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Lanarkshire leave it late to win SSFA National Trophy

Lanarkshire Schools 4

Robb 72', Hunter 80', Marshall 84', 89'

Paisley & District Schools 1

Findlay 24'

Simon Ritchie | YFS West Region Reporter
Articles by Author | Contact Author

Lanarkshire came from behind to win the Scottish Schools’ FA National Trophy against Paisley. Despite being 1-0 down at halftime through a Nathan Findlay goal, Lanarkshire were on top and their pressure eventually paid off in the second half when strikes from Jamie Robb, Baillie Hunter, and a Kian Marshall brace sealed the victory.

The game was a slow burner with little action in the opening quarter. Both sides were feeling one another out but struggling to create anything of substance, in part due to some great defending from both teams.

Paisley’s Tomas Brindley forced Kyle Miller into the first save of the match, with a neat turn and shot from the edge of the box, but the Lanarkshire 'keeper got down low to push it away. The same player had Miller worried when his inswinging corner sailed over the keeper’s head and struck the crossbar on its way out.

In one of their few attacks of the half, Lanarkshire thought they’d opened the scoring when Robb turned in Lewis Gracie’s fantastic through ball, but it was called offside to the disappointment of their support.

It was hard to see where a goal would come from, with both sides toiling creatively on a surprisingly warm night at Lesser Hampden, until a bit of skill down the right wing for Paisley opened the game right up. Ross McFarlane made it to the byline and put in a great cross that looked set to be knocked home by Matthew McCarthur but the striker’s shot was miscued, fortunately landing right in front of Findlay coming in at the back post who didn’t miss.

If anyone thought it would be the spark the game needed to come to life they were sorely mistaken. Lanarkshire huffed and puffed but although they had plenty of possession their final ball wasn’t up to scratch.

You could see the potential of a good team in Lanarkshire as they looked to pass into space, find runners, and play neat through balls but unfortunately the execution was a fraction off and Paisley were untroubled.

The closest Lanarkshire came to an equaliser in the first half was when Hunter’s corner fell at the feet of Robb at the back post but his shot was saved by Jack Donohoe.

A long range effort from McFarlane had Kyle Miller scrambling across the Lanarkshire goal but the keeper had plenty of time to keep his eye on it and pull off a diving stop to make sure his side went in at the break only a single goal down.

The second half began much as the first had ended - with Lanarkshire controlling the game but Paisley soaking up the pressure.

As time went on, however, Lanarkshire began to probe a bit deeper and Paisley’s defence looked troubled for the first time in the game.

Hunter’s low cross was miskicked by Daniel Martin and Martin Smith, arriving late at the back post, didn’t connect properly while sliding and hit the side netting.

Emboldened, Hunter fired one wide from range, as did Ben Simpson.

Just as it looked like an equaliser was on the horizon, Daniel Connor went up the other end and almost doubled Paisley’s lead with some neat play on the edge of the box, turning his marker and firing low into the corner but Miller pulled off a great diving save.

It was a rare bit of respite for Paisley as Lanarkshire were now camped in their half and looked determined to find a goal. Gracie’s deep cross was well controlled by Simpson but he fired over, though it wasn’t a costly miss as his side scored shortly after.

A piece of individual brilliance from Robb kickstarted the Lanarkshire victory. Picking the ball up midway in the opposition half, he beat several Paisley players before unleashing a shot low and hard into corner of the net. It was a sweet moment for the tricky winger who had received some stick from the crowd for not passing often enough, but his decision to go it alone this time was proven correct.

It was just what the doctor ordered for Lanarkshire and there looked like only being one winner now. Paisley were tired from running around chasing shadows for most of the game while the goal gave Lanarkshire a new lease of life.

A defence splitting pass from centre half Josh Burke put through Gracie who unselfishly squared it for Hunter to tap home - or at least he would have but for an excellent goal-saving interception by Adam Heron.

Although it was all Lanarkshire, a poor clearance from their keeper almost put them in serious danger as Brindley struck from distance with Miller caught out, but fortunately for the Lanarkshire stopper his effort struck the crossbar.

It was a real let off for Lanarkshire and they took full advantage. A free kick 25-yards out and up stepped Hunter to put it over the wall and into the back of the net. A cracking finish when it mattered.

Hunter turned provider five minutes later as Lanarkshire extended their lead. He switched the ball brilliantly from left to right for Robb at the back post to lift over the keeper, but his shot struck the crossbar and fortunately fell nicely for substitute Kian Marshall to nod home.

Hunter had another part to play in the fourth and final goal, with the game open and spaces appearing, he neatly dummied a through ball allowing it roll into space for Marshall to slot home past the onrushing keeper.

It took a while for Lanarkshire to get going but once they did they showed exactly what they were capable of and they are deserving winners of the SSFA National  Trophy.


Lanarkshire Schools
Paisley & District Schools
1. Kyle Miller
2. Matthew Grant
3. Jordan Armstrong
4. Zach Brown
5. Josh Burke
6. Murray Miller
8. Ben Simpson
7. Jamie Robb
9. Daniel Martin
10. Lewis Gracie
11. Baillie Hunter
12. Kian Marhsall
15. Connor Dunlop
20. Eddie McGhee
21. Euan Griffiths
22. Aiden McCluskey
23. Ruari Gartshore
24. Kai Fingland
25. Martin Smith
1. Jack Donohoe
2. Ben Dalgleish
3. Adam Heron
4. Gavin Watt
5. Dominic McLaughlin
6. Evan Wylie
7. Ross McFarlane
8. Daniel Connor
9. Matthew McCarthur
10. Tomas Brindley
11. Nathan Findlay
12. Keir Sanderson
14. Josh Lafferty
15. Daniel Ferguson
16. Charlie Carracher
17. Matthew McDowell
18. Max Gillies
19.Kenny Scullion
20. Jamie Watt
Star Player
Lanarkshire Schools
Paisley & District Schools
Baillie Hunter played a part in every goal, helping to set up three and scoring a tremendous free-kick to put his side in front.
Gavin Watt was solid and dependable at the back for Paisley as they mopped up everything that Lanarkshire threw at them for the first 70 minutes, unfortunately they just couldn't hold on.
Magic Moment
Lanarkshire Schools
Paisley & District Schools
Jamie Robb's mazy run and finish to equalise is what allowed his side to kick on and get the victory, and it was a splendid piece of play in its own right.
When Tomas Brindley snuck in at the back post to put Paisley ahead it gave his side a lead to defend and they almost managed to hold on.

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