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South West Region (176)

 
 
• Woodwynd Wolves ACES run a No Knives Better Lives campaign which benefits youths in the local community. 
• The Quality Mark award scheme benefits Woodwynd with the provision of new kits and added credibility to the club. 
• Interviewees: Colin Young, Dale Young
 
Woodwynd Wolves ACES is no ordinary football club. A charitable, crime-fighting and sporting enterprise all rolled into one, the club has notched impressive victories both on and off the pitch. 
 
In 2005, residents of Woodwynd in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, concerned about joblessness, low-level crime and anti-social behaviour in their community, came together to form Ayrshire Communities Education and Sport (ACES).
 
In 2009, the registered charity decided to form a football team for local young people, christening it Woodwynd Wolves. Assistance from North Ayrshire Council, Children In Need and The Robertson Trust enabled ACES to acquire and run the previously neglected Woodwynd Hall facility and revitalize an adjacent playing field where Wolves now train. 
 
Woodwynd Wolves ACES Development Officer Colin Young has been an instrumental part of the project since the very beginning. Together with other local coaches, Young assembled an under-19 team to participate in the 2010 Canton Cup in Michigan, USA.
 
Once the side “became a wee bit too old”, as Young delicately puts it, the club decided to form “an amateur team for those kids, and some of those stayed, and then coached other kids. Other kids wanted to be involved, other kids wanted football teams. So that’s where Woodwynd Wolves came from.” 
 
In helping budding coaches acquire new skills and qualifications and keeping young kids physically active but off the streets, the club is a worthy winner of the Scottish FA’s Quality Mark Award. He said: “I think it’s very important. It shows that we know what we’re talking about. We’re not just somebody off the street. We’ve got all our qualifications, we’ve got all our risk assessments, safety things in place, insurances, disclosures – everything that’s important to parent’s nowadays.” 
 
The Scottish FA’s subsequent provision of kit has been an absolute godsend, says Young. “We got full sets of strips for the kids which saves us an absolute fortune. They’re good quality stuff, it’s all high brand, quality material. We get access to further training, and we get access to discounted courses as well which all helps introduce new coaches into it.”
 
The club is also heavily involved in the Scottish Government’s ‘No Knives, Better Lives’ campaign in partnership with Police Scotland via its football roadshows.
 
“We approached Police Scotland about three years ago with a notion of using road signs, buckets, tyres etc,” Colin said.  “We were going to build a course, and then we were going to take that around schools. The Chief Inspector at the time decided that that would be a great vehicle for the ‘No Knives’ campaign, so he got in contact with them and we spoke to them. They were more than happy for us to carry that throughout the schools.”
 
The campaign has been a tremendous success, with a 57% fall in knife crime and a 21% reduction in violent crime being recorded in six former hotspots across North Ayrshire.
 
In a sign of how successfully the project has encouraged all generations to get involved and stay involved, Young’s son Dale, an alumnus of the inaugural Woodwynd Wolves, is also now involved in coaching youngsters coming up through the ranks behind him. In recognition of his sterling efforts, he has been nominated for a Scottish FA Grassroots Award.  
 
Dale said: “I’ve coached quite a lot of boys in the past that have gone on to further levels as well, so I think maybe that’s got something to do with it.
  
“If I win this award it will mean a lot to me because of the amount of hard work I’ve put in over the past nine years. It would mean everything to me.”
Sunday, 06 December 2015 18:16

Winning in Kilwinning

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• Kilwinning Sports Club Town under-17s win the treble in the 2014-15.
• The team lost just one game all season.
• Interviewee: John Murphy
 
Kilwinning Sports Club Town can look back on an unforgettable 2014-15 season, having completed a Central Ayrshire YFA treble as under-17 league champions, CAYFA League Cup and CYP Regional Cup winners.
 
Manager John Murphy spoke to Youth Football Scotland and highlighted his team's exemplary collective spirit as key factors in their extraordinary and continuing success.
 
"Last season was a very enjoyable and remarkable season for me as manager of this great bunch of lads," he said. "The treble was an amazing achievement and it was a great overall team effort. I have no individuals to single out. We played together as a team, from goalkeeper all the way through to the forwards, and also had a good bench when a change was needed in a game."
 
Last season KSC ran out convincing league winners with a few games to spare, but Murphy points to their only league defeat against their closest rivals as the real wakeup call which drove his side on.
 
"We lost on March 22nd against Troon Thistle and we had an off day. We had to remind the players that hard work and determination is required in every game. There was still a lot of football to be played and no trophies had been won. We can’t ever take it for granted."
 
Having lost to Troon Thistle that day, KSC went on to duly turn the tables on their rivals, defeating them in the CAYFA League Cup Final a month later. The victory was a springboard to league and further cup success. KSC went on to beat Tass Saltire in the CYP Cup to clinch the treble and reached the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup. 
 
