Dundee put on a fine display to beat Inverness Caledonian Thistle 3-1 and become the first team to reach the Under 16’s Denis Law Soccer Tournament final. Ben Siewright put the Dark Blues into the lead with a sublime strike but Stefan McRitchie’s header had Caley back on level terms at the break. Callum Petrie put Dundee back ahead from the spot before Lee Cameron sealed the victory.
In the first of two back to back semi-finals, Group A winners Dundee entered the match on the crest of a wave. Group stage victories over Keith, Albion and Aberdeen left them with a 100% record and a healthy goal difference. Their opponents, in the Aberdeen sunshine, were ICT. The Highland outfit had got off to an ideal start with victories over Broomhill Juniors and Ross County, before losing out to Motherwell in the group deciding match.
With little over thirty seconds on the clock Dundee had the game’s first chance. Kieran Sturrock pounced on a defensive error and scampered towards goal, but couldn’t keep his shot down.
At the other end Felipe Da Silva had ICT’s first chance, as he headed into the arms of Cameron Johnstone. Sturrock then thought he had opened the scoring, only to see his shot rebound off the inside of the post.
The game then settled into a pattern, somewhat dictated by the strong wind blowing in Caley’s favour. The Highland outfit enjoyed more of the ball and territory but their opponents from Tayside looked threatening on the break, with bags of pace and plenty of players with an eye for a pass.
Lee Cameron set up Sturrock, who stung the palms of Ross Aitken. However, Dundee’s opening goal wasn’t far away. A contentious free kick was awarded to the Dark Blues 25 yards from goal, but there was no debate about the class of the finish. Right back Ben Siewright curled the ball into the top right hand corner in true postage stamp fashion.
Inverness knew the importance of a quick response and delivered immediately. An inviting cross was swung in from the right wing with Stefan McRitchie on hand to send a low header past Johnstone.
The quick exchange of goals proved to be the final action of note in an intriguing first half.
Half Time: Dundee FC Under 16s 1-1 Inverness CT Under 16s
With the wind now in their favour, Dundee started the second half brightly and took the game by the scruff of the neck. Sturrock headed wide and Craig Wighton was crowded out as he prepared to pull the trigger, in the first 5 minutes of the half.
Play continued to flow towards the Caley goal and Dundee were given the perfect opportunity to regain their lead when they were awarded a penalty. Callum Petrie stepped up to the plate and made no mistake, sending the ball low to the goalkeeper's left.
Dundee continued to press with ICT now the team trying to hit on the break. With the game finely poised it was evident that the next goal was going to be crucial.
Siewright had been the coolest head of the pitch throughout, passing the ball out of defence, overlapping when possible and doing his defensive duties when required. With 60 minutes on the clock the full back found himself in an advanced position and produced a piece of magic to jink between two players, before whipping in an inch perfect cross to the back post. Cameron was only too glad to head the ball in from six yards before wheeling away to celebrate.
Inverness were now facing an uphill struggle and time was not on their side. Da Silva led the charge as the Highland side desperately tried to find a route in the match. However, the former Deveronvale striker was left frustrated as his near post shot was easily saved and his 20 yard drive flew inches over the crossbar.
One last chance fell the way of Caley in the closing stages. Goalscorer McRitchie connected well with a corner from the right but the woodwork came to Dundee's rescue, with the shot rebounding off the post and being scrambled to safety.
Minutes later the final whistle blew. Dundee had made it four wins from as many games and were deserved finalists. They are likely to face their toughest test yet in the form of Motherwell, but in this form it is a challenge they will relish.
Full Time: Dundee FC Under 16s 3-1 Inverness CT Under 16s