Match Reports: Season 2014 – 2015

SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 41 (final game):  Saturday 16th May 2015

East of Scotland League:  First Division

Eyemouth United  2    Heriot-Watt University 3

At the end of this high-octane contest, Heriot-Watt was able to clutch the three points required to stay a point ahead of Duns and clinch second position in the East of Scotland League First Division, but during the ninety minutes a battling Eyemouth side gave the Watt a massive scare and perhaps deserved better than a narrow defeat.

In fact, it was déjà vu for the Watt as Eyemouth went two goals ahead after sixty-two minutes’ play.  That was exactly the timing when Eyemouth went two up at Riccarton last month. On that occasion, United had crumbled as the Watt forced their way back into the match, but there was little chance of that happening this time.

Not unusually for Eyemouth’s clifftop ground, Warner Park, a strong wind blew almost directly down the pitch all afternoon.  In the first half, the home side had the advantage of having the wind behind them and the Watt was obliged to work the ball on the ground when the opportunity arose.

Watt had an early scare when the dangerous Sean Campbell sidestepped a tackle to break into the Watt penalty box, but Jack Robinson spread himself well and diverted the shot for a corner with his right foot.

Watt was moving the ball well when possession was gained and came close after a good move on the left.  Neil Laurenson played Scott Davies in through the middle, but when his first touch took the ball towards Adam Mutch as he came quickly from goal, Davies was only able to play the ball off the ’keeper.  The rebound fell behind Elliot Sutherland and in trying to turn quickly and shoot, he didn’t complete the turn and sent the ball past.

With twelve minutes on the clock, United went ahead.  Greg McCrudden, a prominent figure in the Eyemouth midfield, had a shot blocked on the edge of the Watt area.  When the ball returned to his feet, McCrudden slipped it inside Alex Scott for Tinashe Ruwona to present Campbell with the chance to slide the ball into the net.

Davies had another chance through the middle five minutes after this and let out a yell of frustration as he got his foot to the ball ahead of Mutch only to see it slip past the post.

Eyemouth continued to create chances as Watt battled against the wind and a dangerous ball passed right across the goalmouth without a touch from either side.  Shortly after this came a curious incident.  Sean Muhsin’s free kick was pushed on to the bar by Mutch and when the ball came down it was headed into goal by Chris Donnelly, but the whistle had already gone and a free kick to the defending side was awarded.  An offside call against Donnelly seems the most logical explanation.

Campbell, who had failed to run off a knock received earlier, was replaced by Keith Buckley five minutes before half-time.  This compounded the ill-fortune of the home side, for which two players notified injury problems during the pre-match warm-up.  Eyemouth may well speculate about what the outcome might have been without these problems.

Just before the interval, Watt worked a short corner on the left.  Muhsin and Donnelly managed to smuggle the ball into the penalty box, but with Davies in good position for a cutback, Donnelly opted to try a backheel turn and ran the ball over the line.

Watt had an early chance in the second half when Muhsin’s free kick was played out as far as Sutherland, but from the edge of the box he leaned back and sent his shot over the bar.  Then, after a fine tackle by Adam Woolven set the visitors away on the right, Sutherland’s crossfield pass picked out Laurenson, but rather than getting away a shot, Laurenson tried to push the ball past Gavin Burrell first, with the result that it ran too far ahead and Mutch was able to gather.  Laurenson was involved again soon after, getting his head to a free kick from the right, but Mutch caught the ball on the bounce as he moved to his left.

United was taking every opportunity to push forward into the wind and a strong tackle on Buckley by Andy Forbes was needed to stop the powerful forward as he turned close to goal.  As expected, however, most of the attacking in this half was being done by the Watt and another excruciating moment occurred as Donnelly darted on to the ball and took it round Mutch, only for a defender to get to him before he could play the ball into goal.

It seemed as if the visitors must take one of their opportunities sooner or later, but suddenly the situation became much more problematic as Eyemouth added a second goal.  A needless foul was conceded by Davies, barging into the back of McCrudden when he had the chance to go round him and make a proper challenge and when McCrudden played the ball into the danger area, Sean Ford timed his run well to volley low past Robinson.

The challenge facing the Watt was suddenly a huge one, but the team did not panic and four minutes later the fightback had begun.  Donnelly went on a penetrating run from left to right through midfield, at the end of which he swivelled and struck a fierce shot from the edge of the area.  Mutch managed to block the ball and when Sutherland fired the rebound towards goal, that was also blocked, but this time the ball bounced up and Laurenson arrived to place a firm header over the goalkeeper into the top corner.

There were substitutions on both sides in the next few minutes, with Watt going to three at the back after Scott was replaced by Cammy Stevenson, and in seventy-one minutes the scores were level.  The ball was played diagonally across the pitch and when it was touched into the path of Sutherland, he sent an accurate low drive into the far corner of the net.

Davies was withdrawn and Calum Milne introduced as the Watt pursued the winning goal they craved.  Another excellent Woolven tackle prevented the skilful Ruwona breaking away and Watt bore down on the home goal again.  Milne’s shot was saved by Mutch, but the ball, bouncing high into the air, was carried towards goal on the wind and it took an acrobatic overhead clearance by Burrell to prevent it crossing the line. Milne then played the ball across goal from the left and a Watt foot, which may have belonged to Donnelly, reached the ball but sent it back across goal and out for a goal kick.

A good pass by Sutherland sent Donnelly into the penalty box again a minute later to win a corner on the right.  Laurenson’s kick curled towards the far post but looked as if it might have too much pace on it for a controlled header.  That thought ignored the redoubtable aerial ability of Forbes, who rose high to meet the ball flush on his forehead and power it into the net, sending the Watt support into delirious celebration.

The lead had been gained but the match was not yet won and when another free kick was launched into the Watt box, Ford again got his foot to the ball, but this time he was unable to generate much power and Robinson gratefully collected.

As the visiting support waited nervously for the end of the match, Laurenson nipped the ball away from Ford and was brought down, giving Muhsin a chance to demonstrate his free-kick prowess, but the wind was too strong even for his skills and whipped the ball into the side netting.

Play seemed to go on interminably, but after four minutes of stoppage time, at last came the sound which was the sweetest of music to Watt ears – the note of the referee’s whistle to signify the end of the game and confirm that Heriot-Watt had secured second place in the Division.

Eyemouth United:  Mutch, Burrell, Spiers, Ford, McInnes, McCrudden, Tillbrook (McKay 88), Wilson, Campbell (Buckley 41), Ruwona, Williamson (Wylie 67).     Subs. not used: Adamson, Lauder.

Heriot-Watt University:  Robinson, Scott (Stevenson 70), Daniel, Woolven, Forbes, Hume, Sutherland, Muhsin, Davies (Milne 78), Donnelly, Laurenson.     Subs. not used: Kerlin, Higgins, Anderson.

Referee: Mr Calum Doyle (Newtongrange).

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 40:  Saturday 9th May 2015

East of Scotland League:  First Division

Kelso United  0   Heriot-Watt University 6

The Watt visited Woodside Park knowing that wins in their last two games of the season would secure second place in the East of Scotland League First Division.  Kelso had proved troublesome opponents in the three previous meetings between the sides, but on this occasion the Watt showed determination with confidence and turned in their season’s best performance to secure a convincing victory.

Chris Smith had gone with the eleven who started in the win over Hawick Royal Albert in midweek.  Watt started the match positively and the first goal arrived after six minutes’ play when Sean Muhsin’s through ball was superbly controlled by Chris Donnelly, who turned across the line of the penalty box before screwing round through an obtuse angle to wrongfoot Elliot Turnbull with an accurate shot past his right hand into the corner of goal.

Scott Davies was in sparkling form and set up Elliot Sutherland by winning the ball in a dangerous area, driving in towards the centre of the penalty area and laying a pass to the feet of Sutherland as he came in from the right.  The finish did not match the build-up, however, as Sutherland leant back and sent a shot with the inside of his right foot high over the bar.

A quick break-out from a Kelso free kick produced the next opportunity.  Alex Scott’s clearing header found Donnelly and the ball went via Davies to Laurenson, but when he played it inside for Sutherland on the run, the big man missed the ball completely.

Ryan Beveridge did well to clear a dangerous cross from the Watt right, getting above Laurenson to head away, but Watt kept up the pressure, with Turnbull called into action a minute later to knock the ball away as Jamie Hume closed in.  Jack Logan won the ball with a good tackle on Donnelly, but soon Jack Daniel had recovered it and returned it to Donnelly, who was pulled over by a harassed-looking Shane Bonnington.

Scott was a constant threat to the Kelso left flank and it was a great run by him which set up Watt’s second goal in twenty-six minutes.  Scott went past two defenders and continued his run after laying the ball inside to Donnelly.  When he was tackled, Laurenson was on hand to play the ball inside for Donnelly to calmly create the position he needed to steer the ball into the same square of netting he had used for the first goal.

It was just past the half-hour mark when United had its first attempt on goal, Ewan Hutchison striking a shot from the edge of the area, but the connection was not as clean as he would have liked and Jack Robinson saved low to his left.

A minute later, Watt went three ahead.  This one was down to a brilliant piece of deception by Laurenson, who ran in from the left side to meet a ball played square from the right, but on hearing a call from Muhsin, stepped over the ball and enabled Muhsin to collect in space.  Laurenson continued his run into the penalty area and got his reward when as Turnbull advanced, Muhsin lifted the ball past him to give Laurenson an opportunity to head the ball home.

The Watt was playing with great freedom and penetration, but Kelso seemed to have got a goal back two minutes later.  Daniel covered well to reach Kyle Blaikie’s cross and turn it behind, but when Hutchison put the corner into the perfect area for Kieran Cromarty to attack and the big defender rose above all the Watt defenders and made good contact with his header, everyone on the Watt side of the pitch thought the ball was in the goal.  We could hardly believe our eyes when instead of seeing the net rippling, we saw the ball running away along the grass and realised that it must have slipped just past the post.

Having had this reprieve, the Watt went in search of more goals.  Donnelly picked up the ball in midfield and accelerated straight through the middle of the United defence, but Turnbull was again alert to prevent a goal.  Then Laurenson won a good tackle and played the ball in towards the danger area.  It was asking a lot of Donnelly, but he was in his most determined mood and somehow managed to get a boot to the ball as Turnbull stooped to gather it; however the big goalkeeper managed to get his frame between the striker and the ball for long enough to let his defensive colleagues knock the ball away.

It was only temporary respite for the beleaguered Kelso defence.  Adam Woolven, who was having another splendid match alongside the defensive rock that is Andy Forbes, picked up a clearance and played a good pass to Sutherland on the edge of the area.  One of Sutherland’s cardinal qualities is that he does not become discouraged easily.  He had spurned two previous opportunities, but when the pass reached him, he flicked the ball into the air, turned to face the target and sent the dropping ball over the hands of Turnbull to dip under the bar and into the net for a memorable goal.

Turnbull saved again at the feet of Hume as Watt continued to press.  In the last minute of the first half, another determined run by Scott and another exchange of passes with Donnelly took the right-back to the by-line, but when he cut the ball back to Daniel, the left-back did not seem to expect the chance and skied a right-foot shot.

The second half started on a similar pattern to the first.  Another incisive move on the right took the ball from Donnelly to Muhsin and on to Sutherland, but with Davies in good position, the pass inside was intercepted and turned behind for a corner.  Laurenson’s kick was headed back across the penalty area by Hume and Muhsin struck a fierce shot on the volley, but Turnbull was in good position and caught the ball with the minimum of fuss.

Four minutes after half-time, Watt removed any doubts with a fifth goal.  Davies worked the ball inside to Muhsin, who made space and fired the ball into the space to the right of Turnbull.

Both Watt full-backs were getting forward at every opportunity and Daniel was on hand to latch on to the ball after Sutherland was tackled.  He found Laurenson in good position, but his shot was superbly saved by Turnbull, who dived upwards to his left to turn the ball over the bar.

Sutherland and Donnelly gave way to Adam Kerlin and Brian Anderson, with Scott moving into midfield and it wasn’t long before a sixth goal was created.  It came after a long period of possession football at the back, after which the ball was moved down the right flank.  Anderson linked the play and when the ball reached Scott, he managed to pass Turnbull from a tight angle and find the net for his first goal in East of Scotland football.

Turnbull was still performing bravely for United and he did well to get a hand to the ball as Davies tried to take it round him.  Davies was replaced by Cammy Stevenson shortly after this and Kelso also made two substitutions in this phase of the match, bringing on Chris Falconer for Andrew Oldham and Iain Gay for Ewan Hutchison.

A free kick on the left almost gave Kelso a chance to get on the scoresheet as Robinson found there was a little more length on the cross than he had bargained for.  He caught it, then dropped it as he overbalanced and was fortunate to see the ball run off him and behind rather than to one of the home players close by.

Stevenson dragged a shot from the edge of the box past the post, but he was instrumental in gaining the Watt the chance for another goal when a sharp turn in the box led to him being brought down for a penalty kick.  Muhsin seldom fails to convert from twelve yards, but Turnbull was still determined and he made a great save, throwing himself full-length to get both hands to the ball and divert it round the post.

The final effort of the game came from Anderson, who won a tackle in midfield, made ground and let go a drive from thirty metres, but again Turnbull was equal to the task.

All in all, an excellent performance and a deserved victory for Heriot-Watt in its penultimate match of the season.

Kelso United:  Turnbull, Beveridge, Logan, Bowie, Cromarty, McNulty, Bonnington, Herdman, Oldham (Falconer 67), Blaikie, Hutchison (Gay 77).     Sub. not used:  Ngoa.

Heriot-Watt University:  Robinson, Scott, Daniel, Woolven, Forbes, Hume, Sutherland (Kerlin 56), Muhsin, Davies (Stevenson 73), Donnelly (Anderson 56), Laurenson.     Subs. not used:  Kerr, Higgins.

Referee:  Mr Craig Ferguson (Dalkeith)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 39:  Wednesday 6th May 2015

East of Scotland League:  First Division

Hawick Royal Albert  2   Heriot-Watt University  7

The Watt recovered from the disappointment of its defeat to Burntisland Shipyard and took another step towards securing second place in the First Division of the East of Scotland League with this victory over a Hawick side that never gave up, but which made crucial errors during the match.

Hawick started the game enthusiastically and a fine move in the second minute took Andrew Noble into the Watt box before he was stopped by a tackle from Jamie Hume at the expense of a corner.

Kevin Strathdee was leading the home line intelligently and three minutes later he found space for a shot before Andy Forbes could get to him.  Jack Robinson was well placed to make the save.  Robinson was in goal for the Watt as the latest player to be taken from the Under-20 side to replace an injured player, this time Craig Saunders, who sustained a knee injury at Burntisland in the previous match.

Robinson was again in action ten minutes later, coming out bravely to dive at the feet of Ross Clarke, who was making a big impression on the Albert left side.  Robinson caught the ball, but took a knock to the head which left him in need of treatment before he could continue.

In the twentieth minute, the Watt went ahead with a superb goal.  Neil Laurenson’s pass from midfield found Chris Donnelly on the run across the edge of the penalty box.  Donnelly’s first touch was excellent and he turned back across his marker and sent an exquisite chip over the advancing Bruce Callan and into the far corner of the goal.

Four minutes later, Scott Davies seemed to have timed his run through the middle just right to reach the ball before Callan and thump it into the corner of the net, but he was given offside.

Hume’s diving header cleared the immediate danger from Nick Ramsay’s free kick, but the ball fell to Noble on the edge of the area.  He took the shot first time, but couldn’t keep it on target and the ball slipped past Robinson’s right-hand post.

Elliot Sutherland tried a shot from a tight angle, but Callan was in the right position to make the goalkeeper’s next contribution was less positive for his side.  Donnelly’s pass into the box drew Callan from his line, but Laurenson nipped in ahead of him and began to take the ball away from goal along the by-line.  Callan impetuously challenged him from behind and brought him down, conceding a penalty.  Sean Muhsin did his usual impeccable job from the spot, finding the corner of the goal.

A minute later, Davies again found space in the middle of the home defence and this time was clearly onside.  Just inside the penalty area, he played the ball to the side of Callan and attempted to run round the goalkeeper to recover it, but Callan took his legs away for another penalty and again Muhsin scored.

Two minutes after this, Muhsin completed his hat-trick with another trade-mark free kick from the left side.  So completely was Callan deceived into expecting a cross that he had hardly started to move when the ball passed him on its way low into goal.

Having scored three times in three or four minutes, Muhsin then provided a comedy moment.  Accepting Donnelly’s pass from the left, he made room for a shot from around the penalty spot but then missed the ball and ended up on his back.

Jamie Amos replaced Ramsay at half-time, but before another minute had gone, Watt was another goal to the good.  A long ball down the right had been headed behind by David Strathdee and when the corner came in to the near post, Callan was unable to hold it, leaving Hume to prod home from very close range.

Ryan Higgins replaced Sutherland as Watt went to 4 – 3 – 3, but Albert, showing admirable resolve, had the better of the play during the next period.  Good play between Kevin Strathdee and Noble caused danger on the Watt left, but Forbes stretched to knock the ball behind.  Clarke, Hawick’s most impressive player, then went on a tremendous run which took him past the entire right side of the Watt defence, but when he squared the ball to Noble in good position in front of goal, Noble leant back and sent his shot over the bar.

Watt then staged the best move of the game, Laurenson’s flick enabling Higgins to release Donnelly moving to the right, but when Donnelly picked out Muhsin in the middle, the midfielder went for placement and the shot was too feeble to trouble Callan.

Cammy Stevenson replaced Muhsin shortly after this and looked very much in the mood, showing good control and tricky running.  After a final attempt on goal which just cleared the bar, Davies left the fray, his place taken by Calum Milne.

No sooner was this last substitution made than Hawick shook the Watt with two great goals in two minutes.  The first came when the Watt defence failed to deal with a cross from the right and Amos stepped in to smash the ball in off the underside of the bar.  Then a good move on the right ended with a fine pass, picking out Kevin Strathdee, moving to the right side of the box.  Strathdee took one touch and fired the ball accurately across Robinson to the far corner.

As Hawick sought to grab another goal back, Nicky Cairns fired in a shot from twenty-five metres, but the ball went past the post to Robinson’s right.  Watt immediately responded by going to 4 – 4 – 2 with Stevenson and Laurenson in the wide midfield positions.  Stevenson almost grabbed a goal after he sent Alex Scott down the right with a flick header.  Scott’s pass found Donnelly and when he returned the ball to Stevenson, who had quickly advanced to the penalty area, Stevenson took the ball inside past two defenders and aimed at the space between Callan and his post.  However, the goalkeeper made a fine save, getting down quickly to divert the ball round the post.

Unfortunately for the Albert, this did not long delay the next goal.  When Laurenson played the corner short to Donnelly, he deceived his marker with a quick turn towards the line and crossed to the far post, where Forbes headed home from almost on the goal line.

Four minutes later, Donnelly, who had started the scoring, completed it.  Milne created the chance, charging down an attempted clearance and pursuing the ball to cut it back from the line to Donnelly, who applied a close-range finish.

The Albert battled on, with Jamie Paterek heading just over from Ronald Fleming’s corner, but was reduced to ten men when Scott McKenzie, who had earlier been cautioned, clipped Donnelly when the striker was on a mazy run and gained a second booking. It was not a malicious challenge and the centre-back was perhaps a little unfortunate. With two minutes to play, Hawick lost a second player when David Strathdee was shown a red card for something he said within the hearing of the referee.

With the last move of the game, another probing run by Donnelly on the left won a corner, but with two Watt players waiting for a cut-back he might have been expected to try to find one of them.  Then again, it was the last minute of a game which was secure and he was one goal from a hat-trick, so maybe it was understandable.

Hawick Royal Albert:  Callan, D Strathdee, Clarke, Raymond Fleming, McKenzie, Cairns, Noble (Paterek 75), Ronald Fleming, K Strathdee, Ramsay (Amos 45), Henderson (Spence 65).     Subs. not used: Irvine, Paterson.

Heriot-Watt University:  Robinson, Scott, Daniel, Woolven, Forbes, Hume, Sutherland (Higgins 49), Muhsin (Stevenson 60), Davies (Milne 68), Donnelly, Laurenson.     Sub. not used: Kerlin.

Referee:  Mr Stewart Luke (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 38:  Saturday 2nd May 2015

East of Scotland League:  First Division

Burntisland Shipyard  1   Heriot-Watt University 0

When the Watt had played at Duns in midweek, the side had been forced to start the match without its main striker, Chris Donnelly.  For this match, Chris wasn’t available at all.  The side which started the match at Duns was sent in again, though with some of the jerseys distributed differently to reflect a change of system.

On this occasion, however, Brian Anderson reported in sick, so the options in the striking department were even fewer.  That may have been significant on a day when worthwhile attempts on goal were in short supply.  No sooner had the Watt got into a position for the first time this season when keeping up the victories would ensure promotion than a defeat sent the side slipping back again in the race for second place in the First Division of the East of Scotland League.  With Ormiston also losing, the Duns club must have been considerably more cheerful on Saturday evening than it had been late on Wednesday.

It was the second day of May, but conditions at Burntisland were as cold as at any time during the season, with an icy easterly wind blowing strongly down the ground.  There was even humorous reference to the possibility that referee Paul Hanlon, who had been obliged to abandon a match between the sides at Riccarton in January due to snow might be forced into similar action in the event of precipitation.  There wasn’t any snow, but the Watt was caught cold as the only goal of the game was scored in the first half-minute.

To make things worse, it was a former Watt favourite who did the damage.  Benefiting from a rebound, Brendan Napier set off down the right wing.  He moved into the box unchallenged and fired in a shot which Craig Saunders dived low to his right to block, but Napier was first to the rebound and knocked it past the grounded goalkeeper into the net.  The goal was timed at just twenty-four seconds.

Napier had another go three minutes later when Sean Muhsin was harshly penalised by the award of a free kick.  From around forty metres, Napier sent the free-kick towards the top corner of the goal.  It was just missing the post, but Saunders wasn’t sure enough to leave it and conceded a corner which was blocked away by Neil Laurenson and cleared by Adam Woolven.

Another former Watt player, Ewan Henderson, headed on a throw-in a minute later and when Laurenson and Jamie Hume both went for the header, the ball fell for Napier to try another shot, this time on the volley, but the ball was blocked away for a throw-in.

Eventually, Watt did manage to get control of the ball and a good move with some sharp passing gave hope, but playing against alert and determined opponents in the teeth of a strong wind isn’t easy and Burntisland had more of the play in the first half.  In Dale Robertson, the home side had a tricky, inventive forward with good feet and he threatened from a quickly-taken free kick, stepping inside David Kerr and sending a drive skimming just over the bar.

Saunders had to receive treatment for an injured leg after falling awkwardly in catching the ball above his head from Napier’s lob, but he recovered sufficiently to make a good save a few minutes later, getting a strong right hand to the ball to push a header from Blair Smart over the bar.

A strong run through midfield by Elliot Sutherland enabled Muhsin to win a corner, but that came to nothing.  Hume then found Cammy Stevenson on the right side of the penalty box, but his shot was a little wild and cleared the bar with something to spare.

Stevenson was looking as though he might break through, however, and he almost managed it a few minutes later, the Shipyard defence closing in at the last moment to turn the ball away for a corner.  Muhsin worked a short corner routine with Laurenson and took the return pass to the by-line, but when he played it to the near-post area, Kerr could only turn it past the post.

Robertson’s subtle header from a free kick just cleared the bar as Shippy resumed the attack and Napier shot over when Saunders punched out a corner to the edge of the area.  Shortly after this, Peter Bell had to leave the pitch with a leg injury and was replaced by Kevin Masson.

Todd Arthur was cautioned for a challenge that took Sutherland some distance into the air as Watt tried to press forward, but after Muhsin won a corner, Laurenson’s delivery was poor.

The first half finished with a really good attack by the Watt.  A superb pass by Laurenson put Sutherland away on the left and when he played the ball inside to Muhsin, he turned it back for the run of Laurenson. There was no shooting opportunity, however, and Laurenson kept the passing move going, but it ended in anticlimax when Muhsin hooked the ball through for Stevenson, who was in an offside position.

Five minutes into the second half, Watt was awarded a free kick half-way inside the Burntisland half.  Muhsin played in a teasing ball, but no player on either side made contact before Jordan Mushet, who must have seen the ball late in its trajectory, threw himself to the left to make a wonderful save, turning the ball round the post for a corner.

Watt, with the wind behind them this half, was making most of the running now and Laurenson’s fine cross just eluded the head of Muhsin in good position.  Then a free kick on the left gave Muhsin the opportunity to try to repeat the goal he had scored at Duns in midweek. He made a good job of it too, curling the ball on a path which would have taken it just inside the near post, but Mushet, alert and athletic, blocked the ball.  Although anyone who had seen Muhsin perform a similar free-kick a few days earlier might have been expected to anticipate the possibility of such a block back into play, it was not a Watt player who was first to the loose ball and Shipyard was able to play it out to the edge of the area.  Sutherland was in position to send in a well-struck drive, but he was leaning back slightly and the ball carried just over the bar.

Shipyard was still attacking with purpose when the opportunity arose.  Good work by Masson to keep the ball in play on the right wing enabled him to play it through for the run of Smart, but his shot was too high.

As Burntisland had done in the first half, the Watt gained a number of corner-kicks in the second, but Laurenson was not on his best corner-taking form.  He sent two straight past and another curling out on the far side before anyone could reach it.

Scott Davies did well to charge down an attempted clearance by Mushet, but was unfortunate enough to see the ball rise high in the air, where it was caught by the wind and carried out for a goal kick.

