Match Reports: Season 2013 – 2014

SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 32:  Wednesday 30th April 2014

King Cup:  Second Round 

Heriot-Watt University  2   Preston Athletic  3

Having played the last league game of the season as week and a half earlier with a very thin squad, Watt’s player availability had got even worse by the time this King Cup tie came along.  This time, the opposition was Lowland League side Preston Athletic, which had beaten the Watt 5 – 1 in a South Region Challenge Cup tie two months earlier, so when  the notes for the match handout said that Watt might be happy with a similar result, it was no false modesty.  The previous season had finished with a match against the same opponents and with a squad containing such luminaries as Sean Muhsin, Ricky Burke and Jamie Forsyth, watt had crashed to a 6 – 0 defeat.

The string of players who had already disappeared from the Watt player pool before the Civil Service game on the 19th was added to by the absence for this match of Michael Lynch, Högni Helgason and David Thomson and there was a real concern that the result could be even more humiliating this time.  Watt was thankful to have David Kerr available due to his suspension starting after this match and for the return of Henrik Dahle, but even so Curt Banks played half-fit and did well to last more than an hour before being replaced by Watt’s only substitute, Adam Woolven, a player who had made his first-team debut as a late substitute in the last league game at Muirhouse.  Alex Scott, his team-mate from the Under-19 side, had to play the full match and acquitted himself well, particularly in the first half.

It’s well known that adversity often brings out the best in people and this match was further proof of the point.  After losing a freak early goal, Watt played with a determination which was to the enormous credit of the players and led 2 – 1 from just after half-time until late in the game, but the perverse nature of sport was shown by the fact that although Watt played even better in the second half than they had in the first, with the players working together to produce some fine cohesive moves, and although they faced only ten men for the last twenty minutes, the game turned against them during that period and Athletic won through with a goal three minutes from the end of normal time.

The weather during the day had been very wet and it was no surprise that referee Mr Hogg had considerable reservations about the condition of the pitch before kick-off.  Some emergency remedial work brought a slight improvement and Mr Hogg was persuaded that the game could begin.  It was fortunate that there was no heavy rain during the course of the match, but the surface remained greasy throughout and the ball was wet and slippery, a factor which in the end had a considerable bearing on the outcome.

With just five minutes on the clock, a cross from the Preston left was met on the volley by Michael Osbourne in the middle of the Watt box.  Striking the ball on the volley is a difficult skill and although the striker caught the ball solidly it was heading in the direction of the corner flag until it struck a defender, changed course and shot low past Craig Saunders into goal.

Refusing to be discouraged by this ill-fortune, Watt pressed forward, with Chris Donnelly looking dangerous in attack.  Pouncing on a loose ball, Donnelly drove at the heart of the Preston defence, but slightly overhit the ball and Craig Pennycuick came out bravely to smother.

Preston also looked menacing coming forward, using the full width of the pitch and it took a superb save by Saunders to prevent the visitors adding a second goal.  When Paul Devlin played in Ryan Moore for a shot from the edge of the area, it looked a scorer until the big goalkeeper threw himself upwards to touch the ball over the bar.

Donnelly came close for Watt, driving in a strong shot which passed just over the bar, before Watt was rescued by the Assistant’s flag.  Saunders got down to a low shot but was unable to hold the ball, but when Moore lifted it over him into the goal, he did so from an offside position.

Dale O’Hara was supporting well on the Preston left and he played in a good cross which was headed over by Sean Martin, who would have been disappointed to miss the target.

Just on the half-hour, Watt got back on to level terms.  Scott’s cross to the back post looking for Brian Anderson was headed behind by Mark Cherrie and when the corner came in to the near-post area, Neil Laurenson headed the ball down past Pennycuick and into the net.

Saunders did well to protect his goal shortly after this, sprinting from his line to get a hand to O’Hara’s cross, then following up with another block.  Watt defenders poured in to help out and managed to work the ball away from the danger area.

Just before half-time, Watt had a scare when Saunders was caught in possession by Martin, but once again the vigilant home back line crowded round to help out the ‘keeper and the half ended with scores equal.

In the first minute of the second half, Watt hit the front.  A great run on the right by Chris Rae brought the ball into the Preston box and when the ball broke to Scott Dargo, he finished calmly to become the second Watt player in the game to open his account for the season.

Watt took confidence from the goal and went looking for another.  In a swift counterattack, Dargo played in Dahle, whose first-time shot slipped just past the post, then Andy Forbes played in Laurenson, whose pass for Anderson was played away for a corner.

On the hour, an excellent pass from Laurenson put Dahle away on the left and his centre was steered across goal by Anderson.  Forbes then set up Donnelly for a run in off the right, but his left-foot shot struck a defender.

With twenty minutes left, it appeared Watt might have gained a decisive advantage when Richie Ramsay took exception to a tackle from David Kerr and seemed to swing a punch right in front of the referee, leaving his team a man short when he was sent off.

All seemed set for a famous victory for the Watt, but the match took a sudden turn in Athletic’s favour.  With just fourteen minutes of the ninety left, the ball slithered from the grasp of Saunders as he sought to make a catch at the near post.  Osbourne was first to the loose ball and although Saunders got both hands to his shot, it again squirmed from his grasp and trickled over the line.

Watt continued to look threatening, with a beautiful cross from Laurenson finding the gap between the two visiting central defenders, but Forbes sent his header well wide.  A good cross by Donnelly gave a chance to Anderson, but Pennycuick just managed to get a touch on the ball to take it away for a corner.  Anderson then profited from a slip in the Athletic defence to go through on goal, but his shot failed to beat Pennycuick.  Brilliant work by Forbes almost gave Anderson another one-on-one, but when Forbes slipped the pass through, the striker was just offside.

