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Shettleston dominate in commanding win over Notre Dame SA

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Shettleston Juniors thumped Notre Dame Soccer Academy in the Glasgow and District under 14s league clash in Glasgow on Sunday afternoon.

Juniors raced into a four-goal lead within the first eight minutes in a blistering start to the game and did well to keep control of the match throughout.

Notre Dame kicked off on a sunny afternoon at Springburn’s Petershill Park and immediately highlighted their passing ability. Some slick footwork, twinned with good movement, saw Notre Dame pull Shettleston over the park but failed to create a meaningful chance in the opening five minutes.

It was Shettleston, however, who would open the scoring. Attacker Jamie Andrew won the ball on the right wing and fired a low cross towards the back post where Kalvin Higgins was waiting. The centre forward took a touch before firing a low shot towards the near post beyond the despairing Nathan Dawson in goal for Notre Dame.

Juniors wouldn’t have to wait long for a second and had the ball in the Notre Dame net again just a minute later. Andrew took a long throw on the right that cleared the defence and sent Alexander Ballantyne bearing down on goal. Dawson saved his initial effort, but Andrew pounced on the rebound to increase the scoring.

Two minutes later Shettleston had another, courtesy of Andrew again. A lofted ball from midfield sent Andrew through for a one-on-one with the onrushing Dawson. The goalkeeper rushed outside his box before Andrew showed great composure to gently lift the ball over the Notre Dame keeper, sprint past him and tap the ball into an empty net.

The home side kept up the early assault and grabbed a fourth with eight minutes on the clock. Again, Andrew was heavily involved. Some good work down the right led to a low cross into the box from the winger, finding Higgins in the box with his back to goal. The striker used his physicality to hold off a challenge from the Notre Dame defence before teeing up Jack Hutcheon, whose lofted shot bounced in off the top left corner of the frame of the goal.

The visitors were struggling to deal with Shettleston’s pace up front and the problem was exacerbated by the high line the defence insisted on operating. Joshua Harvie and Harris Simpson caught the eye for Notre Dame, but struggled to create clear-cut chances.

Juniors then could have added another if not for the exceptional reflexes of Dawson. Andrew’s cross from the right reached Ballantyne in the box – the attacker took a touch to control the ball before lashing a powerful effort at goal, but Dawson reacted very well to parry the ball behind for a corner.

The away side then came within inches of clawing a goal back. A wonderful through ball sent striker Ross Condy free of the Shettleston defence, driving towards the Juniors goal. Condy probably should have gone himself but unselfishly tried to tee up a teammate, only for Shettleston centre back Aiden Lawson to slide in and win the ball at the last moment. Had Lawson mistimed his interception, Notre Dame would surely have scored.

Then just two minutes later Notre Dame were made to pay for their missed opportunity. A long throw from the left-hand side bounced twice, evading the Notre Dame defence, before falling kindly for Higgins in the box. The striker pivoted and coolly slotted the ball past Dawson.

Harvie and Simpson continued to provide hope for the away side, combining particularly well down the left of Notre Dame’s attack. However, Shettleston’s Kyle Edger was in imperious form in central defence – the young stopper was a rock at the back for Juniors, snuffing out any dangerous play and reducing Notre Dame’s opportunities to a minimum.

With 22 minutes on the clock, Higgins secured his hat-trick. This time Ballantyne broke down the left before firing in a cross towards the back post where Higgins was waiting. On this occasion, the striker hit a first-time shot that gave Dawson little chance of stopping it.

The pace of the game dropped a little after the goal, with Shettleston happy to keep the ball in midfield and focus on dominating possession. For the rest of the half, chances were at a premium for either side.

Shettleston came close to extending their advantage before the half-time whistle following a corner from the left. Higgins was elected to take the set-piece and curled in a high, looping cross towards the middle of the box. Ballantyne won the header but his effort from 12 yards was smothered by Dawson.

Shortly afterwards, the referee blew his whistle and both sets of players jogged off the pitch.

The home side kicked off for the second half and were met by a newly determined Notre Dame, who played with an increased intensity in a bid to reduce Juniors’ deficit.
The first chance of the second half fell to Shettleston following a corner. Higgins’ delivery failed to find a teammate, instead resulting in the ball bouncing around the box and both sides failed to control it. The ball eventually fell to Hutcheon at the back post, but Dawson was every bit equal to the attacker’s powerful strike.
The match was a little more stop-start at this stage, with play often being stopped for cheap fouls committed by both sides. Notre Dame were playing better, but still struggling to find passes in the final third of the pitch.
Andrew came close to grabbing a hat-trick of his own but was denied by another excellent piece of goalkeeping from Dawson. The winger sprinted down the right and danced past two defenders to give himself a one-on-one with the Notre Dame goalie. Dawson rushed off his line and produced a superb stop to deny Andrew, who looked certain to score.
Notre Dame came close to threatening the Shettleston goal following some neat footwork from Simpson, who did well to thread a pass through the Juniors defence for Conor Plunkett to chase, but the pass was slightly overhit and the ball rolled harmlessly behind for a goal kick.
It was then Cameron Orr’s turn to get on the scoresheet for the hosts. Another corner from Higgins reached the unmarked Orr in the middle of the Notre Dame box. Orr rolled the ball in at the far post from close range, denying the visitors’ defence any chance of preventing the goal.
Five minutes later, Shettleston had their eighth. Higgins broke free of the Notre Dame defence, latching on to a through ball from deep, before showing excellent composure and awareness to calmly round Dawson and gently poking the ball across the line.
Then, just a minute later, Hutcheon got the second that his play deserved. William McKay did well to create space on the right wing before lashing in a low ball towards the Notre Dame goal. Hutcheon sprinted in at the near post, sliding in front of the Notre Dame defence to poke the ball beyond Dawson.
With the game nearing its conclusion there was still time for one last goal for the home side, ensuring they finished the match in fine fashion. Again, Shettleston found luck from a long throw – this time, the ball was lobbed over the defence, finding Ballantyne after the forward made a good run. Dawson rushed to close him down but was left vulnerable in the process. Ballantyne took advantage to great effect, knocking the ball past the keeper before rolling the ball into an empty net.
The referee then signalled for full time, calling time on an excellent display from Juniors. There are undoubtedly lessons to be learned for Notre Dame, but the effort they put in throughout the match should be commended. They didn’t allow their heads to drop in testing circumstances, but were simply outplayed by a fantastic Shettleston Juniors team.
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