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Burgh outshine Thistle to claim first ever Scottish Cup win

Bonnyton Thistle 1

Paterson 14

Johnstone Burgh 3

Keenan 4, 56, Brown 90
  • Sunday, 01 May 2016
  • Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie
  • Under 21´s
  • inspiresport SYFA Challenge Cup - Final

Ryan Rowe | YFS South West Region Journalist & Bonnyton Thistle Reporter
Author's Bio | Articles by Author | [email protected]

Johnstone Burgh BC hoisted the Scottish Youth FA Cup for the first time in their history with a battling win over Bonnyton Thistle, their charge to victory led from the front by Jordan Keenan’s superb brace.

With the sides neck and neck in the league and a history of close ties that included a Burgh win on penalties two seasons ago and a recent away win for Thistle, one could tell there was potential for a dogfight. And not only were the Renfrewshire club were chasing their maiden Scottish Cup win, the Kilmarnock outfit were looking to triumph in their ninth Scottish Cup final. A war was on the cards, but the game never boiled to quite that level.

Clouds were cast over Airdrie’s Excelsior Stadium as the teams arrived in the morning, hours before kickoff. The dullness of the skies didn’t descend onto the pitch but, subjectively speaking, this wasn’t a match for the purist. Both teams failed to carve one another open consistently, with crunching tackles and 50-50 jostles making the highlight reel as much as the chances created.

Burgh lined up in a solid 4-4-2 formation, while Thistle took to the field in a more open 4-3-3. The tactics made little difference in the opening exchanges as both sides struggled to keep their foot on the ball.

Burgh were the more lively out of the blocks however, and Thistle’s Andy Strachan had to be alert to snuff out two attacks in as many minutes. Keenan was the focal point of both, something that would be a recurring theme as he played his way into the SYFA Man of the Match award.

Despite Keenan causing problems early on, no one in the stadium would have predicted the striker opening the scoring in the first ten minutes. The faces of his teammates and coaches were testament to that, as their smiles widened in surprise and joy as his glancing header hit the top corner. From a corner, Keenan evaded his marker and stuck his head onto the cross, the ball seeming destined for the goal the moment he touched it, despite Andy Hunter’s best efforts to clear the ball off the line.

Bonnyton managed to lift the tempo despite being 1-0 behind, with Burgh opting not to bomb forward in search of a second, preferring to try and frustrate their opponents. Thistle worked their way into the box when Chris Kelly’s quick free kick thirty yards out set Kyle Gilroy free, and as the winger surged into the box he swept the ball across the face of goal and, as the travelling crowd stood up awaiting the simple tap in, they all came crashing back down with a sigh as Strachan’s toe at the back post wasn’t enough to force the ball home.

Bonnyton continued to probe however and as both teams continued to look equally vulnerable and dangerous from set pieces, this route to goal was looking increasingly likely. Gilroy won a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area and Kelly stepped up once more, this time opting to curve the ball low towards the corner. The Burgh wall managed to flick it away for a corner but from that, Strachan won his header and sent the ball towards the back post – in not too dissimilar fashion to Keenan – but this time the header was an assist, as Ian Paterson nipped in at the back post and stabbed the ball home to equalise.

With two goals in the opening 20 minutes, everyone watching was waiting on the rest to flow but it never materialised, as a chess match in the middle of the park ensued, until Thistle were bailed out by Strachan again as he deflected an effort from Ruaridh Clark onto the post and way for a corner, which was dealt with comfortably and cleared. Bonnyton’s Craig Patterson and Marc Maguire linked up for their side’s next effort, as the striker laid off his teammate twenty yards out, but Connor Orr was equal to it in goal.
  • Half Time:
  • Bonnyton Thistle
  • 1-1
  • Johnstone Burgh
The teams emerged from the tunnel for the second half and again, Burgh were in delight as they grabbed an early goal. On 56 minutes, Danny Smith burst down the left wing and past the Bonnyton defence and just before he reached the by line he clipped the ball back across goal, in the hope an attacker would be there waiting. His wish was granted by Keenan who ghosted in unmarked and nodded home his second of the day, before reeling away in ecstasy.