"The team have learned to work hard for each other on the park and put the effort in at training, and to enjoy each match as if it was their last.", said Murphy.
 
Hard work and team spirit have combined with a desire to play passing attacking football, as KSC have swept all before them, with the strike force of Ben Black and Jack Ewing earning huge plaudits as the club piled on the goals with style.
 
Moreover, Murphy can reflect on a season during which the club was recognised at a national level, with several players going on to represent their country and enjoy success.
 
"Two of our boys were picked for the SYFA Scotland team to play Australia and seven were selected for the CYP Scotland team. Our captain Alan Murphy also led the national team to success in the Summer tri-nations tournament in Wales," said Murphy.
 
With the season well underway, the signs are that KSC’s progress continues unabated. The manager pinpoints new targets as his side continue to progress with six league wins out of six this season.
 
“Stepping up to Under 19s level has brought its own challenges and hopefully a respectable league finish awaits us next year. Our ambition is to keep developing the players and win more trophies along the way.
 
“Hopefully the players will play at a level they enjoy and go on to enjoy the game at professional, junior or amateur level one day.”
Sunday, 06 December 2015 18:11

Crosshouse take on the big boys - and win

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“We look to ourselves as a kind of school of excellence outside of the pro-youth set up,” said Craig Patterson, coach of Crosshouse BC 2006s. “We’re always looking to produce the best players and the best teams that we possibly can and we’ve got a pretty good record of doing that.” 
 
From a small East Ayrshire village, Crosshouse are fast developing a strong reputation in the SYFA South West Region as a leading developer of young talent. Over recent seasons numerous players have gone on to grace the pro-youth sides of Ayr United, Celtic, Kilmarnock and Rangers – and Patterson expects more to follow.
 
“The club sets high standards throughout. The success the club has had attracts coaches and players alike,” Patterson said.
 
The Lindsay Park club have won the SYFA Scottish Cup three times in recent years, with the under-16s triumphing in 2005, the under-17s in 2006 and the under-15s in 2015, when Connor Smith’s dramatic late winner completed his hat trick and sealed an extraordinary 4-3 victory over Renfrew Victoria at Airdrieonians’ Excelsior Stadium after a pulsating 90 minutes of football.  
 
So what is the secret to their success? The club’s emphasis upon an unusual approach to squad discipline might have something to do with it.
 
“We’re asking their parents how they’re behaving and if there’s any particular child that goes a couple at weeks misbehaving at home, showing a lack of respect to their parents then we’ll suspend them for the weekend’s game,” said Patterson.
 
“Discipline is very important within our club and we strive to install a code of conduct from the boys. Everything from tucking in tops to quietly listening when coaches are talking is focused on from day one.
 
"Respect is a big part of what we try to teach and we encourage the boys to take that attitude into all aspects of their lives. While we never actively look to ban them from football it can act as a good deterrent.”
 
Nevertheless, Crosshouse’s coaches are anything but kill-joys. According to Patterson, their focus is on ensuring players enjoy their football and develop as individuals. 
 
“Enjoyment and development are essential in what we try to achieve with the boys. Our aim is to develop the boys both with football but also in their social development.
 
"We try to produce excellent players but with a good team ethic and a healthy respect for others. If we can do that while still promoting a fun atmosphere then we are happy.”
 
President Damien McClelland, active with the club for nearly a decade, agrees. “Our club isn’t just about the football; it’s about making friends through the sport you enjoy. We hope all our players go on to be successful and well-rounded young adults with a good and positive attitude,” he said. 
 
McClelland is also very proud of Crosshouse’s record of sportsmanship and charitable fundraising. “Many of our younger teams have won fair play awards, which again goes to show how our players are coached in the game and the way they carry themselves. As a club, this is something we pride ourselves in.”

 
Fixture: Largs Colts v Galston Youth FC U14
Competition: Central Ayrshire YFL U14
Venue: Barrfields
Date: Saturday 28th November 2015
 
After two late call offs Colts made a couple of changes to the starting line-up for yet another important league fixture. McTaggart and Loudon, both out with illness, were replaced by Wilson and Barbour as Colts strength in depth came into play. Galston came into the game on the back of four wins and a draw in their last five games where they netted 35 goals so Colts knew they were in for a tough test on a wet and windy Saturday morning at Barrfields.
 
Galston won the toss and decided to start with the elements in their favour. Indeed it was the visitors that started the better of the sides with Weir called upon early to clear up a dangerous attack. Colts have at times been profligate in front of goal, though today was certainly not one of those days. On four minutes Bainbridge took the ball down the left and played a lovely weighted pass into the area for big striker Smith who had to sprint to reach the ball. His first touch was superb to round the keeper and calmly slot the ball into the back of the net for the opener.
 
