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Celtic inch past Motherwell to reach cup final

Celtic Under 20s 1

Nesbitt, 41

Motherwell Under 20s 0

  • Monday, 03 April 2017
  • Cappielow Park, Greenock
  • Under 20´s
  • SYFA Cup Semi Final

Mark Gillespie | YFS North Ayrshire Senior Reporter
Author's Bio | Articles by Author [email protected]

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.

  • Half Time:
  • Celtic Under 20s
  • 1-0
  • Motherwell Under 20s

Both sides then weathered a second half storm from the skies, in what became scrappy proceedings. Motherwell came out looking more purposeful, at times forcing Celtic onto the back foot. Jack McMillan came closest to equalising on 51 minutes, as he found his way to the corner of the 18 yard box. His right footed drive, skidded low and just inches wide of Hazard’s far post.

The first half pattern continued, with ‘Well showing great energy and desire, but the pace of Celtic’s front trio always a threat. All that was missing from Crossan’s burst down the right into the box was the finish, as Motherwell blocked his cross to safety on the hour mark. 3 minutes later and Johnston fired just over after Nesbitt had set him up inside the box.

The onus was on the Motherwell to find something different, and they made an attacking substitution on 75 minutes with James Scott brought on to partner Mackin up front. But for all their hard work they couldn’t work Conor Hazard in the Celtic goal, with Shea Gordon’s header over the bar the closest they would come.

In the end, Celtic could have made more of openings at the other end, with sub Kerr McInroy and Calvin Miller providing great deliveries into the box, the latter just beyond the finishing touch of Nesbitt with a minute to go.

Celtic had done just enough and looked relieved in the end to get through this tight contest against resolute opponents. Their thoughts now turn to league games in hand with a potential league/cup double in the offing as they face their old firm rivals in the final next month.

  • Full Time:
  • Celtic Under 20s
  • 1-0
  • Motherwell Under 20s


Celtic Under 20s
Motherwell Under 20s
1 Conor Hazard
2 Anthony Ralston
3 Aidan McIlduff
4 Josh Kerr
5 Sam Wardrop
6 Mark Hill
7 Michael Johnston
8 Joseph Thomson
9 Paul Joseph Crossan
10 Aidan Nesbitt
11 Calvin Miller
13 Ross Doohan
12 Wallace Duffy
14 Kerr McInroy
15 Ewen Henderson
16 Daniel Church
17 Broque Watson
18 Lewis Bell
1 Oliver Pain
2 Jack McMillan
3 Adam Livingstone
4 Barry Maguire
5 Jordan Armstrong
6 Allan Campbell
7 Tom Fry
8 David Turnbull
9 Dylan Mackin
11 Jake Hastie
14 Shea Gordon
12 James Scott
13 Jordan Pettigrew
15 Alfredo Agyeman
16 Zach Brown
17 Jamie Semple
18 Kyle MacDonald
Star Player
Celtic Under 20s
Motherwell Under 20s
Johnston provided a spark in the Celtic attack, and helped lay on Nesbitt's winner.
Campbell looked solid at the back for Motherwell, nullifying the Celtic danger for long spells.
Magic Moment
Celtic Under 20s
Motherwell Under 20s
Nesbitt still had a bit to do for his opener, and he set himself well to net from a tight angle.
Jack McMillan showed great determination driving forward for a shot on 51 minutes, which inched just past.
  • Match report and photos copyright Youth Football Scotland.
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