Celtic stretch lead at top of premier league but chasers remain optimistic
Senior football action resumed with full force over the past week. Celtic now sit top of the G&S Flooring Premier League and have a real chance of being champions nearing the halfway stage but Whitedale and Whalsay will have them in their sights with games in hand. Saturday sees the fight for another trophy as Celtic and Whalsay contest the Manson Cup final at the Gilbertson Park.
Scalloway 2, Celtic 2
Scalloway secured their first point of the season against the league leaders after a hard-fought match at Fraser Park.
The first real chance fell to the visitors when Scalloway keeper Euan Smith did well to tip a looping header on to the crossbar. Lowrie Simpson passed up another good opportunity for Celtic after he rounded the keeper but his shot from a narrow angle struck the upright.
Scalloway were foiled when Grant Wood did well to tip a Robert Garrick shot on to the cross bar and minutes later Scott Henderson crossed to Alan Davidson and his shot hit the post.
Just before the break Scalloway opened the scoring when a long throw fell to the feet of Scott Henderson who calmly placed the ball into the corner of the net.
In the second half Celtic upped their game while Scalloway continued to look dangerous on the break. The equaliser arrived when Jordan Webb slipped James Aitken through on goal and the young striker smashed the ball into the net.
To their credit Scalloway fought back and Robert Garrick found Scott Henderson in space and the striker shaped to shoot before cutting the ball back to strike partner Alan Davidson to put Scalloway back into the lead. Minutes later Davidson almost finished the game as a contest when he turned sharply but his shot hit the post.
The match ended in controversial circumstances with Celtic being awarded a penalty to the surprise of both sets of players. Scalloway were further punished when Kevin Sinclair received a second yellow card for the alleged foul. Webb stepped up to the spot to fire home the equaliser and in the final minutes Celtic pushed men forward in search of the winner.
Euan Smith came to Scalloway’s rescue when he reacted well to tip a net-bound header round the post. With time all but up Celtic thought they had scored the winning goal when the ball appeared to have been forced over the line before John William Laurenson cleared but the referee waved play on.
At the end of the game a draw was probably the right result although both sets of players were left with a feeling of injustice.
Best for Celtic was Connor Regan in midfield with keeper Grant Wood also impressing with a number of excellent saves. For Scalloway, keeper Euan Smith had an excellent debut for the first team and defender Andrew Flett was outstanding in defence.
Spurs 3, Whitedale 3
On a perfect night at Gilbertson Park Spurs and Whitedale served up a very entertaining league match.
The opening 10 minutes were quite scrappy with neither team getting into any real rhythm. Spurs certainly had the upper hand in the possession stakes but their final ball was letting them down which has so often been the case this season.
Spurs carved out the first really good chance of the game when a slick one-touch passing move led to Sam Ward picking out Joe Leask with an inch-perfect cross but the latter’s diving header shaved the outside of the post.
Leask made amends about five minutes later when he picked the ball up just inside the Whitedale half and evaded a couple of challenges before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner of Martin Young’s goal from fully 25 yards.
Spurs were really into their stride now with James Johnston and Ward dominating the middle of the park and Sam Goudie and Scott Morrison causing the Whitedale back line all sorts of problems. But for all their efforts, they never really tested the Whitedale keeper and were nearly punished by Jamie Wilson and Paul Molloy efforts as the half came to a close.
Whatever manager Ivor Morrison said to his team at half time certainly had an effect as the men from the West Side came at Spurs with all guns blazing. Spurs struggled to get their speedy front men as involved as they were in the first half while Whitedale got their reward for their spell of pressure when they were awarded a dubious penalty which was despatched by Molloy.
Whitedale went ahead soon after when Molloy slotted a goalmouth scramble home for his second. This seemed to kick Spurs into gear and after a sustained piece of pressure they were also awarded a dubious penalty, which was coolly put away by Johnston.
With the game heading for a draw the town side won a corner which was played short to Johnston who then played it back to Morrison. He put it right on Josie Kay’s head to put Spurs 3-2 up.
Surely it was game over but think again as deep into injury time a similar situation at the other end found Jordan Morrison unmarked to send a powerful header past Craig Dinwoodie in the Spurs goal.
