Falkirk 2-1 Aberdeen
41, Smith 25, Rose
Subs: Erskine, Langton, Evans, Taylor, Maybury, Peggie
Subs: Wright, McLennan, Dangana, Ross, Campbell, Craddock
Having briefly looked into the league standings for this u20 Scottish development clash before kick off, I anticipated an open entertaining game with goals… and thats exactly what I got. Stats wise, both teams a good “goal value” and I was looking forward to seeing O’Hara in action having read a little bit about his decent reputation on a couple of the fan forums. In recent weeks I’ve been trawling through a few forums from various clubs. The level of detail and passion that fans go to, even to a youth level, still amazes me. Its a good reflection of how the nation are not only in love with the game on a “box office” level, but also further down the ladder right to the youth networks, talking about new talent, being excited about finding the next big youth system product. The passion is there… and you don’t really hear that much about it, despite it being vital to the game and the backbone to clubs across the land. I’ve certainly noticed a recent upward curve in pride amongst fans of having “one their our own” in the staring line up.
As a neutral, wanting to learn as much as possible about this incredibly talented u20 Scottish league as quickly as possible, I was thankful for these kind of forums. It gave me a good idea of players, clubs and youth set up before I arrived at the impressive, and incredibly windy, Falkirk Stadium.
The facilities were top notch, the staff were friendly and, given the weather, the cosy club restaurant overlooking the pitch high from the back of the main stand was all the more appealing. Never the less, after downing a Scottish latte to warm the cockles upon arrival, I went on the hunt for a team sheet. I was keen to find out who will be playing as soon as possible in a effort to do a bit more research on the talent before kick off.
Having obtained a team sheet I was pleased to see o’Hara in the starting team for Falkirk and noticeably a couple of first teamers. Aberdeen on the other hand had a couple of key u20 players missing from the line up, most notably Joe Nutall, who I’d read about in recent weeks. Still, Aberdeen’s decent scoring record seemed like it could still cause some damage, and that proved to be the case in the 25th minute after a fairly uneventful opening. It was from a corner that Aberdeen took the lead. The ball found its way to Rose who was lurking at the back post unmarked. He did well to quickly adjust his footing and stab the ball back towards the far post where it nestled in. 1-0 Aberdeen.
Falkirk had looked the slightly stronger team up to that point with Smith and Finlayson combining well down the right flank and Hippolyte looking like a threat down the left. It was Smith who got the Bairns back into the game just before half time. The first team player drifted inside to pick up the ball centrally after busy work from Taiwo. Smith tried his luck from 25 yards out and his right-footed effort seemed to swirl a bit on its way into the top right hand corner. The ball shot past Lennox like a rocket, I doubt many Premier League GK’s would have had a chance. It was a great strike and it deservedly sent the two teams in all square after 45 mins.
It was cold, windy and cold… did I mention cold?? Being a proper southerner, I retreated back to warmth of the club restaurant for the second half. From there I watched a confident Falkirk side press on. Possession was comfortable as Smith, Taiwo and Hippolyte continued to cause problems, but it was the hard-work, confidence and threat of Finlayson from RB that impressed me most of all. He reminded me of a young Dean Austin (look him up) during his Southend days. Loves an overlap this lad.
O’Hara’s drive and bullish-ness up top was also a constant threat. Gallagher from left back was getting involved in the final third towards the end of the 2nd half as well and as Aberdeen’s goal threat diminished, you sensed (from the warmth and comfort of what felt like a executive football league stadium bar) that Falkirk would push on to win. That they did. It was continuing good work down the left from Gallacher that resulted in O’Hara slotting home form close range in injury time to make it 2-1. A deserved 3 points.
This was a high quality game where the first team ability ultimately shone through. But it was the young Falkirk talents of O’Hara and Finalyson that stood out for me. But I imagine thats not the first time thats been said.
So another UK stadium to add to my list and I reckon I’ll be back up in this next of the woods sooner rather than later, the talent in this u20 league is fruitful… and it seems the set up and network around it in many of the clubs is strong. Scotland to to be the next Belgium perhaps? (and that’s not an Englishman being facetious, genuinely impressed with the quality on show). Maybe a statement too bold, but an entertaining league none the less, and given that this comes at the cost of £0 at the gate, I’m in.
See you pitchside next week,