On seven minutes, Smith looked to return the favour with a square ball to Bainbridge to strike just wide of the target. The three more advanced midfielders in R.Coupar, Bainbridge and Cormack were winning the ball and dominating play at this stage of the game with ease. Indeed it was Bainbridge who received the ball on the left and struck sweetly into the corner of the net for Colts second and the midfielders’ second goal in two games. Adding goals to his game was the only piece missing for the impressive midfielder and Bainbridge is quickly putting that right.
 
Galston are an excellent footballing side and were still in the game at this stage though the Colts defence was minimising chances for the visitors. When Galston did break through, keeper Irwin was on hand to save well and preserve his clean sheet.
 
Colts were really dominating this game with excellent possession and creating numerous chances. The closest the Colts had come to a third goal so far was with 26 minutes on the clock, a measured through ball from Bainbridge found Brown to strike for goal, though the ball flew just wide of the target.
 
Wilson was next to strike at goal from 25 yards though it was well taken by the keeper. With half an hour played, Leishman, who looked to be clearly fouled, had to leave the field to be replaced by J.Coupar, with Cormack switching to left back and Brown into midfield.
 
 Just one minute later it was Bainbridge the provider again in setting up Smith to finish well for Colts third. Just before the break a corner from Galston needed a strong save by Irwin for another Galston corner which again was saved by Irwin to keep the sheet clean at the break.
 
Half Time: Largs Colts 3-0 Galston
 
Colts started well in the second period with R.Coupar threading an early ball through for Smith, though the keeper came off his line quickly to clear well. Galston then had a great chance to get a goal back when their left winger dinked his way past a couple of challenges and struck the ball towards goal. Thankfully for Colts it flew wide of the target.
 
With eleven second half minutes played it was that man Smith again showing great composure inside the 18 yard box when he went through on goal, and dinked the ball delightfully over the helpless Galston keeper to complete his hattrick.
 
On 51 minutes the Galston keeper cleared straight to R.Coupar just inside the centre circle. The midfielder took it first time and struck for goal, and it looked as though it was heading into the back of the net, however the keeper deserves great credit for retreating well and collecting the ball, preventing Colts from further extending their lead.
 
Less than a minute later Colts failed to clear and the Galston striker took advantage to reduce the deficit. Colts keeper Irwin just couldn't get the luck to keep that clean sheet he so deserved for his performances this season.
 
J.Coupar was next to fire and effort towards goal after some excellent footwork, though again the keeper saved. Robson then made way for MacNeil before striking sensation Smith netted his fourth of the afternoon with yet another clinical finish.
 
Smith almost grabbed his fifth of the game on the hour mark as R.Coupar played a wonderful ball through for the striker, but his first time shot sailed inches past the post.
 
Galston were playing some very good football in the match, and the small amount of chances they had were not down to poor play, but the sheer quality of the defending from the Colts defenders. They nullified any half chances Galston were looking to create, and squandered them out on numerous occasions.
 
With 5 minutes to play, J.Coupar layed the ball back for Blair who played it Smith to flick back to J.Coupar. The skillful striker flicked the ball over the defender and struck it powerfully, but just over the bar for what would have been an outstanding team goal.
 
Less than 5 minutes to play J.Coupar played the ball to Bainbridge who finished well from a tight angle for his second to make it 6-1 to the Colts.
 
With the last kick of the ball, Colts made it 7-1 as Smith unselfishly turned provider as he squared the ball to J.Coupar to roll the ball home for a magnificent seven for Colts on the day.
 
Full Time: Largs Colts 7-1 Galston
 
This was an outstanding performance from the Largs boys in terms of work rate and desire. The conditions were difficult and the opponents strong though on the day Colts hard work won through. It’s hard to single out players given the outstanding team performance though Cormack was tireless, Bainbridge was excellent in passing and finishing and Smith was clinical in front of goal.  The boys vote went to Smith for his four goals and general play which was excellent – arguably his best performance in a Colts jersey.
 
Galston will without doubt beat some of the top teams in the league this season as they have some excellent players though were just beaten by a hungrier Colts side on the day.  Credit to the boys and the coach, Hugh McNeillie, for the way Galston play the game which is great for the boys’ development.
 
With this result Colts stay second, five points behind leaders AC Irvine with two games in hand with Colts travelling to play the unbeaten league leaders next week in the biggest game of the season so far.
 
Special thanks to W & J Brown for being our match sponsors on the day.

Largs Colts:  Irwin (GK), Robson, Barbour, Weir, Leishman, R.Coupar(C), Bainbridge, Cormack, Wilson, Smith, Brown.  Subs:. J.Coupar, MacNeil, Blair.
 
 
Wednesday, 25 November 2015 10:50

Ayrshire leagues round up - 21st/22nd November

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As the first blast of winter blew in plenty of fixtures still managed to defy the elements, with CAYFA and West of Scotland YFL sides battling on all fronts in league and cup action.
 
