Martin McConnell from Youth Football Scotland casts his eye over Hamilton Accies striker Ryan Tierney in our latest look at the Development League.
Hamilton’s U20 side currently lead the SPFL Development League, six points clear of Celtic, who have several games in hand. A highly-talented squad, capable of playing some fantastic football, they usually include two or three older players, making them formidable opponents for any side.
It is into this highly-competitive environment that 17-year-old striker Ryan Tierney has stepped up and thrived.
Ryan joined Accies in the summer of 2011 from Airdrie and was soon asked to join a training camp for the Scottish U14 development squad. He turned professional in July 2014 while still playing with the U17s, and impressed enough to make the development squad later in the same season.
At the start of 2015/16, Ryan scored a spectacular goal during a pre-season friendly against Super League First Division side Clydebank. Ryan read the flight of a long pass perfectly and met the ball with a 20-yard volley over the keeper’s head. Since then, he has been a regular starter for the development side and has scored six league goals.
In his most recent league outing against St Mirren at New Western Park in Renfrew this week, Tierney gave his side the lead with a spectacular driven shot from 15 yards, and was also denied by a great Dan Wilks save.
In another move that showed his understanding of the game around him, he won a foot race to a ball on the touchline, kept it in play while holding off an opponent, then touched neatly inside for team-mate Ross Cunningham as he raced down field.
One of his best attributes is his ability to read the game and the movement of those around him. He often anticipates others’ actions, especially defenders that become too relaxed in his presence. He is comfortable making runs through the centre or out on the wing, and can take on a defender or keeper with confidence.
Curling dangerous crosses into the penalty area for team-mates or splitting a defence with a pin-point ball for his fellow forwards, are all within the toolkit of a player who causes headaches for defenders anywhere from the halfway line to their goal line.
It can’t be long before Tierney gets the chance to follow U20 team-mate Steven Boyd and share his skills in front of a wider SPFL audience.
Key attributes – Acceleration, passing, awareness, movement, finishing
Image courtesy of Joanne Cortes