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The Scottish Lowland Football League & East of Scotland U20s is set for an expansion which will change the landscape of the top end of youth football in Scotland dramatically. The influx of Scottish Junior FA sides joining the Scottish FA pyramid in 2018/19 has filtered down to youth level and as a result twenty-eight teams are set to compete in the revamped competition.
 
The East of Scotland's youth setup has been around since the early noughties, before the idea of the Lowland League had even been tabled. At that point it was at the Under 19 age group and in its early years it struggled to attract teams to make the jump from juvenile football to the senior game. In the first decade of its existence it wasn't uncommon to see four or five teams competing.

However, in the last few seasons the competition has moved from strength to strength. Last season saw a record number of teams competiing, with fifteen involved from the season's outset. However that record number has been shattered by this season's expansion.
 
Thirteen of last season's teams will compete once again. They are: Bonnyton Thistle, BSC Glasgow, Cumbernauld Colts, Edinburgh City, Edinburgh University, Edusport Academy, Heriot-Watt University, Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale, Mid Annandale, Spartans, Stirling University, Tynecastle and Whitehill Welfare. Dropping out are Burntisland Shipyard and Selkirk. 
 
Former champions Preston Athletic return after a year out, whereas long time senior side Gala Fairydean will be involved at this level for the first time. Last season's East of Scotland League winners at senior level, Kelty Hearts, also join the party.
 
The remaining twelve  teams come from sides who will be playing in the East of Scotland FA for the first time: Blackburn United, Camelon Juniors, Dalkeith Thistle, Dunipace Juniors, Edinburgh United, Haddington Athletic, Hill of Beath Hawthorn, Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts, Musselburgh Athletic, Newtongrange Star, Sauchie Juniors and Tranent Juniors.
 
The format will be two sections of fourteen, with the winner of each playing off (in a one off game) to determine the league champion. This will be added to by several cup competitions and the perk of competing in the Scottish Youth FA Cup. The conference sections are as follows:

Conference A
Bonnyton Thistle
Camelon Juniors
Cumbernauld Colts
Dunipace Juniors
Edinburgh University
Gala Fairydean Rovers
Heriot-Watt University
Hill of Beath Hawthorn
Kelty Hearts
Newtongrange Star
Preston Athletic
Sauchie Juniors
Tynecastle FC
Whitehill Welfare

Conference B
Blackburn United
BSC Glasgow
Dalkeith Thistle
Edinburgh City
Edinburgh United
Edusport Academy
Haddington Athletic
Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts
Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale
Mid Annandale FC
Musselburgh Athletic
Spartans FC
Tranent Juniors
University of Stirling
 
 
The draw for the SWF Youth Cup Under 13's Quarter Finals was made yesterday at Arbroath Abbey in the East Region. 
 
Presenting the draw was SWF Club and Competitions Officer, Lorna Cameron, and conducting the draw was Scottish FA East Region’s Girl’s & Women’s Club Development Officer, Sam Milne, and Angus Alive Football Development Officer, Ross Smith.
 
The full draw is as follows:
 
 
Dryburgh Athletic v Raith Rovers
Murieston United v Bonnyrigg Rose
Hutchison Vale v Hibernian
Rangers v Glasgow City FC
 
 
 
All the ties are local affairs, with no team having to leave their respective regions for their matches. Last season's finalists Glasgow City, just off the back of avenging their defeat against champions Celtic in last year's showpiece event, take on the other side of the Old Firm in Rangers, whilst there is an intruiging Edinburgh derby on show between Hutchison Vale and Hibernian.
 
All tie will be played on the weekend of 8/9th September
 
The draw for the SWF Youth Cup Under 15's Quarter Finals was made yesterday at Arbroath Abbey in the East Region. 
 
Presenting the draw was SWF Club and Competitions Officer, Lorna Cameron, and conducting the draw was Scottish FA East Region’s Girl’s & Women’s Club Development Officer, Sam Milne, and Angus Alive Football Development Officer, Ross Smith.
 
The full draw is as follows:
 
 
Rangers vs Glasgow City Orange
 
Hibernian Development vs Kilmarnock
 
Hibernian vs Deveronvale
 
Celtic vs Jeanfield Swifts/Hearts
 
 
Champions Hibernian will be looking forward to the opportunity to defend their title and will be happy with a home draw against Deveronvale. Celtic will need to await the winners of the third round tie between Jeanfield Swifts and Hearts after their initial encounter was abandoned due to an injury sustained by the Hearts goalkeeper.
 
