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Thursday, 19 May 2011 21:52

St Peter hold nerve to win epic final

Written by  Callum Macdonald
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St Peter the Apostle HS Under 16s
 vs
Bannerman HS Under 16s
 
 
 
Competition: Glasgow Schools Final
Venue: Loretto Playing Fields
Date:  18/05/11
 
 
 
Author: Callum Macdonald
 
 
 
 
 
St Peter the Apostle clinched the Under-16s Glasgow Schools Cup this evening after a dramatic penalty shoot-out handed them victory over a spirited Bannerman side. 
 
The final at Loretto Playing Fields in Bishopbriggs got underway in sunny but extremely windy conditions, and in the early stages both sides struggled to settle into a rhythm with the weather somewhat dictating the pattern of play. Nonetheless, it was St Peters who started brightest, forcing a series of early corners and throw-ins deep in the Bannerman half. The first two chances came inside three minutes; St Peters captain Kieran Gibbons floated a corner to the back post which bobbled off a defender, only for Bannerman ’keeper Stephen Thomson to pull off a smart reaction save. Moments later the ball broke kindly for Callum Cook, whose half-volley from the edge of the box bounced inches wide. 
 
St Peters continued to lay siege throughout the first quarter-hour, with Kevin McCord and Connor Forrester in particular looking threatening in the wide areas. However, Bannerman did look dangerous on the break, and their two bustling centre-forwards nearly created a goal against the run of play, as Connor Brannigan sent Lawrence Shankland clear of the offside trap, but his shot from 20 yards was well held by Lewis Wood in the St Peters goal.
 
On 17 minutes St Peters took a deserved lead, with Callum Cook the creator. He gathered the ball on the right side of the penalty area and shrugged off a couple of challenges before sliding the ball across the face of goal for Forrester to bundle home from close range. 
 
Bannerman were instantly galvanised by the setback, though, immediately showing a greater sense of urgency. Brannigan’s strength and pace was causing most of the problems, as Chris Watson and Gavin Mitchell looked to thread balls into the channels. But despite their pressure, Bannerman struggled to create any clear cut chances in the first half, as the organised St Peters defence held firm until the break, limiting the opposition to a few free kicks and corners which came to nothing.
 
Half Time: St Peter the Apostle HS Under 16s 1-0 Bannerman HS Under 16s
 
St Peters straight away regained the initiative at the start of the second half, with Forrester getting in behind the full back on a couple of occasions to force last-ditch clearances. Bannerman nearly equalised, however, but a deep cross to the back post was crucially intercepted by Apostle defender Kieran Falconer, with Brannigan waiting to pounce. 
 
Ten minutes into the second half St Peters extended their lead after great work by Jack Mullaway. The left back was becoming increasingly involved in the play, and he sent a great ball over the top for Number 9 Chimuka, who got in behind his marker only to have his heels clipped before getting a shot away. Referee Brian Martin awarded a penalty and Kieran Gibbons calmly stepped up to fire low to Thompson’s left. The keeper got a foot to the ball but could not prevent it spinning into the roof of the net.
 
At this stage in the game there looked to be only one winner, but Bannerman’s fighting spirit quickly confounded that notion, pulling a goal back just four minutes later. The tenacious Gavin Mitchell wriggled between two St Peters midfielders to win a free-kick 25 yards out. His looping strike evaded everyone in the box, including Lewis Wood in the St Peters goal, and dropped into the top right hand corner of the net. 
 
The following few minutes were a perfect example of how a goal can swing momentum in a football match. Bannerman suddenly looked more dynamic and dangerous than at any previous point in the game. A long throw into the box was flicked on by Brannigan to Shankland, who expertly turned his marker, but his volley was well held by Wood. The St Peters keeper was tested again seconds later, fantastically tipping an arching volley over the bar. With 10 minutes remaining Bannerman completed their comeback in what was proving a truly thrilling second half. Again Mitchell was at the heart of the action. He whipped in an excellent inswinging cross with real pace from the left hand side, which took a nick off a St Peters defender allowing Shankland to nod passed the onrushing Wood, sending the Bannerman players and fans into raptures.
 
