South West Region (177)
Colts bowed out of the Scottish Cup on penalties after an exciting game away at Bonnyton. In all honesty Colts had enough chances in the first half alone to win the game comfortably, but that’s football.
Colts lined up with Irwin in goal and a back four of Loudon, Weir, Robson and Leishman. In midfield Largs had R.Coupar, Bainbridge, Cormack and McTaggart with Smith and Brown up front. Colts took five subs down to Kilmarnock to cover for any injuries with J.Coupar, Dalglish, Blair, Florence and Wilson covering.
The early stages were open before Colts started to see more of the ball and create a few chances. On five minutes, McTaggart found Smith who struck wide of the target. Colts' first real effort on goal in the game. On eight minutes, R.Coupar was next to strike with his left foot, though the keeper saved comfortably.
Bonnyton did have a chance just a minute later though thankfully for Colts, the ball went wide of the post. On 11 minutes Colts broke well through Bainbridge who fed in Brown though the keeper was alert to gather well. Colts were now in control and on thirteen minutes Smith struck with power though the ball shaved the bar and over. The chances for Colts were there, and it seemed to be a case of when not if the ball would hit the back of the net.
On sixteen minutes Smith was through one on one with the keeper who saved well. The ball came back to Smith but the big striker couldn’t get the ball on target as it went wide for a goal kick. Colts will reflect on the missed chances at this point which could have killed the game. On eighteen minutes Bainbridge played a perfectly weighted pass through to Cormack to be one on one with the keeper who again saved well. The ball came back to Smith to strike but again just over the target. On 22 minutes Bonnyton had a rare break through it was well saved by Irwin.
Colts broke quickly and finally got the goal when a neat ball by Smith found Brown who finished calmly for a well-deserved goal for Colts. 1-0 up, but in reality, it should be more. Largs Colts were passing the ball well and continued to create and play through the Bonnyton back line. On 31 minutes Colts doubled the lead when excellent play by Bainbridge found Brown who played in Smith for the finish and 2-0 Colts. Bonnyton pressed in the last few minutes but Weir and Robson held firm in the heart of the Colts defence as the half time whistle sounded.
Half Time: Bonnyton Thistle 0-2 Largs Colts
The second half started as expected with Bonnyton straight out the blocks. Bonnyton were right back into the game just 2 minutes into the second period. Irwin made a great double save but the defence did not react quickly enough and the Bonnyton striker had the empty net to roll the ball into to half the deficit.
Although Colts had chances to restore their 2 goal lead, on 44 minutes Bonnyton equalised. Keeper Irwin saved well from a Bonnyton shot, but as he appeared to have both hands on the ball the Bonnyton player managed to get the ball into the back of the net, and the referee awarded the goal to the hosts and a body blow for Colts who had been dominant.
On 50 minutes, Smith found Bainbridge who struck with his left foot though well saved by the Bonnyton keeper. On 53 minutes R.Coupar used his skill and strength to see off three defenders down the left before crossing into Cormack but he couldn’t quite reach the ball as it went across the face of goal. Blair then did well to win a corner down the right which Robson almost reached before the keeper gathered well. Brown then won another Colts corner which Bainbridge got a hold of though he managed to scoop the ball just over the bar.
On 57 minutes R.Coupar was fouled 35 yards out with McTaggart stepping up to strike which the keeper gathered at the second attempt. Colts were again on top and R.Coupar took the ball down well before finding Bainbridge on the right for another shot which went just over the bar. Irwin was called into action occasionally though to keep the scores level, but was very much a spectator in the second half. Cormack was then fouled with just six minutes left. McTaggart struck a good ball into the box but yet again it came to nothing. Inside the last minute and Bonnyton almost scored when the big striker ran through but put the ball just wide.
Full Time: Bonnyton Thistle 2-2 Largs Colts
The game went into extra time, and Bonnyton started the brighter. Weir was defending superbly, taking care of the powerful Bonnyton striker, and Loudon was sweeping up the scraps. In the second period of extra time McTaggart was through on goal though the ball somehow trickled away from the skilful midfielder and the keeper collected with ease. Both sides failed to create any further clear cut chances as the game went to penalties.
Full Time AET: Bonnyton Thistle 2-2 Largs Colts
As happens in the beautiful game if you don’t take your chances it can come back to bite you and Colts were unfortunate to lose the game on penalties with some sound saves from the Bonnyton keeper. Colts best players on the day were Weir, Bainbridge, Smith and R.Coupar. The Man of the Match vote went to Bainbridge for some excellent link up play as well as great strength and skill. The midfielder has added a great deal to the Colts side this season with more to come from the developing team.