Several sides were represented in their respective age groups in the SYFA Youth Cup fourth round. In the U16 competition, Crosshouse BC are through after grinding out a 3-2 home win over Leith Athletic, whilst Ayr Boswell cruised through more comfortably with a 6-1 home defeat of Montrose Youth. In an all Ayrshire clash at Dreghorn, it went all the way to the dreaded shoot out as visitors Glenburn MW held their nerve 3-2 from the spot after a 2-2 draw. Meanwhile Girdle Toll were beaten 4-1 away at Fife based Townhill.
 
Several Ayrshire sides also bowed out of the SYFA Youth Cup in the other age groups. Knockroon Thistle and Cunninghame YFC both exited the U13's competition with defeats at Musselburgh and Arbroath Lads Club respectively. In the U15's section, Winlinton Wolves just lost out 3-2 at Forfar Boys Club whilst Hurlford were defeated 3-1 at home to Drumsagard.
 
There was one fixture in the CAYFA U15's league one, as KSC Rovers stormed to the top with an emphatic 6-1 win at table rivals Glenburn MW. There was a top of the table thriller in league two with Bellfield keeping up recent good form to win 5-4 at fourth placed Cumnock Juniors. Leaders Galston meanwhile dispatched Carrick Colts 6-0 at home, with West Kilbride level on points at the top after a 6-1 victory at Irvine Victoria. Largs Spartans stay in sixth place after a 3-1 win at Caledonian Colts.
 
In the CAYFA U14's section Largs Colts kept their good recent run going and took advantage of AC Irvine’s free weekend with a 2-0 win at Caledonian United to move into second place. Valspar move up to third after winning 5-1 at bottom placed KSC Kilwinning Thistle. Coylton are just behind after a narrow 1-0 home win over Tass Thistle. Galston were convincing victors away at Stewarton Annick to stay fifth, whilst Crosshouse and Prestwick shared the points in a 3-3 draw.
 
In the only game on in the WoSYF U19's card Glenburn closed the gap further on leaders Kilwinning Rangers with a 6-1 home rout of Glenafton Athletic. Only a few U16's league matches beat the weather, as bottom placed Troon Thistle battled to a 2-2 draw at third placed Galston in Division A, whilst in Division B, Stewarton Annick are three points off leaders Dean Thistle after a 5-0 home victory over Ayr Craigie.
 
The final round of fixtures of the weekend came in the WOSYFL U13's league, where it is an exciting three way tie at the top. Ayr Boswell stay on top with more games played after a 2-0 win at Prestwick CFC, whilst Bonnyton also won away, 4-1 at Bellfield Royals. Glenburn are in third place after their 5-2 home defeat of Troon Thistle Titans. Tass Thistle Titans had a fine 8-1 win at league rivals Valspar to move up to sixth place, with Dalrymple just behind after also enjoying a 4-1 home victory over Hurlford.

 
Fixture: Caledonian United v Largs Colts U14
Competition: Central Ayrshire YFA League
Venue: Caledonian Park, Pretwick
Date: Saturday 21st November 2015
 
After a two week fixture absence, Largs Colts travelled to Prestwick to play Caledonian United. Colts kept the same line up as started against Crosshouse with keeper Irwin behind a back four of Loudon, Weir, Robson and Leishman. The midfield saw Bainbridge and Cormack swap sides with each other, with R.Coupar and McTaggart making up the four. Up front the prolific pair of Smith and Brown looked to get the goals. On the bench again were J.Coupar, Blair, Wilson and Barbour.

The Prestwick side were sitting in the bottom half of the league table, but are always a tough challenge any side coming up against them, and once again they proved to be a tough test for Colts.
 
The visitors created a good opening six minutes into the game when McTaggart found Brown with a defence splitting pass, though the strikers' shot was just wide of the target.
 
Bainbridge has been enjoying a very good season so far, and in this game switched to the right hand side of midfield, and on ten minutes the powerful midfielder stepped inside his marker easily and struck the ball powerfully and accurately towards the top corner, and the ball bulleted into the net. With the quality of the strike it was hard to believe that it was his first competitive goal for Largs.
 
Colts were very much in control of the match and created further chances with some excellent passing football on show for all to see. Colts almost doubled their lead when R.Coupar picked out Smith inside the area, and the striker's header was well taken by the Caley keeper. 
 
The Caley keeper was playing very well, saving efforts from Brown and R.Coupar on a few occasions. Colts were rarely threatened despite the home side playing three up top. That said however, on 23 minutes Colts were caught wide open at the back, and a pin point pass sent the Caley striker through on goal. Fortunately for Colts the striker didn't have the composure to finish his chance as he put the ball wide of the target. A major let off for Colts who were caught sleeping.
 
Largs were quickly back on offensive with Smith striking a first time effort just wide of the goal before McTaggart fashioned an opening for a strike which went wide of the target just before the break as Colts finished the first half the stronger of the 2 sides.
 