One of Watt’s best chances came when Stevenson got the break of the ball on the right in a situation reminiscent of Napier’s goal.  However, as Mushet advanced, Stevenson chose not to try to pass him with a shot.  He cut across the box past two defenders, then turned and went back across the players on to his right foot before sending a shot on the turn back across goal and just past the post.

With twenty minutes left to play, Chris Smith tried to change the pattern with the introduction of Andy Forbes and Alex Scott, going to three at the back and pushing players further forward.  Scott picked out Stevenson with a cutback, but from the edge of the penalty area, Stevenson again shot agonisingly just past the post to Mushet’s right.

Laurenson’s good cross to the far post reached Scott, but his diving header faded across goal and past.  Right at the end, Laurenson did well to win a corner on the left and when Stevenson’s kick came in to the far post, Woolven got his head to the ball, but he had been turned as he jumped and the ball went away from the goal instead of towards it. As it landed, the referee’s whistle brought the match to an end.

Burntisland Shipyard:  Mushet, Arthur, Lowe, Haywood, Smart, Keatings, Anderson (Kelly 72), Bell (Masson 38), Napier (Doig 69), Robertson, Henderson.     Sub. not used: Bouhaddou.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Kerlin (Scott 73), Daniel, Kerr (Forbes 73), Woolven, Muhsin, Stevenson, Hume, Davies, Sutherland, Laurenson.     Subs. not used: Higgins, Sellar, Smith.

Referee: Mr Paul Hanlon (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 37:  Wednesday 29th April 2015

East of Scotland League: First Division

Duns  1   Heriot-Watt University 2

For this important game at New Hawthorn Park, the Watt had to start without top scorer Chris Donnelly.  A delay at work (he had to take someone to hospital) obliged the striker to follow on and take a place on the bench, with Scott Davies being chosen to lead the attack.

The Watt’s previous visit to the newly-created ground had been a traumatic one; the team had ended the match with nine men and on the wrong side of a 4 – 1 scoreline.  Duns started this game determined to make it just as torrid for the Riccarton side at its second visit. Gary Wales, an industrious and skilful wide player, was supplying much of the ammunition, with Stevie Shennan and Jordan Lauder working hard to use it.  With seven minutes played, it was Lauder who found space on the left side of the area and when David Kerr moved quickly to block the ball, a corner was the result.

Big Dougie Brydon is a perpetual threat from set pieces and he moved forward to meet the corner kick with a decisive header to put the home side ahead.

Watt tried to respond immediately, but although Elliot Sutherland took up good position to meet a diagonal cross, he failed to control his header.

Duns, playing down the slope, took every opportunity to put the Watt defence under pressure and another good corner required Adam Woolven to head the ball behind on the other side, but Craig Saunders found a path to the ball to gather the second kick.

A Davies shot from the edge of the area almost gave the Watt an equaliser; it deflected off a defender and Paul Tansey could only look over his shoulder in hope, but the ball dropped just over the bar and only a corner kick resulted.  Neil Laurenson played the corner short and on getting the return pass, delivered a tempting cross towards the back post, but there was no attacking player in a position to attack the ball and Steve McHoul played it away.

Seven minutes before half-time, Watt did level the scores.  A free-kick twenty-five metres from the corner-flag on the Watt left produced a crowd scene at the back of the penalty-box, but Sean Muhsin curled the ball perfectly over the two-man wall and just inside the near post.  It was another cool piece of dead-ball expertise by the Watt midfielder to add to several others we have seen from him this season.

Duns intensified their attack after this and after Lauder had driven a free-kick just over and a fierce long-range effort from Conor Devaney had gone just past the post, another Lauder effort, struck left-footed on the turn after a run across the pitch, landed awkwardly at the feet of Saunders, obliging the goalkeeper to take care with the slippery ball.

Early in the second half, an interception gave Shennan a chance to shoot, but his drive rose high over the bar. An injury to Devaney led to his replacement by George Windram, who went into central defence, allowing Brydon to move forward into midfield.

A fine diagonal pass then put Shennan away on the left and he fired in a low cross to the near post area.  Lauder had made the run to meet the ball close to goal, but a superb covering challenge by Woolven denied him.

Ten minutes after half-time, Donnelly replaced Davies and immediately created a wonderful chance for a goal, turning after collecting a throw-in and playing the ball inside to the unmarked Sutherland, but with time to take a touch, Sutherland tried a shot on the turn and skied it.

A blistering strike from Wales went just over the bar, but Watt was beginning to turn up the heat.  Adam Kerlin’s cross was headed on by Donnelly and when Laurenson returned the ball to him, Donnelly’s shot from twenty metres was deflected for a corner.  Following another short-corner move, this time between Muhsin and Donnelly, the ball came inside to Laurenson, who unexpectedly passed it right across the penalty area, but the first man to play it was a defender who turned it behind.

Duns continued to gain corners from time to time and Brydon got his head to several without repeating his early success as the Watt defence stuck to its task vigilantly.

Great work between Laurenson and Donnelly moved the ball down the left and when it came inside to Cammy Stevenson, he sidestepped his marker and drove the ball for goal, but Duns had a forest of defenders back by this time and the shot was blocked.  Stevenson was replaced by Anderson as the Watt sought to change the pattern of attack.

Jack Daniel’s cross to the far post was attacked by Jamie Hume, bringing the Watt another corner.  At the near post, Woolven got his head to the ball, but good defending prevented a goal.

Wales’s free kick into the Watt penalty box was headed clear by Kerr and the Watt attacked down the left. In a fine passing movement, Muhsin, Donnelly, Anderson and Laurenson moved the ball around before Anderson found space for a shot which was deflected for a corner-kick.  Yet again, the kick was taken short by Laurenson to Donnelly and on this occasion he surprised Windram by turning to the narrow space between the defender and the line.  When Donnelly passed him on the way towards goal, Windram clipped his heels and conceded a penalty kick.

Muhsin made his usual tidy job from the penalty spot, sending Tansey one way as the ball went to the other corner of the goal, giving the Watt the lead for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, Duns mounted a vigorous assault on the Watt goal in response, but the Watt defence held firm and soon the visitors had control of the ball again.  Kerlin’s accurate crossfield pass picked out Laurenson, who headed inside for Anderson to press and win a corner, but this time the short-corner move didn’t work well.

Donnelly and Laurenson tried to use up as much time as possible with a series of free kicks and throws-in near the corner-flag on the Watt left, but there were still five minutes to play and it was futile to look for the final whistle yet. Duns eventually regained possession, but was unable to exert much pressure on the Watt defence before the referee finally did bring the match to an end.

This victory was a considerable achievement by an inexperienced Watt side.  Duns has created an atmospheric ground and had decent support, so the young men had to show tenacity and belief after falling behind early on.  That they did so is testimony to their strength of character and the inspirational qualities of Head Coach Chris Smith.

The Watt team for this match included several young players who for much of the season were playing for the Under-20 side and probably none of them would be in the first-team squad now were it not for the extensive injury list.  Three of the back four in the Watt defence were in this category (two nineteen-year-olds and an eighteen-year-old), but Adam Kerlin, Jack Daniel and Adam Woolven were not overawed by the occasion.  They played with confidence and purpose and thoroughly merited their selection.

David Kerr, the only member of the back four not eligible for the youth side, also showed a steely determination and probably had his best game of the season, but special mention must go to his central defensive partner Woolven, whose trademark characteristic is coolness under fire.  Even when the Duns attack was bearing down on the Watt back line with pace and vigour, he was not to be shaken out of his settled intention to pass the ball to another player in a yellow shirt, carrying out that resolution with calm precision throughout the entirety of the match.

Duns:  Tansey, Burns, Weatherburn, McHoul, Brydon, Chisholm, Wales, Devaney (Windram 53), Shennan, Lauder (Robinson 63), Stewart.     Subs. not used: Ainslie, Waddell, Renton.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Kerlin, Daniel, Kerr, Woolven, Hume, Stevenson (Anderson 69), Muhsin, Davies (Donnelly 55), Laurenson, Sutherland.     Subs. not used: Scott, Higgins.

Referee:  Mr Scott Millar (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 36:  Saturday 25th April 2015

East of Scotland League:  First Division

Heriot-Watt University  1   Kelso United  0

The Watt took on bottom-of-the-table side Kelso United for the second time in five days and again found that the young Borders side was no pushover.  It took an excellent goal, fittingly scored by Cammy Stevenson, Watt’s most dangerous player on the night, to secure the three points and keep the promotion challenge on track.

Chris Smith had introduced Jamie Hume into the Watt midfield and he made an early impact with two penetrating runs which ended in passes which enabled first Chris Donnelly, then Scott Davies to get shots on target, producing two fine saves by Elliot Turnbull.

Shane Bonnington, who had done so well after coming on as a substitute in the previous game on the Tuesday, was on from the start this time and was again posing problems for the right side of the Watt defence, but gradually the home side began to ratchet up the pressure.  Stevenson’s flick put Adam Kerlin away on the right and his cross enabled Davies to win a corner.  From Neil Laurenson’s kick, Hume headed down into the six-yard box and only prompt action by Turnbull prevented the ball being turned in to goal.

Craig Saunders had to run from his area to kick the ball away from the approaching Darren Bowie, but his clearance sent Stevenson away on the right before he was stopped by a good tackle by Joseph Ngoa.

Six minutes from half-time, Watt went ahead with a goal of some quality.  David Kerr started the move with a slide-rule pass to Donnelly, who slipped the ball to Stevenson as they crossed.  Stevenson took the ball into the penalty area and fired an accurate left-foot shot to Turnbull’s left and into the corner of the goal.

Watt’s attacking was not always so incisive.  In the last minute before half-time there was a move including fifteen passes and involving eight of the ten outfield players, with Donnelly and Davies the two who hadn’t touched the ball before it was played out for a goal kick.

Kelso started the second half on the front foot and following a long thrown by Ben Herdman, Bonnington hooked in a shot, but under pressure he got too much loft on the ball and it carried over the bar.

Hume tried a shot from twenty-five metres, but Turnbull was in no mood to be easily beaten from such distance and went down to his left to save.  Another Herdman throw-in gave the home defence some difficulty and Saunders had to dive to his left to turn the ball round the post when Bowie got a touch on a ball played back into the danger area after it had been half-cleared.

With an hour played, Watt’s best move since half-time ended with Davies playing in Stevenson, whose left-foot shot produced another good save, Turnbull diving to turn the ball round the post.  The corner was taken short and the ball played inside for another good effort from Stevenson, who cut across the edge of the penalty box and turned to send in a fierce drive which clipped the bar on its way over.

Brian Anderson replaced Ryan Higgins as the Watt added a second striker to the exclusion of the holding midfielder and Anderson had been on the pitch less than a minute before having a chance.  He was picked out by a well-judged Muhsin cross, but was unable to generate enough power on his header to seriously trouble Turnbull.

United continued to pose a threat from set pieces and a corner from the left produced an indecisive contest between Saunders and Bowie, leaving Hume to head behind for a corner on the right.  This time Muhsin headed the ball away and Watt was able to break clear.  The award of a free kick not far outside the penalty area gave Kelso another opportunity to test the Watt rearguard, but Bowie’s firm kick struck Muhsin at the end of the defensive wall and Jack Logan sent the rebound just past.

Stevenson did more good work, twisting and turning to win a corner on the Watt right.  Following a short-corner move, Laurenson sent in a good cross which was met on the volley at pace by Donnelly and brought the best save yet from the determined Turnbull.

Stevenson had the chance to cap a fine performance in the last ten minutes when a ball played out of defence found him in space on the right.  He carried it in on goal and sidestepped Turnbull as he advanced, but by that time Herdman had recovered the ground and was able to play the ball out for a corner, although at some personal expense, as he was injured in the action.

You can never relax on a one-goal lead, but in the end it was enough and Watt saw out the final minutes to secure the victory, but will be wary of the visit to Woodside Park which awaits before the season’s end.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Kerlin, Laurenson, Kerr, Woolven, Higgins (Anderson 63), Davies, Muhsin, Donnelly, Hume, Stevenson.     Subs. not used: O’Hagan, Milne, Smith, Sellar.

Kelso United:  Turnbull, Logan, Ngoa (Blaikie 60), Herdman, Cromarty, McNulty, Bonnington, Beveridge, Bowie, Boyne (Hill 69), Hutchison (Blaikie 69).     Sub. not used: Gray.

Referee:  Mr Kevin Lindsay (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 35:  Tuesday 21st April 2015

East of Scotland League:  First Division

Heriot-Watt University  3   Kelso United  0

Heriot-Watt kicked off the first match in their double-header against Kelso in bright evening sunshine at Riccarton.  Adam Woolven partnered Jamie Hume at the heart of the Watt defence, with Adam Kerlin retaining his right-back berth and the returning Alex Scott on the bench.  With Ryan Higgins suspended, Watt played with a four-man midfield behind Chris Donnelly and Brian Anderson.

Early speculative efforts from distance by Stevie Wright for the Watt and Jordan Hopkinson for United failed to trouble either goalkeeper, but with just five minutes played, Watt was awarded a penalty when Scott Davies turned inside Joseph Ngoa and the full-back whipped his feet away.  It was a straightforward decision for the referee and Sean Muhsin made a tidy job of the kick, sending it to the corner of the net to the right of Elliot Turnbull.

As Watt fell into a good passing rhythm, Donnelly set the ball back for a shot by Elliot Sutherland, but from twenty metres, the direction was poor.  The home side continued to move the ball well, but was failing to create clear-cut chances against a hardworking United defence. in a Kelso forward foray, Hume had to be alert to block an effort from Hopkinson, but when the ball came to Ewan Hutchison, he shot rather wildly.

Donnelly’s pace was always a threat and half-way through the first half he picked up the ball on the left and drove forward into the box.  Just as he was preparing to shoot, his heels were clipped and he stumbled into the ball.  Kelso was aggrieved at the award of a second penalty, but again it was hard to see what choice the referee had, as it was an obvious foul well inside the penalty box.  This time, however, Muhsin decided to vary his approach from the spot and tried a chip down the centre of the goal.  He got a little too much elevation into it, however, and the ball came off the crossbar and was cleared to safety.

Having missed from twelve yards, Muhsin made amends from around twice the distance less than fifteen minutes later.  When Ngoa’s challenge just outside the penalty area earned him a caution, the free kick was in Muhsin’s favourite area, similar to that from which he had scored the Watt’s first goal against Eyemouth ten days previously.  He repeated that kick precisely to put his side two goals to the good.

Donnelly timed his run really well to get ahead of his marker to send in a well-judged header from Anderson’s left-wing cross, but the ball passed the post by a whisker and Watt went into half-time with a two-goal lead but with both goals having come from set pieces, there was a feeling that the good passing and movement shown in the first half had produced less from open play than it ought to have.

Watt started the second half with Cammy Stevenson on in place of Wright, who had complained of dizziness after a clash of heads late in the first period.  An early move on the right produced a chance for Anderson, who latched on to a pass from Davies to turn and fire in a strong shot to which Turnbull applied strong hands at the near post to turn the ball behind.  Anderson rose well to meet Neil Laurenson’s deep corner but his header cleared the crossbar.

On the hour, Kelso replaced Ngoa and Liam Hill with Kyle Blaikie and Shane Bonnington and the fresh legs made an impact, with Bonnington attacking from the left with vigour and skill, but a few minutes later, Watt scored again.  The goal came from one of those situations that arises from time to time in East of Scotland matches in which club linesmen are used for want of independent officials.  It was every linesman’s nightmare – a ball played from a position on the sideline and played straight down the line.  From Kerlin’s boot, the ball went high in the air and when it came down, it fell right on the line.  Worse, it continued bouncing straight down the line.  As the hapless linesman watched miserably, hoping it would take a leap to the right and go properly out, a Kelso player, with the same hope, followed it down the line waiting for the ball to make a decision.  Anderson had no such concerns – he surged on to the ball and made off with it towards the corner. When he got within range, he fired it across goal and Donnelly knocked it in from close range.

To many players on the pitch, probably most of the visitors, the ball must have looked as though it had gone over as it bounced down the line, but it never did, as Kelso were so gracious as to confirm later.  That didn’t prevent a silly altercation on the sideline, concerning which the linesman concerned is now properly embarrassed.

Muhsin went off with a knee problem, with Scott replacing him and Kerlin moving into midfield and Watt almost conceded a sloppy goal two minutes later.  A passback was left short and one of the United strikers was quickly on to the ball to fire a shot towards the far post, but Saunders was set on recording another clean sheet and dived low to his right to make a fine save, pushing the ball wide to a position from which it could be cleared.

Bonnington was continuing to pose problems for the Watt defence, however, and just after this he drove in from the right towards the penalty box. Sutherland challenged him and fell awkwardly, hurting his arm.  Watt played on with ten men whilst the position was being assessed and again Bonnington threatened, playing the ball across the face of goal just out of the reach of Hopkinson.  United recovered the ball on the right and a cross from the touchline sailed over the head of Saunders, struck the far post and rebounded back along a similar line to that on which it had made its previous journey.

The ball was turned behind for a corner and by this time it had been determined that Sutherland could not return and there would be yet another substitution for injury.  Head Coach Chris Smith came on to play for the last twenty minutes, cursing his fate in seeing another three of his players succumb to fitness issues.

Watt had been forced into substantial reorganisation and Kelso seized the opportunity to keep up the pressure.  Hopkinson cut in from the left and sent a low shot fizzing across the turf to clip the outside of the post on its way past.  Saunders dived to cover his post, but if he realised it was quite as close as it turned out to be, it was a great piece of judgment.

A superb turn by Donnelly on a throw-in from the right enabled him to play the ball on to Stevenson in good position in the middle of the Kelso penalty area, but Stevenson’s first touch wasn’t good enough to enable him to get in a shot and the ball leaked away to the left.  When it was sent back in again, Donnelly’s hurried shot was high and wide.

The final significant action was a free kick sent by Laurenson to the far post area, from where Anderson headed back across goal to where Stevenson waited, but the bounce beat the Watt striker and he could only get a faint touch to the ball as it passed.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Kerlin, Laurenson, Woolven, Hume, Muhsin (Scott 65), Davies, Wright (Stevenson 45), Anderson, Donnelly, Sutherland (Smith 70). Subs. not used: Kerr, Sellar.

Kelso United:  Turnbull, Logan (Herdman 79), Ngoa (Blaikie 60), Bowie, Cromarty, Boyne, Hutchison, Beveridge, Hopkinson, McNulty, Hill (Bonnington 60). Sub. not used: Gray.

Referee:  Mr Daniel Graves (Edinburgh) .

SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 34:  Saturday 18th April 2015

East of Scotland League: First Division

Ormiston  0   Heriot-Watt University 0

The developments at Recreation Park which will eventually produce a new home for Ormiston have given the place a very different appearance, with the line of bushes and small trees behind one goal removed and a large ploughed area on view which in time will become a football pitch.  It was a fine day, but even in such sunny weather there is seldom still air at Ormiston and there was more of a breeze than there appeared as Watt kicked off into the prevailing wind.

The hosts had four players suspended for this fixture but had been busy behind the scenes and had fixed up some able replacements as trialists. In particular, striker Anton McKillop was a real livewire, showing skill and endeavour to trouble the Watt defence.  With the assistance of the breeze, Ormiston took the game to their opponents in the first half and McKillop had an early effort, but the angle was too tight and the ball landed on the roof of the net.

Watt also had their moments and in one of these, Sean Muhsin narrowly missed the goal with a shot from the edge of the area when the ball was set back to him following a free kick lofted into the Ormiston box.  Chris Donnelly was next to threaten, receiving the ball from a throw-in and turning into the penalty box, but as Ross Combe advanced, the striker’s attempt to chip the ball over him had too much elevation.

McKillop did well again, getting the ball in from a tight situation on the right and enabling Steven Finlayson to get in a snap shot, but again the angle was too tight and the ball went over the bar.

With twenty-five minutes played, Ormiston had a wonderful chance to take the lead. McKillop was again instrumental, going down the left this time and squeezing the ball across.  David Ross kept it going and Brian McEwan rushed in to blast the ball over the bar from inside the six-yard box.

Just after the half-hour mark there was the first of a number of controversial incidents during this match.  A long clearance by Stevie Wright was well read by Donnelly, who passed Liam Skinner as the ball bounced and was preparing to try to put the ball over Combe as he raced out when he appeared to be pulled down by the centre-back.  As Skinner tried to be convincing in arguing that Donnelly had pulled him down rather than the reverse, the only question in the minds of most observers concerned the colour of the card to come, but after awarding the free kick to the Watt, the referee surprisingly contented himself with speaking to the defender.

In the last minute of the first half, Wright gave hope to the Watt support, bursting into the box and chesting down a loose ball for a volley, but in a crowded penalty area, the shot struck a defender and was cleared.

Watt had the benefit of the freshening breeze for the second half and it was only two minutes old before there could have been a penalty when Ryan Hall seemed to handle the ball, but the referee gave no sign.  A foul by David Kerr gave Ormiston a shooting chance from just outside the Watt area, but Craig Wojtowycz’s kick struck the defensive wall and Ross Colquhoun’s effort from the rebound was deflected for a corner.

Watt cleared the corner kick and attacked on the left. Donnelly clipped the ball into the box and when Combe and Muhsin disputed possession, the ball ran free.  Muhsin’s shot was blocked by a retreating defender and diverted into the air.  Muhsin headed towards goal and the defender reached up an arm and deflected the ball on to the bar.  It could not have been a clearer penalty if Celtic themselves had been involved, but the referee apparently did not see it – or did not believe the evidence of his eyes.

The Watt’s sense of injustice might have been doubled a minute later when Kerr misjudged a passback and sent the ball behind for a corner.  McKillop’s kick was headed on to Colquhoun, who sent a header on a line just inside the post to Craig Saunders’ left.  Fortunately, Ryan Higgins was on duty at the post and was able to head the ball away for another corner.

Two minutes after this, Watt had an even better opportunity from a corner kick of their own.  Scott Davies battled away to win the corner and when Neil Laurenson played the ball to the near post, it was missed by all of the clump of players gathered there.  It came through to Kerr, standing inside the six-yard box unmarked, but so suddenly that he had no time to compose himself and he sent the ball over the bar with the inside of his right foot.

The Watt was gradually building up momentum and Wright was the next to threaten, winning a good tackle in midfield and driving forward.  From twenty-five metres, he struck a decent shot, but he was rather square to the ball and couldn’t generate the force for which he is renowned.  It was a well-placed effort, though, and needed a decent save from Combe, which he executed, diving to his left to push the ball round the post.

Laurenson was penalised for a challenge from behind, giving Wojtowycz the chance to play the ball into the penalty area, but Saunders was the master of the situation, timing his run to get two strong fists to the ball, giving it height and distance.  As the game wore on, Watt tried to increase the pressure by bringing on Cammy Stevenson and then Adam Woolven and changing to a more attacking formation, but the net effect was to lengthen the balls played forward and too often they were played too straight, with the result that as the hapless Donnelly and Stevenson ran forward, they saw the ball passing in orbit far above their heads.

Towards the end of the match, there was a ridiculous little incident that left a sour taste in many mouths.  For the good reputation of East of Scotland football, we shall draw a veil over the actions of the player involved, but suffice to say that behaviour of this kind is unacceptable and we trust that it will be dealt with in appropriate fashion by club management, although the referee declined to do so.

It could all have gone seriously wrong for Watt in the first minute of stoppage time, when a head flick by one of the Ormiston substitutes, Ross Ferguson, put another, Johnathan Edmond, in on the right side of the box, but as Saunders came to meet him, Edmond blazed his shot over the bar and the sides had to settle for a point apiece.

Ormiston:  Combe, Hall, Wojtowycz, Colquhoun, Skinner, Watson (Reynolds 62), Barker, Finlayson, Ross (Edmond 69), McKillop (Ferguson 86), McEwan.     All subs. used.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Kerlin, Laurenson, Kerr, Hume, Higgins (Stevenson 69), Davies (Woolven 78), Wright, Donnelly, Muhsin, Sutherland.      Subs. not used: Smith, Sellar.

Referee: Mr Ryan Lee (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 33:  Saturday 11th April 2015

East of Scotland League:  First Division

Heriot-Watt University  7  Eyemouth United  2

This was surely one of the strangest games ever seen at Riccarton. For three-quarters of the match, Watt had toiled, more in hope than in belief, to create proper chances against an Eyemouth side which had worked well to deny the home side a sight of goal and had taken its own opportunities to open up a two-goal lead. Then, in the sixty-ninth minute, Sean Muhsin curled in a perfect free-kick and although United was still ahead, it was as if a switch had been flicked and the belief that a significant win could be achieved had drained away.  Half the Eyemouth team suddenly seemed to run out of legs and the others were powerless to close the gaps which opened up.  The team organisation which had worked so well up to that point deserted the Fishermen and the Watt players, growing in confidence as the energy sapped out of their opponents, found there was plenty of space in which to play.  Seven goals were scored in seventeen minutes as the visitors were ruthlessly put to the sword.

It was impossible not to feel sympathy for United, who had given so much to the game and had seen such a promising position go so catastrophically wrong.  Eyemouth led at half-time through a goal from Sean Campbell, who reacted quickly to turn and fire home the rebound after a corner had been headed against the post.  A patchwork Watt side, with selection problems intensified by the absences of three more players – Mikey Connor, injured in midweek against Burntisland Shipyard; Finn Watt, who has now left Edinburgh; and Ryan Higgins, suspended after his sending-off in that game – was unable to create clear-cut chances and squandered the opportunities it did contrive.

It was certainly an odd-looking Watt side that the coaching staff had been obliged to contrive.  Alex Snoddy, who had made his first start against Burntisland and had played well in that match, retained the right-back jersey; Adam Woolven replaced Watt alongside David Kerr in central defence; and Adam Kerlin came in to a central midfield role he can never have expected to be asked to fulfil.  Three players who have been absent with injuries were included: having had a couple of substitute appeareances, Scott Davies made his first start since returning, while Neil Laurenson and Jamie Hume had places on the bench alongside a trio of coaches filling emergency shirts – Craig Bell, Chris Sellar and Head Coach Chris Smith.

