Whalsay, Celtic and Thistle all picked up two wins as Premier League football returned after the island games lay-off, with the first two named moving to within two points of leaders Delting, although Celtic have played a game more.
Celtic 2, Unst 0
A blustery night at Seafield saw Celtic with first half wind advantage and all the early pressure.
Jordan Webb’s dead ball deliveries caused problems for the Unst defence and with only five minutes gone the home side were ahead when Robert Smith gathered a loose ball, from a Webb corner, on the edge of the six-yard box. With his back to goal he turned quickly and fired a shot just inside the post, giving keeper Derek Duncan little time to react.
Joe Leask carved out opportunities down the right and after 15 minutes Lowrie Simpson could have put the home side two up after James Aitken flicked a header across the face of the goal but he couldn’t quite direct his effort goalwards.
Connor Regan then did well to find Leask clear in the middle but his shot crashed back off the post.
Celtic failed to capitalise on further attacks and could have seen the lead wiped out after Unst’s first venture into the Celtic box saw Paul Grant well positioned to pull off a good save when a through ball from Ian Johnson found Simon Robin in space down the middle.
Aitken, Leask and Regan all had chances for Celtic before the pressure eventually paid off when Aitken picked up a long cross from Webb from the right wing and slotted the ball wide of the advancing keeper.
With five minutes of the half remaining Webb found Regan down the right but his shot from a very tight angle was off target.
Just on half time Robin found Erik Thomson in the clear. His quick feet carved out an excellent opportunity but he blasted over from close range.
Celtic started the second half brightly and could have been three up early on had Simpson’s shot hit the target after good work down the left. Regan came close as his near-post header just cleared the bar and Aitken blasted a half chance over the bar from the edge of the box.
Justin Watson forced a save from Duncan with a header from another corner and Leask failed to get enough power on a header from close range.
Unst weathered the pressure, began to take the game to Celtic and were unlucky not to reduce the deficit after 60 minutes when a shot from David Sutherland came back off the bar.
Robin was always a danger up front for visitors and will be disappointed he didn’t find the net on two occasions, Grant getting down well to smother one of his chances.
With 10 minutes remaining Unst had a strong penalty claim turned down after a clumsy challenge by the Celtic keeper as he gathered a loose ball just inside the box.
Whalsay 3, Spurs 2
With both teams trailing Delting neither felt they could afford to drop any points in this pulsating encounter. With a strong wind blowing diagonally down the pitch Whalsay were finding it difficult to gain any control on the ball and Spurs, playing into the wind, passed the ball more accurately in the early stages.
Whalsay did manage to come more into the play but couldn’t threaten Kyle Duncan’s goal as Spurs were defending well and restricting them mainly to shots from distance. Stuart Shearer did come close with a header following a corner but his effort went over the bar.
Spurs were also looking lively, the accurate passing from the midfield of James Johnson, Josie Kay and Shane Jamieson combined with the running of Danny Finnie and Sam Goudie causing problems.
Goudie should have put Spurs ahead when he was played through on goal but he fired his effort straight at Grant thomson in the Whalsay goal.
This was a temporary setback as moments later Goudie struck a sublime shot from the edge of the area that sailed into the corner of Thomson’s goal to put Spurs 1-0 ahead.
Whalsay pressed forward and Brian Irvine almost equalised when he outstripped the Spurs defence but his final shot was screwed wide. Whalsay did level things in the 40th minute when a free kick was flighted in by Magnus Polson for John Montgomery to stride in at the back post unchallenged to head home.
Whalsay managed to take the lead before half time, Laurence Pearson showing his strength to out-muscle the Spurs defence and centre a ball for Brian Irvine to dispatch brilliantly past Duncan into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
The second half saw Spurs probably enjoy the bulk of the territorial advantage and possession but Whalsay were now defending in numbers and this came to their aid when following a corner several Spurs players had a go at smashing the ball in but somehow the Whalsay defence kept the ball out, Polson’s goal line block being the pick of the stops.
Spurs were not to be denied though and on the hour mark Josie Kay was presented with an opportunity from almost 30 yards and scored the goal of the game, his left-footed effort rocketing past the diving Thomson.
That seemed to spark Whalsay into life and they would have regained the lead had it not been for an unbelievable save by Kyle Duncan who kept out a strike by Stuart Shearer from 12 yards, tipping the seemingly goalbound effort round the post.
Montgomery almost scored his second, crashing the ball off the underside of the bar following a corner.
Just when it looked like a draw, Magnus Polson played in a perfect cross and Stuart Shearer arrived at the back post just ahead of his marker to fire the ball home.
Whitedale 4, Scalloway 2
The home side were slightly stronger for the first 15 minutes, but the strong wind in their favour was not helping with a lot of through balls being over hit.
Good closing down by Jamie Wilson resulted in Whitedale’s first goal when the speedy forward robbed a Scalloway defender wide on the left and squared the ball to Ryan Jozwyk who finished low to the keeper’s right. Shortly afterwards Duncan Anderson made it two with a goal from close range.
Scalloway started to edge into the game and were playing some good two-touch passing up the left flank with David Sjoberg, Rhydian Reynolds and Robert Garrick linking well. They deservedly got back in the game when Whitedale went to sleep, allowing Garrick to take a quick free kick to Sjoberg who slid the ball past the keeper.
The second half saw Whitedale take control and Jamie Wilson found the net twice, his second after in a strong run and finish in off the post.
Scalloway battled away and Gary Burns scored a late goal from close range to complete the scoring.
