View Photo Gallery | Discuss the Match | Create a Souvenir Newsprint
Greenwood Academy was the venue for this inter-club friendly between Bonnyton Thistle 19s and 21s during the winter break. The 19s are currently 2nd in their league with 5 wins from 7 games, and 2 losses. The 21s sit 5th in their division with 4 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses from 8 games. The fact that there were over 11 Scottish Cup medalists (current Bonnyton and ex-Bellfield players) on the pitch for both teams showed the high standards expected and ensured it would be a highly competitive game. Add that to the 'bragging rights' factor and this was going to be no ordinary friendly. Game on.
This game would be played over three half-hour periods.
It was a wet and windy morning in Irvine as both teams took the the field. The elements seemed to affect the 21s less as they came out all guns blazing and fashioned the first chances of the match. The first chance of the game falls to Greg Vernon, but he couldn't keep his header down from 6 yards out.
A few minutes later a lovely diagonal ball from Keir White found Eddie Ablorh on the edge, but the 21s forward couldn't gain good enough control to have a shot as Dylan Caddis in the 19s goal came out to mop it up.
The 21s continued to press and Vernon sent over a superb cross to Ablorh at the back post but his header downwards only found the side netting.
The 21s had been on top for the first 10 minutes, but that didn't stop David Shedden having a go from distance to conjure up the 19s' first shot of the game. Unfortunately, the shot drifted high and wide.
The 19s created their second shot minutes later after neat ball control from Andy Hunter in the middle of the park allowed him to find McCloskey on the left. The winger swung over a pinpoint that eventually fell to Steven Hill, but his volley flashed wide of the net.
The 19s had edged their way into the game and got the opening goal on 20 minutes. David Shedden sprinted down the left of the box and attempted to cut back for an oncoming team mate, but the ball took a wicked deflection of a defender and beat goalkeeper Chris Murchie despite him getting a glove to it. Maybe slightly against the run in play in terms of chances but overall you couldn't begrudge the 19s the first goal as they had looked every bit as good on the ball as their older opponents.
This seemed to spur on both teams and the 19s looked to extend their lead while the 21s were desperate to get back on level terms. Sean Mears found himself in behind the 21s' defence and he let rip with a half volley from 14 yards, but Murchie was equa lto it as he dived to tip it round the post. Dylan Caddis had to be alert in the opposite goal as moments later Ablorh forced him into a good save down low.
And that was how the period finished. 1-0 to the 19s in a hot and tight affair.
1st Period scoreline: Bonnyton 21s 0-1 Bonnyton 19s
Things remained fairly even in the opening exchanges of the first half as both teams went on the attack. It was the 21s who grabbed the crucial next goal however. It came through prolific striker Greg Vernon as he pounced to equalise with a deadly finish on 35 minutes. That made it 1-1 and game on once more.
21s winger David Stevenson had looked capable with his pace and really began to make his mark on the game in the 2 period. First, he used his speed to beat his man on the left before setting up Ablorh with a scoring chance. The striker's shot was blocked however as the danger was averted. Moments later Stevenson was at it again as he used his pace to make space for a cut back from the opposite flank in the direction of Vernon, but the striker could only scoop over from inside the 6 yard box in a golden chance to go in front.
The 21s kept up the early pressure and on 45 minutes produced some agnificent 1 touch interplay in and around the box, but Vernon's chipped effort at the end of it fell wide of the mark.
The 19s manufactured their first chance for a while and it was the troublesome Shedden who sped down the line and laid in Patterson ahead of him, only for the big striker to have his effort saved by Murchie.
David Stevenson continued to cause problems on thee wing as he went on a mesmerising run past 3 19s players, but Ablorh couldn't latch on to his through ball.
The 2nd period was now as tense as ever and there was nothing separating the two sides. James Ferguson was next to try his luck for the 21s but Caddis made a good catch from his long range shot. A couple of minutes later McCloskey drove infield and slipped in Patterson on his left. The striker missed the target from 15 yards however before he had another attempt at goal moments later, but Murchie was equal to it.
Things were drawing to a close wih the 19s enjoying a brief spell on top and Craig McLaren fizzed over a great cross from the right but there were no takers as the 2nd period finished 1-1.
2nd Period scoreline: Bonnyton 21s 1-1 Bonnyton 19s
As the last 30 started, McCloskey sent over a looping in-swinging free kick from the right which just missed the heads of Shedden and Patterson, and the target.
The 21s' lively and flamboyant James Ferguson then wide from a corner for the 21s. He had played well since coming on for the injured Cammy Crolla and gave the 21s a different dimension in midfield.
A goal now could seal it for either team as we entered the closing stages and a clever free kick from the 19s involving McCloskey, Barrie and Shedden ended up with Shedden hitting a long range shot but it sailed over.
With about 20 minutes to go, Ablorh looked to be in for the 21s with a cear sight of goal, but Craig McLaren made a terrific tackle block the striker in his tracks. McLaren's tackling and interceptions had been pivotal today, showcasing his excellent timing.
Minutes later we witnessed a wondersave from Dylan Caddis as he flew to his right to comes up with the save of the game to tip a header wide from a corner.
Things were at their hottest now and Stevenson took down a diagonal ball and hit a half volley high and goal ward from 10 yards but Caddis parried superbly.
At the other end, Sam McCloskey almost made a mockery of experince goalkeeper Murchie after bursting through and chipping through his hands, but he recovered to dive on top of the ball.
David Stevenson, who had been one of the main threats for the 21s, was denied a great goal as he controlled the ball and beat two men before unleashing a fierce driven shot at goal - but is was blocked by sub keeper Scott Purdie.
The 21s finished the stronger team and they had two great chances in the last 10 minutes to seal the win. First, Keir White smacked the upright with a great strike from distance. So close. Purdie was forced to make a save to equal Caddis' as he flung himself to his right to parry Paul Young's bullet-header from a right-sided corner.
That was how it finished though, with the scores even. Probably a reasonably fair reflection on the game though out of the two sides, the 21s may feel they deserved victory more so could feel more aggrieved. But it was ard to argue with the result as both teams were equally capable in possession.
Key men for the 21s today were Keir White, who played well at the back and bombed forward when he could; Peter Wood, who was solid; David Stevenson, who used his pace to great effectiveness and could have scored; and also goalkeeper Chris Murchie.
No-one really excelled for the 19s but Shedden and Barrie were at the centre of almost everything and Sam McCloskey too when he moved position to just behind the striker. Craig McLaren put in an outstanding shift in defence. Ian Higgins said after the game: "Defensively we're still not comfortable with balls coming in from wide areas and we're not exploiting free kick situations".
He added that the team looked good when on the ball, but lacked tenacity off it. All in all, a good excercise for both sides in a competitive game. 1-1 between two of Bonnyton's most promising age groups who have a lot to look forward to in terms of success this season.
3rd Period (Full Time): Bonnyton 21s 1-1 Bonnyton 19s