After all this Watt pressure, Preston went upfield to grab the winner.  A free kick near the home box was touched wide to Kevin Morrison, whose run into the area was covered by Forbes, but the central defender turned back and fired a left-foot shot to the near-post area.  If Saunders had another opportunity in this situation, he would probably opt to turn the ball behind or at least to get it away from the danger area, but again the slippy ball proved Watt’s undoing as the goalkeeper was unable to hold it and it ran loose.  Preston substitute Petar Kakalchev nipped in to collect the ball, swivel and shoot accurately across goal just inside the post.

Watt was not finished yet.  In stoppage time, a sensational run by Donnelly, who left several defenders in his wake, set up a chance for Anderson.  His shot from twenty metres was sweetly struck and Pennycuick was well beaten, but the ball rebounded from the post to the ‘keeper’s right with such velocity that it was past the onrushing Donnelly before he could get a boot to it.

So the match and the season finished in disappointment, but there was nothing but praise in the Watt dressing room for the skill and application shown by the players in this game.  It was very encouraging to see them, to a man, prepared to “play for the jersey” and to battle it out to the last with their higher-rated opponents.

One hesitates to end the season’s reports on a sour note and it is not our policy to be critical of the conduct of our visitors, although it is sad to note that during this season the standard of behaviour both on and off the pitch in the East of Scotland League has undoubtedly declined, with poor sportsmanship and discourtesy becoming increasingly prevalent.  However, it must be said that the Lowland League’s Preston Athletic gave us on this occasion the worst experience of the season.  For a club which aspires to play in the Scottish League and which has already applied twice to that end, it was unexpected.  David Bingham was a superb player, one of the most skilful that Scotland has produced in recent decades, and remains a popular and respected figure within football circles in East Central Scotland, so it was very disappointing to see him at the end of the match confront the referee in the way that so many of his players had done during the game.  Mr Hogg is a tolerant and humane man and a fair referee and there cannot be many officials in the game who would have taken so much direct abuse without producing the red card, or who would have turned a deaf ear to some of the calls from the sidelines.  No doubt Preston was rattled by the prospect of defeat by the team which had finished bottom of the division below them, but we suggest, in a constructive spirit, that the club and its officers must be able to accept defeat, let alone the victory they ultimately achieved in this game, with a better grace than they showed at Riccarton, or the reputation of the club will surely suffer.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Rae, Laurenson, Kerr, Banks (Woolven 68), Donnelly, Dargo, Scott, Anderson, Forbes, Dahle.

Preston Athletic:

Pennycuick, Cherrie, O’Hara, Dodd, Morrison, Ramsay, Stewart, Moore, Martin, Devlin, Osbourne.    Subs. not used:  Bingham, Gilbertson

Referee: Mr Alan Hogg (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 31:  Saturday 19th April 2014

East of Scotland League:  Premier Division  

Civil Service Strollers  3   Heriot-Watt University  1

For the last game of the league season, Watt Head Coach Chris Smith had to use his imagination again, as he had only eleven members of his First Team squad available and had to allocate positions to them.  On the bench were Fergal Doherty, who had played a few East of Scotland games earlier in the season and Adam Woolven, an Under-19 player on his first outing with the top team.

With three central defenders in his eleven, Mr Smith elected to push captain Andy Forbes into central midfield alongside fullback-turned-midfielder Chris Rae.  David Thomson was the left-wing choice, with Chris Donnelly partnering Högni Helgason through the middle.  Wtih Jordan Millar recalled by Hearts from his loan spell, Craig Saunders returned yet again between the sticks.

Watt started brightly enough, Forbes feeding Rae for an early strike from twenty metres and Donnelly a lively presence in attack as usual.  Saunders got down well to save an effort from Chris Tobin.

Donnelly’s pace and trickery was causing problems for the Strollers’ defenders and he was brought down regularly.  From one free kick within striking distance, Thomson fired a dipping shot just over.

Strollers’ forwards were also showing purpose and James Guy drove into the left side of the box, but as Saunders narrowed his angle, he sent the ball across goal and past.

Three minutes before the half-hour, Watt went ahead.  Pressure from Michael Lynch convinced Greg Summer to head behind and Neil Laurenson’s curling corner kick to the far post was tailor-made for Forbes to head down and in.

The lead lasted only nine minutes.  Strollers took their time about the build-up and moved the ball to and fro across the pitch, but eventually Keiron McGachie, a tall, mobile striker on loan from Clyde, engineered a shooting chance on his right foot and lashed the ball high into the corner of the goal.

Straight from the kick-off, Watt created a fine chance, with Scott Dargo combining with Helgason on the right to supply Donnelly, but the striker’s touch was heavy and the opportunity was lost.

In the last minute of the first half, Strollers’ Jordan Bruce side-footed the ball into goal after a sweeping move from right to left, but was given offside, keeping the game all square at the interval.

In all truth, the second half belonged almost entirely to the home side.  Straight from the kick-off at the start of the half, Donnelly’s rampaging run through the centre of the park gave a shooting chance to Laurenson, but on his right foot, the full-back drove the ball against a defender and as it turned out, the Watt had no better chance in the remainder of the match.

Five minutes after the restart, the Strollers went ahead for the first time with Tobin’s simple header from a corner by Jordan Bruce.  Donnelly tried to respond, a good run on the right ending in a low cross which was missed by both Helgason and Thomson, but soon Civil Service resumed the offensive, the dangerous McGachie crossing for Guy, but his header was well off target.

