Discuss the Match | Buy Photos and Souvenirs
Sunday the 19th of May saw Falkirk Athletic continue their busy week by taking on Arsenal FC in the WOS U21s Final. They made the journey to Shettleston Juniors after a midweek game on Thursday and another on the Saturday but looked to be in fighting shape.
That couldn’t have been more evident in this game as right form kick off a long ball was whipped right over Cameron McIntosh who deigned to play it safely out for a shy.
Arsenal weren’t properly prepared for the type of quality long shy that could be delivered by Jordan Gray, one minute in Falkirk took the lead as the long shy was played right on top of the keeper to Alexander Miller – who headed it in for an early lead.
Arsenal took their kick off and spread the play well, playing some nice quality football. Marc Rogers collected it on the Arsenal right flank and showed his blistering pace to get to the corner flag though it only came to an Arsenal shy.
Arsenal decided to take a page from Falkirk’s book but Ross Cliff had just a half step too much running to do and it bounced harmlessly past him much to Falkirk’s relief.
Falkirk broke right off of the missed chance down their right and after a nice pass Arsenal’s defence finally seemed to settle into the game and they looked solid as they worked well to clear the dangerous Falkirk break.
Arsenal’s Ross Cliff seemed to be the man to watch early on, he calmed his teammates’ nerves with great hold up play and simple football but the Falkirk defence stood firm and all his effort was coming to nothing.
Falkirk won themselves a shy in the same area they scored form and Gray again came forward to take it and found a tangle of bodies from both sides. The ball landed outside the box and it was Gavin Goodall who charged it down and a nice one-two with Paul McCamley send him away only for Falkirk’s Jordan Gray to slide in and cut the danger out.
Play seemed to stall as both sides struggled to break through; the result of this stalemate was a Falkirk shy in familiar territory for Gray. The long shy came in again and Miller got his head to it thinking he had scored a second, only for Gavin McNicol to clear it off the line and keep the score at 1-0.
It was only temporary respite however, as Falkirk won a corner – with everyone in attendance knowing how dangerous they were form set pieces. Jason Walton took it and found Christopher Jess at the near post, but the header went high and wide.
Arsenal looked like they were competing with Falkirk when the ball was on the deck but any aerial pass or set piece was being taken by the boys in black.
Arsenal weren’t discouraged and found their way back into it with lovely passes that flowed from left to right.
A silly foul however broke up their momentum and gave Falkirk a free kick just within their half, the ball was sent right up the park onto the 18 yard line. The Arsenal offside trap was sloppy however and Craig Irvine collected the ball with a graceful touch to set himself up, the spotlight in this incident went to McNicol though – who managed to recover fantastically and block the attempted shot.
The play continued to be choppy as neither side had definitive dominance, a sloppy back pass from Falkirk almost let Ryan Cliff in and he was just centimetres away from getting the touch that would have took it past James Penman and equalised.
Ryan Cliff worked hard to find space at any opportunity and Arsenal just seem to have no luck finding him, with passes hitting their own players or bobbling awkwardly, though Falkirk defenders managed to intercept a good number of potentially killer balls.
Falkirk played a long hopefully ball that put McNicol up against Jason Walton in a battle of pace – he tried to play it across to the other defender but Miller was there and intercepted the pass before finding the bottom corner to put Falkirk up by two 21 minutes in.
Craig Irvine won the ball in the final third after Arsenal lost the ball off the restart and he cut inside to pull the Falkirk left back as far away as possible from Cliff on the right before Irvine laid him off perfectly. But Penman was not giving up his clean sheet that easy and made a great diving to save to keep Cliff’s shot out.
Falkirk played some nice football as they moved up the park and they won a corner that was swung right onto the head of Miller, but McNeil did well to get a strong hand behind the headed effort and prevent Falkirk from pulling even further ahead.
He couldn’t prevent the third goal for much longer however and 32 minutes in as he pushed Walton’s shot away from goal – only for Christopher Jess to react the fastest and hammer a shot into the roof of the net.
Arsenal showed that they weren’t out of gas yet as they swung the ball in towards Goodall at the back post only for his header to rattle the cross bar, but Arsenal kept coming with Marc Logan laying off John Davis on the right who advanced well with the ball before Craig Stuart cut off his run. Matthew Johnston collected the loose ball and found Davis again, but his shot was put out by Penman.
The renewed urgency from Arsenal gave them unprecedented control of the game, as a pair of corners were won after a quick break tested Penman again. Although this couldn’t change the fact that at half time the score remained 3-0. Arsenal trailed due to a lovely long throw and two mistakes, though they showed in the closing minutes that they were still very much in this match.
