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West Region (159)

Glenvale must have prepared for this West Region Cup final by collectively watching Real Madrid’s 4-1 demolition of Juventus in the Champions League final the night previous. The Paisley side ran out 5-0 winners and proved to be a class above Airdrieonians, and they too had a talismanf figure to thank for a brace, in the form of Brian Connor.

In contrast to the mild Cardiff evening football’s current elite battled under, this clash of western Scotland’s finest youths was a duel in the sun, and its rays split through the clouds like Glenvale splitting open the Airdrie defence in the first minute.

The Lanarkshire outfit kicked off but surrendered possession far too easily and their opponents duly pounced. Cameron Crooks spotted the run of his strike partner 25 yards from goal, sticking the ball in between the full back Callum Guthrie and centre half Taylor Lindsay to the path of Connor.

The quick-footed forward nipped in front the on-rushing Jay McCarron in goal to poke the ball into the net. Vale couldn’t have asked for a better start but within another two minutes they were very nearly two goals to the good; Connor shuffled the ball out from under his feet at the left corner of the box and evaded the challenges of three defenders, only to drag his shot wide of the near post.

Airdrie’s first chance came through a decent bit of link up play between Blair Cole and Kai McKillop, and if not for a bit of undue hesitation by McKillop they could have equalised.

Cole ran at the middle of the Glenvale defence, delaying his pass as McKillop curved his run on the outside, before slipping him in at the last second as he approached the box.

McKillop’s first touch set up the space for a shot but he elected to cut back, and the Glenvale defence piled bodies back to thwart the route to goal. McKillop passed the buck to his team-mate but Cole had his shot blocked, and then the responsibilities lay with McKilop again.

This time he did pull the trigger and the Airdrie fans came off their seats in expectation as the powerful shot zeroed in on goal, but Aidan McMahon produced a great save from the point-blank range.

The game entered a lull for the next ten minutes, with neither side threatening each other’s goal. When Glenvale’s Cameron Crooks won a free kick in a dangerous area just to the left hand side of the box, Declan Curran stepped up and arrowed the ball towards the far top corner with his laces but it narrowly skimmed the top of the bar and that was the closest anyone came to scoring.

Kyle McLaughlin had two pot shots from distance saved comfortably by McCarron while at the other end, McMahon had to be alert to be equal to Callum Drummond’s low shot, with the tall forward drilling it to the near post.

Glenvale showed their cutting edge again on the stroke of half time and it was that man Connor again fulfilling the goalscoring duties. Again it was Crooks who played him through and it was in a similar position to his first, about 20 yards out.

This time McCarron opted to stay on his line initially but as Connor dinked the ball over the foot of Skiffington with his first touch and bore down on goal, eventually the keeper had to make a decision. He slid out at Connor’s feet but the Vale hero coolly and effortlessly swerved around him and tucked the ball into the net with his left foot.

Monday, 05 June 2017 15:34

Barrhead seal double with hard-fought win

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Barrhead added to their Scottish Cup win by overcoming league winners Drumsagard in a hotly-contested West Region Cup final.

Drumsagard kicked off in Springburn and managed to take the lead after just three minutes of play, following a well-rehearsed set piece.

Left winger Dylan Campbell took an inward-swinging corner from the left corner that was met by the head of centre back Ben Duncan. Duncan headed the ball across the box to striker Cole McKinnon, who struck a powerful volley from the centre of the box, giving Barrhead keeper Noah Campbell little chance of saving it.

Drumsagard were unable to savour their lead for very long however, with Barrhead finding an equaliser just three minutes later.

Right winger Vincent Scott broke down the right and fired a low shot at the Drumsagard goal, but Barrhead goalie Annan Lung was able to parry the shot to his right. Striker Paul O’Hare was waiting for the ball at the far post, and showed good composure by taking a touch before slotting the ball home.

Drumsagard continued to threaten from set pieces, going close with another corner. Duncan took a corner from the right and fired a high ball into the box that looked like it could go in the net. Campbell got a hand to the ball but Matthew Sorley did well to head it off the line.