Fergal Doherty, having replaced Lynch, had a chance within seconds of arriving and struck the ball well on the turn, but unfortunately for Watt, a Strollers defender was in the way.

Rae had switched with Dargo and was now playing right-back, which meant that when Craig Newall sped into the Watt box, Rae was the man to pursue him.  When he caught up, Newall was almost at the by-line and posing little danger, but Rae launched himself into a rash challenge and brought down his opponent, conceding a penalty.  McGachie found the net with a low shot to give his side a two-goal cushion.

Woolven, a tall young man with some presence, made his debut with twenty minutes left, but there was little further action of note and Watt was confirmed as the wooden spoon recipient.

 

Civil Service Strollers:

Campbell, Moyes, Devine (Raeburn 85), Summer, Moffat, McWilliams (Pettigrew 80), Guy, Newall, McGachie (McFadden 82), Tobin, Bruce.    Subs. not used:  Wijelath, Dimingo.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, Banks, Kerr, Rae (Woolven 71), Lynch (Doherty 65), Forbes, Donnelly, Helgason, Thomson.    Sub. not used: Smith.

 

Referee: Mr Paul Hanlon (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 30:  Saturday 12th April 2014

East of Scotland League:  Premier Division  

Heriot-Watt University  1  Coldstream  2

Having obtained only draws in their previous two games, against Edinburgh University and Leith Athetic, Watt were at last faced, with two games to go, with a genuine ‘must-win’ scenario.  Both Coldstream and Civil Service Strollers would have to be beaten if the Watt were to have a chance of escaping the bottom two places in the Premier Division table – but as those were the other two sides in sharing the bottom three with Watt, it still didn’t seem impossible.

The harder game looked like the last one, away to improved Strollers, and there may have been a tendency for some to take for granted a home game against a team beaten away from home recently, especially when it became known that Coldstream had severe player availability problems and their three-man bench included veteran Phil Johnson, who has not played regularly for some time.

True, the Watt was also a long way short of its best selection:  not only missing long-term injury victims Jamie Forsyth and Hugo Lopes Pereira de Carvalho, but also, for various reasons, without Chris Rae, Henrik Dahle, regular left-back Neil Laurenson and the inspirational Cam Dunn.  David Myatt, recently reunited with the squad, was only accorded a place on the bench, but David Thomson was somewhat controversially included in the starting line-up after failing to appear in time for the Leith game in midweek.

There was a strong, gusty wind in the east of Scotland on the day and many a game was affected by it.  Riccarton is a bit better protected than some grounds because of the trees on two sides, but the wind still had a profound effect on the game.  Watt had it at their backs in the first half and appeared to be well in control of the game and it was not until after the interval that we realised that much of the dominance shown in the first half was attributable to the conditions.

Having said that, Watt’s old failings in front of goal were all too evident again and had first-half chances been taken, they would surely have gone on to win the game.  Chris Donnelly was once more the first to threaten, his penetrating run in fourteen minutes being curtailed by a foul on the edge of the area.  Michael Connor took the free kick and played it past the wall only to see the ball rebound from the post to the goalkeeper’s left.

Martin Green’s cross to the far post forced Richard Baxendale to head over his own bar and when the corner was played on to Thomson on the right, his whipped cross was just too high for even the spring-heeled Andy Forbes.  Green was again the creator two minutes later when he floated a cross to Donnelly around the penalty spot, but the striker allowed the ball to bounce too far off his chest and Mark Walters managed to smother the ball before Donnelly could poke it past him.

Johnson entered the fray on the half-hour, replacing Kieran Ainslie, who had tweaked a hamstring.  Johnson had no difficulty in playing out the remaining hour with skill and energy.

Watt eventually did make the breakthrough, Green’s free kick from the right being deflected into goal by a defender.  Coldstream came close to an equaliser when a mistake in the Watt defence gave Dean Powling a chance to shoot, but Jordan Millar was in good position to save at his near post.

Green was again the creator for Watt when his fine cross presented Thomson with an excellent chance, but after coming to meet the ball with conviction, Thomson headed up and over the bar.

The final chance of the half came when neat play on the left set up a strike by Connor from twenty metres, but his shot was sliced so comprehensively that Thomson was able to collect on the right wing and play in a cross with which the lunging Donnelly just failed to connect at the far post.

It had been mainly Watt throughout the first half, but there was a shock for the home support on the restart, as an eager and determined Streamers side forced Watt back.  Powling set the tone with an early shot from twenty metres that skimmed the crossbar, before Gary Wales failed to control the ball with an ambitious attempt to take a long cross on the volley.  Conor Devaney shot well over the bar, but it was clear that Coldstream had stepped up the pace and that their players were determined to take every opportunity to test Millar.  A mistake by Curt Banks gave the ball to Wales and he promptly sent a well-judged chip across the Watt ‘keeper, looking for the top corner, but Millar retreated to clasp the ball with equally good judgment.

Still under considerable pressure twenty minutes after half-time, Watt made changes, Brian Anderson and Michael Lynch replacing Green and Calum Milne, but it was Coldstream who continued to make the running and just two minutes later came an equalising goal.  Forbes did excellent work to hold up Devaney on the right and prevent him getting in a cross, but he could have done with some help, as when the ball rebounded, Wales collected, darted to the line and fired the ball low across the goal area.  Powling got the break of the ball in a challenge and was left with a simple finish.

At last, Watt came to life and Thomson won a corner on the left which Connor played firmly across goal, evading Forbes’s attempt to get his head to the ball, leading to a crowd scene at the far post.  The ball was forced towards goal, blocked on the line and forced forward again before being turned back by a defender to Walters, who dived on the ball and grasped it.  The referee was in a very good position to see the action and firmly waved away the Watt ‘passback’ claims.

