squads are as follows:
Brougton High School
Norani Vuna
Callum Reynolds
Owen Barnes
Jude Zietara
Joe Coats
Kris Gaff
Dan McKinlay
Michael Reilly
Matty Combe]
David Whalen
Joe Jeffrey
Washe Manyathelo
Louis Pettinger
Coach: Craig Howieson
Firrhill High School
Jordan Brown
Greg Deighton
Hugh Dawson
Euan Mitchell
Calum Henderson
Blair Primrose
Gavin Wells
Oli Coutts
Kieran Richmond (Captain)
Jack Pasmore
Calum Ritchie
Scott Peggie
Cameron Milne
Robbie Campbell
Luke McMahon
Coach: Gavin Richmond
The match will take place at 7:30pm at The Spartans Community Football Academy at Ainslie Park. Admission is priced at £2 for adults and £1 for concessions
The squads for the Under 16's Lothian Schools Cup Final between Preston Lodge High School and George Watson's College have officially been announced.
Both sides have worked extremely hard to reach this stage of the competition and will no doubt be looking forward to facing off against each other on Friday 11th May.
The squads are as follows:
Preston Lodge High School
Connor Currie
Ewan Ford
Ben Jenkinson
Sam Bird
Tommy Doran
Daniel Mair (Captain)
Billy Stewart
Finn Higgins
Lewis Fitzpatrick
Jack Main
Ben Tracey
Zak Johnstone
Calum Stevenson
Nathan Muir
Aidan Paul
Byron Archibald
Coaches: John Hall, Kieran Cooke, Graeme Bennion
George Watson's College
Rory McCrae (Captain)
Dylan Brown (Vice-Captain)
Euan Burgess (GK)
Toby Packer (GK)
Ben Sibson
Jack Hughes
Ben Reilly
Daniel Um
Jamie Clark
Jamie Richmond
Henry Aggrey Van Mark
Jack Carr
Joshua Henderson 
Rory Stephen
Niall Hutchison Reid
Coach: David Proudfoot
The Final will be played at The Spartans Community Football Academy at Ainslie Park and will kick-off at 5:15pm. Admission prices are £2 for adults and £1 for concessions.
Wednesday, 18 April 2018 23:46

Gala Fairydean make it three on the trot

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Gala Fairydean made it three wins on the spin after a superb first half had them well on their way away to Hutchison Vale Colts in the quarter-finals of the Colin Campbell Sports Cup.

Forward Callum Marshall got Gala off to a dream start after just 11 minutes when he netted to put the away side one nil up.

However, Hutchison levelled shortly after to level the game with only 19 minutes played. But Gala were not settling for the draw, Marshall netted his second of the match just 60 seconds later to help Gala restore their lead.

The prolific Callum Marshall then grabbed his and Gala's third of the day to give the away side a comfortable two goal advantage heading into the second half of this cup tie.

Unlike the first half the second was fairly uneventful with the home side grabbing the only goal of the half which was just a consolation as Gala ran out eventual winners thanks to Callum Marshall's hat-trick as Gala made it three straight wins.

Gala will aim to make it four in a row as they return to league action on Sunday at home to Salvesen FC but Hutchison will aim to bounce back as they travel to Dunbar United Colts.

