The senior football action over the past week has centred on the Madrid Cup, with Whalsay suffering their first setback this season at the hands of Whitedale, Celtic mounting a comeback to defeat Scalloway at Fraser Park, and wins also for Delting, Spurs and Whalsay. The other match saw Ness United and Spurs share the points.
Madrid Cup (Group One)
Ness United 0, Delting 1
Ness played host to Delting hoping to kickstart their season which has been hampered by injuries to key players. Both teams settled well with attacking purpose but without any clear-cut chances.
Ian Bray fired in some long range shots from midfield but Reid was up to the task while Leighton Flaws also tried his luck for Delting. Grant Redfern then had a good chance with a header after good work from Kevin Smith.
The game was keenly contested but as it headed to half time it was the home side who continued to look the most threatening. Declan Adamson was giving his marker a torrid time and after beating him, played the ball inside to Erland Johnston who dinked the ball in for Redfern. His shot was blocked by the out-rushing Reid.
The second half was a little scrappier than the first with Delting probably edging it in the first quarter an hour after the break. Stuart Lavender wasted an opportunity to score when a clearance dropped to him in the box but he blasted over the bar. Adamson, Smith and Redfern were threatening to burst through the high Delting rearguard but created no clear-cut chances.
The Delts made the breakthrough when a long throw from Flaws was poked in at the back post by Fraser Hall. Ness pushed for an equaliser and Kevin Smith had two opportunities after bursting through the right before he redirected a shot from Johnston just past the goal with a header. Redfern then raced in on goal to slot home but was pulled up for offside.
It was a vital win for Delting but a disappointing result for the home side who will feel their good team performance deserved at least a point.
Thistle 1, Spurs 3
Both teams stepped out onto the Gilbertson Park on Friday night ready to renew their traditional rivalry. Thistle shot out of the blocks in terrific fashion, putting their counterparts onto the back foot and forcing errors when Spurs had possession.
It was as early as the second minute that tenacious play by Craig Gerty and Nethan Watson resulted in a mistake by Jordan Hunter in the Spurs rearguard. This allowed Gerty to run through on goal and while his shot was well blocked by Dinwoodie, the veteran could only look on helplessly as Watson reacted well to gleefully turn the ball into the empty net.
Spurs immediately started to try and open up the Thistle back line but a tremendous work rate from the Jags continually broke up their attacking moves. Calvin Leask and Stevie Michael were battling bravely in the middle of the park, preventing James Johnston and Josie Kay from creating any meaningful attacks.
After 30 minutes Spurs did manage to break down their town rivals. Good play on the right allowed Scott Morrison to place an inch perfect cross to the far post where Sam Ward ghosted in unmarked to place a neat header out of the reach of Scott Nicolson in the Thistle goal. This was an uncharacteristic lapse from Thistle who had been so dogged in their defence up until that point.
Thistle reacted well to the setback and began creating more and more chances of their own, forcing several corner kicks and free kicks around the edge of the box. However, they could not convert any of these chances.
The second half followed a very similar pattern to the first with Spurs playing a neat, quick, short passing style of game and Thistle dominating the tackling and looking dangerous on the counter attack.
Spurs were pressing higher and higher up the pitch but it was Thistle who looked the more comfortable. Brilliant energy and determination was shown by all of the Thistle players and as the game progressed their confidence levels increased. Calvin Leask was showing his county opposition how to run the midfield and began to put real pressure on the shaky Spurs defence.
As the game headed for stalemate it was with a cruel twist that Spurs took the lead with only five minutes remaining. Having introduced Connell Gresham for the second half, in a bid to put more pressure on the Thistle defence, he finally wriggled free from the shackles of Maurice Williamson to thunder home an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box – a great goal for the Spurs hitman.
Spurs increased the advantage with a penalty in stoppage time, Johnston converting from the spot after being tripped in the box.
Ironically the Thistle management probably left the happier. It was a very promising team performance from a young inexperienced side still finding their feet, but improving game by game. The strong Spurs side were relieved to gain a victory and lead the way in their section.
Delting 5, Thistle 0
Another win for Delting saw them find their scoring touch in Brae. Goals came from Ross Jamieson, Stuart Lavender, Merv Jamieson, Ian Jamieson and a Thistle own goal.