Given the makeshift nature of the Watt line-up it was perhaps not surprising that rhythm and cohesion were not in abundance in the play of the home side, but this was no excuse, as their opponents had at least as many problems.  Eyemouth listed three substitutes for the match, but this was surely for show rather than for practical purposes.  No substitutes were in evidence and certainly none was used and we can take it that the eleven who started the game were the full complement available.  Scott Adamson, Marc Milligan, Sean Ford, Tinashe Ruwona, Keith Buckley and Jamie Thomson were all missing from the squad which had visited Riccarton the previous month.

After eight minutes’ play, the curse of the Watt number 2 jersey struck again.  Incredibly, Snoddy became the fourth Watt right-back within a fortnight to incur a serious injury.  Alex Scott, the regular wearer of the jersey, was injured in the KIng Cup match at Craigroyston (yes, it was just two Saturdays ago!)  Andy Forbes and Neil Robb both fell at Peebles last Saturday.  And now it was the turn of Snoddy.  He had done really well to chase a ball down the right and play it inside a chasing defender.  When he had brought it to within about ten metres of the goalpost, the aforementioned defender caught up with him, brought him down from the rear and fell on him.  Chris Milne’s preliminary diagnosis was a cracked collarbone and that looked entirely consistent with the pain on Snoddy’s face.  And for some reason, he didn’t even get the penalty.  Looking down the ground, it was hard to find any reason why the challenge wouldn’t have been penalised, but perhaps the defender got a slight touch on the ball before applying his full weight to the hapless Snoddy.

It took a surprisingly-long six minutes for the Watt bench to decide that Snoddy would be unable to resume and to prepare a replacement, with Bell coming on to fill the right-back berth for a period of duty.  There were some good moves by the Watt, but the visiting defence worked hard to close down shooting opportunities and managed to divert many attempted shots away from goal.  Davies and Brian Anderson had chances in quick succession, but on both occasions alert defending saved the day.  Elliot Sutherland had the clearest chance, coming in from the left to meet a ball played across the penalty area, but his first-time shot struck a defender.

A minute later, Campbell struck and Watt fell behind.  The only chance for an equaliser came in the last minute of the half when Sutherland ran in to meet a Kerr cross, but Adam Mutch was out quickly and blocked the ball away for a corner.

After some pointed half-time remarks from the Head Coach and attempts by senior players to stiffen the resolve of the younger participants, Watt came out with new intent for the second half, but found the visitors’ defence still determined to ensure the space for clear shots was not provided.  A good move in which Anderson held the ball up for Donnelly was thwarted by vigilant defending and when the ball came to Sutherland, he shot over the bar.  A Muhsin free kick was headed clear by Gavin Burrell and when Muhsin headed the ball back in to give Sutherland a sight of goal, Mutch dived to his right to make a fine stop.

The Eyemouth forwards were still a threat when given a chance, with Darren Law, whose tall figure could also be seen defending to good effect, always available to trouble the Watt defence.  Kerr was caught under a high ball and could only head it back towards his own goal and when Law ran in behind him , Kerr was fortunate to escape punishment for a tug on the arm of the United player which slowed him down enough to allow the defender to block the ball for a corner.

Ten minutes later, Kerr’s rashness was more costly when he committed an unnecessary but obvious foul ten metres from the corner flag on the Watt left.  With everyone waiting for a high cross, Burrell unexpectedly but cleverly passed the ball into the penalty area for Campbell to play it on and before the Watt defence had worked out what was happening, Ross Wylie steered the ball inside the post to the right of Craig Saunders.

This was now a fully-fledged crisis for the Watt, with the promotion challenge evaporating fast.  The response from the management team was to substitute a substitute for the second time in a week.  The previous occasion, at Peebles, had been enforced by Neil Robb’s injury, but this time it was a tactical change, Bell being replaced by Laurenson with an adjustment to the team structure.

With just twenty-two minutes left to play, Donnelly executed a quick turn on the ball and darted between the two Eyemouth central defenders.  Both closed in and Donnelly was brought crashing down.  Gordon McInnes was cautioned for dissenting with this decision, but it was hard to see what the complaint might have been, as the Watt striker was clearly ‘sandwiched’ and there seemed no question about the foul.  As a four-man wall was prepared, Muhsin addressed the ball rather like a golfer rehearsing a pitch shot and when he came to make the strike it was perfection, the ball curving in a graceful arc into the top corner of the goal, evading the right hand of Mutch.

This looked like no more than the opportunity for the Watt to salvage something from the game, but it soon became clear that the effect was much greater.  Four minutes later, Watt scored a fine equaliser.  A flowing move down the left ended in a good pass inside by Laurenson.  Donnelly, who had found it difficult all afternoon to gain the space he wanted, sidestepped his marker and fired an accurate shot into the corner to the goalkeeper’s left.

Davies went scampering down the left after a pass as Mutch ran from his penalty box to clear.  When the Watt player got there first and knocked it past the ‘keeper, Mutch brought him down and was cautioned.  A fierce but well-timed tackle by Kerr stopped Aiden Lauder making progress on the Eyemouth right.

Hume replaced Kerlin in the Watt midfield and a minute later the home side led for the first time. A crossfield ball by Muhsin found Sutherland, who took the ball past a defender and from the edge of the area poked the ball past the right hand of the outrushing Mutch.

It was one-way traffic now and when Sutherland exchanged crossfield passes with Davies and played the ball inside, Anderson’s first-time strike crept in at the post.  A minute later, Donnelly played the ball across for Sutherland to score.  Donnelly then robbed a defender and played in Anderson for a cool finish before himself prodding in from close range to complete the scoring five minutes from time.

Watt now go forward to a midweek meeting with Hawick with the news at last a bit better with regard to player availability.  Although Snoddy joined the ranks of the long-term injured in this game, Laurenson and Hume came through their short appearances with no ill-effects and can now be considered again for starting berths.  Woolven, in his first match since early in the season, played well.  Higgins will be free from suspension and Stevie Wright may also be available after recent indisposition. It just remains to see who is brave enough to put on the number 2 shirt….

Heriot-Watt University: Saunders, Snoddy (Bell 14 [Laurenson 67]), Daniel, Kerr, Woolven, Muhsin, Sutherland, Kerlin (Hume 76), Anderson, Donnelly, Davies.     Subs. not used: Sellar, Smith.

Eyemouth United: Mutch, Burrell, Wylie, McInnes, Speirs, Scott, Lauder, Wilson, Campbell, Tillbrook, Law.     Subs. not used: Ford, Adamson, Milligan.

Referee:  Mr Craig Wilson (Dennyloanhead)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 32:  Tuesday 7th April 2015

East of Scotland League:  First Division

Heriot-Watt University  1   Burntisland Shipyard  1

Watt Head Coach Chris Smith was obliged to call in another two players from the Under-20 and Amateur teams and to list himself and fellow-coach Chris Sellar amongst the substitutes as the Watt injury crisis intensifies. And things got even worse during this game, with a serious-looking injury to Mikey Connor and a sending-off which will keep Ryan Higgins out of two matches.

It had all started so well, too, as Watt forged ahead within six minutes. Chris Donnelly, trying so hard to get things moving up front, chased down a ball on the right and won a corner, following which Jordan Mushet in the visitors’ goal blocked a shot. Elliot Sutherland was first to move, lunging forward to stab the ball into the corner of the goal.

The Watt had a period of ascendancy after this and will regret not building more of a lead. Donnelly dragged a shot from twenty metres wide of the post, Brian Anderson drove the ball over the bar from slightly further out and Connor tried a volley from Sean Muhsin’s cross but failed to make good contact. Finally a wonderful ball from Muhsin found Donnelly on the left; Mushet got a block on the shot and the rebound bounced up just too high for Anderson to control. During this period, Shipyard’s best effort followed a free kick met with a firm header by Blair Smart, but the ball slipped past the post.

Heriot-Watt was still doing most of the attacking without looking entirely convincing, but Sutherland almost scored when he headed the ball over the hands of Mushet. The Burntisland goalkeeper did exceptionally well to retreat and get fingers to the ball and force it over the bar.

Connor overstretched in trying to reach a cross by Finn Watt following a corner and looked as though he had done some significant damage to his hamstring. After a period of assessment, Martin Green came on to replace the injured player.

Donnelly continued to harass the visiting defence but all too often found himself relatively isolated and the hardworking Shippy defence made sure he found it difficult to get a clear sight of goal. Donnelly linked with Sutherland, but after stepping inside his marker, Sutherland sent a left-foot shot straight to Mushet.

A good pass by Alex Snoddy gave another opportunity to Donnelly, but his first-time square pass fell just behind Anderson.

As half-time approached, Muhsin made a good run to collect a throw-in on the right and worked the ball inside to Donnelly, who trapped it on his chest and sent in a shot on the turn. Mushet parried it into the air and fell under the force of the shot, but the ball fell into his lap as he sat there.

After all this home attacking, Watt had a let-off in the last moments of the half, as Ryan Kelly cut in from the right and fired in a shot. It didn’t seem that it would trouble Saunders, but Craig Lowe diverted the ball in another direction and it smacked off the crossbar.

Having finished the first half on this positive note, Shipyard maintained the momentum at the start of the second period. After an attack on the left, Lowe dashed across the penalty box and fired in a shot on the turn, but his run was so square that he couldn’t generate much power and Saunders was able to dive to his left and save.

A minute later, Watt had a fine chance for the elusive second goal. A corner from the right landed on the head of Anderson, but his effort from around eight metres was straight at Mushet.

Ryan Higgins was cautioned just after this for pulling back Peter Bell and this later proved significant. Smart also received a booking for a reckless challenge on Donnelly.

Having seen his forwards fail to add to the single-goal tally, centre-back Watt tried to improve things just after this. He accepted a pass following a free kick, strode forward a few steps and unleashed a cannonball shot from thirty metres which came flush off the Burntisland crossbar. Anderson collected the rebound and there were a few hopeful penalty claims as he went down, but a corner was the result. Watt collected the ball and forced another corner, this time on the right, and when Green’s kick came into the box, Anderson met it on the run with a powerful header, but this time his elevation was out and the ball cleared the bar.

Anderson did well to recover a ball which a Shipyard defender was trying to shepherd out for a goal kick, but in doing so he brought on a muscle cramp which led to his replacement by Scott Davies, shortly after which Burntisland brought former Watt favourite Ewan Henderson into the action to replace Adam Doig.

Higgins then made a good interception in midfield, drove strongly ahead and exchanged passes with Donnelly, running into the box to take the return pass. When it reached him, the whistle went for offside. Higgins kicked the ball away in frustration and this led to a second caution and a dismissal. Donnelly also found his name was taken for his comments to the referee.

Chris Smith was upset by a lack of equal treatment, as a little earlier a Shipyard player had also kicked the ball away after hearing the whistle – but had done so from over the sideline and had kicked the ball half-way across the synthetic pitch. Higgins had played the ball from a position on the pitch to a place from where it was easily retrieved, but had paid the penalty because the situation was somehow more public, coming at the end of a move into the penalty box rather than simply a throw-in.

It is perhaps time that this action is removed by FIFA from the list of punishable offences. The official reason for the caution is ‘delaying restart’, but now even at our level there are always balls available to ensure the game can be restarted promptly without waiting for a particular ball to be retrieved. But in any case, whether or not it was justice in relation to Higgins and his opponent, there was no doubt that the referee was justified in his action in relation to the Watt player as the laws currently stand; and if the Shipyard player escaped what would have been an at least equally justified caution, that sanction would have had no effect on the match (unless, of course, he had previously or subsequently received another caution).

There was a Shipyard player booked just after this, as it happens, when Andy McDonald brought down Davies, but shortly after this, the visitors were level. Saunders was tempted from his goal by a subtly-curling cross which brought him in amongst the bodies in the penalty area and he failed to hold the ball. It was sent out to Peter Bell on the left and he crossed towards the far post. As Shippy players ran in towards the cross, Saunders, returning to his goal, appeared to be dragged by one of them past the trajectory of the ball and was unable to recover his balance in time to make an attempt to catch it. The ball carried on over all the players in the centre of the goal and dropped in under the bar at the far post.

Donnelly and Davies were working well together in attack, but finding it difficult to shake off the attentions of the assiduous defenders. When Davies was brought down on the left, Muhsin fired the ball in towards the near post area. When it was returned to him, it eventually found its way across field to Snoddy, who played it down the right for Donnelly, but a very late blast on the whistle halted his run for goal.

Just after this came one of the main talking points of the game. A long clearance was chased by Henderson, who reached the ball just inside the Watt penalty box and headed it over the hands of Saunders, who had advanced. There was then a collision and Henderson fell to the ground. The Burntisland support, not surprisingly, saw this as a penalty, and it would not have been surprising if that had been the award, but the referee, who would have been closely watching the movement of both players, evidently decided that Saunders had come to a stop before Henderson had run into him and refrained from penalising the goalkeeper.

Watt continued to battle away, but there was something forlorn in the search for a winning goal. Davies had a number of efforts without seriously troubling Mushet, but the best chance fell to Donnelly. Sutherland went surging down the right and squared the ball as Donnelly came rushing into the box, but the striker’s first touch was heavy and sent the ball towards the goalkeeper, who Donnelly fouled in trying to retrieve it.

Finn Watt did very well to close down Lowe as he went through following a big clearance by Mushet, but Heriot-Watt might have sneaked it at the end when Green’s near-post corner was met on the run with a backheel by David Kerr, but the goalkeeper was again in the right place to block with his feet.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Snoddy, Daniel, Kerr, Watt, Higgins, Connor (Green 26), Sutherland, Donnelly, Muhsin, Anderson (Davies 64).    Subs. not used: Woolven, Sellar, Smith.

Burntisland Shipyard:  Mushet, Arthur, Bouhaddou, Smart, Haywood, Kelly (Robertson 61), Lowe, McDonald, Bell (Anderson 86), Doig (Henderson 65), Masson.     Subs. not used: Keatings, McPhail.

Referee: Mr Chris Newman (Linlithgow)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 31:  Saturday 4th April 2015

East of Scotland League: First Division

Peebles Rovers  3   Heriot-Watt University 2

With Head Coach Chris Smith on Best Man duties in Berlin, Andy Gibson and Chris Sellar took charge of the Watt party for the journey to unbeaten table-toppers Peebles Rovers. Watt had disappointed on the previous visit to Woodside Park, in late February, and hoped on this occasion to give a better account of themselves, but it was something of a patchwork squad that made the trip.

It has been by far the worst season in memory for injuries to Heriot-Watt First Team players and to the long-term absences of Jamie Forsyth, Rob Service, Michael Webster, Curt Banks and Scott Dargo have recently been added Alex Scott, Neil Laurenson and Jamie Hume – three more regular players who have in the course of the last few games suffered injuries which will keep them out of somewhere between some and all of the remaining games. These issues are making the Watt draw deeply on its resources, but at least we now have Brian Anderson back after missing most of the season and Scott Davies is hanging on and hoping to keep his injury under control.

Most unfortunately, however, this game was marked by two more serious injuries. It is in the defensive area that the Watt, once so well covered for that part of the squad, is suffering most, and it was thus again on Saturday. Five minutes before half-time, Andy Forbes jumped for a header and when he returned to earth landed on the foot of a Peebles player, turning his ankle painfully. His replacement, Neil Robb, who has until recently been playing for the Watt’s Amateur side in the LEAFA Edinburgh Central Division, came on in Andy’s place and played very well for forty minutes before keeling over with the recurrence of a knee injury that has manifested itself twice previously during the season and will now require surgical attention.

The Watt’s formation for this game was suggested by the personnel available, with a three-man back line consisting of Forbes, David Kerr and Finn Watt. Elliot Sutherland and Jack Daniel occupied wide positions, with Ryan Higgins holding behind Stevie Wright and Sean Muhsin in the midfield area. Brian Anderson partnered Chris Donnelly up front.

Watt took a little while to settle in to the new system, but there were promising signs in attack, particularly when Anderson headed on for Donnelly and ran into position for the return pass. He aimed his shot for the far post area and either it was deflected or Darren Walker got a hand to the ball, as a corner was the result.

Peebles had a breeze in their favour in the first half and Walker was using it to good effect with his kicks from hand. With around ten minutes played, a booming clearance by the goalkeeper, made difficult to read by the gusty conditions, put the Watt defence in bother. The ball was moved inside to Paul Murray and he sidestepped Watt to send a low right-foot shot into goal.

Watt did not take long to respond to this setback and ten minutes later the scores were level again. A flowing move down the left involving several Watt players, with particularly good touches by Anderson and Wright, was switched to the right, from where a low cross was prodded home from close to goal by Higgins for his first East of Scotland goal.

The injury to Forbes came after half an hour and although he struggled on manfully for ten more minutes, it wasn’t the sort of injury to be run off and he was replaced by Robb, with the system reverting to 4 – 4 – 2.

At the start of the second half, it was clear that the Watt was uncomfortable with the shape of the team and six minutes into the half, Peebles went back in front. A long punt by Daniel McAleavy into the penalty box was headed by Kerr, but not decisively, and fell to Murray, who played the ball to Frankie Arthur, in space on the left side of the Watt penalty box. Arthur steered a shot across Craig Saunders and inside the post to his left.

Gerry Rossi had tried a long-range effort in the first half and he had another go shortly after this. This time the ball slipped just past the post, but Saunders was across quickly to ensure his goal was covered.

Half-way through the second half, Saunders produced another in the catalogue of outstanding saves with which he has illuminated the Watt’s season. A pass from the left reached Scott Sutherland and he fired off a first-time shot directed perfectly just inside the line of the post, but Saunders made ground to his left and dived low to get the tips of his glove to the ball and divert it round the upright.

The Watt front men were combining well and again Anderson slipped through a pass for the run of Donnelly, but running towards the left as he went into the penalty area, Donnelly was unable to generate enough power in his shot to trouble Walker.

With quarter of an hour to play, the Watt conceded again. Following a corner from the Peebles right, Dale Richardson hooked the ball across goal for Sutherland to head in from close range.

Davies had replaced Anderson just before the third goal for Peebles and he almost reduced the deficit immediately when he rose above McAleavy to get his head to Muhsin’s free kick, but the contact was just too fine and the ball slipped past the post to Walker’s left.

Robb’s knee gave way soon after and Sellar had to come into the action, with yet more reorganisation required. Watt was looking disjointed at the back now and it seemed not unlikely that Rovers would add further to their tally, but it was the Watt who grabbed a goal to bring the deficit back to one. Sellar was pulled back as he drove towards the penalty area, giving the Watt a free kick right in the middle of the pitch, about five metres outside the box. Muhsin made a superb job of it, bending it into the corner of the net to the right of Walker, who dived full-length but didn’t get within a metre of the ball.

The effect of this goal was to send an unexpected degree of alarm through the home ranks and when Watt won a corner and Saunders came forward, something akin to panic took hold. The corner was bent in towards goal and Walker punched the ball to around the penalty spot. Davies collected, moved it to the right and sent in a drive which would have been around the postage-stamp area had it been another metre or so to the left.

Watt had really no reason to expect anything from this game, but there had been a growing feeling amongst the party that it might be the visitors’ day and there was an unexpected degree of disappointment that it hadn’t worked out that way. In the end, perhaps it was too much to expect some of the young players in the side to perform to their best in an atmosphere which would have been new to them.

Peebles Rovers:  Walker, J Flockhart, McAleavy, Young, Richardson, Arthur (Dodds 85), Rossi, Connaghan, Sutherland, Murray, Zavaroni (Ndiweni 75). Sub. not used: Meikle.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Forbes (Robb 40 [Sellar 80]), Daniel, Kerr, Watt, Higgins, Sutherland, Wright, Donnelly, Muhsin, Anderson. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr Iain Snedden (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 30:   Tuesday 31st March 2015

East of Scotland League:  First Division

Heriot-Watt University  3   Hawick Royal Albert  0

 

A report on this match will follow shortly.

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 29:  Saturday 28th March 2015

King Cup:  Quarter-final

Craigroyston  2   Heriot-Watt University  0

Watt Head Coach Chris Smith had a quandary concerning team selection ahead of this game. A Quarter-Final of one of the premier cup competitions is significant, but with the Watt involved in a breathlessly close promotion battle with two games a week for the whole of April, Mr Smith acknowledged where his priorities lay and for this tie made such changes as his rapidly-diminishing resources would allow. Top scorer Chris Donnelly and central defender David Kerr were rested and regular left-sided choice Neil Laurenson was given more time to recover from injury, although he filled a strip on the bench. Brian Anderson, who had not started a game since returning from injury, led the front line, supported by Mikey Connor.

The Watt played with a strong breeze at their backs in the first half, but at least there was no rain at St Mark’s Park. Craigroyston had the ball in the net in the first minute of play, but it is fair to say that the offside whistle had come early and goalkeeper Craig Saunders had made no move to try to save. Despite their wind advantage, Watt found themselves under a bit of early pressure and a number of corner kicks were conceded, but the first strike in earnest came at the other end, Alex Scott supporting an attack to fire the ball in from distance, but clearing the bar by a metre.

Jack Daniel’s chance in the First Team may have come about through the severe injury problems suffered within the squad this season, but he has been a notable success and indeed has been one of the very best of the Watt players in each game since his introduction. He did some fine work after twelve minutes’ play, securing the ball, sending a good pass to Anderson and running on to take the return and win a corner.

The form of Saunders has also been outstanding this season and his judgment in leaving his line has shown vast improvement. He demonstrated this with a fine interception of a cutback by Craig Dickson intended for Chris Inglis.

Craigie continued to have more of the attacking play, but the Watt defence coped well and composedly until a lapse in the thirty-fourth minute gave the home side the opening goal. Anderson fouled Ross Nisbet ten metres inside the Watt half and the visitors allowed their concentration to flag. Big midfielder Craig Anderson accepted a short free kick, strode forward in plenty of space to get the ball into position and sent a powerful shot soaring into the postage-stamp corner where not even Saunders had a chance of reaching it.

Half-time was reached without further mishap but without much threat either from the Watt side and the pattern remained the same as the second period of play got under way. Greig Tulloch, who had replaced Chris Eadie at half-time for the home side, sent the ball across the face of the Watt goal but Inglis couldn’t quite reach it to apply the finishing touch. Steven Cameron, a strong-running player on the Craigroyston right, was losing no opportunity to drive at the Watt defence and he fired the ball in from a tight angle with such force that Saunders was glad to block it behind.

Scott retired from the contest with injury and was replaced by Kerr.  Shortly after this (no connection, Davie) Craigie added a second goal, around the half-way mark of the second half. Ryan Higgins was caught in possession in the centre of the field and robbed by Anderson, who strode on, linking with Inglis on the edge of the area and getting the break of the ball to slide a shot under the advancing Saunders.

Inglis might have added another a couple of minutes later, but when the ball dribbled through to him close to goal, Saunders instantly reacted and closed quickly to block the ball away.

Saunders came to the rescue yet again seven minutes later as the Watt defence began to look ragged. After several chances to clear were spurned, Inglis was able to carry the ball into space around the penalty spot, but when he drove in his shot, the Watt goalkeeper got his hands up in a flash to divert the ball over the bar.

Two minutes after this, a punt through the middle had the Watt defence in all sorts of bother. Kerr allowed the ball to bounce and Inglis got his shot in, but Saunders was there to save once more.

A further two minutes later, the disintegrating Watt defence again made a hash of getting the ball clear and Nisbet stepped forward to send in a blistering left-foot shot from distance. The visitors got lucky as the ball cannoned off the underside of the bar and back in to play.

The Watt got a grip on themselves after that scare and tried to take the game to Craigroyston. Donnelly had replaced Anderson and Connor’s pass put him away on the right, but a good tackle from Sean Kelly meant that a corner was all he could gain. Higgins was getting some rough treatment and another foul on him led to the construction of a huge wall of players from both sides just inside the penalty box. Sean Muhsin managed to get the ball around this edifice but it slipped past the post.

Scott Davies won a corner on the right as Watt maintained the attack and following that, Muhsin tried a shot from outside the penalty area, but the direction was faulty. A good ball by Kerr gave another chance to Donnelly, who got past a defender and squared the ball, but Connor took too long to get his shot away and when he had another chance from a rebound, that one was also partially blocked, enabling Eric Tshibangu to collect. Craigie quickly moved up the pitch and Nicky Rendall, who had replaced Dickson a few minutes earlier, forced Saunders into another good save with a low shot which the goalkeeper touched round the post to his left.

With three minutes left to play, Watt had a sustained spell of possession in and around the Craigroyston penalty area for perhaps the first time in the match. The passing and movement was good, enabling the visitors to keep probing for a shooting opportunity. The cover was also good, however, and eventually Muhsin lost patience and tried a left-foot shot which was immediately blocked away.

The last meaningful attack was by the home side, with Inglis breaking clear on the left, but Saunders cleverly cut off the shot across goal, leaving a space he could cover at the near post for the striker to aim at. In trying to get enough force into his shot to give it a chance, Inglis sliced the ball past.

No-one could deny that Craigroyston deserved their place in the Semi-final after this match. It is unfortunate for the Watt that injuries and unavailability of players have so much restricted the Coach’s choice from what once seemed like a huge squad, but that’s football and that’s life.

Craigroyston:   Tshibangu, Togneri, Kelly (Sommerville 89), Hogarth, Costello, Nisbet, Cameron, Anderson, Inglis, Dickson (Rendall 82), Eadie (Tulloch 45). Sub. not used: Barbirou.

