SHETLAND’s under-14 and under-16 football sides took part last week in the annual Aberdeen International Football Festival, with the younger side faring better, recording a win over eventual tournament winners Dundee United.
Shetland 3, Lewis Utd 3
Grampian district champions Lewis Utd provided Shetland with a combative opening match. As such the Shetland side found it difficult to settle into the game and soon went behind when a cut back was prodded home by striker Rose.
As Lewis Utd threatened to move further ahead Shetland had goalkeeper Connel Peterson to thank, holding one effort and tipping another behind. In the 33rd minute the game was all square thanks to arguably the goal of the tournament from Scott Henderson. The midfielder controlled and turned his marker in one movement and unleashed a volley from fully 30 yards that left the goalkeeper clawing at thin air.
In the opening moments of the second half timely interventions from Stuart and James Farmer thwarted the Lewis United attack. Peterson was once again called on to save bravely at a striker’s feet. Unfortunately he picked up an injury but couldn’t be replaced until after Rose had put Lewis Utd in front again with a glancing header.
Ali Scott was beginning to exert his authority on the game at this stage and it was from his through ball that Jamie Duffy found the net to level the scores once again. With all the excitement of the goal Shetland lost concentration and conceded immediately, Erskine’s curling effort leaving Gavin Colvin helpless.
To their immense credit Shetland came from behind once again with four minutes remaining. A Scott Henderson free kick looked net bound only for the goalkeeper to superbly push it onto the crossbar. Jamie Duffy slammed home the rebound for his brace. A fine save from Gavin Colvin in the last minute secured a well deserved point.
Shetland 2, Dundee Utd 1
Given the quality of the previous opponents Shetland were under no illusions of the test ahead. The opening passage was typically fraught and both sides were guilty of surrendering possession too easily. On one occasion Scott Henderson was afforded time on the ball and his incisive pass was well cut out by the United keeper.
The Arabs enjoyed a lot of the ball though a defence well marshalled by Thomas Clark and Finn Watt were proving resolute. On a rare foray forward in the 28th minute Matthew Williamson was sent crashing to the ground to present Shetland with a free kick 25 yards from goal. Henderson, buoyed by the previous day’s effort, saw his free kick crash off the juntion between post and bar and fall into the path of Glen Henderson who made no mistake in putting Shetland ahead.
With the Shetland team still climbing down off cloud nine United kicked off and levelled immediately. Sloppy defending was punished and striker Quail finished calmly. This provided a stimulus for the Arabs and in the opening period of the second half Gavin Colvin was largely responsible for keeping the scores level.
Frustrated by good defending and goalkeeping United pushed more men forward in the hope of a second goal.
With 10 minutes remaining Shetland punished this tactic with a well worked team goal. Stuart Farmer passed to Jack Clubb who in turn found Ali Scott. With time to look up Scott picked out Jamie Duffy who had burst in behind the Dundee United full back. Duffy controlled and calmly lifted the ball over the out rushing goalkeeper to give Shetland the lead.
With full time in sight Shetland scrapped for every ball and restricted Dundee United to little in the way of scoring opportunities and successfully saw out the remainder of the match. A fantastic result and performance by all involved which was made all the more impressive when Dundee United went on to win the tournament.
Shetland 3, Faroe 2
Knowing that a win would secure a semi-final berth, Shetland looked like men on a mission in the opening exchanges. It wasn’t long before they were ahead, Nethan Watson ghosting in behind the Faroese full back and volleying home Ali Scott’s well delivered cross. Glen Henderson doubled the advantage moments later. Again Scott’s left foot provided the opportunity and Henderson made no mistake.
Shetland were enjoying the bulk of the play though were grateful to a fantastic Stuart Farmer block when it looked like the Faroese forward was through on goal.
The second half was a minute old when Faroe hauled themselves back into the game, Sudaroy pouncing on a loose ball and scoring. Shetland responded to this well and were soon awarded a penalty when Lorne McNiven was felled in the penalty area. A crisp left foot strike from Jamie Duffy crashed off the inside of the post on to the prostrate goalkeeper and somehow stayed out of the net.
With seven minutes remaining this looked like a costly miss as Marsten took advantage of a Colvin error to square the game. As full time approached Shetland got a deserved winner. Thomas Clark, a stand out all week, found the bottom corner of the net with a 35 yard free kick.
