Mid Argyll youth footballers show promise in strong league

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With the youth football season coming to a premature end, coach Bruce West takes a look back over the season for Red Star 2004s.

This was the Lochgilphead youngsters’ fourth season playing 11-aside football.

After two seasons in the Dumbarton League, finishing second then first in the league and winning the league cup both years, the boys moved to the Glasgow League in 2018-19 finishing in the top half of a very competitive Division A and making it to the final of the league cup.

Another competitive season was anticipated with five new teams joining the A Division.

The season started well, with Star winning all three of their league cup group games against Cambuslang Reds, Cumbernauld Colts and Glasgow Red Star 4-1, 4-2 and 6-1.

With Cambuslang Reds and Cumbernauld Colts being new opponents this was a good start and Star qualified for the knockout stages. But the COVID-19 lockdown interrupted proceedings.

This season’s Scottish Cup was a bit of a disappointment with Star exiting the competition in the second round after losing out to a vastly improved Dumbarton United side 3-4. On the plus side, the first round saw Star take on Paisley League team Pollok FC and an excellent performance saw Star run out convincing winners 4-1, one of only four defeats suffered by Pollok in all competitions.

In the West Region Cup, Star progressed to the quarter-final again. A first round bye, a convincing 5-0 win against Cambuslang FA then a walkover saw the Lochgilphead youths face Paisley League A Division team Erskine.

In a hard-fought encounter, Star matched Erskine for most of the game but with only 11 players available they couldn’t get the breakthrough they needed and eventually lost 2-3.

Star started their league campaign in September with a competitive match against new team Thorn, who transferred from Paisley A Division. Star lost 2-3.

Two strong performances in October saw Star record  a terrific 5-0 win over Shettleston, last season’s league runners up, and a 6-5 win against St Patrick’s Sports Academy – an entertaining but nerve-wracking game.

A mid-season stutter in November saw the Lochgilphead boys lose out to Cathcart 1-2, then Clydebank 1-3, both newcomers.

The losing run continued into early December as Star faced last season’s champions Drumchapel Amateurs ending up down 0-3 at half-time before recovering their form with a committed second half display to pull it back to 3-3. Unfortunately they lost out to a fourth Drumchapel goal as they chased the winner themselves.

This set Star back on track as they finished the year with a hugely convincing performance, demolishing Cathcart 6-1.

January and February proved a real battle with the weather with wind, rain and freezing temperatures – often all three – only allowing four games to take place. Star secured fine victories over Busby, 4-2, and Glasgow Red Star, 1-0, and fought back to grind out creditable draws with Shettleston, 2-2, and Place Park, another new team, 2-2.

Star played one league game in March before lockdown and again it was another entertaining game with a rollercoaster feel to it. Facing up to Drumchapel Amateurs, both teams played out another terrific match which had everything.

Coming back from a goal down and with only 10 men, Star played cracking football to race into a 4-1 lead but it took its toll as Drumchapel stuck to their task to draw level before adding a couple more goals to secure a win in the final five minutes.

This was another fine season for Red Star 2004s, competing well in a strong league, with only 13 signed players.

Though the season was cut short, the boys played 19 games winning 10, drawing two and losing seven. They scored 65 goals and conceded 43 goals. There were some cracking games and the boys were looking forward to the knock-out stages of the league cup.

Inconsistency probably cost Star a few more wins, but that’s what youth football development is all about and there is potential for the boys to develop.

Well done from coaches and parents to the 13 boys who played this season – Craig Aitken, Zak Barclay, Gregor Brown, Keiran Caskie, Lewis Curran, Ruaridh Green, Woody Hoad, Alexander McLean, Conner McMurchy, Leon Murphy, Innes Paterson, Jamie Stewart and Tom West.

Thanks for great support goes to sponsors Ardrishaig Community Trust, main strip, S&C Crawford Building Contractors Limited, change strip and zip tops, Jewsons, tracksuits, and Mid Argyll Youth Development Services and the parents, supporters, referees and opposition teams that have made the season so enjoyable.