Burgh were now beginning to sense things were going their way and credit must go to their captain Kieran Healy, who was strong and firm in every tackle and covered every blade of grass from both full back positions.

Again the game fell into a lull in terms of chances, and fresh faces made their way onto the pitch for both sides. Thistle, looking to try and find a way to break down Burgh, introduced Scottish Cup veterans Sean Mears, Steven Hill and David Shedden, each with two winner's medals. Chris Cardiner was also put on to try and inject some pace into proceedings. But just as Thistle’s substitutes began to make things dangerous, with claims for a penalty on Mears turned down, Burgh’s introductions of Gary McCormick, Alex Beattie, Kenny Wright and Danny Smith did enough to re-energise a team who were really pushing themselves physically.

The Mears penalty incident had the feeling of a game-changing moment. A cross from the left into the box saw Mears run around his marker but at the same time another Johnstone defender appeared to suffer a headknock. The referee’s hand signals made everyone in the ground raise their eyebrows, wondering if he was pointing to the spot or the player. In the end it was the player, and once the game was restarted the tannoy blared that there was four minutes of stoppage time to play: four agonising, aching minutes for Burgh and four minutes to save the tie for Thistle. A goal this late for Thistle would have been enough to provide the momentum to storm to victory in extra time, one could reasonably assume.

However, in another twist, the late goal came for Burgh to put some icing onto their Scottish Cup cake. Steven Brown stepped up to free kick 25 yards out, dead centre to the goal. He faced up the keeper and unleashed a knuckle-ball effort in the style of Bale and Ronaldo, and the effect was much the same. The dip evaded the wall and the bounce caught out Purdie in goal and as the net bulged, Burgh could now celebrate knowing that the cup was theirs. They had done it.

Thistle would go home knowing that they simply did not play to their potential, with coaches and players in agreement. Strong showings against Rutherglen Glencairn and Tower Hearts were matched, and bested, by a spirited and dogged performance from a Johnstone side who showed no fear, right from the first whistle. All three goals were finishes to be proud of, as was the belief shown by the whole squad.
  • Full Time:
  • Bonnyton Thistle
  • 1-3
  • Johnstone Burgh


Bonnyton Thistle
Johnstone Burgh
1 Scott Purdie
2 Ewan Barrie
3 Chris Gardiner
4 Kyle Gilroy
5 Steven Hill
6 Andy Hunter
7 Chris Kelly
8 Reece Lapham
9 Marc Maguire
10 Kieran McCrum
12 Sean Mears
21 Stuart Cowan
14 Ian Paterson
15 Craig Patterson
16 David Shedden
17 Andy Strachan
1 Conner Orr
2 Gary McCormick
3 John McCreadie
4 David McCallum
5 Andrew Stobo
6 Kieran Healy
7 James Usher
8 Darren Kennedy
9 Jordan Keenan
10 David McSorley
11 Ruaridh Clark
12 Steven Brown
13 James Blair
14 Lee Cochrane
15 Alex Beattie
16 Colin Brennan
17 Kenny Wright
18 Danny Smith
19 Brian Hallan
Star Player
Bonnyton Thistle
Johnstone Burgh
Chris Kelly's corner was the one that led to the goal, and from set pieces in general he was dangerous. Didn't give the ball away cheaply and worked hard in the engine room.
Keenan's two goals were the difference between the sides. A class act.
Magic Moment
Bonnyton Thistle
Johnstone Burgh
Paterson's goal was timely and gave Bonnyton a route back into the match.
Brown's last gasp strike was a beauty and the minute it hit the back of the net, Burgh knew the cup was theirs.
  • Match report and photos copyright Youth Football Scotland.
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