Young stars have one hand on championship trophy

Heriot-Watt Under-20s came within touching distance of a historic success last night with a 3 – 1 win over Bonnyton Thistle at Kilmarnock. The Watt side moved on to 51 points, out of reach of all but Cumbernauld Colts, with Watt holding a nineteen-goal advantage in goal difference. Colts have a tough match on Monday evening away to Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale, who they defeated 2 – 1 at home last night. If Cumbernauld wins in Edinburgh, the race will go to the last day of competition, on Friday, when Heriot-Watt will attempt to open a points gap at the top by gaining a positive result away to Whitehill Welfare, while Colts make the same visit as the Watt did last night to take on Bonnyton Thistle.

It was a nervous night for the Watt support as Bonnyton, bolstered by the inclusion of goalkeeper Stuart Cowan and striker Kris Kerr, turned in an excellent performance, opening the scoring after ten minutes’ play with a stunning shot from Kyle Gilroy. It was well into the second half before the Watt got back on terms, Cammie Ross running clear of the home defence to fire the ball low past Cowan. The introduction of Mark McGovern then turned the game in the visitors’ favour. McGovern’s strong running gave the Thistle defence new problems and after he had missed narrowly with one thunderbolt shot and brought a fantastic save from Cowan with another, he scored the two goals which gave the points to the Watt, the second of which was as good a free kick as you could see anywhere in any grade of football.

There were many heroes for the Watt on the night, with Harry Barclay, Aidan Quinn and Reece Craig, stalwarts of many a Watt success, continuing their excellent form; Chris Lane, Chris Macher, Matthew Law and Jackson Barker linking the play in midfield; and Cammie Ross leading the line with pace and penetration. But surely the highest praise of all is reserved for Ion Athanassios Diamantopoulos, whose commitment to the cause has been phenomenal. Having changed the arrangements for his flight home to Greece after the re-setting of the final fixtures, he played with a passion and determination that inspired his team-mates. So effectively did he mark the dangerous Kerr that the striker was obliged to move to the wings to try to get on to the ball. Thank you Ion!

The substitutes also played their part – Mark McGovern most obviously, but both Justin Hogg and Cameron Burt also made telling contributions in their time on the pitch. The rules permit two overage players; Bonnyton included Cowan and Kerr and as squad numbers decline, Watt also used the allowance, with Jack Spence fitting in well to the defence and James Donaldson giving an assured performance in goal.

It was most unfortunate to see the game end on a sour note. When the final whistle sounded and the Watt players began to celebrate, Thistle substitute Cammy Ross (believe it or not, that is his name) punched Justin Hogg and the Watt player responded in like kind. After the dust settled, both players received the inevitable red card, which deprives the Watt of Justin’s services for the Whitehill game.