South East Region (477)
Leith Athletic secured the Under 15 SERYFA Divison 1 title for the second year in a row last season, we heard from their coach Keith Owens as he reflected on another successful season.
Owens was incredibly proud of his side’s success because of how difficult he felt the league was: “the standard of the opposition this year was fantastic and the league was very competitive with 6-7 teams able to take points off each other.”
Owens believes “Team spirit” is the major reason the squad has been so successful: “We do not make a lot of changes to the squad each season and the vast majority of the boys have been here for all three seasons. Our philosophy is to retain the boys who want to be here and then encourage and coach them as best we can to achieve whatever is the best the squad can achieve.”
For Owens and his side, making sure the players are enjoying themselves is paramount. “We pride ourselves on providing an environment where the kids learn the game but importantly enjoy the game.”
This also reflects in the style of football Leith try and play: “We wanted them to play football and be known as a good football team, we were not willing to allow success to be at the expense of their development, performance or enjoyment.”
Looking back over the season, Owens was able to pick out Leith’s biggest challenge of the season, way back on the first day: “The very first game of the season was our biggest challenge.”
Playing away against Tynecastle, a combination of injuries and holidays left Leith was just ten fit players. “Although we lost the match 3-2, I seen enough fighting qualities in our boys that day to know we weren’t going to be far away.”
Owens also picked out his favourite moment, a victory against Spartans Reds: “Deep down I felt that if we lost that game we would have been out of the running, even though it was away back in August.” “Our boys did brilliantly in securing the victory by the odd goal, I genuinely felt after that game, although the league was only four games down that it was going to prove pivotal in our season.”
With a new season upcoming, Owens is hopeful for further success: “We have been really lucky to have been able to compete at the top end of the 2003 year group for three years and instilling qualities into the boys that they can take into their life is always very rewarding, to watch the team grow into a very good football side.”
The success could very well continue as Owens has been able to keep most of the squad intact. Two players have departed but the rest are expected to remain: “Next season will be more of the same, encourage the boys to develop further, continue enjoying the game, put the effort and commitment in and see where it takes them.”
Leith will kick off their season at the Under 16 level on Sunday as they host Longniddry Villa.
Lasswade Thistle were crowned Under 13s South East Region Youth Football Association Division 1 champions for season 2017-18 beating Scottish Cup winners Hutchison Vale in the process to be victorious.
The club were only formed back in 2011 and the Under 13s have certainly done their club proud with this incredible achievement. Thistle won 14 out of 16 games racking up 43 points to win the title and demonstrated their quality throughout the season with impressive wins over Vale and Spartans Youth which were key in their quest to be crowned champions.
Thistle made it as far the third round of the Scottish Cup, losing 2-1 over eventual finalists Cove Youth FC, however despite this defeat it is clear that the future is bright for this young group of players.
Coach Alan Young said, "To be league champions in the first competitive season is an amazing achievement. The players totally deserved it and both coaches and parents were delighted for them.
"It’s hard to pick a favourite moment but just watching the boys develop throughout the season into a very good footballing side was pleasing. Some of the team goals were tremendous to watch with the quick passing and moving. Watching them celebrate together when picking up the league trophy was brilliant.
"Portobello BC were probably the most challenging and they managed to get a draw in our last encounter. They played very defensively looking for the counter, which worked for them. Thereafter we knew every game was a must win."
Young made it clear just how hard his side worked throughout the season and was keen to express his gratitude towards his players for their hard work and attitude, which led them to the title in their first competitive 11-a-side season
"Every player gives 100% in training and the games and it’s their determination to succeed and better themselves that drove them to the title. The team will move on to next season with a view of continuing their development, whilst looking at winning more silverware."
Alan Young revealed that he is stepping down from coaching and Young had these words to say for the parents and players of Lasswade Thistle 2005s, "Having just stepped down from coaching I want to thank the parents for their support throughout my time with Lasswade Thistle and wish the boys every success for next season."
It is certainly hard to predict just how far these young boys can go in the game but one thing is for certain, the future looks incredibly bright for the SERYFA Division 1 champions.