Drumsagard continued to press for a goal to take the lead and looked the more likely team to score, showcasing some slick, clever passing in the final third.

McKinnon soon got his and his team’s second resulting from a corner. Duncan hit a high cross towards the back post from the right side where McKinnon was waiting, and the striker rose well to nod the ball into the back of the net.

Barrhead responded well to the goal by scoring an equaliser shortly afterwards. O’Hare did well to rob Drumsagard left back Lewis Gray of the ball, then drove towards the box, beating another Drumsagard defender in the process. The forward cut inside at the edge of the box and rifled in a powerful shot to the right of the goal.

McKinnon then came close to sealing a hat-trick when he got on the end of a long ball into the Barrhead box. McKinnon did well to turn his defender and get a shot away, but his shot rolled just wide of the far post.

Drumsagard then came close from another corner from the left. Campbell hit the ball into the box and it eventually fell to the feet of Kyle MacDonald about 12 yards from goal. MacDonald fired a shot at the bottom left corner but was denied by Vincent Scott who was waiting by the post.

Barrhead pressed hard for an advantage before half-time but struggled to create clear-cut chances. The ref soon blew his whistle and both teams left the pitch with two goals apiece.

Harmony Row Under 17s produced a spectacular performance to defeat Hillwood 4-2 to lift the West Region Cup final on Saturday at Petershill Park.

They produced a powerful performance throughout this cup final, with only a thunderstorm after the hour mark halting their efficient performance.

It was typified by the energy shown by Harmony's Thomas Seagrave up front, who dazzled with his direct running and clever link-up play in the final third that really set the catalyst for a terrific team performance.

However, despite that, they failed to turn up in the first few minutes and were ruthlessly punished.

Thomas Harty was sent clean through on goal through the middle of the Harmony backline and tucked a superb finish away when one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

Credit must go to HR for how they responded, as they refused to allow the goal to unsettle their rhythm on the ball. Some of the football they played in the midfield was impressive, as Charlie Freedman and Kenny Duffy in particular were really grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck.

Yet for all of HR’s composure in the midfield, at times it wasn’t there defensively. In the first 20 minutes they lost the ball in their own defensive third through a lack of composure and it threatened to cost them on a couple of occasions. However you must credit Hillwood for their strong pressing in the final third, and they made a game of it throughout the contest regardless of times when it threatened to run away from them.

Harmony soon got their act together defensively though, and started to combine extremely well in the final third.

An acrobatic effort from Seagrave went well over before Duffy blasted well over for HR as they turned the screw.

A clever passing move again got into the Hillwood final third, but Seagrave’s tame effort was easily saved by the goalkeeper.

Freedman was controlling the midfield in the middle, whilst Seagrave continued to cause Hillwood no end of problems with his endless energy.

Hillwood were getting occasional joy down both flanks, but despite some terrific crosses from Harty and Kyle McAvoy, there were no takers all too often.

The equaliser had always looked likely as the half wore on, and it deservedly came.

Just moments after Ross MacKenzie had nodded wide after some nervous goalkeeping from Hillwood, a long ball was sent in Seagrave’s direction, who nodded down for Chrissy Drennan to run on to and dispatch beyond the Hillwood goalkeeper.

Harmony Row continued to dominate towards the end of the half, winning all the aerial duels in the midfield.

Seagrave continued to be a menace in the final third, and he breezed away down the left on two occasions – one being touched goal-bound by a Hillwood defender before being sensationally clawed away by Daniel Lockie.

Hampden Weir became the fourth team in the Paisley, Johnstone and District First Division to win a trophy this season after defeating league champions Giffnock North United 4-0 in the final of the West Regional Cup.

After a scrappy first half, the Newlands side ran riot in the final 15 minutes, scoring four to lift the trophy.

Zach Mauchlin got the crucial first goal from the spot after 56 minutes, before a double from Reece Hanley and a brilliant solo effort from John Dempster rounded off a perfect morning for Hampden.

The clubs had shared a win-a-piece in the league this season, and the first half reflected two good teams cancelling each other out. However, both would miss a gilt-edged chance to score.

