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Posted on January 5, 2017 at 11:04 pm

Stirling make it tough for Watt, but second half of season gets off to a good start with three points

Both sides were short of regular players, but that didn’t prevent Heriot-Watt and Stirling Universities from staging an exciting match on Saturday. By twenty minutes into the second half, Watt had a three-goal lead through senior side debutant Jackson Barker and two from Cammy Ross, but the visitors roared back with two goals in five minutes to put pressure on the Watt until Chris Donnelly made the points safe deep into stoppage time.

There is no East of Scotland match for the Club next Saturday, but the Under-20s get the second half of their programme going in the Lowland and East of Scotland Development League on Friday evening with a home game against another university opponent. This time it is Edinburgh University which visits Riccarton for a game kicking off at 8 o’clock. The sides drew at Peffermill in the opening match of the season, so it’s all to play for in the return game.

Watt’s LEAFA side got its programme back under way prior to the First Team game on Saturday, taking on Waverley Athletic with a 1 o’clock kick-off. The visitors were clearly the better side in the first half, but after Andy Gibson’s half-time message, the Watt side came out with increased determination. Waverley eventually won 5 – 3, but the home side finished on top, with Michael Webster hitting the post after running on to Chris Sellar’s well-judged through ball before John Murchie scored Watt’s third with a header. This goal came too close to the final whistle for there to be much chance of a shock comeback, but Athletic was showing signs of stress and if there had been ten minutes still left in the game, Watt would have been hopeful of getting something out of it. Next Saturday, Heriot-Watt travels to face Tranent Amateurs, who are just two points and one place above the Riccarton side in the Lothian East Division table.

Posted on January 9, 2017 at 6:45 pm

First half of the season finishes in victory

Heriot-Watt Under-20s brought the first half of the season to an end at Riccarton last Friday with a 2 – 0 victory over Edinburgh City. Three more points and a clean sheet is always an acceptable result, but it was a close encounter and the Watt team was made to work hard all the way by a determined and able visiting side.

After the previous week’s thumping, it was perhaps no surprise that the Watt’s defence sat deep for much of the game and made security its first priority, but with Cammy Ross leading the line there is always a chance for pace and touch to create chances and Watt profited before half-time when Chris Lane shot home after Cammy’s shot was parried by goalkeeper John Gallacher. The result was in doubt throughout a closely-contested second half until Cammy Ross clinched the points with a late goal.

The win secured second spot in the Lowland and East of Scotland Development League Christmas table for the Watt lads, matching the position of the First Team in the East of Scotland League. New Head Coach Banji Koya has had plenty of issues to deal with during his first half-season, but he, and assistant Paul McGovern, must be really proud of the situation as they regard the league tables. This time last season, both sides were in much worse positions, with the First Team in mid-table, from which it declined to finish tenth of fifteen teams; and the Under-20s, despite many encouraging performances, firmly rooted in the bottom half of the Development League table.

So what is the mid-term report for HWUFC this season? It is certainly encouraging and gratifying to see both the First Team and the Under-20s riding so high, although the LEAFA side is finding the step up to Lothian grade a bit of a struggle. The Amateur team has shown that it can raise its game on occasions, but needs to make those occasions more frequent.

Second place in both East of Scotland and the Development League is better than most would have expected so soon after a change of Head Coach. Can we do better? The answer has to be in the affirmative. In both league tables, there are teams with games in hand in threatening positions and lots of challenging fixtures on the card as we look ahead; but many such challenges have been met and overcome in the first half of the programme – and, after all, what is a game against another contender at the top end of the table but a chance to increase your lead over a rival?

The talent is there if the right balance can be struck and the motivation optimised. Also, the holiday break may improve the injury position us closer to full player availability – and if we a fully-fit Sean Campbell were to be available for action, that would be like making a marquee signing in the transfer window!

As always with Heriot-Watt sides, much of the grey area is in the grey matter, but if the teams can achieve the right mental attitude each time they take the field, there are leagues and cups to be contested in the second half of this intriguing and potentially momentous season.

Posted on December 23, 2016 at 12:01 pm

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