West Region (394)
Haldane United 2003s competed in their first ever tournament abroad in May, making the 19-hour long coach trip to Holland.
The boys won four matches as they finished fifth in the tournament - a great achievement against a number of foreign clubs.
"All the kids, their families and, of course, the coaches had the time of their lives," team supporter Tricia Sneddon told Youth Football Scotland.
"The experience was amazing and coming fifth was a fantastic achievement."
The tournament prepared Haldane 2003s well for action closer to home as well. They won the Dumbarton United tournament just a few weeks later.
That's not the end of Haldane's foreign ventures though. They hope to return to Holland next year to do it all again!
Pollok ended a hugely disappointing league campaign on a high with an excellent win away to Cumbernauld Colts at their Broadwood Stadium. A dreadful run of form since the Blackpool Cup in Easter saw them rooted to the bottom of the table but this convincing 5-2 win, against a side that only lost the title last year by virtue of a playoff, bodes well for next season. Goals came from Brandyn Milne, Alberto Vezza, Brogan Murphy and two from Declan Smith.
It was the hosts that came out strongest at the start of the half, launching wave after wave of attack at the visitor's goal, making great use of the wide park to attack with menace down the flanks. A goal looked inevitable but it was Pollok who fashioned the first real chance as Vezza saw a shot from 10 yards cleared off the line.
The lead did arrive though on 24 minutes when captain for the day, Smith, swung a free kick in from the right side which was inadvertently deflected by the defender towards the back post where Brandyn Milne was lurking to volley high past the keeper for his first Pollok goal since a March move from Rossvale Inter.
Colts nearly came straight back into it though and when their forward found himself through on goal four minutes later, an equaliser looked certain but Ryan Devenney pulled off a superb save. That proved crucial as his side doubled their lead on 32 minutes: Vezza had a shot blocked but James Dempster chested down the rebound and this time, Vezza made no mistake as his deflected shot found the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Pollok were rampant now and looking to put the game to bed: Vezza was inches away from a second as he just failed to connect with Sean MacMillan's low ball across the box and Smith fired just over the bar from all of 30 yards. Colts were not for lying down though and it took a strong hand from Devenney to claw away a fierce drive from distance.
Pollok ended the half stronger though and felt they should have been even further ahead. A minute before the break, Brogan Murphy cleared a Colts corner kick to launch a counter attack and when Vezza played in Smith, his volley was saved. From the resulting corner, Vezza stabbed the ball home from close range but was adjudged to be offside.
Pollok have not been averse to throwing away two-goal leads this season as results against Finnart and Glenboig will testify to so there was certainly no desire to rest on the two-goal lead. Colts offered an early reminder as to why when another long range effort was well saved by Devenney just 60 seconds after the restart.
Again, that was crucial as Pollok seemed to learn from previous lessons to go three goals in front after just five minutes of the half. Smith was played in and scurried free of the defence before coolly sliding the ball under the keeper and into the bottom corner with his weaker left foot.
The chances kept on coming for the Lok and they came close to a fourth when Ross Pollock powered a header off the crossbar on 57 minutes. This was hist first appearance since the Blackpool Cup at the start of April following a foot injury. It was also the first sighting of the regular centre back pairing of Pollock and Amir Khan since March.
On 65 minutes, Colts got a goal back but the three goal lead was reestablished almost instantly when Vezza crossed from the right on 67 minutes for Brogan Murphy to volley over the keeper, marking his own return from inury with a goal.
Pollok were playing with a freedom and an intensity so characteristic of an end of season match and they got a fifth just three minutes after that Murphy strike. Vezza was again the provider as he launched a ball forward to again find Declan Smith through on goal - this time he elected to side-foot it with his right and it just sneaked under the substitute keeper for 5-1.
Colts got another back right at the death but it was too little too late as Pollok signed off their season with an emphatic win against a top side. This was undoubtedly Pollok's performance of the season and although it came too late to have any impact on their league standing, it provides a solid foundation on which to build upon next season.
Pollok United star player: Declan Smith - The captain for today led from the front and was a constant thorn in the side of the Colts defence, chipping in with two well taken goals and an assist for the opener.
Mentions also for goalkeeper Ryan Devenney who made a series of fine saves to ensure that his side's dominance would be reflected in the final score. Alberto Vezza was also industrious as aver, chipping in with a goal and two assists while he was an inch and an offside flag away from a first half hat-trick. James Dempster kept things ticking in the middle of the park, winning everything and linking up the play well.
On Saturday, the Paisley and District Schools Football Association league playoffs took place at St James Park, Paisley.
Three finals took place in the U14, U16 and U18 age brackets. All participants had finished top of their league section over the course of the season, but these were a one-off finals for the chance to get bragging rights for another year.