Half Time: Caledonian United 0-1 Largs Colts
 
Although playing some excellent football and dominating possession, Largs were only one goal up at the break and knew they would have to start the second half very strongly to give the opposition no chance of levelling the scores.
 
The visitors did just that with Brown first to strike for goal just three minutes into the half, once again testing the impressive reflexes of the Caley keeper. Cormack, who was tireless in the midfield, ran through and looked like he was brought down inside the box, but the referee waved play on.
Colts were playing some excellent quick passing football and creating plenty of openings, and craved that second goal they so deserved, but they were finding it hard to beat a keeper on top form.  43 minutes of the game played  and R.Coupar was next to try his luck, but yet again the keeper stretched well to save and hold the ball.  Smith then tried to setup Brown for an effort, though again Colts couldn’t get the second goal.
 
The pressure was telling however and it was that man Brown who eventually managed to double the Colts' lead, and give them that bit breathing space they had been looking for. A superb team goal was finished expertly by Brown.
 
The Colts' defence stood firm to prevent Caley from halving the deficit, and Loudon was having a great game, but was being worked well by the tricky winger on numerous occasions. Keeper Irwin was enjoying a very quiet afternoon, but on 53 minutes he was well worked as a snap shot by Caley looked destined for the back of the net, only for the big keeper to get an outstretched arm to push the ball round the post. An outstanding save from the keeper.
 
 Brown was replaced by Wilson before Leishman, cutting in from the left, almost got goal number 3 for Colts as had an effort on goal that flew inches past the post. Brown and Cormack, who both put in a strong shift, were replaced by J.Coupar and Blair. On 66 minutes J.Coupar battled well to win the ball back on the edge of the box before a shot was taken well by the keeper.
 
Leishman and Bainbridge were combining well on the left, creating openings as Colts kept playing passing football. R.Coupar was playing well in the middle, bursting through and laying the ball off for another Colts attempt at goal. Blair the made space for himself on the edge of the area though the strong effort was deflected wide for a corner as Colts seen out the last couple of minutes for a good 3 points to take back to Largs.
 
Full Time: Caledonian United 0-2 Largs Colts
 
Colts will be delighted to take three points against a decent outfit that always provide a tough test for any opposition, Keeper Irwin had an outstanding save with excellent distribution throughout. Weir controlled the back line with Robson and full backs Loudon and Leishman were excellent at the back and going forward. The midfield four were dominant and all worked hard throughout. Up front Smith and Brown worked well with Brown getting the crucial second.  Man of the Match was a close call with Cormack, R.Coupar, McTaggart, Loudon and Leishman all contenders. The vote went to Leishman for some excellent positional play and a real attacking threat down the flank.
 
Colts move up to second, five points behind leaders AC Irvine with two games in hand and have a home tie against a very tough Galston side next week. Galston are unbeaten in their last five games with four wins averaging seven goals per game.
 
Largs Colts:  Irwin (GK), Robson, Loudon, Weir, Leishman, R.Coupar(C), Bainbridge, Cormack, McTaggart, Smith, Brown.  Subs:. J.Coupar, Barbour, Blair, Wilson
 
 

 
Fixture: Largs Colts v Crosshouse Boys Club U14
Competition: Central Ayrshire YFA League
Venue: Barrfields
Date: Saturday 7th November 2015
 
Largs Colts were full of confidence following the 9-2 win away at the same opponents as last week as they took the field with the same line up. Irwin in goals, a back four of Loudon, Weir, Robson and Leishman. The usual midfield quartet was R.Coupar, Bainbridge, Cormack and McTaggart with Smith and Brown up top once again. On the bench were J.Coupar, Blair, Wilson and Barbour.

Largs began the brighter of the sides with Brown putting wide inside the first minute. With only two minutes played, Smith then hit the bar with a venomous strike, and the ball was cleared by Crosshouse.
 
Colts then had a succession of corners, and despite the excellent deliveries, nobody could get on the end of it to divert to ball into the back of the net.
 
Colts were made to pay the price when on six minutes a free kick from Crosshouse took an unfortunate deflection off Leishman for the visitors to break the deadlock. 1-0 Crosshouse.
 
The home side were looking to respond immediately, and an excellent run from Cormack found Smith inside the six yard box, though somehow the ball managed to clear the bar. I think he watched too much of the Rugby World Cup.
 
Colts kept on the offensive with Leishman striking from distance after a neat passing move, though his effort flew inches wide of the target. Smith then had an effort well saved by the keeper before another good passing move from Largs reached Smith, who eventually got Largs back on level terms, finished well at the keepers near post.
 
Colts were creating chance after chance by now with Smith and McTaggart next to try their luck without any joy. Crosshouse did have the occasional break forward, though twice were halted by the tracking back and tackling of R.Coupar. At the other end, Brown was played through and struck narrowly wide. Leishman then had a strong effort saved well by the keeper before McTaggart and Brown both had efforts superbly saved to prevent Largs from heading in to half time with the lead.
 
