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North Region Junior football: Bridge of Don Thistle’s Lewis Muirhead praises Highland League-bound Banks o’ Dee ahead of McLeman Cup final meeting

Bridge of Don Thistle's Craig McKeown (no4) celebrating with team mates after scoring a free kick to make it 2-0 against Dyce.

Picture by Kenny Elrick     30/04/2022
Bridge of Don Thistle's Craig McKeown (no4) celebrating with team mates after scoring a free kick to make it 2-0 against Dyce. Picture by Kenny Elrick 30/04/2022

Goals from Cameron Bowden, Craig McKeown and Sam Muirhead gave Bridge of Don Thistle a comfortable McLeman Cup semi-final win over Dyce.

The victory at Aberdeen Sports Village set up a final meeting with Banks o’ Dee at Milton Park this Sunday (2pm kick-off)

Bowden opened the scoring on eight minutes when he headed home a Kyle Gauld corner, and then a brilliant 17th-minute 25-yard Craig McKeown free-kick doubled the Jags’ advantage.

The game was over as contest three minutes after the restart when Sam Muirhead made the Dyce defence pay for their hesitancy when he drilled the ball home from close range.

Sunday’s cup final will be the final meeting between Bridge of Don and Dee for the foreseeable, with the latter stepping up to the Highland League next season.

Thistle vice President Lewis Muirhead is sorry to see the Spain Park side go, saying: “Banks o’ Dee have been a great model for all the clubs in the area and the fact they’ve won the Superleague by such a big margin tells you that nobody has really pushed them at all – ourselves included – and, although we finished second, that’s not something to celebrate as far as I’m concerned.

“This is our third McLeman Cup final in a row and, in a one-off game, we’ve shown we have what it takes to match them.

Cameron Bowden (no12) opens the scoring for Bridge of Don Thistle against Dyce.

“Although, we have to do a lot better than we did in last month’s League Cup final against them, which wasn’t a great advert for junior football. I’m not just saying that because we lost – we need to be miles better.”

Ambitious Thistle have a five-year business plan in place which involves moving to a new location, but Lewis stresses their current partnership with Aberdeen Sports Village will continue.

He added: “The partnership with ASV has been brilliant and will definitely continue going forward and they’ve been closely involved in our development plans, which are motoring along nicely.

“We will again be playing our home fixtures at the Village next season.

“On the park, we need to be more ruthless. I remember at the beginning of the season we lost 3-2 away to Maud and I told the squad that was our chance to win the league gone as Dee would never drop points like that.

“Some teams seem to be content with mediocrity, but the ethos at this club doesn’t recognise second best.”

Muirhead also praised another Superleague outfit for their showing this season, saying: “My team of the year would be East End. Their squad was decimated a couple of years ago, but they’ve just rolled their sleeves up, recruited well and now have silverware now to show for it, which is my definition of success.

“Stuart Whicher and the team deserve a lot of credit.”

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