Watt was in the ascendancy now and a good cross from the right passed Thomson and came to Connor on the left side.  He played the ball inside to Anderson and ran on to take the return, but his side-foot shot from the edge of the area was straight at Walters.

Connor then combined with Donnelly on the left and when the ball was crossed it was played on for Scott Dargo to strike on the run, but control of direction was lacking in the shot.

A concerted attack then resulted in Johnson conceding a corner, but Connor’s near-post kick was headed away by Wales.  Thomson returned the ball to Connor, but the Coldstream defence stood firm to clear the cross.

Greg Wilson made a run through the middle and was picked out by a clever pass by Donnelly, but again Johnson was alert to the danger and got in a tackle before Wilson could shoot.

With seven minutes left to play, the Streamers made what was by this time a rare sally upfield.  Millar comfortably caught Wales’s shot, but his clearance was poor and Connor failed to control it.  Coldstream brought the ball to the right side and in a move eerily reminiscent of their earlier goal, Wales swept the ball across and Devaney clipped it into the corner of the net.

Watt could not recover from this late blow.  With two minutes to go, Connor’s corner curled into the goalmouth and Walters punched away under pressure, but Watt once again could make nothing of the loose ball and now face Civil Service Strollers in their final match, needing a win to avoid propping up the table.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Dargo, Banks (Helgason 81), Kerr, Forbes, Wilson, Thomson, Connor, Milne (Anderson 64), Donnelly, Green (Lynch 64).    Sub. not used: Myatt.

Coldstream:

Walters, Hebdon, Baxendale, Birkett, Ainslie (Johnson 30), Douglas, Wales, McCrudden, Powling, Devaney (McKeown 85), Shearer.    Sub. not used:  Heugh.

 

Referee: Mr Stephen Allan (Bargeddie)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 29:  Tuesday 8th April 2014

East of Scotland League:  Premier Division  

Heriot-Watt University  2   Leith Athletic  2

With three games left in the league programme, Watt’s need for points was becoming acute, but it was a thin squad that took the field against Leith Athletic, themselves not quite clear of the quicksand at the start of play.

Watt started purposefully and with five minutes on the clock, Chris Donnelly tried an inventive lob from wide on the left which only just carried over the goal.  Brian Anderson also had a chance but Iain Gordon advanced to block his shot.

Donnelly was again prominent after twenty minutes, bursting between two defenders to fire in a shot which Gordon did well to parry away to his right.  Anderson retrieved the ball and returned it to Donnelly, but this time he tried to link with a colleague and the pass went astray.

Leith began to dictate play after this.  Robbie Mason turned Neil Laurenson and made ground to the edge of the box, but Jordan Millar got his angles right and dived to his right to save well from Mason’s well-struck shot.  As Watt continued to struggle, Scott Dargo directed a header across his own goal and when Lewis Martin controlled the ball and shot on the turn from close range, Millar again came to the rescue with a superb stop.  Conor Scott was next in the attack and when his shot deflected off a Watt player to land on top of the goal, Scott delivered the corner on to the head of Mark Leslie, whose header gave the goalkeeper no chance of saving.

Watt tried to respond, with Donnelly again the mainspring, battling to win the chance of a left-foot shot which was turned behind.  Michael Connor took the corner short and when the ball was returned to him, sent a cross to the near post in just the right slot for Andy Forbes to flash a firm header for goal, only to see Gordon throw himself to his left to make an unbelievable stop.

Martin Green did well to win a corner on the left as Watt kept up the pressure, but when Connor’s corner was played out to David Kerr on the edge of the area, his powerful shot was a couple of metres wide.

A poor pass gave Martin a chance to extend the visitors’ lead before half-time, but he blazed his shot well over the bar and half-time arrived without further scoring.

Four minutes into the second half, Watt got the equaliser they sought.  Good passing between Michael Lynch and Brian Anderson started the move and when the ball was laid back to Connor, he flighted a precise ball forward into the path of Lynch.  Gordon tried to get there first, but Lynch headed the ball past the goalkeeper and calmly slid it into the vacant goal.

After another four minutes had passed, it got even better for the home side.  The ball broke inside from the left wing and into position for Donnelly, whose twenty-metre drive flashed past Gordon into the roof of the net.

Watt’s lead lasted nine minutes before they were again undone from a corner.  Millar’s attempt to reach the ball was thwarted by heavy traffic in the six-yard box and Martin found himself unchallenged as he placed a downward header into the net.

Watt lived somewhat dangerously for a time after this and another corner, this time from the left, seemed to graze the bar on the way across goal and when it came back to earth, the ball was driven firmly into the side net.

Millar, playing perhaps his best game yet for the Watt, made another superb save low to his left to save a close-range Martin effort and a long-range shot from Mason scraped the bar before Watt showed again in attack, Green linking with substitute Calum Milne to feed Laurenson, whose cross perfectly bisected the Leith central defenders and found the head of Donnelly, but from just inside the penalty area the striker couldn’t generate enough power to trouble Gordon.

When Donnelly made yet another determined run through the Leith midfield and was halted by a challenge for which Mason was cautioned, Connor’s free kick found Forbes on the edge of the area, but when the ball was played out to Donnelly on the right, his cross was cleared by the visitors’ defence.

The point gained from the match keeps Watt’s points total moving, but soon it will need to be victories if there is to be any prospect of an escape from the bottom two in the Division.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Dargo, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Lynch, Donnelly, Myatt (Wilson 74), Anderson (Milne 67), Connor, Green.    Sub. not used: Smith.

