The Shetland team lost 2-1 to the hosts in the semi-finals of the Ynys Môn Island Games football tournament on Thursday evening in front of a good crowd at Anglesey.
Ynys Môn 2, Shetland 1
Two goals from Sam Jones proved to be the difference as a battling performance from Kevin Main’s side wasn’t enough and they fell to a narrow defeat.
It took the home side just 10 minutes to open the scoring, Jones applying the finishing touch at the far post from Cai Powell-Roberts’ cross.
Not letting up in the pressure, the home side went for the jugular, with Shetland indebted to a stunning save from keeper Grant Wood as he stooped low to his left.
However, just as Shetland were beginning to get a foothold into the game, enjoying some possession, they were hit with conceding a killer second goal five minutes before the break. A long ball played over the top saw Jones hold off the challenge of Richard Arthur, before coolly slotting past Wood.
Looking to have a mountain to climb in the second half, having withstood early pressure, they halved the deficit in the 58th minute. From a corner youngster Ronan Grant tapped home after seeing the ball rebound off the crossbar.
Revitalised, Main’s men went all-out attack, the level of their game causing panic both to the Ynys Môn players and home supporters. However, they were unable to truly test Paul Pritchard in the home goal, either in the remaining half an hour of play of five minutes of injury time.
Shetland will now battle for bronze on Friday afternoon when they meet Isle of Man in the third-fourth place play-off match.
Manager Main said after the match: “I’m very, very disappointed in regards of the result, but obviously very proud of the display we put on here in front of 1,500 people.
“We took ten minutes or so to get into the game, but from there and they’re on I think we were certainly competing and then in the second half I thought we owned it and chasing that second ball.
“We pushed hard, created chances, their goalkeeper pulled off a couple of great saves and on another day we may have made a decision by the referees.
“It will be a tough one to take that, but once again we can take plenty of positives from it. We came here to compete at a higher level away from our domestic season, our domestic league and we’ve experienced some great highs and we were almost there to get into that final.”
On how hard it would be to get his players up for the bronze match on Friday, Main said it would be “tough”.
He added: “The guys are hurting but I’ve asked them to pick themselves up – and pick themselves up quickly, this is just part of character rolling.
“There’s a lot of positive to take away. We’ll concentrate on those tonight and I am absolutely sure they will finish this tournament strong.
“It will a tough game tomorrow against the Isle of Man tomorrow, but I believe they will desperately want to finish on a high and give these players a good memory – and a win tomorrow will do that.”
• Reports in next week’s Shetland Times.