Polonia claim league title with draw
Stirling Rangers gave it their all to overhaul Polonia in Albany Junior Soccer Association under-15s but came up short.
Sitting level on points, level on head-to-head and level on goals conceded, it was only goals scored that separated the two sides going into the league decider last Saturday.
Stirling started brighter, with Oliver Trichilo appearing to have an abundance of energy up front, running at the Polonia defence at every given opportunity.
Polonia were alert to the dangers and every time Trichilo received the ball, two or three players closed him down, which forced shots to come from further out. A half clearance was met by Archie Smith, who punted the ball back twice as fast as it had initially been cleared, and the looping shot was out of the reach of Stirling goalkeeper Jordi Walker.
Stirling were not giving up and immediately set out in search of the equaliser, and with Polonia having worked out the best way to deal with Trichilio, it was an opportunity for Callum Jones and Kyle Taylor to pull the strings in the Stirling midfield.
Just before half-time, the equaliser came when Jones was not closed down and he had the opportunity to lift his head, see the keeper off his line and shoot successfully. The energy had been sapped out of both sides in the first half and although the effort was there from both, the level of intensity faded in the second half.
As the match reached its final stages, Polonia knew a draw would be enough to see them win the league title, and with 11 players behind the ball in the last few moments, they were able to frustrate Stirling with a 1-1 draw.
The sides will play each other again in the cup final, in which there will have to be a winner.
Polonia Red and Grammar have been inseparable this season, with both their previous matches ending in draws in the under-18s.
When Polonia were awarded a penalty that was saved by the outstanding Daniel Marques, it was clear it was not going to be Polonia’s day.
Grammar went on the offensive and Matthew Leary was at the heart of everything Grammar did, as he scored twice and set up two in a blistering first-half display that helped his side go into the break 4-1 ahead.
The second half was more of the same as Leary grabbed two more goals shortly after half-time to demoralise Polonia.
They did manage a late consolation goal through O’Shaye Morrison, but it was too little too late and the damage had been well and truly done. Polonia will now be hoping for revenge when they play them in the cup final.
Stirling Rangers finished the league season with a 3-0 win over Albany-Bayswater in the under-18s, while John Calvin proved too strong for Rovers, 3-0.
The other leagues were won by Great Southern Grammar in the under-12s, with Albany Primary pipping Yakamia to the runner-up spot.
Polonia leapfrogged Stirling Rangers in the under-13s to take the title by one point.
Polonia had already wrapped up the under-14s and Caledonians Blue finished runner-up after Port Albany’s title challenge derailed in the last couple of matches.
Polonia won the under-16s league title, beating their closest challengers Great Southern Grammar by two points.