Half Time: Largs Colts 1-1 Crosshouse BC
 
Colts again started the second half well and Smith brought out another great save from the Crosshouse keeper when he was through one on one.
 
Brown was next to be one on one and struck with power, but just wide of the target. Leishman, who was getting forward at every opportunity, carried the ball over 20 yards out before unleashing a great shot which yet again the keeper managed to claw the ball away and grabbed it at the second attempt. It was going to take something very special to score against him.
 
The chances kept coming for Colts with Bainbridge picking the ball deep and creating openings. The Crosshouse keeper was in inspired form and saved with his legs on two occasions again with Colts strikers one on one.  J.Coupar came on for Cormack and immediately setup Brown after some good control, although again Colts couldn't find the net.
 
Despite all of the pressure and chances they had, on 58 minutes Colts received a sucker punch when a counter attack followed by a speculative effort evaded keeper Irwin for an unbelievable lead for Crosshouse. Somehow they were ahead!
 
Colts kept playing football, and on 61 minutes J.Coupar thought he had equalised for the home side as his sweetly struck shot from the edge of the box smacked the inside of the post, trundled along the goal line, and rolled agonisingly past the opposite post.
 
Blair and Barbour came on as Colts desperately searched for the equaliser. One minute into stoppage time, Colts finally got their equaliser, and it was Brown that struck a sweet effort into the top right corner to at least salvage a point for the luckless Colts.
 
Full Time: Largs Colts 2-2 Crosshouse BC
 
On another day this could easily have been 9-2, as it was last week. Colts created some excellent opportunities and although profligate in front of goal, the movement and passing was strong and the goals will come. Best on the day for Colts were Leishman, Loudon, Weir and Bainbridge with the latter taking the man of the match award for his driving runs and excellent control. Colts will be disappointed to drop two points, though they remain unbeaten in six league games and within touching distance of the top of a very tight league.
 
A special word for John Hood the Crosshouse coach for his positive coaching of his team and the sportsmanship of the opposition team. After the heavy defeat of last week the team responded well and had a keeper on top of his game. Colts have a fixture to play away at Kilwinning next week though with the weather forecast are more likely to have the weekend off.
 
The Gypsy Cream Cafe sponsored this match for Colts and also provided hot soup and tablet for the players and coaches which was much appreciated on a wet and cold morning. The support Colts receive from local businesses has been excellent and really helps the club in supporting the boys. Thanks again this week to all at Gypsy Cream Cafe.
 
 
Saturday, 07 November 2015 01:08

Ayr United Academy moving in all the right directions

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The Ayr United Academy is now in its ninth season running as a separate entity from the club itself and over that short period of time, in terms of academies, it has come on leaps and bounds.
 
There is a great youth setup installed at the club, community programmes have brought the club closer to local residents and there are plenty of promising youngsters in the pipeline. The future is certainly looking promising for Ayr United and its Academy.
 
David White, Head of Youth and Football Development, caught up with me to discuss the forward thinking and innovative programmes being run which are creating such success at the Academy.
 
The ethos the Academy has adopted since it was formed has been to be a provider to the local community and, in terms of developing youngsters, the club wants to be able to offer youngsters somewhere to play football whether you are three or 15 years old looking to make it as a professional.
 
David White expanded further on the aims of the AUFA.“The general message is just about developing local players, for either to be part of our pro-youth set up or to be part of our community programmes. By doing this we are looking to become a community club and provide as much activity for the children and local people.”
 
Obviously choosing the route to become a community focused Academy has bonded the club to the local people.
 
“One of the reasons the academy was set up was to have a closer relationship with the community and our main objective is to engage with the community and to make sure we are out there in the community. The amount of activity we have brings us closer to the people and the club as there is more operational stuff happening.”
 
 
The main reason for this is the simple fact that there is more activity within the community and the Academy are providing a whole host of programmes to all age groups, from walking football for over 50s, to night leagues for kids in deprived areas.
 
However, White believes there is no single program which stands out as more successful than the rest as all are beneficial in their own way.
 
“Our community programme as a whole is the success. We have a good range of projects and there are now opportunities for everyone in the local area. We have social improvement projects, we are working with the national government bodies for example with mental health and men’s health classes. There is not one project that is labelling us as a success, it’s the range of projects we have and the reason we have that is because we want to engage with as many people as we can.”
 
The programmes that the Academy are providing to the community are highly inclusive and provide absolutely everyone with the chance to get involved in at least something. For example, the “Everbody active/ Children in need” programme provides football sessions for young people with a wide variety of disabilities. It currently runs in schools and the Academy are in the middle of setting up a disability football club.
 
Another operation that is highly laudable is the club's association with Community Jobs Scotland. This work placement scheme provides persons under 19 with employment at Ayr United FA for six to nine months. These can be in various roles from coaching to clerical and admin.
 
