Shetland defeated Orkney narrowly in the annual under-16 football inter-county match while the local under-15 squad had a slightly more comfortable victory when they took on the same opponents.
Shetland 2, Orkney 1
After their recent success down at the Loch Lomond international tournament, Shetland went out against their rivals full of confidence.
The home side were at full strength and made one change from the winning Stirling line-up. Ali Scott was back into midfield, Declan Adamson dropped on to the bench with Richard Sinclair being pushed into a striking role alongside Whitedale team mate Lorne McNiven.
Orkney took an early foothold and with strong running and slick passing they served notice to Shetland that they did not fear reputations.
Despite the visitors’ early advance it was the home side who carved out the first real chance when James Aitken shook off his marker before crossing to McNiven, but the striker’s header lacked power and the keeper made an easy save.
Orkney continued to press forward and opened the scoring with a surging run down the middle of the park from Thorfin Stout who unleashed a powerful drive outside the penalty box past Scott Nicolson into the net.
It was a blow to the home side but it confirmed Orkney’s firm grip of the play. Shetland’s football was scrappy with players struggling to find a touch. Shetland were on counterattack and almost got an equaliser when Haydn Thomason’s strike curled inches by the post.
Slowly Shetland started to exert more pressure and grabbed a goal through Martyn Stevenson. Richard Sinclair worked his way to the box and the laid the ball on a plate for the midfielder to slot the ball home. The half came to an end with relief from boys in blue and no further scoring.
There were a few changes in the second half. Adamson came on for Thomason and Sinclair dropped to midfield to test the Orkney back line with his pace and trickery and it wasn’t long before he fled down the wing, but his cross was cleared by the Orkney defender.
Shetland were becoming more dominant in the middle areas and James Farmer and Stuart McLeod were not shy to get forward on occasions. The game opened up and the home team stretched their opponents more and more but the Orkney team was resolute.
Shetland needed a bit of magic to win and Adamson conjured it as he picked up the ball 30 yards from the goal and drove the ball into the top corner.
Orkney were drained but with 15 minutes left they had to try and push on. They tried a more direct route but couldn’t push through the home defence.
As referee Steven Goodlad brought the game to an end the Shetland team celebrated as the Morrison Cup was retained for a fourth consecutive year. Ivor Morrison presented the trophy to captain Martyn Stevenson who praised the Orkney team for their game and the way they pushed Shetland all the way.
Lorne McNiven was nominated Shetland’s man of the match while Thorfin Stout picked up the Orkney accolade.
Shetland Under-15s 4, Orkney 1
Shetland’s development squad gained due reward for a six-month long training period with a friendly match against the Orkney side who were narrowly defeated by their Shetland under-16 counterparts.
The under-15s had trained alongside the older boys and had shown great talent and application throughout the summer, so it would be interesting to see them play a team a year above them.
Orkney dominated the first 20 minutes and Shetland were pushed onto the back foot and made the defenders work hard. Goalkeeper Connel Peterson pulled off a couple of diving saves and confidence slowly started to seep in.
Shetland captain Stuart Farmer was getting a grip in midfield, breaking up the strong Orkney runs. That gave playmaker Glen Henderson the opportunity to probe the Orkney rearguard. As Shetland pushed for an opener Jack Clubb found a bit of space inside the corner of the 18-yard box and sent a volley over the keeper into the net.
Shetland hit their stride and played some excellent open football which left Orkney struggling to cope. Five minutes before half time a corner for Clubb saw Roy Wood hit goal number two home. Orkney looked tired as the confident Shetland team moved the ball with ease around the pitch.
Early in the second half Ness United’s James Farmer came on in midfield alongside his twin Stuart. The impact was immediate as he beat his marker with his first touch them split the Orkney defence in two with his second, sending Clubb through to tuck the ball past the keeper for number three.
Orkney were stung but they battled back and Shetland’s defensive line had to look lively as their opponents tried to find a way into the game.
Most of their efforts came from long range and didn’t threaten Peterson’s goal until, with 15 minutes to go Linklater broke free at the edge of the box and fired a shot into the net.
Any chances for Orkney to fight for the game were diminished when Lorne McNiven sidestepped past a couple of defenders and sent the ball into the net to finish the game off at 4-1.
It was a tremendous day for the home side and the manner in which they played would suggest they are ready for the challenges ahead.
Jamie Duffy, Glen Henderson and Jack Clubb provided the guile and skill to a slick Shetland side. Man of the match was Stuart Farmer who provided grit and determination. The back four worked as a tight unit and the unselfish workload of Roy Wood up front caused no end of problems for Orkney.