Heriot-Watt University:   Saunders, Scott (Kerr 64), Daniel, Holman, Hume, Higgins, Davies, Muhsin, Anderson (Donnelly 69), Connor, Sutherland. Subs. not used: Watt, Laurenson.

Referee:   Mr Alan MacFadyen (Coatbridge).

SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 28: Wednesday 25th March 2015

East of Scotland League: First Division

Heriot-Watt University  2   Duns  2

It might have been imagined by the casual observer that this was a great chance for the Watt to score a significant victory over a close promotion rival – after all, the Watt had won its last four matches and Duns had just endured two consecutive home defeats.

But no-one who saw the manner of the Watt’s win at Kelso on Saturday would have been confident of the result in this one, especially as the player availability position had deteriorated further. Neil Laurenson acquired a hamstring problem on Saturday and the injury kept him on the sidelines; Cammy Stevenson was suspended after his unfortunate red card at Kelso; and Finn Watt had also pulled out of the squad. This meant a start in central defence for Jamie Hume alongside David Kerr and substitute places as trialists for Lars Helmen and coach Chris Sellar. On the positive side, Sean Muhsin was again available, although not best prepared after his recent return from Tunisia. Stevie Wright was preferred to Ryan Higgins in midfield and Brian Anderson joined Higgins and the two trialists on the bench.

Most of the first half was rather torrid for the Watt players. Duns seemed much more ready for the game and were sharper and quicker all around the field. Had it not been for the continuing good form of Watt goalkeeper Craig Saunders, the match might well have been beyond the Riccarton side by the interval. Saunders made a catalogue of good saves in the first period, starting with one low to his right to deny Gary Wales; then another low to his left to stop a shot from Dougie Brydon.

However, even Saunders was left helpless in the eighteenth minute as Duns took the lead. The dangerous and experienced Wales crossed to the near post and Michael Stewart stole in to flash a header into the net.

Eight minutes later, Saunders had to be at his best to prevent Duns increasing their lead. Steve Shennan moved inside from the left to strike a ferocious half-volley from twenty metres. It looked already over the goalkeeper’s head when Saunders soared upwards and back to get a firm hand to the ball and send it over the bar.

The visitors continued to press and Saunders was required to be alert again to catch a shot from Connor Devaney after the Watt defence failed to clear from the edge of the penalty area. Another dangerous attack came from the Duns right, Michael Robinson driving the ball across between goalkeeper and retreating defenders, but Kerr had read the danger well and backed to the far post to close down Wales, making him rush his shot and send the ball just past.

Two minutes before half-time, Watt drew level with a goal of quality. A fine pass by Daniel inside Mark Weatherburn enabled Elliot Sutherland to get on to the ball. His accurate centre took out Paul Tansey at his near post and matched perfectly with the well-timed run of Muhsin, who gleefully swept the ball into the gaping goal.

Having been under the cosh for much of the first half, Watt came desperately close to a half-time lead when, with the last action of the half, Muhsin picked up a misplaced pass and hooked the ball into the path of Chris Donnelly, who was making a run from left to right. Donnelly outpaced the defence and took the ball past Tansey, but his shot from a tightening angle slid agonisingly past the far post.

Duns started the second half with even more energy than in the first, Robinson storming down the right. Hume, who was having a fine match in the Watt defence, blocked the ball out and Michael Connor calmly found a team-mate.

The relief was short-lived. Three minutes into the half, Alex Scott passed the ball up the touchline and it was played back to him so firmly that it turned into a good pass for Wales, who sped away and played the ball inside to Devaney, who sent an accurate shot past the right hand of Saunders into the corner of the net.

Having fallen behind again, the Watt at last began to show some serious intent in the game and for most of the rest of the match the home side was the dominant force. An accurate long kick from Saunders gave the tireless Donnelly another chance to run at the Duns defence and he won a corner on the left. When Daniel sent the ball to the far post area, Hume came off the post and hooked the ball on the turn just over the bar. Then a good move on the right resulted in Scott Davies sending in a firm, low cross which required a desperate sliding challenge to deny Donnelly the finishing touch.

A free kick from the right was headed behind by James Brydon. Duns cleared the corner but Watt collected again and Sutherland played the ball into the area from the left towards Wright, who was challenged as he sized up his shot and some felt was tackled without the ball. In any event, he didn’t get in a shot and play went on, with the ball eventually coming to Muhsin at the edge of the area. He sent a chip over the head of Tansey, forcing him to stretch up sharply to tip the ball over the bar.

Duns forced a corner of their own shortly after this and when the ball dropped amongst the players in the penalty box, it was hooked towards goal, obliging Saunders to jump backwards and touch it over.

When Watt cleared the second corner, it was the prelude to the second equaliser. Davies was involved in a frantic struggle with Stewart, but emerged with the ball and stabbed it forward deep into the penalty box, which was perfect for Sutherland’s diagonal run to poke the ball past Tansey from eight metres.

A good cross from Davies reached the head of Donnelly close to goal two minutes later, but the striker couldn’t get over the ball and it rose above the bar. Saunders was back in action after this, his alertness rescuing Kerr after a miscontrol; and a minute later he had to go down at the feet of a forward for a second time, collecting the ball as Robinson threatened.

Watt’s raids now posed a significant threat to the visitors’ defence and an incisive move on the left involving several players ended with Davies sweeping the ball across the face of goal, from where a defender managed to hook it behind.

The game finished rather tamely, with no significant chances to either side in the last ten minutes of play. The draw doesn’t particularly help the promotion prospects of either of the clubs, but neither is it a serious hindrance, so both will live to fight another day.

Heriot-Watt University:    Saunders, Scott, Daniel, Hume, Kerr, Wright, Davies, Muhsin, Donnelly, Connor, Sutherland. Subs. not used: Higgins, Anderson, Helmen, Sellar.

Duns:     Tansey, Weatherburn, Stewart, McHoul, Windram, J Brydon, Devaney (Burns 87), D Brydon, Robinson, Shennan, Wales. Subs. not used: Grace, Tricket.

Referee:     Mr Stewart Luke (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 27:  Saturday 21st March 2015

East of Scotland League: First Division

Kelso United  0   Heriot-Watt University  1

This was the Watt’s fourth match in eleven days – but the players had better get used to it, as they’ve another twelve to play in the next six weeks before they have the luxury of a week between games.

Having in the previous week achieved victories which ended with convincing scorelines against Eyemouth United and Hawick Royal Albert, Watt travelled deep into the Borders for the second time in a few days in confident mood. After all, Kelso United is the team propping up the First Division table and we knew what to expect at Woodside Park – a big, physical side which would provide plenty of effort but which would lack mobility and for which the Watt would have too much pace and skill. Wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Wrong on every count. Let there be no doubt about it – Kelso was the better side in this game and it was better on all those qualities in which we expected the Watt to excel. This is a young, fit Kelso side and it showed better passing and better movement than its opponents. It had more inventiveness in its attacks and more drive in midfield. The only thing it lacked was a bit of luck with its finishing. This was the Watt’s most fortunate win of the season to date.

Watt started the match fairly brightly, with Chris Donnelly pulling down a cross to turn and shoot from twenty metres, giving Elliot Turnbull an early test, but United showed from the start that it would take every chance to push forward. Centre-back Damien McNulty, the steadying influence at the centre of the home defence, is also adept at forays into opposition territory, as he showed with a driving run which forced Alex Scott to concede a corner.

With ten minutes on the clock, the Watt took the lead with what turned out to be one of the few pieces of cohesive play they achieved all afternoon. Mikey Connor’s corner was a poor one, but it was cleared back to him from the near post area and his second cross was much better. Donnelly cleverly headed it on to Andy Forbes, who was standing in space on the left side of the box. Forbes took careful aim and drilled a shot past Turnbull’s left hand into the corner of the goal.

Kelso was by no means discouraged by this setback and their lively forward players were soon troubling the Watt defence again, Jonathan Waugh reaching a through ball and working into the penalty area, but good cover denied the home side a shooting opportunity.

Donnelly was getting in a shot whenever he could and he accepted the ball from a throw-in to turn and fire in an effort which passed wide of the goalkeeper’s left-hand post. Elliot Sutherland then struck a first-time right-foot drive which had Turnbull diving full-length to his left to keep it out and Neil Laurenson shot just past from the edge of the box in a good spell of Watt pressure.

Kelso responded vigorously and Ryan Higgins had to head clear from just in front of the goal-line following a corner. Forbes headed away another corner before another driving run by McNulty was stopped by David Kerr’s foul half-way inside the Watt half.

The home side remained in the ascendancy for some time after this, with Dean Boyne at the centre of much of the good work. Full-backs Ben Herdman and Jack Logan were also joining in the attack on a regular basis and Herdman’s shot from twenty-five metres was watched closely by Craig Saunders as it slipped past his post.

Eventually, Watt managed to break free and a good overlap on the left by Jamie Hume enabled him to find Forbes, but in trying to get his shot away, the midfielder was challenged and the ball went a foot past the post. Forbes initiated the next attack with a fine ball out to Alex Scott, whose volleyed cross was set back to Higgins in space inside the penalty box, but his first touch was heavy and the chance was lost.

Boyne was the next United player to have Saunders scampering across his line, but his shot also passed just wide of the post. Then the lively Jordan Hopkinson, who was leading the home line inventively, picked up the ball in a wide position and forced Hume to concede a corner.

Watt were glad to hear the half-time whistle and we fancied that having had a chance to regroup, we could look forward to better things in the second half. Wrong again. If the first half had been troublesome for the Watt, the second was dire. Kelso continued to play smart, imaginative football and to pass the ball well, but Watt got steadily worse as the game went on.

A succession of corners was conceded early in the second period, but the Watt defence managed to deal with them all. Twelve minutes after half-time, Laurenson succumbed to a hamstring problem and was replaced by Cammy Stevenson and ten minutes later Scott Davies came on in place of Higgins, but it was Kelso which continued to pose the greater threat. The ball fell to Logan just outside the box and he struck a fierce shot which had Saunders rooted to the spot but which slipped just past the post to the goalkeeper’s left. A minute later, Stevenson lost the ball to Logan in a similar position and this time Saunders had to leap upwards to tip over another piledriver.

The shots were raining in now and Ryan Beveridge was next to strike one, sending the ball just over the junction of post and bar after an exchange of passes with Hopkinson. The nearest thing of all was a shot on the turn from ten metres by Liam Hill which Saunders stuck out his left foot to divert round the post.

Neat footwork by Stevenson released Davies on the right as the Watt at last relieved the pressure. Davies found Donnelly, who turned and tried an optimistic shot from the edge of the area. The ball came off a Kelso foot to provide a corner for Watt, but another poor corner from Connor initiated a counterattack, with Waugh storming away to find Hopkinson, whose cross was cleared for a throw by Hume.

Kelso made two substitutions in the eighty-fifth minute, Darren Bowie and Joseph Ngoa replacing Boyne and Waugh, but it turned out there were still ten minutes left to play. Mr Whyte had refereed quietly and sensibly up to this point, but unfortunately this game ended in a blaze of red and yellow. Darren Bowie was cautioned for dissent just after the substitution, then five minutes later, in the last minute of normal time, Stevenson was sent off and Turnbull booked after a slight altercation. Kerr was then cautioned for delaying the restart of play, Bowie sent off on receiving a second caution for a trip on Donnelly as he threatened to break clear and Forbes shown the yellow card for a reckless challenge on Herdman. All of a sudden a match which had been played in a good spirit was beginning to acquire statistics that made it look like a bloodbath, most of the cards having been shown in a seemingly interminable period of stoppage time.

The referee informed the Watt management team that Stevenson had been dismissed for violent conduct on the basis that he had put his hand into the face of Turnbull after the goalkeeper had caught a high ball. Stevenson was distraught and denied that he had done anything which merited the draconian treatment meted out to him.

Referees have a very difficult job, especially in the East of Scotland League where they have to operate without assistants. As previously mentioned, Mr Whyte had had a good game up to the last five minutes. But we have to suggest, with respect, that the young man got this one wrong. He would have acted as he felt appropriate, of course, and there is certainly no suggestion of anything other than a mistaken view and an over-reaction, but these decisions have considerable effects on players. Many people, both locals and visitors, offered eye witness statements after the game, but none of either camp supported the referee’s version of events. The closest observers, locals who were behind the goal, were highly sympathetic towards Stevenson and refuted the suggestion of anything resembling violence.

It seems certain that on this occasion Cammy has been excessively penalised, but whilst extending our sympathy, perhaps we can tactfully suggest that he might reflect on the unfortunate side-effects that can result from the little unnecessary actions which he is inclined to make. It seems clear enough that he didn’t put his hand into Elliot Turnbull’s face, but there is no doubt that he did try to get in the goalkeeper’s way and slow him down as he tried to distribute the ball after catching it. Some accounts suggest that Cammy put his hand up to try to impede a throw-out and if he did, that would have been what the referee saw and misconstrued as an attempt by Cammy to pick a fight with a man a foot taller than he. If that was indeed the ref’s interpretation, he made a mistake – but it was a mistake he couldn’t have made if Cammy hadn’t tangled with the ’keeper in the first place. He didn’t need to do that and not for the first time it’s resulted in a punishment which is greater than he deserved but which would never have been in question had he not tried to harass an opponent.

After the late flurry of colour, it was high time the match came to an end and eventually it did, after five minutes of stoppage time.

Watt escaped with the points, but if Kelso can keep this young side together and find some goals from somewhere, surely better times for them are just around the corner.

Kelso United:   Turnbull, Herdman, Logan, Bowie, McNulty, Boyne (Blaikie 84), Bonnington (Hill 65), Beveridge, Hopkinson, Hutchison, Waugh (Ngoa 84).     Sub. not used: Stewart.

Heriot-Watt University:   Saunders, Scott, Hume, Kerr, Watt, Higgins (Davies 67), Laurenson (Stevenson 57), Forbes, Donnelly, Connor, Sutherland.     Subs. not used: Wright, Dargo.

Referee:   Mr Colin Whyte (Edinburgh).

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 26:  Wednesday 18th March 2015

East of Scotland League: First Division

Hawick Royal Albert  0   Heriot-Watt University 3

The long drive down to Hawick was the least of the Watt’s concerns as a vigorous and determined Albert side made the visitors work for their success. A goal-less first half was played at a frantic pace, with both sides doing their best to pass the ball on an increasingly sticky surface.

There were chances for both sides in that first period and an early one came to the Watt when slick passing involving Alex Scott and Elliot Sutherland ended in a cross which reached Neil Laurenson. With time to size up the shot, Laurenson dragged it to the left of Bruce Callan’s goal.

Sutherland’s pace was troubling the home defence and a precision pass by Ryan Higgins put him away again on the right soon after this, but his cross was too close to the goal for Laurenson, who had hung back around the edge of the penalty area.

A terrible mix-up between Scott, David Kerr and Craig Saunders almost presented Hawick with a golden opportunity as all three Watt men left it to each other and in the end it was left to Finn Watt to step in and clear the danger.

Soon Watt was back on the attack and Michael Connor’s penetrating pass enabled Sutherland to turn inside Gary Shillinglaw and fire in a strong shot, but Callan dived to his left to turn the ball round the post.

Saunders was Watt’s saviour in the twenty-second minute when a good pass sent Greg Summers running through the inside-right channel into the penalty box, but Saunders came rapidly from his goal to smother the ball bravely at the feet of the Albert midfielder.

Another good move from the Watt involved Higgins at various stages and it was he who eventually took a pass from Chris Donnelly to fire in a shot from ten metres, but Callan stood his ground and caught the ball above his head.

Watt set his teammates a good example with a storming run after an interception in midfield which resulted in a corner. Watt stayed forward and the ball reached him following the corner kick, but his back was to goal and his shot after turning lacked power. Watt made another interception shortly after this, sending Connor away to find Sutherland, whose pass enabled Laurenson to strike a first-time shot. Once again, however, Callan dived to save.

Jack Daniel was having another effective match and he was instrumental in creating a move which provided a diagonal pass giving Laurenson a chance to run across the Hawick defence from right to left. Having passed Callan, Laurenson tried to turn the ball back into goal, but it bounced up off the tufty grass and he shinned it, to the satisfaction of the home support.

The last near thing of the half came the way of the home side. A free kick from around half-way was played to the edge of the Watt area and laid back for Nick Ramsay to strike a hard, low shot from the edge of the area, but to the striker’s dismay, Saunders moved quickly to his left and dived to divert the ball round the post for a splendid save.

The second half was only four minutes old when the Watt made the breakthrough. A short corner on the left was taken along the by-line, then cut back to the edge of the box, from where it was scuffed back into the area and reached Watt, standing alone about ten metres out. Watt calmly placed a side-foot shot across the goal and just inside the post to the right of Callan.

Three minutes later, an ill-tempered exchange in midfield left Albert a man short. Summers, who had been amongst Hawick’s most effective performers, used an unacceptable expression and was dismissed for offensive language.

A minute after this, Donnelly had a chance to increase Watt’s lead, but again Callan did well, saving with his right foot.

Strangely, the loss of a key player did not adversely affect the home side and for a time it was the Watt who seemed more disrupted. The visitors’ rhythm seemed to desert them and Hawick continued to drive forward at every opportunity.

Steven Wright contrived a good chance, picking up the pieces after Donnelly was tackled and driving across the pitch, eventually sending in a good left-foot shot which Callan bundled behind for a corner. Just after this, Hawick right-winger Calvin Muttit went on a storming run, picking up the ball around half-way and sweeping towards the Watt goal. He played a wall pass around the edge of the penalty area and sent in a fierce shot which might have produced Hawick’s goal of the season had it not been matched by another superlative save from Saunders, who dived to his left to get a hand to the ball and turn it away.

Hawick substitute Liam Henderson looked to have a good chance on the left side of the penalty area, but David Kerr was alive to the danger and made up ground quickly to get in a fine block.

After withstanding this period of forceful attacking by the home side, Watt went two ahead with quarter of an hour to play through a strike of real quality. Wright put substitute Scott Dargo away on the right and his cross was played out to the edge of the penalty area where Laurenson met the ball with as good a connection as he could ever hope to make. The timing was perfect and the ball flew into the corner of the net to Callan’s left to general relief in the Watt technical area.

Five minutes later, a third Watt goal removed any remaining doubts about the outcome. Sutherland sped past a tiring home defence and from close to the by-line cut the ball firmly across goal. It appeared that Donnelly had got the touch that took the ball into goal, but – sorry, Chris – the referee’s report gave it as an own goal by Gary Shillinglaw.

With the result secured, the Watt began to play with some freedom and more goals seemed a possibility against ten men who had worked really hard for no reward on a strength-sapping surface, but it was Hawick who almost managed to pull a goal back with a minute to go, Scott Watson’s well-judged curling shot from the left evading even Saunders, but clipping the base of the post and going past.

Hawick Royal Albert:  Callan, S McKenzie, Shillinglaw, Fleming, Fallan, Moran (Paterek 75), Muttit, Summers, Watson, Ramsay (Henderson 55), Fleming.     Subs. not used.: Cairns, M McKenzie.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Scott, Daniel, Kerr, Watt, Higgins (Hume 78), Sutherland, Wright, Donnelly, Connor (Dargo 66), Laurenson.     Sub. not used: Davies.

Referee:  Mr Boise Allan (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 25: Saturday 14th March 2015

East of Scotland League:  First Division

Heriot-Watt University 5   Eyemouth United  0

Eyemouth made more of a fight of this than the score might suggest, but it was a satisfying win as the Watt plays off its backlog of games and tries to catch up with the top three in the Division.

Early exchanges were even, with both sides playing some neat, high-tempo football. The kicks from hand of Craig Saunders are becoming a potent weapon for the Watt and with eight minutes played, a towering punt from the big goalie put Gordon McInnes under pressure. His backward header never reached Eyemouth ‘keeper Adam Mutch, as Chris Donnelly’s pace enabled him to get to the ball first, but he played it too strongly past Mutch to be able to catch it before it went behind.

Eyemouth responded with some vigorous attacking play and Ryan Higgins, who has been doing much of the heavy lifting in the Watt midfield recently, got in a fine block to prevent Keith Buckley’s shot troubling Saunders.

Just before the half-hour, Watt took the lead. Neil Laurenson’s near-post corner was headed back out to him and when his second cross reached the middle of the goal, the visitors’ defence had begun to disintegrate. Andy Forbes nipped in to place a header past Mutch’s right hand into the corner of the goal.

United tried hard to get back on level terms and after James Wilson’s free kick struck a head in the defensive wall, a long-range strike from the rebound was held under the bar by Saunders. Another long kick by Saunders gave Laurenson to turn on the edge of the Eyemouth area, but before he could shoot, Patrick Tillbrook got in a good tackle. It was rehearsal for Laurenson, however, and when a similar opportunity arose a few minutes later, he turned more sharply, rounded Mutch and stroked the ball into the vacant goal to increase the Watt lead.

Eyemouth again replied with spirit to the loss of a goal and Aiden Lauder had a shooting opportunity from around the penalty spot, but Finn Watt’s dash to close down the space saved the situation. A minute from half-time came Eyemouth’s nearest thing yet. Jamie Thomson went down the right and sent in a fine cross to the back post. Scott Adamson was sprinting in and would certainly have scored had not Higgins matched his run and got in an effective challenge.

A minute later, a superb through pass put Lauder in possession on the edge of the area, but a perfectly-timed tackle by Jack Daniel snuffed out the danger. After this, the Watt players were glad to hear the half-time whistle blow whilst their two-goal advantage was intact.

Early in the second period, an excellent pass by Andy Forbes gave Donnelly the chance to run in to the penalty box, but the visitors’ defenders managed to hamper him just enough to ensure that he pulled his shot across goal.

Three minutes around the hour mark were decisive in this game. First, Eyemouth came close to a goal with a fine right-wing move at the end of which Lauder squared the ball into the path of Adamson as he came in from the left. Adamson’s first-time shot was well struck, but Saunders dived full-length to his left and touched the ball round the post. Two minutes after this, Forbes played a good pass down the right for Elliot Sutherland, who had replaced Scott Davies two minutes earlier. Sutherland’s first-time cross reached Donnelly, who took a touch and had to hurry his shot to evade the rapidly-advancing Mutch, but managed to squeeze the ball inside the post for a third goal for the home side.

Mutch did well to dive at the feet of Donnelly two minutes later, after the striker had burst through between the Eyemouth central defenders.

With sixty-nine minutes on the clock, Eyemouth had the frustration of seeing a well-worked goal chalked off for offside. Tillbrook’s pass was a defence-splitter, perfectly weighted for the run of Wilson, who sent a shot into the corner of the goal past the left hand of Saunders, but the referee decided Wilson had moved a moment too soon. It was certainly a close call.

The suffering of the visitors increased two minutes later when the Watt added a fourth goal. United’s defence was pulled to the Watt right to deal with a mass incursion and when Laurenson switched the play, Mikey Connor was all on his own to round Mutch and place the ball into goal.

With ten minutes left to play, Watt added a fifth when Stevie Wright’s through ball released Sutherland, whose pace took him clear of the Fishermen’s defence. Unselfishly, he squared the ball to give Cammy Stevenson a tap-in to complete the scoring.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Scott, Daniel, Kerr, Watt, Higgins (Wright 74), Davies (Sutherland 58), Forbes, Donnelly (Stevenson 66), Connor, Laurenson.     Sub. not used: Dargo.

Eyemouth United:  Mutch, Tillbrook, Spiers, Ford (Wylie 65), McInnes, Adamson (Milligan 74), Lauder, Wilson, Buckley, Thomson (Ruwona 65), Law.     Subs. not used.: Scott, Walker.

Referee:  Mr Garry Farmer (Dalgety Bay)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 24: Tuesday 10th March 2015

King Cup: Second Round

Easthouses Lily M.W.  1   Heriot-Watt University 2

For this cup tie against leading Premier Division side Easthouses Lily, Watt had to make some changes from the previous match against Peebles Rovers.  In came Adam Kerlin and Jack Daniel as a full-back pairing, with Daniel making his first-team debut and Kerlin his second start, having played in the opening match of the season (a Qualifying League tie at Hawick) with his only other appearance being half an hour in the first League game, the ill-fated visit to Duns.  Into the midfield came Mikey Connor for his first start since returning to the club and Ryan Higgins, who last began a match in December.  All the new men played very well, but the biggest change was to the Watt’s attitude, as the players approached this game with all the zest and intent that was mysteriously missing from the rather sad performance at Peebles last time out.

Chris Donnelly, in particular, looked like his normal self again, leading the line with spirit and courage and giving the Lily defence no peace at all.  Inside three minutes, he had created a chance, turning his man and making good ground before sending Sean Muhsin scampering away on the left.  When the ball came inside, Ryan Higgins worked a shooting opportunity on his right foot, but sliced it slightly and the ball went past John Falconer’s goal to the goalkeeper’s left.

More good work from Donnelly secured the ball in the middle of the park two minutes later and again he linked with Muhsin, who cut in from the left and sent in a shot which Falconer dived to turn round the post.  The corner found its way to Connor on the right and he shot over the bar from a tight angle.

Watt stayed on the attack and after another two minutes, Muhsin’s ball in from the right was played by a Lily defender straight to Donnelly, who sidestepped his marker and sent in a shot from ten metres, but Falconer was in the right place to save comfortably.

Connor was the next Watt man to get in a shot, this time following a neat exchange on the left, but Falconer was again in good position to catch.

A long kick-out from Craig Saunders caused consternation in the home defence as the battling Donnelly got between the central defenders.  David Arthur had to play the ball to prevent the striker reaching it and he sent it off the inside of the post to Falconer’s right.  Watt recovered the ball on the right side and Higgins sent it fizzing across goal and just past the post.