Thursday, 12 April 2018 16:14

Craigie confident ahead of Currie cup showdown

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Craigroyston Boys Club U14s are feeling confident ahead of Friday’s Ian Mackay showdown with Currie Star.
It is the third cup final the team has reached in the past two years.
Speaking at their Muirhouse Parkway pitches on Wednesday evening, Coach Stephen Delworth believes his players have been training well ahead of the match.    
He said: “Our preparations have been really good.
“We have great training pitches down here, and they really help the lads play football on the deck – like it’s supposed to be.
“We’ve done a bit of extra training this week. On Monday night we worked on fitness. Tonight, we’re working on our play with the ball in order to keep the boys sharp. Tomorrow night we’ll do the same, and then we’ll relax on Friday before the game.”
The desire for the team to play attractive football was echoed by goalkeeper Liam Cawley.
He said: “We’ve been doing a lot of passing and moving drills in the build up to the game because we think that’s a better way to play than to just punt the ball up the pitch.
I prefer it when we score good team goals – they’re better than long ball goals.”
Discussing the upcoming match itself, Delworth is aware of the threat Currie Star possess, but he’s positive Craigroyston will have enough to overcome their west Edinburgh opponents.
He said: “They’re on a run of good form in the league at the moment – as are we.
“I think if we just play our normal game we’ll have enough to win on Friday. We like to pass the ball a lot and play a lot of football, so teams find it hard to come up against us.
“We’ve got a lot of pace and strength in the team to cause them problems. It’ll be tough, but it should be a great game.”
Cawley agrees that the form he and his teammates are in could prove the difference come Friday.
“We had a good game at the weekend – 11-0 against Edinburgh South – so if we can play like that in the final I’m confident we can get a win,” he said.
“Whether it’s a league game or a cup final we treat every match the same so I’m confident that if we turn up on the day and play our A-game then we will win.”
The final takes place this Friday, 6:30pm at Paties Road Stadium. Click here to pre-order your discounted DVD bundle from the game (only available pre-match).
Tuesday, 03 April 2018 10:07

ANALYSIS | Edinburgh City vs Spartans FC

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Strikes from Callum Hall and Nathan Kay proved to be the difference as Edinburgh City overcame Spartans in a Lowland & East of Scotland Development League Cup Final with few clear-cut opportunities.

Both teams came into the final with identical league records - Spartans are ahead of Edinburgh City only on goal difference - and it showed; neither side was able to stamp their authority on the game early.

Both teams lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, and for long periods they nullified each other, particularly in the middle of the park, where no one was able to get their foot on the ball and dictate the game. In the opening exchanges both teams were limited to long range efforts and set-pieces.

For Spartans, winger Arron Singh was a handful on the left-hand side and looked the most likely to create something whenever he started running at the Edinburgh City back line.

Unfortunately for Spartans, his supply dried up as the half wore on and he found himself having to come deeper to get involved in play, where he was far less dangerous.

In contrast, Edinburgh City’s own wide men – goalscorer Hall on the left and Harry Pullar – began seeing more and more of the ball as they looked to target the wide areas. This was in no small part to the other goalscorer, striker Kay, who held the ball up all afternoon and linked well with the wingers as Edinburgh City began to take control of the game.

However, chances were still few and far between as Spartans defended resolutely.

As is so often the case when two evenly matched sides go up against each other, it was likely to be a moment of magic or a mistake that would break the deadlock. To Spartans dismay, it was the latter; Hall pounced on a poor pass out from the back, carried the ball to the edge of the box and fired low past Jordan Pettigrew to give Edinburgh City a half time lead.

Spartans looked to change it in the second half: a switch at centre half saw Michael Allan replace Lewis Grant as they moved to a back three; right back Calum O’Neil filled in at centre back with left back Gabriel Hill and right winger Murray Hand operating as wing backs.

It seemed to be working; they began the half playing much higher up the pitch, and with an intensity that Edinburgh City were struggling to match. Still, the issue remained creating chances and all Fraser Morton in the Edinburgh City goal had to deal with were a few long-range shots.

With just over 20 minutes to go, Spartan’s made one final roll of the dice: their number nine Rowan Fife was replaced by defender Oran Hosey, which allowed Anthony Laing to move up into midfield and number 10 Olly Hetherington to spearhead the attack.

It didn’t matter though, just a few minutes later Hall pounced on more sloppy Spartans passing and dinked a left-wing cross to the back post, where Kay was there to smash high into the roof of the net. A goal his performance deserved.

Spartans committed plenty of bodies forward in the dying stages as they went searching for that elusive goal that would have set-up a frantic finish, but Edinburgh City never looked in danger of being breached. In fact, with Kays endless running and the introduction of fresh legs in the middle of the park, they looked dangerous on the counter as the game became stretched, and could have easily added to their own tally had it not been for some sloppy final passes and the linesman’s flag.

But in the end the two goals proved to be enough as Edinburgh City ran out deserved winners on the day.

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