Celtic, Spurs, Whalsay and Whitedale in County Shield semi-finals
This week saw the quarter-finals of the County Shield as most Premier League sides began their assault on the last piece of cup silverware left as the season draws to a close. Celtic, Spurs, Whalsay and Whitedale progressed to the semi-finals which will be played next week.
League action continued with Celtic securing another three points towards the league title. The hoops are now just two wins away from being champions but they still have to play Whalsay in one of the two remaining games, meaning the Bonnie Isle side, who have three games in hand, are still in with a chance.
Some poor weather last weekend meant there were some cancellations with the main casualty being the Bloomfield Cup final between the Celtic and Spurs reserve teams.
Whalsay 4, Thistle 1
This re-run of the recent Fraser Cup final saw a reversal in fortunes as Whalsay in the end ran out comfortable winners.
Whalsay started the brighter of the two teams and eventually their pressure paid off. Some good work down the right saw James Shearer rifle in a cross-come-shot that fell to the feet of Stuart Shearer who turned and blasted the ball into the corner of the net.
Shortly before half time Whalsay got their second. This time good work down the left by Allister Johnson culminated with a pinpoint cross for Erik Thomson who headed in from close range.
Although Whalsay were certainly on top, Thistle were having their moments of action too and at the end of the first half almost hit back when Gary Jamieson had to look lively to head clear from almost under his own crossbar following a corner.
The second half saw Thistle coming more into the game and they had a great chance when Calvin Leask crossed from the right for David Thomson who was running in. But he snatched at his effort and the Whalsay keeper gratefully gathered.
The Thistle front man made amends shortly after when a good run ended with him being bundled over in the box and he picked himself up to fire home the resultant penalty kick.
After this Whalsay upped their game and regained their two-goal lead after another good cross from Johnson was met by Stuart Shearer who nodded past the keeper.
Whalsay put the game beyond doubt with 15 minutes remaining when Colin Leask picked up the ball on halfway and drove forward before unleashing a vicious, swerving shot from 30 yards which deceived Richard Manson in the Thistle goal to put the islanders 4-1 ahead.
Celtic 3, Scalloway 2
Celtic will play Spurs next Monday night in the semi-finals of the County Shield thanks to a deserved if tight win over the side that has caused the town team nothing but difficulties this season.
The villagers went a goal ahead from the penalty spot following an award after only 63 seconds. Tom Moncrieff was slack with a pass into the heart of the penalty area, Robert Smith in attempting to deal with it handled and referee Martin Gibbs pointed at the spot. Smith was probably lucky to stay on the field of play.
Celtic showed little of the pace, hunger and urgency of their Friday outing; Monday lethargy has become a trait with this Celtic side. However, there was enough on show to indicate that chances would be created and they equalised in the 22nd minute.
Roy Wood exchanged passes with John Simpson, broke past the full back and passed the ball across the face of the retreating defence. Dominic Mann got in before them and tapped home from four yards out.
Joel Bradley was the exception to the lethargy rule, showing great energy in both defence and attack. He broke forward and unleashed a great drive from the edge of the box that just missed the target three minutes after Celtic had drawn level.
Two minutes later Gary Burns broke forward on to a long ball and his lob over the head of Paul Grant in the hoops goal lifted just over the bar.
Jamie Duffy on the left flank was like many of his team mates on the night, finding a first touch and short pass tough to execute. He did, however, fashion two attempts at goal, one a good strike and the other best forgotten.
Laurence Pearson broke down the Scalloway left and shot over just as the half came to an end.
Celtic upped the ante after the break – perhaps a few harsh words worked wonders. Wood again found space on the right but there were no takers at the back stick for his inviting cross.
Tom Moncrieff swung in another fine ball but Jordan Webb’s header was straight at the keeper.
Notice had been posted and it came as no surprise when Celtic took the lead minutes later. John Simpson slipped a fine pass through the defence to Webb on the run and the Celtic captain took it first time and sent a screaming shot past the helpless keeper.
Burns then saw another good effort miss the target by feet but at this stage Celtic were dominating and Scalloway appeared to be flagging slightly in certain areas.
Jordan Simpson broke from right back, passed into namesake John who in turn deftly nugged the ball to Mann who just couldn’t get his feet to work quickly enough and the chance was lost.
It came as no surprise when Celtic went two goals ahead with 25 minutes to play. Moncrieff broke down the left and slung a cross to the back of the penalty area. Wood controlled and chipped back to the back post where Dominic Mann had taken up good position to nod home.
Celtic then took the foot of the pedal a little and allowed the visitors back into the game as the shape dissipated and play got very scrappy.
With eight minutes left on the clock Alan Davidson found himself clear after Moncrieff was guilty of not clearing with the head. The Scalloway front man despatched a screamer into the net from the edge of the box to set the alarm bells ringing in the home side’s ranks.
Robert Smith had an aberration with an attempted clearance that let in Lawrence Pearson and keeper Paul Grant had to look lively to parry it past the post.
Despite the late rushes of blood Celtic were worth the win although had Smith been shown red in the first minutes the result may well have been different. Best for Celtic were Bradley and John Simpson while Andrew Flett again looked a class act at the back for Scalloway.
Whitedale 5, Ness United 1
It was a fairly even first half with Whitedale having perhaps the edge of the possession side of things. However, Ness looked good in the midfield area when they got a chance to get forward only to be denied by the home defence.
With both teams’ back fours playing well it took a strong run from Whitedale’s midfield powerhouse Duncan Anderson to split the defence and place his chipped shot over Erik Peterson in the Ness goals to open the scoring for the home side.
Ness responded with a good move down the left with the resulting cross being met by winger Kevin Smith from outside the box sending a sizzling shot which Whitedale keeper Martin Young did well to reach and push to safety.
