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Thursday, 26 April 2018 19:04

Aberdeen win National Trophy with shoot-out win

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A Jason Ritchie penalty was enough for Aberdeen to collect the Under 18s National Trophy after a superb comeback against the North Of Scotland at Borough Briggs, Elgin.

It was a typical Scottish day with a mixture of sun, rain and cloud for the cup final between North Of Scotland and Aberdeen City Under 18s. Both teams served up a cracking game of football. North Of Scotland beat Fife 5-1 in the semi-finals whilst Aberdeen City won a local derby 1-0 against Aberdeenshire.

A host of players from each side are currently playing at a decent enough level in club football, North Of Scotland had the likes of Max Ewan who is currently playing regular Highland League football for Nairn County as well as a host of Ross County players and a couple of Elgin City players too. Aberdeen City had David Wilson who is playing for Elgin City as well as Hamish MacLeod who is playing for Cove Rangers FC in the Highland League.

North Of Scotland started the game more lively with Kieran Chalmers firing just over the bar and a half chance which was met by Jakub Biorka in the Aberdeen City goal. North nearly opened the scoring after three minutes when a ball came across the channel which was met by Gabirel Hastings which crashed off the crossbar and cleared to safety by the Aberdeen defence.

North opened the scoring after six minutes after a great ball came in from the left hand flank by Cameron Harper which was met by Jack Brown, who plays for Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who guided home a fine header past Jakub Biorka.

Darren Jarvie's side added to their tally four minutes later after another great ball came in from the left hand channel, with Max Ewan getting to the ball first with his head, placing the ball into the back of the net beyond Biorka.

Roddy McGregor then had a good opportunity to make it 3-0 North after Max Ewan cut the ball back to him, however the midfielders effort went just wide of the right hand post. North were well on top asking Aberdeen lots of questions during the opening exchanges of the game.

Aberdeen pulled a goal back in the 18th minute after a great ball was swung into the danger zone by Hamish McLeod and Banks O'Dee Albion defender Jason Ritchie was there a couple of yards from goal to tap the ball home. It was the first time that Aberdeen had really threatened in the game.

McLeod then had an effort of his own on 24 minutes with a free kick which went just wide of the left hand post. Aberdeen were being very patient in their build up play and looked threatening going forward.

MacLeod had another chance soon after with a solo effort which was saved by Lee Herbert in the North goal. The rest of the half was quite stale with North holding out for a 2-1 lead at the interval.

Thursday, 26 April 2018 16:51

Braidhurst leave it late to go through to semis

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It was a game of late drama as Braidhurst came from a goal down to score twice in the final five minutes to beat Airdrie Academy and go progress to the semi finals of the SSFA Shield.
 
It was a fairly even first half and it kicked off with Airdrie having the first chance of the match straight from the start, Ben Ross was through one on one against the keeper but Ryan Renwick managed to pull off the save.
 
Braidhurst’s first real chance came with eight minutes played, Dylan Kerr beat his marker down the wing and tried to curl it into the opposite corner from a tight angle but is unlucky as the shot flew past the post.
 
In an end-to-end first half it was Airdrie who attacked again, Ross saw a chance from range and let fly but Renwick pulled out an equally good save.
 
Ross was proving to be a real threat coming close on numerous occasions for Airdrie; the Braidhurst defence were struggling to get settled into the match 16 minutes in.
 
On the other side of the pitch, the Braidhurst attack were linking up well and the build-up play nearly payed off as Robbie Brown was one on one with the keeper thanks to a lovely through ball by Kerr. Brown took his shot early but it was a fantastic save by the Airdrie keeper.
 
The chances continued to come for Braidhurst, Ross Brownlie came close to burying his shot in the top corner from range but the swerve of the ball took it away from goal.
 
With 30 minutes played, Airdrie found themselves with the better chances before the break. Aiden Gibb was played through on goal but the onrushing keeper managed to claim the ball before he was able to get a shot away.
 
The teams would go in goalless and evenly matched at the break. Both having some really good chances and settled well into the game as it progressed in this end to end quarter final. 

A Jack Purdue penalty in the second-half saw Greenock Morton beat Ayr United to lift the SPFL Development League West title, completing a dramatic final week of the season for Morton, Ayr, Airdrieonians, and Stranraer.

Both sides went into the game at Cappielow knowing that a win for either side would secure them the league championship, whilst a draw would've seen Airdrieonians take the title. However, it would be Derek Anderson's men that would take the spoils thanks to Purdue's calm spot-kick.

The win capped a tremendous comeback week for Morton, who began their title-charge last Friday night in a dramatic 3-2 win over Airdrieonians. This was then followed by Stranraer being docked three points after an SPFL disciplinary hearing ruled that they had fielded an ineligible player - opening up the title race.

