A superb 3 – 0 victory over Cumbernauld Colts on Friday evening carried Heriot-Watt back to the top of the Lowland and East of Scotland Development League. Striker Cammy Ross was in electrifying form and bagged all three goals in an outstanding display. Equally important was the side’s defensive cohesion, which kept out a dangerous visiting attack to record its second clean sheet of the season.
When both Watt teams hit the top of their respective tables concurrently a few weeks ago, we expressed some reservations about their chances of holding those positions to the end of the season. The main issue was the possibility of the First Team winning an East of Scotland League containing Leith Athletic and Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale, neither of which has been beaten so far this season, plus other strong teams such as Tynecastle and Eyemouth United. Watt has lost only two of its eight fixtures played and we don’t write off its chances, but to make a serious challenge it would have to maintain even greater consistency for the remainder of the season.
The Under-20s, however, are a different proposition and it is not too much to say that despite the high quality of the Development League, it will be a disappointment if the Under-20 side is unable to bring silverware to Riccarton this season. There are challenges for them to face in every match, all of which are against quality opponents, but such are the talent within the squad and the organisation instilled by the coaching staff that Heriot-Watt has emerged from the shadows as a major contender for prizes.
On Friday, another of those challenging matches is scheduled – an away fixture against Stirling University. This game will be played at Falkirk Stadium, which will be an interesting experience for the Watt lads. Stirling is currently in third place in the table, just three points behind Heriot-Watt with a game in hand, so it is one of several teams considering itself to be a title contender. The outcomes of matches such as this one will determine the course of the season.
The First Team finally managed to get its Football Nation East of Scotland Qualifying Cup Second Round tie played yesterday. The match, at Albert Park against the Lowland League’s Hawick Royal Albert, seemed to bear a curse. It had been postponed twice – last Saturday and again on Tuesday evening – but the coup de grace for Watt was the advance of the kick-off time to 1.30 due to a malfunction affecting one of the floodlight pylons.
The Watt travelled south with a very young side, lacking experienced regulars Jamie Forsyth, Scott Dargo and captain Chris Donnelly. Four of the squad had played in the Under-20 match on the previous evening. Only goalkeeper Craig Saunders, midfielder Neil Laurenson and winger Elliot Sutherland were over 21 and there were seven teenagers in the fifteen.
None of this cut much ice with the home support as the young side battled away in an increasingly hostile atmosphere. Having taken the lead in the first half through Anton Dowds, the Watt kept its goal intact until deep into stoppage time at the end of the match, when the Albert eventually managed to force in an equaliser. A goal in the first half of extra time put Hawick ahead and although the Watt came close several times to grabbing an equaliser, the scoring was complete.
On Saturday, the Firsts return to league business with the visit of Eyemouth United. Eyemouth has had a couple of heavy defeats away to Leith Athletic and Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale in the last couple of weeks, but is still riding high in the league table, behind the Watt only on goal difference, having the same sixteen points from eight games record as the Riccarton side. Watt will recall that its last home game ended in defeat by another Borders side, Coldstream, following on a loss to Leith Athletic in the previous match played, and will be going all out to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat.
After last week’s good victory, it was disappointing to learn that the Amateur side had gone down 6 – 1 at home to Pencaitland yesterday in Lothian East Division. It was always going to be a tough game, but the magnitude of the defeat was painful. Pathhead and Salters Athletic drew their match, leaving the Watt second from the bottom of Lothian East Division, a point behind Pathhead and two ahead of Salters, having played two games fewer than both.
Next Saturday, with Salters playing a Miller Cup tie, the Watt side faces what looks like the toughest game of the season with a visit to The Inch to play Edinburgh South Vics, which has won all seven of its league games to date. Pathhead has a home tie against top-half side Waverley Athletic.