Celtic, Delting, Whalsay and Spurs in football’s Madrid Cup semi-finals
Delting secured the last place in senior football’s Madrid Cup semi-finals after a 6-1 win over rivals for second place in group two Whitedale and a 2-0 win over Ness United in the final group game on Monday. Friday night’s semi-final ties see Celtic at home to Delting and Whalsay take on Spurs at Symbister.
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Whalsay 3, Spurs 0
Both teams were missing key players for this tie and with barely five minutes on the clock Whalsay were dealt another blow when Colin Leask limped off.
Both sides were battling hard to establish supremacy and Spurs were enjoying some possession in the early stages and some half chances were created around the edge of the box.
James Johnson and Connell Gresham both tried their luck but both chances were deflected en route to goal, taking the sting out of the shots.
Gresham had a real chance after 15 minutes when he was played into a one-on-one position but he placed his effort wide of the goal.
Whalsay started to take more control as the half wore on, the reshuffled central midfield paring of Keith Pearson and Ian Simpson taking a firm grip. As a result in the 30th minute Geordie Irvine gave the islanders the lead, latching on to a through ball and showing good composure to place the ball under the advancing stand-in keeper Shane Jamieson.
With Spurs seemingly doing a good job of holding out for the remainder of the first half they were dealt a severe blow with just two minutes until half time. Whalsay had a shot from the edge of the box blocked and when the ball dropped kindly for James Shearer around 20 yards from goal the youngster seized his chance, firing a shot towards goal which took a slight deflection and squirmed under the body of Jamieson to give Whalsay a 2-0 lead.
With Spurs reeling from the set back they were stunned even further when within a minute of the restart Ian Simpson played a great ball into the back post area where Stuart Shearer was on hand to nod the ball into the corner of the net.
The second half saw Spurs determined to fight their way back. However, Whalsay, with no need to attack, shut up shop and Spurs couldn’t create any real chances. The closest came when Josie Kay was played in but he was too wide and under pressure fired his shot past the post.
With 20 minutes left James Johnston burst forward and was stopped in his tracks by a cynical challenge. Johnston reacted and there followed a brief skirmish which resulted in referee Michael Grant having no other option but to give both Johnston and Keith Pearson their marching orders with straight red cards.
The only other talking points of the half were centered on Josie Kay. The Spurs midfielder received a yellow card for a late challenge and also produced a great effort from all of 35 yards which smashed against the post, the last real action of the game.
Thistle 1, Celtic 5
A fine evening for football attracted a large number of onlookers to the Gilbertson Park on Friday to witness this league clash between the town rivals.
The first 15 minutes were fairly even but in the 16th minute the effervescent James Aitken burst down the Celtic right flank and his pin-point centre was bulleted home by Daniel Johnston.
Celtic’s lead lasted barely seven minutes when Stuart Smith notched up an equaliser. The veteran striker found himself in splendid isolation some 25 yards from goal, looked up, noted that hoops custodian Paul Grant was fractionally off his line and placed an accurate chip over his head into the back of the net.
Celtic regained the initiative with two strikes just before the interval. First, in the 40th minute, Lowrie Simpson capitalised on hesitancy within the home rearguard. After robbing Gary Teale the striker was forced wide by covering Thistle defenders and initially it looked as if the chance was lost. However, he took them on before clinically finishing beyond Steven Henry in the Thistle goal.
Four minutes later Henry mistimed a punched clearance and the ball fell kindly for Aitken who despatched it into the back of the net. A minute later Joe Leask ought to have made it four when he was put through on goal but he shot just wide of the far post.
Following the break, it was clear the next goal was going to be important in determining the outcome. If the home side scored it was game on but it was the away side that killed the match off as a contest five minutes after the resumption when Jordan Webb expertly curled a shot into the top corner from around 22 yards.
Joe Leask completed the scoring in the 73rd minute when he ran through unchallenged to slot the ball beyond the despairing Henry.
Spurs 3, Thistle 1
Spurs took to the field with an unfamiliar line-up due to injuries and suspensions, desperate for a win to kick-start their league campaign, while Thistle knew a win would take them four points above their old rivals.
Thistle had the better of the opening exchanges and should have taken the lead when a good ball into the box from the right just eluded the two strikers lurking at the back post.
Spurs almost took the lead when Scott Morrison’s cross from the right was met by Danny Finnie who was unlucky to see his header crash back off the bar. The game swung quickly to the other end and found Stuart Smith wide right and his mazy run and neat finish from very tight angle to put his side one up – the highlight of the first half.
The first half was far from over though and Spurs found themselves quickly back on level terms when a ball out right picked out winger Morrison whose control and burst into the box made Connell Gresham’s first of the game an easy tap-in.
Spurs found themselves 2-1 up shortly afterwards when the best move of the game involving several players found Gresham at the edge of the Thistle box and his sharp turn and powerful shot gave Steven Henry in goal no chance.
The half ended with Spurs 3-1 up after good work by Dominic Mann and Shane Jamieson who won Spurs possession back and played Morrison in. His pace was to much for the Thistle back line and with keeper Henry committed the winger lobbed his former team mate from the edge of the box.
The second half started pretty much the same as the first ended with Spurs using their wide men and the pace of Gresham up front to great effect. The striker saw a good effort rebound back off a defender, then moments later he was pulled down in the box which looked a stonewall penalty but referee Ivan Sinclair was having none of it.
Thistle had a few efforts at the other end but were finding stand-in goalie Stuart Hall equal to everything they could throw at him. With 20 minutes left Spurs threw on Alan Page for the tired Finnie and he almost scored with his first touch but was unlucky to see his header go wide.
A good effort by Page again saw the crossbar save the day for Thistle, this being the last real effort of the half. The action was not over though and an accidental clash between Henry in goal and Gresham saw them both leave the field with a shoulder and head knock respectively.
A welcome win for the men in white and a battling performance from Thistle saw Scott Morrison, Ally Graham and Gresham all due a mention from the home team while for Thistle Kevin Gifford at the back and the veteran Smith up front both had good games.
Scalloway 3, Celtic 4
The Fraser Park witnessed another close game between these two sides with Celtic taking full advantage of defensive lapses to take the points.
The home team started well but were punished when James Aitken raced through on goal and placed the ball past the outrushing keeper into the net.
Scalloway hit back immediately when Robert Garrick released Steven Umphray and the forward stretched to knock the ball past Paul Grant to level the score.
Scalloway were caught out once again when Aitken picked up the ball on the left wing and outpaced the defence before firing the ball into the net.
The home team pressed for an equaliser but were caught out when two defenders collided and the ball broke to Joe Leask who made no mistake with a calm finish.
With half-time approaching Scalloway were given a lifeline from a well-taken Garrick penalty after a tangle of legs sent Gary Burns tumbling in the penalty area.
In the second half Scalloway enjoyed a slight edge on their opponents but were unable to carve out any clear-cut chances. Midway through the half the home defence were once again caught cold as a quick throw-in found Aitken and the forward weaved towards goal and shot past keeper Bryan Johnson to complete his hat trick.
With 15 minutes to go an excellent pass from Umphray found substitute Jamie Allan who controlled the ball on the chest before unleashing a powerful shot inside the near post.
For the remainder of the game Scalloway tried in vain to find an equaliser but Celtic held firm to take the points.
Scalloway will feel they should have taken something from the game but must cut out the individual errors if they are to reach their potential. Celtic, on the other hand, will be pleased to have taken full points with Aitken the stand-out player in a match well handled by referee Michael Grant.
Madrid Cup Group Two
Delting 6, Whitedale 1
No report or scorers were received.
Delting 2, Ness United 0
No report or scorers were received.