Shetland knocked out in semi-final but bronze still to play for

Blues boss Niall Bristow is very proud of his players after a tough test against a strong Isle of Man team who ran out 3-1 victors.

Within the opening minutes it was clear Shetland would face a much tougher opposition than their previous game against the Falkland Islands.

The men in yellow were working the ball down the left flank and their number 11 looked tricky in the early exchanges.

But Shetland pushed on down the right through James Aitken and Robert Smith.

The first corner of the game came on seven minutes for the Manx boys but the in-swinging set piece was met with a header that went  wide across the goal.

Another corner followed moments later after Shetland were caught in possession, but to no avail.

As the game neared the 15-minute mark James Johnston played a through ball to Connor Regan but the Isle of Man rearguard stood strong.

With the hot weather the game was paused for a quick water break.

Afterwards the Isle of Man continued to put on the pressure, with a fierce cross from the left, caught strongly by keeper Erik Peterson.

Shetland were getting some more joy down the right hand side and Peterson was called into action again following a scramble in the box.

The Isle of Man looked physical, quick and direct.

Just before another water break Smith burst down the right and cut back for Johnston but he could not get the shot away.

And the Isle of Man broke the deadlock shortly after the second interval.

Jamieson was left one on one with the Isle of Man forward who neatly cut inside and played it across the box for Lee Gayle to slot home.

Despite their best efforts Shetland were not getting time on the ball and the Isle of Man continued to chase a second.

Approaching half time Shetland were in with a penalty shout.

Johnston was fouled well into the opposition’s territory and Jordan Thomason whipped the ball into the penalty area.

A shout for handball came roaring from the terraces but the referee did not give it.

Johnston was taken off shortly after the challenge.

He was replaced by Greg Tulloch and the pacey forward made some darting runs behind the Isle of Man defence, with a shot going over the bar.

James Aitken runs at the opposition. Photo: Kevin Jones.
James Aitken runs at the opposition. Photo: Kevin Jones.

Just before the break Tulloch cut back to Aitken but he did not get enough purchase on the shot.

Shetland made a bright start to the second half.

Smith hit a cross into the danger area but the keeper dived low to gather.

Tulloch continued to run at the Isle of Man defence as he had done in the first half.

But the Isle of Man were strong on the ball and Shetland were dropping deeper.

Peterson made another great save eight minutes into the second half, saving low at his feet.

Moments later the Isle of Man shot over the bar.

Tulloch was then pushed out of it in the box but again the referee did not blow his whistle for a penalty.

Peterson then made another fine save to his right at close range.

A water break punctuated the second half and Calvin Leask came on as a fresh pair of legs for Regan.

Aitken was driving forward after the break and Shetland were looking to level.

They won a corner on about 75 minutes and Shane Jamieson leaped high to thunder a header into the back of the net to make it 1-1.

It was his fourth headed goal of the games. The large Shetland following erupted in delight.

But within minutes the Isle of Man took the lead again with a low drive from the edge of the box by Frank Jones it was a fine strike to Peterson’s bottom right.

A fourth water break brought another pause in play and then Aitken, with the ball behind him back-heeled an effort over the bar.

The Manx stuck to their direct play and a shot parried from Peterson near the byline fell kindly to the yellows to increase the margin. Frank Jones on the scoresheet again.

Peterson dived to his right in the dying embers to stop a shot from distance.

Aitken curled in a corner near the final whistle and there was a shout for a pull in the box but the referee did not award it.

Bristow’s men put in the graft against an strong and effective Isle of Man side but it was the Isle of Man who make it through to the final.

The blues are still in with a shout of a bronze playing Minoraca today.

Bristow said: “It was a really, really demanding game, but I thought on the whole we stood up to it pretty well, really pretty well.

“I suppose the scoreline…yeah they definitely had far more attempts, Erik had some excellent saves.

“We knew probably beforehand that our best bet was going to be from set pieces trying to work the game up, but we’re a small island with a small pool of players and we’d hoped that we would get into this game.

“But the way we’ve played tonight has surpassed my expectations.”



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