Senior football’s first cup final of the season takes place tomorrow with Delting and Spurs battling it out for the Madrid Cup at Gilbertson Park. Last year’s finalists Spurs will be hoping to win the trophy this year and forget the result last year which saw Whalsay come from behind to win it. Delting will be looking to get their hands on Shetland football’s oldest silverware after a fighting comeback against Celtic in the semi-final saw them book their place in the final.
Celtic 0, Thistle 3
Thistle pushed off their Manson Cup campaign with a far more structured and familiar team than of late and put Celtic to the sword with a comfortable win at Clickimin.
Thistle chose to play with the gale force wind in the first half and quickly mastered the conditions, keeping the ball grounded and passes shorter. It was clear from the outset that the wind-assisted side would hold the upper hand and the team hemmed in would have to rely on counter attacking with pace and low passing to relieve the pressure.
Paul Grant was a busy man during the first 45 minutes, tipping a goal-bound Neil Riddell free kick over the bar as early as the fifth minute.
Stuart Smith and Craig Gerty were carving open some good space with tight and precise inter-passing, causing Celtic problems down the inside channels, but it was a poorly defended set-piece which provided the first goal.
A corner on the left was swung into the box and the Celtic defence simply stood and watched as Neil Laurenson, making his debut for Thistle, tapped the ball past the unguarded Grant in the Celtic goal.
Stuart Smith was then rewarded for a fine first-half display, curling the ball beyond Grant from 12 yards for goal number two after controlling a fine Gerty cross.
Celtic’s only effort on goal during the half was a Joe Leask header which ghosted past the far left upright after he got on the end of a Sam Wood cross.
At only two behind Celtic would have hoped to turn the deficit around, but to do so they would have to master the conditions as Thistle had.
But sadly for the green and whites they managed just two tame efforts at goal throughout the second half. They did not press Thistle when they were in possession and the Jags actually managed to break out and create a few openings themselves.
Thistle put the icing on the cake with a third goal, the ball was played into the box and Richard Manson having two snaps at the ball before placing it past Grant.
It was a fully-merited three points for Thistle with a good team performance and Stuart Smith, Kevin Teale, Craig Gerty and Neil Laurenson standing out. The only Celtic player who could feel he had done a night’s work was keeper Paul Grant.
Whalsay 1, Spurs 1
Two understrength teams battled out a largely scrappy draw in a game played in almost gale force conditions.
Spurs certainly had the better of the first half and went close early on through Sam Goudie whose goalbound effort from just inside the box was turned round the post by Grant Thomson.
Spurs took the lead on the 20-minute mark when a sloppy defensive mix up allowed Danny Finnie time and space to fire the ball into the empty net from just outside the box.
The town side almost went two up when a cross was turned against his own post by Joe Pottinger with the ball rebounding into the greatful arms of Thomson.
The second half saw Whalsay come more into the game with the home side exerting pressure on the Spurs defence.
Following some sustained pressure Whalsay equalised with 20 minutes to go when a corner kick fell to Brian Irvine at the back post and he fired the ball through a sea of legs on the goal line.
The remainder of the half saw some scrappy play with Whalsay continuing to edge it int erms of possession but without creating many clear cut chances and a draw was probably a fair result.
Thistle 0, Whalsay 4
A calm peaceful evening at Seafield on Monday night, with not a vuvuzela to be heard, saw the home side looking to build on their victory over Celtic the previous Friday.
The initial stages saw Thistle exert some early pressure and the game was barely two minutes old when a cross to the far post found Kevin Gifford in splendid isolation but his shot flew harmlessly over.
Five minutes later a well flighted free-kick from Neil Laurenson found Gary Teale but the big centre half’s header was easily dealt with by Whalsay custodian Grant Thomson. Thomson was again called into action when he he tipped a net-bound header from Craig Gerty rouud the post for a corner.
Against the run of play Whalsay broke upfield and a mistake within the Thistle rearguard presented Keith Pearson with a golden opportunity. However, with the goal gaping he somehow contrived to fire his shot high over the bar.
Thistle responded and Laurenson stung Thomson’s palms with a fierce drive after twisting his way past several Whalsay defenders.
With the game drifting into the stoppage time referee Derrick Bradley had added on at the end of the first half the men from the Bonnie Isle took the lead with a well-taken goal. Erik Thomson received the ball at the edge of the box and curled his shot into the top corner.
As the second period progressed Whalsay began to take control and it was no real surprise to the many onlookers present that they increased their lead. In the 70th minute, following the proverbial penalty-box stramash, Geordie Irvine rammed the loose ball into the net.
Ten minutes later victory was secured when a chipped through ball found Thomson, who skillfully lobbed it over the advancing Thistle goalie John-Scott Cluness.
Thomson turned provider in the 84th minute when his cross found the unmarked Ian Simpson who neatly headed home.
The final score was perhaps a little harsh on Thistle who battled manfully throughout and continued to show improved signs of recovery.
