Discuss the Match | Buy Photos and Souvenirs
Trinity High School met Cardinal Newman High School in the Lanarkshire Schools Football Association Cup Final on a night perfect for football at Blantyre Victoria’s Castle Park.
The opening period was a cagey affair with both sides’ midfield players trying to assert their authority on proceedings, with Trinity’s Paul Chalmers and Sean Monaghan and Cardinal Newman’s lone striker Marc Kelly being starved of service and any opportunity to trouble the respective goalkeepers.
With 15 minutes played, the game sparked into life as Trinity took the lead with the first real chance created by either side. A right wing corner from Daniel Moran could only be cleared as far as Monaghan, and although his initial effort was well saved by Jordan Skelton, Monaghan tapped home the rebound to open the scoring.
Within a minute Trinity doubled their lead, when Gavin Millar’s free kick was fumbled by Skelton to give Brendan McGhee the simple task of rolling the loose ball into the net to give his side a two goal cushion.
Cardinal Newman seemed stunned by their opponents quick-fire double, and straight from kick off, they gifted Trinity the chance to add a third as Millar stole possession before shooting on target from long range, but on this occasion Skelton did well to hold on.
However, this proved to be a temporary respite as Trinity were soon celebrating again, and again it was a set piece which provided the opportunity. Connor Bell lofted a free kick high to the back post, where McGhee was waiting to square the ball to Monaghan who slammed home his second, and his side’s third, with only 25 minutes played.
Within a minute of Trinity going three goals ahead, three superb saves prevented the scoreline increasing further. Firstly, in their first attack of the game, Cardinal Newman were denied a goal by a superb block by David Donaghue in his first action of the match, as he bravely stopped Kelly’s point blank effort in a goalmouth scramble after a corner.
At the other end, two instinctive stops by Skelton thwarted Trinity. The first came at the end of a fine flowing move involving Monaghan, Chalmers and Moran for Trinity by tipping Chalmers’ first time effort over the crossbar. The applause from both sets of supporters was fitting, as it was great football all round, from the intricate movement and passing of the Trinity attack to the excellent save it forced from Skelton.
From the resulting corner, Kristopher McGuire’s volley was heading for the top corner before Skelton’s flying intervention, clawing the ball off the line with one hand and behind to safety.
The pattern of the game prompted Cardinal Newman to switch to a 3-5-2 formation, as Trinity threatened to run riot before half time, and Brian Shilliday was introduced to play alongside Kelly up front, and his pace gave the Cardinal Newman attack a new dimension, immediately creating an opportunity for fellow sub Liam Bowie, whose shot from Shilliday’s cut back went narrowly wide.
It was only a matter of time though before the change in tactics paid off, and on the stroke of half time Cardinal Newman pulled a goal back, and again the substitutes Shilliday and Bowie were involved in the move which led to an intelligent through ball by Bowie to Paul Mockus, who shot under Donaghue from a tight angle to reduce the arrears heading into the interval.
Half Time: Cardinal Newman 1-3 Trinity
Cardinal Newman seemed refreshed by the half time break, and within seconds of the restart created their first chance of the second half, but Kelly’s shot fell just the wrong side of the post after Mockus’ strong run to the edge of the area.
Despite their strong start to the second period, Cardinal Newman had to wait until the 55th minute for another opportunity, and again it fell to rampaging midfielder Mockus, who had space and time from Marc Skelton’s accurate cross to the back post but could only find the side netting with a huge chance to pull another back for his side.
With 15 minutes to go, Cardinal Newman kick started what would be a frantic ending to the final by scoring a second and reducing Trinity’s lead to a single goal through Shilliday. He made space on the edge of the penalty area by shifting the ball onto his favoured right foot, and finished very well into the bottom right hand corner of the net to renew Cardinal Newman’s hope of a comeback.
Trinity had lost the control of the match which had saw them canter into a three goal lead in the first half, and were reduced to ten men with 12 minutes left to play when Matthew Edwards was shown a straight red for a wild tackle on Sean McGuiness.
There was further drama to come as Cardinal Newman looked to capitalise on their man advantage, as they had a strong penalty appeal turned down when Bell, who had been a rock in defence all game, appeared to pull down Kelly who was bearing down on goal. Despite loud appeals from the players, staff and their large support, the referee waved play on and Cardinal Newman were denied.
As the match entered the final five minutes, Cardinal Newman’s hopes were dealt a major blow as they too were reduced to ten men when Shilliday, who looked like the most likely man to provide the equaliser was shown a second yellow for dissent after disagreeing with the decision to award a goal kick to Trinity.
However, despite the numbers being evened once again, the crowd could sense that Cardinal Newman would get one last chance to force extra time, and that chance was provided by the ever industrious Skelton on the right wing, whose cross was met by Brian Martin with a firm header, but Donaghue made a fine save, clutching the ball in mid dive as the clock ticked into injury time.
The final whistle came seconds later, and was met by contrasting emotions, as Cardinal Newman, who had come so close to a wonderful comeback, slumped dejected to the turf, while Trinity celebrated winning the final and the Lanarkshire School’s Football Association Cup. In the end, their first half treble proved key, as they caught their opponents cold with the successive strikes which won a final keenly contested in the right spirit between two excellent teams.
Full Time: Cardinal Newman HS 2-3 Trinity HS