A 6-1 hammering of Albion Rovers on Monday night meant that the home side came into this one in fine form, whilst Ayr came into this one on the back of five straight league victories themselves.

Both sides knew the importance of the occasion, and a whirlwind start saw chances for either team in the first five minutes.

Firstly, some lovely play down the left from the home-side saw the ball cut-back to Reece Lyon. The midfielder snapped at the shot however, and saw it lash wide. 

Right up the other end, an attempted clearance from the Morton back-line saw the ball oddly bounce off of Jamie Martin and nearly sneak in over Daniel Farrell before going over. The Morton goalkeeper was once again on fire tonight though, and had to beat away a low strike from James Hilton as United threatened to take control.

Yet, after a quick start, the game started to settle into a scrappy affair. United were getting some real joy down the flanks at times, whilst Martin was good about many things going forward for the visitors. Aye were missing a final ball though, and allowed Morton off the hook on several occasions.

Morton's outlet, unsurprisingly, was often Kieran Brophy, who scored their memorable winner against Airdrieonians just five nights ago. The right-winger got several teasing crosses into the penalty area, with Purdue on the end of one that he scooped high over.

The rain was lashing down at Cappielow, adding a fitting obstacle to what was already a difficult and monumental occasion for both sets of players.

Morton started to get control of proceedings before the break, and will wonder how they never took the lead right on the stroke of half-time.

The ball dropped nicely for Shaun Rodgers to hammer a volley off the far post, before the ball bounced right in front of Alexander Easdale, who could only poke over in a reactionary attempt.

The half-time whistle would blow immediately after, and Easdale had his head in his hands as he knew how colossal that opportunity was.

It was Glasgow who headed back along the M77 with the SSFA Under 15s National Trophy after a well-deserved victory over Ayrshire at Rugby Park.
 
The cup encounter got off to a slow start, Ayrshire got the game ahead and attacked straight from the off, bursting forward but the Glasgow defence stood up to the early opportunity.
 
Glasgow’s first real attack found the back of the net, Gregor Nicol had a deflected effort from just inside the box, but the linesman’s flag was up and was given as offside.
Ayrshire then had a really good period of dominance in the period after the offside goal with a real chance for Micheal Mullen. Ayr had the first corner of the match and it fell straight to him at the back post, unfortunately his shot fizzled just wide of the post with just over ten minutes played.
 
It would be the visitors that would break the deadlock, a great free kick whipped into the box saw Matthew Collins get a shot away, it ricocheted off a few Ayrshire players before find the net in the seventeenth minute of the game.
 
Glasgow continued their high pressure as they searched for their second goal, another free kick taken by Luke Kenny was whipped in to the far post where it fell to Collins who was unable to find the net like last time.
 
With halve the half of football played; Ayrshire had their best spell of the half. Steven Warnock came close, a low free kick from just outside the box picked out the winger but he couldn’t finish.
 
Almost straight after, Alex Dean had a superb chance to get an equaliser. A lovely through ball catches the defence off guard but he can’t finish as the on rushing keeper makes a great save.
 
Ayrshire continued to press and attack in numbers as they searched for the elusive equaliser before the break, Ryan McDowell came close with ten minutes to go, his header from the free kick lacked enough power to go past the keeper.
 
That attack would prove to be the final chance of the half, with both teams still finding their feet in the cup final, Glasgow went into the break with a goal advantage. A team that made the most of their chances, Ayrshire on the other hand would rue their missed opportunities and feel frustrated for not being on the goal sheet.
Wednesday, 18 April 2018 18:00

Edinburgh College through to College Cup Final

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It was Edinburgh College who travelled back along the M8 knowing that they had claimed their place in the Scottish Student Sport College Cup Final after victory against City of Glasgow College at the Glasgow Green football centre in an intense, well-fought victory.
 
However, it was Glasgow who almost had the perfect start to the match. Douglas Macleod found himself in space and took his shot, which looked goal bound, but thankfully for Edinburgh, the shot was deflected wide.
 
After a shaky start, it was Edinburgh who looked the more dangerous of the teams. Sam Nhamburo tried his luck with an ambitious acrobatic volley but the shot wouldn’t trouble the keeper and it flew over the bar.
 
He had another opportunity to put his side ahead when he produced a lovely bit of skill, taking out two Glasgow defenders but only to fire his shot over the bar once more.
 
The start of the game was end-to-end football, but Edinburgh eventually broke the deadlock after 18 minutes with an unbelievable strike. Nathen Aiyegdusi picked the ball up from the right flank and smashed his shot right into the top left corner of the goal. A superb strike from the winger, who left the keeper in no-mans-land.
 