Lily had their first chance of note on fifteen minutes, when Graeme Young, who was playing wide on the right, cut the ball back for John Hunter to shoot on the turn, but the ball slipped past Saunders’ left-hand post.  This signalled the start of a period in which the home side began to force the play and it took a timely recovery tackle from Kerlin to prevent Mark Brown from getting in a shot from good position.   Saunders then made a well-timed advance to the right edge of his area to slide in and grasp a dangerous through ball.

Daniel was playing calmly and effectively on the left side and showing good passing ability.  He executed a fine turn with stepover and drag-back to get out of a tight spot and send a pass down the left touchline for Neil Laurenson to send in a low cross.  It was really too close to Falconer, but this time the ‘keeper spilled the ball.  Donnelly was on to it in a flash, turning to send in a shot from ten metres, but once again Falconer had positioned himself well, advancing to close down the angles, and Donnelly was unable to pass him.

A moment of some controversy arose just before the half-hour, when Lily’s Paul McDermott brought down a player on the Watt right.  The referee seemed for a few moments to be allowing advantage and Connor might have had a chance to move in on goal, but the whistle then sounded to the consternation of the Watt attackers.  To be fair to Mr Hanlon, who had another fine match in charge, Connor was still a fair distance from the ball and from where the referee stood it must have been a moot point as to whether or not he would reach it before a defender.  McDermott was cautioned and Muhsin’s free kick was hooked just over the bar by the right foot of Scott Davies.

David Kerr’s reckless challenge a couple of minutes later squared the bookings count and gave Lily a chance from around twenty-five metres, but Saunders, who had an excellent game, touched McDermott’s firm shot over the bar.

A corner from the right gave Lily another chance and the huge Hunter backed away at the far post to get his head to the ball, but Finn Watt had tracked him and the ball came off the defender’s head, slowing it a little, and Saunders was again able to turn it over the crossbar.

As Lily maintained a spell of pressure, Hunter twice sent in headers from the near-post area, but on both occasions they went across the face of goal with no takers.  Liam Fellenger got in a shot from twenty-five metres that was deflected for a corner, but the Watt reached half-time without mishap.

The second half started as a midfield battle, but close to the hour mark, the home side went in front.  A low cross from the Lily right had Kerlin racing out to make a challenge which he slightly mistimed.  This earned him a caution and Lily had a free kick on the edge of the penalty area.  McDermott struck the ball firmly past the defensive wall into the corner of the net to the right of Saunders, giving the goalkeeper no chance.

Watt’s response to this setback was to retrieve the ball, centre it promptly and to get back on the attack – and a minute later, the scores were level again.  A misplaced pass in midfield was collected by the industrious Donnelly, who worked forward to within hailing distance of the penalty area, exchanged passes with the ever-available Muhsin and sent a well-placed left-foot shot out of the reach of Falconer’s right hand and into the corner of the net.

It was Lily’s turn to make a brisk response and Young sent in a ball from the right wing which Saunders touched on to the bar and the Watt defence scrambled clear.  However, Watt soon resumed the offensive and Donnelly’s good effort on the turn didn’t miss by much.

In another good break-out by Watt, Connor’s astute pass picked out Donnelly, who brought the ball down well, got between the central defenders and fired in a shot from the edge of the area, only to find that Falconer had positioned himself perfectly again to make the save look easy.

Saunders was brought into the action twice in two minutes; firstly, to hold a drive from Hunter, then to help out Kerlin, who was struggling to prevent Euan Smith getting a run on goal.  Saunders sped out and got in a tackle, then showed good juggling skills to keep the ball away from Lily feet until it could be smuggled clear.

Higgins showed tenacious play to retain possession and play the ball to Davies, who moved it inside enable Donnelly to hurl himself once more at the home defence and get in a strong left-foot shot which was headed for a corner.

An accurate kick upfield from Saunders then gave Laurenson a chance to exchange passes with Donnelly and get in a shot, but Falconer dived to his left to make the catch.  As Lily tried to work the ball through midfield, Muhsin got in a splendid tackle to recover possession and restart the attack on the left.  When Davies played in a low cross, Donnelly reached the ball just before Steven Campbell, who sent the striker crashing to the ground just inside the penalty box.

The spot kick was entrusted to Muhsin, who was calmness personified as he stroked the ball firmly into the corner of the net to Falconer’s left to give the Watt the lead.

The visitors did not try to sit on their slender advantage, but kept on pushing forward at every opportunity.  Kerlin’s perceptive pass found Higgins on a wide run on the right and although his cross overshot the players in the middle, the ball was returned to him and his backheel pass gave Davies the opportunity to send in a shot which just passed the junction of post and bar to Falconer’s right.

There was a nasty moment for the Watt as Johnny Baigrie tried to chip Saunders from a position wide on the right, but the ball dropped just over the bar.

A high ball downfield then had the home defence in trouble as the relentless Donnelly hared across the pitch to challenge Falconer as he tried to kick clear.  The two got to the point of action about the same time and the ball went high in the air, but fell kindly for the defenders.

As the game reached its nervous last minutes, Lily gained a corner on the right.  Saunders came to meet the ball at his near post and seemed to punch it behind off Hunter, but another corner was awarded.  This time, however, the inswinger was too tight and slipped over the bar.

In stoppage time, there was a nasty clash of heads as Campbell and Laurenson contested a ball in midfield.  When both players were back on their feet, the game restarted with a bounce-up, which Higgins contested for Watt.  Muhsin stood off in a well-judged position to pick up the pieces and started a move on the left in which substitutes Calum Milne and Elliot Sutherland combined, ending with a shot by Sutherland.  Falconer saved, but the remaining time was almost used up and the Watt was soon able to celebrate a notable victory.

Easthouses Lily M.W.: Falconer, Campbell, McManus, Tainsh, Arthur, Fellenger (Robertson 68), Smith, Young, Brown (Baigrie 68), McDermott, Hunter. Sub not used.: Walkingshaw.

Heriot-Watt University: Saunders, Kerlin, Daniel, Kerr, Watt, Higgins, Davies, Muhsin, Donnelly (Milne 90), Connor (Sutherland 69), Laurenson. Subs. not used: Wright, Stevenson.

Referee: Mr Paul Hanlon (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 23: Saturday 28th February 2015

East of Scotland League: First Division

Peebles Rovers  2   Heriot-Watt University 0

This was the ‘must-win’ game for the Watt if there was to be any hope of securing the First Division championship, but in the end the home side showed the greater desire and competitive edge to gain a deserved victory.

Watt started the game well and right from the kick-off built a promising move involving Andy Forbes, Steven Wright, Elliot Sutherland and Sean Muhsin. In the eighth minute, a good through ball found Muhsin, who passed to Chris Donnelly, but the striker almost entirely missed the ball as he swung at it. Sutherland had a go next, but Darren Walker’s goal was not seriously threatened.

Chris Flockhart had got away with a late challenge on Forbes, but when the Watt man reversed the roles with a fierce tackle after twelve minutes’ play, Flockhart was unable to continue and was soon replaced by Shaun Meikle. Forbes was cautioned and this action seemed to stimulate Rovers to greater efforts. Suddenly the home side was winning the individual contests and starting to dictate the flow of the play.

Much of the danger was coming from the combination of Daniel McAleavy and Paul Murray on the left wing and it was from this quarter that Peebles created the opening goal in twenty-five minutes. After Watt had half-cleared a corner, McAleavy’s cross fell in the far post area. Frankie Arthur judged the flight early and ran in to steer the ball home from just inside the six-yard box.

Peebles continued to look the more likely side for the remainder of the first half, although Scott Sutherland’s shot over the bar from Murray’s pass was the only serious attempt on goal until the last moments of the half. Then, a corner on the Peebles right was played back out to McAleavy, the corner taker, and his far-post cross was headed over from about two metres out by the earlier scorer, Arthur.

As Watt sought some way to change the pattern of the game, Cammy Stevenson replaced Calum Milne twelve minutes after half-time, but Rovers retained a slight edge as the game wore on, although there were few incidents in either penalty area. Mid-way through the half, Jamie Hume and Mikey Connor were brought on in place of Sutherland and Wright and the fresh legs immediately made the Watt look brighter. Connor used his positional sense and passing ability to good effect and with Alex Scott combining well with Stevenson on the right, the visitors looked a lot livelier.

A foul on Donnelly thirty metres from goal gave Connor a chance for a strike and it was a good one, forcing Walker to punch clear. Forbes twice got his head to the ball in the ensuing action, but no Watt player had a clear opportunity to score.

Donnelly then burst on to the ball after a move through the middle of the park, but his weak shot from twenty-two metres did not trouble Walker. A good move involving Stevenson and Muhsin gave Neil Laurenson space on the left, but his cross failed to pass the first defender.

In the last minute of the ninety, Rovers secured the points with a second goal. A cross from close to the left corner flag reached Murray, who was now operating on the right. Finn Watt did his best to cover, but the tricky Murray brought the ball on to his left side and fired an accurate shot across goal just inside the far post.

In the last action of the game, a good attack on the Watt right resulted in a cross which gave Walker a problem as Muhsin leapt at the far post, but the goalkeeper managed to get a hand to the ball and as it was hacked out of play, the full-time whistle sounded.

Peebles Rovers: Walker, J Flockhart, McAleavy, Young, Richardson, Arthur (Zavaroni 81), Murray, C Flockhart (Meikle 13), Sutherland, Rossi (Ndiweni 88), Conaghan. All subs. used.

Heriot-Watt University: Saunders, Scott, Laurenson, Watt, Kerr, Forbes, Wright (Hume 67), Sutherland (Connor 67), Donnelly, Muhsin, Milne (Stevenson 57). Sub. not used: Higgins.

Referee: Mr Calum Doyle (Newtongrange)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 22: Saturday 21th February 2015

East of Scotland League:  First Division

Heriot-Watt University 3   Ormiston  0

A clear-cut win and a clean sheet against the team in second place in the Division suggests that this was one of Watt’s best performances of the season, but in fact it was far from that. Several players were well below their normal standard of performance and when the journey to Peebles is made next week, there will have to be an improvement if Watt is to take anything from Woodside Park.

In fact, the real story of this game was of a side undone by its indiscipline. Ormiston’s Redmond Barker was sent off before half-time for flooring Stevie Wright and when Craig Wojtowcyz kicked the ball against the referee following Watt’s third goal, the visitors were reduced to nine men, effectively ending any chance of a come-back.

Watt had passed the ball quite well in the first half but were inclined to over-elaborate, whilst Ormiston’s more direct style gave their tricky forward players frequent chances to run at the Watt defence and get in some dangerous shots. Both sides would have felt they might have scored before half-time, but neither did so. Watt’s best efforts were a Sean Muhsin drive from Scott Davies’s cutback, well saved by Ross Combe low to his right, and a dangerous cross from Stevie Wright following Andy Forbes’s incisive pass which no-one could turn into goal. Dean Woods was always a threat for Ormiston and came close a couple of times. Craig Saunders saved his drive low down at his right-hand post, then later a shot narrowly missed the same upright.

After Barker’s dismissal, the half ended with another attempt on goal at each end, with Watt failing to capitalise when a free kick was blocked by Combe and went loose in the goalmouth; then Kieran Watson’s shot from Woods’s neat pass deflected off Finn Watt and just past the right-hand post as Saunders dived to his left.

At the start of the second half, it appeared that Watt had found a better way to utilise the pace of the front men. Wright sent Donnelly away on the left side, but he so far outstripped his pursuit that when Combe came to face him he was indecisive and started to dawdle, eventually being forced to hurry his shot to avoid a tackle, and Combe got a leg to the ball to turn it behind.

The corner was fruitful, however. When Neil Laurenson’s kick was played back out to Andy Forbes on the right, his cross was deflected high into the air towards the near post. Donnelly leapt to get to the ball ahead of the advancing Combe and headed it into the area in front of goal. It was cleared as far as Elliot Sutherland, a couple of metres inside the box, and he hooked the ball firmly in under the bar to give the Watt the lead.

Two minutes later, the home side went two ahead with a goal bearing some similarities to the first. A long-distance shot from Donnelly was deflected for a corner. Again, when the ball came to the near-post area it was played on across the face of goal, but this time David Kerr lunged forward to poke it over the line.

Woods continued to be a threat and around the hour mark he caught out the Watt defence and drove into the box with Kerr in pursuit. As Saunders advanced, the striker wobbled slightly, perhaps indicating some contact with Kerr, but got away a shot which Saunders diverted behind.

A minute later, Watt had an opportunity to put the result beyond doubt when Muhsin switched the play to the right to give Donnelly a run from half-way, but when he struck a fierce shot across goal, Combe was quickly down to make a fine save, touching the ball round the post. Following the corner, Laurenson’s chip to the far post found the head of Forbes, but he was unable to generate enough power on his header to trouble Combe.

Michael Connor replaced Sutherland after sixty-six minutes for his first appearance in a Watt strip this season and made an immediate impact, finding Muhsin on the left with a first-time pass. Muhsin sped down the wing against a thin defence and slipped the ball under Combe for Watt’s third goal.

Wojtowycz was sent off before the game restarted, leaving Ormiston two players down, but despite numerous good attacking positions, Watt was unable to add to its winning margin. Cammy Stevenson grazed the bar with a free kick and Combe made another excellent save, catching a powerful drive from Donnelly, before a sequence of shots with a couple of minutes to go in which Connor and Forbes had opportunities, but Watt had to settle for a final score of 3 – 0. That was, of course, an outcome which would have seemed very acceptable before kick-off and one with which the Watt support were pleased to accept considering the team never managed to produce its best form.

Heriot-Watt University: Saunders, Scott, Laurenson, Watt, Kerr, Forbes, Wright (Milne 74), Sutherland (Connor 66), Donnelly, Muhsin, Davies (Stevenson 55)    Subs. not used: Hume, Anderson.

Ormiston: Combe, Mack, Ferguson, Morgan, Cunningham, D Watson, Quinn (McEwan 55), Wojtowycz, Woods (Cockerell 72), Barker, K Watson (Edmond 66)    Sub. not used: McGrath

Referee: Mr Chris Newman (Linlithgow) .

SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 21: Saturday 14th February 2015

SFA South Region Challenge Cup:  Third Round

Civil Service Strollers  2   Heriot-Watt University 2  (after extra time); Civil Service Strollers won 3 – 1 on kicks from the penalty mark

This game bore more than a passing resemblance to the cup tie played between these sides at Muirhouse in late November. A well-organised Watt side defended resolutely and effectively for long periods of the game, with Andy Forbes and Finn Watt supreme in the centre of defence. The visitors made it tough for the Strollers to fashion worthwhile chances and Craig Saunders dealt with most of what got past the men in front of him.

Watt, who hadn’t played in earnest since before Christmas, performed well in the first half, but had to dig deep as the match progressed, with extra time being a test of character for many of the players.

The game began in lively fashion, with Elliot Sutherland for the Watt and Jack Downie for the Strollers trying their luck with early efforts. Home goalkeeper Michael Lee held Sutherland’s shot from distance, but Downie’s effort was much too high.

Scott Davies, partnered with Chris Donnelly in attack and looking uncannily like the twin of the Northern Irishman, showed skill and endeavour early on and the two strikers combined half-way through the first period to give the Watt the lead. Donnelly made a run on to the right side and when he cut the ball back, Davies was there to coolly deceive the goalkeeper and slip the ball just inside the post to his left.

Watt continued to look dangerous in attack for the remainder of the first half and a fine move right on half-time almost brought a second goal, but when Neil Laurenson played the ball across goal in front of Donnelly, the flag went up for the narrowest of offside decisions.

Right from the start of the second half, Watt came close again when Sutherland headed the ball into the path of Donnelly as he broke into the penalty area, but with Davies looking for a square pass, Donnelly drove the ball firmly into the midriff of Lee at his near post.

Some of the Watt players soon began to look weary and Strollers gradually gained more control of the ball, but the Watt defence was still holding firm, with Saunders making a splendid flying save from a header by Kieran McGaghie. The ’keeper had to be alert again a few minutes later to rush well out of his area and clear as a long ball eluded the outfield players.

Civil Service goalie Lee also showed an acrobatic capability when Cammy Stevenson picked up a ball in midfield and drove forward to strike a fine shot from outside the area. Lee soared up to his right to get just enough of a hand to the ball to carry it over the bar.

Muhsin’s dangerous corner from the left struck a defender at the near post and fell invitingly, but no Watt player was near enough to benefit and two minutes later the Strollers equalised. There was plenty of cover as Downie foraged down the right, but the leg-weary Watt men couldn’t get to him in time to prevent his cross from near the corner-flag. It was a good one, played to an area beyond the penalty spot, where James Guy rose to send a perfectly-placed header into the postage-stamp corner, leaving Saunders helpless.

Civil had plenty of the ball in the last twenty minutes, but Watt’s determined rearguard action, with occasional swift forays into Strollers territory, left it in doubt as to which side might snatch a winner. Saunders dived full-length to touch a drive from Chris Tobin round the post and Muhsin had a good chance following a corner, but took too long to get his shot away and McGaghie made the block. The last action was dramatic; a high punt straight down the middle of the park had Saunders in some doubt about whether to come or stay and in the end, Watt was on hand to clear from between two Strollers players with the goal gaping.

The pattern of play changed little as the match went into extra time and the limbs of the Watt players became steadily heavier. Alex Scott’s clearing header was taken on the volley by Downie from some distance and Saunders saved superbly, reacting quickly to touch the ball on to the bar. This was important, as two minutes later, the Watt went in front again. A free kick from Muhsin was played out to Finn Watt on the right side of the Strollers’ area and he sent a curling left-foot cross-shot in to goal close to Lee’s right-hand post.

The lead did not last long, however. Two minutes later, it was back to parity. When a cross from the left from Neil Campbell was aimed towards Guy at the far post, the forward backed into Neil Laurenson, who seemed to do nothing much apart from stand his ground, but when Guy went down, he got the verdict from the referee. He took the penalty himself and sent Saunders the wrong way to level the scores again.

The last quarter of an hour of struggle changed nothing and the match went to penalties, over which a veil will be drawn. Muhsin was the only Watt player to score with his kick and the others were generally tired efforts. Strollers’ kicks weren’t much better; Saunders saved one and made contact with another two, but three found the net and that was enough for the home side to win through.

Civil Service Strollers: Lee, McWilliams (Robinson 98), Christie (Newalls 95), Campbell, Ritchie, Greenhill, Guy, Downie, McGaghie, Tobin, Pettigrew (Hendrie 61). Sub. not used: Burnside.

Heriot-Watt University: Saunders, Scott, Laurenson, Forbes, Watt, Wright, Stevenson (Banks 90), Muhsin, Davies, Donnelly, Sutherland (Milne 107). Subs. not used: Kerr, Hume, Higgins. Referee: Mr George MacDonald (Kirkcaldy)

Assistants: Mr Greig Haynes, Mr Alastair Wright.

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 20: Saturday 10th January 2015

East of Scotland League: First Division

Heriot-Watt University 1   Burntisland Shipyard  0   (abandoned after 36 minutes)

There was some doubt about whether this match would be played, due to the pitch being rather wet in some areas. It did start, but didn’t even make half-time before it was halted by snow which was becoming persistent and increasingly heavy.

About two minutes into play, Watt had come close to an early goal when Jordan Mushet, the Shipyard goalkeeper, leapt to his left to get his fingertips to the ball and divert it on to the bar and over. A couple of minutes after that, Andy Forbes met a corner from the right with a flying volley, but directed the ball across goal and just past the post.

Scott Dargo cut in from the right and switched the ball across for the run of Elliot Sutherland to get away a shot, but when it was blocked, Burntisland defenders were quickest to the ball. Forbes did well in attack again, meeting a free kick with a powerful header, but Peter Bell did well to direct the ball away from goal.

Watt took the lead after seventeen minutes’ play with a somewhat controversial goal. Stevie Wright seemed to have fouled his man to win the ball just outside the Watt area, but the referee didn’t see it that way and Watt broke quickly upfield. Dale Robertson came in with a fierce tackle in midfield but was unfortunate to see the ball rebound to Sean Muhsin. He laid the ball to the right for Scott Dargo to take it forward and flick it between Mushet and his left-hand post.

Shipyard responded well, with Kevin Masson looking particularly lively. He eluded several defenders to win a corner in the twenty-third minute, but nothing came of it.

As the snow got heavier, a good effort by Wright just cleared the bar and Mushet saved Chris Donnelly’s drive from a tight angle. It was all to no avail, however, and as the wind began to whip the snow into disorienting patterns and the lines began to disappear, Mr Hanlon brought proceedings to an end.

Heriot-Watt University: Saunders, Scott, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Wright, Dargo, Muhsin, Donnelly, Anderson, Sutherland. Subs. not used: Watt, Higgins, Connor, Webster, Stevenson.

Burntisland Shipyard: Mushet, Lowe, Arthur, Smart, Bell, Robertson, Napier, Henderson, Bouhaddou, McPhail, Masson. Subs. not used: Doig, Rogerson, Anderson, MacDonald, Keatings.

Referee: Mr Paul Hanlon (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 19: Saturday 20th December 2014

East of Scotland League: First Division

Heriot-Watt University  0   Peebles Rovers  2

With Sean Muhsin back in the ranks after being cup-tied for the previous two matches, Watt sought to bring the year to a successful end against the unbeaten league leaders, but although playing against ten men for most of the game, produced a disjointed performance which lacked any kind of cohesion.

The first half was goalless and largely forgettable, although there was one incident of note when the visitors’ right-back, Lee Maloney, was sent off in the fifteenth minute for a late challenge on Muhsin. Your correspondent was almost the full length of the pitch from the foul, but the decision looked harsh and Maloney was certainly incensed. Oddly, the decision did not benefit the Watt; Peebles maintained a tight, narrow defence for the remainder of the game and played on the break. The Watt lacked the guile and co-ordination to break down or get round the tight defensive unit and seldom troubled Darren Walker.

Watt’s best spell was early in the second half. Inside the first minute, Calum Milne made a good run to the left and applied an immaculate first touch to a through ball, enabling him to send in a left-foot shot on the half-volley, but the ball passed just over the bar.

Cammy Stevenson and Chris Donnelly were joining Muhsin in probing the Rovers’ defence, but their contributions were too often solo efforts and there was insufficient team-play. One exception was a good interplay between Donnelly and Stevenson that resulted in a corner on the right. When Neil Laurenson sent across the kick, the ball fell at the feet of Andy Forbes at the far post. Forbes lunged forward and from just a few metres out, poked the ball across the face of the goal and past.

The nearest thing to a goal came a minute later when Stevenson slipped the ball through to Ryan Higgins, who had taken up a good position in the box. The midfielder controlled the ball, swivelled and sent in a quick shot which slapped off the bar, rose straight up into the air and fell into the arms of Walker.

Frankie Arthur, who had been so influential on Peebles’ last visit to Riccarton, replaced Gerry Rossi in the Rovers’ midfield. Higgins was exerting a positive influence for the Watt and a fine pass from him picked out the run of Elliot Sutherland, whose early shot to the near post area forced Walker to turn the ball behind. Steven Wright came on for the Watt shortly after this, surprisingly replacing the effective Higgins; for Rovers, Lee Zavaroni replaced Donovan Ndiweni.

With twenty minutes left on the clock, Peebles gained a corner when John Hall’s firm cross was touched by a defender on its way past. Daniel McAleavy’s corner was met by trialist Jason Darling, whose well-timed run gave him room on the edge of the six-yard box to place his header past the right hand of Craig Saunders into the corner of the net.

With Michael Webster on in place of defender Jamie Hume, Watt sought a way back into the game and from a rehearsed move, Donnelly got on to a pass from Muhsin after Laurenson’s short free kick, but Walker was vigilant and arrived at about the same time. The ball went loose and Donnelly lost sight of it until it was too late. Stevenson bored into the box from the right, getting a break off a defender, but with players in better position in the middle, he drove the ball in from a wide position with such inaccuracy that the result was a throw-in.

With seven minutes of normal time left, the game was put beyond Watt’s reach. A free kick played into the box by McAleavy ran past Darling. Saunders advanced and dived to his left to gather, but somehow the ball eluded him. Darling, pursuing, fell over the goalkeeper’s arms and a penalty was awarded. Saunders went the right way and got at least one hand to James Young’s kick, but failed to prevent it entering the goal.

Stoppage time produced a final chance for the Watt to register a goal, but when the ball rolled across the penalty area in front of Steven Wright, he of the fierce shooting power, instead of driving it for goal he attempted a pass towards Webster which was played behind for a corner. It wasn’t to be Watt’s day.

Heriot-Watt University: Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, Hume (Webster 74), Forbes, Higgins (Wright 65), Stevenson, Muhsin, Donnelly, Milne, Sutherland.      Subs. not used: Woolven, O’Hagan.

Peebles Rovers: Walker, Maloney, McAleavy, Young, J Flockhart, Rossi (Arthur 61), C Flockhart, Darling, Murray (Scales 88), Hall, Ndiweni (Zavaroni 66).      Sub. not used: Boyle.

Referee: Mr Laurie MacKinnon (Bathgate)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015 Match 18: Saturday 6th December 2014

Image Printers’ East of Scotland Qualifying Cup: Third Round

Heriot-Watt University  0   Leith Athletic  3

After the heriocs of the previous week, it was perhaps too much to hope for a repeat, but this was a deflating outcome for a Watt side which played some neat stuff at times but was ultimately beaten by the better side on the day.

The early chances in the game fell to the Watt, with the first one arriving in the eighth minute. Chris Donnelly’s shot from Elliot Sutherland’s pass inside was partially blocked and deflected into the path of the unmarked Cammy Stevenson, whose instinctive first-time flick on the volley passed Iain Gordon but also the post to his right.

