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  • Aitchison fires in a hat-trick as Celtic U17s seal league title

    Aitchison fires in a hat-trick as Celtic U17s seal league title

    By: Mark Henderson on 29 May, 2016 14:14

  • SPFL Under-17 League
    Lennoxtown Training Centre
    Sunday, May 29, 2016

    CELTIC…5
    (McLaughlin 11, Johnston 54, Aitchison 64, 72, 76)

    HAMILTON ACCIES…0

    JACK Aitchison struck a second-half hat-trick as Celtic Under-17 hammered their Hamilton counterparts at Lennoxtown 5-0 to seal the league title in swashbuckling style.

    And that means that the Hoops will participate in the UEFA Youth League again next season, having guaranteed their entry via the domestic champions pathway.   

    In the final game of the season, Michael O’Halloran’s side required at least a draw against Accies to claim the championship and make it a domestic double following their Glasgow Cup success,but they produced a sparkling performance to sprint across the finishing line.

    Ross McLaughlin opened the scoring in the 11th minute when he fastened onto a through ball and slid a shot under the keeper.

    Michael Johnston doubled the advantage nine minutes after the interval, applying the finish after a neat exchange of passes.

    The winger then turned provider for the Bhoys, embarking on a lung-bursting run before  supplying Aitchison, who fired home.

    The young striker quickly grabbed his second and Celtic’s fourth of the match with a superb solo effort.

    And he secured his quick-fire treble in the 76th minute after collecting a pass from Johnston in the box and converting from 10 yards.

    The young Celts had spurned two chances to confirm the championship in recent weeks, losing to Hamilton and drawing with Hibernian on the road, and their determination to get the job done was evident from kick off.

    With two changes from the team that were held by Hibs – Robbie Deas and Kerr McInroy coming into the side at the expense of Josh Kerr and Broque Watson – the hosts soon wrestled control of the game and grabbed the vital early breakthrough.

    A lovely through ball sent McLaughlin in the clear and he maintained his composure to slide the ball under the advancing goalkeeper.

    Aidan McAdams made a smart save as the visitors attempted to respond but the young Hoops soon resumed the offensive, with Deas blasting over from distance and Ewan Henderson and McLaughlin coming close.

    Henderson chipped over when one-on-one with the keeper and left-back Daniel Church drilled wide after an enterprising forward foray.

    A jinking run from Johnston in the 37th minute saw him reach the edge of the area and pull the trigger. His effort cannoned off a defender but his appeals for a handball were waved away by the referee.

    McInroy shot over on the stroke of half-time as O’Halloran’s side went in at the break with just the one goal to show for all their dominance.

    But the pattern of play continued after the restart as McInroy looped a header over from Stephen Welsh’s cross.

    Number two finally arrived in the 54th minute. After the Bhoys had cut open the Accies defence with a swift series of passes, Johnston lofted a cool finish beyond keeper.

    Aitchison saw a shot saved and a goal disallowed as the home side maintained their momentum, but the 16-year-old was rewarded for his efforts in the 64th minute.

    Johnston’s pace and skill was too much for the Hamilton defence as he drove forward from his own half to the edge of the box to tee-up Aitchison, who made no mistake.

    As the game entered its closing stages, the Lanarkshire outfit’s resistance crumbled as Aitchison danced past several defenders in the box before burying a shot into the net.

    He bagged his treble with 14 minutes left on the clock. The hit-man and Johnston combined again to devastating effect, allowing Aitchison to pick his spot from 10 yards.

    The final whistle was the signal for joyous celebrations among the players, management team – O’Halloran, John McLaughlan and George McCluskey - and backroom staff which continued into the home dressing room as the season finished with a flourish for the Celtic Youth Academy.

    CELTIC (4-3-3) McAdams; Welsh, Deas, Duffy, Church; McLaughlin (Patrick-Campbell 67) Bell, McInroy; Henderson (Savoury 84) Aitchison (McGrath 80) Johnston
    Not Used: Watson, Mullen, Mearns

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