Thursday , 23 May 2019

Saltire Thistle complete historic double with GFSN Cup win

 

The victorious Saltire Thistle team
The victorious Saltire Thistle team

Saltire Thistle completed a historic league and cup double with a narrow 1-0 win over Scottish rivals HotScots FC.

Having already won the GFSN First Division title, Thistle lifted the GFSN for the first time in their history following a tense all-Scottish final.

In front of a sizeable support at Stenhousemuir’s Ochilview Park, the teams emerged from the tunnel to rapturous applause in what was effectively a derby cup final.

Thsitle started the game positively with a few tentative forays toward the Hotscots goal. A few decent balls into the box seemed to cause the Hotscots keeper some trouble in the wet weather, although the Hotscots defenders were on hand to clear the danger.

After that early 10 or 15 minute spell it was HotScots who came into the ascendency, spreading the play well and stretching their opponents. A corner from the left created an opportunity than was put inches wide. Hotscots piled on the pressure but could find no way through, largely due to the efforts of defender Casey Elliot.

Thistle battled manfully, but the fluent play was coming from HotScots.  An attack from Hotscots down the left saw the Thistle defence surprised when a ball was played through the middle onto an onrushing striker. He broke free of the centre backs and was through one on one with keeper David Barbour, who instincively stuck out his right leg to block the shot.

Barbour made another stunning reaction save shortly before the break to ensure that, for all HotScots pressure, the game remained goalless at the interval.

In the second half, Thistle – now with the wind behind them – looked mor purposeful and almost made the breakthrough when Callum Logan’s free kick beat the keeper but came back off the crossbar. It was now the Glasgow-based team that was piling on the pressure, and it paid off when a scramble in the HotScots goalmouth ended with the ball in the net, prompting wild celebrations on the pitch and on the terraces.

Saltire Thistle nearly made it 2-0 fifteen minutes later, when Paul Ainsworth skipped past two Hotscots defenders on his way into the box  – but his curling shot off came off the right hand post.

With time running out, HotScots increased their urgency and began putting real pressure on the Saltire defence with wave after wave of attack. In spite of their inventive play, they were constantly frustrated by excellent last ditch blocks and tackles and were unable to create many clear-cut opportunities. However, with a few minutes left on the clock, a near-perfect corner kick was headed goalwards but was agonisingly just wide of the target.

cup1After the Hotscots players were presented with their runners up medals, the Saltire players collected theirs before the GFSN Cup was handed to club captain Garry Jones. In a nice touch, club founders Collin Sinclair and Ross McClung were invited to collect the trophy with him.

Saltire Thistle’s manager Jose Vega Gonzalez said: “we knew HotScots were going to throw everything at us and they certainly did! It was a tough final and they played very well. We sucked up the pressure and scored the only goal. I’m so proud of the team – to win both the GFSN cup and league in one year is a fantastic achievement”.

Saltire Thistle’s chair Iain Sharkey says; “I’d like to thank HotScots for playing a fantastic game – our boys dug deep and came away with a historic win. Saltire Thistle are the only GFSN side to have won the GFSN cup and GFSN League Division One double in the same season. Congratulations to Jose who has had an excellent first season as manager at the club. Also to our fans who came out in their numbers to give their support and raised the team to win”.
Martin Thomson, HotScots FC Manager, told KaleidoScot:”Whilst I’m obviously disappointed with the result, I could not have asked any more of the team. The effort shown was exceptional. We dominated for long periods in the match but were unable to take our chances. I’d like to thank our families, friends and supporters who travelled. They really were incredible on the day. We turn our focus now to our final league match of the season where we need the same level of performance to ensure we finish Division 2 as champions and game promotion to Division 1.”
 
Thanks to David Barbour for assistance with the match report, and to Saltire Thistle for the photographs.

About Andrew Page

Andrew Page
Andrew is KaleidoScot's sports editor and photographer. An experienced blogger, Andrew was raised in the Hebrides and currently lives in Renfrewshire. Andrew became an active equality campaigner at the time of the Section 28 debate, and has particular interests in faith issues and promoting LGBTI equality in sport. Andrew was shortlisted for the Icon Award's 2015 Journalist of the Year.

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