With Ryan Higgins and Steven Wright doing well in the middle of the park, the Watt remained comfortable for the first quarter of the game and came close in the twenty-second minute when Sutherland collected the ball, drove forward into clear space and sent in a shot from around thirty metres which struck the inside of Gordon’s right-hand post and rebounded back across goal to fall to a defender.

Had either of these near things gone in, perhaps the course of the game might have been different, but Leith is a potent attacking force and on the half-hour took the lead with a simple but neatly worked goal. An accurate through pass from Sean Murphy and a well-timed run by Stephen Baigan undid the Watt defence, putting Baigan in ahead of Andy Forbes to collect the ball and finish neatly past the left hand of Craig Saunders.

Calum Milne gave the Watt hope a few minutes later, beating Gordon to the ball on a run into the penalty box, but he was heading away from goal and his angle was too tight for a finish, so he was forced to turn and his cross was headed away.

Ewan Campbell, always an intelligent player, used an overlapping run by Kenny Hall as a decoy to cut inside and fire in a shot which had Saunders scrambling across his goal to ensure it could be left to pass the post; then a free kick by Campbell was headed behind by Forbes, with the Watt defence coming under pressure in the gusty wind as the ball was played in on top of Saunders, but the goalkeeper got a good hand to the ball to take it away from danger.

The Watt had a big penalty shout at the start of the second half when two Athletic defenders closed in on a backheel from Milne and the ball appeared to strike a hand, but there was no intent to handle and the referee sensibly ignored the appeals. All the same, with the wind giving them a little assistance, the Watt side was carrying the game to their visitors at this point and Sutherland tested Gordon with a first-time shot from the edge of the area which the goalkeeper did well to reach and to cling on to. Stevenson then beat his man to take the ball to the line and attempt a cutback, but failed to get the ball past the first defender.

Campbell gave Saunders something to think about with a shot from thirty metres, but the big goalie correctly judged that the ball was curling away from the post and soon the Watt was back on the offensive, with Steven Wright striking a shot from around twenty-five metres which Gordon moved across to catch.

With an hour gone, there had been little between the sides and had the Watt equalised at this point it would not have been undeserved, but in the sixty-third minute, Leith struck a decisive blow with a second goal which drained the energy from the legs of the home team. Scott Dargo was adjudged to have brought down Lewis Martin just outside the penalty box, around six metres from the by-line. Campbell’s free kick dropped amongst the players in the box and was cleared only as far as the edge of the area. When James Hainey played it back to Campbell, his cross was headed in by Robbie Mason.

Chris Smith immediately changed to a 4 – 4 – 2 formation, pushing Donnelly forward to join Anderson in attack, but nine minutes later, it was all over as the Watt committed harakiri. Dargo and Stevenson stood over a free kick thirty metres from the Leith goal. Dargo moved away to the left, but not wide enough. Stevenson tried to pass the ball to him, but not accurately enough. In fact, it was straight to Kerr Allan, who played the ball to Hainey, sending him away down the right. Ryan Higgins covered across and slid into the challenge. He managed to play the ball, but he was on the ground, Hainey was still standing and the ball was still available. Hainey simply resumed where he had been interrupted, ran into the right side of the box and squared the ball as players arrived in support. Mason went in at the near post with a defender and the ball eluded both, leaving Murphy to lunge forward and prod it into the far corner of the net.

Brian Anderson, with perhaps his first touch, sent in a good shot from twenty metres which Gordon dived full-length to his right to push away, then Donnelly met Sutherland’s cutback with a first-time left-footer which went into the side net as the Watt tried to get at least one goal on to the board. The best chance of all came with a minute or so left when a ball was played into Anderson, who was a couple of yards inside the box. Mark Leslie brought down the striker in his attempt to reach the ball, but even a penalty was not enough for the Watt on this day of frustration. Donnelly’s kick struck the post to Gordon’s right and when Sutherland was quickly on to the rebound and took the ball past a recovering defender into space, he struck it so fiercely across goal that the sliding Anderson could not make contact at the far post and the ball passed harmlessly by the far post.

Watt didn’t have a lot of luck at the decisive points in this game, but there was no denying that Leith was a tighter unit overall and made fewer mistakes in the match.

Heriot-Watt University: Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, Watt, Forbes, Higgins, Stevenson (Davies 76), Donnelly, Milne (Anderson 70), Wright, Sutherland. Subs. not used: Kerr, Hume.

Leith Athletic: Gordon, Allan, Hall, Lowson, Leslie, Mason, Baigan (Barrie 68), Murphy (Beaton 77), Hainey, Campbell, Martin. Subs. not used: Burns, Murray, Black.

Referee: Mr Kevin Lindsay (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 17:  Saturday 29th November 2014

Image Printers’ East of Scotland Qualifying Cup:  Second Round 

Civil Service Strollers  0   Heriot-Watt University  1   (after extra time)

On a calm and dry but dull afternoon at Muirhouse on the last-but-one day of November, the Watt faced Premier Division high-flyers Civil Service Strollers without the cup-tied Sean Muhsin, while Rob Service’s tendinitis continued to keep him out of contention for a midfield berth.  For the latter part of the match at Hawick the previous week, Scott Dargo had been pushed forward into midfield with Jamie Hume replacing him at right-back and this arrangement was maintained, with Dargo slotting in alongside Ryan Higgins and Stevie Wright.  Watt had Scott Davies and Elliot Sutherland in wide positions and Chris Donnelly up front.

After his sound performance at Hawick the previous week, Finn Watt retained his place alongside Andy Forbes in the centre of defence and Neil Laurenson was in his usual place at left-back.  Goalkeeper Craig Saunders, who is having a fine season, captained the side on this, the occasion of his hundredth appearance for the Watt in East of Scotland football.

Donnelly showed typical endeavour early on, doing well to hang on to a ball played at him from a distance, twisting and turning and picking out a ball to Sutherland, who was moving down the left, but the low cross was intercepted and played behind for a corner.

Strollers were putting a lot of energy into the game and in the tenth minute James Guy cut in along the by-line on the left and fired in a shot which Saunders did well to save with his feet.  The big ‘keeper did well again a minute later do deal with an awkward chip aimed towards Guy by Craig Newalls and yet again a couple of minutes after that, when he dived to his left to secure a deflected shot from the edge of the box.

The pace and imagination of Donnelly were posing problems for the Civil Service defence and when he was put away on the right by a pass from Davies, his cross almost tempted Stuart Burnside from his goal, but the ’keeper retreated as the ball curled away from him and Ross McWilliams managed to head it out of play.  Donnelly’s next foray was down the other wing, spinning to sprint forward after a deft lay-off to Ryan Higgins, who played an excellent return ball, but again the Strollers defence was vigilant and blocked the cutback behind for a corner.

Gradually, the home side, with its much more experienced midfielders, began to exert a stranglehold on the game and Watt’s attacks became sporadic.  Strollers won a series of corners, but the concentration and determination of the Watt back line was formidable.  Forbes, as always, was leading by example and his tackling and heading were inspirational.  He was well supported by his defensive colleagues and on the few occasions when the Strollers got through, they found that Saunders was equally resolute, making two saves in a matter of seconds when a ball in from a corner fell amongst the feet in front of goal.

Watt made it through to half-time without mishap, but the second half merely brought a continuation of the grim struggle.  Cammy Stevenson was introduced just after the hour, replacing Hume, with Dargo dropping back into defence.  The Watt defenders continued to cover as if their lives depended on it and it still seemed possible that the visitors might snatch a goal in one of their rapid dashes up the park when the ball was secured.  Davies benefited from a kindly bounce to pick up the ball in the centre of the pitch and as Donnelly moved away to his left, had the confidence to try a shot from 35 metres.  It cleared the bar by a yard or so, but was well worth a try.

More home corners followed and were met by further determined clearances.  Calum Milne replaced Davies, shortly after which Donnelly led another charge up the centre of the pitch.  He may have felt he was running out of steam when he chose to try to play in Milne to his left, but the pass was a poor one and perhaps he might have tried knocking the ball past the last man and racing him for it.

An injury to Dargo, who went over on his ankle, brought David Kerr into the action with ten minutes of the ninety remaining.  Watt seemed to be hanging on a bit towards the end, but the full-time whistle eventually sounded in gathering gloom and we were facing half an hour’s extra time.  It wasn’t much after three o’clock, but it was already getting quite dark.

Watt had a let-off two minutes after the restart, Murray Christie catching his shot well from around the edge of the penalty box, but the ball rose inches over the bar, although it is possible that Saunders, who had stretched his frame to reach across his goal, might have reached it had it been a bit lower.

Wright met a clearance on the volley to send a great pass down the left wing for Donnelly, but again the Strollers defenders showed similar determination to their Watt counterparts and once more the cutback failed to get across.  Forbes found Stevenson with a header from defence and although the latter’s quick pass looked out of Donnelly’s reach, the striker reached it somehow – but in catching it knocked it too far ahead, enabling Burnside to run quickly from his goal to nip the ball away just before Donnelly could reach it.  The Watt was beginning to create some chances now and a good pass by Kerr found Donnelly on the right.  He played the ball on to Milne, who took and turned superbly and cut inside to shoot from the corner of the penalty box, but Burnside was well positioned to catch above his head.  The first half of extra time ended with Donnelly’s kamikaze run which almost took him past the lot, but the last man managed to take the ball away before he could strike it towards goal.

A poor pass by a Strollers player struck the referee just after the restart and Watt broke in numbers, but Milne delayed too long before parting with the ball and it was played behind off his ankles.

The valiant Watt defence was beginning to show signs of creaking and a free kick reached a Stroller near the far post, but he was unable to get much purchase on the ball and it continued past the post.  Then, after Forbes had headed another corner out of the box, Paul Greenhill met the ball on the volley and sliced it towards Kieran McGaghie, standing unmarked on the left of the penalty area.  Kerr did his best to get there quickly and the striker blazed the ball across goal and out.

Good hold-up work on the right enabled Milne to link with Sutherland, who knocked the ball past the left side of the Civil Service defence and sent over a low cross which was turned behind for a corner.

Stevenson took the kick short to Laurenson and ran back to take the return pass.  Arcing his run, Stevenson reached the point of the penalty area, realised that Burnside had left him a little space at the near post to aim for and drilled a fierce, low shot into precisely that target area to give the Watt the lead.

Wright came close to a rapid doubling of the Watt’s advantage a minute later with an audacious attempt from just inside the Strollers half which almost caught Burnside out of his goal, but the ball dipped just over the bar.

A bit of bad temper saw cautions for Greenside of Strollers and the Watt’s Stevenson as the home side pressed desperately for a late equaliser.  A free kick went right across goal and back again as the weary Watt defenders tried to keep going for the last few minutes.  With two minutes still on the clock, Watt had an even narrower escape; it was too dark to see the action clearly, but the ball could be heard striking the post to the left of Saunders before shooting across the goal and being crowded away by Watt defenders.  The Strollers had been putting in dangerous corners all day and the Watt had dealt with them well, but the tired limbs were starting to weaken and the last corner, taken by Christie from the right with two minutes left, was headed over from close range.  But nothing was going to make the ball go in for the Strollers and eventually the final whistle sounded on the hardest-fought of wins for Heriot-Watt.

Forbes has so often been Watt’s impenetrable barrier but this may have been his finest hour to date.  His performance was immense, full of determination that the defensive line would hold.  In McGaghie, he was up against a striker at least two inches taller, but Forbes is seldom outjumped and so it was again.  Saunders was equally resolute and on this auspicious occasion for him, gave one of his finest performances.  Donnelly, so often left alone to shoulder the attacking responsibility, was speedy, inventive and skilful and was another whose play was full of conviction.  But although these individuals are worth special mention, all the Watt players can be proud of their performances and of their achievement.

 

Civil Service Strollers:

Burnside, McWilliams, Campbell, Moffat, Ritchie, Greenhill, Newalls (Pettigrew 82), Guy (Lynch 89), McGaghie, Tobin, Christie.    Subs. not used:  Kane, Tobin, Christie.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Hume (Stevenson 63), Laurenson, Watt, Forbes, Higgins, Davies (Milne 69), Dargo (Kerr 81), Donnelly, Wright, Sutherland.    All subs. used.

 

Referee:  Mr Billy Cooper (Glenrothes)

Assistants:  Mr John Headrick, Mr Ellis Walls.

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 16:  Saturday 22nd November 2014

SFA South Region Challenge Cup:  Second Round 

Hawick Royal Albert  0   Heriot-Watt University  4

Albert Park looked in better shape than expected after the previous Saturday’s postponement and not particularly dry weather in the intervening week, but it’s fair to say that the surface was spongy and became increasingly uneven as the game progressed.

The Royalists had a number of players unavailable for one reason or another and had only one player on the bench, but the eleven who started soon showed their opponents that they were determined to give a good account of themselves.  With Shaun Fallan and Scott McKenzie resolute in defence and with Greg Summers and Nicky Cairns forming a skilful and industrious midfield pairing, the home side gave their supporters hope throughout the first half that they might reach the Third Round of this prestigious Cup.  In the eighth minute of play, a mazy run by Summers took him to the edge of the Watt box before he was eventually tackled and the ball played for a throw-in.

The Watt machine seemed to be misfiring slightly, with Chris Donnelly not quite at his most effective.  He was well marshalled by the home defenders and seemed to be finding it difficult on the sticky surface to get that yard of space he sought.  He had a couple of chances early on – a left-foot drive from fifteen metres from a pass by Elliot Sutherland, then a shot on the turn when found with a pass at the end of a diagonal run – but on both occasions, the elevation was wrong.

As Watt toiled to find a smooth rhythm as the Albert players continued to close  down space effectively, a couple of chances from free kicks were as near as they came towards the end of the first half.  Sean Muhsin pulled his effort wide of the near post, but Cammy Stevenson came closer, forcing Martin Stewart into a fine save, touching the ball on to the bar and over.

Early in the second half, the Watt had a glorious chance to take the lead.  Donnelly made a good break and found Stevenson on the right.  His cross to the back post gave Sutherland an opportunity from inside the six-yard box, but  he shinned the ball straight up in the air and Ryan Higgins, coming in to support, headed it over the bar.

Summers was still dangerous for the home side and he sent a free kick from thirty metres just over the junction of post and bar to the left of Craig Saunders in the Watt goal.  Gradually, however, the Hawick players were beginning to flag and more space was appearing for the Watt’s attacking players.  Sutherland got loose on the left and cut the ball across for Stevenson, but after creating space, he found his shot deflected over the top.

Hawick managed to keep the scores level for just over an hour, but when the breakthrough finally came, the Watt scored twice within three minutes.  The first was a fine goal, worked from the back, with Andy Forbes, Finn Watt and Sean Muhsin all involved to provide the ball to Scott Dargo, whose pass picked out the run of Scott Davies on the right.  Davies took the ball in his stride and ripped a shot across Stewart into the far corner of the goal.

Davies turned provider for the second, battling away to win the ball and deliver it to Sutherland, who surged past his marker and fired in a shot from just inside the penalty area.  Stewart tried valiantly to stop it, but although he got a hand to the ball, it still had enough power to reach the corner of the net.

Albert, to their credit, redoubled their efforts and swarmed towards the Watt goal.  Calvin Muttitt made a good run into the right side of the box and his accurate shot across goal would have been a scorer had not Saunders dived to his right to make a splendid stop, enabling a defender to whack the ball out for a throw-in.

Donnelly responded with a trade-mark run on the left.  Perhaps he delayed the cutback a little too long, or maybe that’s an alibi for Sutherland, who had his second bad miss of the half, seeming to get his foot on top of the ball.  When he fell and a stramash resulted, the end result was a Hawick free kick.

With Calum Milne and Steven Wright on to replace Davies and Higgins, Watt searched for further goals to make the result safe.  A free kick for the home side was met by Forbes with such a powerful header that Donnelly couldn’t quite reach it ahead of Stewart, who ran from his goal to clear, but a third goal was not long delayed.  A long ball over the top for Donnelly to chase was swept behind by McKenzie.  Neil Laurenson took a short corner to Milne, who turned it back to him from the edge of the penalty area.  Laurenson passed inside to Donnelly, who laid the ball back for Muhsin to calmly place the ball into the corner of the goal.

Jamie Hume came on in exchange for Stevenson and went to right-back, giving the energetic Dargo the chance to pound up the right flank.  With three minutes to go, this paid dividends when the weary Albert defence could not stop Dargo powering up the wing and delivering the ball on to the head of Sutherland, who threw himself forward to score his second of the afternoon.

Hawick Royal Albert:

Stewart, Fleming, Shillinglaw, Fallan, McKenzie, Summers, Muttitt, Cairns, Smith, Ramsay, Noble.    Sub. not used:  Brown.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, Watt, Forbes, Higgins (Wright 72), Davies (Milne 67), Muhsin, Donnelly, Stevenson (Hume 80), Sutherland.    Sub. not used:  Smith.

 

Referee:  Mr Nikki Smith (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 15:  Saturday 8th November 2014

East of Scotland League – First Division 

Ormiston  2   Heriot-Watt University  4

Watt had expected to travel to play Kelso United on the 8th of November, but when that game was called off early on the Saturday morning due to flooding at Woodside Park, league leaders Ormiston, whose intended fixture against Duns had also been postponed, suggested the sides might meet in an advancement of the match at Recreation Park scheduled for later in the season.  The match was hastily arranged and went ahead on a surface that was heavy, but certainly playable.

Ormiston must have regretted their idea as Watt raced out of the starting blocks and took a two-goal lead within eight minutes.  An excellent header by Elliot Sutherland started a move that sent Chris Donnelly through on a diagonal run to pick up the ball on the right side of the penalty area.  Donnelly dummied his marker and cut inside to send a well-judged shot across Daryl Johnston.  The shot struck the far post, but Sean Muhsin was on the spot as usual to knock in the rebound.  Then it was Donnelly’s turn to send Sutherland away with a through ball and when he played the ball across goal, Muhsin was there again to slide in and steer the ball home for what was his fifth goal in forty-five minutes of football.  Even Duncan Stoddart in his heyday would have struggled to match that record.

Watt could easily have gone three up in the twelfth minute.  Donnelly was played in on the left side of the box and tried to link with Sutherland.  The pass wasn’t too accurate, but an Ormiston defender played the ball straight to the surprised Sutherland, who tried to find Cammy Stevenson, but overhit the pass.

Ormiston began to overcome the double blow they’d suffered and to assert themselves.  Following a free kick, Robert Wood shot just past, then Ross Ferguson got his head to a cross by Kieran Watson to send the ball just over the junction of post and bar.  Andy Forbes had to make a superb clearance, running back towards his own goal-line to clear a dangerous cutback; then the same player stretched to divert behind a ball headed for the danger area.  When the resultant corner was played in, the combined efforts of Forbes and David Kerr enabled Stevenson to volley clear.  Muhsin got on to the ball and took it down the left to force Steven Glynn to concede the Watt a corner.  Neil Laurenson’s kick, played in low, resulted in a scramble at the near post during which the ball hit the ankles of Kerr, then the ankles of Forbes, before Kerr failed to make contact as it returned to him.

Stevie Wright tried a shot from twenty metres after a protracted build-up on the Watt left and a nice flick by Stevenson, but the shot was too straight to give much trouble to Johnston.

On the half-hour, a ball out of defence found Donnelly up against John Morgan and when he flicked the ball past the defender it seemed odds-on that Donnelly’s pace would take him clear, but Morgan reacted superbly to stretch out a leg and divert the ball back to Johnston.

The Watt defence left Ferguson in plenty of space on the edge of the penalty area right in front of goal, but when the ball was played to him, his touch was a little heavy and he lunged forward to take his shot as a tackle came in, resulting in the ball rising just over the bar.

This turned out to be a significant miss, as Watt went further ahead a minute later.  Muhsin played in Laurenson, who cut in from the left corner-flag and cut the ball back to the near post area, to where Sutherland had made a well-timed run and calmly steered the ball into the far corner of the net.

Watt came close again six minutes later when Donnelly swept the ball to the right for Stevenson.  His first-time cross was a teasing one and had Johnston back-pedalling to get a hand to the ball, which then fell for Sutherland, but his volley flashed across goal and past.

Ormiston stormed back and it took several Watt players to block off the skilful George Cunningham on a run into the penalty box, but when play switched to the other end again, Watt found their luck was in.  Stevenson played the ball across field looking for Sutherland, but as Johnston came off his line, Jordan Mack stuck up a foot and diverted the ball past his goalkeeper to trickle over the line for a fourth Watt goal.

A minute from half-time it really should have been five.  A great crossfield ball by Wright picked out Sutherland, who played the ball past his marker.  His first attempted cross was blocked and seeing the movement of Wright he changed his intention and cut the ball back to him around the penalty spot.  Wright’s shooting prowess is considerable and this should have been right up his street, but as with his previous shot, his shot was straight enough to give Johnston a chance and the ’keeper pushed the ball away to his left.

Watt could hardly have imagined a four-goal half-time lead against the table-toppers on their own ground, but the second half showed how dangerous it can be to be assumptive in football.  Within eleven minutes of the restart, Watt had conceded two penalties, albeit through carelessness rather than intent, and had put the outcome back in doubt.  The visitors did create some chances in the second half, but never played with the confidence and freedom that had distinguished their first-half performance.  Having said that, although it was more tense than it needed to be, Watt seldom looked like conceding any more goals and can take some comfort from the reflection that the league leaders (who it must be allowed were without top scorer Dean Woods), failed to score in open play.

The first penalty came out of the blue eight minutes after half-time.  Ormiston were attacking on the right and Darren McGrath sent in a cross as Laurenson closed him down.  The unfortunate Watt full-back was an inch or two inside the penalty area and forgot to consider the position of his arms as he jumped and turned around.  His arm was bent up around his neck and the ball struck his elbow.  There was, of course, absolutely no intent, but that’s the sort of thing they call a penalty nowadays and Cunningham despatched the kick into the corner of the net with aplomb.

Three minutes later, a free kick was played into the Watt box and Forbes turned it behind.  When McGrath sent in the corner, Scott Dargo headed it out towards the edge of the box and followed it.  Watson got on to the ball, facing away from goal and Dargo rashly bumped him from behind.  Watson fell over and Cunningham reprised his shot to the corner of the net, although this time somewhat less convincingly.

Watt had a chance to settle their nerves two minutes later, following a free-kick quickly played by Muhsin to Laurenson on the left.  Laurenson’s low cross came right through to Forbes, eight metres from goal at the far post.  He attempted to lash the ball into goal, but a bobble (he assures us) disturbed his assessment of the position of the ball and he sliced it past the post.

The match settled down into something of a dour struggle as Watt made holding what they had the main priority, but with twenty minutes to go, another glorious chance arose to put the result beyond doubt.  Stevenson played a ball from the right on to Sutherland, in acres of space to his left.  Ormiston claimed offside, as you do when there’s nobody covering across, but the referee was well positioned to see that the Watt man had not advanced too far.  Sutherland had far too much time to think about it now and when Johnston advanced towards him, he toepoked the ball past the goalkeeper and just wide of his right-hand post.

With ten minutes of regulation time left, Craig Saunders pulled down a good strike from Watson as Ormiston continued to seek a way back into the game, but once again it was the Watt who might have closed things out with just two minutes left on the clock.  One home defender played the ball against another, but a tired-looking Donnelly couldn’t get to the ball in time and when the ball was played past him it fell just behind Muhsin as he arrived in support.

Six minutes of stoppage time were played and during the first of these, Saunders was alert again to dive to his right and push the ball to safety after a free kick into the box had been headed on twice, but at last the final whistle sounded on what was a very welcome victory for the Watt.

A final word on the official:  Mr Graves is on the SFA’s Grade III Development List and is one of the younger referees at this level.  Throughout the game, he allowed hard but fair challenges and was never whistle-happy.  All the cautions he issued appeared to be justified and he was confident enough to ensure that vocals from off the pitch had no effect on his decision-making.  The Watt camp didn’t like the penalty awards he made and it is probable that at one time neither would have been awarded, but in today’s interpretation of the rules, any referee would have been likely to give them.  All in all, the referee emerged with great credit from a match that had the potential to be difficult.  We predict a bright future for the young man.

 

Ormiston:

Johnston, Mack, Watson, Morgan, Glynn, McGrath (Edmond 73), Szemis (Barker 57), Cunningham, Ferguson, Wood (Ross 52), Cockerell.  Subs. not used:  McEwan, Skinner.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Higgins, Dahle 76), Wright, Donnelly, Muhsin, Sutherland.    Subs. not used:  Watt, Milne.

 

Referee:  Mr Daniel Graves (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 14:  Saturday 1st November 2014

East of Scotland League – First Division 

Heriot-Watt University  6   Duns  2

Since returning to the Watt on loan from Spartans, Sean Muhsin had flitted in and out of matches to some extent and his contributions prior to this match had perhaps been as much to confidence and morale as to actual events on the pitch.  Having been left out of the starting line-up against Duns, however, due to non-appearance at a training session, he took the opportunity of his half-time introduction to make his value to the team abundantly clear.

Watt had made a good start to this game, with Cammy Stevenson exchanging passes with Chris Donnelly after six minutes and striking the return just over the junction of post and bar before the Watt side went ahead in the following minute.  Scott Davies showed good persistence as he came in along the by-line on the right and when he crossed to the far post, Elliot Sutherland rose to head into the net to add another goal to his increasingly-impressive tally.

After that, however, the first half belonged largely to the visitors.  Michael Stewart cut in off the left wing to send a good shot across the face of goal, then Martyn Tait got away from the Watt defence and burrowed into the box.  His strong shot from a tight angle was above the head of Craig Saunders and the ‘keeper pushed it higher, but the ball came down in the goalmouth a metre or two from the line.  It looked a certain goal, but Neil Laurenson did superbly to get ahead of Mike Robinson and prevent the ball from going into goal.

