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Forfar Athletic crowned league champions as they turn on the style

Forfar Athletic FC 3

Smith 32' Neave 63' Hay 89'

Raith Rovers FC 0

Alasdair Hooper | YFS Dundee Senior Reporter
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Forfar Athletic went into Wednesday evening’s game, against Raith Rovers, knowing that a point, or more, would guarantee them the SPFL Development League East title. What unfolded was a performance that achieved this objective and more. The young ‘Loons’ exceeded what was required of them, and delivered a classy display to beat their visitors 3-0. Craig Smith put the hosts 1-0 up in the first half before Jack Neave scored just after the hour mark. Kerr Hay completed the scoring late on, with a superbly executed move, to round off a superb demonstration of Forfar Athletic’s capabilities. Consistent performances like this are the reason they are the champions.
Forfar began the game strongly, determined to get the job done as soon as possible. In the 5th minute Craig Smith was played through on goal but, as he pulled the trigger, his shot was superbly blocked by Raith Rovers defender Oliver Flemming. Goalkeeper Scott Law was on hand to tidy up the loose ends. 
On the 17th minute Raith Rovers had an opportunity to take the lead. With some neat passing interchanges the ball fell to the feet of Liam McCroary yards from goal. The number 8’s effort was dramatically cleared off of the line by the Forfar defence.
Three minutes later the home side went close to scoring. Cameron Clark made a fine run, cutting in from the right wing. He then looked to curl a shot, from outside the box, into the bottom right hand corner of the net. Unfortunately for him his attempt ended up going past the wrong side of the post.
Shortly afterwards Forfar’s James Dale was brought down by Kieran Campbell just on the edge of the 18-yard line. The referee awarded a free kick to Forfar and Kerr Hay stepped up to take it. The forward struck a low, hard shot towards goal but it went straight into the arms of Law, who held on well.   
Scott Law was needed later on as Forfar continued to press for a goal. In the 27th minute full back, James Yates, delivered a pinpoint cross from the right side aimed at Cameron Clark. Law came scrambling out and managed to successfully get his fingertips to the ball. His actions diverted the ball away from Clark and gave the Raith Rovers’ defence a chance to clear the danger.
In the 31st minute Raith Rovers managed to work a fantastic opportunity for themselves. Callum Robertson was able to break free of the Forfar defence but his shot at goal flew over the crossbar.
Raith Rovers would have regretted missing that chance as, just a minute later, Forfar took the lead. Craig Smith was played through on goal and expertly rounded Scott Law, who had raced out to meet him. With Sean Mackie and Oliver Flemming racing back to their goal line to cover their goalkeeper, Smith superbly kept his composure and slotted the ball past both of them.
Raith responded well to going a goal down and came agonizingly close to leveling the scores in the 37th minute. Robertson managed to get his head onto a cross from the left wing but only managed to direct it towards his teammate, Jonny Court. Standing just a few yards from goal, with no defenders around, Court’s instinctive reaction header went just past the post, much to his dismay. A difficult chance but one he would love to have had again.
Forfar Athletic looked to reassume control of the match soon after through Paul McLellan. The number 7 made a great run down the right wing before firing a low cross into the penalty area. Flemming, however, was on hand to boot the ball out for a corner before it could reach a blue shirt.  
In the 43rd minute McLellan was at it again when he intercepted a long pass from Law. The wide man ran towards goal before unleashing a fierce strike at the target. Law excellently dived to his right to save and hold McLellan’s attempt, making amends for his loose pass.
Shortly before the half time break James Dale executed one of the most perfectly executed tackles you are ever likely to see. After he regained possession of the ball he then passed it towards Clark. The number 11 expertly weaved his way through the Raith Rovers challenges before laying it off to McLellan on the right flank. McLellan returned the ball to Clark who then looked to deliver a low cross into the box. The ball was cleared by the Raith Rovers defence and out for a corner. From the resulting kick McLellan came close as the ball skimmed across his head. It then fell to the feet of Jack Neave at the far post and the centre back wasted no time in firing towards goal. His shot, however, was deflected over the crossbar and, at that moment, the referee concluded the first period of the game.   
Forfar carried their first half momentum into the second. As the clock ticked into the 50th minute Scott Law was required to deny them a second goal after a superbly executed move. Craig Smith collected a long pass from Dale before drifting out to the right flank. In doing so the number 9 created space for McLellan to run into, which he exploited fully. Smith played a superbly weighted through ball for him and he bore down on the penalty area. McLellan then hit a low first time cross to Kerr Hay at the far post. The striker took a touch and, as he looked to place it in the bottom corner, out came the sprawling Law to deny him. A superb move with some excellent goalkeeping required to stop Forfar Athletic increasing their advantage.
In the 60th minute Raith Rovers created a well worked chance of their own. Jonny Court was played through by an excellent pass courtesy of Liam McCroary. Coart then fired a strong effort at goal but Jason King was able to parry the ball away, and behind the post, to keep Forfar’s clean sheet intact.
Two minutes later Scott Law was needed to perform more goalkeeping heroics. Clark was on the receiving end of a Forfar cross and found himself with a clear shot at goal. Before he knew it Law raced out to meet hime, made himself look big, and forced Craig to take rush and take the shot. His effort thundered off of the Raith Rovers ‘keeper and out for a corner.
Law did not have much time to appreciate his good work, however, as Forfar doubled their lead from the resulting corner kick. The ball was delivered straight into the box and Jack Neave rose highest at the back post to head home.
15 minutes before full time Jonny Court came close again as he wriggled free from the Forfar Athletic defence. The Raith Rovers striker struck his effort towards the bottom left hand corner but King was able to make the save.
In the 85th minute Court nearly created another chance for himself as he met a cross in the Forfar box. His first touch was exquisite but, unfortunately for him, he was just too close to the goalkeeper and King was there to claim. A few yards further out and it could have been a stunning effort.
Shortly before full time Forfar scored their third of the game to seal the win. The boys in blue were awarded a free kick out on the right wing after the tenacious Rudi Brown was brought down. McLellan took the kick and played a low cross straight to the feet of Kerr Hay. The striker excellently diverted the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the Raith Rovers goal to make it 3-0 to the home side.  
Soon after the referee blew the full time whistle and Forfar Athletic could afford to celebrate. While Raith Rovers might be disappointed with the scoreline it is clear that they are a strong outfit with plenty of quality amongst their ranks. They also created enough chances themselves in the game, which could have changed the outcome completely if they had been put away. There isn’t too much to put right with their play because a large part of what they are doing is great. The day, however, belongs to the boys from Forfar. Three goals, three points and one league title isn’t too bad for an evening’s work. For Forfar Athletic it was mission accomplished and we all look forward to seeing, with anticipation, what this group of players does next.  
Youth Football Scotland: Website Photos &emdash;