All ties will be played on the weekend of 8/9th September
 
The draw for the SWF Youth Cup Under 13's Quarter Finals was made yesterday at Arbroath Abbey in the East Region. 
 
Presenting the draw was SWF Club and Competitions Officer, Lorna Cameron, and conducting the draw was Scottish FA East Region’s Girl’s & Women’s Club Development Officer, Sam Milne, and Angus Alive Football Development Officer, Ross Smith.
 
The full draw is as follows:
 
 

Kilmarnock Whites vs Queen of the South Whites

Musselburgh Windsor vs Boroughmuir Thistle Purples

Donside Girls vs Central Girls Legends

Kilmarnock Blues vs Lanarkshire Hibs

 

Plenty of eyes will be on the match between Musselburgh Windsor and Boroughmuir Thistle Purples. Windsor won the South East Region trophy with a win over Boroughmuir Thistle Whites earlier this month, so it is fair to say that the Purples will be looking to avenge their Whites teammates.

All ties will be played on the weekend of 8/9 September

 

 
This weekend is a date with destiny. Heroes will be born, history will be made, lives will be changed. They're ready, are you? Welcome to the YFS inspiresport Scottish Youth FA Cup final coverage centre. On this page you can follow the action from each of the matches.
 
Cove YFC v Hutchison Vale U13s (Sunday, 2pm)
Preview 1 | Preview 2 | Preview 3 | Match Report | Photo Gallery
 
St Andrew's BC v Spartans FC U14
Preview 1 | Preview 2 | Preview 3 | Match Report | Photo Gallery | Cup Lift
 
Falkirk FCF v Longniddry Villa U15 (Sunday, 5pm) 
Preview 1 | Preview 2 | Preview 3 | Match Report | Photo Gallery 
 
Glenvale AFC v Spartans FC U16
Preview 1 | Preview 2 | Match Report | Photo Gallery | Cup Lift
 
East Kilbride FC Blue v Hurlford BC U17 (Sunday, 10:30am)
Preview 1 | Preview 2 | Preview 3 | Match Report | Photo Gallery | Cup Lift
 
St Cadocs YC United v Syngenta Juveniles U19
 
Arthurlie Juniors v Tower Hearts U21
Preview 1 | Preview 2 | Preview 3 | Match Report | Photo Gallery
 
The fourth season of the SPFL Development League is now in the history books and it was a great advert for the youth game in this country.
 
Ultimately it was Hibernian who would lift the league title at the end of the season and rightfully so. The Hibees finished the season six points ahead of their nearest challengers Dundee, winning 19 games in the process, losing just five.
 
Their title win was secured on the 17th of April after Dundee were unable to take the league to the final game of the season, losing their match against Hearts to hand the trophy to the other Edinburgh side.
 
This season saw reduced participation in the league. Rangers withdrew from the competition in favour of playing in glamour friendlies against youth teams from across Europe, including Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Benfica, whilst Dunfermline Athletic and Inverness Caledonian Thistle withdrew in preparation for the new reserve league to be set up as per the proposals made under ‘Project Brave.’
 
The season saw a tremendous display of youth talent from every club in the league, so let’s review each side’s campaign in the SPFL Development League.
 
 
Hibernian
Last Season: 4th
This Season: 1st
 
Hibernian were worthy winners of the league and will have a number of players to thank for their success. One key name will be striker Oli Shaw, who has broken into the first team as of late and topped the Development League scoring charts for the second season in a row.
 
 
Dundee
Last Season: 15th
This Season: 2nd
 
The Dee will be disappointed that they couldn’t end the season on a high but they will be proud of what they achieved this season. A vast improvement on last season and a few players have made the step into the first team including Kerr Waddell, Matthew Henvey and Cedwyn Scott.
 
 
Hearts
Last Season: 11th
This Season: 3rd
 
Another team that made a vast improvement from last season was Hearts. The Tynecastle side have been making a habit of nurturing young talent for their first team and made a late surge to capture third place.
 