Looking at the pro-youth side of the Academy, a message is also delivered to the kids that Ayr United are developing and bringing through the ranks, and that is simply to enjoy themselves within a professional environment. “It’s about enjoying themselves, it’s about being professional, it’s about having standards and simply allowing the players to be themselves. There is a certain style that we want the kids to play but you have to let them be their own person whilst maintaining a passion to play for Ayr United.”
 
From delivering this simple but effective message to the kids, White agreed that the general standard of football has improved over the nine years that the Academy has been functioning which can be put down to adding a bit of structure to the set up.
 
“Initially when I first came here we only had three teams, and they were good teams, but now we are nine years down the line and run seven teams plus working with young players in the junior academy.
 
"We are seeing more players now, so that alone allows me to say the quality is better and the standards are better, so much so we have gained promotion to the Elite Initiative League which has contains the top 14 academies in Scotland. That for us is probably one of the biggest successes as it allows us to challenge ourselves against a better standard of player which then allows your players to get better.”
 
What comes with a positive message and professional structure at a football academy is success stories and the biggest one that stands out at Ayr United is Alan Forrest, younger brother of Celtic and Scotland star James. Forrest has progressed up through the Ayr United academy since joining from Celtic at the age of 13 and is now a first team regular and a tricky, exciting player to watch.
 
The hopes are that although Alan is doing a brilliant job with the club at the moment, he will move on to bigger and better things, which is a positive for Ayr as it goes a long way to proving the excellent work that is going on behind the scenes to develop positive, natural footballers.
 
There are a number of other players who have also progressed through the academy and signed professional contracts elsewhere - for example, Jackson Longridge has recently signed on at Livingston while Davie Mitchell, who played nearly 200 professional games for the club, is now at Dundee.
 
There is a steady stream of positivity flowing from Somerset Park in Ayr and White believes the next step for the pro-youth area is to get a young player to break into a national team and secure a big move. “We would just love to see one of our young players break into a national team and it would be great if somebody to get that big move.
 
"I think from the academies point of view and for the profile of the club and to promote what we are trying to achieve here it would be great to get a positive move away from Ayr Utd."
 
In terms of moving forward, although the Ayr United Academy is evidently in a good place at the moment there is always still room for improvement and a determination to maintain the high standards that have been set.
 
“We have to maintain the good standards", says White. "We are locked in for the next three years to be an elite academy and there is a lot of work going into ensuring to preserve our status as an elite academy once those three years are up. The other goal is to continue to drive forward the young players, to continue to deliver quality sessions to the kids and community.”
 
Ayr United have adopted the correct ethos and standards and it is driving them in one direction at the moment - and that direction is forward. 

 
Fixture: Crosshouse BC v Largs Colts U14s
Competition: Central Ayrshire YFA U14's League
Venue: Lindsay Park
Date: Saturday 31st October 2015
 
Colts returned to action after a break of five weeks, travelling to Crosshouse on a wet Saturday morning.
 
Colts started positively and inside just two minutes almost took the lead. A lovely weighted through ball to Brown was put just wide of the post with the Crosshouse keeper beaten. Cormack was next to try his luck, though the ball also went wide of the goal. On seven minutes Colts looked unlucky not to be awarded a spot kick when the ball struck the hand of a Crosshouse player, but the claims waived away by the referee.
 
Crosshouse were finding it difficult to get out of their own half at this stage and McTaggart then had an effort blocked before Smith then played in Brown but the keeper saved well. It didn't take too long for the opening goal to come, and on eleven minutes, captain R.Coupar took the ball 25 yards from goal, stepped inside the defender before striking and unstoppable shot into the top left corner for a superb opener. Within three minutes Colts scored again and yet again, of stunning quality. Bainbridge found Smith in the channel and his first time ball into the middle was met by Brown to volley with power into the back of the net.
 
Colts had just about stopped celebrating when Crosshouse halved the defecit. A breakaway down the flank caught Colts out and the striker was on hand to score from the cross. 2-1 now.
 
Midfield maestro R.Coupar then looked to play in Smith, but the keeper claimed the ball well. Colts were once again dominant and Brown got his second of the game with a composed finish in front of goal. Soon after it was 4-1 as the persistence of McTaggart paid off when he followed up his own effort to knock the ball into the net.
 
Crosshouse were leaving two quick players up top and were very dangerous on the counter. Keeper Irwin was called into action just before the break as a free kick was curled towards the top corner, and was taken well by the keeper at the second attempt before the first half was brought to an end.
 
Half Time: Crosshouse BC  1-4 Largs Colts
 
Largs started the second half with the same attacking intensity, and just four minutes in Smith ran through powerfully before striking home in a stunning individual effort for Largs' 5th of the game.
 
Bainbridge then picked up the ball some 20 yards out before taking the ball past two defenders and curling a left foot effort towards the far post, but the ball smacked the upright before being cleared to safety by the home side.
 