Leith Athletic:

Gordon, Simpson, Hall, Black, Leslie, Burns (Barrie 50), Mason, Scott, Martin, Campbell, Tracey.    Subs. not used:  Cairns, Maxwell, Thom, Newman.

 

Referee: Mr David Doig (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 28:  Saturday 29th March 2014

East of Scotland League:  Premier Division  

Heriot-Watt University  0   Edinburgh University  0

Edinburgh started the game in lively fashion, with both wide players giving the Watt defenders their hands full.  In particular, Jack Guthrie, wearing number 11 but playing on the right, was a thorn in Watt’s side and in the first minute he left Neil Laurenson trailing to send in a cutback which was hammered first-time into the side net by Dan Ward.  A couple of minutes later, Guthrie cut inside and let fly on his own account, the ball flashing a couple of yards wide of the post.

On the other wing, Joe Aitken began to threaten, evading Greg Wilson to send  the ball inside for Guthrie and only a tackle by Andy Forbes prevented a shot from a dangerous position.  An accurate chip for the top corner then brought a fine save from Jordan Millar, who landed on top of Guthrie, much to the discomfort of the Edinburgh player.

Millar was in action again a couple of minutes later, diving to prevent a cutback from the line reaching its intended target as the visitors kept up their momentum.

Once Edinburgh’s initial drive had abated, however, a very different picture began to emerge, as it became clear that the visitors’ game plan was based on solid defence and counterattacking play.  For much of the remainder of the match, Edinburgh was happy to allow Watt to have the ball but to ensure with pressing play that it was difficult to create anything positive.  It was five minutes short of half-time before Watt had a goal effort worthy of the name and even that failed to trouble Mark Tait, Michael Connor’s shot from 35 metres bouncing in front of him and enabling him to block with his shins and pick up.  Two minutes later, however, another Connor effort from closer range brought out a fantastic save from the Edinburgh ‘keeper.  A deflection caused a change of direction and Tait twisted in mid-air to stretch to his left and claw the ball away for a corner.

The game did not improve much as a spectacle in the second half.  Edinburgh maintained their defensive tactics but were now seldom troubling the Watt defence on the break and Watt lacked the guile to create much against a team playing in such a manner.  There was a strong claim for a penalty when Brian Anderson appeared to be clipped by Duncan Black when running on to a ball played in from the left, but no award was made.  Högni Helgason’s shot from a tight angle flashed across the face of goal but went past the far post.

The closest we saw to a goal came in a moment of rare quality when a well-flighted Edinburgh free kick found Calum Murray pulling away at the back post to make an unchallenged header.  The ball passed in front of Millar and struck the base of the post to his right before rebounding into the arms of the grateful goalkeeper.  Murray had another chance when Forbes made a rare misjudgment, but the Watt skipper recovered quickly and Curt Banks was on hand to help clear up.

Watt’s best chance of the half came four minutes from the end, when Forbes’s fine pass to Helgason on the right gave the big Icelander the chance to cross to the far post, where Chris Donnelly came in to meet the ball, but he was unable to keep the ball below bar height.

A final moment of anxiety for the home side came when a last-minute corner was sent curling in to the far post area, but Millar used his strength and reach to punch away under pressure and David Myatt brought the ball away upfield.  Watt broke quickly, with Cam Dunn finding Donnelly.  A defender impeded Donnelly, making it hard to get away his shot and a deflection took it behind.  The first corner was played behind again and when the second was played in by Dunn, Forbes headed firmly across the goal, but no-one applied a finishing touch and the ball went harmlessly behind.

 

Edinburgh University:

Tait, MacFarlane, L Murray, Flett, Black, Daniels-Yeoman, Aitken, Rawlinson (Maelger 82), C Murray, Ward (Sutherland 56), Guthrie (Coleman 87).  All subs. used.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Dargo, Laurenson, Banks, Forbes, Wilson, Donnelly, Thomson (Helgason 56), Anderson (Lynch 67), Connor (Myatt 76), Dunn.    Sub. not used: Rae.

 

Referee: Mr Keith Maskell (Star)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 27:  Saturday 22nd March 2014

East of Scotland League:  Premier Division  

Leith Athletic  1   Heriot-Watt University  0 

Not much seems to be going right for Heriot-Watt this season and here was another example.  In four previous matches against Leith Athletic this season, the teams had been level after ninety minutes and the situation was the same again in this match.  An hour and a half of toil and endeavour by both sides had failed to produce a goal, but in the third and last minute of stoppage time – the game was over as soon as the ball was kicked off again – Watt was the victim of a blight of football in our age, the penalty award when the ball is driven against an arm at close range.

This is no ‘sour grapes’ rant – we’ve been saying for the last two or three years that penalty awards in these circumstances are ruining the game.  It’s a mockery when two teams have fought hard and fairly for an hour and a half and the game is decided when the ball happens to strike an arm in a situation where the defender has no time to move.  That was the position for Watt captain Andy Forbes, who had fellow central defender David Kerr so close beside him he wouldn’t have been able to move his arm in any direction.  There is no justice in such awards, but someone appears to have decided it will increase the number of goals scored if such penalties are given, so fairness to the players doesn’t matter.

It wasn’t Leith’s fault that the penalty was given, but it left Watt nursing a justifiable sense of grievance, although to their great credit the players did nothing to express their frustration and accepted the situation with no more than the grinding of teeth.