Spurs 3, Celtic 2
Celtic got into their stride quickest with Joe Leask in particular looking very lively up front. Spurs were finding it difficult to get their passing game going due to the fact that Celtic were working really hard off the ball to close them down.
The deadlock was broken after 20 minutes when a good move involving several players was finished superbly by Joe Leask.
The goal seemed to really lift Celtic and if not for some good goalkeeping by Bobby Wiseman they could have been two or three up.
With 10 minutes remaining in the half Spurs found themselves level against the run of play. A good move found young Sam Goudie in the box who turned his man and poked the ball home with the aid of a slight deflection.
Spurs started the second half much better with James Johnston getting more of the ball down the flank. Celtic were now camped in their own half and they had Paul Grant in goal to thank on a couple of occasions, most noteably from a Dominic Mann header which he clawed around the post.
Spurs made a substitution, bringing on Connel Gresham for Goudie, and the striker had only been on the park 10 minutes when he headed his team in front after a great cross from Scott Morrison.
The introduction of Gresham was proving to be a good one as his pace was causing all sorts of problems for the Celtic defence and he was unlucky to see a shot go wide of Grant’s goal.
With 15 minutes remaining Spurs were reduced to 10 men when referee Robbie Leask sent Morrison off for a second bookable offence which means the player will have to sit out Saturday’s cup final.
Gresham then turned provider when he outstripped the Celtic defence to unselfishly square it to fellow substitute Alan Page to blast home from 12 yards to all but wrap up the three points.
Celtic did get a consolation goal deep into injury when Sam Wood prodded home from six yards out, but referee Robbie Leask blew for full time before the game could be restarted.
Best on the night for Celtic were veteran John Simpson at the back and Paul Grant in goal. For Spurs Lewis Kay and James Johnston were pretty faultless with Bobby Wiseman in goal was worthy of a mention with a couple of great saves.
Scalloway 6, Ness United 2
The home team got off to a flying start when Laurence Pearson raced on to a cross ball and sent a looping header inside the far post.
Scalloway extended the advantage when Steven Umphray weaved his way down the left wing before cutting the ball back for strike partner Alan Davidson to score from close range.
The visitors almost pulled a goal back but Ian Bray’s netbound lob was acrobatically cleared from the goal line by defender Magnus Henry.
Scalloway were unlucky not to extend their lead with Robert Garrick hitting the upright and Grant Gilfillan with a snap shot. In the closing minutes of the half Scalloway added to their tally when an excellent cross from Pearson was sent crashing into the net on the volley by Davidson.
Early in the second half Ness United pulled a goal back when Barry Martin latched on to a defensive error on the halfway line and carried the ball through on goal before finishing in the bottom corner.
Scalloway responded immediately when a front post flick on was rocketed into the roof of the net by Garrick and minutes later a push on Davidson allowed Garrick to score his second from the penalty spot.
Substitute Gary Burns made an instant impact when his excellent cross found Davidson in space and the in-form striker completed his hat trick with a delicate lob.
In the closing minutes Ness pulled another goal back with an excellent headed goal from John Rosie and were unlucky not to add another when Bray’s effort cannoned off the bar and bounced on the wrong side of the goal line.
It was a disappointing night for the visitors who have enjoyed a recent run of impressive results but were perhaps stung by the loss of early goals. Scalloway appear to be finding some form and had a number of fine performances with midfielder Duncan Cumming a clear choice for man of the match.
Whitedale 1, Delting 2
With a strong wind blowing down Strom Park the chances of good football being produced were slim. Whitedale played with the wind advantage in the first half and a Jamie Wilson goal was all that separated the sides at half time, the home side unlucky not to be more comfortably ahead having missed some good chances.
The second half saw Delting taking more advantage of the conditions and scored twice in quick succession through Robert Balfour and Peter Peterson.
Leighton Flaws was solid at the back for the Delts while Duncan Fraser stood out for the home side.
Delting 1, Scalloway 5
Ross Jamieson notched a penalty for Delting while Scalloway’s goals were scored by Alan Davidson, Steven Umphray, Laurence Pearson and Scott Henderson (2).
Ness 1, Whitedale 4
Ness took on Whitedale minus goalkeeper Eric Peterson and striker Ian Bray and were soon under pressure from a powerful West Side team.
Stand-in keeper John Robert Burgess reacted well to block a powerful strike early on but Whitedale took a deserved lead when Duncan Anderson fired into the corner, giving the keeper no chance.
Ness conceded another just before half time when Richard Sinclair waltzed through the home defence to make it 2-0.
The second half saw two good chances wasted by the home side before Ness were forced to make more changes due to injury. Jamie Wilson fired home a third for the visitors before adding a spectacular fourth, running from left back to the by line before crossing from a tight angle, beating Burgess and flying into the top corner.
Burgess then pulled off a penalty save after a harsh handball decision before a great ball from substitute Kyle Malcolmson enabled Craig Leslie to head home to make it 4-1.
Ness will be disappointed not to have made more of their chances but it was a deserved victory for the West Side men.
• See The Shetland Times on Friday for Reserve League scores, tables and fixtures.