Cameron Ballantyne on stepping up to U20s side

Wednesday 26th July

A St. Johnstone U18s XI, featuring a number of players from the club's development side, won 8-4 this afternoon on the all weather pitch at McDiarmid Park against a Soccer Experience Academy side from Tenerife.

Among the scorers for Saints were Sean Struthers and Ben Quigley, while John Robertson bagged a hat-trick.

Midfielder Cameron Ballantyne also found the net in the victory, and the 17-year-old midfielder was pleased with the result and getting on the scoresheet:

"I thought it went went. Both teams tried to play football the right way and at this time of year we're just working on getting our match fitness back and that's what these games are for, and everyone managed to get some minutes on the pitch and did well.

"I was happy to get a goal. John Robertson picked up a rebound after the keeper spilled it and I took the gamble and ran in hoping he would pass to me. He managed to cross it in and I headed it to my left past the keeper."

The win over the side from Tenerife came on the back of other positive results in pre season for the St. Johnstone youngsters.

"We played against Vale of Earn in a Memorial Shield match and won that game convincingly (9-0) and then had a tough, physical game against Penicuik Athletic (4-2 win). That game against Penicuik is exactly what we need as young players, and I felt we played well and I was happy to score my first goal for the U20s in that match."

Cameron, who was originally born in London but grew up in Edinburgh, is one of nine stars of last season's U17s side to make the step up to full time football with Alec Cleland's U20s.

"Being here full time is better than I expected. I was expecting it to be tough but I've loved every minute of it. Seeing all the boys around the club has been brilliant and to work with people like Alec (Cleland) and Calum (Davidson) has been a great experience. I can't wait for the season to start and I know it's the same for all the boys.

"When I was asked about moving up to the U20s I was over the moon, I was so happy. I know it sounds like a bit of a cliche but it's been a dream since I was wee boy to play full time football and I jumped at the opportunity. St. Johnstone is the perfect club to start my journey at."

The SPFL Development League season kicks off for Saints away to Hamilton Accies on Tuesday 22nd August, and Ballantyne hopes he will be able to make a real impact this campaign.

"There's lots of competition in the side but the younger boys like myself, Euan (O'Reilly) and the other lads will be looking to push the boys already there. We're always looking ahead and confident that we can improve in the future and compete with the boys already in the team. There are some great players already in the U20s so the boys coming up will need to keep working hard to show what we're capable of.

"Personally, I'd like to consolidate myself in the team and gets as many minutes under my belt as I can. But the competition in the team is strong. I think it's important for the team to get a run of wins together at the start of the league season as something to build on and see how high we can go."

Last season, Cameron was rewarded for his performances last season in the U17s side - who won their league title and went a full calendar year unbeaten in the league - with a call up, alongside team mates Euan O'Reilly and Nathan Brown, to the Scottish Schoolboys squad for matches against the other home nations and the Republic of Ireland.

"We had home ties against England and Ireland and away trips to Wales and Northern Ireland. The highlight of those games was probably beating Wales 5-1 away from home. Being involved in those games meant alot to me."

Watch Cameron and the Saints U20s side this coming Sunday against Jeanfield Swifts at the Riverside Stadium, Perth. Kick off is 2pm.

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PHOTO: Cameron Ballantyne in action on Wednesday afternoon versus the side from Tenerife.