Shetland footballers roar back to claim Milne Cup
Shetland’s senior football team regained the Milne Cup after an emphatic second-half performance at Gilbertson Park yesterday evening.
In a match almost the opposite of last year’s encounter in Kirkwall, Orkney took the lead before the home side came back strongly to win 4-1, ample revenge for the 2012 defeat.
The first half saw different styles of play by the teams. Orkney for the most part controlled the midfield with some excellent passing movements. Shetland, on the other hand, were far more dynamic with full back Robert Smith and wide player Calvin Leask continually combining on the right to put Orkney under severe pressure.
It was Smith who actually came closest for Shetland, having one shot well held by Orkney keeper Davy Leonard while another went just past the post.
At the other end the visitors had probably the best chance of the half when a low driven cross from the right evaded everyone as it scorched through the goal area and went out for a goal kick.
With a couple of minutes remaining before half time Orkney got the goal which on pressure they perhaps just deserved. Another cross from the right found the Shetland defence wanting on a rare occasion and youngster John Pickes gleefully tapped the ball into an empty net.
The crowd, which was respectable in its number, were fairly pessimistic at the break, with many sensing that Orkney, desperate for a first win in Shetland for 30 years, could build on the lead.
However, what happened when the teams returned was not what most expected. Orkney, rather than consolidating what they had just achieved, pushed forward immediately in a somewhat cavalier fashion, exposing huge gaps at the back which was to ultimately prove their downfall.
A rash challenge six minutes into the half gave referee Robert Geddes no option but to award a penalty kick to Shetland, which captain Leighton Flaws despatched to the keeper’s right with great panache.
Ten minutes later Shetland were ahead. The ball broke to James Aitken on the edge of the box, he lifted it perfectly over a stranded defence and left back Josie Kay, getting forward for almost the first time in the match, placed a fine header past the despairing Leonard.
Orkney were stunned and worse was to come about halfway through the period. Again their defence were caught napping and another ball in from the right was knocked home by centre back Joel Bradley.
There was no way back for the visitors and when substitute Roy Wood squared for the surging James Aitken to easily score the game was all but over.
Orkney did have a couple of efforts, both created by second-half replacement Kyron Taylor, but the Shetland defence were by and large in no mood to give anything away.
Captain Flaws did well for the winners but the most impressive players were probably those in defence, all four making their debuts against Orkney. Smith rampaged down the right and Bradley and Kay both found themselves on the scoresheet but the pick of them all was Duncan Fraser, a solid and calming influence throughout.
Orkney were best served by captain Erik Bews, Gareth Manson and Steven Edwards.
Flaws received the Milne Cup from his father Magnus, former Shetland Football Association president, while Johnston was named man of the match by former county player Glenn Gilfillan.
• Yesterday’s hockey match was cancelled after the Orkney players were stranded by fog and will now take place at Brae today, the team having travelled by ferry instead. For full reports and photos see The Shetland Times on Friday.