St. Ninian’s High School managed to get their hands on the St Mirren Cup at Parklea Sports Complex on Friday, defeating Williamwood High School 5-0 in the final.
The U15 matchup was a much closer affair than the score indicates, with Williamwood creating several good chances in the game. But St. Ninian’s were ruthless in attack and always seemed ready to capitalise on any chances that came their way.
However, the first clear cut chance of the afternoon fell to Williamwood’s right back. He cleverly evaded two St. Ninian’s defenders to get himself a bit of space to drive into the box. He may have not realised the time he had created for himself though, as the shot was rushed and flew over the bar.
Williamwood continued to look strong on the break, but St. Ninian’s were dictating play. This pressure paid off in the 12th minute as Patrick Cusack was fed the ball in the box, with his back to goal. The striker was too quick on the turn for his defender and lashed a low shot into the bottom corner with power.
As the half progressed both teams had great chances from corners, with Williamwood having an opportunity cleared off the line. St. Ninians centre back, Michael Gallagher had a great opportunity with a header which he was disappointed to glance wide.
But he wasn’t disappointed for long as shortly after, in the 25th minute, Finn McDonald managed to bag the second of the game. He showed real quick feet to craft an opening against his defender, which afforded him the time to drive a right footed shot low towards the near post. The goalkeeper managed to get an outstretched leg to the shot, but it was not enough to keep it out, 2-0.
Williamwood were desperate to get a goal before half-time, but nothing seemed to fall their way on the day. As their number ten was released in behind St. Ninians defence by a lovely curling ball from the right back. He took the ball around the onrushing goalkeeper but was deterred from shooting by the two recovering centre backs, as he got his head up to look for another option he was tackled, and the move petered out.
This move elicits Williamwood’s struggles on the day as the half ended 2-0 to St. Ninians.
The second half started similarly to the first, with Williamwood creating a big chance in search of a way back into the game. Their striker managed to win a duel against Williamwood centre back, Gallagher and slips the ball through to his teammate who is just unable to control his shot and it blazes over the bar. If just one of these Williamwood chances goes in, we could have had a very different game.
However, as mentioned at the beginning of this report, St. Ninian’s were in a clinical mood as Cusack managed to nab his second goal of the game around 15 minutes after the restart. He seemed to be at the centre of every St. Ninians attack and his strength and power when running with the ball was just too much for the Williamwood centre backs to handle at times.
That was very much the case for this goal, midfielder Owen Wallis picked up the ball and released his striker down the left wing and he was off to the races. Cusack burst past his defender and cooly slotted away his second of the match.
A minute later the game was well and truly put to bed by St. Ninians with a tremendous solo effort from Michael Gallagher. The centre half had been willing to put his head where it hurts all afternoon, and it paid off massively here.
He charged out of defence to meet an awkward bouncing ball and powered the header away despite his opponent’s rather high boot. The header then fell to his teammate Shay McEnroe and as Williamwood were so stretched in search of a way back into the match, the pair found themselves in a two against one situation. Gallagher continued his charge and McEnroe timed the ball back across to him well, giving him enough time to take a touch and prod the ball past the goalkeeper.
Frustration perhaps crept in for Williamwood as the only yellow card of the match was given to their number 18. He clipped the heels of Cusack as he attempted to chase a ball in behind with just under 10 minutes remaining.
This wasn’t enough to stop goal-hungry Cusack though, as he managed to seal his hattrick at the death. Joe McKean did well to find him with a bit of space in the box and the striker was able to dispatch the ball into the bottom corner from a tight angle.
The fifth goal was one of the last actions of the game and in the end, it was a comfortable win for St. Ninians who enjoy so much success in school football. But Williamwood can hold their heads high as if certain moments in the game had gone their way they would have had much more of a chance at changing this result.
St Ninian’s HS Player of the Match:
Cusack shone for his side. He managed to score a hattrick and was a constant irritant to the Williamwood defence.
St Ninian’s HS Magic Moment:
Gallagher’s heroics for the fourth goal as he turned defence into attack with sheer determination and then had the presence of mind to calmly tuck the ball away.
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