First, after just 3 minutes, Hampden striker Damian Wojtowicz showed great pace to latch onto a through ball, but Giffnock keeper Kai McFarlane came off his line well to block his shot.

Wojtowicz was involved again moments later when he beat his man on the right hand side and drove the ball across goal, but full-back Dylan Speirs couldn’t find the finishing touch at the back post.

It was then Giffnock’s turn to come close after 17 minutes. James Hazlett showed great awareness to take the ball off the toes of the defence and slip in Craig Taylor, but the striker dragged his shot wide from 12 yards.

Neither team could get control of the game with both defences proving tough to crack and the midfield area often being by-passed.

A terrific free-kick from Hampden’s Liam Nisbet which skimmed the roof of the net was the sole highlight in the second quarter of the game.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017 08:03

Duncan impresses in Drumsagard cup win

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Drumsagard turned on the style in the second half of their cup final with Haldane United, eventually running out deserved 4-1 winners. Left fullback Ben Duncan was the star of the show for Drumsagard as he scored two and set up another in an outstanding performance. Cole McKinnon and Kyle MacDonald grabbed the other two Drumsagard goals while Dylan McDonough scored the only goal for Haldane with a wonder strike that would have deserved to win any other cup final.

An even start to the game saw both sides having spells of early pressure without being able to find the net. Cameron Jamieson and Cameron Lakin were both in the right place at the right time with timely interventions to prevent Drumsagard, while up the other end for Haldane Jordan MacDonald and Craig Mooney both shot wide.

The opening goal was made in the Drumsagard defence as Jay Keenan went on a mazy run down the left flank culminating in a shot well-blocked by a Haldane defender on the line only for Duncan to slot it home.

With temperatures soaring around Scotland, water breaks were a necessity to keep the players hydrated but Haldane’s McDonough was taking the conditions in his stride, a powerful driving run from his own half saw him skip past three opponents before Keenan managed to get a foot in.

It was a sign of the talent of McDonough however and he showcased it moments later in the best possible way. Under close attention from his marker, he collected a high ball on his chest, knocked it over the defender, then unleashed an unstoppable volley over Annan Lung in the Drumsagard goal. With shades of James Rodriguez in the 2014 World Cup, it was a special moment.

They couldn’t build on the equaliser however and were quite fortunate to make it in at half time still level as McKinnon twice headed by from good positions for Drumsagard.

Harmony Row sealed a league and league cup double by overcoming Rossvale in a one-sided final. A minute’s silence was held before the game to acknowledge the events in Manchester earlier this week.

Harmony Row got proceedings under way, kicking off on a sunny Sunday morning. Harmony Row would go on to dominate the opening exchanges and the first attempt on goal fell to their attacker Thomas Seagrave.

A few minutes into the game Seagrave collected the ball just outside the box and fired a shot narrowly wide of the left side of the goal.

Rowan Gibson then went close for Harmony, bursting down the left wing and driving into the box, but tapped a tame effort wide of the near post.

Harmony then got the goal that their opening display merited. Rossvale right back Ryan Martin headed a cross-field ball away from goal, only for the ball to land at the feet of Harmony’s Ross MacKenzie at the edge of the box. MacKenzie did well to beat two defenders before coolly slotting the ball into the bottom left corner.

MacKenzie came close to adding to his tally just two minutes later, glancing Robbie Lennon’s corner just over the bar from around eight yards out.

The game’s next chance fell to Seagrave after a lovely chipped through ball from Reece Johnston. The forward broke into the box and fired a first-time strike at goal but couldn’t keep his shot down.

Rossvale struggled to break down the Harmony Row defence and eventually created an opening after 25 minutes. Left back Liam Johnson received the ball 30 yards from goal and fired a high shot towards the Harmony goal, but goalkeeper Matthew Boyle was able to catch the ball and held it well.

The Rossvale defence struggled to deal with Harmony Row’s long balls throughout the first half and Gibson went close to getting his team’s second after a good ball forward from Charlie Freedman. Freedman fired the ball to the far post from near the halfway line and Gibson tapped the ball just wide of the left post.