The Largs side have come on such a long way and to lose in such fashion, although painful, does have some positives. Bonnyton were the CAYFA league champions last season and Colts were more than a match for the Kilmarnock side. Colts had the target of top 5 finish in the league this season and based on the start made and improvement in the squad, that target might need to be revised higher! The coaches could not be more proud of this group of lads and the style of football they play. Well played lads – your day will come.
Largs: Irwin (GK), Robson, Loudon, Weir, Leishman, R.Coupar(C), Bainbridge, Cormack, McTaggart, Smith, Brown Subs:. J.Coupar, Dalglish, Wilson, Blair, Florence
On twelve minutes Colts should have made it two when Smith unselfishly played in Dalglish on the left though it went just wide of the post. R.Coupar was called into action defensively when blocking a dangerous run from Coylton, something which the central midfielder did well all through the game. Coylton then had their best spell of the game for 10 to 15 minutes winning a couple of corners at which Colts looked slightly shaky. On 26 minutes Colts failed to clear and Coylton maybe should have got the equaliser only for the post to come to Colts' rescue. Coylton then had an effort from distance which keeper Irwin had covered as it cleared the bar. Just before the break Colts had a corner and worked a set piece play for Weir to strike on target. R.Coupar got the ball and Colts won another corner which Coylton managed to clear as the first half ended.
Colts were pushing again at this point and when R.Coupar played in Brown the striker finished superbly into the net for the third and ultimately decisive goal for Largs. Cormack then made way for MacNeil in a straight swap. On 49 minutes Colts made it four when a free kick from Weir found Smith who slotted the ball home. Brown was then played in by R.Coupar 12 yards out though the keeper saved this time. Leishman was creating sp ace and receiving the ball well at left back making some good runs and passes. On 53 minutes Leishman played a ball through for Brown which was just cleared by the defence. In the act Brown was injured and just before this Bainbridge was also injured. Both players left the field to be replaced by Wilson and J.Coupar.
With six minutes left Colts failed to clear a deep free kick, leaving it to each other and Coylton accepted the invitation to score a consolation goal. Brown returned to the action and after a through ball from Leishman the keeper saved well for a Colts corner. J.Coupar put in a good ball from the corner though it was half cleared to R.Coupar to put the ball back into the area before the referee called a halt to the game.
The weekend saw the opening round of Central Ayrshire YFA and West of Scotland YFL fixtures for the SYFA Scottish Cup, and there were plenty of goals to digest.
In the West of Scotland YFL, last year’s under-15 SYFA Cup winners Crosshouse Boys Club are off and running with a convincing 4-0 win away at league rivals Valspar. There were some thumping wins elsewhere with Ayr Boswell and Galston nine-goal victors at KSC Garnock and Glenafton. Troon Thistle won some local bragging rights putting seven past Irvine Thistle at home, whilst there were convincing victories for Dreghorn YFC, Carrick Colts, Stewarton Annick, Galston and Dean Thistle. Glenburn edged Ayr Craigie 2-1 in the weekend’s closest tie, and Greystone Rovers will be delighted with their 6-3 win away at Bonnyton Thistle.
There were two weekend Central Ayrshire YFA under-17 cup ties, each a high-scoring affair, with KSC Phoenix 6-4 the victors at home to Whitletts Victoria, and Glenburn winning 7-3 away at Bellfield.
In the CAYFA under-15 section Auchinleck Talbot were convincing winners at Crosshouse BC 2001, and there were also heavy victories for Crosshouse BC Athletic and Bonnyton Thistle. Winlinton Wolves and KSC Rovers recorded seven and five-goal away wins at Valspar and Galston respectively. Tass Thistle Colts enjoyed a fine 5-2 victory at Cumnock Juniors with West Kilbride 2001s also winning 3-1 on the road at Irvine Victoria. Meanwhile Hurlford were 1-0 victors in a close fought encounter at home to Greystone, whilst Glenburn MW had just enough at home to knock out Tass Thistle Utd by three goals to two.
The CAYFA under-14s also saw some tight cup matches, with league leaders Coylton 1-0 victors at Ayr Boswell Colts and KSC Barca’s 2-1 win at ASC Irvine. Cumnock also had a good 3-2 win at Crosshouse BC, with Valspar 7-3 winners at Stewarton Annick. Meanwhile Caledonian United and Largs Colts are also through to the next round, with Caley defeating KSC Kilwinning Thistle 3-1 and Colts earning a bye against Tass Thistle.
