A travelling Stornoway United side defeated Western Thistle by five goals to nil in the final game of the Lewis & Harris Under 15 Football League season at Fivepenny. The result means that United will finish fourth, and Western Thistle fifth in the U15 league in Lewis.
From kick-off, it was clear that both sides were approaching the game with the right mentality. It could be easy to down tools or revert to more primitive principles of play but both sides showed a good ability to control and move the ball. The visitors took early control of the game, with Luke Nicolson’s long-range drive forcing the first of many impressive stops by Murdo Gillies in the Western Thistle goal.
An excellent bit of hold-up play by United forward Liam Macleod launched a fast break and eventually another opportunity, but once again Gillies was at hand to deny Nicolson’s one-on-one effort. As United mounted the pressure they would eventually have their opener, this time round Nicolson turned creator, with Liam Macleod firing home from inside the box.
It would not take long for Macleod and United to double their tallies. Little over a minute later the young United striker showed his outstanding pressing ability, chasing down the opposing defenders and winning the ball on the edge of the box, shifting the ball onto his right foot and drilling the ball into the bottom right corner.
Murdo Gillies in goal for West was given no minute’s rest in the early stages, making good saves from Daniel Macleod and Daniel Macdonald’s efforts. As the first-half water break closed in, there were more positive signs for the hosts going forward, with some nice interplay between Domnhal MacArthur and Hannah Macritchie that helped their side gain more control of the match.
Following the water break, Liam Macleod wasted no time in grabbing his hat trick, getting the ball played into his feet, and driving through the West defence before slotting the ball into the bottom right corner to make it 3-0.
Another player worthy of praise was Ewen Davis in the midfield for United, who showed great intelligence by dropping deep to receive the ball, and never seemed to lose it, showing composure under pressure and vision to find a teammate. He would find his reward when United were awarded a penalty following a handball in the box, firing his penalty to the keeper’s right and completing the first-half scoring.
As both sides turned to their respective benches, the second half was a more even affair, allowing either side to express themselves in the final half of their footballing campaign. The fifth and final goal of the game would come from that man again Liam Macleod, who produced the finest goal of the night. The youngster picked the ball up from deep inside the West half and only had one thing on his mind, slaloming through player after player on a mazing run and duly dinking the ball into the back of the net. A moment to remember.
Despite facing a difficult scoreline, the attitude of the Western Thistle players was remarkably professional, and they took a large amount of control in the second half, with left-back Logan Wade pushing up the park well and the midfield pivot of Lorca Macleod and Ian Alex Macdonald enjoying more of the ball. Goalkeeper Murdo Gillies raised seats and heartrates as he turned sweeper-keeper in the second half and took enjoyment from taking on United players with the ball at his feet and playing out from the back.
West’s substitute midfielder would eventually break the lines of the United defence and force a strong save out of United’s second-half stopper Ben Riddle. As they piled on the pressure for a goal, they were unfortunate to see a shot from the edge of the box go narrowly wide, as well as seeing a shot cleared off the line after an attacker rounded the United goalkeeper. The visiting United side secured the three points and a clean sheet to end the season.
Western Thistle Player of the Match: Murdo Gillies
Gillies was kept busy all game but was a brick wall in that Western Thistle goal, making several strong saves from a variety of situations but also displaying real maturity in his play. His positioning was always on point in terms of narrowing angles and winning the ball from crosses, and he was confident enough to go out and catch high balls with ease. He also had the entertainment factor, turning into a sweeper keeper in the second half and enjoying the ball at his feet as he took on opposing players on the dribble and displayed his remarkable ball distribution abilities for a young keeper.
Stornoway United Player of the Match: Liam Macleod
Four goals in 50 minutes, what more needs said? Well for one, Macleod’s movement and positioning in the final third allowed him to create space for himself and his teammates, while his pressing intensity created a constant headache for the West defenders. It was a complete striker’s performance that displayed smart linkup play, brave dribbling, and calm finishing. Macleod’s goals exemplified his play and never-ending threat, driving at players for fun and being willing to do the hard yards.
Western Thistle Magic Moment: Ederson antics
Murdo Gillies, discontent with just being a shot-stopper, decided to pick up the ball in the left corner of the pitch, managing to keep the ball off the preying United attackers and finding a teammate on the left flank.
Stornoway United Magic Moment: That goal
Liam Macleod had already grabbed his hat trick, but the best was still yet to come. The solo goal which saw him skate through the heart of the West team was undoubtedly a moment of magic.
Western Thistle U15s
Calum Iain Macdonald
Ian Alex Macdonald
Stornoway United U15s
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