After an entertaining game Spurs would probably feel they should have nicked it but credit to Whitedale for their second-half performance and the way some of their younger players performed.
Best for Spurs were Joe Leask and Shane Jamieson and for Whitedale Lorne McNiven and Duncan Anderson stood out.
Thistle 2, Ness United 1
It was the home side that started the stronger of the two sides as they used the wind advantage to help pin back Ness.
Gary Teale was proving an aerial threat as he got on the end of several corners and free kicks and was unlucky not to find the net. His brother Kevin was defending stoutly at sweeper as Ness struggled to create any clear-cut chances despite the faultless work ethic of Grant Redfern up front. They worked the ball into some good areas in the final third but will be disappointed with the standard of delivery, as they could not find a telling cross.
The Jags continued to press and Khalid Rasul came close with a half-volley from all of 25 yards. His sweet strike rebounded off the angle and away to safety.
Just before half time Thistle did break the deadlock as a through ball broke to David Thomson and his bobbled strike gave keeper Erik Peterson no chance as he watched it bounce in off the post.
After the interval the game started very scrappily as neither side could keep hold of the ball for any length of time. Both sides were pushing for the goal that could swing the game their way and it was Thistle who grabbed the vital goal on the hour mark. The on-form Calvin Leask found a good position on the edge of the penalty box and he knocked the ball past his marker before neatly tucking the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.
Ness began to throw players forward in an effort to salvage something but this left them exposed at the back. Thistle had several counter attacking opportunities but they lacked precision with their final pass.
The away team continued to push for goal and got their reward when Kevin Smith’’s deep cross was bundled home by Tomas Smith at the back post in injury time. This proved only to be a consolation.
While there is certainly room for improvement, Thistle ran out deserved victors. The away side will be disappointed with the overall performance as they know they could play a lot better.
Whalsay 3, Delting 2
On a blustery night the customary battle between these two old foes ensued with Whalsay doing just enough to come out on top despite a late resurgence from the away side.
Straight from the kick off Leighton Flaws tried his luck with the Whalsay keeper relieved to see the ball sail narrowly over the bar.
After a couple of attacks from the away side it was Whalsay who took the lead with a quick counter attack. New signing Paul Henderson set Ross Irvine free and the front man showed his class with an exquisite lob to give keeper Danny Reid no chance.
The game settled into a tight affair but Reid was called into action again, saving well from Bryan Irvine at close range then blocking another long range effort. Irvine will probably will feel he could have done better with the follow-up, sending it over the bar from inside six yards.
Delting did have their chances too with a succession of free kicks in and around the Whalsay box supplying plenty of ammunition. Merv Jamieson came close with a header at one stage and Stuart Lavender supplied a great ball that eluded everybody and just curled around the far post.
Ross McDougal also had a good chance but screwed his shot wide under pressure from Richard Arthur. Flaws bore down on goal for Delting late in the half but his effort was too close to the keeper who smothered the ball.
Just on half time Whalsay scored a very good second when Colin Anderson and Irvine combined to square a ball across for Martyn Stevenson to knock in at close range, putting the islanders 2-0 ahead.
The second half saw Whalsay thinking they had extended their lead as Irvine headed home but referee Robbie Summers blew for offside. This reprieve for Delting was shortlived as the third goal did come shortly after. Good play down the right again saw the ball centred for James Shearer who sent it into the far corner from 12 yards.
Delting, to their credit, kept going and were rewarded 15 minutes from time when Flaws produced a great strike from 25 yards, turning and volleying the ball into the top right-hand corner.
The game then got very tight as with 10 minutes remaining Karl Williamson impeded McDougal inside the box and Flaws duly converted the penalty to pull Delting to within a goal.
Despite their best efforts the chance for an equaliser would not come in the final few minutes and Whalsay held on in a game that, given their recent injury problems, they will be grateful for the hard-earned maximum points.
Delting 2, Whitedale 6
Whitedale cruised to another win as they sustain their own challenge for the title.
Goals came from Richard Sinclair, Jordan Morrison, Lorne McNiven, Jamie Wilson, John Robert Burgess and Duncan Anderson. Ross Jamieson hit both Delting’s goals.
Ness United 2, Scalloway 4
Scalloway left Ness at the bottom of the table through goals from Darren Thompson, John Robert Umphray and two from Scott Henderson. Erland Johnson and Grant Redfern got consolations for Ness.
