Shetland 0 Western Isles 1
A solitary goal midway through the second half saw a slightly under strength Shetland slip to a rare home defeat against a well-organised Western Isles side in a disappointing game of football at Gilbertson Park on Friday evening.
The visitors’ impressive skipper Donald McKay capitalised on an error of judgment from goalkeeper Erik Peterson, who came from his line but failed to collect a free kick, and swept the ball home after the first rebound had been fired against the post.
The goal had come against the run of play, as Shetland had their strongest spell of a strangely subdued 90 minutes shortly after the interval, but the defeat will leave manager John Jamieson under no illusions about the amount of work to be done ahead of the Island Games in Åland in two months’ time.
Shetland lined up without any of their students and, with Delting’s veteran goalkeeper Craig Dinwoodie and team-mate Ross Jamieson also absent, played into a slight breeze in the first half. They found it difficult to make many inroads into a physically strong visiting back four, who were marshalled well by McKay.
It took until the 10th minute for an attempt at goal and when it did come, Peter Peterson’s effort was sliced out for a throw-in. The shot did at least herald the first brief flurry of pressure from the home side, with the Western Isles rearguard at full stretch to deal with a series of dangerous deliveries from Leighton Flaws, the last of which saw striker Ross MacDougal nod wide when unmarked at the back post.
But as the half wore on the visitors gradually grew more comfortable in possession and a few stray and misplaced passes saw captain Merv Jamieson and his charges becoming frustrated at the scrappy nature of the football on show.
Thirty-four minutes in, Flaws was released wide on the right by a fine Richard Arthur pass and, with little support from his team-mates, fired in a cross-cum-shot which brought the Western Isles’ goalkeeper into action.
The half-time interval seemed to stir Shetland from their slumber and within 60 seconds a handball on the right side of the penalty area, which prevented James Johnston from getting into a dangerous area, was penalised. From the resulting free-kick Josie Kay’s well-struck left footer was just a foot or so too high.
A minute later the same player almost broke the deadlock after the finest move of the game by some distance, when Duncan Anderson got away on the right. His cutback was neatly dummied by MacDougal for Kay, whose 15-yard effort was clawed away by the goalkeeper before Dominic Mann scuffed the rebound, albeit at an angle, wide of the target. He was soon replaced by Thistle’s diminutive forward Craig Gerty, on for his first taste of action with the county side, as Shetland sought to build up a head of steam.
But any momentum they had been generating was swiftly killed off when Mackay rolled the ball home at the other end in the 62nd minute.
The visitors, who have won bronze medals at each of the last two Island Games and triumphed 3-1 in Stornoway in the previous meeting of these sides, began to show their added experience and stifled the home side’s advances, content to protect their single-goal lead for the remainder of the game.
Shetland introduced winger Scott Morrison in place of the hard-working Anderson but, aside from a couple of stirring runs from Johnston and a few long throws from Flaws, were unable to create any clear chances for an equaliser. Flaws did fire a 25-yard free-kick narrowly wide after his own run from the halfway line had been illegitimately halted, but by and large the Western Isles were able to play out the remainder of the match fairly comfortably.
The main plus point for Shetland was a very solid-looking back four, while none of those on show could be accused of a lack of effort and a case could be made that they didn’t deserve to lose in what was a tight and closely-fought encounter. But the lack of penetration and a cutting edge in the final third against opponents of this standard will be of some concern to Jamieson as he seeks to fashion a team capable of rubbing shoulders with the likes of Guernsey and Jersey this summer.
For full report, see Friday’s edition of The Shetland Times.
Shetland line-up: Erik Peterson; Leighton Flaws, Peter Peterson, Merv Jamieson (captain), Richard Arthur; Duncan Anderson (Scott Morrison), Josie Kay (Gary Jamieson), Karl Williamson, James Johnston; Ross MacDougal, Dominic Mann (Craig Gerty)