Friday, 12 August 2011

St Mirren Park (Scotland U21 v Norway U21)

Last Wednesday I went straight from work to St Mirren Park to see Billy Stark's Scotland Under-21 team take on their Norwegian counterparts. The 4pm kick-off time was slightly inconvenient but it also made it possible to see both the youngsters and the full Scotland team in action in one day. Craig Levein's men were playing Denmark in a friendly, or 'international challenge match' as they are called these days but I had already decided that one game was enough on a school night. The horrendous weather helped me not to change my mind!

I was pleased to hear that all home qualifiers for the Under-21 European Championship will be played at St Mirren Park, which means regular international football at my doorstep including the crunch match against my home country on 29th February 2012 (I do not think I have seen many games on 29th February by the way). I can recommend the U21 games, you will see some good football and they are great value and it was a shame only 1,654 fans turned up. Tickets for the game on Wednesday were only a fiver but I was lucky to get a free ticket from a Scotland fan outside the ground who did not want any money for it.

It was a great Scottish performance but it was marred to an extent by Steven Saunders' Achilles injury early in the first half. Hull City's Tom Cairney scored the opening goal in the first half. Aberdeen's Ryan Jack made it 2-0 after 30 minutes into the second half and three minutes later Dundee United's Stuart Armstrong scored the third. A convincing win for Scotland and hopefully they will be able to build on this for the upcoming qualifiers.

For pictures of St Mirren home games at St Mirren Park see this post and this one. For last year's U21 game against Sweden at St Mirren Park see this post.

Wednesday 10th August 2011
Scotland 3 Norway 0
Vauxhall Under-21 International Challenge Match
Goals: Cairney 20, Ryan 75, Armstrong 78.
Att: 1,654

Provanmill Park (St Roch's v Bellshill Athletic)

Just like the previous Saturday when I saw Rossvale v Kilsyth Rangers at Petershill Park I took a train from Glasgow Queen Street to Barnhill for a bit of Junior action in between shopping with the missus last Saturday.

And just like last week the occasion was the Sectional League Cup, the traditional curtain-raiser of the West Region Junior season. Bellshill Athletic, who played in the Superleague Premier Division as recent as 2009/10, took on St Roch's at Provanmill Park in the northeast of Glasgow. Despite two successive relegations, Bellshill should have been the favourites: they play in the Central Division One, one tier above St. Roch's who play in the Central Division Two. However, Bellshill have been struggling so far and are bottom of the Section 3 table with nul points (the winners of each section will face each other in a knock-out format). Amazingly last Saturday's game ended up with lowly St Roch's thrashing Bellshill 7-3.

The first half was entertaining and when the ref blew his whistle after 45 minutes Bellshill could count themselves lucky with a 2-2 half-time score, which was mainly thanks to St Roch's wastefulness in front of goal. Shortly after the interval the Candy Rock really went to town and it did not take long before they were 5-2 up. Bellshill managed to pull one back but it was not the start of a comeback as St Roch's managed to score another two.

Normally I always like to give you the names of the goal scorers as well but neither of the two teams have an updated website and there appear to be no local rags reporting on the exploits of the two clubs. To make sure this will not happen again I will make notes of the goal scorers and times scored like a true anorak groundhopper from now on.

On another note, at the start of this post I mentioned visiting Petershill Park last week: Provanmill Park is the exact opposite of Peasy's home ground: run-down but full of character and steeped in history, the way a junior ground should be!

Great value, only 40p per goal scored!

Unfortunately these turnstiles are no longer in use.

The is how you enter Provanmill Park these days.

The Red Road towers were dubbed 'Suicide Central' last year.

St. Roch score in the first half.

A small enclosure in front of the club building.

A crowd of about 80 showed up today.

In the second half St Roch's scored...

and scored...

...and scored.

They did not hold back and scored another two.

That's ok, I'll hold it in!

Saturday 6th August 2011
Surridge Sectional League Cup Section 3
St Roch's 7 Bellshill Athletic 3 (HT score: 2-2)
St Roch's:
Att: 80

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Petershill Park (Rossvale v Kilsyth Rangers)

On Saturday I was doing some holiday shopping with my wife in Glasgow but I managed to see my first competitive match of the season in between. The Sectional League Cup is the competition that traditionally opens the season for the Scottish Junior sides in the West Region. I went to Petershill Park in Springburn to see Rossvale's second competitive game in the Juniors set-up against Kilsyth Rangers. Their first match was a respectable 2-2 at home against Cumbernauld last Wednesday, also for the League Cup.

I took the 1:32pm train from Queen Street to Barnhill (a 10-minute journey). Rossvale have arranged a groundshare deal with Superleague Premier Division club Petershill. From Barnhill train station it was a very short walk, about five minutes, to Petershill Park. Rossvale, who hail from Bishopbriggs in East Dunbartonshire, will make their debut in the Central Division Two this season as the 64th West Region Junior club.

Petershill Park, which opened in 2007, has a capacity of about 2000, with an all-seater stand holding 562 spectators. The pitch is of the artificial variety and there are floodlights, two features that are highly unusual for Junior grounds. Unlike most other grounds in the Juniors Petershill Park is very sterile and therefore lacks a bit of atmosphere. A big plus is the bar under the stand and therefore I give Petershill Park a pass mark nevertheless.

Kilsyth Rangers had a dream start on Saturday when they were handed a penalty after only two minutes after one of the Rossvale defenders clumsily handled the ball. Joe Barclay did not fail from the spot and put Rangers ahead: 1-0. Barclay scored a second goal after fifteen minutes played. The newcomers were struggling in the first half and they must have been relieved they were only two down when the referee blew the half-time whistle.

Although I was at Petershill Park as a neutral I did not want Rossvale to get a doing but that was exactly what happened in the second half. Kyle Dempsey scored 3-0 only five minutes after the interval. Francis Kelly then added a fourth to the Rangers tally with a 25-yard shot. The fifth Rangers goal was scored by Kenny McLillan. Alan Sime managed to pull one back for Rossvale but as the cliche goes, it was too little too late. Ryan Nimmo scored the late sixth Rangers goal.

After this rather one-sided affair I walked back to Barnhill station where I had to wait 20 minutes for my train back. Instead of going all the way back to Queen Street I got off at Duke Street station in Dennistoun, about 100 yards from the flat in Roslea Drive I used to live in about ten years ago and I was happy to see how much the area had improved in the past decade. After a twenty-minute walk I was back in Glasgow City Centre.

Entering through the turnstiles.

Petershill FC were playing away at nearby St. Roch's today.

Joe Barclay scores from the spot to put Rangers 1-0 ahead after only two minutes.

Kyle Dempsey scores the third goal five minutes after the interval.

The stand holds over 500.

Dug-outs and a small terrace on the other side.

No stands or terraces behind either of the goals.

Saturday 30th July 2011
Surridge Sectional League Cup Section 8
Rossvale 1 Kilsyth Rangers 6
Rossvale: Sime
Kilsyth Rangers: Barclay (pen.), Barclay, Demspsey, Kelly, McLillan, Nimmo
Att: 80
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