Ness United 2, Spurs 2
Spurs started well and at a fast pace with burly frontman Alan Page holding the ball up well for the dangerous trio of Stuart Hall, James Johnston and Scott Morrison to play off.
Johnston, in particular, was causing the Ness defence all sorts of problems and he opened the scoring with a cracking goal. Shane Jamieson played a quick one-two in the centre of the park then floated a precision pass out to Morrison on the flank who beat his man and lofted a deep ball to the back post area. Johnston had made a late run into the box and met the ball first-time with his left foot at chest height to send it crashing past the keeper and into the top corner.
Ness gradually started playing their way back into the game with John Rosie having an increasing influence on proceedings and were given a boost when Spurs defensive lynchpin Lewis Kay went off with a nasty-looking injury. Spurs held out until half time though with Jordan Hunter reorganising the back line well.
The second half started with both teams looking dangerous without creating much but the longer the game went on the more Ness began to press for an equaliser.
They got their reward through a set-piece from the left. The ball was played into a packed six-yard box where keeper Craig Dinwoodie looked to have been fouled as he tried to collect the cross. But play was allowed to continue and in the resulting skirmish the beaver-like Grant Redfern popped up to prod the ball home and make it 1-1.
Spurs reacted by pushing Morrison to centre forward in search of the win which would surely seal their semi-final slot and the decision paid dividends shortly afterwards.
Gregor Manson advanced menacingly from right back and played a defence-splitting ball through to Morrison who took one touch and buried it clinically into the bottom corner for a 2-1 lead with time running out.
Ness, however, were not to be denied their point and equalised for the second time. Erland Johnson’s hopeful lob came back off the bar and Johnson himself blasted in the rebound despite Hunter and Manson’s best efforts on the line.
The draw was probably a fair result although Spurs will rue the sloppy nature of the goals they conceded. Ness meanwhile will be encouraged by their fortitude throughout and never-say-die spirit. Best were Johnston and Hunter for Spurs and Johnson for Ness.
Madrid Cup (Group Two)
Scalloway v Whitedale
The game was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Whalsay 1, Celtic 0
After their previous few home games where Whalsay were scoring freely, this was a more workmanlike performance against a spirited Celtic side, like their hosts having to dip into the reserves.
The game started with Celtic enjoying a stiff breeze at their backs but it was Whalsay who were out of the traps faster in the opening exchanges.
Bryan Irvine had a great shout for an early penalty turned down by referee Robbie Summers who was enjoying his first game in charge in the Bonnie Isle since the introduction of the plastic field.
Stuart Shearer saw his lobbed effort, after a good run on to a through ball, sail agonisingly wide as the hosts looked to be stating their intent.
Celtic started to come back into the game and soon gained more than just a foothold as they created some great chances of their own. The first fell to Jamie Duffy after a long throw by Darren Johnson ended up falling to his feet six yards out but his snatched effort was pushed over the bar by Grant Thomson in the Whalsay goal.
From the resultant corner the alert Bryan Irvine showed why posts should be manned as he bailed his keeper out with a last-ditch clearance after Thomson misjudged the flight of the ball.
A few minutes later Lowrie Simpson got on the end of a flighted free kick from out wide but his header was saved at point-blank range by the keeper.
After those nervy moments had passed Whalsay took the lead. A corner from the left was swung in by Allister Johnson and Colin Anderson rose unmarked at the far post to nod the ball into the back of the net.
Whalsay managed to get to half time in the lead, although it required an outstanding tackle from Joe Pottinger to keep Lowrie Simpson from pulling the trigger right before the break.
After being reasonably well entertained in the first half the crowd were treated to a very drab second period. The game descended into a midfield battle as defences were starting to boss the game.
Whalsay probably created the better of the few chances that did occur and Paul Grant produced a great save from a goalbound Stuart Shearer header. Young James Shearer also had a decent chance, following a good passing move, but saw his shot sail wide.
Celtic did have their fair share of the possession and the presence of Daniel Johnston and running of Ross Groat and Jamie Duffy were a constant menace.
Scalloway 4, Celtic 5
Scalloway started well and opened the scoring when Gary Burns beat his man and placed the ball into the bottom corner.
