The Nicolson Institute senior boys team learned first hand how cruel a game football can be as they lost 4-1 to Ellon Academy in Dingwall last week.
The result was particularly harsh on the Lewis lads who had been the team pressing for the whole second half, whilst trailing 1-2, only to be further undone by a couple of breakaways in the last few minutes.
Prior to the match the two teams observed a minutes silence in memory of an Ellon student who had tragically lost his life the previous weekend. The Nicolson started the game brightly and went ahead after four minutes: Colin Maclean received the ball at the left edge of the box, cut inside on his right foot and arrowed the ball in to the far corner. It was a fantastic goal by Colin and came at the end of a good passing move involving Jake Rivett and Innes Iain Morrison. Two minutes later Colin turned his man, straight from a throw, and hit the underside of the cross bar with a lobbed volley-if only! After 10 minutes Innes Iain had his right foot shot tipped round the post by the impressive Ellon keeper.
As the half progressed, Ellon came in to the game more, particularly down the left where their number 5 and number 9 were looking very dangerous. Prior to the game the Nicolson team were warned to try and avoid giving away too many set-pieces, given we were without two of our better header’s of the ball in Calum Dola and Gordon Maclennan. Unfortunately the warning went unheeded as Ellon equalised from a header following a disputed free kick (20 mins) before taking the lead after 25 minutes from a header following a flicked on long throw. In truth this was Ellon’s best spell of the game and the Nicolson were grateful to Ali Macleod in goal who made a couple of great saves to keep us in it.
After 36 minutes Innes Iain went on a run from near halfway and was only thwarted by a last ditch tackle. Three minutes later centre back Craig Macleod came off injured following a late tackle, Cameron Macarthur came on in his place. After 44 minutes, good interplay between Micheil and Colin led to Micheil crossing to the back post where Colin saw his goal-bound shot deflected wide.
The message at half time was to relax on the ball and if we could get at the back 4 we would certainly create chances for Wally and Colin. The boys were reminded what a great chance they had to win the cup!
Unfortunately I didn’t take many notes in the second half as I got too ‘in to the game’. Suffice to say the boys were brilliant: Chris Dempster and Micheil Smith drove the boys on as the yellow’s attacked in wave after wave. Ellon were camped in their own half for 30 minutes, but weirdly, whether by luck or Ellon’s tactical design, the Nicolson couldn’t get through the packed defence (think Barca v Chelsea). The Nicolson got close to breaking through a couple of times but the final pass or shot wasn’t good enough. The Ellon keeper was very good at catching/punching crosses which made it tough to get anything from set pieces.
The Nicolson continued to press;Jason Guilmartin bombed on from right back whilst Jake was nutmegging Ellon players from left back-we just weren’t getting a break up front! After 75 minutes disaster struck; as tiredness crept in, a ball was lost in midfield, one pass over the top and number 5 tore away to slip the ball under Ali - heartbreak! The Nicolson kept plugging away but in 88 minutes a slack pass in defence was intercepted and Ellon were able to compound the Nicolson’s misery with a 4th goal.
Soon after, the full-time whistle went; there were tears, cheers, congratulating and commiserating. No matter how many times you hear “Really unlucky”, “You didn’t deserve that”, “You guys gave us a good game”, “You did well to reach the final”, it just makes you more upset and angry. Football sucks sometimes. Getting to a final and getting gubbed (on paper) sucks!
Or does it? Maybe school/junior/amateur football is more about the moments; maybe it’s about making the team, training in the snow, practising penalties, missing open goals and the slagging that follows. Maybe it’s about trips away, great comebacks (coming from 4-0 down at Perth Grammer), improving your game and working as a team. Maybe it’s about Mr Macphee singing “Angels” by Robbie Williams, Colin catching the ball instead of heading it in from an inch, Andrew Macmillan missing from a yard, never giving up in games and dominating the second half of the final. Maybe, just maybe, it’s not such a cruel game after all. Well done boys.
Ali Macleod: Jason Guilmartin, Chris Dempster, Craig Macleod Jake Rivett: Kevin Flower, Micheil-Russell Smith, Calum Vann, Innes Iain Morrison: Ally Maciver, Colin Maclean. Subs: Peter Macaskill, Cameron Macarthur, Josh Harris, James “Jambo” Morrison.