Half Time: Arsenal BC 0-3 Falkirk Athletic
The Gunners flew out of the gate after half time as Goodall and Davis connected well resulting in a Davis whipping the ball into the Falkirk penalty area – Jordan Gray was having none of it though and sent the attempted cross up the field.
Coming off of Gray’s huge punt Miller found some space in the box thanks to a few twists and turns but Christopher McCormack slid in to dispossess him. The ball dribbled out to a Falkirk jersey but before he could get the ball under control he was brought down.
Arsenal had a half chance as a nice one-two was blocked by the Falkirk defence, they tried to break but John Davis showed his pace as he outran the Falkirk player and managed to end Scott Blair’s attempted break.
Davis continued to stand out from the pack with his energy and tenacity; he won a quick corner with his speed on the right and opted to take it quickly. He played a lovely cross into the path of Ryan Cliff who completely threw himself at it and scored with his groin giving Arsenal a much needed lift on the 55 minute mark.
Falkirk won a shy and Gray’s infamous shy loomed its head again as he found Miller. This time Darren McNeil’s gloves were waiting for the headed effort and he managed to scoop it away from the top right corner and luckily for Arsenal Kevin Clarke’s rebound went miles over the bar.
Ryan Cliff ran onto a long ball with only the keeper coming to him and while the ref tried to play the advantage for the off the ball foul he had to pull it back for an Arsenal free kick.
Falkirk again found the net thanks to Alexander Miller, who managed to find space out on the left. His heavy touch then took him past the defence and 1-on-1 with the keeper. McNeil was helpless however as Miller calmly found the net beyond his reach to make it 4-1 To Falkirk with 25 minutes to go.
Falkirk had the momentum as Miller was only denied his hatrick by McNeil’s gloves as Walton did well to cut in form the right and find him 7 yards from goal. But Arsenal’s goalkeeper was equal to the great top left effort.
Walton again found the angle to set up an attack this time playing a nice reverse diagonal through onto Jess but he couldn’t beat McNeil either despite how much bite his curved effort had.
Arsenal countered and Goodall tried to push past Jamie Arbuckle with his pace only to be brought down 19 yards out. He won the free kick and Arbuckle was cautioned but the referee flashed a straight red towards Gavin Goodall for verbal abuse, followed by a fan being sent from the stands after threatening a match official.
Once the game got restarted Miller made use of his side’s extra man and used the new space to hold up the ball well, before laying off Walton. Walton had a yard run up and he connected well with the ball though it went wide.
McNeil was called upon again as the next passage of play resulted in Jess’ shot being deflected mid flight, the goalkeeper did well to reset himself and push the ball away from goal.
Arsenal began to take control of the game despite only having ten men; they played great football with constant breaks and passages of play that tested the Falkirk defenders and James Penman.
Ian Auld, John Davis and Ryan Cliff were all on the same page as beautiful one touch passes fired off in quick succession allowed countless attack on the right. On any other day this amount of effort would have put all three on the score sheet but today it just seemed like luck was against them as crosses and passes into the box were met with interceptions and air.
Ian Auld again found Davis, this time with a long ball towards the Falkirk box– Davis ran box to box to catch the pass and turned his marker well. He fired a cross into the 6 yard box but Gray was still on his game despite the score line and sent it out.
Arsenal found yet more joy out right, this time with Cliff whose cross was denied by Penman.
Time ticked towards the end of the match and right on the stroke of 90 minutes Arsenal conceded a free kick 40 yards form goal. Jason Walton stood alone over the ball as the ref blew his whistle and picked out the top bag with a powerful curling shot that looked absolutely effortless. He celebrated with the dugout staff as his magnificent free kick was the exclamation point on a resounding victory, 4 minutes later the ref blew the whistle to make the final score 5-1 to Falkirk Athletic.
Full Time: Arsenal BC 1-5 Falkirk Athletic
John Davis said: "We started slow today and it's hard to get back from 2-0. Once the game went to 2-1 I thought that was our chance to get back in it but we lost a quick goal and I think that 3-1 finished it."
"I feel I did alright, I kept going the whole game although I think my first touch and deliveries could have been a lot better."
Christopher Jess, said: "We enjoyed a solid victory over a good side - we all played well and everyone played their part."
"My first goal I made the most of a defensive error it was a lucky break for me and I made the most of it, I was in the right place at the right time for the second one and I was making sure that that rebound went in the back of the net."