Nesbitt grabs winner as Celtic kids lift the trophy

THERE is no such thing as a meaningless Old Firm game.

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Celtic Under-17s celebrate their 1-0 victory over Rangers to lift the City of Glasgow Cup
Celtic Under-17s celebrate their 1-0 victory over Rangers to lift the City of Glasgow Cup

Rangers and Celtic may not have met in the first-team arena for a couple of years now, but the absence of Scotland's biggest fixture has done little to dampen the rivalry or ease the animosity levels.

Twelve months after crowd trouble marred their last Under-17 meeting at Firhill as smoke bombs and flares were set off and seats were ripped up, the Old Firm went at it again last night, the Hoops emerging winners to claim the City of Glasgow Cup thanks to Aidan Nesbitt's second-half strike.

It may only have been a youth fixture but the need to win remains as great as ever when these two go head-to-head and it was Tommy McIntyre's side who would get their hands on the silverware in front of a crowd of around 8000 at Parkhead.

The atmosphere began to build long before the two teams took to the field and never abated during a match that was low on quality on the field yet captured the imagination of those in the stands.

Smokebombs and flares were once again set off as the noise levels rocketed, with both sets of supporters making the most of their chance to renew old rivalries and the reached a crescendo as the kids battled it out on the field.

Hoops boss McIntyre said: "All I can do is concentrate on the game. I am oblivious as to what else is going on. It is such a focus.

"It is difficult sometimes to get a message on to the pitch because of the noise level of the crowd.

"But you trust the players. We went through the gameplan and how we were going to play.

"You trust them to do it and when they went across that white line I thought they did it."

Rangers had the first chance of the game when Ryan Hardie's early shot was blocked but it was Celtic who were the better side in a largely scrappy opening period.

And it was the Hoops who would come closest to scoring, Regan Hendry's sweetly-struck effort from the edge of the area leaving keeper Robbie McCrorie stranded as the ball cracked off his left-hand post.

Just after the break, the Gers shotstopper was called into action again and he made a superb reaction block to deny Ciaran Lafferty before Ross McCrorie should have done better at the other end as he headed over from six yards.

It didn't take long for Celtic to make their superiority pay off and they took a deserved lead as Nesbitt's drive found the bottom corner of Robbie McCrorie's net.

Rangers flooded forward in search of an equaliser in the closing stages but when Sam Jamieson hit the bar with just seconds left, their last chance was gone as Celtic got their hands on the silverware.

McIntyre said: "I thought we were by far the better team. That is our style of play, to go and play. We showed that we can play football and the big pitch helped us, there is no doubt about that.

"We were aware that Rangers were dangerous on the counter and we spoke to the players at half-time to guard against that."


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