Thistle 1, Spurs 5
The game started tightly as both sides struggled to find any space around the opposition’s penalty area.
It took a moment of brilliance from Scott Morrison to open the scoring after 15 minutes. He cut in from the left, letting fly from 25 yards and he connected perfectly as the ball fizzed into the right top corner, leaving the keeper no chance.
Thistle were linking up well going forward but they will be disappointed as they lacked ruthlessness after working the ball into some great positions. Danny Finnie then punished the blues for the wasteful attacking play when he tucked home after Morrison’s strong run and cross from the left.
Credit to the Jags as they responded well after this and started to put Spurs under some real pressure. Countless corners and free kicks around the penalty area threatened the Spurs rearguard. The goal was coming and when David Thomson’s angled freekick was not dealt with, Gary Teale was on hand at the back post to notch his first of the season.
In the second half Spurs started to stamp their authority on the game. They kept the ball well and Thistle struggled to win it back. When the blues did get hold of the ball, they were giving it away too easily and soon became tired.
The Milkbags grabbed their third on the hour mark from a wide free kick as Shane Jamieson got up well and looped a header in off the far post.
Spurs continued to press and they were testing the keeper from all angles. Iain Goodlad was causing problems with his pace and he charged through after a good team move and finished well into the roof of the net.
A James Johnston free kick was well saved by Jake Constable but Joe Leask reacted fastest and was on hand to put away the rebound for their fifth and final goal of the night.
A second wind was found by Thistle for the last 10 minutes as they tested the keeper on a few occasions through Neil Laurenson but this was too little too late.
Spurs will be happy with their performance, especially in the second half as they created several chances and kept possession well. Thistle played nicely in patches but they will need to sustain this level for longer periods of the match if they want to get results.
Whalsay 1, Celtic 2
A large crowd gathered at a sun-drenched Harbison Park to witness Celtic snatch a late winner and cement their position at the top of the league.
Celtic started the brighter and took the game to the defending champions with James Aitken and Connor Regan in particular being prominent in the early stages. Whalsay had Gary Jamieson to thank on a few occasions as he held the defence together and defied the town team with resolute defending.
The first clear-cut chance of the game fell to Aitken as he outpaced the Whalsay rearguard only to see his shot well saved by the feet of keeper Grant Thomson. Regan was next to threaten when the town team’s midfield broke up Whalsay possession to send him clear only for the young midfielder to push his shot wide of the far post.
Whalsay at this point were struggling to get into the game and the only notable effort for them was a Jamieson header from a corner which flew just wide of the far post. Referee Robbie Goudie blew for half time with the scores still locked at 0-0.
The second half was only 10 minutes old when Whalsay player Colin Anderson suffered a serious leg injury, which halted the game for about 15 minutes to allow him to be treated.
Following the restart Whalsay seemed to find some rhythm and put pressure on Celtic for the first time in the game. Celtic always looked dangerous on the break with some fast-flowing counter attacks.
A period of pressure resulted in a corner for Whalsay which Paul Grant in the Celtic goal did very well to keep out as the ball looked to be dipping just under the bar. Moments later Whalsay winger Bryan Irvine had the best chance of the game when he weaved infield from the right, only to send his left-foot effort narrowly over from 12 yards.
With 20 minutes remaining Whalsay broke through. A cross from the right was not dealt with by the Celtic defence and Erik Thomson was on hand to sweep the ball home. Thomson was starting to have more influence on the game and created a couple more opportunities for his team which were not converted and this proved costly later in the match.
The home team could not see the game out and Celtic replied with 12 minutes to go. Midfielder Jordan Webb picked the ball up in the centre of the pitch about 30 yards from goal and unleashed a shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal past Thomson.
The goal set up a grandstand finish and the game could have gone either way with both teams coming close in the dying minutes.
The game was won by Aitken in the last minute when he latched on to the ball following a scrappy bit of play from the home defence. The ball may have made its way to the Celtic winger in a fortuitous way but there was nothing lucky about the strike as he swept the ball home from 12 yards to send his town team mates and supporters into ecstasy.
Aitken shone for Celtic in what was a very good team performance with Gary Jamieson and Erik Thomson standing out for the home side.