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Johnny on the Ball leads Cardonald to cup glory

Bonnyton Thistle 1

McCarrison 68

Cardonald Thistle 2

Mulcahy 30, Green 43
  • Tuesday, 04 February 2014
  • Petershill Complex
  • Under 19´s
  • West Region Cup - Final

Ryan Rowe | YFS South West Region Journalist & Bonnyton Thistle Reporter
Author's Bio | Articles by Author | [email protected]

A ‘War of the Thistles’ took place on Saturday in the final Final of the West Region Cup. Ayrshire side Bonnyton Thistle took on Glasgow and District League’s Cardonald Thistle for the rights to be crowned regional champions. Cardonald were considered the underdogs following their mid-table showing in the league compared with Bonnyton’s Paisley & Johnstone District League triumph, where they secured the title without dropping a point. Despite the favourites tag, Bonnyton struggled to break down Cardonald and the boys in yellow and navy eventually came away with a 2-1 win thanks to a heroic and determined team performance – indeed one supporter noted that “No-one gave them a hope” before the match.
The rain was lashing down when the game kicked off at 2.03pm and indeed did not halt throughout the tie. This perhaps added to the fact that there was a storm brewing, with underdogs Cardonald coming out all guns blazing, urging themselves to find a way to disrupt Bonnyton early on and find a quick goal. Cardonald looked particularly dangerous on the counter attack, thanks in part to the pace of Johnny Ball up top.
Cardonald kept Bonnyton at bay for the first ten minutes with their impressive pressing but couldn’t stop what would’ve been a fantastic goal for Ewan Barrie. Following neat interplay between the midfielder, left fullback Andy Hunter and striker Steven Hill on the left flank allowed Barrie to surge in between the Cardonald full back and centre half to get onto the end of Hill’s through ball on the one-two. Barrie latched onto the pass on the edge of the box and took a touch towards goal but unfortunately for the spectators he scuffed his shot wide of the target from an angle and the danger was averted for Cardonald.
Moments later, Cardonald danger man Ball was played in on the edge of the Bonnyton area via a header but his fierce right-foot strike was equalled by Purdie from 14 yards. Ball again managed to find space in behind the Bonnyton defence five minutes later but his shot was deflected over the bar by the keeper.
Ball was still causing continual problems as he ran the channels both looking for the ball and trying to win it, with his defence and midfield and strike partner Darren Green supporting him whenever a direct long ball from the Cardonald defence went loose. Bonnyton still had the majority of possession but were finding it difficult to get in behind their opponents and cut them open, with Michael Taghe in particular sweeping up effectively.
That lack of a cutting edge would cost the double winners as Cardonald went ahead on the half hour mark. From another of Ball’s runs into the channels he won a corner on the left. From the set piece, Ciaran Mulcahy bulleted a header past the keeper to make it 1-0.
The goal allowed Cardonald to absorb a bit more pressure and look to counter attack. Bonnyton pushed forward and two minutes later almost had an equaliser. Following a goal-mouth stramash after a free kick on the right won by Sean Mears, Hill steered the ball in from inside the six yard box – only to look over to see the linesman’s flag was up and hear a dreaded screech from the ref’s whistle.
With Bonnyton flooding forward looking for an opening it naturally left them exposed at the back and if it weren’t for a brave block from Barrie inside the six yard area, Cardonald could’ve doubled their lead on 38 minutes from Green’s strong shot that looked a certainty to hit the target and maybe more.
Five minutes before time, a golden chance to equalise for Bonnyton fell at the feet of Chris Kelly. The winger timed his run well coming in off the right but from Mears’ dangerous cross to the back post, he fired over from the edge of the six yard box. Moments later Mears had a try of his own from 20 yards, only to see it fly too high also.
In the 43rd minute, Cardonald keeper Kieran McWilliams was forced into his first real save of the game and it set up a crucial counter attack. From another free kick, McWilliams made a terrific punch to both avert the danger of a goal and start a fast breal. Bole and Green faced Bonnyton’s remaining players in a 2v2 situation, with Ball picking the ball up just inside the Bonnyton half and advancing 15 yards towards goal. He opted to pull the trigger and while Purdie blocked his initial low drive, Green was there to slot the ball home with his left boot, beating both the keeper and the last defender to the rebound.
That dramatic piece of action was the last and perhaps most telling moments in the first half – leaving Bonnyton with what felt like a mountain to climb and Cardonald with a lead they looked like they could hold onto.
  • Half Time:
  • Bonnyton Thistle
  • 0-2
  • Cardonald Thistle
Bonnyton came out in the second half knowing they would have to be more clinical in the final third to unlock a very steely, organised and determined Thistle defence. This filtered through to the rest of the side and their selective pressing forced Bonnyton’s to come and play. By camping in their own half and stealing the ball when they had to, not only did they ensure that their squad of 12 players worked efficiently but it enabled them to set up for the counter attack. Brandon Dowie exemplified this when pressure on the Bonnyton defenders on the edge of their box led to an opening for a shot, only to see Purdie be equal to it.
Sam McCloskey turned up the heat in the second half as he looked to conjure up a goal for his side and saw his drive on 51 minutes well by McWilliams. The goalie would also be an important figure in this half.
Bonnyton continued to press for a goal as we got deeper into the half. Kieran McCrum led a charge from the back where he brought the ball out from the back and battled and dribbed his way up the park in Beckenbauer-esque fashion.  His drive through the middle and shot put the Cardonald defence under the cosh and moments later substitute Steven McCarrison nipped in to reduce the deficit to 2-1 with just over twenty minutes to go.
Bonnyton though continued to struggle to really carve open Cardonald, though they did create chances. Thistle kept ten men behind the ball for most of the remaining minutes and the Ayrshire side had to rely on long shots or half chances for sights of goal, despite having at least two thirds of possession. Cardonald’s organisation was nothing short of superb.
The next chance came on 81 minutes when Ian Paterson played a long diagonal ball from defence to the feet of Kris Chisholm on the left. The midfielder moved down the line before cutting inside and opting to cross the ball back across the box from the by-line. Hill got himself onto the end of the ball but his shot skimmed the bar from the centre of the area.
There was a flurry of action in the last ten minutes and it was all one-way traffic but for a couple Cardonald chances on the break. First up was Bonnyton’s David Shedden who saw his effort cleared on the line before he later headed over from a corner. Paterson was then denied by another great save from McWilliams, the latest in a rather long line.
Cardonald’s chance to wrap things up came through Sam Smith when his something-out-of-nothing attempt on the volley almost crept in under the bar but for Purdie’s scrambling tip over the woodwork.
At the other end, we almost saw Bonnyton clinch the equaliser in the final minute of regulation time. With his team piling on the pressure and even goalie Purdie going up for set pieces, McCloskey let rip when a loose ball fell to him on the edge of the box. His left footed strike whizzed low across the ground and half the stadium leapt up, the other gasped, and everyone thought it was in. However, only when McCloskey turned away and the ball roll back out from behind the goal could the full stadium realise that the shot had actually went wide and not nestled in the bottom corner.
There was a feeling that was the last chance for Bonnyton and indeed, even after a few minutes of stoppage time, they couldn’t breach the Thistle net. They had been stumped by a determined, drilled and organised Cardonald side that fought tooth and nail for every ball from the first whistle and they rejoiced at full time. The team from the banks of the River Cart had secured their biggest trophy of the season while Bonnyton were left to reflect on an up and down season that included a League Cup win, a league championship win but also a surprising Scottish Cup defeat to Johnstone Burgh. The Cardonald lads and supporters no doubt celebrated long into the night and had more than a few drinks out of the massive piece of silverware after a well-deserved win. Cardonald Thistle manager shed light on the win:
"This was a David v Goliath tie. I was fortunate enough to watch Bonnyton play in a final the previous weekend and assess our opponents then put a game plan together. Massive thanks to Pollock United and Jimmy Johnstone Academy for their continued support and the use of their facilities in allowing us to coach and train on shape and pressing.
"Finally I thank Bonnyton for a good game in a great manner, bringing the best out of us."