In a first half in which there were few real chances, Leith centre-half Mark Leslie was a threat from set pieces and headed narrowly over from a corner just before the half-hour.  Watt’s best move of the half came six minutes from the break with precise passing down the right wing.  The ball was played through for the run of David Thomson, who slipped it into the corner of the goal, but Watt celebrations were cut short by the flag for offside against Thomson.

In stoppage time at the end of the half, Euan Campbell fired a free kick just over the Watt crossbar.

Athletic began the second half vigorously, but a break by Watt almost caught out their hosts when Cam Dunn found Chris Donnelly on the break, but he was brought down by Lewis Cairns, who was cautioned.  Forbes headed Mikey Connor’s free-kick goalwards, but Iain Gordon was well positioned to catch.

A good spell of Watt pressure followed this, but the closest thing to a goal was a header by Brian Anderson which passed just over the bar.

As players tired andthe game began to loosen up, the chance of the match came Watt’s way.  Donnelly reached a ball down the right before Gordon and rounded the goalkeeper.  His shot from a tight angle struck the base of the post and rebounded to Thomson.  With the goal at his mercy, the Watt midfielder took careful aim and drove the ball firmly over the bar.

Leith took encouragement from this miss and Jamie Lauder brought a save from Millar with a shot from twenty metres, but Watt was now generally on top.  Gordon showed alertness to bound from his goal and knock a cross from Donnelly off the head of Greg Wilson, then saved from Scott Dargo, who burst through the middle on to a pass.

Leith substitute Conor Scott tested Millar with an accurate shot which the Watt ‘keeper saved diving to his right, but soon Watt was back on top and Donnelly’s fine run into the box, much hampered by the attentions of a defender, brought a good save from Gordon to save his shot.  Forbes was a frequent visitor to the Leith penalty area for set pieces and got his head to a free kick, enabling Dunn to fire in a shot from a wide area which the home defence blocked behind.  Forbes and Donnelly combined to send another cross goalwards, but again Gordon clutched the ball just under the bar.  Dargo had another effort from distance after Donnelly held the ball up, but missed the target.  Finally, with two minutes of stoppage time played, Watt substitute Michael Lynch crossed and when the ball was headed into the air, Gordon was there to catch once more and send Scott scampering away upfield.  When he was brought town by Kerr, the resultant free kick was deflected for a corner and when that was cleared to the edge of the area, the second shot by a Leith player struck the arm of Forbes.  Jamie Lauder took the penalty kick and shot to Millar’s left.  The goalkeeper went the right way, but the ball squirmed under his body into goal and Watt was left with nothing.

 

Leith Athletic:

Gordon, Simpson, Hall, Black, Leslie, Burns (Scott 74), Cairns (Barrie 70), Lauder, Mason, Campbell (Maxwell 70), Martin.  Subs. not used:  Thom, Newman.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Rae, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Wilson, Thomson, Connor (Dargo 71), Anderson (Lynch 65), Donnelly, Dunn.    Subs. not used: Banks, Milne.

 

Referee: Mr John Weir (Denny)

 

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 26:  Wednesday 19th March 2014

East of Scotland League:  Premier Division  

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale  3   Heriot-Watt University  0 

LTHV were looking like the strong favourites to take the Premier Division title, but Watt went to Saughton Enclosure knowing that the one defeat suffered by their opponents during the league season had come at Riccarton, when Andy Forbes’s wonderful goal of vision and determination had secured the points.

Any inspiration supplied by the recollection of these heroics lasted only a few seconds, however.  It was a windy, blustery evening in the west of Edinburgh and Craig ‘Grinchy’ Stevenson, noticing that Jordan Millar was some way away from his goal-line, had the ball touched to him from the centre and thumped it into the night air.  The goalkeeper retreated, gradually realising just how accurate the effort was, but suffered the calamity of being unable to prevent the ball entering the corner of the goal just under the bar.  There were three lessons here for the young ‘keeper:  be concentrating and ready to start the game when the whistle sounds; don’t take liberties by wandering around further from your goal than you can readily recover; and when the ball is in the air, it won’t come down any sooner for watching it constantly – the goalkeeper must get back on his line as first priority.  Had he done that, there was plenty of time for the tall, strong young man to have prevented the goal.

That said, Jordan showed excellent temperament by refusing to let his early mistake upset him unduly and played well throughout the rest of the match.

Watt played against the general direction of the wind in the first half and against their illustrious opponents coped very well.  There were few opportunities for either side in the early stages and Watt managed to settle into the game with good shape and gradually began to express a bit of attacking intent.  During the course of an uneventful forty-five – after the first few traumatic seconds – the home side’s only goal attempts of note were a header from Sean Wringe turned round the post by Millar and a snap shot from Connor McDonald which Millar was well positioned to save above his head.  Watt responded with a good shot from distance by Cam Dunn; Kevin Swain’s save conceded the first of three consecutive corners as Watt probed for an equaliser.  Watt had another good spell just before half-time, when following a free-kick just outside the Thistle box in a central area, David Thomson bored into the area and from a tackle another two corners eventuated.

Four minutes into the second half came the action which was decisive in the game:  from a corner on the Watt right, Donnelly got on to the ball and fired in a shot from around ten metres.  Swain threw himself to his right to bring off a tremendous save.  Watt reclaimed the ball and brought it back to the danger area, where Curt Banks hammered in another fierce drive, only to see Swain reprise his heroics with an almost identical stop.

It was matchwinning stuff from the home ‘keeper and two minutes later, when Thistle gained a corner on the Watt left, poor marking left Paul Crawford on his own at the far post.  When the ball leaked through to him, he drove it into the corner of the Watt net, despite Millar’s effort in getting a hand to the ball on its way into goal.

