For the second season in a row Whalsay came back from the dead in a cup final. Adrift by two goals to nil against Scalloway in Saturday’s Manson Cup Final with only 10 minutes to go, the league leaders clawed themselves back into the game and went on to win in extra time, emulating their victory over Spurs in last year’s Madrid Cup.
Manson Cup Final
Scalloway 2, Whalsay 3 (AET)
Watched by a good crowd which contained a number of vocal Scalloway supporters, strong favourites Whalsay could well have metaphorically if not actually had the Manson Cup sitting on a mantlepiece in Symbister before half time if even half of the chances they created had ended up in the back of the net.
There were certainly nine good opportunities created and, apart from an Alistair Johnston effort which rebounded off the bar in the 12th minute and a goal line clearance from Scalloway’s Andrew Flett as early as the seventh minute, they didn’t even work the goalkeeper.
There was a string of offenders for the reds as they proceeded to dominate play as most probably expected them to do. Perhaps the burden of that expectation was the root of the nervous end product.
Brian Irvine had four efforts that weren’t going to trouble the net pegs. John Montgomery saw his free-kick from the edge of the box almost clear the roofs of St Sunniva Street following a needless tackle from Robbie Nicolson and a Ross Irvine cross into the box created panic among the Scalloway contingent and Bryan Johnson should really have claimed it. The keeper redeemed himself, however, by commanding his six yard box and claiming the ball from the resultant corner.
Scalloway played with real endeavour during the first 45 with Duncan Cumming in particular standing out, but territory and chances were going to be at a premium for the villagers, it appeared.
Grant Gilfillan watched as his dipping effort in the 14th minute landed on the roof of the net after the ball broke to him on the edge of the penalty area. Other than that a solitary shot at goal from Alan Davison after the striker had been put through by Laurence Pearson were all they had to show in an attacking sense.
Scalloway began the second half with a little more intent but again the early chances came the way of the Whalsay 11. Robbie Nicolson was careless at the edge of the box with another foul, and this time Keith Pearson curled a dead ball over the bar.
Gilfillan had another pop at goal when Montgomery’s clearance fell to him on the edge of the box as Scalloway gained a little more ground.
With 57 minutes played Ross Irvine should really have scored. Karl Williamson passed in to his feet as he drove forward but his effort was central enough for Johnson in the goal and he saved with his feet. The ball broke to Alastair Johnston and his poor first touch meant the chance was lost.
Bryan Irvine moved down the right and cut the ball back to Keith Pearson but he took a fresh air swipe and the crowd began to wonder if it was to be Scalloway’s day somehow.
With 76 minutes played that thought must have had many with Whalsay leanings in the park considering heading for the ferry.
A determined Duncan Cumming won the ball in the middle of the park and slipped a great pass through to Laurence Pearson. He sprinted into a gap big enough for a tunnel or a ferry left by a defence posted missing, drew out the keeper and rounded him before knocking the ball into the empty net.
Four minutes later and the lead was doubled as this time ex-Whalsay man Pearson hounded the red midfield himself, won the ball and raced clear from defender Montgomery at pace before placing a great shot with the outside of his left boot past Thomson to send the Scalloway crowd wild.
The clock had only 10 minutes left on it but Scalloway did look to be fading fast. A goal at this stage would set up a grandstand finish but that would surely be all it would come to.
Substitute James Shearer became a thorn in the Scalloway side when he came on, lively and unpredictable. The wiry youngster played a great ball through to Ross Irvine and his first time effort from 12 yards found the roof of the net past Johnson.
Whalsay went for broke, now changing to three at the back. The play became broken with neither team stringing together many passes but crucially the play was ebbing towards the Scalloway goal most of the time.
With 89 minutes played Whalsay were awarded a penalty. Bryan Irvine was really going nowhere across the edge of the box but John Robert Umphray upended him and referee Michael Grant was left with an easy decision to make.
John Montgomery doesn’t miss penalty kicks at the south end of the Gilbertson Park as Guernsey and many other teams will testify – or does he? The drama was not over as Johnson saved the spot-kick but Whalsay were much quicker into the box for the rebound, Ross Irvine heading the ball to the back post where Montgomery was on hand to redeem himself.
Gilfillan had a drive deflected past the post as Scalloway tried to lift themselves from the hammer blow, but the last word in normal time, in the 96th minute in fact, should have gone to Whalsay’s Alistair Johnston but he missed the open goal with his head and rightly put the offending appendage in his hands as the whistle blew.
Scalloway worked as hard as they could during extra time, the youthful legs of Scott Henderson and Andrew Flett doing good work at either end of the park in keeping their team going, but to be honest penalties looked like their best bet.
The first half came and went. Pearson stretched at a cross ball and it went past the far post and Robert Garrick saw a free-kick rise over the bar.
The second half belonged to Whalsay as players from both sides began to settle on the ground with muscle cramp. With only three minutes of the 120 remaining Whalsay scored a somewhat fortuitous winner. Bryan Irvine drifted in from the right and drove a cross into the near post area. Johnson in the Scalloway goal appeared to be caught napping slightly, misjudging the flight of the grass cutter, and it squirmed in at his near post.
Scalloway worked hard but the collective legs just gave way. They had many players who deserved a pat on the back for their efforts but Flett and Cumming were by some way their best players. Whalsay do have a work ethic and are never beaten until they are back in the changing room. The many early chances could have cost them very dear but a final drive to bring themselves level was rooted in Karl Williamson and Montgomery who along with Richard Arthur were their star performers.