The senior football season got off to a start on Friday and Monday with victories in the G&S Flooring Premier League for Delting, Whitedale, Thistle and champions Whalsay, with the latter having to overcome a stiff challenge from Ness United before eventually triumphing at home in Symbister.
Celtic 1, Delting 3
A young Celtic side including six juniors played good football but perhaps showed a lack of experience, ultimately costing them dearly as chances were not taken and costly errors were made at the other end. But the brutal fact is that goals win games.
The home side started well and the early exchanges were even but Delting went ahead in the ninth minute following slack defensive work in the hoops defence. Young Tom Moncrieff failed to clear from his own box, the ball fell to Paul Leask at the edge of the area and the veteran midfielder pushed it directly to a maroon shirt. It was knocked wide to Leighton Flaws who sent a good cross to the back post where Peter Peterson had all the time in the world to send a looping header over Grant Wood.
Celtic should have been offered a great chance to draw level five minutes later but referee Michael Grant failed to award what looked like a certain penalty kick when James Aitken was bowled over in the box by Neil Hay.
Delting keeper Danny Reid, to many a surprise inclusion at the expense of stalwart Craig Dinwoodie, looked shaky with high balls but there was no-one on hand when he dropped a Lowrie Simpson cross on the 16-minute mark.
With 35 minutes played Celtic drew level when good passing in midfield released Daniel Johnston on the left. He drove at the Delting defence, eased past two defenders and placed a great ball across the box, where Lowrie Simpson stole in ahead of the central defence to knock the ball home.
At the other end Wood kept the scores level with a great reflex save before Delting once more took the lead with five minutes left before the interval. A free kick on the halfway line was floated into the box and the Celtic defence was static as the ball fell to Fraser Hall who would have had time to tie his boot laces before turning and slamming the ball past Wood.
Celtic’s overall play did not alter much after the break; they were certainly playing the better passing football while Delting relied on long balls and a simpler style of play. However, that direct approach was to produce a killer blow for the home side with 10 minutes played.
Another free kick on halfway was driven into the box by Flaws. Wood misread the flight of the ball and it slipped through his hands and into the net and with it went any chance of a Celtic comeback.
The remainder of the game followed the pattern which had already been set. Celtic held the upperhand but failed to take the chances when they presented themselves while Merv Jamieson and Neil Hay in particular held the back door shut for the visitors.
A last real chance to get back into contention fell to Joel Bradley when a corner from the right evaded the Delting defence. The big defender probably should have put his head on the ball but chose to attempt a side foot finish and it glanced past the far post.
Delting deserved the points simply because they took the two opportunities presented to them and were fortunate with an early season gift while Celtic must learn to take chances and gamble on the half chances.
Best on the night for the home side were Bradley, Simpson and Tom Moncrieff while Delting’s better performances came from Merv Jamieson and Neil Hay.
Spurs 0, Whitedale 4
No report was received from the home side but Jamie Wilson got a hat-trick for Whitedale with Duncan Anderson also weighing in.
Whalsay 2, Ness United 1
Last year’s champions were given a very tough test by a very committed and organised Ness on Monday night.
For the first half the visitors were by far the better side and it took some good defending from the islanders to prevent Ness from turning their possession into chances.
Ness did get their reward after 25 minutes when a long kick from keeper Erik Peterson was not dealt with and Kevin Manson ran through on to the bouncing ball to unleash an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net from just inside the box.
Kevin Smith almost doubled the Ness lead moments later when he fired a shot goalward that the Whalsay keeper had to touch around the post. Whalsay did manage a couple of forays up the park but on the odd occasion the ball did head goalwards Peterson was on fine form.
The second half saw an immediate improvement from the home side, and after 55 minutes Whalsay were awarded an indirect free kick inside the area, the referee deeming that a pass back had been handled by the keeper. Karl Williamson stepped forward to drill the ball past the 11-man defensive wall.
Whalsay almost took the lead through Brian Irvine, whose close-range header was scooped away from goal by Peterson.
After that the play became very fragmented with both sides struggling to gain any fluency and the winner when it came for Whalsay had a touch of good fortune about it.
A free kick more than 40 yards out was curled in by Richard Arthur and with everyone waiting for someone else to get a head or a foot on it the ball seemingly evaded everyone and nestled in the far corner of the goal. The dubious goals committee afterwards decreed that the ball had brushed off Stuart Goodlad’s ankle en route to goal.
For the remaining 10 minutes Ness tried for the equaliser and it was a relieved Whalsay team which heard Michael Grant’s whistle at the end.
Thistle 5, Scalloway 1
The sides kicked off their league campaign on Monday night at Gilbertson Park, where sporadic snow and rain showers over the previous 24 hours, combined with a blustery wind, made playing conditions difficult.
A scrappy first half saw the Jags take the lead after 15 minutes. While attempting to clear a through ball, Scalloway keeper Bryan Johnson completely missed his kick and Tony Sim, following up, gleefully tucked away the loose ball from an acute angle.
The village side equalised in the 41st minute when, following a corner, the home defence failed to clear their lines and former Thistle striker Gary Burns pounced to fire home from around 12 yards.
The second half became the Stuart Smith show. Having tarnished his record somewhat in the first half by being shown a yellow card by referee Robbie Leask, the veteran midfielder more than redeemed himself with three goals in the space of 15 minutes.
The first arrived after 61 minutes when Smith placed a well-struck shot beyond Johnson. The second followed in 72 minutes when the shot did not look to be troubling Johnson as it was straight at him. However, he somehow allowed the ball to squirm from his grasp and over the line.
Four minutes later Smith ran through unchallenged and calmly slotted the ball beyond the despairing Johnson to register his first hat-trick in some years.
Young Thistle right back Calvin Leask notched the fifth a few minutes before the final whistle when his speculative cross into the box completely deceived everyone and bounced into the corner of the net.