Two goals down away to the league leaders was a position Watt was unlikely to recover and although Brian Anderson worked hard to stretch the home defence, with Dunn and Donnelly doing their best on the supply route, there were few real chances and eventually Thistle added a third through a penalty awarded when substitute Jordan Finnie ran into the box in pursuit of a return pass and managed somehow to find the leg of Banks to fall over.  Millar guessed correctly but John Williams’s kick was too accurate to stop.

With a minute to go, Watt substitute Steven Wright came close to enhancing his reputation for long-range goals when his very crisp strike from around thirty-five metres narrowly avoided Swain’s right-hand post and it may be that Head Coach Chris Smith will be considering when the First Team can benefit more regularly from the young midfielder’s ball-striking ability.

 

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:

Swain, Crawford, Dignan, Williams, Wilkes, McDonaugh, Hare, Stevenson, Wringe, Moffat, McDonald.  Sub. not used: .

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Rae, Laurenson, Banks, Kerr, Wilson, Dargo, Thomson, Anderson, Donnelly, Dunn.    Subs. not used: .

 

Referee: Mr Duncan Smith (Edinburgh)
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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 25:  Saturday 1st March 2014

East of Scotland League:  Premier Division  

Coldstream  0   Heriot-Watt University  1 

This was the sort of day that reminds you why you follow East of Scotland football – one of a sort that has been all too rare for the Watt this season, and accordingly mightily satisfying.

It started with an enjoyable trip through the Borders countryside under a blue sky and although the wind was chilly when Home Park was reached, the weather was close to ideal for football.

Watt kicked off, shooting towards the pavilion, and almost suffered by their own actions in the second minute, Jordan Millar’s clearance from a backpass going directly to Conor Devaney.  Andy Forbes closed in to force Devaney wider and his shot went harmlessly across goal.

Gary Wales was losing no opportunity to get up the right wing and his cross to the back post in the tenth minute gave a heading opportunity to John Crawford, but Millar was in position to block the shot and Forbes stepped in to complete the clearance.

A corner on the right gave the Watt a chance to threaten and when the ball was headed out as far as Brian Anderson at the edge of the penalty area, his volley was crisp, but there was no way through the crowd of players in the box.  Greg Wilson was at the heart of another thrust by the Watt almost immediately, exchanging passes with Anderson and Chris Donnelly to create a shooting chance, but his side-foot effort from fifteen metres was straight at Mark Walters.

Watt again made things difficult for themselves at the back by getting in a muddle in trying to play out of defence and Wilson had to concede a corner, but when the kick was taken, the same player rose well in front of Crawford to deny him a close-range heading opportunity.

Andrew Douglas timed his run superbly through the centre of the Watt defence to collect a through ball, but Millar was again on his mettle and dived to his right to make a splendid save, palming the ball away from the goal and allowing Chris Rae to bring it clear.

As the half-hour approached, Watt came close again when a free kick was played into the home penalty box.  Forbes had a go at it, as did Scott Dargo before it came out to Cam Dunn on the edge of the area, but he had to rush his shot and it cleared the bar.

The jumping ability of Forbes was illustrated when he rose well above the crowd at the back post to meet a free kick from the left, but he was unable to control his header.

In the last minute of the half, Curt Banks was the latest Watt defender to get in an effective challenge in the air to thwart the dangerous Crawford.

Watt began the second half with all guns blazing.  Donnelly was put through but couldn’t get his shot away before Walters rushed out far enough to block with his legs.  Then Dunn cut infield and when his shot was blocked, Wilson played the ball through for David Thomson to fell Michael Allan with a blistering drive before Donnelly put the rebound over.

Thomson made a telling intrusion on the right wing, sending in a cross which Wilson would have headed home easily at the far post had it been a foot lower as it passed over his head.

Twenty minutes into the second half, with Watt still dictating the game, came the crucial goal.  Dunn headed on in midfield and Donnelly accelerated between two defenders to fire the ball past the right hand of the advancing Walters into the corner of the net.

Seven minutes later, a precise pass by Dunn put Anderson in possession inside the box, but the home defenders were quickly on the scene and by the time the striker had worked space for a shot, a blocker was in position.  Two minutes later, Anderson had another chance to give Watt a cushion, but after his subtle touch sent Donnelly away on the left, Anderson’s first-time shot from Donnelly’s return pass grazed the bar on its way over.

As the match neared its end, Coldstream stepped up the pace in an effort to save the game, but the Watt defence, with Forbes and Banks alert and resolute at its heart and Millar behind them remaining cool and decisive, held firm to ensure the Watt secured three great points.

 

Coldstream:

Walters, Wales, Cannon, Allan, Ainslie, Douglas (Myer 74), Hebdon, McCrudden, Crawford, Devaney, S Simpson (Birkett 84).  Sub. not used:  Baxendale.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Rae, Laurenson, Banks, Forbes, Wilson, Dargo, Thomson, Anderson (Helgason 78), Donnelly, Dunn.    Subs. not used:  Kerr, Connor.

 

Referee: Mr Paul Crosbie (Edinburgh)
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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 24:  Saturday 22nd February 2014

SFA South Region Challenge Cup: Third Round  

Preston Athletic  5   Heriot-Watt University  1 

The Watt had another day of suffering at the Pennypit.  Athletic actually started the game in a surprisingly lethargic manner, but apart from an early shot into the side net from Högni Helgason when set up by Greg Wilson’s good tackle and pass, Watt failed to make much of the time and space granted to them.  Ten minutes into the game, Preston had woken up, as shown by Gary McCormack’s break into the box.  When Jordan Millar saved the shot with his feet, Sean Martin fired the rebound over the bar from the edge of the box.