Elsewhere, CAYFA league business continued, and in the weekend’s top of the table clash Valspar continued their flying start to the under-17s league with an emphatic 5-1 victory over Bonnyton Thistle. Cumnock 99s moved up to second in the chase winning 5-3 at KSC Royals, and Girdle Toll are up to 6th with their 1-0 defeat of Irvine Meadow.
In the West of Scotland under-17 YFL, both Kilwinning Rangers and Bellfield maintained their 100 per cent records. Bellfield’s emphatic 7-1 win at Hurlford kept them top, whilst Kilwinning ran out 4-1 winners over table rivals Troon. Girvan move up to third with a 7-1 rout away to Glenafton.
And in the only WOSYFL under 13s league fixture this weekend , Bellfield remain undefeated after their 7-1 thrashing of Hurlford.
It is rare for cliches to hold true, but for Galston YFC 2002s victory in the CAYFL League Cup was the high point of a season defined by the issues that come with a small squad and a transition up into 11-a-side age group of under-13s.
"Last season was very much a season of two halves," team manager Hugh McNeillie told Youth Football Scotland.
The clear highlight for the club was winning the CAYFA League Cup, beating eventual league winners and runners-up, Bonnyton Thistle and Tass Thistle respectively, along the way to victory.
Despite this, last season’s performance in the league was not what McNeillie would have liked, with the first half of the season dogged the transition to 11-a-side.
"[We] had two decent seven-a-side teams with very styles," McNeillie said. "We struggled initially to find the right balance/adjustment to the 11-a-side game both in terms of organisation and competitiveness on the bigger pitch."
With pre-season well under way for the club, McNeille is looking forward to the competitive fixtures within the Land of Burns tournament at the start of August with the manager "happy with the fitness levels from the boys".
That comes with the addition of two "excellent young coaches" who McNeille says have "a real passion for the game" which has made their pre-season preparation looking "to be better this season".
In addition to a positive pre-season, the Ayrshire club has signed two new players for the forthcoming season. Andrew Dickson, described as "a quick and trick left-sided attacking player", and Jai Ewing, "a commanding central midfielder", have both been signed.
That improvement in the squad is a necessity if Galston are going to live up to their manager’s hopes for the 2015/16 season.
"if we play to our strengths and continue our performance level of 2015 then a top 4 place in this improved league is a strong possibility. Where in the top four will come down to how much the boys put in and other factors such as staying injury free," McNeillie said.
With probable rivals for success in the form of AC Irvine, Largs Colts, Tass Thistle and Valspar, the league is looking increasingly competitive.
"Personally I feel we have a good balance and the boys are better equipped for 11-a-side in their second season," McNeillie said.
Good luck to Galston YFC 2002s for the 2015/16 season!
Troon FC 98s can consider themselves record breakers, having recently achieved their highest ever finish in the Central Ayrshire League.
That, however, was not the limit of their achievements last season, as Troon head coach, Derek Cowan told Youth Football Scotland. "We had a fantastic season last year finishing 2nd in the league, our best ever finish. We also reached the league cup final and semi-final of the McNaughton cup. The most pleasing part was the quality of football we played," Cowan said.
Cowan, whose side remarkably only lost two league games throughout last season, enjoyed similar success in a pre-season tournament immediately following their league campaign: "We finished the season over at Barcelona for the Copa Catalunya Cup where we beat three Italian teams, including Roma under-17s," Cowan told us. They also finished the group stage in first place, as well as scoring the most goals in the competition.
Troon FC, formerly known as Troon Thistle, shall link up with their fellow age groups, starting this season, meaning that Cowan’s side will become a feeder club to Troon Juniors. The manager commented that "this will give the boys more experienced coaching, playing some games at Portland Park and a clear progression plan if they develop and work hard".
"Moving from under-17s to under-19s will be a big step up but the lads are looking forward to the challenge," Cowan said.
In terms of transfers, there has been plenty of movement on that front, but Troon are not finished bolstering their squad just yet. "We have re-signed the core of the team from last season and have added three players so far. Another two or three have trials shortly which will take our squad to a manageable 17 or 18 players," said the manager.
Troon players have recently began preparations for the season ahead in their bid to move up one position from last year and win the league title. Cowan commented that the coaching staff are “not particularly well liked at this stage”, largely down to their gruelling, yet beneficial, pre-season schedule.