Forfar Athletic FC
Raith Rovers FC
1. Jason King
2. James Yates
3. Michael Kennedy
4. James Dale
5. Frank Lannen
6. Jack Neave
7. Paul McLellan
8. Andrew McKenzie
9. Craig Smith
10. Kerr Hay
11. Cameron Clark
12. Max Reid
14. Rudi Brown
15. Frank Devine
20. Mark Smith
1. Scott Law
2. Elliot Ford
3. Sean Mackie
4. Oliver Flemming
5. David Bates
6. Ross Matthews
7. Kieran Campbell
8. Liam McCroary
9. Jonny Court
10. Callum Robertson
11. Ross Crawford
12. James Berry
14. Reyce Kay
17. Jack Shaw
Star Player
Forfar Athletic FC
Raith Rovers FC
Jack Neave – Scored his side’s second goal and was imperious at centre back. A really commanding display as part of the Forfar back line.
Jonny Court – Proved to be Raith Rovers’ biggest threat and worked his socks off to get his chances. Worthy mention goes to Scott Law for making some great saves in the game.
Magic Moment
Forfar Athletic FC
Raith Rovers FC
Hay’s goal – It really was superbly executed. I saw Hay and McLellan whispering to each other when they were getting ready to take the free kick and I wondered what they were planning. Not too bad a plan was it?
Either of Scott Law’s point blank saves – Goalkeeping at its very best. Rushing out like that forces forwards to make a snap decision and it paid off each time.
Club Views
Forfar Athletic FC
Raith Rovers FC
Match Video Highlights

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