Ness opened the second half as they did the last time the teams met with a lot more urgency. They forced Young into action early on and were rewarded when hesitation in the home defence along with a deflection left Smith an easy nod-in from close range.
The game hung in the balance for the next 10 minutes before Whitedale left back Ross Smith burst into the box and flicked his shot past Peterson.
Paul Molloy made it three for Whitedale with a low, driven shot from the edge of the box before Jamie Wilson scored twice in typical fashion, using his speed and power to outpace his marker.
Best for Whitedale were Gary Tulloch, Anderson and Wilson, while Ness players Neil Fenwick and Kieran Malcomson had sound games for their club.
Spurs v Mossbank
Spurs progressed to the semi-finals after Mossbank were unable to field a team.
Ness United 1, Whalsay 5
Whalsay continue the chase with another win to put pressure on Celtic at the top.
Ian Simpson and Stuart Shearer both hit doubles while Alastair Johnson also got in on the act for the islanders. Ness got their consolation through Stuart Farmer.
Whitedale 7, Thistle 1
Whitedale have struggled in recent games to create chances in front of goal but on this occasion took every chance that came their way, giving them a comfortable 5-0 lead at half-time.
Jamie Wilson scored the opener on eight minutes followed on 11 minutes by Lorne McNiven’s strike from close range after superb wing play from Paul Molloy.
Thistle had some good possession for the next 10 minutes with Calvin Leask and Neil Laurenson pressing the Whitedale back four but it was Whitedale who scored the all-important third on 38 minutes. Ali Scott found Molloy who hit an unstoppable shot low to the keeper’s left.
Another two quick goals from Gary Tulloch and Wilson gave them a commanding half-time lead.
The second half continued with Jordon Morrison out-jumping the Thistle defence to head home the sixth. Wilson got his hat trick soon after with an accurate finish.
Late in the game Calvin Leask went on a solo run through the middle and as things opened up for him, struck his shot well to give Thistle a consolation goal.
Thistle gave it a go in the last 10 minutes, forcing two top-drawer saves from Whitedale keeper Martin Young.
Best for Thistle were Leask and Laurenson while Wilson, Molloy and McNiven never gave the Thistle defence a moment’s peace.
Delting 1, Celtic 3
Celtic left Brae with a valuable three points in the race for the Premier League title.
The visitors started the brighter, playing into a stiff breeze with Dominic Mann seeing an early effort hit the upright. The home side were playing a long ball game with the odd strike from distance either not troubling Paul Grant in the Celtic goal or ending up in the long grass behind the goals.
Celtic defended well as a team against the wind and managed to forge out a few chances to boot. Roy Wood whipped a great ball from the left which was controlled by Jordan Webb but the finish just didn’t quite match the delivery in and the keeper held comfortably.
Robert Smith pinged in a good free kick which James Aitken controlled first time. His shot was on target but shouts of hand ball on the post from the visiting players were correctly waved away by referee Ivan Sinclair.
With no scoring at the interval the large visiting crowd perhaps felt the hard work had been done. However, thankfully the team did not see it that way and maintained the pace and effort through the second 45 minutes and attacked Delting from the off.
Two stonewall penalties awarded within the first five minutes brought the game alive again. Mann was upended by the goalkeeper in the act of claiming a through ball and Webb stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way and open the scoring.
At the other end minutes later Smith, who despite that blot on the copybook was outstanding all evening, upended Ross Jamieson in the box and again the referee’s decision was easy. Leighton Flaws stepped up and levelled the score.
The game was stretched and a little scrappy for the next 10 minutes or so but thereafter Celtic did begin to take the upper hand with a few of the older legs in the home side looking a little weary, and with no substitutes on show it would become a longer night than perhaps some legs could stand.
Connor Regan watched a drive slip past the post before Celtic took the lead. A free kick out on the left was floated in and Mann reacted well and nodded home on the line.
As Delting tried to press for an equaliser they looked a little light on pace at the back. An unusual long ball was lifted over the head of Flaws at centre back by Aitken’s deft touch but Alistair Williamson swept behind and cleared the danger.
Not to be put off Aitken scored the goal that sealed the points minutes later. Reacting sharpest to a ball over the top he finished well beyond the keeper from 12 yards from a Smith pass.
Best on the night for the home side were Ross Jamieson and the tireless Ross MacDougal while Robert Smith, Joel Bradley, Connor Regan and Jordan Webb shone for the visitors.
Spurs 3, Delting 1
Seafield was the venue for the game, which was postponed from earlier in the season.
The home side started the brighter with some nice midfield play causing the Delting midfield and back line all sorts of problems.
Spurs won a succession of corners with the third one being converted via the head of young front man Sean Maver.
This gave Spurs a spring in their step and they found themselves two up after a mazy run and superb finish from 25 yards by midfield maestro James Johnston.
The remainder of the half was played in the Spurs half with Delting unlucky not to pull one back when veteran Ross Jamieson crashed a tremendous shot off keeper Craig Dinwoodie’s crossbar.
The north men did pull one back when Stuart Lavender tucked a great Maurice Williamson cross into the net, leaving the half-time score 2-1 to the men in white.
The second half started as the first ended with Delting keeping Spurs pinned back in their own half. Spurs always looked dangerous on the break, especially as the half wore on, and tired legs started to show in the ageing Delting midfield.
With little real goalmouth action of any note as the game came to a close, it was Spurs who inflicted the killer blow. A good move was superbly finished by striker Joe Leask, who was playing his penultimate game for the club.
Spurs probably just edged it on the night but Delting can take heart from the fact they competed for long spells against a younger, fitter-looking outfit.
Best on the night for Spurs were captain Joe Kay and Jordan Hunter. For Delting Kevin Main and centre back Merv Jamieson deserve a mention.