Congratulations to all at Lasswade Thistle 2005s and Youth Football Scotland wishes them well for season 2018-19.
Gala Fairydean made it three wins on the spin after a superb first half had them well on their way away to Hutchison Vale Colts in the quarter-finals of the Colin Campbell Sports Cup.
Forward Callum Marshall got Gala off to a dream start after just 11 minutes when he netted to put the away side one nil up.
However, Hutchison levelled shortly after to level the game with only 19 minutes played. But Gala were not settling for the draw, Marshall netted his second of the match just 60 seconds later to help Gala restore their lead.
The prolific Callum Marshall then grabbed his and Gala's third of the day to give the away side a comfortable two goal advantage heading into the second half of this cup tie.
Unlike the first half the second was fairly uneventful with the home side grabbing the only goal of the half which was just a consolation as Gala ran out eventual winners thanks to Callum Marshall's hat-trick as Gala made it three straight wins.
Gala will aim to make it four in a row as they return to league action on Sunday at home to Salvesen FC but Hutchison will aim to bounce back as they travel to Dunbar United Colts.
Strikes from Callum Hall and Nathan Kay proved to be the difference as Edinburgh City overcame Spartans in a Lowland & East of Scotland Development League Cup Final with few clear-cut opportunities.
Both teams came into the final with identical league records - Spartans are ahead of Edinburgh City only on goal difference - and it showed; neither side was able to stamp their authority on the game early.
Both teams lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, and for long periods they nullified each other, particularly in the middle of the park, where no one was able to get their foot on the ball and dictate the game. In the opening exchanges both teams were limited to long range efforts and set-pieces.
For Spartans, winger Arron Singh was a handful on the left-hand side and looked the most likely to create something whenever he started running at the Edinburgh City back line.
Unfortunately for Spartans, his supply dried up as the half wore on and he found himself having to come deeper to get involved in play, where he was far less dangerous.
In contrast, Edinburgh City’s own wide men – goalscorer Hall on the left and Harry Pullar – began seeing more and more of the ball as they looked to target the wide areas. This was in no small part to the other goalscorer, striker Kay, who held the ball up all afternoon and linked well with the wingers as Edinburgh City began to take control of the game.
However, chances were still few and far between as Spartans defended resolutely.
As is so often the case when two evenly matched sides go up against each other, it was likely to be a moment of magic or a mistake that would break the deadlock. To Spartans dismay, it was the latter; Hall pounced on a poor pass out from the back, carried the ball to the edge of the box and fired low past Jordan Pettigrew to give Edinburgh City a half time lead.
Spartans looked to change it in the second half: a switch at centre half saw Michael Allan replace Lewis Grant as they moved to a back three; right back Calum O’Neil filled in at centre back with left back Gabriel Hill and right winger Murray Hand operating as wing backs.
It seemed to be working; they began the half playing much higher up the pitch, and with an intensity that Edinburgh City were struggling to match. Still, the issue remained creating chances and all Fraser Morton in the Edinburgh City goal had to deal with were a few long-range shots.
With just over 20 minutes to go, Spartan’s made one final roll of the dice: their number nine Rowan Fife was replaced by defender Oran Hosey, which allowed Anthony Laing to move up into midfield and number 10 Olly Hetherington to spearhead the attack.
It didn’t matter though, just a few minutes later Hall pounced on more sloppy Spartans passing and dinked a left-wing cross to the back post, where Kay was there to smash high into the roof of the net. A goal his performance deserved.
Spartans committed plenty of bodies forward in the dying stages as they went searching for that elusive goal that would have set-up a frantic finish, but Edinburgh City never looked in danger of being breached. In fact, with Kays endless running and the introduction of fresh legs in the middle of the park, they looked dangerous on the counter as the game became stretched, and could have easily added to their own tally had it not been for some sloppy final passes and the linesman’s flag.
But in the end the two goals proved to be enough as Edinburgh City ran out deserved winners on the day.
Star Player: Kris Young - Fantastic captain's performance and led his team by example and never put a foot wrong all game.