 
Aberdeen
Last Season: 9th
This Season: 4th
 
Key defeats towards the end of the season ended up derailing the Dons’ title charge, namely against Dundee and Hibernian and eventually ended up 12 points of the pace. A little disappointing considering the Pittodrie side made a great start to the season and had the potential to really challenge at the top. Also made the SFA Youth Cup Final but lost to Hibs at Hampden.
 
 
Motherwell
Last Season: 5th
This Season: 5th
 
Another good season for the Well. No improvement in terms of league position but have picked up some very impressive results. A league double against Celtic is no easy feat as well, but was achieved by the Lanarkshire side.
 
 
Celtic
Last Season: 3rd
This Season: 6th
 
Celtic began this season on the back foot, having to play a number of games in the Youth Champions League and quickly needed to get up to speed. Unfortunately, while they put in many commendable performances, the fixture list was always against them and they underperformed.
 
 
Ross County
Last Season: 1st
This Season: 7th
 
Last season was a massive success for the highland side but less can be said for this campaign. The Dingwall side finished 26 points worse off from last season. Of course it must be mentioned that they have played six fewer games this season but considering last season’s title win many would have been hoping that County would put up another title challenge.
 
 
Hamilton Academical
Last Season: 2nd
This Season: 8th
 
Hamilton were made to pay for a very slow start to the season but eventually managed to save themselves a respectable mid-table spot. Accies have always placed a very heavy emphasis on youth development and we will perhaps see some of the players used in this campaign in the Scottish Premiership next season.
 
 
Dundee United
Last Season: 14th
This Season: 9th
 
A minor improvement from the tangerine side of the City of Discovery. They finished two points worse off from last season but also played six fewer matches so have definitely made strides forward in terms of youth development.
 
 
St Mirren
Last Season: 13th
This Season: 10th
 
The Buddies are another team that like to put an emphasis on youth development, with the likes of Kenny McLean, John McGinn, Stephan Mallan and Lewis Morgan coming through the academy. Minor improvement from last season but will be hoping for better.
 
 
St Johnstone
Last Season: 17th
This Season: 11th
 
St Johnstone endured a difficult campaign last season and only marginally improved this time around. They managed to secure seven wins this season, two more than the previous campaign but many with an allegiance to the Perthshire side would have been hoping for a drastic improvement on last time.
 
 
Partick Thistle
Last Season: 8th
This Season: 12th
 
The Jags threatened to break into the top five last season, but this season struggled to stay clear of bottom spot. Definitely not a season to remember for the Glasgow side.
 
 
Kilmarnock
Last Season: 12th
This Season: 13th
 
Killie had a better time in the youth cup than they did in the league this season. No team can really recall a successful season after finishing second from bottom, but the Ayrshire team did manage to make the semi-finals of the youth cup where they were knocked out by Aberdeen.
 
 
Falkirk
Last Season: 7th
This Season: 14th
 
The Bairns really struggled in the Development League this season and have the unwanted moniker of finishing last, losing 17 games and winning just five. After the club’s decision to withdraw funding for the Forth Valley Academy, it will surely be a while until things stabilise.
Friday, 27 April 2018 22:13

Analysis: Roaming forwards win cup for Hibees

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Hibernian came from behind to defeat Aberdeen in the Scottish Youth Cup Final. Grant Murray’s men lifted the silverware after an excellent second half performance was enough to see them overcome the Dons.

Hibs began the game playing with a back five allowing their wing-backs Callum Donaldson and Sean Mackie to push very high, which seemed to work early on and it was Donaldson and Mackie who combined to produce the game’s first opportunity.

Five minutes in and Mackie broke up the left and whipped a cross into the box and from 10 yards out Donaldson’s half-volley flew wide of the post.

Aberdeen began by playing a counter-attacking style of play, designed to catch out the advanced Hibernian wing-backs and on the fifteen minute mark their tactics paid off. A long ball into the right channel got Connor McLennan into the box and he managed to beat three defenders, round the goalie and stab home from six yards to put the Dons in front.

After this early goal for the Dons, Grant Murray changed his side’s formation to try and combat Aberdeen’s counter-attacking style. He changed to a more conventional 4-4-2 and Aberdeen couldn’t cope.

With the wing-backs now transformed to full-backs, it allowed more space on the wings for the Hibernian forwards to drift into and just after the half-hour mark the Hibees were level.

