Larbert Triumph In Senior Shield Final
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Stranraer Academy and Larbert High School took to the field to contest the 107th Hampden Senior Shield Final no doubt delighted that the high winds which had battered Scotland had relented. The Hampden pitch looked in excellent condition too, particularly given the recent monsoon conditions in the West of Scotland. Both teams wore new strips supplied by Lloyds TSB Scotland and SSFA kit suppliers Errea. The stage was well and truly set for one of Scottish football’s most traditional finals.
The match was refereed by Barry Cook, a man with his own place in the Scottish Shield pantheon. Mr. Cook captained Renfrew High School to their 1997 triumph, and became the first man to captain a winning side then officiate in a final. Cook’s whistle sounded to start the game as Larbert High School kicked off. They were quicker out of the traps than Stranraer, who had a victory in Stornoway against Nicolson Institute and semifinal success against the highly fancied Bishopbriggs Academy behind them.
This sprightly Larbert opening almost brought a goal in the third minute. An early attack forced a corner. The inswinging delivery put Stranraer keeper Chris Reid under pressure and he could not hold the cross. The goalie recovered with the help of Liam Binnie and Dean Fyfe scrambling the ball clear; as both Dylan Kennedy and SSFA internationalist Jamie Clark saw their attempts on goal blocked.
Larbert goalkeeper Michael Currie was next to be drawn into the action, comfortably clutching Blair Dougan’s looping header from Gavin Magee’s left wing cross. Clark showed his prowess in the eighth minute as he drove infield and powered a left foot shot towards the target from 25 yards. This strike was very well held low to his right hand side by Stanraer keeper Reid. Reid wouldn’t be so successful two minutes later. Kennedy’s corner from the left was met with a thumping header by Larbert skipper Clark which bulleted into the net to give the Forth Valley side the lead their early play merited.
Stranraer had to try to force their way back into the game. They almost did so after 17 minutes of play, when Dean Waddell went close following a strong run down the left hand side by Dayle Wilson. More excitement in the Larbert area followed 5 minutes later, as Wilson again broke aggressively down the left to drive the ball across. This dangerous centre was only partially cleared to Angus Cochrane, who shot over the bar with his left foot from 22 yards.
Stranraer maintained their pressure and it almost rewarded them with the goal they craved in the 34th minute. A searching through ball proved too hot for Larbert keeper Currie as he raced from his goal. This rebounded to Dean Agnew, who crossed instantly for the impressive Wilson. His header simply didn’t have enough power to reach the goal, as he was challenged by both Larbert central defenders.
As half time approached, Clark again tried to stamp his authority on the match – shooting narrowly wide from 25 yards. Stanraer also attempted a late flurry; Wilson again cutting inside neatly and firing narrowly past the far post. It was possibly appropriate that arguably the two most effective players on show had the two final attempts in a well-balanced first half. The players walked up the tunnel with only Clark’s tenth minute header separating them at the interval.
HALF TIME : STRANRAER ACADEMY 0 LARBERT HIGH SCHOOL 1
The second half began with Larbert seeking to press home their advantage. Clark was again a key protagonist in the drama – as he would prove to be all evening. He was denied a memorable second goal by the upright, as his deflected effort from the right-hand corner of the penalty area rebounded off the top of the post with goalkeeper Reid beaten. In the 63rd minute an almighty scramble in the Stranraer penalty area was only halted by referee Cook’s whistle. Clark was adjudged to have been fouled during the melee. Clark and Reid were again involved four minutes later: when the stopper pulled off a fine save to halt the midfielder’s strike from the edge of the area.
A minute later Stranraer tried to hit back. Wilson again made a darting run to set up Fyfe. His powerful shot was athletically turned round the post by Currie, diving to his left.
With twenty minutes to go, the impressive Clark started to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Firstly, he cut in from the right and clipped a floated effort towards goal, which was beaten away by Reid in the Stranraer goal. A minute later Reid had to acrobatically tip over the Larbert skipper’s 35 yard free-kick. In the 77th minute Clark’s dangerous inswinging corner was superbly cleared by Magee under his own crossbar. This clearance simply gave the Scotland international another chance to deliver. His searching back-post cross just eluded Christopher Jess who stole in on the blind-side, sensing glory.
Larbert were not to be denied, and added to their lead two minutes later. Ryan Barnes (who had impressed with his trickery) made a break down the right, jinking past a couple of tiring defenders. His cross was finished low into the left hand corner by Martin Allan to give Larbert a crucial two goal cushion.
Stanraer tried to rally in the last ten minutes, but their attempts were to no avail. Cochrane’s 20 yard shot was touched wide by Currie, then Fyfe shot wide from a half chance with 7 minutes left. Entering injury time, substitute Robert MacKenzie rounded keeper Currie, but was forced very wide. His cut-back was gratefully cleared by the Larbert defence for a corner, which they managed to repel. Mr. Cook’s whistle after 4 minutes of additional time brought proceedings to a close and Jamie Clark was able to hoist the magnificent Lloyds TSB Scotland Senior Shield in front of his jubilant team-mates and supporters.
FINAL SCORE : STRANRAER ACADEMY 0 LARBERT HIGH SCHOOL 2
Squads: Stranraer Academy: 1. Chris Read, 2. Duncan Anderson, 3. Gavin Magee, 4. Liam Binnie, 5. Robert Boyd (captain), 6. Dean Fyfe, 7. Dayle Wilson, 8. Angus Cochrane, 9. Dean Waddell, 10. Blair Dougan, 11. Dean Agnew, 12. Josh McDevitt, 14. Ralph Thomson, 15. Callum McHarrie, 16. Jordan McQuillan, 17. Robert MacKenzie.
Larbert High School: 1. Michael Currie, 2. Ross McInness, 3. Ryan Dow, 4. Jack Strickler, 5. Lewis Thom, 6. Blair Moodie, 7. Christopher Jess, 8. Dylan Kennedy, 9. Jamie Arbuckle, 10. Martin Allan, 11. Jamie Clark (captain), 12. Murray Duncan, 14. Lewis Welsh, 15. Ryan Meldrum, 16. Euan Martin, 17. Ryan Barnes, 18. Jake Carson.
Match Officials: Referee: Barry Cook (Barrhead)
Assistants: Tony Ventre (East Kilbride) and Tom Cavanagh (Tullibody).
4th Official: Jim Loudon (Glasgow)