  • Full Time:
  • Bonnyton Thistle
  • 1-2
  • Cardonald Thistle


Bonnyton Thistle
Cardonald Thistle

1. Scott Purdie
2. Marc Abercrombie
3. Declan Adam
4. Ewan Barrie
5. Kris Chisholm
6. Ryan Golightly
8. Steven Hill
9. Andy Hunter
11. Steven McCarrison
12. Sam McCloskey
14. Kieran McCrum
15. Sean Mears
16. Ian Paterson
18. David Shedden

1. Kieran McWilliams
2. Marc Gibson
3. Michael Mulcahy
4. Alan McCluskey
5. Darren Green
6. Sam Smith
7. Brandon Dowie
8. Liam Gallagher
9. John Ball
10. Michael Taghe
14. Ciaran Mulcahy
15. Dylan Lavelle

Star Player
Bonnyton Thistle
Cardonald Thistle
It was tough to pick a star man for Bonnyton, particularly outfield, though Steven Hill, Sam McCloskey and Ewan Barrie looked most capable of unlocking Cardonald. However, Purdie made many good saves from goalkeeper and did a good job sweeping things up to help start attacks and put the opponents under pressure.
Kieran McWilliams was fantastic, particularly in the second period but the officials called John Ball as the Man of the Match and I had to concur - he was a constant threat with his blistering pace and despite not scoring he came very close. He was a handful with his runs on and off the ball. Captain Darren Green was also superb with a strong performance.
Magic Moment
Bonnyton Thistle
Cardonald Thistle
Again it was tough to select a magic moment for Bonnyton when they weren't at their best but the neat passage of play between Barrie, Hunter and Hill in the first half that could have changed the course of the game had it gone in was lovely to watch.
The second goal - it came right on half time and was a superb example of Cardonald's alert defence and direct attack; a superb, fast-breaking counter attack.
  • Match report and photos copyright Youth Football Scotland.
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