Rossvale’s best chance of the first half fell to Riess Blair when the ball fell at his feet following Christopher McLeod’s corner. The ball fell to Blair at the edge of the box but he fizzed a right-footed shot wide of the left post.

Harmony Row then grabbed a second goal shortly before half-time. Seagrave broke into the box, slid a clever pass through to Gibson on the left, who then knocked the ball back for Freedman who was unmarked around twelve yards from goal. The forward then fired a high left foot shot into the top right corner.

Saturday, 13 May 2017 12:02

Nine men Trinity hold off Calderglen

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Trinity start this game just a week after their 3-1 triumph over St Margaret's whereas Calderglen played their semi-final a month ago. The teams on show today have met once before which ended in a 1-1 draw. 
Cadlderglen kicked off today's match and it was clear they were up for this game.
They dominated the first five minutes and took the lead on the sixth when a free-kick was delivered in by McLellan which lead to Trinity goalkeeper Farrell making a fabulous double save but unfortunately for him Woodhouse was there to tap in the third attempt.
Calderglen had the chance to extend their lead when a long ball found Inglis who took it down but fired straight at Farrell. 
It was then Trinity who started to find there footing in the game after a rough first 15 minutes.
They found an equaliser from striker Lewis Cameron when he curled home from just inside the box. 
Minutes later McCaskell nutmegged his opponent on the wing and crossed the ball into the box which got a loud appeal for handball but was turned away from the referee. 
The next chance for Calderglen was a goal when McCaskell played a maginficent cross-field pass which found McKenna who took it down and slotted it past helpless Farrell.
At half-time Calderglen deservedly led. 
Jack Aitchison was the Glasgow Cup hero, hitting a second half winner to seal Celtic’s fourth successive victory and lift the history filled trophy. Ewan Henderson had given the Hoops an early lead, but Matthew Shiels had levelled on the stroke of half time, before Aitchison popped up with the deciding goal at Firrhill Stadium.
Since the Glasgow Cup, established in 1888, returned from an early noughties break in 2008 as an U17 competition, one fixture has dominated above all others. For the tenth year in succession, Rangers and Celtic saw off all comers, to make it an Old Firm final.

Celtic had enjoyed the better of recent encounters, winning the last three, without conceding a goal. However, it was Rangers who topped the group section and stunned their cup final rivals with a 6-1 victory at Lennoxtown Training Centre in February. On that evening hat-tricks for Owen McGinty and Matt Yates settled the tie, but with a glance at cup final team-sheet it was evident that neither they nor any of the players from two months back were to be involved. That match was presumably used as an outing for younger players within the clubs’ academy setups, given both teams had already qualified for the final. Neither side dropped a single point in eight matches against other competing teams, Queens Park and Partick Thistle.

The teams lined up on a mild night in Maryhill, with plenty of familiar faces from the national youth ranks on show. Many of the players on both sides were part of Scotland’s 2016 Victory Shield squad and no less than eight had just been named in Scot Gemmill’s squad for Euro 2017. Zak Rudden, Jordan Houston and Lewis Mayo of Rangers; Daniel Church, Jack Aitchison, Kerr McInroy, Stephen Welsh and Robbie Deas of Celtic.

The match kicked off at a high tempo, with both sides keen to assert their authority in the opening exchanges. The first chance fell to Celtic, with Jack Aitchison making an early impact and setting up Ewan Henderson, who saw his effort excellently blocked by Jordan Houston.

Celtic were beginning to move into the ascendency and only an excellent save from Gers goalkeeper Brian Kinnear denied Patrick Campbell the opening goal. However, the deadlock was not far away from being broken. Again it was Aitchison’s creative influence that created the opening and after his initial shot was saved by Kinnear, Henderson was on hand to knock home the rebound.

Rangers took a while to find their feet but after stemming the early tide, midway through the half they went close. Zak Rudden produced a sharp turn and shot, but Ryan Mullen was equal to it, saving with his legs.

