The Shetland Football Association’s fixture card was well and truly decimated this week with only Monday’s fixtures in the Madrid Cup going ahead. Friday’s Madrid Cup games all fell foul of the weather with the exception of the the Group 2 game between Whalsay and Delting which was awarded as a win to the home team as Delting were unable to field a team.
Madrid Cup Group 1
Spurs 1, Thistle 2
Spurs played host to town rivals Thistle at Gilbertson Park with both sides looking to get their Madrid Cup campaign off to the best possible start. The game started at a frantic pace with both sides trying to take control of the midfield.
Spurs had the better of these opening exchanges as they controlled possession and put Thistle under considerable pressure. The flanks were proving to be a very productive area for Spurs with both Scott Morrison and Sam Ward having the beating of the Thistle full backs. During this period Spurs created numerous half chances but failed to test Steven Henry in the Thistle goal.
Spurs finally managed to break the deadlock 20 minutes into the game when referee Derrick Bradley awarded a penalty to Spurs. James Johnston picked the ball up on the left flank and drove infield, beating two Thistle players before Kevin Gifford tripped him inside the penalty box. Johnston picked himself up and calmly dispatched the resulting penalty past Henry.
At this point Spurs looked like running away with the game but could not find the killer touch in front of goal. Thistle were still very much in the game and nearly equalised when Stuart Smith broke clear only to be thwarted by a combination of Gregor Manson and Bobby Wiseman, the latter making his debut in the Spurs goal.
Thistle then stole an equaliser on the stroke of half time when a long ball played into the channel found Craig Gerty who neatly lobbed the ball over the on-rushing Wiseman.
The second half started much the same as the first with Spurs applying a lot of pressure to the Thistle defence; however their finishing didn’t match their good build-up play. You felt that it was only a matter of time before Spurs would score, however they would come to rue their lack of composure in front of goal when a 10 minute spell in the middle of the second half changed the course of the game.
First Thistle scored to take a 2-1 lead. A Spurs attack was broken up by Kevin Teale who then slid the ball through an exposed Spurs defence for Stuart Smith who drilled the ball past Wiseman. Then Bradley rightly gave Lewis Kay his marching orders for two bookable offences in a five minute spell.
Although Spurs continued to press in search of the equaliser it was Thistle who came closest to scoring when Smith struck a shot from a tight angle that somehow rebounded off both posts before being cleared. Thistle will take great heart from this battling display whereas Spurs will have to discover their goal-scoring touch if they are to capture any silverware this season.
Scalloway 4, Celtic 3
The visitors dominated the opening 20 minutes and raced into a two goal lead as Scalloway struggled to cope with their opponents’ movement and the heavy playing surface. The first goal was a coolly dispatched penalty from Jordan Webb after Connor Regan was felled by a mistimed tackle.
Regan was also involved in Celtic’s second as he cut in from the right wing before unselfishly setting up Lowrie Simpson for a simple tap in. After some minor tactical adjustments Scalloway finally started to compete and were rewarded when a determined Steven Umphray burst through the Celtic defence before coolly rounding the keeper and finishing from an acute angle. The equaliser arrived minutes later when a back heel pass from Gary Burns sent Robert Garrick clear and he placed the ball into the corner of the net.
An unlikely first half comeback was completed when Duncan Cumming’s driven shot through a crowded penalty area was flicked into the net by Laurence Pearson. Both teams were forced to make changes at the break due to injuries and after the restart Celtic levelled the tie when a defence splitting pass released James Aitken who left the Scalloway defence in his wake before finishing past keeper Bryan Johnson.
Both teams had opportunities to take the lead, however it was Scalloway who claimed the points after Grant Gilfillan won possession on the wing and his cross picked out Laurence Pearson whose controlled volley found the roof of the net.
In the closing period Celtic pushed for an equaliser but were thwarted several times by keeper Bryan Johnson and some determined defending. The visitors will feel unlucky to have lost the match with Ross Moncrieff in particular having a good game while keeper Grant Wood also deserves mention. Scalloway will know they can play better but on the night they made their chances count and showed enough resolve to hold out for the win with Laurence Pearson having an impressive debut at the Fraser Park.
Ness United 1, Whalsay 3
Ness started the game brightly, looking to build on their efforts in the last fixture between them and Whalsay, and were playing some good football. Whalsay’s defence, which was bolstered by the return of John Montgomery, were coping with the pressure though and the game settled down to a fairly even battle.
Ness came closest first when some good work by Kevin Smith and Kieran Malcolmson in the middle of the park saw Ian Bray break through only for his shot to go wide of Grant Thomson’s post. Whalsay looked to move the ball quickly and get it into Bryan Irvine early but he was well marshalled by John Robert Burgess.
Ness nearly went one up from a corner that resulted in a goal mouth scramble with more than a few attempts at sticking the ball away but Whalsay weathered the storm and Thomson in the Whalsay goal eventually smothered the threat.
With 15 minutes to go before the break Whalsay got a penalty after Bryan Irvine was deemed to have been fouled in the box by a Ness midfielder. There was some doubt as to who was going to take the resultant spot kick with Keith Pearson placing the ball on the spot, but after a quick word from John Montgomery the youngster deferred to the elder and Montgomery duly despatched the ball past Erik Peterson.
Ness came close again with Kevin Smith driving through the Whalsay midfield and defence after a good through ball from Craig Leslie but he found the Whalsay goalkeeper equal to the threat.
The second half started much the same as the first with both teams looking to gain the upper hand but neither quite managing. Scott Ferguson of Ness broke forward and played a nice square ball to Ian Bray but the front man was unable to get the shot on target. Ferguson again found himself in space but his shot sailed over the bar. Whalsay got their second through James Shearer, but Ness kept working as in previous games and their effort paid off when Ian Bray closed down Thomson in the Whalsay goal as he attempted to clear a back pass from his defence.
After an acrobatic pirouette Bray sent the ball into the back of the net to get Ness back in the game. Whalsay were not to be flustered by the Ness efforts though and minutes later regained a two goal lead when arguably the move of the game paid off with a Bryan Irvine goal. The ball was moved quickly from defence to midfield and then a sharp pass out wide for Irvine to run on to saw him beat the defence and drive a daisy cutter across the Ness keeper and in at the far post.
Ness refused to lie down though and continued to press for a second but it was not to be and Mark Goodhand blew for full-time. A competitive performance again from Ness but they were unable to convert their chances whereas Whalsay did. Best on the night from Ness were Ian Bray and John Robert Burgess, and for Whalsay John Montgomery and Karl Williamson showed well.
There were no games played in either the Shetland Chiropractic Reserve League or the Reserve eague knock-out cup due to the pitches being closed because of the weather.
Fixture information will be available at www.leaguewebsite.co.uk/shetlandfa due to the ongoing work to reschedule the postponed games.