It was very much all Edinburgh after the goal, who continued to look the more threatening team but were almost caught out when the keeper's clearance fell straight to a Glasgow player, with an empty goal beckoning, but John Paul Conroy couldn’t find the back of the net.
 
That chance seemed to have spurred the Glasgow team on, who enjoyed their best spell of the game. Jamie Martin was making a menace of himself down the wing and he eventually broke free of his marker only to blaze his shot over the crossbar.
 
Towards the end of the half, Edinburgh found their feet again and had a great chance to double their lead. Jack Inglis flicked the ball over starting a counterattack in which Mohamed Dukuray picked it up only for Toby Macleod to lose possession in the box as he was about to pull the trigger.
 
But it was to remain 1-0 to the visitors at the half-time whistle. Glasgow had yet to make a real impact on the game with Edinburgh being by far the better team. The midfield ran riot throughout the half and this resulted in better chances and a superb strike for the goal as well.
 
Glasgow needed a big reaction for the second half to get back into the game.

Hibernian were crowned Development League champions as Edinburgh neighbours Hearts beat Dundee 4-2. Hibs' win over Aberdeen earlier in the day left the young Dees with no margin for error, but they couldn’t take the title race into the final week of the season despite leading twice through Craig Wighton and Cedwyn Scott.

After sustained early pressure, Dundee broke the deadlock after seven minutes when Craig Wighton fired home from a well worked corner.

Euan Henderson had Hearts first chance of the match but lashed a shot over from 15 yards. Lewis Moore tried his luck from distance but dragged his shot wide.

Henderson did well to hold off Kerr Waddell before squaring the ball to Rory Currie, but Jesse Curran managed to deny him a shot at goal. At the other end, Cedwyn Scott flicked a Jack Lambert free kick towards goal, but was denied by the post.

Currie brought Hearts level on the stroke of half time with a cross-cum-shot from the right that looped over Kyle Gourlay and found the net via the post.

Hibs won a hard-fought battle with Celtic on penalties, securing their spot at Hampden in the SYFA cup final.

The hosts were the first to threaten when Fraser Murray managed to bring out a powerful strike from the edge of the box which headed towards the bottom left corner, but the right hand from Ross Doohan was enough to deny an early lead in the second minute. Murray was unlucky once again not to put the team from the capital in front in the 3rd minute after Celtic captain Robbie Deas heroically threw himself in front of the wingers shot from close range.

Celtic got their first chance in the fourth minute when Michael Johnston showed his trickery down the right wing and sent a bullet of a cross in, which was unlucky not to be met by a teammate. Johnston was at it again in the 8th minute, this time from a free kick which went narrowly over the bar.

The end-to-end action continued at Easter road when Ryan Shanley made room for himself in the box but saw his finish sail over the bar in the 18th minute. The next chance for the hosts came in the 23rd minute when Adam Watson smartly found F. Murray at the edge of the box, who couldn't be anymore unlucky when his strike was deflected over Doohan and clipping the underside of the bar.

Celtic’s youngest ever scorer, Jack Aitchison was the next to threaten for Celtic in the 31st minute when he touched the ball down at the back post but saw his shot go wide of the target. The bar was struck again in the 34th minute, this time the Hibs bar, when Johnston found Ewan Henderson who had his powerful effort tipped onto the woodwork by keeper Maciej Dabrowski. Defender Stephen Welsh was then unfortunate to find his curling strike go just over from the resulting corner.

F. Murray was courageously denied once again by a Celtic defensive block when Stephen Welsh flung himself in front of the close ranged effort in the 36th minute. Hibs continued the pressure when a minute later Adam Watson had an attempt from range which was comfortably saved by Doohan. A long-range attempt from Hibees defender Callum Donaldson which cruised over the bar in the 40th minute, ended up being the climax of an action packed first half.

Gartcairn Academy met Arthurlie Juniors in this rearranged Scottish Cup semi-final at Benburb Juniors Football Club, that attracted a huge crowed for a eagerly anticipated match.

Arthurlie defeated Milngavie 2-0 to reach this stage, whilst Gartcairn beat Murieston United 4-1 to reach the semi-final. The game began at a frantic pace, with both teams trying to put an early marker down with some heavy challenges and quick passing.  

Luke Kelly had the first chance of the match for Gartcairn when his free kick was deflected just over the bar from 25 yards out. 

Despite the quick start, it was a quiet beginning to the game in terms of chances as both sides cancelled each other out with some strong defensive work. 

Gartcairn had the first big chance to take an early lead after 15 minutes, after some great work on the left side from Josh Moore, he was able to cross for Jordan Shaw and he was only inches away from putting his team in front.

