Goal of the Season 2011-12

IT is sometimes argued that Scottish lower league football is full of cloggers who do not have the touch or technique to play good football or score memorable goals.

If there is any merit in that argument, then it can be countered with examples of the following five goals, in reverse order of brilliance (in the eye of this particular writer):

5) Liam Tomsett v Ross County 18/02/12 (Week 24 on SFL TV) @ 1:09

Central midfielder Liam Tomsett joined Ayr in the January transfer window on loan from Blackpool, along with left-back Adam Dodd. Tomsett re-enforced the United midfield, contributing positively towards a run of only two league defeats in 11 league matches through February and March 2012.

Tomsett’s only goal in his time at Ayr is one that he will not forget.

An ominous amount of space was created from Rocco Quinn being dragged towards whom we think is Adam Dodd on the left flank (It could have just as easily have been left-midfielder Adam Moffat, but with the light snow-fall, together with the video resolution, it is difficult to be certain). The square pass towards Tomsett takes Quinn out of the play, leaving Tomsett with five-to-ten yards to dribble into. With decoy runs ahead from Keighan Parker and Gareth Wardlaw, Ross County’s defence couldn’t step out and invited Tomsett to shoot.

The joy of the goal was with how immaculately struck the ball was. A straight trajectory towards Michael Fraser’s top-left hand corner belied the perfect technique of the shot.

Ayr right-back Tiffoney was shown a red card shortly afterwards, but Ross County were numb after conceding in 79 minutes, when County had dominated for much of the game before then. Ayr held on for a 1-1 draw that helped consolidate the second-bottom place in the league.

4) Steven Milne v Hamilton Academical 03/12/11 (Week 15 on SFL TV) @ 0:53

Steven Milne scored an impressive hat-trick in dreadful conditions against at New Douglas Park. The match was eventful for a number of quality of goals, as well as being a good example of Dundee’s resurgent form before Christmas, with Milne and particularly Nicky Riley playing their best football of the season.

It was the second goal of the hat-trick that stands out over the others.

Dundee’s Gary Irvine had the ball in his typical right-back position. With the wind behind him, Irvine drove a long pass towards Milne in the centre-forward position. The wind nearly took it beyond Milne and perhaps even away from the Hamilton defenders, but, with a soft touch with his right foot, Milne managed to guide the ball down from over his shoulder and on to the floor in front of him. The football took a couple of bounces, which gave Milne enough time to re-position his body and use his right foot again, to lob Hamilton goal-keeper Hutton from 20 yards.

Other goals of note in that match are:

  • Milne’s third, with a flicked finish inside inside his standing leg from a mis-hit shot by Jake Hyde, sending David Hutton the wrong way; and
  • The last goal, which was a consolation for Hamilton by Dougie Imrie. It was another goal assisted by the wind, where the ball was whipped viciously into the far corner from just outside the box and adjacent to the ‘D’.

3) Stephen McKenna v Greenock Morton 26/11/11 @ 4:06

Queen of the South had a season to forget, ending in relegation from the First Division after substantial budget cuts in the summer of 2011.  One highlight was the quality found in captain Stephen McKenna’s long-range strike at Cappielow.

The goal was simple in concept, but brilliant in execution.  McKenna trotted towards the left flank to receive a throw in.  He took a couple of glances over his shoulders and realised Morton had left a lot of space in the central midfield area in front of their defence.  He then took a couple of touches of the ball, after receiving the throw, to have the ball at the optimal distance away from his feet to strike across the ball.  And how he struck it.

Whereas Tomsett’s goal was a good example of how to hit straight through the ball towards the target, McKenna’s goal was a result of hitting the ball with the outside area of the player’s laces.  The resulting trajectory had the ball swerve away from all of 1.98m of Greenock Morton’s stand-in goalkeeper Dominic Cervi’s out-stretched body.

2) Iain Vigurs v Partick Thistle 05/11/11 @ 1:36

Iain Vigurs recently signed a new one-year contract with Ross County, which means the SPL will soon come across his unique style of effortless technique and biting temperament.

Vigurs scored the only goal of Ross County’s first of two 1-0 wins at Firhill during the season.  Vigurs scored five league goals, but this was easily the most enjoyable to watch.

Ross County deliberately played with two separate narrow banks of four, in front of their own penalty area, to nullify Partick Thistle’s strength in passing and running beyond opposing defences.  This led to Vigurs collecting the ball just in front of the left-back area, more than thirty yards within his own half.  Vigurs drove forward with the ball toward the centre-circle, before passing to Kettlewell, who passes to Gardyne close to the ‘D’ of the Thistle box, who then spreads play to the right for Brittain to cross-first time.  Meanwhile, Vigurs drifted behind the play and was in the perfect position to receive Thistle defender Balatoni’s clearing header, 25 yards from goal.  Vigurs chested the ball down and cut through the ball on the up-bounce to arrow the ball into the top corner.

1) Paul Cairney v Falkirk 10/03/12 @ 2:00

Partick Thistle enjoyed the benefit of Paul Cairney having his best season for them.  Cairney’s all-round attacking play has been admired by many – including this site – but it is his goal-scoring (eleven goals from 35 starts) that has set his performance in 2011-12 season apart from others.

Paul Cairney recently claimed on the Jagscast (his interview being around 34 minutes in to the podcast) that this is his favourite goal that he has scored.  It is difficult to disagree.

Once more, it is a goal that has resulted from space opening up in front of a defence, for a midfielder to attack in to.  In this instance, one would expect Cairney to smack home a screamer into the top or bottom corner, or possibly for Falkirk’s perennially excellent goalkeeper McGovern to save it. However, on this occasion, it is clear from his body language (with his head and body leaning over the ball almost from the moment Cairney receives the in-field pass from Chris Erskine) that something else was intended.

When watching the floated chip drift inside McGovern’s top-right corner, it is worth remembering a quote from Dennis Bergkamp, in David Winner’s inspirational interview with the retired superstar in Issue One of The Blizzard.  Bergkamp was asked by Winner if, a goal like the one he scored to help the Netherlands beat Argentina in the 1998 World Cup quarter-final, is a spiritual moment:

Yeah. What can you compare it to? Different sports? Like running the hundred metres and you know this is going to be a good time But you’re in that moment. That’s the feeling. After the first two touches… that moment! You give absolutely everything in that movement.  It’s like your life has led up to this moment.

For being able to make that kind of comparison, if nothing else, Cairney’s clip beyond McGovern is the undisputed goal of the season.

John A Maxwell

John A Maxwell

John is a Ross County supporter whose care for the lower leagues is just as thoroughgoing as when Billy Ferries tore down the wing. His footballing favourites include Fernando Redondo, Gordon Connelly and André Hainault.

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