Shetland 0, Aberdeen 7
Having secured qualification earlier that day a relaxed Shetland went up against a fully rested Aberdeen. What resulted was a lesson in how to play football. The Aberdeen side are regarded as being one of the top sides in the country at this level and play an attractive style of football.
The ball was zipped around the park all game with Shetland making little impression. It was 3-0 at half time thanks to goals from Coutts, Mutch and Ridgeway, while in the second half Coutts added a further three and Fraser rounded off the scoring.
That heads didn’t go down at any stage of the match was a credit to the Shetland team though they were roundly beaten by a better team. A name to watch out for in future is that of Dons and Scotland under-14 midfielder Jack Grimmer. He is deemed too advanced for under-14 football and has been moved to the under-16s to aid his development. He provided a masterclass in passing and movement and one that all of the Shetland players can learn from.
League Table at conclusion of group stage:
P W D L Pts
Aberdeen 4 4 0 0 12
Shetland 4 2 1 1 7
Dundee Utd 4 2 0 2 6
Lewis Utd 4 1 1 2 4
Faroe 4 0 0 4 0
Shetland 0, Lewis Utd 3
Pitted against their opening day’s opponents for a place in the final Shetland started positively and Jack Clubb tested the goalkeeper with a well struck volley in the second minute. On seven minutes Lewis Utd went ahead thanks to Robertson. The tall midfielder gathered a pass and unleashed a thunderous shot into the top corner leaving Colvin with no chance.
This lead was doubled sixty seconds later as Shetland surrendered possession from kick off and Fyvie finished from close range after good work from the wide midfielder. James Farmer was responsible for keeping the game alive with a timely challenge as Lewis Utd threatened once again.
As half time approached Lewis Utd were reduced to 10 men when the referee incorrectly deemed a challenge to have been two footed. With the extra man advantage Shetland began the second half positively and forced Lewis Utd on to the back foot. Ian Goodlad passed up a good opportunity to grab a goal when his effort cleared the cross bar.
As the half wore on Shetland were caught with a sucker punch as the ever industrious Erskine broke free and scored a third. Ali Scott was directing most of the play and chances were created and spurned, Scott Henderson coming closest with a header that was cleared off the line. As full time approached Finn Watt ventured forward and tried his luck with a volley from distance that was well saved once again.
Shetland 1, Cove Rangers 2
Shetland under 16s kicked off their competition against a typical Scottish youth side who allowed no time on the ball and took no time on the ball. Shetland were finding it difficult to settle and goalkeeper Grant Wood was called upon to tip a fierce effort over the bar on eight minutes. A minute later Wood could do nothing as a long throw was deflected into the net to give Cove the lead.
Connor Regan showcased his attacking instincts as he skipped past a couple of challenges and forced the goalkeeper into a good save. A succession of free kicks broke the game up and neither side was able to enjoy possession. A deflection was also responsible for drawing the game level. Regan once again skipped past a challenge and his deflected shot looped over the goalkeeper.
The second half began in the same vein as the first with little time afforded for either team to pass the ball. As the half wore on Shetland appeared fitter than their opponents and more at ease on the ball. David Thomson was beginning to move the ball around the park to some effect and Shetland were in the ascendancy though opportunities to threaten were rare.
With full time imminent Cove were awarded a corner kick and panic set in as all 11 Shetland players packed their box. With everyone getting in each other’s way Heads climbed highest to power home and cruelly grab the victory.
Shetland 0, IF Stavanger 2
Given the disappointment of the previous day’s defeat Shetland started off positively against a stereotype Scandinavian side with huge strikers serviced by early, long balls.
David Thomson tested the Stavanger goalkeeper with a crisp strike and opportunities were presenting themselves for Shetland to take the lead. Moments later though a Stavanger player tested the strength of the Shetland cross bar with a thunderous 30 yard effort.
In what would prove to be a turning point in the game the Stavanger goalkeeper cynically brought Alan Johnston down outside the box when the powerful striker was certain to put Shetland in front. The referee decided not order the goalkeeper off and he was then responsible for making a fine save from the resulting free kick.
Early in the second half the two Johnstons, Alan and Daniel, combined to give James Aitken an opportunity on goal which he lifted over the bar. Alan Johnston then passed up an even better chance when played through by Thomson. A goal looked inevitable with the majority of the game being played in the Stavanger half.
