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St John's seal SSFA Senior Shield win

Bannerman High School 0

St. John's High School 1

Ross 16'
  • Friday, 22 April 2016
  • Hampden Park
  • Under 18´s
  • Scottish Schools Senior Shield

 
Simon Ritchie | YFS West Region Reporter
Articles by Author | Contact Author
 

A solitary Kieran Ross strike sparked celebrations for St. John’s High School as they beat Bannerman High 1-0 in the final of the SSYFA Shield Final at Hampden Park on Friday.
 
The scoreline did not accurately reflect the match as St John’s dominated from almost the first whistle and but for some inspired goalkeeping from Bannerman’s Ross Eliott they could have reached double figures.
 
With the final returning to Scotland’s national stadium for the first time in five seasons, it was almost certainly the biggest occasion that many of the players will have played in and both teams brought vocal support to encourage their sides. There were blue skies overhead as Glasgow saw its best weather in many months and the stage was set for an enthralling final.
 
Nerves perhaps took control in the early stages with misplaced passes and heavy tackles aplenty as both sides struggled to find their rhythm.
 
St. John’s Connor Coupe was the first player to have a sight of goal as he cut in from the left wing and dragged an effort wide of the near post - a warning to Bannerman about the talent this young player possesses.
 
Bannerman had a similar opportunity of their own through Jonny Cartwright on the right side, but he didn’t have as much luck getting by Taylor Carroll and the defender got in a tackle and clearance.
 
It was to be Bannerman’s best chance for a while. After the opening few minutes passed, the game settled down in favour of the fast-moving, slick passing St. John’s. They pressed high up the pitch, using Craig Adamson as a target man to hold the ball up, the St. John’s man having a height and power advantage on the majority of the Bannerman defence. When he did win the ball it gave Ross the chance to break through from midfield - something he would do with alarming ease throughout the game, including for the first goal.
 
Having survived a scare when Dariush Hejazian tried to let the ball run back to Eliott, almost letting Kieran Conway slip in, the Bannerman defence was exposed shortly after and Ross drove through before firing low and hard across Eliott. Somehow, it was the only time the Bannerman keeper would be beaten as he produced a string of fine saves to keep his side in the match.
 
A quick St. John’s break left the Bannerman defence isolated and outnumbered, Coupe slipped it through to Nathan Scott whose goalbound effort was acrobatically pushed on to the bar by Eliott.
 
Then Adamson’s fantastic diagonal ball put Ross one-on-one with the stopper only for Eliott to save at his feet.
 
St John’s were playing with time and space in the gap between Bannerman’s defence and midfield, sometimes inside the Bannerman box as they forced the defence to sit virtually on the penalty spot while they passed across. 
 
On one such occasion Ross fired a low effort off the foot of Eliott and over the bar, the keeper surviving on sheer instinct and good fortune. The resulting corner was headed goalbound by the colossus Adamson, but again Bannerman survived, this time the ball beat Eliott but was headed clear off the line by Zak Ford.
 
The Glasgow side were not without the odd opportunity themselves and Mitchell Barclay’s deep free-kick found a free header from Cameron Foy, but the centre-half put it narrowly wide.
 
Then some fantastic link-up play between Ford and Sean Hughes, probably the best of the match for Bannerman, saw Ford win the challenge for a long ball, play through Hughes who returned the ball to Ford in space, but the winger’s shot was well saved by Robbie Telford.
 
It was a fairly brief spell on top for Bannerman and St. John’s ended the half with more opportunities and more missed chances to seal the game, with Bannerman having Foy to thank on several occasions for offering a physical presence to match Adamson, winning headers from corners and refusing to be bullied off the ball.
  • Half Time:
  • Bannerman High School
  • 0-1
  • St. John's High School
While the first half was fast and flowing with plenty of action in front of goal, the second half was a much more turgid affair, as both teams tired under the strain of playing such a high-tempo game on such a large pitch.
 
Efforts from distance from Adamson and Conway failed to trouble Eliott, who finally had some respite from the endless assault on his goal in the first forty-five.
 
The attacks were less frequent now from St. John’s, but still they came. Scott showed his pace down the right wing and his cut back should have been slammed home by Adamson, but the forward mis-kicked and it was eventually scrambled clear.
 
Adamson did not mis-kick his next one, but Eliott tipped it over the bar before pulling off his best save of the match.
 
Scott showed great awareness and skill - think Gascoigne versus Hendry in Euro '96 - to knock the ball over the Bannerman defender and run on one-on-one against Eliott, firing low and hard to no avail as the keeper again somehow got down and got a strong hand to it.
 
There were still more saves from Eliott as the game entered its final five minutes and then St. John’s finally beat him again only for it to be ruled out for offside as they celebrated.
 
WIth merely minutes to go the Bannerman fans backed their team loudly and you could sense the players began to believe that maybe they could somehow get something out of this match that they were, somehow, still in.
 
Was this to be Bannerman’s 'Rumble in the Jungle' moment? With their backs against the ropes the entire match could they emulate Muhammad Ali and find a knockout equaliser that would send the tie into extra time and surely deflate St. John’s?
No.
 
They piled men forward. They launched the ball into the area. They fought for every ball. They hoped. They prayed. They gave it everything. But in truth they couldn’t get near the St. John’s goal and Telford was troublingly untroubled despite an inordinate amount of injury time.
 
It would have been incredibly cruel had it happened, as this St. John’s side were by far the better team over the 90 minutes, showing skill and flair at high speeds, always finding space behind the Bannerman defence and deserving of far more than a single goal victory.
  • Full Time:
  • Bannerman High School
  • 0-1
  • St. John's High School

Lineups

Bannerman High School
St. John's High School
1. Ross Eliott
2. Cameron Foy
3. Greg Johnston
4. Rhys Walker
5. Dariush Hejazian
6. Kieran Harkins
7. Sean Hughes
8. Lewis Warnock
9. Zak Ford
10. Mitchell Barclay
11. Darroch Murdoch
12. Jamie Stewart
14. Gary Watson
15. Nicholas McGaughrin
16. Lee Hughes
22. Liam Mortimer
1. Robbie Telford
2. Nicholas Scott
3. Taylor Carroll
4. Craig Adamson
5. Logan Irvine
6. Conor Samson
7. Jonny Cartwright
8. Kieran Conway
9. Kieran Ross
10. Nathan Scott
11. Connor Coupe
12. Nabil Nadeem
14. Ben Mitchell
16. Craig Kemlo
Star Player
Bannerman High School
St. John's High School
Ross Eliott. Without his saves this match would have been dead and buried by half-time. He kept Bannerman in with a chance of sneaking something right up till the very end but unfortunately they couldn't do it. Didn't deserve to be on the losing team.
Difficult one to choose as key to St. John's victory was every player performing their part to perfection. From Adamson holding the ball up and making space for others to exploit to Coupe and Cartwright stretching the Bannerman defence down the wings. But all of them doing that together allowed Kieran Ross to run the game through the centre and have so much space to do the telling damage that won his side the shield.
Magic Moment
Bannerman High School
St. John's High School
Several of Eliott's saves were straight out of the top drawer, particularly low down from Scott in the second half.
The goal that won them the cup. A driving run through the right side of the box and a great finish across the keeper from Kieran Ross.
  • Match report and photos copyright Youth Football Scotland.
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