Lerwick Spurs sent out a message to all contenders that they were still the team to beat as they kicked off the G&S Flooring Premier League season with a thumping win over Ness United in Cunningsburgh.
The defending champions shared a fairly even opening 10 minutes with the home side on Friday, but began to take control of the game. Having had a shout turned down five minutes earlier, they were awarded a penalty with 20 minutes gone. Sam Ward stepped up but hit the bar, handing Ness a brief reprieve.
Ness nearly capitalised four minutes later, Ian Bray making his way into the area and drawing the keeper out before squaring to Bradley MacKenzie, who was unable to make clean contact, and put the ball wide from close range.
Spurs made Ness pay immediately as a slide-rule pass played in Scott Morrison from the left, his low shot beating Kern Duncan in the Ness goal.
As Spurs cranked up the pressure, Duncan was called on again on 38 minutes, rushing out to stop the advancing Paul Molloy, who rounded him and drew a foul and penalty, giving the referee no alternative but to send off Duncan.
Danny Finnie, already on as a substitute for the injured Ryan Keddie, took the gloves and made a smart save low to his left from Molloy’s kick.
Spurs could not be held at bay for long however, Ward getting onto a Molloy centre to score shortly before the break.
Going into the second half a man short, Ness were always likely to struggle, but initially held their own, keeping players in forward positions and pressing the Spurs defenders in packs to force errors.
Their positivity paid dividends on 56 minutes when Nethan Watson latched onto a pass, showed good strength to hold off his marker and finished emphatically to give Ness an unlikely lifeline at 1-2.
Spurs responded with all the force of champions, blitzing four goals in less than 10 minutes. Another Molloy cross found James Johnston unmarked to immediately restore their two-goal cushion. Four minutes later, Molloy grabbed a well-earned goal after finding himself in behind the Ness defence, and he doubled his tally two minutes later after a one-two with Johnston. Sam Ward’s second arrived on 67 minutes with a fierce drive, leaving Spurs in command and Ness reeling at 1-6.
Spurs dominated a tired Ness, with Johnston’s calm in midfield and Morrison’s skill on the left particularly impressing. The only surprise about the seventh was that it took until the 88th minute to arrive, Molloy sealing his hat trick after a defensive error. Spurs have laid down a marker and, on this evidence, will not give up their title easily.