It was a good second half from Whitedale with Duncan Fraser and Kevin Nicolson looking confortable at the back, while for Scalloway stand-in keeper Scott Henderson played well as did Jamie Allan.
Yell 1, Delting 7
Yell fielded a very weakened team which included gaffer John Saunders in the line-up.
Delting attacked straight away and got the breakthrough when Leighton Flaws was played though one on one with the keeper and finished easily. Fraser Hall got two goals before half time to make the score 3-0.
The second half was much the same but Yell did manage a few attacks and got a goal through some determined work from Jack Jamieson.
Flaws got two more goals to complete his hat trick, the first of which was hit from 35 yards and went in off the bar. Merv Jamieson and Ross MacDougal completed the scoring.
Ness United 0, Thistle 4
Ness took to the field a little understrength due to injury and illness but using the wind dominated territory and possession without forcing too many saves from the Thistle keeper.
Thistle hit on the break at speed and despite not seeing much of the ball went in to the break two up due to crosses which were not dealt with.
Ness came out in the second half and played much better. They were continuing to have more of the ball and territory even though they were now against the wind. However, with Redfern injured and Smith playing in a deeper role they were just not penetrating enough up front and when Thistle scored from a corner the game was over. Thistle scored a fourth just before the final whistle.
It was a good result for the Jags but Ness will feel the game was much closer than the score suggests. Scorers for Thistle were Stevie Michael, Craig Gerty (2) and Scott Morrison.
Unst 2, Thistle 5
This was a very close match and the home side can be disappointed that they failed to take something against their town rivals.
Unst opened the scoring after 10 minutes when Simon Robin broke down the right and slotted the ball past the keeper’s right hand. Unst should have gone further ahead when Erik Thomson was clear at the left hand post but somehow scufffed his shot wide.
Thistle seized their chance and when Darren Thomson failed to clear a free kick into the box, Scott Morrison drilled the ball home inside the left post, giving keeper Derk Duncan little chance.
Thistle went further ahead when Scott Evans broke down the left and crossed low and and hard into the box for Steve Michael to drive the ball home. They went three one up when a weak pass back from Andrew Hunter was eagerly pounced on by Morrison for his second.
Not to be outdone, Unst continued to press and after good work on the left by Paul Henderson, Jordan Johnson passed neatly for Robin to grab his second goal from close in.
However, Thistle kept the two-goal cushion with a low shot through the box from Tommy Walterson which whistled into the right hand corner of the net.
After the break Unst had the chance to pull one back when Erik Thomson was brought down in the box. Paul Henderson stepped up and promptly drove the ball wide of the right hand post. The score stayed that way for most of the half, although keeper Derek Duncan had a couple of fine saves in the home goal.
Both teams both brought on substitutes and Thistle notched a final goal near the final whistle when Neil Riddell beat the defence to strike home number five.
In a close, sporting match, Thistle were well organised and took their chances, while Unst will rue the number of chances they passed up.
Scalloway 2, Whalsay 7
Scalloway almost got off to a dream start when Gary Burns’ unstoppable shot from the edge of the area crashed off the underside of the bar and was stopped on the line by keeper Grant Thomson.
Stewart Shearer made the most of some sloppy marking at a corner to fire Whalsay into an early lead. The second goal arrived minutes later when once again Scalloway’s inability to defend set plays was punished when Gary Jamieson was given space to score at the back post.
Scalloway went on to play some fine passing football and were given an opportunity to pull a goal back from the penalty spot after Gary Burns was felled. Once again Thomson came to Whalsay’s rescue as he dived full length to save Robert Garrick’s well struck spot kick.
As half time approached Whalsay came close when another header from a corner struck the crossbar and Scalloway pulled a goal back when Garrick’s driven corner was sliced into the net by defender Colin Leask.
In the opening minutes of the second half a Whalsay free kick was flicked in to the path of Michael Williamson who placed the ball inside the post to extend Whalsay’s lead.
A spectacular Brian Irvine overhead kick went narrowly wide but Irvine did add his name to the scoresheet when he picked up Ian Simpson’s pass before blasting the ball into the bottom corner.
Stewart Shearer added his second of the match with a good finish from a cut back before another dangerous Garrick corner was once again turned into the net by Leask to reduce the deficit.
In the closing minutes a defensive mix up allowed James Shearer to tap in Whalsay’s sixth before Laurence Pearson scored the goal of the night with a spectacular 25-yard free kick that looped into the far top corner.
Whalsay fully deserved their victory but were given a much closer game than the score suggests. Best on the night for the visitors was keeper Grant Thompson while for Scalloway youngster Blair Mackay was the pick of the bunch with David Sjoberg and Aaron Leask also impressing.
Whitedale 2, Celtic 4
Celtic’s young side gave Whitedale a lesson in finishing for the first 45 minutes with Joe Leask getting a hat trick and Connor Regan adding number four without any response from the home side.
Whitedale appeared to be still enjoying their victory in the Manson Cup on Saturday and came down to earth following Celtic’s well-deserved lead at the break.
Stand-in manager Martin Gibbs must have done an Alex Ferguson with the hair dryer during the interval as Whitedale came out a different team after the break.
The Strom outfit got a great Jamie Wilson goal which he followed up with a superb pass to set up Duncan Anderson to score a second. However, it was to prove too little as Celtic held out to gain a very useful win in their quest for a high league finish.
For league table and fixtures, see the next edition of The Shetland Times on Friday.