With the match nearing extra time, St Peters could have had a penalty when Callum Cook fell under a challenge, only for Brian Martin to wave play on, much to the frustration of the Apostle supporters. Both defences were resilient in the closing stages to force another twenty minutes of football.
 
With legs tiring and both schools hoping to avoid a nerve-racking penalty shoot-out, extra time proved to be the most open and end-to-end period of the match. The two sides quickly exchanged corners but with the high winds worsening dangerous deliveries were at a premium. Shankland produced a piece of sublime skill for Bannerman when he weaved between two players and lobbed the ball down the line for McCallum who forced another corner, while Forrester and Chimuka continued to threaten for St Peters. 
 
In the final 10 minutes both sides desperately hunted in search of a winner, Bannerman going closest as Shankland was denied on three occasions by Lewis Wood. He forced a superb one-armed save from the St Peters keeper, and Wood did well again to make himself big after Shankland found space. With two minutes remaining Wood produced another stunning save with his legs to take the tie to penalties.
 
As the two teams organised their penalty takers, large dark clouds gathered above the playing fields, generating an even tenser atmosphere. By the time St Peters’ Kieran Gibbons took the first spot-kick, the rain was lashing down. The captain scored his second penalty of the day, sending Thompson the wrong way. Connor Brannigan then suffered the cruelty of a miss in a shoot-out; Wood saving with his legs to hand St Peters the advantage. St Peters went 2-0 up before Chris Watson saw Bannerman’s second penalty bounce agonisingly against the post and along the goal line. Both teams scored their next spot-kicks, handing Connor Forrester the chance to crown St Peters champions. He coolly slotted past Thompson and wild celebrations ensued, the St Peters players piling on top of the match-winner, as the rain cleared and two huge rainbows formed above the pitch to create a picture-perfect scene. That is, for everyone except the crestfallen Bannerman players, who had done fantastically to fight their way back into the game and contributed massively to a highly exciting final.
 
St Peters came into this match as 2010 School of the Year award winners, and now look well-primed to retain the prize, especially with their Under-14s competing in another final later in the week. At the trophy presentation ceremony, refereeing convener Stuart McClachlan lauded “a smashing game”, crediting both teams on their skill and team-spirit. McClachlan explained he was especially encouraged by the balance between competitiveness and sportsmanship on display in the final, a combination that Glasgow school football strives towards. Indeed, after finishing the season as cup winners and with only one red card to their name all season, St Peters appear to be the perfect exemplar of that philosophy.
 
Full Time: St Peter the Apostle HS Under 16s 2-2 Bannerman HS Under 16s (St Peters won 4-1 on penalties)
  
 
St Peter the Apostle HS Under 16s
 
 
 
1.  Lewis Wood
2.  Connor Greene
3.  Jack Mullaway
4.  Gary Hines
5.  Kieran Falconer
6.  Paul Cairns
7.  Callum Cook
8.  Keiran Gibbons (C)
9.  Chimuka Chimuka
10. Connor Forrester
15. Kevin McCord
Substitutes:
11.  Michael Brand
12.  Joe McGrannigan
14.  Matthew Anderson
1.  Stephen Thomson
2.  Scott MacPherson
3.  Lee Martin (C)
4.  Taylor Brown
5.  Callum Frew
6.  Craig McIntyre
7.  Chris Watson
8.  Gavin Mitchell
10. Lawrence Shankland
 9.  Connor Brannigan
12.  Craig McCallum
Substitutes:
15.  Ryan Smith
11.  Lewis Fay
16.  Richie Smith
17.  Rhuridh Gibson
 
 
YFS Man of the Match: Lewis Wood
YFS Man of the Match: Gavin Mitchell
 
 
 Referee: Brian Martin
Last modified on Thursday, 08 August 2013 15:41
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