Celtic 3 Whalsay 2
CELTIC triumphed over Whalsay in the Manson Cup Final on Saturday in an entertaining game before a rowdy crowd at the Gilbertson Park.
With both sides showing several changes from the Madrid Cup Final in early June this promised to be a much closer game. Whalsay were without regular keeper Grant Thomson and long-term casualties Colin Anderson and Robert Geddes while Celtic welcomed back Joe Leask, Jordan Hunter and Brett Haining.
Playing with wind advantage the Lerwick side made the early running, successfully releasing Joe Leask wide on the right but his crosses saw no takers with only one front man on each side.
Ross Moncrieff found himself in a good position after 10 minutes but struck his shot well over the bar. The same player made a timely interception just inside the Whalsay half and played in Dominic Mann but the Celtic centre forward did not manage to get a shot away and wasted a glorious chance to test stand-in keeper Magnus Polson.
Whalsay came more into the game when Ian Simpson released Ross Irvine but his cross shot was easily handled by Paul Grant in the Celtic goal. The deadlock was eventually broken when Ross Moncrieff played a clever pass inside the Whalsay right back and Ryan Grant ran on to score low in the corner. The response was almost immediate as Laurence Pearson played in Ross Irvine and he shot narrowly wide when well placed.
Celtic weathered the pressure and could have scored a second when Jordan Webb and Moncrieff both spurned chances, although Polson pulled off a great save low to his left to deny the latter.
However, with half time approaching Celtic produced the move of the match. Webb found Ryan Grant wide on the left and his early cross was smacked home by Leask from the edge of the penalty area.
Webb then spurned yet another chance and Whalsay were glad to hear the half time whistle as their passing had been lacklustre by their standards.
The second half did not start well for the isles side as they lost Connor Muchmore to an ankle injury after a late tackle from Moncrieff which went unpunished; he was replaced by Anthony Shearer.
Allister Johnson shot just wide from a Ross Irvine flick and then from a corner Whalsay pulled a goal back.
Colin Leask picked up a loose clearance and his mishit shot was well controlled by Laurence Pearson as he turned neatly and placed the ball into the corner.
Celtic’s response came when Moncrieff’s driving run and inviting cross was cleared for a corner and the same player was on hand to score with a brave diving header in the middle of the six yard box when the ball came across. The Whalsay defence were guilty of leaving it to each other.
The game then became a bit feisty with both Gary Jamieson and Jordan Hunter being booked for late tackles. Whalsay increased the pressure and Paul Grant did well with a double save, although it turned out that Irvine was offside for the second.
Minutes later the same player latched on to a Johnson chip and calmly placed the ball home form the edge of the area. Ten minutes to go and could Whalsay take the game to extra time? Irvine almost did so when his vicious left foot drive took a slight deflection on to the post; that said, a minute later and Celtic could have sown it up as Moncrieff bulleted another header from a corner against the post and the ball was scrambled clear.
In the dying seconds Johnson was clean through on the right but Paul Grant got down well to save his low shot and ensure that Celtic won their first trophy since 2001 and the Manson Cup for the first time since 1996.
Overall, Celtic just deserved their win on the basis of their first half performance and the fact they had the outstanding player on the park in Ross Moncrieff who must have impressed county manager John Johnson in his midfield role.
Whalsay must be credited for their fightback in the second half and will consider themselves unfortunate not to have taken the game into extra time.