Another shot from Gary Wales had Saunders scrambling across his goal, then Stevie Shennan began to make his presence felt, shooting from twenty metres as the Watt defence backed off, but Saunders judged well that the ball was passing the post.

Shennan was not to be long denied, however, and in the following minute, half-way through the first half, he produced an equaliser.  A straight ball down the middle had three Watt defenders in a tangle and Shennan gambled on the ball working its way through to him.  When it did so, he simply gathered it, turned and slipped it past Saunders for the equaliser.

Six minutes later, Shennan struck again.  Another good run by Wales did the damage, but when the ball was played across the six-yard box, it didn’t seem to have the strength to reach the far post area with two defenders and the goalkeeper to pass, but reach that area it did and Shennan was there again to turn the ball in from close range.

Rob Service tried to respond for the Watt, but after a good move on the left, his shot carried past the far post and soon Shennan was looking for his hat-trick.  When a corner from the right came slightly behind him, he tried an extravagant hitch-kick.  It didn’t seem to be heading for the goal and was blocked by Andy Forbes, but Shennan (alone amongst those in black and white) began to clamour for a handling offence.  We’ll get the correct version from Andy some time, but suffice to say that the description in the report on the Duns website: “a defender stopped a Shennan shot with both hands” would not recommend itself to any neutral observer.

Duns still had the upper hand towards half-time and Forbes had to throw himself in to block away a shot from Des Chisholm for a corner.  There was then an unbelievable passage of play when Shennan cut in to the left side of the box.  Watt had four defenders on hand, but they were all gazing at the ball at Shennan’s feet and all ignored Wales, who was standing ten metres from goal in space.  Shennan’s cut-back found him and it was fortunate for the Watt that Forbes came alive in time to hurtle towards Wales and block his first effort.  The ball came back to Wales for a second try and this time Saunders just managed to hang on to the ball.

With Muhsin on for Davies, Watt began the second half with renewed purpose, but in fact in the first minute of the half Muhsin missed a wonderful chance to equalise.  When Laurenson’s excellent corner rebounded to him from Donnelly’s ankles, Muhsin, from around eight metres, slashed a left-foot shot wide of goal.

It was soon clear, however, that Muhsin was keen to make up for lost time and his run to meet Scott Dargo’s pass gained a corner, although Paul Tansey easily plucked out Donnelly’s tame header.

Tait might have extended the visitors’ lead just after this, as a cross from the right found him at the far post, but Laurenson recovered while Tait was controlling the ball and the chance was lost.

The influence of Muhsin was galvanising those around him and Donnelly linked with Sutherland, who exchanged passes with Muhsin to send in a firm shot which was palmed over by Tansey.

With twelve minutes of the second half gone, Watt got back on level terms.  A throw-in by Stevenson was flicked on by Donnelly into the path of Dargo as he powered his way into the box at an angle.  He didn’t catch his shot very well, but it was a perfect pass for Muhsin, who nipped in between static defenders to prod the ball past Tansey from the edge of the six-yard box.

The game had changed completely now and the Watt was dominating to a greater extent than the Dingers had done in the first half.  Stevenson broke free and laid the ball off to Donnelly, who cut in from the left.  When he was tackled, the ball broke to Stevie Wright, who shot from the edge of the box, but didn’t time the shot the way he can and failed to generate the power to trouble Tansey.

The Duns defenders were becoming increasingly harassed in trying to cover runs from the Watt midfield and George Windram collected a caution for a bodycheck, but there was no denying the Watt and two quick goals turned the match decisively in favour of the home side.  Dargo’s through ball was well directed but looked as if it might be a shade too strong for Donnelly.  Not so – the striker, who appeared revitalised since half-time, turned on the afterburners and got to the ball between the advancing Tansey and a defender who was trying to shepherd the ball back to him.  Donnelly applied a delicate flick to take the ball past the goalkeeper’s right hand and its direction was impeccable as it rolled gently inside the post.

The game had hardly restarted when Dargo took a hand in things again with a driving run through midfield after picking up a loose ball on halfway which he crowned with a wonderful pass inside the full back to correspond to Muhsin’s run off the left side.  Meeting the ball just inside the penalty area, Muhsin stroked it past the left hand of Tansey to put the Watt 4 – 2 ahead.

Any combination of the Watt midfielders and wing-backs was now regularly tormenting Duns with pacy thrusts through the middle of the park and down the flanks, but the Dingers weren’t finished yet and with quarter of an hour left to play gained a corner on the left.  When David Kerr headed the kick to the edge of the box, Wales took the ball on the volley, but it flashed across goal and past the post.

As the match entered its last ten minutes, the Duns defence was looking tired and Watt found it easier to pick spaces.  A ball was played down the right for Donnelly, who initially thought he was offside and didn’t pursue it; but on looking over his shoulder and finding he’d been played onside by a weary defender, he turned and caught the ball on the edge of the penalty area.  Muhsin had made another supporting run and when Donnelly’s centre reached him, he went for a spectacular hitch-kick.  He made a mess of it, but when he got up from the ground, found that he’d managed to stop the ball and was still in space.  He fired off a shot which Tansey saved and the ball rebounded, struck the foot of the incoming Donnelly and shot past the post.

Around the end of regulation time, a good ball down the left picked out the indefatigable Donnelly, who took it past a defender and squared for the inevitable Muhsin to complete his second-half hat-trick with a shot which struck Tansey but had enough power to make it into the corner of the net.

There was more suffering for Duns deep into stoppage time after another quick break on the left.  A fine pass released Elliot Sutherland, who even at this stage had reserves of pace and power and tore past the right side of the visitors’ defence.  As Tansey advanced, Sutherland surprised him with an early shot which was quite gently struck but well placed into the far corner of the goal.

Since his arrival at the resumption, Muhsin had written his name all over this match and seemed to put new life into several of his colleagues.  The final result was convincing and looking at the score it would be easy to believe that Watt had things all their own way, but two late goals put a severe look on the scoreline.  Watt will do well to reflect that had Duns taken any of the several chances to go two goals in front which came to them before the Watt equaliser, the final result might have been very different.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Wright (Higgins 73), Davies (Muhsin 45), Service, Donnelly (Milne 91), Stevenson, Sutherland.    Sub. not used:  Hume.

 

Duns:

Tansey, Burns (Weatherburn 78), Stewart, Ainslie, Windram, J Brydon (Waddell 66), Wales, Chisholm, Robinson, Shennan (Lauder 68), Tait.   Subs. not used:  McHoul, Walker.

 

Referee:  Mr Robert Thomson (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 13:  Saturday 25th October 2014

SFA South Region Challenge Cup – First Round

Gala Fairydean Rovers  0   Heriot-Watt University  3

The Watt players went into this game with the confidence of a good win the previous week and lost no time in impressing on their Lowland League opponents that they had come to Netherdale without fear.

A free kick by Rovers which went wrong gave the Watt an opportunity for a quick break on ten minutes.  Chris Donnelly forced a corner and when Neil Laurenson’s kick came in, it was headed out as far as Stevie Wright, who sent in a crisp half-volley which was blocked.

Wright was in the mood and a couple of minutes later he nipped in to pick up a square pass in the home defence, drove at the retreating defence and sent in a curling shot which John Dodds did well to touch round the post.

Donnelly was the next man alert enough to intercept a pass and when he found his way to goal blocked, he laid the ball off for Wright to fire in a blistering shot which brought out the best in Dodds, who dived to his right to push the ball away.  Watt picked up the ball again and sustained the attack for a time, but when Gala eventually got hold of the ball and broke forward, Jamie Gibson’s cross was dangerous enough for Andy Forbes to head behind.

Watt soon resumed the offensive and when Donnelly worked his way into the box and came down under a challenge from the rear there were fair expectations that a penalty might be the result, but Mr Gordon judged it a coming-together of players rather than a foul.  Watt claimed again two minutes later when Scott Dargo, to whom Donnelly had diverted a clearance by Craig Saunders, played the ball into the box and it seemed as if it might have struck an arm, but there was no great enthusiasm about the appeal and it was no surprise that play went on.

When a third incident occurred in the Fairydean box ten minutes later, however, it was of the clear-cut variety.  As Donnelly accepted Dargo’s pass and went past his marker inside the box, his standing foot was taken away as he turned and there could be no argument with the penalty award.  When Donnelly took the kick, Dodds dived the right way, but the ball was struck with force and precision into the corner of the net and even Dodds was unable to reach it.

Donnelly almost doubled his money three minutes later, benefiting from the indecision of two Gala defenders, but having nipped the ball away and run in from thirty metres, he did not allow for the pace and decisiveness of Dodds and delayed his shot too long, giving the goalkeeper the opportunity he needed to come quickly out to block.  Donnelly recovered the ball, but his attempted chip lacked the height to trouble the big custodian.

Saunders had had little to do, but made a comfortable save from Sean Paliczka’s speculative effort.  Watt came forward again and Dargo shot just over from a pass by Wright.

It was to be expected that Rovers would step it up after the half-time team talk and in the early stages of the second half, there was certainly more effort and commitment from the home side.  They didn’t resort to playing a long-ball game, however, but simply increased their work rate and improved their movement.  The Watt defence and midfield had to work harder to cope, but Gala still found it hard to create clear-cut chances, although a good effort by Billy Miller didn’t miss by much and Saunders dived to save a header from Craig McBride.

In the sixty-third minute, Watt took a massive step towards victory with a second goal.  Sean Muhsin led the surge following the breakdown of a Fairydean attack.  His pass to the right tested Donnelly’s pace, but the striker passed the test and when he had gathered the ball he brought it inside a defender, showing good determination to stay on his feet.  Moving forward, he played the ball past the advancing Dodds.  The ball seemed to be heading for the far post, but it didn’t reach it, as Elliot Sutherland arrived to poke it into goal from almost on the line.

Eight minutes later, the result was confirmed.  Dodds played the ball to Paul Hossack on the edge of the Gala area.  There was no-one near him and no reason to suppose there could be a problem, but some sixth sense sent Muhsin speeding to the scene as the big defender miscontrolled.  Muhsin scooped up the loose ball and sent it into the far corner of the net to put the Watt three up.

The best move of the match came four minutes later, although it didn’t produce a goal.  Scott Davies made the final pass to play in Rob Service, but just like Donnelly earlier, he underestimated the qualities of Dodds and the big man closed him down before he could get away a scoring shot.

Nevertheless, Watt played out the closing stages in some comfort to qualify for a visit to Hawick Royal Albert in the Second Round.

 

Gala Fairydean Rovers:

Dodds, Miller, McBride, Hossack, Cosgrove, Bonnar, Aitchison, Devlin, Gibson (McColm 76), Paliczka (Anderson 68).    Subs. not used:  Langford, Common.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, Forbes, Watt, Service, Davies (Hay 92), Muhsin, Donnelly, Wright (Higgins 87), Sutherland.    Subs. not used:  Woolven, Green, Ouared.

 

Referee:  Mr Ralph Gordon (Livingston)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 12:  Saturday 18th October 2014

East of Scotland League – First Division 

Burntisland Shipyard  0   Heriot-Watt University  5

A dominant and determined performance brought three points back from Fife, but it could have been a different story had Shipyard scored instead of coming desperately close but being denied by Craig Saunders in the fifteenth minute.

Watt had started the game very positively and had a great chance to go ahead in the first minute following Rob Service’s powerful run on the right.  Two Watt players had a go at the cross, with the second, Scott Dargo, having the better opportunity, but he scuffed the ball into the hands of Shippy goalkeeper Jordan Mushet.

Another good move involving Service and Dargo after ten minutes’ play gave Chris Donnelly a sighter on the turn, but he didn’t get much purchase on the shot.

Four minutes later, all Watt’s early pressure was nearly undone.  Jamie Hume’s crossfield pass went awry and was picked up by Shaun Keatings, who put Adam Doig through for a low shot.  Saunders dived to his right to get the finest of touches to the ball, taking it on to the inside of the post.  Then, as the big ’keeper lay on the ground, the ball spun across goal behind him before curling past the far post for a corner.  They don’t come much closer than that.

Watt continued to have more of the play but weren’t making much headway against a well-organised home defence, although Cammy Stevenson’s shot from Andy Forbes’s chest-pass came close.  Shipyard responded with a good move at the end of which Craig Lowe won a corner from David Kerr.

Just after the half-hour, Kerr’s quick block on an intended shot by Keatings started a fast riposte which brought the opening goal.  Donnelly’s through ball gave Scott Dargo the opportunity to flick the ball past the advancing Mushet and into goal.

A mazy run by Keatings took him past several players and into the Watt box, but his lay-off was picked up by a defender.  Watt broke upfield again and Stevenson’s cross was headed behind for a corner on the right.  Muhsin took this short to Stevenson, who sent a raking shot across goal and past the far post.

A minute later, Watt went two up when Dargo, Muhsin and Donnelly combined in a fine forward move.  Muhsin’s shot was well saved by Mushet, but when Watt recycled the ball and Muhsin played it into the box, Donnelly’s pace and the subtlety of his movement beat the home defence and he was able to slip the ball past the goalkeeper.

Watt was in full cry now and another break on the left almost brought another goal before the interval.  Muhsin squared the ball to meet the run of Dargo, who was coming across the area at full tilt, but at point-blank range, his first-time shot was straight at the feet of Mushet and rebounded to safety.  The half ended with a strong shot from Stevenson which struck another Watt player and went behind.

Four minutes into the second half, Donnelly’s driving run on the left won a corner which Neil Laurenson delivered to the middle of the goalmouth.  Donnelly and Forbes both made for the ball, but Donnelly got there first and headed down out of the reach of Mushet to give Watt a three-goal cushion.

Less than ten minutes later it was four, as a free kick on the left was sent in by Stevenson at head-height with considerable pace.  All Forbes had to do was to apply a glancing header and this he did.

Shipyard took this latest setback, digested it and came again, Brendan Napier ending a concerted attack with a shot which was blocked for a corner.

With around ten minutes left for play, a well-flighted free kick was headed goalwards by Ewan Henderson but blocked by Saunders and hooked clear.  Then Laurenson managed to get the ball up and down over the wall from a free-kick close to the Shippy box, but Jamie Hume just failed to reach it.  Watt substitute Elliot Sutherland sent Muhsin away on the left but a good tackle by Blair Smart halted the move.

With two minutes of normal time left, Watt added a fifth goal.  Muhsin had played the ball through for the run of Dargo and after his shot struck Mushet, the ball pinballed around the home penalty box until tucked away by Sutherland.

Kerr showed that the Watt would not easily surrender its clean sheet in throwing his body in the way of a fierce drive from Kevin Masson before Alan Clark slashed the rebound high and wide, but Clark came closer a minute later with a left-foot shot from distance as Burntisland fought to the end to try to take some consolation from the game.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Scott, Laurenson, Kerr, Hume, Forbes, Dargo (Wright 78), Service, Donnelly, Muhsin, Stevenson (Sutherland 70).    Subs. not used:  Green, Davies.

 

Burntisland Shipyard:

Mushet, Rogerson (Clark 75), Samson (Anderson 62), Smart, Arthur, Napier, Keatings, Lowe, Doig, Henderson (Masson 85), Robertson.    Sub. not used:  MacDonald

 

Referee:  Mr Billy Cooper (Glenrothes)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 11:  Saturday 11th October 2014

East of Scotland League – First Division 

Heriot-Watt University  2   Peebles Rovers  2

Rovers were quickly into their stride, playing with the confidence of league leaders and giving notice to the Watt defenders that they would have to be alert to repulse their quick and inventive opponents.  However, it was the Watt which had the first meaningful attempt on goal.  Chris Donnelly battled for the ball and thumped a shot off the underside of the bar, but when Andy Forbes ran in to head the rebound into the net, the referee awarded a free kick, perhaps considering that the ball had struck Donnelly’s arm as he tried to secure it.

A fine pass by Cammy Stevenson picked out Ryan Higgins on the right-hand side of the penalty box, but instead of the shot which he might have tried, Higgins passed inside looking for Donnelly.  The ball went slightly behind the ideal position for the striker and in trying to make the best of it, he sent it over the bar.

Watt players were claiming for a penalty a few minutes later, but the award was a free kick on the edge of the area.  Neil Laurenson’s effort was too high.

Peebles continued to look dangerous on the attack and in the twenty-fifth minute of play Shaun Meikle, not for the first time, eluded the offside trap.  Craig Saunders parried his shot and when he recovered the ball and cut it back from the line, David Kerr was quickly in to play the ball behind off a Peebles leg.

Three minutes later, the visitors took the lead.  Lee Zavaroni gained a soft free kick on the left and when it was crossed into the middle of the penalty box, Dale Richardson must have been as surprised as he was delighted to get a free run to head the ball home from seven or eight metres.

Eight minutes later, Watt levelled the scores when Donnelly was first to react when Darren Walker saved a shot from a free-kick and firmly converted from close range.

After a delay while the referee oversaw the securing of the plastic corner flag at the bottom corner of the pitch before a corner could be taken, Watt had a lucky escape.  When it eventually came in, a dangerous near-post corner was met by the head of Paul Murray, but the ball struck another Peebles player who was standing close to the goal-line.  The Watt defence gratefully scrambled the ball clear.

Just before the half-time whistle, the home side came close to grabbing the lead for the first time.  Donnelly’s penetrating run took him deep into the penalty box, from where he played the ball inside for Rob Service to shoot.  The midfielder was a little overanxious, however, and took the ball a fraction of a second too early, as a result of which it found only the side net.

Just after half-time, Service cut in from the left and fired in a more accurate shot from the edge of the area, but it was aimed towards where Walker was standing and he reached up to tip the ball over the bar.  Donnelly was the next Watt player to try his luck, accepting a pass from Higgins after the latter had won the ball with a good tackle, but the ball passed just past the post.

Watt came close again after an excellent free-kick move.  Cammy Stevenson’s kick found the head of Andy Forbes, who directed the ball into position for Donnelly to flick the ball towards goal, but the elevation was slightly wrong and it glanced off the top of the bar and went over.

Half-way through the second half, the Watt’s defensive vulnerability was in evidence again.  A dangerous free kick from Daniel McAleavy brought a very weak response, with at least two players having the chance to make a decisive intervention but making poor or no contact.  Jordan Hall had no such difficulty as he fired the ball through the crowd scene.  Saunders got a hand to the ball, but it fell for the substitute with the famous Heriot-Watt name of Scott Sutherland to stab the ball into the net from close range.

After all Watt’s positive play, this was a major disappointment to home supporters, but this time the equaliser came even more quickly than before.  Service created the chance, spotting the chance to intercept a throw-in with his head, and he directed the ball towards Donnelly, who outpaced the visitors’ defence and deftly placed the ball past Walker.

Watt went all out for a winner in the last twenty minutes.  Donnelly’s pace again surprised the Peebles rearguard and he smuggled the ball inside to Stevenson, but his first touch was heavy and enabled Walker to come out quickly and gather.  Then Dargo’s superb pass put Donnelly away again, but he only just reached the ball in time to stab in a shot which Walker saved well.

Service was showing great running ability with the ball and another storming run brought a corner following which Stevenson danced in to the edge of the box to set up Forbes, but his shot was too high.

There was another curious incident when Peebles attempted to replace Jonathan Flockhart with Ger Rossi, but as the referee had not included Rossi in the names he had copied into his notebook, he would not permit the substitution.

Stevenson showed further skill to win the ball on the left, carry it forward and send a curling pass into the stride of Donnelly, but perhaps the number of runs he had made was beginning to tell on the striker and he was unable to shake off McAleavy, who got in a good challenge at the edge of the area to make Donnelly send his shot high and wide.

As Peebles sought to finish strongly, a Flockhart header went past Saunders’ left-hand post, but Watt responded with a Stevenson shot which was deflected for a corner.  Watt’s final threat came when Elliot Sutherland knocked the ball past Flockhart and fired the ball across goal, but the cross was too long for Donnelly to gather successfully.

And so a closely-contested game which offered much in entertainment value finished all square, which was about right.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Scott, Laurenson, Kerr, Hume, Higgins (Sutherland 59), Davies (Dargo 66), Forbes, Donnelly, Service, Stevenson.    Subs. not used:  Hay, Wright.

 

Peebles Rovers:

Walker, J Flockhart, McAleavy, Young, Richardson, Arthur, Meikle, Conaghan, Murray (Sutherland), Hall, Zavaroni (Maloney 37).    Subs. not used:  Ndiweni, Rossi, C Flockhart.

 

Referee:  Mr Jim McCunnie (Bothwell)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 10:  Saturday 4th October 2014

Alex Jack Cup – Semi-final

Leith Athletic  3   Heriot-Watt University  2

The Semi-final of the Alex Jack Cup is virtually uncharted territory for the Watt, but there was to be no Final to follow as Premier Division leaders Leith edged out the Riccarton side at Meadowbank 3G.

With regular ‘keeper Craig Saunders unavailable for this game, Watt were grateful to Craig Pennycuik for taking the gloves and to Preston Athletic for the temporary transfer which enabled him to do so.

The home side went in front after 28 minutes’ play when a corner from the left by Robbie Mason was cleared as far as Kenny Hall.  He found Lewis Martin, who tapped in from six metres.

Hall was also instrumental in the second goal five minutes before half-time.  Again, the goal came after a corner, this time taken by Hall on the right.  As with the first goal, the clearance only took the ball as far as the edge of the penalty area and from there it was returned by Grant Burns.  The ball fell to Sean Murphy, who shot against the bar.  The rebound was collected by Neil Lowson, whose effort also hit the bar, but Lowson was quickly on to the rebound to score.

There was no further scoring until the last ten minutes of the match, but then Watt grabbed a goal after another narrow escape when Lowson again struck the crossbar after Stephen Baigan played on another Hall corner.  The ball was cleared to Chris Donnelly, who sped towards the Leith goal before being brought down by Murphy.  From the resultant free-kick, Neil Laurenson headed home.

It took Leith just two minutes to restore its two-goal advantage.  Gary Black won possession around the half-way line and passed inside to Keith Murray, who played the ball on for Euan Campbell to shoot.  His first attempt was blocked, but he fired the rebound into the top corner of the goal with his left foot.

Still Watt battled on and three minutes into stoppage time reduced the arrears again when Scott Dargo raced in on goal and lifted the ball over Iain Gordon as he advanced.

 

Leith Athletic:

Gordon, Black, Hall, Lowson, Leslie, Burns, Tracey, Murphy, Murray, Mason, Martin.   Subs.:  Baigan, Beaton, Campbell, Philp, Simpson.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Pennycuik, Dargo, Laurenson, Kerr, Hume, Wright (Service 80), Sutherland (Higgins 40), Forbes, Donnelly, Webster (Hay 75), Green.    Sub. not used:  Heraghty.

 

Referee:  Mr David Doig (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 9:  Saturday 27th September 2014

East of Scotland League – First Division 

Heriot-Watt University  1   Ormiston  2

Michael Webster gave the Watt the lead with around ten minutes played, weaving inside along the by-line to place the ball past Andrew McQueen into the far corner of the net.

Watt played well in the first half and Ormiston struggled to cope with the good movement and passing of the home side.

After half-time, Watt started in the same spirit, but conceded an equaliser five minutes into the second half and this changed the tenor of the match.  A free-kick was played into the Watt penalty area and defender Liam Skinner got his head to the ball to score.

Poor marking cost the Watt another goal with twelve minutes of the ninety remaining.  A shot from close to the by-line was parried by Craig Saunders and Dean Woods was in space to drive in the rebound.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, Kerr, Hume, Hay (Heraghty 65), Green, Forbes, Webster, Wright (Higgins 82), Sutherland (Sellar 78).    All subs. used.

 

Ormiston:

McQueen, Glynn, Gavin, Ferguson (Watson 56), Mack, Skinner (Ramage 71), Morgan, Quinne, Woods, Ross, Cockerell (Cochrane 61).

Subs. not used:  Hudson, Salton

 

Referee:  Mr Charlie McVicar (Bonnybridge)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 8:  Saturday 20th September 2014

East of Scotland League – First Division 

Heriot-Watt University  2   Hawick Royal Albert  1

Watt made hard work of overcoming a fit, motivated and well-organised Hawick side, with the game only decided in the last ten minutes.

Head Coach Chris Smith was characteristically loyal following the good win at Craigroyston the previous week.  Bruce Hay, Stevie Wright and Ryan Higgins all retained their midfield berths, but in the one change from the previous week’s starting eleven, Michael Heraghty was unfortunate to drop out after his fine performance, with the pace and power of Elliot Sutherland being preferred.

Sutherland was involved almost immediately, having the first chances of the match.  Timing his run off the wing well, he picked up on a pass in plenty of space, but with just goalkeeper Martin Stewart to beat, he played the ball much too far ahead of himself.  He did manage to force the ball up in the air off the ‘keeper, but after it was retrieved by Watt players and recirculated to give Sutherland another chance, he sent his shot wide of the post.

This was a significant miss, as Albert came more into the game as the first half wore on.  Michael McKenzie created a problem for the Watt defence, picking up a throw-in close to the by-line and forcing a corner which Watt struggled to clear.

MIchael Webster’s clever flick then put Ryan Higgins through for a shot, but from the edge of the penalty box the midfielder scuffed his shot and Stewart collected easily.

Watt had a spell of concerted pressure after this, with several crosses dealt with by the Royalists’ defence before an offside decision put an end to the attack.

The visitors had a setback just before the half-hour when Shaun Fallan aggravated an achilles tendon injury and had to be replaced, with Calvin Muttitt coming into the action.

Webster threatened again soon after, flattening his run to go clear of the Albert defence, but Stewart advanced quickly and foiled Webster’s attempt to flick the ball past him.  Higgins then sent Scott Dargo away on the right and his deep cross was headed past by Chris Donnelly.

