The S2 CNR International League finally reached a conclusion at Lochside Academy – with Cults claiming the crown via a superb long-range finish.
Cults would have been champions earlier, but for a very late St Machar equaliser in the last fixture of the regular season, which left Cults and Lochside tied on 13 points and meant a play-off was needed.
It was evident from the start both sides were aware of the importance of the fixture and the opening exchanges produced a pair of half chances for each team.
Lochside defender James Cruickshank nearly cost his side dearly on 16 minutes. He would have hoped for his clearance to have been better, but it instead found Cults’ Logan Petrie. After moving into the box, Petrie shot just over Harris Donald’s bar.
Up the other end, Lochside’s Hayden Skinner was beginning to cause problems for Cults from the right wing with both his speed and crossing ability and it was he who produced the opportunity for the home side to take the lead seven minutes from the break.
A quick run ended with him crossing the ball from the goal line towards the back post where it was headed high into the air by Cults’ Scott Handsley. When the ball came down, it landed conveniently on the head of Jedd McCafferty to nod it beyond Nicholas Connon.
Following a slow start, Cults drew level 15 minutes into the second period.
Ben Bradford was sent clear on goal for Lochside, but Cults’ Angus Atkinson was able to prevent him scoring and clear the ball downfield. The ball was worked to Petrie, who had beat the offside trap to run clear of the Lochside defenders, and he shot past Donald’s left hand and into the far corner of the net.
Ten minutes later, Lochside went close to re-taking the lead. They were awarded an indirect free-kick just inside the Cults half. with Bradley Brown’s eventual shot hitting the crossbar with the keeper beaten.
And, four minutes from time, Cults took a 2-1 lead in spectacular fashion.
Their free-kick from the halfway line was cleared by the home defence only as far as Scott Handsley, standing some 30 yards from goal. He decided to try his luck and his shot curled over keeper Donald’s head and into the top corner of the net.
Lochside were awarded a late penalty and a chance to restore parity in the play-off once more, but McCafferty sent the ball over the crossbar.
Lochside Academy Second Year
Harris Donald, Ben Bradford, Aiden Cruickshank, Calum Miller, Dexter McKenzie, Gregor Hewitt, James Eilback, Charlie Rennie, James Cruickshank, Sam Cook, Bradley Brown, Ayra Young, Jedd McCafferty, Hayden Skinner, Jay Ingram and Josh Hall.
Cults Academy Second Year
Nicholas Connon, Angus Atkinson, Edwin Naughton, Louis Sandilands, Scott Handsley, Andrew Younger, Lennon Jeffrey, Cameron Welsh, Hugo Macaskill, Logan Petrie, Sam Beaumont – Smith, Nathan Keen, Lewis Stewart, Cole Peddie, Sol Watson and Connor Munro.
Referee B. Eden
St Machar and Portlethen are seven-a-side kings
Four schools descended on Portlethen Academy for the inaugural Aberdeen Secondary Schools Football Association (ASSFA) S2 seven-a-side tournament – with St Machar emerging as winners.
In the first round of matches, Bucksburn and St Machar played out a hard-fought 1-1 draw thanks to Alan Lukaszewicz cancelling out Aidan Gray’s opener for the latter side. A Jedd McCafferty strike was enough to see Lochside get the better of Westhill and leap to the top of the table.
The second round of fixtures saw Bucksburn v Westhill and Lochside v St Machar finish 0-0 – with the one saving grace being it left it all to play for in the final round of round-robin games.
A Ryan Connor goal was enough to propel Bucksburn past Lochside, while Gray’s finish saw St Machar nudge out Westhill and claim the other final berth.
The final needed a penalty shoot-out to settle things after finishing goalless, with St Machar winning 5-4, while Lochside finished third in the tournament after a 1-1 draw and 3-2 penalties success over Westhill.
Meanwhile, three teams met at Portlethen Academy to battle it out for the first year seven-a-side crown.
Each team were to play the other two twice and Albyn and Cults set the ball rolling with a no-score draw. Portlethen’s games with Albyn and Cults also failed to register a goal.
This goalless run was to change in game four when Cults defeated Albyn 1-0, and Portlethen then scored twice without reply through Logan Irvine and Archie Robertson to get the better of Albyn.
That meant that the final game between Cults and Portlethen would determine the overall winners.
Portlethen took an early lead when Aaron Fraser netted from close range, only for Cults to scramble an equaliser with two minutes left on the clock. That left Portlethen and Cults tied on six points and, with the head-to-head proving inconclusive, goal difference was required to be used and it fell in favour of Portlethen.