Some good work in the middle of the park lead to Fraser Murray, who had hit the cross bar only moments before, being played in on the right wing. He drove forward and looked to pick out Ollie Shaw in the middle of the box, however Murray’s cross was diverted into his own goal by Joe MacPherson.

Hibs continued to press the Aberdeen defence, however they never created any clear cut chances and both sides went into the break on level terms.

Grant Murray’s change of formation again looked like a masterstroke as in the second half Hibs blew away the Dons. They continued to look dangerous and created a couple of decent chances, with the best falling to Jamie Gullan.
 
Again the Hibs forwards were drifting in and out of the Aberdeen back line and Gullan, who was playing on the wing, found himself in the middle of the box. He controlled well and his deflected effort was stopped well by Dons goalie David Craddock.
 
Hibs didn’t have to wait long to take the lead though, and the goal came from centre midfielder Ben Stirling moving out wide. He collected the ball on the wing and put in a wonderful cross for Ryan Porteous, who bulleted the header into the back of the net.
 
Another key feature to Hibernian’s performance was the strike play of Ollie Shaw. He had the thankless task of running the channels and chasing long balls but did so very effectively and it was Shaw who was the architect of the third Hibs goal.
 
Shaw latched onto defender Waugh’s brilliant long ball and he composed himself to get a strike off, which was deflected into the path of Jamie Gullan who tapped the ball into the empty goal to put the game to bed for Hibernian.
 
Hibs managed to see out the remaining minutes of the game to lift the silverware and, in truth, it was all down to the tactical changes made by manager Grant Murray.
 
His decision to change from five at the back to 4-4-2 proved to be a game changer.  By playing a compact midfield, there was more space on the wings for the forwards to move into and this is where Hibs goals came from.
 
An excellent victory from Hibs who have now completed the domestic double of Development League and Youth Cup and they will be delighted with their season.
Wednesday, 25 April 2018 16:31

SWF Youth Cup 2018 - U13's 2nd Round Draw

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The draw for the second round of the U13's SWF Youth Cup was made earlier today at Burns Cottage in Ayrshire. The first round contained many incredible matches across the country and left us with 32 worthy teams in the next round.
 
The full draw is as follows:
 

Kilmarnock Blues v Lomond Development

Larnarkshire Hibs v Kilwinning

Forfar Farmington v Boroughmuir Thistle Purples

Kilmarnock Whites v Celtic 12s

Celtic 13s v Aberdeen

Jeanfield Swifts 12s v Deveronvale Girls

Penicuik Athletic Blues v Bonnyrigg Rose

Blackburn United Blacks v Hearts Development

Gartcairn Blues v Blackburn United

IHS Strollers v Musselburgh Windsor 

Hibernian 13s v Central Girls Legends

Aberdeen FC Youth v Cove Youth

Donside Girls v Ayr United

Kirrie Thistle v Scone Thistle

Pollok United v Central Girls

Queen of the South White v Glasgow Girls 12s

 

There are certainly many interesting ties among these fixtures. Last season's beaten finalists Glasgow Girls, off the back of an impressive 9-0 win over Raith Rovers in the first round, face a potentially difficult tie down in Dumfries to play Queen of the South White.

There is also an all Aberdeenshire tie to look forward to as Aberdeen FC Youth will host Cove Youth for a spot in the round of 16.

Ties will be played on the 5/6 May

Last week the SPFL Development League West was set for its grand finalé. Airdrieonians needed victory away to Morton to clinch a hard earned league title. Stranraer watched on, knowing anything else would see them crowned champions. Or would it? Whilst the league table suggested so, a statement from the SPFL issued before the game noted:

As things stand, Stranraer will be champions if Airdrieonians fail to beat Greenock Morton tomorrow night.
 
However, it has been alleged that, in their match against East Kilbride on 11 April 2018, Stranraer fielded a player as a trialist in respect of whom the correct paperwork had not been received by the SPFL and the player was allegedly therefore not eligible to play. The match ended in a 2-1 victory for Stranraer.
 
A disciplinary hearing has been scheduled for Monday 23 April in respect of this matter and, as such, no announcement in relation to the Development League West title (if required) will be made until that hearing has been concluded.
 
The game was played and what a match it was. Airdrieonians went 2-0 up at half-time and looked to have the title within touching distance. However a sensational 20 minute goal spree (click here to view the winner) saw Morton come back and win 3-2. 

