On a beautiful day for football, Lerwick Spurs lifted the Madrid Cup after a scrappy 1-0 win over Whalsay, courtesy of a late strike from Connell Gresham.
Neither team could find its rhythm in the early stages and it was 15 minutes before the first effort on goal, when Spurs’ Josie Kay hit a shot on the volley from edge of the box that went just wide of the post.
Kay was then involved minutes later when he fouled Whalsay’s Martyn Stevenson midway into the Spurs half. The resulting free kick broke to James Shearer in the box whose shot was cleared off the line by Spurs defender Shane Jamieson.
Whalsay by this point had begun to dominate possession. Bryan Irvine fizzed a dangerous ball in from the right wing, which was awkward for Spurs keeper Craig Dinwoodie who tipped it onto the bar, but no Whalsay player was there to take advantage. When Spurs were able to gain possession they struggled to make it count and their final ball let them down on more than one occasion.
Whalsay continued to attack and Karl Williamson struck the ball from the edge of the box but dragged his shot just wide. They continued to press without making their possession count and it was Spurs that nearly broke the deadlock. Scott Morrison was nearly in on goal when he got on the end of a through ball, but was met by keeper Thomson who gathered the ball.
At the other end, Bryan Irvine hit the side netting. This was shortly followed by a free kick for Whalsay just inside the Spurs half, as Kay was judged to have obstructed James Shearer on the right. The ball was launched into the box by Arthur but flew straight into the keeper’s arms.
Spurs committed men up the field but lost the ball to Whalsay who broke forward quickly. Stevenson played a great pass to Irvine but he was stopped in his tracks by a superb challenge from Stuart Hall on the edge of the box.
There was good link-up play again between Irvine and Anderson on the right wing. Arthur nicked the ball past Kay and then cut inside and hit a low cross across goal but it was cleared for a corner, leaving things all square at the break.
Spurs started the brighter of the two teams in the second half as Scott Morrison broke down the wing and crossed the ball in from the right, which required a diving save by Thomson and the loose ball was then cleared by his defence. The ball broke to Morrison again soon after but his cross flew well over the bar. Spurs continued to press and shortly afterwards James Johnston hit a powerful shot that was deflected for a corner.
It was not long before Whalsay began to dominate possession as they had done in the first half. Karl Williamson played the ball wide to Anderson who drove into the box and cut the ball back but there were no takers for Whalsay. Whalsay’s best chance of the game came after Alistair Johnson hit a shot that was well saved by Dinwoodie who could only palm it out as far as Irvine, who hit the post from close range.
Manson then fouled Ross Irvine on edge of box. The free kick for Whalsay was taken by Ian Simpson who hit it low around the wall but the keeper held it well.
Although losing in the possession stakes, Spurs were having more success in the final third when they had the ball than they did in the first half. A through ball was played in to Johnston who again broke from midfield, but he was just beaten to it by Whalsay keeper Thomson who cleared.
Just when it was looking like the game was heading into extra time, a breakthrough was finally made. Gresham received the ball on the left wing and he made a great 20 yard run into the box, beating the defender for pace and stroking the ball past the keeper at an angle to the delight of the Spurs players and bench.
There were only a few minutes of added on time before referee Derek Bradley then blew the final whistle that was met with jubilation from the town side’s players and fans alike. A disappointed Whalsay side trudged off the pitch, knowing they had failed to make their dominance of possession count.
The trophy was then presented to Spurs captain Josie Kay by president of the Shetland Football Association Magnus Flaws.