Thursday, 19 July 2012

Delting 1 v 2 Lerwick Spurs

Saturday 14th July 2012
Shetland FA Manson Cup Final
Gilbertson Park, Lerwick
Admission and Programme: N/A
Attendance : 100 (estimate)
Match Rating: 3

The final game during my stay on the Shetland Islands would be the biggest occasion, being a cup final staged in the “capital” of the Shetland Islands and hosted at the usual home ground for the infrequent matches played by the Shetland Islands representative side.

Gilbertson Park is situated about a ten minute walk, uphill for the most part, from central Lerwick and is an open park, with no spectator facilities nor dugouts and even the goals are only wheeled into position for when a game is about to be played. For today’s game, both touchlines were taped off. As I encountered at each ground visited during this week on the Shetland Islands, the ground has plenty of charm and interest about it. As one enters the park, there is a raised balcony which offers a very good vantage point to watch the game, with rugged hills present behind the opposite touchline, where modern building housing the changing rooms is present. A low stone wall around part of the ground also adds a pleasant charm.

A glance at the league table suggested that Lerwick Spurs would be hot favourites for this game based on league positions, sitting in second place with four wins from five games, whereas Delting have so far lost four of their five games. To reach the final, Delting won 3-0 away at Ness United in the Quarter-Final, before dispatching Scalloway 3-2 at home in the semi-final. Spurs had beaten both of the other Lerwick clubs to reach the final, beating Thistle 3-1 in the quarter-final and Celtic by the same score in the semi-final. When the two teams met in their first league game of the season, Spurs won 4-0, although in the group stage of the Madrid Cup, Delting triumphed 2-0. Lerwick Spurs have already won one cup competition this season, lifting (and retaining) the Madrid Cup last month.

Enjoying weather conditions that were comfortably the best for watching football during my week on the Shetland Islands, it was surprising how low key the atmosphere was in the early stages, with only a very small number of spectators present at kick off, although their number did swell to three figures as the game wore on. The match was a typically cagey cup final affair in the opening stages, although Lerwick Spurs became ever more dominant as the first half wore on and deservedly took the lead on the stroke of half time when their forward latched onto a slide rule pass forward and the shot was placed low past the onrushing keeper from the edge of the box.

Into the second half and there seemed to be only one winner, as Spurs completely dominated proceedings as Delting struggled to get into the attacking half. However, on 73 minutes, suddenly the match was all square. A debatable corner resulted in some ping-pong headers in the box, before the ball was headed powerfully towards goal and a covering defender could only hook the ball high into the roof of the net. As the game wore on, there was a feeling of inevitability that extra time would ensue, but ten minutes from time, Spurs went back in front, when the ball was passed across the penalty area before being clipped past the keeper at the far post. Delting never looked capable of scoring a second equalizer during the remainder of the match, and so it was Lerwick Spurs who deservedly lifted the cup, presented to their captain by the referee in typically understated fashion.

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