Cormack then made way for Blair in a straight swap, and it was the substitute Blair that was next to strike for goal, but couldn't find the net after a neat ball by Leishman.  Colts' football at this stage was again excellent with great movement and passing. Bainbridge played an exquisite through ball to  Smith to finish well for number six.
 
Colts made further changes with Brown making way for J.Coupar and Leishman off for Florence as Colts switched to a back three.  On 56 minutes, Blair made space and struck with power only for the ball to strike the bar and come out. The predatory instincts of Smith meant the big striker was on hand to simply chest the ball home for his hat-trick and number seven for Colts.
 
Smith wasn't finished there as when J.Coupar eased past the defence with some expert trickery, he cut in on goal and unselfishly laid the ball back for Smith to strike home his fourth and Colts eighth.
 
Crosshouse did manage to get a second goal just before Bainbridge set up Brown to round of the scoring in the match.
 
Full Time: Crosshouse BC 2-9 Largs Colts
 
Largs Colts really did turn on the style in the second half as they managed to put 9 past a Crosshouse side that did hadn't conceded many goals at all this season. This shows Colts' intent this campaign, and the strength in depth the squad has.
 
Colts move up to third with games in hand of those above then in the league. The Largs team will face Crosshouse again next Saturday, this time at Barrfields, as Colts look to continue their strong run of form.
 
 
 
Monday, 26 October 2015 17:44

Ayrshire leagues round up - 24th/25th October

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It was back to league and cup action last weekend with CAYFA and WoSYFL returning from the October break, firing on all fronts.
 
The result of the weekend came in the WoSYFL Age 13 Division, as Bonnyton Thistle ended Ayr Boswell’s 100% record with an emphatic 5-1 home win. Boswell now find themselves with their own perfect league record in third place. Elsewhere Glenburn are up to fourth after an 8-1 victory at Galston Youth, whilst Valspar also struck eight in an 8-3 home defeat of Auchinleck Talbot. Crosshouse BC are just behind after a narrow 2-1 win at Prestwick CFC and Dalrymple enjoyed a solid 2-0 home win over Troon Thistle. Caledonian Thistle meanwhile won a seven goal thriller, defeating Rowallan 4-3 at home.
 
Up in the WosYFL Age 16s Division One there were home wins for Coylton, 5-1 over Irvine Thistle, and for Galston who move up to third after their 4-1 defeat of Glenburn MW. The only Division Twp fixture saw Prestwick draw level on points with Glenafton with a convincing 4-1 home win.
 
Kilwinning Rangers look in control of the WoSYFL Age 19 division as they moved five points clear with an impressive 7-1 home win over third placed Girvan Youth. Glenburn moved up level on points with Girvan after their 3-1 victory at Glenafton Athletic. Troon FC meanwhile moved into second place with a 2-1 home win over Whitletts Victoria.
 
In the CAYFA Under 17 League, Girdle Toll took advantage of leaders Valspar’s free weekend to move three points behind with a thumping 5-0 win at fourth placed Cumnock 99s. Whitletts Victoria leapfrog Cumnock into third place after their 4-1 home victory over KSC Royals. Elsewhere KSC Phoenix continued their recent goalscoring form as they recorded an emphatic 9-0 home win over Glenburn MW. Bonnyton Thistle also racked up the goals with a fine 6-0 victory Argyle Villa. Elsewhere Irvine Meadow were convincing victors at home to bottom placed Bellfield Youth.
 
In the Under 15 Division One section KSC Rovers and Prestwick fought out a 10 goal thriller in a 5-5 draw, with visitors Prestwick equalising with the final kick of the ball. Crosshouse Boys Club Athletic meanwhile moved top with a 4-1 win at Valspar. Tass Thistle United had an excellent 5-3 home win over Glenburn MW, whilst Hurlford’s 3-2 win at Auchinleck Talbot moves them up to fourth in the table.
 
In CAYFA Under 15 Division Two Cumnock Juniors maintained their perfect start with a heavy victory at bottom placed Hurlford United. Bellfield Royals Stay top with more games played, after an impressive home victory to Crosshouse Boys Club 2001s. West Kilbride are up to third place after their 3-1 win at Caledonian Colts.
 
It was mainly League Cup weekend in the CAYFA Age 14 bracket, with league leaders AC Irvine enjoying a 5-1 success at Kilmarnock Portland. It took extra time and penalties to separate Caledonian United and Glenburn after a 1-1 draw. Eventually Glenburn booked their place in the next round winning 4-3 in the shoot out. KSC Kilwinning Thistle were 3-1 winners at Stewarton Annick, whilst Ayr Boswell Colts also won on the road, 3-1 at Crosshouse Boys Club 2002s. Galston Youth meanwhile triumphed 4-0 at home over Cumnock Juniors.
 
Finally in the only CAYFA Age 14 league fixture KSC Barca moved a point behind AC Irvine with a 4-0 win at second bottom placed Prestwick CFC.