Proceedings moved onto Monday evening and whilst the disciplinary meeting was taking place at Hampden, Morton and Ayr United were hosting Albion Rovers and Queens Park respectively. Both sides had been mathematically out of the title race a week prior, but with the news of Stranraer's potential point deducation combined with Morton's win over Airdrie, they were back in it. Both won convincingly and eagerly awaited news from the governing body.
 
This morning the news was delivered:
 
Prior to the hearing, Stranraer were alleged to have fielded a player as a trialist without submitting the correct paperwork to the SPFL. 
 
At that hearing, it was determined by an SPFL Board sub-committee that Stranraer had indeed breached SPFL Regulations and the player was not eligible to play in the match, which finished 2-1 to Stranraer. 
 
The club were reprimanded and warned as to their future conduct. The original match result has been annulled and recorded as follows:
 
East Kilbride 3-0 Stranraer 
 
The three points for a victory were awarded to East Kilbride and the points previously awarded to Stranraer withdrawn.
 
The news means now, the SPFL Development League West has just one unfulfilled fixture. Can you guess? Greenock Morton v Ayr United. Being played at Cappielow tomorrow (Wednesday) evening, everything all comes down to this match. A victory for either side would see them crowned champions, whereas a draw would see the previously devastated Airdrieonians clinch the title. Unfortunately for Stranraer, they are now set to finish third regardless of the result.
 
Tuesday, 24 April 2018 11:16

SPFL Development League Round Up - 23/04/18

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The SPFL Development League is now drawing to a close and with Hibernian already being crowned league champions, the race for second place is still on. Here is how the action went down on Monday:
 
 
St. Mirren 2-2 Dundee
 
Dundee ended a good season in the SPFL Development League with a disappointing draw away to St. Mirren. The Dee finished the game with nine men as they let slip a two-goal lead.
 
Cedwyn Scott opened the scoring for Dundee after just six minutes when he managed to get on the end of Jesse Curran's cross. Matthew Henvey doubled the lead just a minute later with a drilled shot into the bottom corner.
 
St Mirren equalised just before half-time when Curran's wayward header only went as far as Robbie Leitch who had the simple task of firing home. Kerr Waddell was shown a red card 15 minutes into the second half for a late tackle and from the resulting free-kick St Mirren were level through a Sam Jamieson header.
 
Dundee would be reduced to nine men four minutes later as Matthew Henvey was shown a second yellow for dissent.
 
 
Falkirk 0-1 Hearts
 
Dundee's slip-up meant that Hearts closed the gap on the Dee to just four points as they secured victory over the league's bottom side Falkirk. The win means that Hearts can leapfrog Dundee to finish second if they secure four points from their last two games, which are against Kilmarnock and Celtic.
 
The scoreline could have been a lot worse for the Bairns and they had 'keeper Robbie Mutch to thank for keeping the score respectable. However he could not keep Hearts from opening the scoring just two minutes into the second half.
 
It was Euan Henderson who broke the deadlock, pouncing on a loose ball to fire past Mutch and secure the three points for the Jambos.
 
 
 
Celtic 0-2 Motherwell
 
Motherwell ensured a 100% record over Celtic in the Development League this season with a 2-0 win over the Bhoys at Lennoxtown. 
 
It took just three minutes for the Well to take the lead through some great work by Jack Hastie. The striker ran down the right hand side, before cutting in on his favoured left foot to strike past Ross Doohan for the lead.
 
Some slack play from Celtic defender Stephen Welsh led to Motherwell's second. Jamie Semple won the ball and played through David Turnbull, whose strike was saved by Doohan only as far as Hastie who tucked away for his and Motherwell's second.
 
 
St Johnstone 1-2 Dundee United
 
Dundee United came away from McDairmid Park with a very impressive 2-1 victory over St Johnstone.
 
Emil Lyng opened the scoring for the Terrors within five minutes after capitalising on a poor free-kick from Stefan Scougall to advance down the field and place the ball past Saints 'keeper Ross Sinclair.
 
United doubled their advantage just before the hour mark through Gavin Ritchie, who burst into the box to fire high past Sinclair. Saints responded well and pulled a goal back just a minute later through Ali McCann, but they could not find an equaliser and Dundee United returned to the City of Discovery with the three points in tow. 
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