Whalsay and Celtic will contest this year’s Manson Cup final after winning their respective semi-finals against Spurs and Delting on Monday evening, the latter in dramatic fashion after a penalty shoot-out. Meanwhile in the G&S Flooring Premier League runaway leaders Celtic kept the momentum going with all three points against Lerwick rivals Thistle. Reserve football continued as usual and, as has been the case all season, looks set to be a close race at the top as teams approach the halfway point in fixtures.
Thistle 2, Celtic 4
The home side were looking to continue their recent run of good form but it was the current league leaders who struck within the first five minutes. Connor Regan whipped in an inviting cross from the right which fortuitously struck Lowrie Simpson and deflected past Thistle keeper Steven Henry.
Twenty minutes later Simpson notched up both his and the hoops’ second. A corner from the right was flicked on at the near post and with the home defence static, Simpson was left with a simple tap-in virtually on the goal line.
The Thistle response was immediate as within 60 seconds of the restart, Craig Gerty exquisitely bent the ball beyond Celtic keeper Paul Grant. The Celtic defence appealed for offside as a flag had been raised, but referee Robbie Summers correctly over-ruled the linesman.
With the home side now pushing for the equaliser they left gaps at the back and in the 38th minute Ryan Grant capitalised when he found himself in splendid isolation on the Celtic left and his pinpoint centre was neatly headed home by Regan.
Celtic’s fourth arrived a couple of minutes before the interval when Jordan Webb’s speculative effort from long range took a vicious deflection off a home defender to evade the despairing grasp of Henry.
Following the resumption Thistle took control of the game and their pressure was rewarded on the hour mark. A surging run by substitute Jack Clubb resulted in his accurate pass being forced home by David Thomson despite the brave efforts of Grant.
Shortly after this Nethan Watson had the ball in the net after a delightful chip over Grant but Summers chalked it off, adjudging Watson to have been in an offside position. Calvin Leask then struck the bar but the home side just could not find the net again.
To be fair, Celtic weathered the storm and finished the stronger side and perhaps should have added to their tally. Simpson had a couple of chances which he will feel should at least have hit the target, while substitute keeper Jake Constable did well to tip a rasping drive behind for a corner.
Delting 2, Whitedale 2
No report was provided by the home side but scorers for Delting were Kevin Main and Leighton Flaws while Whitedale’s strikes came from Richard Sinclair and Paul Molloy.
Scalloway 0, Spurs 5
A very even first 45 minutes started with Scalloway having the upper hand as they pressed their opponents well, forcing them into playing long balls.
Spurs came back into the game and landed the first blow when a deep cross was headed back across goal by Danny Finnie and Shane Maver left his marker for dead to score with a simple tap-in.
Scalloway fought back and were unlucky not to equalise when an excellent Robert Garrick pass found Scott Henderson in space but the young striker’s shot went the wrong side of the far post.
Minutes into the second half Spurs got the all-important second goal when a long clearance found Connell Gresham unmarked and the forward raced through on goal before squaring the ball for Danny Finnie to roll it into the empty net.
Scalloway, to their credit, did not let their heads go down but luck was clearly not going to be on their side when Sam Ward’s miss-hit cross looped into the net via the far post.
In the closing minutes Scalloway suffered injuries in defence and with no substitutes available Gresham took full advantage, leaving the defence in his wake before placing the ball past the keeper on two occasions.
The margin of victory was perhaps cruel on Scalloway but there could be no doubt that Spurs deserved their win with Gresham a clear choice as man of the match.
Scalloway will take encouragement from a strong first-half performance and can now look forward to the return of several key players for their next encounter. Best were defenders David Bisset and Kevin Sinclair.
Spurs 0, Whalsay 1
The teams were looking to feature in yet another final with neither having full squads due to injuries. Whalsay started slightly the stronger, creating the earlier of the chances but never really penetrating the Spurs defence. Spurs were testing Whalsay on the counter, looking to use the pace of Joe Leask and Connel Gresham.
As the half wore on both sides seemed fairly even and were canceling each other with the midfield being a constant battle. Whalsay did manage to find the breakthrough though on the half-hour mark when a diagonal ball was not dealt with early. Bryan Irvine used his pace to meet the ball the at the back post and was brought down at a narrow angle from the goal. Referee Robbie Leask rightly pointed to the spot with John Montgomery stepping up to blast home in usual fashion.
The goal spurred the Milkbags on and they were now testing the Whalsay defence with several shots on target, the most notable a Leask strike from 18 yards being held by keeper Grant Thomson.
The second half started as the first ended with Spurs looking to get on the attack with James Johnston and Sam Ward trying to pull the strings from the middle of the park.
Whalsay edged more into the game as it started to become more stretched and scrappy with some rough challenges going unpunished. Spurs did, however, pick up a few booking for challenges around the box and this gave Whalsay their best chances of the half. They found the target on several occasions and brought great stops out of keeper Craig Dinwoodie’s locker, first from James Shearer and then from Martin Stephenson who also hit the bar.
Spurs really took the game to Whalsay in the last 25 minutes, seeking the elusive equaliser. The were spurred on by Whalsay being reduced to 10 men after Gary Jamieson walked after two late challenges.
Spurs were creating chances and knocking the ball around well but could not find the equaliser. Arguably their best chance fell to Gresham with his last kick of the ball hitting the junction, maybe in the end typifying the town side’s evening against a very resilient and gutsy Whalsay side.
Celtic 1, Delting 1
(1-1 after extra time, Celtic won 3-2 on penalties)
Delting started well and took a deserved lead when a Ross MacDougal shot was deflected in following Leighton Flaws’ long throw.
Delting continued to dominate with their experienced midfield trio of Kevin Main, Peter Peterson and Ross Jamieson controlling the game and MacDougal leading the line well. Celtic, to their credit, defended well and eventually began to threaten the Delting goal with keeper Danny Reid, uneasy with the hands, unable to hold a Jordan Webb strike from range.
Celtic were level when Flaws misjudged a Webb free kick, allowing defender Joel Bradley to head home at the back post.
At the interval Celtic brought on Dominic Mann to add a bit of beef and weight to the midfield. Relishing being back in the hoops, he played well in front of the back four and made a number of important interceptions.
The second half saw very few clear cut chances with neither keeper really being tested. Delting did force a number of corners and Finn Watt was forced into a goal-line clearance.
The first half of extra time saw a Celtic penalty claim brushed aside by referee Steven Goodlad when Flaws seemed to push full back Tom Moncrieff off the ball as he ran through.
Celtic thought they had scored moments later when Lowrie Simpson had the ball in the net, but the celebrations were short-lived as assistant referee Ivan Sinclair had flagged for offside.
The second half of extra time saw Delting reduced to 10 men when Ross Jamieson took handfuls of Tom Moncrieff’s jersey as he pulled away. Having been booked in the first half the second yellow was inevitable.
Despite being down to 10 men Delting held their own and could have won it at the end, only a great tackle from Webb stopping Robert Balfour as he was about to shoot.
Celtic won the penalty shoot-out 3-2 thanks to two penalty saves from Paul Grant with Mann coolly converting the final spot kick.
Delting’s experience and physical approach caused Celtic plenty of problems with Merv Jamieson and MacDougal outstanding. Celtic’s young team never got their passing game going but showed tremendous spirit and character to reach the final. They were best served by captain Webb while Mann showed he will be an important addition to the squad for the remainder of the season.