By Tim Rawlinson
On Monday 27th April, in overcast conditions at the Spartans FC Academy, the Scottish Universities men’s football team took on a travelling representative team from the Colleges Football Association of Ireland. The two sides have enjoyed a strong link over the last 5 years, and following an Irish victory in Dundalk last year, the match was sure to be competitive on Scottish turf.
After some nervy exchanges in the opening minutes, the Scottish Universities side were gifted a chance to open the scoring when Jack Guthrie (Edinburgh University AFC) was brought down inside the penalty area after a sharp turn inside his marker. Skipper Paul Sludden (Spartans FC) stepped up and coolly sent the goalkeeper the wrong way as he stroked the ball into the bottom corner of the net – 1-0.
The goal looked to settle the Scottish team into the match, as the visitors found it difficult to break down a strong home defensive unit marshalled by a central defensive pairing of Duncan Black (Edinburgh University AFC) and James Drummond (Stirling University FC). Both midfields grew into the match as the half continued, and it was central midfielder Dan Ward (Edinburgh University AFC) who was to increase the Scottish lead. Exchanging passes with Guthrie, Ward drove into the right hand side of the box and slid the ball low across the goal into the far corner – 2-0 Scottish Universities.
Chances were few and far between for both sides as the half continued, and it looked like the teams would head into the break at 2-0, but a moment of magic from Paul Sludden was to increase the Scottish lead. Picking the ball up just inside the opposition half, Sludden cut inside and having spotted the goalkeeper off his line, audaciously lobbed the ball over his head into the top corner of the net from every inch of 35 yards.
HT – 3-0 Scottish Universities.
The Scottish side picked up where they left off after the interval, as Guthrie again broke through the opposition defensive line and produced a smart finish to effectively put the game to bed – 4-0 Scottish Universities.
The remainder of the game was to yield very few chances for either side, as battling performances in midfield from Ward, Russell Parker (Threave Rovers FC), and Jack May (Stirling University FC), kept the Irish threat at bay. There was very little to separate the two sides, aside from clinical finishing, as the Scottish side converted almost every attempt they had. Defences prevailed for the final half hour of the match, and the full time whistle blew just before the rain began.
FT – Scottish Universities 4-0 Colleges Football Association of Ireland
Goalscorers: Sludden (2), Ward, Guthrie
The match was a great showing of the standard of student football in Scotland, with many of the players competing in the Scottish Lowland League. The Scottish Universities representative football programme has grown in stature over a number of years and has seen a number of players go on to careers in the senior game.
MOTM Scottish Universities – Paul Sludden
MOTM CFAI – Daniel Devine
Scottish Universities Squad:
Ryan Marshall (University of Stirling, Stirling Uni FC), Ben Cuff (University of Stirling, Stirling Uni FC), Ruaridh Donaldson (Abertay University, Tayport FC), Duncan Black (University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Uni AFC), James Drummond (University of Stirling, Stirling Uni FC), Mark Solley (University of Glasgow, Glasgow Uni FC), Russell Parker (Glasgow Caledonian University, Threave Rovers FC), Dan Ward (University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Uni AFC), Paul Sludden (University of Stirling, Spartans FC), James Aitken (University of Strathclyde), Lewis Baker (Abertay University, AM Soccer), Jack May (University of Stirling, Stirling Uni FC), Craig Saunders (Heriot Watt University, Heriot Watt Uni FC), Jack Guthrie (University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Uni AFC), Sean Dunion (University of Glasgow, Glasgow Uni FC), Robert Boyd (Abertay University, Dundee Violet FC), Alan Taylor (Head Coach, Stirling University FC), Dorian Ogunro (Assistant Coach, EUAFC)
Seamus Houghton, Ian Sinnott (Waterford IT, Shamrock Rovers Wexford), Jamie Cross (DIT, Villla FC Waterford), Daniel Devine (Tallaght IT), Peter Doherty (Letterkenny IT, Cockhill Celtic FC), Gavin Boyne (IT Blanchardstown, Athlone Town FC), Rys Gorman (DIT, Longford Town FC), Jonny Bonner (IT Carlow, Wexford Youths FC), Kaleem Simon (DIT, Longford Town FC), Robert McGuinness (Cloiste Ide, Tolka Rovers FC), Ger O’Boyle (IT Carlow, Castlebar Celtic FC), Mark Connaughton (IT Sligo, Inny FC), Jon Savage (IT Carlow, Portlaoise FC), Jimmy Fallon (Athlone IT, Cavan Town FC), Jason Murphy (Galway GTI), Kevin Horgan (Galway GMIT, Salthill Devon FC), Jason Lyons (Athlone IT, Salthill Devons FC), Mark McGrath (Limerick IT, St. Michaels Tipperary FC), Joe Malone (Manager), Tony O’Connor (Assistant Manager)