LAST Friday the Shetland Junior Football Association played hosts to neighbours Orkney, playing four games. Two friendly under-12 fixtures and an under-14 friendly were played as well as an inter-county fixture at under-16 level.
The Shetlanders did very well indeed, recording a clean sweep of victories. The under-12 A side recorded a 4-1 victory followed by a 2-0 win for the B side and a comprehensive 6-2 victory for the under-14s. The under 16s retained the Peter Morrison Memorial Cup by defeating the visitors 3-0.
Shetland A 4, Orkney A 1
Shetland made a confident start and it wasn’t long before the Orkney goal was under threat. After many close scrapes the deadlock was finally broken when Cameron Gibbs gathered a loose ball and despatched a powerful strike into the net.
As Shetland laid siege to the Orkney goal two goals were scored in close succession. First Liam Flaws pounced in the box to score and then the diminutive Gary Sutherland made no mistake when an opportunity presented itself.
The opening exchanges of the second half were very untidy though there was no doubt that Orkney were to proving more of a threat with the wind advantage. Indeed had it not been for two fantastic saves by goalkeeper Rob McDairmid the game may have taken a very different path.
Predictably though when an opportunity arises for Liam Flaws the young Ness forward makes no mistake, and this was the case as he grabbed his second to kill of the contest.
Orkney fought till the end and were rewarded with a consolation goal late in the game.
Thanks to his two goal haul Liam Flaws was named man of the match, though in truth there were no bad performances from the young Shetlanders.
Shetland B 2, Orkney B 0
The home side took inspiration from their colleagues’ fine victory beforehand and aided by a strong wind pinned Orkney back from the very first minute.
Despite some resilient defending it was no surprise when John Allan put Shetland ahead with a blistering strike from the edge of the box.
In the second half the young Shetland side passed the ball well and despite the windy conditions were proving more of a threat than their Orkney counterparts. Allan doubled Shetland’s advantage with another fantastic strike after a good passing move.
As the game moved towards its conclusion Orkney pressed forward in search of a lifeline but the Shetland rearguard of Goodlad, Whelan, Leishman, Colvin and Nicolson were in fine form to repel any attacks.
In a fantastic team effort a special mention must go to man of the match Luke Smith whose quality and diligence was instrumental in securing victory.
Shetland 6, Orkney 2
With the two sides having already competed for the inter-county in Kirkwall in June this match was labelled as a friendly, although as anyone involved in a derby will tell you any friendships are all well and good after the battle has ended.
Orkney had scored six goals to Shetland’s two down at Pickaquoy so confidence was running justifiably high in the away dressing room. Shetland, however, had gone from strength to strength since the last encounter and the notable scalps of Dundee United and Faroe were still fresh in the players’ minds.
Shetland started the brighter and played some neat flowing football which Orkney combated with some eager defending. An early shout for a penalty was waved aside by referee Robert Goudie when Lorne McNiven was barged into by the Orkney keeper.
Orkney’s first threat came from an in swinging corner which flew wind assisted into the Shetland net without a touch being applied.
This didn’t knock the home side out of their stride and they were level a couple of minutes later when Glen Henderson gathered the ball 12 yards out and neatly sidestepped a defender before placing his shot out of reach of the Orkney keeper.
Within five minutes Orkney regained the lead with an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box which flew in past the helpless Conal Peterson in the Shetland goal.
The play was end to end and with first half time running out McNiven skinned the Orkney full back as he made his way in on goal only to be brought crashing to the ground for a stonewall penalty. The centre forward picked himself up to duly convert the spot kick much to the delight of his team-mates.
Orkney almost grabbed a third when their centre forward went through one on one with Peterson but the Shetland keeper pulled off an excellent diving save to keep the score level until half time.
With the wind now blowing into the faces of the visitors, Shetland knew that Orkney’s long ball tactic would be less of a threat in the second half. The half time message was clear that to win they needed to pass the ball quicker and send the ball into the feet of the forwards. Orkney’s defence was looking ragged and with the pace of McNiven and the guile of Jack Clubb they could avenge the beating they took not so long ago.
Orkney could have and should have taken an early second half lead when their centre forward rounded Peterson 10 yards out and with an open goal in front of him delayed for a split second to allow Thomas Grant to get back and clear the ball to safety.
Within a minute Shetland had grabbed the lead from which there would be no way back for the visitors. And what a goal it was. McNiven gathered the ball on the halfway line and made inroads towards goal, trailing three defenders behind him. As the keeper rushed off his line the forward chipped the ball over him and into the net.
Shetland extended the lead shortly afterwards and it was McNiven who grabbed his hat trick when he ghosted in front of the keeper to send a header into the net after a brilliant run and cross from the excellent Iain Goodlad.
With the two-goal advantage and a tiring Orkney side it was time to make some substitutions. Orkney’s fight had lost impetus and Shetland displayed some of the best football they had played all season. It was no surprise when Roy Wood took a through ball from his captain James Farmer, steadied himself and curled the ball into the net from 20 yards.
Wood grabbed his second moments later when he hooked a volley home from 12 yards after some fine work from Nethan Watson.
Shetland 3, Orkney 0
After a difficult time at the Aberdeen International Football Festival the Shetland team had the opportunity to come back against more familiar opposition. However, games against Orkney are never easy and with the Morrison Cup at stake this was going to be a hard test for the squad.
The wet, windy conditions made controlling the ball tricky, but both teams set out from the start to play attacking football. Early on Allan Johnston and David Thomson started to take charge and with Connor Regan finding more room on the right Shetland started to put the away defence under pressure.
The weather conditions were with Shetland and from a corner Daniel Johnston opened the scoring when his in swinging corner avoided everyone (according to Johnston) to find the net.
Shetland doubled the lead when Johnston again cut in from the left to deceive the Orkney keeper with a well-judged chip into the far top corner.
Shetland’s domination at this stage was helped by some excellent movement from the front pairing of Sean Maver and James Aitken, which along with the overlapping runs from full backs Richard Sinclair and Tom Moncrieff opened the game up.
However, after conceding the early goals Orkney started to come more into the game with Thorfinn Stout in particular causing the home team problems. The Shetland central defensive pairing of Stuart Goodlad and Robert Smith who along with goalkeeper Grant Wood had been one of the successes in Aberdeen, were able to deal with the Orkney pressure and there was no further scoring before half time.
Shetland’s passing game was helped in the second half by playing into the wind and the boys combined well to produce some excellent flowing football. Despite this they were unable to add to the scoring and there was always the threat that Orkney could get back into the game.
Just before the end Shetland’s controlled play produced an outstanding goal to give a closer reflection on the final score. Moncrieff played a cutting pass behind the defence to Aitken who took it into the box before squaring a perfect cross for Regan who arrived late at the back post to shoot home.
Orkney could take heart that the result was much closer than last year when the two teams met. Shetland were pleased with their performance and it was a happy captain Robert Smith who received the cup on behalf of his team from Colin Morrison.