In the U14s match St Ninians triumphed over Notre Dame 6-3. Coach Paul Marshall said: "I thought it was a really good game, we started well with a goal in the first minute and we thought we'd stroll it to be honest from that start but credit to Notre Dame who came back in it. 2-2 at half-time, I thought our boys came into the second half with the right attitude and played some lovely football. But I've got to say Notre Dame is the best team we've played this season, it was a great final as the two best teams were here."
Just as my interview with Mr Marshall concluded, the full time whistle went on the pitch adjacent. St Ninians had completed the double; their U16s beat Gleniffer 4-2. Kevin O'Hagan, the St Ninians coach, drew some parallels with the two games: "I'm really pleased the boys performed really well, had a good start and got an early goal. We showed great perseverance and I'm just really pleased and proud of the boys."
And in the U18s final it was Renfrew who were victorious over Notre Dame 3-1. Jacob Spence, the Renfrew coach, had this to say: "The boys played really well. I knew they could play football like that, we'd been playing a bit of long ball in other games but we got the ball down today and they deserve it after playing well all year, so I'm happy for them."
Before each team received their medals there was a well-respected round of applause for the match officials, who keep schools football alive by lending their time, without pay, to referee the games. It was noted that one referee in particular would have picked up £30,000 over the years by the Paisley and District Schools FA had he been paid for his matches!
All-in-all it was a great day of football. Congratulations to St Ninians & Renfrew and commiserations to Notre Dame and Gleniffer who, despite not winning the cup, are victors of their league section.
Photos from Renfrew v Notre Dame (Seniors): http://youthfootballscotland.zenfolio.com/p699011788
Photos from St Ninians v Gleniffer (U16): http://youthfootballscotland.zenfolio.com/p938384581
Photos from St Ninians v Notre Dame (U14): http://youthfootballscotland.zenfolio.com/p850421921
East Kilbride FC Under-17’s stormed into the final of the West Region Cup on Sunday with a fine 3-0 victory over Harmony Row at K-Park on Sunday.
A first-half header from Tommy Marshall and a double from Ryan White after the break were enough on the day to see Graeme Mullin’s side through to the major final at Toryglen on 14th June.
The visitors enjoyed a better start than Kilby, but found the home back-line difficult to breakdown, with Liam Daly and Josh MacDonald in excellent form.
East Kilbride took the lead on 17 minutes when David Black’s pinpoint cross from the right was met by the head of Marshall, who bulleted home from 12 yards to give Kilby the edge at the break.
Harmony Row started the second half in determined fashion, and almost levelled five minutes into the second half, but Lewis Stevenson’s snap-shot struck the Kilby crossbar, much to the relief of the home side.
With the game flowing from end to end, EK doubled their lead after 65 minutes when David Black danced his way through the Row defence, before standing up another perfect cross which was glanced into the corner of the net from 10 yards by talisman Ryan White.
The visitors threw caution to the wind in search of a lifeline, but found the home defence resolute with Greg Andrews and Bradley Myles excelling.
EK put the result beyond any doubt ten minutes from time, when Josh MacDonald’s long pass was misjudged by McGowan, and Ryan White was on hand, pivoting and volleying home on the turn from 16-yards to claim his 42nd goal of an amazing season.
Determined to see the game through with a shut-out, EK stopper Bradley Main produced an brilliant save in stoppage time, tipping over a Wilson free-kick, to complete the action on a memorable day for the home side.
New ground was broken on the 19th April when Rangers Girls 2003s played a friendly against Giffnock SC. The girls played their first 11-a-side game against all-boy opposition that day. A week later, they recorded their first win at 11-a-sides, again versus a boys team. What is special about Rangers Girls is that they plan to do just that for all of next season in the all-boys PJDYFL.
The side, who already have done so for a season at 7-a-side level, are thought to be the first girls team in the country to participate in an all-boys 11-a-side league setup.
Coach Gerry Mannion said “The group of girls were brought together and we spoke with Head of Youth Peter Kennedy and decided for the girls’ development we thought it would be better to play against the boys.”
“As far as the girls development goes, its helped us going down that pathway of joining the Paisley and District 'boys league' at 2003s.”
“I have a philosophy to train as you play. If we train hard, then come up against the boys, the physical side isn't a problem.”
“I said to the girls after the first game and said “you have just made history today”. Every one of them just looked at me! It’s exciting, I have a squad of 19 girls and every one of them is a great footballer.”
The excitement could definitely be sensed in the players as well. Team captain Rosie said “We’re feeling good and confident in the boys league, going 11-a-side against the boys, there’s no other girls team who are doing that, so it’s good.”
Another player, Gemma, said “I've not played very many 11-a-side games, so to play at that level, it’s pretty cool! It was really good to win last weekend.”
Summer is another of the squad who is relishing the challenge. However when asked to pinpoint the team’s star player, she echoed the strength-in-depth sentiments of her coach “I just think it’s all of us, we’re all at a great standard and Gerry our coach is just great, the best I've ever had. He’s made us great.”