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It was a day to remember for the Shotts Under 15 squad as they lifted the WLAYFC cup after a classy victory over a valiant Fauldhouse Foxes side. It was a more than impressive attempt from a Fauldhouse side who started the game with only 10 men, and every one of the Foxes played with unbelievable spirit. But in the end, it was the polished, intelligent football of the Shotts YMCA Red outfit that came out on top and took the gold.
The day promised to be a victory for youth football right from the start, with the sun blazing down on the players and the pitch looking in brilliant condition. When the first ball was kicked at 11:10am, everyone was definitely in the mood for the final.
The first 5 minutes saw Shotts immediately show their attacking ability, Declan Muir having an early shot blocked on two occasions. The pace of Andrew Paterson running at the Fauldhouse defence showed they had several options going forward.
The pressure continued for Fauldhouse in the first 10 minutes, and the best chance came when Dylan King found himself on the end of a quick ball through for Shotts. Just a minute later and again Shotts found themselves threatening to take the lead with a well worked move ending with Gary Mcgeouch just blazing wide from a good position in front of goal.
Anyone who has watched Fauldhouse play this season will know they are incapable of taking pressure without showing off their own attacking ability. A determined performance from Kerr Fraser and some clever looking footwork from Martin Hughes kept Shotts from relaxing at the back. But the resistance took a massive blow when Fauldhouse no10 Jack Kelly clashed hard with the opposition and found himself being escorted from the pitch after 12 minutes. The Foxes were brave, but could only do so much to prevent their dangerous opponents from exploiting the extra space.
The pressure proved too much after 15 minutes. A perfect ball through from Muir splitting through the depleted Fauldhouse side saw striker McGeouch beat the keeper and finish into the open net to give Shotts their first goal of the final.
Fauldhouse barely had time to collect themselves when Shotts were again flooding forward and picking apart the defence. A series of composed passes and the ball was again falling for McGeouch who made no mistake in rifling home his second of the game after 17 minutes.
The scoreline reflected a fantastic start from Shotts. But the bravery of the Fauldhouse boys was also on show, displayed especially in the form of Jack Kelly. The injured man entered the fray again to help out his team.
Fauldhouse continued to try their best on the ball, but the battles on the pitch were won mainly by the Shotts side. Sandy Robertson and Luke Brown were linking effortlessly up the left side of the pitch. After 32 minutes the Fauldhouse boys were again watching a great ball float through to McGeouch, though the striker’s header was pushed onto the bar by a fantastic Kieran Gowans save.
The first half ended with another blow to the Foxes’ trophy hopes. After a 5 minute period of pressure, the ball set up well for Dylan King who swept home a third for his side and sent Shotts into half time with a 3-0 lead and a lot of confidence.
Half Time: Shotts YMCA Red 3-0 Fauldhouse Foxes
As Fauldhouse retook to the field, it became apparent that their injured man would no longer able to continue and it would be 9 Foxes that would continue the battle. However, it became apparent quickly that there was no white flag being waved despite the numbers.
In his new lone striker role, Kerr Fraser looked fired up and was chasing down every ball. It was his pressure that forced a corner just 2 minutes into the second half. Anyone who thought it was game over were left scratching their heads after a great corner was swung in and the towering Calum Dick powered his header home for 3-1.
The second half had welcomed in a fiery and tactically sound Fauldhouse team, in defence as well as attack. Shotts tried several attacks, using the pace of Paul Hughes up the wing and the presence of striker McGeouch but each time found themselves blocked by a determined Fauldhouse wall.
Sandy Robertson had a great game and came close to breaking down Fauldhouse. Working into the box, his rifled finished forced another good save from Gowans.
More tactics from Fauldhouse saw the offside trap catch out Shotts several times. After 55 minutes played, Dale Baxter saw his goal disallowed after he got on the end of Dylan Pringle’s blocked shot. He done well to get there, but the goal was called for offside and the determined defending from Calum Dick, Paul Davidson and a host of other Fauldhouse players was shining through.
The final half hour of the match showed an incredible amount of drive from Fauldhouse. This was centred around the movements of \Kerr Fraser who continually chased every ball and refused to let Shotts relax with the ball at the back. Several long Shotts and quick interceptions threatened to give his side an opening.
However, in the end the leading Shotts side showed the composure of champions and saw out the remainder of the match. When the final whistle was blown, it could not be denied that they’re clever, possession football had earned them the top prize. Both sides had put down the very best of performances and when it was announced at the awards ceremony that “there were no losers in a final”, this was more than true for Fauldhouse.
Shotts YMCA Red U15’s lifted the trophy after a hard fought 3-1 victory, and provided a great advert for brilliant attacking football in the youth game.
Full Time: Shotts YMCA Red 3-1 Fauldhouse Foxes
In addition to the Man of the Match award awarded officially on the day, I'd also elect Gary McGeouch for the accolade. He may not have finished every single attempt on the day, but it takes a lot of character to score at all in a final let alone two. It's a striker who puts away a few chances that a team can win matches like this and Gary always looked dangerous.
Kerr Fraser side may have lost, but they were certainly brave in defeat. There wasn't one player who underperformed and they fought ot overcome the number deficit. For me Kerr Fraser takes Man of the Match because for the entire game, I did not see hims top working or chasing the ball. He created opportunities from nothing and most importantly, did not let the oppostion relax on the ball.