The home team continued to dominate the early exchanges and doubled their lead from the penalty spot after Steven Umphray was felled when through on goal. The spot kick was calmly converted by Robert Garrick while Jordan Webb received a red card for the foul. Scalloway added a third when a front post corner was headed home by Umphray.
With the game all but over as a contest, Celtic were given a lifeline after a penalty was awarded. David Johnston stepped up and fired the ball into the corner of the net. Minutes later they added another as a loose ball riccocheted around the Scalloway penalty area before a deflection fell to the feet of James Aitken for a simple tap-in.
Celtic levelled almost immediately from a corner kick when an unmarked Justin Watson sent a header off the crossbar only for the rebound to be turned into the net by Lowrie Simpson.
Scalloway regrouped and took the lead when Scott Henderson cut the ball back to Umphray who placed a shot into the bottom corner. On the stroke of half time Lowrie Simpson once again drew Celtic level with a well-placed shot after more indecisive defending.
Celtic started strongly in the second half, forcing a series of corners as a lacklustre Scalloway failed to make the extra man advantage count. Scalloway did eventually manage to carve out a number of excellent scoring opportunities but on each occasion failed to hit the target.
The winning goal arrived after Alan Davidson crashed a shot off the Celtic bar and the ball quickly found its way to Lowrie Simpson. He evaded a couple of defenders before slipping the ball to Aitken, who calmly sidestepped his man before rolling the ball into the net.
The closing period was comfortably seen out by Celtic as the disjointed Scalloway showed little desire to take anything from the match. Celtic deserve all the plaudits for their comeback despite having 10 men for most of the game and missing a number of key players.
Whitedale 1, Whalsay 0
As the score suggests this was a close game which took a moment of brilliance to separate the two sides.
Conditions were bright and breezy at Strom park with Whalsay having the wind advantage. The early exchanges were even with both sides finding well-organised back fours difficult to break down and the early long-range efforts not troubling the keepers.
A good contest was hotting up in the middle of the park between Whalsay’s Karl Williamson and Ian Simpson and Whitedale’s Duncan Anderson and Martin Clark and it was Anderson who found himself in referee Robert Summers’ book after a couple of hefty challenges.
The first real chance fell to Whitedale’s Jamie Wilson when he turned Richard Arthur and raced off towards goal but he should have done better after seeing his low driven shot pass wide to the keeper’s left. At the other end James Shearer connected well from the edge of the box and his shot whistled over.
Soon after Wilson went on another powerful run with Whalsay keeper Grant Thomson pushing him wide of goal and his angled shot was cleared off the line.
As the first half drew to a close, Williamson found himself in enough space to stride forward and hit a clean strike, which struck the crossbar and went behind.
The second half got under way with both sides having difficulty picking out a weakness in their opponents.
Bryan Irvine started to see a bit more of the ball for Whalsay on the wing and went on a few strong runs but a good steady performance from Ali Scott was limiting the pacey winger’s input.
With around 15 minutes remaining and Whitedale perhaps shading the pressure, the game changed. Substitute defender Jordan Morrison was brought on to give the Whitedale a bit more aerial power up front and his presence started to create chances.
In the 80th minute a crossfield pass from Anderson found Morrison outside the Whalsay box and dragging the ball back with his left peg on the turn, his curling right foot shot was netbound.
As all local teams know, if you score against Whalsay you can expect a reprisal and this was no exeption. They stepped it up a gear and started to press for the equaliser but their frustration was apparent when finding themselves in good attacking positions on two occasions, as the advantage rule was not used by referee Robbie Summers.
Late in the game Richard Arthur found himself in the Whitedale six-yard box unmarked and with the ball arriving at his feet at speed he sent his effort off the bar before the ball was cleared to safety.
Morrison tried to seal the game but his powerful header was well saved by Thomson at point blank range.
The action continued with Summers reaching in his pocket to issue Whitedale’s Anderson with a red card after his second late challenge.
Paul Molloy found his name in the book for backchat and Whitedale manager Ivor Morrison was given a talking to when the official did not appreciate a comment he made.
The referee blew the final whistle on a good tussle between the two sides.