Which teams do the man at the helm of the South Ayrshire club see as putting up the strongest challenge for the league title? "The teams who have already had a year at this level will undoubtedly be the most difficult," he said.
Good luck to Troon FC 98s in the 2015/16 Central Ayrshire League!
Last season saw Largs Colts 2002s competed in 11-a-side for the first time, they did themselves proud by clinching a fifth placed finish, only one point off fourth, and sealing their place in a cup final against KSC Barca.
Colts' coach, Campbell Coupar, spoke exclusively to Youth Football Scotland regarding the season just past, and the season ahead: “The team performed well in their first season at 11’s finishing fifth in the league and reaching their first cup final”, he said. “The high point was defeating the league winners Bonnyton 4-0 and the low point was probably the performances and results in the cup, especially in losing the cup final.”
It is not all about results for Coupar however: “A major plus was that a number of coaches called Largs Colts 2002 out as the best passing team they had played during the season. It was pleasing to see the team play some great passing football at times and to have this reputation.” he declared with pride.
He foresees a few teams putting up a strong challenge for next season’s title. “Valspar, AC Irvine and Galston I would expect to be very good. Kilmarnock Portland and Tass were the only teams we did not beat last year though I believe we are much better prepared this time around. The good thing is with a variety of strong teams it will test the boys and help them to develop individually and as a team.”
So far Colts have been very active on the transfer front, adding in Fraser Blair, Louis Bainbridge, Ben Robson and Lewis Cormack, all local lads from Larg. The manager revealed that all four boys are great friends and attend the same school, which is sure to help them settle into the club with ease.
Coupar also told us that his side have a busy pre-season schedule ahead: “Pre-season has been mixed, and in the early stages, difficult, given the number of boys still on holiday. We have another five pre-season games planned as well as a tournament to round things off, which will be great preparation for the season ahead.”, he said. “Fitness will also be a big focus over the next three weeks in readiness for the first competitive games.”
In terms of targets for the next campaign, the Colts gaffer was not expecting his side to jump to the top of the league just yet: “It is likely that the league will be very different this year with teams from the West league making it a much tougher and larger league.
A finish in the top five again would be positive progress and ideally winning a cup to get the first silverware. We would love to make the rounds of the Scottish Cup outside of our region and travel somewhere. Overall, being hard to beat and being recognised as a very good football side whilst being true to our philosophy would be an achievement.”
And lastly, what does the Largs manager value as one of the most important aims for the season ahead? “Fun”, he replied.
Best of luck to Largs Colts 2002s in the 2015/16 Central Ayrshire Youth League!
Lauren Sloan is the current captain of the senior Ladies side at Kilmarnock. The team have had a tough time in recent years, but under the management of David Howie, Sloan and her teammates are looking to mount a promotion push and get them back to where they belong, in the First Division.
Sloan has been at the club since 1999, after being knocked back by a boys club.
"I started when I was six because the boys club said I couldn't play, so it kind of spurred me on a little bit. I went through the ranks and just played. I went senior when I was 16," she told Youth Football Scotland.
Sloan makes her path to the first team sound simple, when it reality it was a very hard effort, requiring determination and desire. The youth teams now are seeing the benefits of the partnership with the professional side, with access to gym facilities and a physiotherapist as well as being able to train at Rugby Park. But before 2014, the standard of facilities was a lot poorer, which had its effects on the club's players.
"I liked playing so it was all enjoyment and it was quite close. But then they [other girls in the youth setup] slowly drop off as you get older, so I was the only one out my whole team that moved up to senior squad," Sloan said
"Now, through linking with Kilmarnock, it's amazing the amount of teams and the camaraderie you have with each team. It's getting so much bigger."
And Sloan also had some sound advice to give to girls who are thinking about taking up the sport.
"Work hard. Train hard. That's it. Work hard, train hard, you'll get there. Don't give up," she said.
"Don't let any boy say he'll beat you or he can run faster than you, because if you keep up with him you'll beat any girl on the pitch."
Sloan knows that it can be tough as a girl trying to make it in football: "It's tough because there's a lot of stereotypes in woman's football. I think before you move up to the seniors there's a lot of expectations and that's when they drop out."
If there was ever an example of why a young girl should continue into the senior ranks of their football club, look no further than Kilmarnock Ladies captain Lauren Sloan.