Arthurlie slowly started to get a foothold in the game and their first real chance of note came after 25 minutes. Lwis Garner's header was brilliantly saved by the Scott Matthews in the Gartcairn goal from close range and he was able to gather the ball at the second attempt. 

At the other end, Shaw was then denied by the Arthurlie goalkeeper Mark Parson only minutes later, who also produced a great save from close range after some more good work from Moore.

Gartcairn deservedly took the lead after half an hour, and it was a special goal for the big occasion. From almost 30 yards out, Moore, the best player on the park so far, struck a wonderful, knuckle ball free kick into the top corner that left the goalkeeper with no chance. 

 Arthurlie responded well to the set back but despite their pressure on the Gartcairn goal they couldn’t create any clear cut chances and it was a frustrating first half for them.

It was the team in blue and white that finished the first half the stronger but they couldn’t add to their one goal advantage before the whistle. 

St Andrew’s University won a gruelling battle against Strathclyde University on penalties – securing the Scottish Student Sport’s Queen’s Park Shield for the first time since 1943.

It was a game that was always going to be won in a narrow fashion, and St Andrew’s had goalkeeper Alec Cadzow to thank for some terrific saves in the second half that kept Strathclyde at bay.

However, the game’s MVP, Alex Dodgshon, stole the show with a combative display that really symbolised the effort and commitment St Andrew’s put into the game.

The victory just typified St Andrew’s run throughout the tournament, having beaten Heriot-Watt University on penalties in the last-16 before knocking out Stirling and Aberdeen universities by one-goal margins respectively.

In contrast, Strathclyde had powered their way to the final. Nine goals scored in their previous three games had them coming into the game flying with confidence, and they started this one well.

Harry Clark worked well down the left to whip in a cross for Ross MacKenzie, but the midfielder’s header was held by Cadzow.

St Andrew’s threatened for the first time before the 10-minute mark, with Max Balmford hooking a well-taken effort over.

 

Dodgshon and co started to take control after the opening 15 minutes - creating several big openings that should’ve put them ahead.

Bolotov was set up after a terrific through ball from Dodgshon, but fired a low effort just wide. Minutes later, as St Andrew’s started controlling possession, Bolotov connected well with Balmford’s cross – forcing Ryan Truesdale to tip over.

From the resulting corner, Matthew Holden nodded over at the near post.

Despite the opening period of dominance from St Andrew’s in the opening 25 minutes – Strathclyde nearly caught them with a big sucker-punch.

Kyle Richford found space to run through on Cadzow. The St Andrew’s goalkeeper came out to smother, but the ball fell kindly for David Aubrey, who fired a miss-hit effort wide.

Strathclyde really grew into the game afterwards and made it a scrap after the impressive opening from St Andrew’s.

Chances weren’t flowing towards the end of the half, however.

Aubrey fired in a free-kick from 20 yards that was clutched by Cadzow, but it was the only real moment Strathclyde had before the break as the football became scrappy.

It was a half in which St Andrew’s started well, but some early misses cost them the lead going into the break.

On the other hand, Aubrey missed a big chance for Strathclyde just after the half-hour mark, as both sides had big regrets going into the break.

Thursday, 05 April 2018 17:50

Hampden bound Dons defeat ten man Kilmarnock

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It was Aberdeen who claimed their spot in the Scottish Youth Cup final after a Bruce Anderson hat-trick led the Dons to an impressive 3-0 away win at Rugby Park over opposition Kilmarnock.
 
A decent crowd turned up to witness the semi-final at a sunny Rugby Park in a game that didn’t disappoint. Kilmarnock, shooting into the sun, looked to have started the brighter of the two sides.  Killie number nine Innes Cameron had an early chance but nothing came of it.
 
It would be Aberdeen that would break the deadlock, Toby Wells picked up the ball on the left hand side of the pitch where he floated the ball into Bruce Anderson who took one touch and placed it into the net.
 
Just before the fifteenth minute mark Killie got another real chance on goal, Alex Samizadeh won the ball before bursting into the box, however, he was unable to get a shot away on the turn and the Dons cleared.
 
As the game entered the 20th minute the home side were dealt a major blow, Samizadeh, Killie’s top goal scorer in the cup, was red carded for an apparent punch on Toby Wells off the ball. The incident took place before the free kick was taken but the linesmen spotted the incident before consulting the referee.
 
Despite being a man down, Kilmarnock enjoyed one of their better spells of the match with some several half chances, but the Aberdeen defence stayed resilient.
Kilmarnock’s defence on the other hand was beginning to show signs of slackness; Anderson almost got a second just before half time after a long clearance found the youngster unmarked on the edge of the box. He unleashed his shot but it was saved well by Keranovic in the Kilmarnock goal.