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Beith Juniors 99s relishing top-flight challenge

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After dramatically clinching the Paisley and Johnstone YFL Division 2 title on the last day, both staff and players at Meadow Park go into the new Division One season on a high.

Since their title triumph at St. Convals in May, Beith have been to Spain for further success at the Summer Cup in Lloret de Mar. First Aid coach Matt Cole looks back on the tournament as a valuable experience.

"It was a good bonding experience for the boys, away from their parents. The matches went well, the only problem being when we had to play two matches in one day, winning the lunchtime game but losing the 5.30 game against a very good Spanish team," he told Youth Football Scotland.

Beith’s only defeats were to the local side, eventually losing to them in the final. Head coach Gordon McLeod points to a few contributing factors.

"They knew the climate and were very experienced, plus the fact that we had already played the same day. Overall though it was great for the boys at the end of a fantastic season," he said.

"For me as a coach it’s not all about football. It’s about organising sponsorship to make these trips happen, arranging kits, travel and pitches. There’s so much involved and so many people to thank.

"Our kit sponsors Cunninghame Housing Association and Enviroclean have been great at sponsoring us and supplying the new kits which the boys have learned to responsible for.”

For McLeod the whole club mentality contributed to a memorable league season. He said "This time last year we sat the boys down, and said ‘we can win this league’. We had a few injuries at the start of the season, but we went on a winning streak after September and won it on the last game."

Cole points to a couple of key results over the season, saying: "Our main rivals were Giffnock Lazio who beat us early on in the season, but we were able to beat them in the return down here in January. It was a big psychological lift for the boys, putting the league in our own hands.

"We then won up at Pirie Park in April, which really set us up to clinch it 4-3 at St Convals on the last day."

Looking ahead to the new season McLeod is targeting a respectable league finish: "I’d be hoping to finish top to mid table, plus maybe winning a cup as realistic targets. Next season will be good for us. We have good footballers who will flourish in the top league against quality opposition who are comfortable on the ball.

"We’ve had great advantages from training on the 3G home pitch where we play. It’s a great surface and we don’t have as much disruption over the winter either with home games. It has really helped the boys' development.”

On their second day back training, Cole can point to a great spirit among the players as the new season approaches.

"They’re a great bunch of boys, all playing well together and getting on together. Every new player is welcomed into the club. They all like a laugh and a joke.

"Maybe they’re too good sometimes, like when they beat us parents 3-0 in the charity match at the end of the season!”



Mark Gillespie | YFS North Ayrshire Senior Reporter
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