Originally founded as Stewarton Ladies, Kilmarnock Ladies are the oldest women’s club in Scottish history. They competed in the first ever Women’s FA Cup Final, losing to Southampton in 1971 and 1972. It was only in 1999 that the club became known as Kilmarnock and the partnership with Kilmarnock FC began.
The relationship has helped the club according to first team manager David Howie, who said: "Basically we’ve kind of pulled it together, it’s a more professional club. Pushing through with Kilmarnock also helps us with sponsorship and benefits.
"The girls get to play on the Rugby Park stadium, training there twice a week, using the physio facilities and gym facilities that we get."
This incentive is one that will appeal to anyone who wants to get involved. Getting treated as a professional will certainly tempt young girls to think of a future in football. Howie agreed, saying: “From a youth point of view we’re trying to take it and consolidate and carry that forward in the next couple of years, and become where we are in the Senior Ladies game, hopefully with all the girls staying with the club. To that point, it should strengthen the club, and keep us on a firm base for a number of years to come."
Kilmarnock Ladies have teams at under-13, under-15 and under-17 level, and Howie is confident that their development is progressing well.
"[The under-13s] have been put into a Performance League but it was essentially a Development Team. They were all very young girls, 10-11 years of age. They were going up against the best in the country, Glasgow City, Celtic, Rangers, which are strong, strong teams. Although we’re a large club from the South West, it was a Development Team that was stuck in a Performance League," Howie said.
"This year in the first half of the season they’ve been battered and bruised, but they girls are still smiling. They still come to football and love it."
The under-15’s have been performing fantastically and are on track to defend their League Cup title, with a final against Hamilton coming up.
"That team will do excellent. They are the strongest team in this league. I’m very confident that they will win their league. They’re undefeated in this season so far, going from strength to strength," Howie said.
The under-17’s have also had success previously, winning their regional league last year. They have also progressed to the last-16 of the Scottish Cup.
"This year they’re sitting about third in their league. It’s a strong squad but they are competing with the best, so we’ve consolidated there."
The future is looking bright for Kilmarnock Ladies and it is certainly a great time to get involved!
"Progressive." The word that coach Craig Paterson used when asked to describe Crosshouse.
"We look to ourselves as a kind of school of excellence outside of the pro-youth set up. We're always looking to produce the best players and the best teams that we possibly can and we've got a pretty good record of doing that."
It is hard to disagree with Paterson. They boast Scottish Cup winners in the club from just last season, with older teams making it into various semi-finals. They are the elite team in Ayrshire, playing in the Glasgow leagues, with many players going into pro-youth with Kilmarnock, Ayr or the Old Firm teams.
Ryan Frew, fellow coach, attributed the rise in quality to the effort of the players. He said: "The boys individually, talent-wise, are progressing. They're taking to the training, everyone's engaged to it. As a whole, they're absolutely fantastic. The growth level has been brilliant.
"We don't lose many games and we expect to be the same again this season. Everything is just now building towards 11-a-side which will happen in a couple of years."
Crosshouse are another side that have started to use the Scottish FA’s Quality Mark award scheme which has benefitted the club hugely.
"I believe we're on the second mark now, we're quite highly engaged with it. We've recently introduced a few extra girl’s teams as well that has allowed us to get to that level so it's something we're highly involved in as much as we can," Frew said.
"We've got very successful teams that are competing very well. I know it's non-competitive but when I say competing, they're playing a fantastic style of football that myself and other coaches have developed into them so obviously, the kind of word of mouth gets about that we're a good football team and players in Ayrshire are wanting to come to us and are attracted to us, so we're very fortunate."
The coaches also believe they are seeing benefits off the pitch. Because the Quality Mark is a certified approval of the club, it makes parents a lot more willing to get involved with the club instead of just taking a back seat role.
"We get the parents involved. We have social nights with the parents so it brings everyone together as a club so it's very, very close club and it makes a big difference to the boy’s maturity," said Paterson.
"We're asking their parents how they're behaving if there’s any particular child that goes a couple at weeks at misbehaving at home, showing a lack of respect to their parents then we'll suspend them for the weekend's game," Frew told us. It is an interesting approach for the club to take but it is one that will undoubtedly have an impact on the nearby community and the boys’ maturity levels on and off the pitch.
Frew added: “I teach them through that, that it's very, very important to respect everyone around about you and have that discipline. We're very big on that.” The tone of discipline has clearly been set, and this culture around the club is one that is sure to see them progress.
Good luck to Craig and Jack and all their teams for the 2015/16 season!