The Hoops continued to probe, but in the closing stages of the half it was Rangers who came on strong. With a few minutes remaining until the interval recent Scotland debutant Dapo Mebude cut the ball back to Houston, but the Gers captain couldn’t find the target. Two minutes later, the equalising goal came. Billy Gilmour showed a glimpse of why he has wonderkid status, before picking out Stephen Kelly, who in turn found Matthew Shiels. The Gers forward made no mistake, drilling the ball into the bottom right hand corner from the edge of the box to ensure the sides went into the break level.

Rutherglen Glencairn are through to the final of the Scottish Cup after a narrow victory over Tower Hearts. Jordan Davidson was alive to a loose ball in the Tower Hearts box to slot home the only goal of a tense match, with the defeated side missing a number of opportunities in the second half.

With so much to play for, it was no surprise that both teams looked nervy in the opening stages and struggled to retain possession. The Glens fashioned the first chance of the match after neat build-up play down the left saw David Quinn feed Anton Phinn, but the forward fired wide. And just a couple of minutes later Njablo Ndlovu fizzed one by the same post from distance.

The best attacks for both sides were coming down the left. Michael McLarne twice got in behind the Glens backline but couldn’t quite make anything happen for Tower Hearts. They were the first side to get the ball in the back of the net when Scott Cameron headed home, but he was penalised for a challenge on Chris Truesdale in the Rutherglen goal.

Tower Hearts should have taken the lead when David Seagrave latched on to a ball over the top, but the striker seemed to hesitate and rather than take the chance first time, he laid it back to Cameron. By that time however, Glens defenders were getting back behind the ball and Cameron’s shot took a deflection, taking the sting out of it and allowing a comfortable save for Truesdale.

The keeper launched a quick counter attack and it was time for Glens to be frustrated by a good block, Lee Martin preventing Ndlovu’s shot from troubling the goalie.

Rangers sauntered to heavy victory over arch-rivals Celtic at Lennoxtown Training Centre in the Glasgow Cup, coming out 6-1 winners on a wet Wednesday night.

After surviving a brief period of pressure from their hooped opponents, Rangers took control of the match and hat-tricks for Owen McGinty and Matt Yates meant there rivals never had a look in. Celtic’s consolation from Michael Sparkes had given them some semblance of hope at 2-1, but Rangers were far more clinical when it mattered.

The opening quarter of an hour suggested that the home side would have the better of the tie and that they had adapted to the uncomfortable conditions quicker than Rangers, and winger Owen Moffat was dazzling down the right. Jinking past defenders, cutting inside to play inch-perfect through balls and crosses, Moffat was the star of the show early on and had Sparkes and Paul Kennedy provided better finishes to his passes, Celtic may have got the early momentum.

Instead it was Rangers who found the breakthrough a quarter of the way through the game. Captain Cieran Dickson played a neat one-two with Murray Miller that left the Celtic defender forced to foul, and up stepped McGinty to hit a clever free-kick under the wall, deceiving Ryan Mullen in the Celtic goal and nestling in the back of the net.

As quickly as it was one, it was two. McGinty again the scorer but it was all about the pass from Kai Kennedy, allowing him to cut inside and find the target.

Rangers were playing with a speed and purpose that meant although Celtic had the majority of the possession, as soon as a player in blue picked it up he was looking for a forward pass, a ball over the top, a way to outfox the Celtic backline. And it was working.

However, there was no chance Moffat was going to let this game go without a fight. He had taken a few heavy knocks from Rangers players but was still willing to take them on, and beat them more often than not. So it proved just a few minutes after Rangers second as he worked his way into the box, and with the shot on, he smartly rolled the ball across goal for Sparkes to spark what they hoped would be a comeback.

Celtic were certainly reignited by the goal and when Moffat played in Scott Cusick they could almost taste the equaliser, but Lewis Buoinackus made an important stop at his near post.

The importance of the chance was underlined when, minutes before half-time, Yates ghosted in at the back post taking the defence completely unaware to knock home Dickson’s cross and restore the two goal lead.