Craig Saunders was called upon just after this as three Hawick players evaded the cover on the left side of the home defence.  Saunders, alert to the danger, ran from his box to get there in the nick of time and win the ball with a well-executed sliding tackle.

As the half drew to a close, Andy Forbes made a good run through midfield to pick out Donnelly on the left, but when he cut inside and shot from the edge of the area, Stewart was again well positioned.

At half-time, there was radical action from the Watt bench, with Cammy Stevenson and Martin Green coming on to replace Hay and Higgins.

Saunders was called into action two minutes after the restart, turning a shot from the edge of the area over the bar, but Watt should have scored five minutes later.  Good work by Stevenson put Donnelly through on the right side of the penalty area, but when he squared the ball to Webster, the striker’s shot gave Stewart a chance and he took it, diving to turn the ball away.  Dargo picked up the ball on the left and fired across a low centre which the lunge of Forbes just failed to reach.

Saunders had to judge the flight of a free kick from the left to palm it away to safety and just after this, Hawick had perhaps their best chance of the game when poor defensive work gifted a chance to Nicky Cairns, but his shot struck a Watt player and was cleared.

Calum Milne then replaced Webster, with Watt putting three up front – Milne, Donnelly and Stevenson.  There was almost an immediate response, as a ball over the top gave Donnelly a chance to run through, but he played the ball too far ahead.  The vigilant Stewart was able to block the shot and then smother the ball before Milne could gather the rebound.

Stevenson’s well-angled run put him in possession on the right side of the box, but when he played the ball to the near post area, Milne was unable to turn it in, due to the attentions of Chris McLeod, who injured himself in the process.

We were into the last ten minutes now, but relief was at hand for the Watt support.  Wright’s good tackle freed the ball for Donnelly on the left.  There was still plenty to do, but Donnelly somehow eluded two defenders and drove into the penalty box before lofting the ball over Stewart for a goal at last.

Two minutes later, the lead was doubled with an even more dramatic piece of individual skill.  Stevenson jinked his way past a posse of defenders and from the edge of the area drilled a superb shot into the postage-stamp corner, giving Stewart no chance at all.

It had taken two goals of brilliance to achieve the breakthrough, but suddenly we had a different game on our hands.  Another good move forced McLeod to play the ball behind with Sutherland closing in.

With three minutes left and the play becoming a little towsy, there was a most regrettable incident.  Stevenson was again doing what he does, taking the ball close to the feet of opponents, twisting and turning, and he came down amongst a forest of legs.  Innes Zenati appeared to aim a stamp at him and Stevenson, from a prone position, swung a leg in the direction of the big defender.  When the dust settled, Mr Gill dismissed both players.

This was not to be the only disappointment for the Watt.  Seconds from the third consecutive clean sheet, a free kick was played in from the visitors’ left and as the Watt defence stood immobile, Gordon Ramsay judged the flight to steer the ball into the corner of the goal on the half-volley.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Higgins (Green 45), Hay (Stevenson 45), Wright, Webster (Milne 76),  Donnelly, Sutherland.    Subs. not used:  Heraghty, Hume.

 

Hawick Royal Albert:

Stewart, McLeod, Shillinglaw, Zenati, Fallan (Muttitt 27), McKenzie, Fleming, Cairns, Noble, G Ramsay, Brown (Russell 88).    Subs. not used:  N Ramsay, Shanley, Dunsmore.

 

Referee:  Mr Michael Gill (East Wemyss)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 7:  Saturday 13th September 2014

Alex Jack Cup:  Second Round 

Craigroyston  0   Heriot-Watt University  2

It was a superb day out in the Edinburgh sunshine for the Watt as the growing squad showed that it’s now strong enough to defy its awful Alex Jack record and to take on Premier Division opponents with confidence.

Michael Webster had shown enough of his old spark in twenty minutes as a substitute at Eyemouth the previous week to secure him the number nine shirt when Calum Milne’s training injury prevented his inclusion and from the start of this match, “Webby” showed the energy and enthusiasm thwarted during his long months of imposed absence from the game.

His namesake Michael Heraghty was the first Watt player to make an impact at St Mark’s Park, winning the ball on the left and playing in a fine cross to the near post area, but Bruce Hay was a bit diffident in his approach to the ball and was unable to get in a header.

With four minutes on the clock, Ryan Higgins found Webster, who won a corner on the right.  Steven Wright’s kick was headed on by Chris Donnelly and Webster turned to fire in a shot, but home goalkeeper Douglas Horne was quickly out to smother it.  This was but a rehearsal, however, as two minutes later more good work from Webster secured a corner on the other side.  Neil Laurenson’s kick was played on by Donnelly and again Webster swivelled on the edge of the six-yard box, this time hooking the ball into the net before anyone could move.

It was a great start from Watt and further enterprise by Donnelly and Webster threatened again shortly after this.  After a run through the centre of the field, Donnelly found Webster on the edge of the area, but when he tried to return the ball to Donnelly, Webster’s pass was cut out.

Andy Forbes improvised a shot from an awkwardly-bouncing ball from another Laurenson corner, but his attempt drifted just over the bar.  Then Ryan Higgins clipped the ball through for Webster, but he delayed his shot and Horne did well to block. Hay’s follow-up shot was diverted behind.  Scott Dargo tried a spectacular overhead kick following Wright’s corner and didn’t miss by much.

After all this Watt pressure, Craigie was due a period of ascendancy and it came during the latter part of the first half.  Chris Inglis came close with a shot at the end of a good left-wing move, then Craig Anderson seized on a weak defensive header to shoot just past the post.  Inglis then crossed for Kyle Boggie to fire in a first-time shot which just cleared the bar.  As home pressure built up, Laurenson had to be alert to prevent Mark Hendrie getting a clear header from another left-wing cross and David Kerr’s challenge forced Boggie’s shot from the edge of the area to pass just outside the post.

Finally, Watt countered with a great pass from Kerr to release Webster on a diagonal run, but although he brought the ball inside two defenders, the striker was unable to generate enough power in his shot to trouble Horne.  Nevertheless, Watt made it through to half-time with their lead intact.

Eight minutes after the restart, it got twice as good.  A mistake on the left side of the home defence enabled Webster – who else? – to pounce and secure the ball.  He worked his way inside towards goal and picked his moment for a cutback which left Donnelly with a close-range finish to the corner of the net.

For a time after this, Watt threatened to take over, with Heraghty’s cute improvisation just short of the power needed to catch out Horne, Wright’s shot from distance after more good work by Heraghty and a trademark break by Forbes to supply Webster, who forced a Laurenson corner from which Donnelly headed just over.

Elliot Sutherland marked his arrival to the fray with a shot from distance which cleared the bar, before Ryan Higgins’ endeavour drew a foul which Watt got all wrong.

Just as in the first half, Craigie began to assert themselves from around half-way through and a crossfield pass to substitute Greig Tulloch brought a cross which Forbes was obliged to play behind.  Inglis’ corner was a good one, swinging right in on top of Craig Saunders and forcing the Watt goalkeeper to punch clear from close to his line.  A Craigroyston player on the edge of the box then sent in a well-judged dipping shot which appeared to have beaten Saunders until the big man stretched his right arm and touched the ball over the bar.  From the resultant corner, Saunders had to punch clear again, but this time Matty Costello headed the ball back in to the mix and Craig Anderson slammed a left-foot shot against the post from an unlikely angle.

Having survived these alarms, Watt resumed the offensive and when Heraghty played the ball back in after a free kick had been cleared, Donnelly’s volley brought a splendid save from Horne, with Webster just unable to steer a header towards goal from the rebound.

By the end of the game, Watt had kept a clean sheet for the second week in a row and eliminated a Premier Division team on its own ground to progress to the semi-finals of the Alex Jack Cup, in which they will visit Premier Division leaders Leith Athletic at Meadowbank 3G on the 4th of October.

 

Craigroyston:

Horne, Callaghan, Hogarth, Barbirou, Costello, Inglis (Nisbet 73), M Hendrie (Sommerville 73), Anderson, C Hendrie, Boggie, Young (Tulloch 58).    Subs. not used:  Kneebone, Cadger.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Higgins (Green 73), Hay (Sutherland 59), Wright, Webster, Donnelly, Heraghty (Hume 79).    Subs. not used:  O’Hagan, Woolven.

 

Referee:  Mr Billy Cooper (Glenrothes)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 6:  Saturday 6th September 2014

East of Scotland League:  First Division 

Eyemouth United  0   Heriot-Watt University  1

Watt escaped from Warner Park with the three points to get their league total moving after a stubborn defensive display protected the lead given by Calum Milne’s smart goal towards the end of the first half.

From the beginning of this match, the Fishermen belied their lowly league position with some fine passing and movement.  Also, when Watt players had the ball, they found themselves hard pressed by the eager home side, who will have counted themselves unfortunate to come away with nothing from a closely-fought contest.

The return of Andy Forbes to the Watt defence was a boost and in the fourth minute he reminded us of his prowess in the air, heading an Eyemouth corner to the half-way line.  The visiting defence was soon under pressure again, though, with David Kerr having to dive in to divert a shot for another corner.

Alex Scott was so unfortunate as to suffer a severe blow to the head in a clash with a United player.  He bravely played on for a time, but was showing symptoms of concussion and was replaced by Steven Wright just before the half-hour, with Scott Dargo dropping back to right-back.

The home side continued to set the pace, but in a Watt break, Chris Donnelly seized on a defensive mistake to fire in a shot from a tight angle.

As half-time approached, Watt snatched a goal out of the blue.  Calum Milne gathered the ball from a throw-in, neatly turned and lost his marker and moved into the box, from where he shaped a right-foot shot from a tight angle across home goalkeeper Adam Mutch and into the far corner of the net.

The second half pattern was similar to that of the first, but Watt had an opportunity ten minutes into it to try out a rehearsed free-kick move.  Neil Laurenson found Forbes, but when he laid off the ball for Donnelly, the striker had moved just too early and was caught offside.

A good move by Watt in which Milne made ground before being crowded out brought Forbes storming through, but when he eventually lost possession, Watt was thin in defence and Craig Saunders had to look lively, coming out of his penalty box to clear.

Eyemouth continued to win corners and from one of these, substitute Sean Williamson’s kick was headed goalwards by Gordon McInnes, forcing Saunders to touch the ball over the bar.

James Wilson picked up on a poor defensive header to shoot from the edge of the area, but the effort lacked accuracy.  Before play restarted, Watt introduced Michael Webster for his first outing in many a day after injury destroyed his season last time.  He took little time in reminding us of his capabilities, linking with Bruce Hay to get in a header at the back post.

Michael Heraghty then sent Webster away with a fine pass and when he flicked the ball into the penalty area and chased it, there could have been a penalty when he was brought down by the diving Mutch, but the ball ran on to Bruce Hay, whose shot flashed across goal and out on the far side.

In stoppage time, Donnelly had a golden opportunity to make the points secure, but when through on Mutch, he sent his lob over the ‘keeper and past the post.  In the end, it didn’t affect the outcome as Watt gratefully grabbed the spoils.

 

Eyemouth United:

Mutch, Wood, McInnes, Wyman, Walker (Lough 72) , Wilson, Burrell, Jess, Campbell, Thomson (Buckley 77), Lauder (Williamson 65).    Sub. not used:  Adamson.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Scott (Wright 29), Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Dargo, Hay, Higgins (Green 80), Milne (Webster 76),  Donnelly, Heraghty.    Subs. not used:  Woolven, O’Hagan.

 

Referee:  Mr Kevin Lindsay (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 5:  Wednesday 27th August 2014

East of Scotland League:  First Division 

Heriot-Watt University  3   Burntisland Shipyard  3

On a beautiful August evening at Riccarton, two young sides played out an absorbing match with many more scoring chances than the six which were taken.

Watt started well with Cammy Stevenson prominent in early exchanges, twice in quick succession sending stinging drives just over the junction of post and bar at the near post, firstly from a superb crossfield pass by Calum Milne, then when he read Chris Donnelly’s head-flick to race into the box.

Shipyard responded and when Shaun Keatings was brought down just outside the box, Craig Saunders saved splendidly from the free-kick, diving to his right to turn the ball round the post.

The visitors struck first, four minutes from the half-hour.  A good move on the left resulted in a cross which was cleared to a central area just outside the box, where the ball was met by Kevin Masson, who accurately picked a route through the mass of bodies in the penalty area to find the corner of the net.

The Shippy lead lasted just six minutes, Donnelly equalising with a shot high into the net from Milne’s lay-off.

Stevenson came close again, this time with a header from Michael Heraghty’s pinpoint cross, before a furious period of attacking by the Watt, with Stevenson and Heraghty delivering telling crosses, was repulsed by determined Shipyard defending.  The Watt was not to be denied, however, and three minutes from the break, Milne shrugged off a challenge as he turned, took the ball round goalkeeper Jordan Mushet and slotted the ball into the empty net to give the home side a half-time lead.

The period immediately following the break was Watt’s best spell of football in the match, with Donnelly, Heraghty, Bruce Hay and Neil Laurenson all contributing to incisive moves, but no goals resulted from the Watt dominance and seven minutes into the half, the visitors grabbed an equalising goal.  A free kick on the right was played inside to one-time Watt favourite Brendan Napier.  His side-foot shot was played out as far as Craig Lowe, who sent a crisp first-time half-volley across Saunders into the corner of the net.

Chances continued to come at both ends, with Stevenson, Donnelly and Hay coming close for the Watt and Keatings sending a header narrowly past for Shipyard.  Eventually, with twenty minutes left to play, Watt had their noses in front again, Donnelly timing his run to perfection to connect with a chipped pass over the Burntisland defence and loft the ball over the onrushing Mushet to find the net.

Once again, however, the lead could not be consolidated.  Keatings was left on his own on the right side of the Watt box and when he was given the ball, Chris Smith came across to challenge.  Keatings went down for what looked to Watt eyes a soft penalty award, but when the referee decided to give it, perhaps Smith was fortunate to escape with a caution.  Napier stepped forward to send Saunders the wrong way from the spot and tie the scores once again.

Further chances for Stevenson and Donnelly were kept out by Mushet and his fellow defenders before both sides had a chance to snatch victory in the last minute.  First, a good corner from the Burntisland right was met by a firm header by Keith Buckley which passed across the Watt goal and just past the far post; then, in the very last action, Donnelly showed superb footwork to create the room for a fine cross which Hay ran in to meet, but he also sent his header across goal to shave the far post.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Lynch, Smith, Kerr, Woolven, Hay, Stevenson, Laurenson, Milne (Walker 89),  Donnelly, Heraghty (Kerlin 60).    Subs. not used:  Bell, Cairns, Sellar.

 

Burntisland Shipyard:

Mushet, Arthur, Anderson (Samson 44), Clark, MacDonald, Napier (Robertson 82), Keatings, Lowe, Henderson (Buckley 83), Masson, McPhail.    Subs. not used:  Springhall, Doig.

 

Referee:  Mr Calvin Mark (Uphall)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 4:  Saturday 23rd August 2014

East of Scotland League:  First Division 

Duns  4   Heriot-Watt University  1

In the magnificent surroundings of New Hawthorn Park, which after three years’ planning has been splendidly brought into existence this year in the Berwickshire town, Watt started its league season with a disappointing defeat which has intensified the selection worries of Head Coach Chris Smith.

Watt, with three youngsters – Jack O’Hagan, Adam Woolven and Ryan Higgins – making their debuts due to the unavailability of regulars (including Scott Dargo, who failed a fitness test before the start), settled quickly into the game and took a deserved lead after six minutes.  Cammy Stevenson took advantage of a defensive slip to outflank the home defence and send a cutback from the line into the path of Brian Anderson, who found the corner of the net with a firm strike.

Anderson had the opportunity to double his tally four minutes later, turning inside following a throw-in, but he seemed unnerved by the amount of space he had and pulled his shot wide of the near post.

The game settled into a fairly even rhythm, with both sides having chances from time to time.  Watt had a great chance to add a second goal three minutes from the half-hour, when a neat turn on the edge of the box put Calum Milne through to face Duns goalkeeper Paul Smith, but Milne’s shot was too straight and the goalie saved with his feet.

Watt paid for this miss four minutes later when a ball from the left was stabbed through to Duns striker Mike Robinson and he steered the ball past the left hand of Craig Saunders to equalise.

Duns started the second half brightly and carried the game to the visitors.  This paid off seven minutes after the break with a game-changing incident.  New boy O’Hagan bundled over Des Chisholm in the penalty area and Watt was given the double punishment – a penalty kick and the dismissal of O’Hagan.

Steve Shennan struck the kick to the left of Saunders, who got a hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it out.  Four minutes later, the situation got worse for the Watt as Woolven, another of the debutants, was miles short with an attempted header back to Saunders after allowing the ball to bounce.  Robinson ran on to lob the ball over the Watt ‘keeper and watch it go into goal off the underside of the bar.

Anderson was injured in a tackle and had to be replaced and on the hour mark the catastrophic day of the new lads was completed.  After O’Hagan’s red card and Woolven’s giveaway, Higgins got himself a second caution for a foul and joined O’Hagan in the pavilion.

After this, it was a matter of preventing the score getting out of hand and Watt shut up shop as best they could, but could not prevent another goal being added to the home tally, David Kerr slamming a cross from the left into his own goal off the crossbar to complete the set for the Watt.

 

Duns:  Smith, Ainslie, Walker, McHoul, Windrum, Bryson, Waddle, Tait (McGregor 78), Robinson, Shenna, Chisholm.    Sub. not used:  Weatherburn

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, O’Hagan, Laurenson, Kerr, Woolven, Higgins, Stevenson, Donnelly, Anderson (Hay 60), Milne (Walker 76), Heraghty (Kerlin 60).    Sub. not used:  Dargo

 

Referee:  Mr Paul Hanlon (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 3:  Saturday 9th August 2014

Qualifying League:  Section B 

Heriot-Watt University  2   Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale  4

With two encouraging Qualifying League away ties behind them, Watt took on the League champions in their first home game of the season.

Riccarton was looking immaculate for this opening match and the weather, though breezy, was helping to make it look its best.

When the game got under way, Watt found themselves behind after five minutes, David Kerr getting an unfortunate touch to the cutback of Connor McGregor to send the ball just inside the far post.

Watt did not take this reverse lying down, however.  With Cammy Stevenson and Chris Donnelly both showing pace and invention in attack, the home side began to fashion a number of chances, with efforts by Donnelly, Elliot Sutherland and Brian Anderson dealt with by the visitors’ defence before Watt grabbed an equaliser on the half-hour.  Craig Saunders made a good save from Liam O’Donnell’s shot and Watt broke forward quickly, with the move ending with Stevenson slipping the ball through for Sutherland to find the top corner with an accurate shot.

Ten minutes later it got even better for the Watt.  Again it was a fine save by Saunders which was the precursor to a telling attack.  Sean Wringe’s superb stepover gave O’Donnell a clear sight of goal, but once more Saunders was equal to the task and dived to his left to make the save.  When Watt swept to the other end, Scott Dargo’s beautifully-flighted cross was well met by the head of Donnelly to send the ball across goal behind Bruce Callan.

Watt held the lead until half-time, but when the game restarted, it was clear that the visitors were playing with renewed purpose and the home goal came under repeated pressure as the Lothian wide players began to get round the Watt defence.  O’Donnell missed two excellent chances, heading wide when unmarked at the far post, before Saunders made a treble save from Kevin Keane.

Watt had a brief flurry when a good cross required Callan to exit his penalty area and head clear, but Stevenson was unable to capitalise and the equaliser which had seemed likely arrived in the sixty-fifth minute.  Another cross came over from the right and Scott Moffat made good ground across the box to head well away from Saunders.

Five minutes later, there was a disaster for Watt when Andy Forbes was sent off after a challenge on O’Donnell.  In the following minute, Watt had a great chance to regain the lead when a defensive error gave Anderson the chance to round Callan, but he was unable to clip the ball into the gaping net.

It always looked likely after this that the visitors would find the goals they needed, but when they took the lead with quarter of an hour remaining, it was from a break-out following a Watt free kick.  Scott Gormley set off down the right, his pace and power taking him beyond the Watt pursuit, and crossed for substitute Willis Hare to plant a firm downward header into goal.

Two minutes later, the result was confirmed when Louis Swanson sent a free-kick curling into the top corner of the net.

After that, it was just a question of whether or not the champions would add to the winning margin, but Watt, riding their luck at times, were able to prevent the score mounting higher.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Laurenson, Heraghty, Kerr, Forbes, Dargo, Stevenson, Wright, Anderson (Milne 74), Donnelly, Sutherland.    Subs. not used:  Kerlin, Walker, Smith.

 

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:

Callan, McGregor (Crawford 70), Keane, Williams, Munro, Brown, O’Donnell (Connolly 63), Swanson, Wringe, Moffat (Hare 63), Gormley.    Subs. not used:  McDonaugh, Joint.

 

Referee:  Mr John Weir

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 2:  Wednesday 6th August 2014

Qualifying League:  Section B 

Easthouses Lily Miners’ Welfare  1   Heriot-Watt University  0

On a fine summer’s evening in East Lothian, promoted Lily and relegated Watt fought out a fascinating, entertaining match which the visitors were unfortunate to lose to a last-gasp goal.

The home side, which must surely be amongst the tallest to represent an East of Scotland club, started impressively, with Ross McKinnon and Graeme Young prominent in early pressure, but in eight minutes Watt had the best chance so far when good battling by Elliot Sutherland set up a chance for Calum Milne, who was too deliberate in trying to set up his shot and gave the home defence the opportunity to recover.

Chris Donnelly was in the mood and evaded several challenges to fire in a shot which went wide of the post to John Falconer’s right.

With eleven minutes played, Lily came desperately close to scoring.  Liam Fellinger came inside off the right wing and shot against the post.  The Watt defence somehow managed to block McKinnon’s attempts to force in the rebound.

Midway through the first half, a superb tackle by Andy Forbes set up a break on the left.  Scott Dargo made good ground and passed inside to the unmarked Milne, but in trying to sidefoot the ball into the corner of the net, the striker turned his body too much and sent his shot just wide.

Milne then did well to set up Donnelly, whose curler round a defender brought a sensational save from Falconer, diving to his left to get a hand to the ball.

Neil Laurenson combined with Dargo and Sutherland in another fine move on the left, but the pass inside to Donnelly lacked a little firmness.  Donnelly had to try to force the shot and Falconer was able to make the catch.

Before half-time, Milne’s close-range shot forced Falconer into another superb  stop, the former Riccarton custodian diving to touch the ball on to the post.

The second half was a bit less eventful, but early on Cammy Stevenson came close with a shot across goal after a jinking run took him into the penalty area.

For Lily, Alex Elliot’s shot went wide before Steven Wright called Falconer into action again to save a curling shot of deceptive flight.

Brian Anderson had a chance with fifteen minutes left when a home defender missed the ball, leaving the Watt man with a chance from the edge of the box, but his solid drive was deflected just over the bar.

With eight minutes to play, Craig Saunders threw himself to his left to make a stop similar to the one which Falconer had produced in the first half, foiling Lily substitute Kenny McMillan.  Watt sub Bruce Hay had a shooting chance shortly after this, running on to a pass from Donnelly, but he went to ground as he shot and dragged the ball across goal and out.

In the one minute of stoppage time at the end of the game, Watt was made to pay for the failure to take their chances when Kenny McMillan got his head to a throw-in from the right to float the ball gently past Saunders and inside the far post for a goal which it had seemed would never come.

 

Easthouses Lily M.W.:

Falconer, Shields, Campbell, McQueenie, Arthur, Walkinshaw, McKinnon (McMillan), Young, Elliot (J Hunter), McDermott, Fellinger (Robertson 58).   Subs. not used:  C Hunter, Baigrie.

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Scott, Laurenson, Forbes, Kerr, Dargo, Stevenson (Hay 79), Wright, Milne (Anderson 61), Donnelly, Sutherland (Heraghty 66).    Subs. not used:  Lawrie, Walker.

 

Referee:  Mr Ralph Gordon

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SEASON 2014 – 2015         Match 1:  Saturday 2nd August 2014

Qualifying League:  Section B

Hawick Royal Albert  1   Heriot-Watt University  3

Watt got their season off to a successful start at Albert Park, edging out Hawick in the second half of an enjoyable match.

Watt got off to a fine start in the game, Elliot Sutherland scoring his first East of Scotland goal for the top team after fifteen minutes, slotting past the advancing Jordan Dunsmore after being set up by Chris Donnelly’s fine run and pass.  Five minutes later, the home side was back on level terms when Nick Ramsay blasted home a free kick from a central area.

Watt went back in front a minute after the restart when Brian Anderson was alert to take advantage of mistakes in the Hawick defence and steer the ball in from a very tight angle.

Watt was unable to find another goal and the Albert built up a head of steam in the middle of the second half, forcing a succession of corners, but although Craig Saunders made a marvellous instintive save to touch a close-range effort on to the post, the Watt back line was not breached again and with ten minutes left to play, Anderson scored again to ensure the points would come back to Riccarton.

The clinching goal was created by a superb corner with direction and pace from Michael Heraghty which picked out Anderson at the far post.  The striker rose to send a firm, controlled header back across goal and inside the far post.

 

Hawick Royal Albert:

Dunsmore, Zenati (McCulloch 62), Brown, Loughlin, Fallan, Summers, Muttitt (Dimingo 82), McLeod (McFerrin 88), N Ramsay, Cairns, G Ramsay.  Sub. not used:  Russell.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Scott, Heraghty, Kerlin, Smith, Dargo, Milne (Wright 65), Donnelly, Anderson (Lawrie 86), Stevenson, Sutherland (Walker 83).

(All subs. used)

 

Referee:  Mr. Calum Doyle