Alan Johnston once more tested the goalkeeper who could only parry the ball to Daniel Johnston, his effort agonisingly clearing the bar. A script is not required for what happened next as in virtually their first foray forward the largely ineffective 6ft 6in Vier left the Shetland defence for dead. Baring down on goal the big striker showed good composure to draw Wood and square to Baardsen to give the Norwegians the lead.
Sensing injustice Shetland once again applied pressure on the opponents though it was to ultimately prove fruitless. To rub salt into the wounds Vier grabbed a goal in injury time as he forced his way into the box and blasted the ball into the net.
Shetland 0, Faroe 1
Faced with the toughest opponents in their group Shetland banished the previous results from their minds and started well. Indeed Stuart Lavender would have grabbed the lead had it not been for a tremendous double save from the Faroese goalkeeper.
A combination of good goal–keeping and defending kept the score level as first Grant Wood saved well and then Tom Moncrieff headed over the bar when running back towards his own goal. The Faroese central midfielder, courted by many SPL sides during the tournament, showed his class as he evaded a challenge and rattled the post with a fine effort.
The second half began in the worst possible manner as indecision from kick off presented Nolsoe with an opportunity to put Faroe ahead with which he made no mistake. Wood was proving his worth in the Shetland goal as Faroe turned up the pressure. Somehow he turned an effort over the bar which was in danger of bursting the net to much applause.
Shetland were dealt a blow when Stuart Goodlad was forced off with an ankle injury. If his parnership with the equally impressive Robert Smith is anything to go by Shetland have an outstanding central defence to look forward to. As the game moved towards its closing stages Faroe were relentless in their pressure and Wood and the crossbar saved Shetland from falling further behind.
League Table at conclusion of group stage:
P W D L Pts
Faroe 3 2 1 0 7
Cove Rangers 3 2 1 0 7
Stavanger IF 3 1 0 2 3
Shetland 3 0 0 3 0
Shetland 1, Dyce BC 2
Following their elimination from the competition proper, Shetland faced the prospect of a consolation game against local side Dyce Boys Club. If anyone was unaware of how luck had deserted the Shetland side it was brought into sharp focus almost immediately as a Dyce player stood on the ball, fell over and was awarded a free kick despite no Shetland player being within 10 yards of him.
Indeed this characterised what was a terrible refereeing performance that spoiled the match. In saying all this had the Shetland players applied themselves in the same manner as their three group games they would have won this game comfortably.
David Thomson was one of the few bright spots in an ineffective first half, his free kick finding the wrong side of the post. Magnus Isbister, making his debut, was also proving an able deputy to Stuart Goodlad who had been ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.
Dyce scored two goals in the opening moments of the second half. First Kinnaird proded home after good wing play. The same player doubled the lead after a well worked team goal. Davie Williamson in the Shetland goal then turned away a dangerous ball to keep Shetland in the match. With a minute remaing Robert Smith powerfully headed into the net from a Steven McKay corner kick. This proved too little too late as the final whistle sounded soon after.
Shetland 3, Old Benonions 5
Shetland raced into an early lead when Stuart Lavender finished at the second attempt after a fine save. Old Ben’s Francis levelled soon after with a fine solo effort and finish. Undettered, Shetland secured a two goal advantage as first James Aitken placed a volley past the goalkeeper and then Alan Johnston capitalised on defensive indecision.
Despite a different coloured shirt Shetland were being officiated by the same abject referee as the day before. This was highlighted once again when Daniel Johnston was ordered off on the stroke of half time and a penalty awarded. This was duly scored amid apologies from the fourth official. Old Bens took full advantage of their spare man and flooded forwards at every opportunity. Francis grabbed his second before a cruel own goal and a McArthur goal rounded off the scoring.
Undoubtedly Shetland didn’t get the rewards for their efforts. In saying this though there were plenty of lessons to be learned which if heeded will undoubetly improve this group of players.
A spokesman for the Shetland Football Association wished to thank their sponsors Brudolff Hotels and Hjaltland Seafarms Ltd for their continued support. The coaches would also extend their thanks to Niall Bristow for his help and input in preparation for the tournament and to the players who performed and behaved throughout the entire trip.