Watt did not heed the warning and within the next ten minutes Preston struck twice.  The first was an outrageous fluke, Ryan Moore’s cross from the right finding the perfect trajectory to go over Millar’s head and drop into the far top corner of the goal, but there was no disputing the quality of the second, a firm and accurate volley by Ricky Ramsay from a corner.

Watt did not play very well in the remainder of the half but saw out the time without further mishap and from the start of the second period looked a much better and more purposeful side.  Curt Banks joined the attack, but with several men over, wasted the opportunity by driving a left-foot shot against a defender.

The best attack of the period was one on the left side in which Cam Dunn combined with Neil Laurenson and the latter sent in a fine cross from near the corner flag.  Helgason met the ball at the near post but sent his header just over.

At the end of quarter of an hour of Watt ascendancy, Preston virtually killed the game with a third goal.  Martin came inside to meet a cross from the right by-line with a downward header.  Millar got a hand to the ball but was unable to stop it crossing the line.

Ten minutes later it was four, as another cross from the right was diverted in by Martin and after another five minutes it was five, Martin again popping up to take advantage when Laurenson was unfortunate to see his ball-winning tackle benefit an opponent.  Martin bundled the ball home at the third attempt after his first two efforts had been blocked.

Watt at last got on the scoresheet when Chris Donnelly’s determined run on the right created a chance.  After shots by Donnelly and Brian Anderson had been blocked, Donnelly was able to drive in the third opportunity.

Donnelly came very close to pulling another goal back when Banks’s deep cross found him at the far post, but his header came back off the bar and the ball fell behind the onrushing Wilson.

 

Preston Athletic:

Pennycuick, Stewart, O’Hara, Davidson, Foster (Dodd 62), Ramsay (Morrison 51), McCormack, Moore (Philp 51), Martin, Osbourne, Thomson.  All subs. used

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Banks, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Rae, Donnelly, Wilson, Helgason (Anderson 70), Connor, Lopes Pereira de Carvalho.    Subs. not used:  Dargo, Dahle.

 

Referee: Mr Paul Reid (Edinburgh)

 

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 23:  Saturday 8th February 2014

East of Scotland Qualifying League:  Section C   

Heriot-Watt University  2   Leith Athletic  2

This match, although nominally Watt’s home game, was played at Leith’s home pitch, Meadowbank synthetic.  Watt needed a win to stand a chance of heading off Leith for third place in Section C, but the early play made the task a very difficult one.  Leith started at much the better tempo and took advantage of some drowsy defending to build a two-goal lead.

The first arrived after only three minutes when a corner from the left crossed the central area.  When it was played back across goal from near the by-line,

Chris Wright found himself on his own and just had to nod the ball downwards to open the scoring.

As Leith kept up the pace, David Kerr put in a good clearing header, but five minutes after the first goal, Watt fell further behind.  After a move on the Athletic right, a cross found Robbie Mason making a late run unmarked into the heart of the penalty box and he headed past the exposed Jordan Millar from eight metres.

It could have got even worse with quarter of an hour played.  Wright went down the left and his centre was cut out by Neil Laurenson with a corner resulting.  When the ball was cleared as far as Kenneth Hall, he headed it back into the area.  A Watt player got his head in the way and took the pace off the ball, which produced danger when it dropped in front of Mason close to goal.  Fortunately for Watt, the bounce defeated the Leith man and Millar was able to grasp the ball.

Watt then produced its first move of note, Chris Donnelly cutting in off the wing to test Jamie Newman with a left-foot shot from twenty metres.  Ten minutes later, with Watt at last looking involved in the game, the leeway was reduced to one.  A good attack involving Brian Anderson and Michael Connor produced a chance for Donnelly, whose low drive was deflected for a corner on the left.  Cam Dunn’s kick found Anderson unmarked and he stooped to head into the corner of the net.

Watt was now the dominant side and when Greg Wilson picked out David Thomson on the edge of the area, he shot left-footed across goal and past.  A minute later, Connor was set up by Donnelly, but his shot also went across the face of goal.

Connor had another attempt a few minutes later, going into the left side of the box, but Newman was quickly out to block with his feet.  The resultant corner produced another and from the latter, Andy Forbes rose at the far post but headed over the bar.

A quick counterattack by Watt in the first minute of the second half almost brought an equaliser, but Newman got down well to save Donnelly’s shot from Connor’s astute pass.

In a rare Leith attack, Jamie Lauder fired over after a quickly-taken free kick.  Soon Watt returned to attack and Newman was brave to punch clear as Anderson closed in on a Connor free kick.

With quarter of an hour remaining, a clever free kick on the left almost worked for the Watt, but when Laurenson drove the ball across close to the goal, only Newman got a foot to it and it passed across the goalmouth unhindered.

At last, with ten minutes left, Watt got back to parity.  A good move on the left resulted in a corner.  When the ball was played in from the left, Henrik Dahle rose to head the ball down into goal.

Forbes managed to get his head to a free kick a few minutes later, but when Newman saved, Watt’s last chance had gone.

 

Leith Athletic:

Newman, Simpson, Hall, Black (Martin 55), Leslie, Cairns, Barrie, Lauder, Wright (Combe 68), Mason, Tracey.   Subs. not used:  Burns, Campbell, Gordon.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Dargo, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Wilson, Donnelly, Thomson (Myatt 68), Anderson (Dahle 65), Connor (Helgason 75), Dunn.    Sub. not used:  Banks.

 

Referee: Mr Scott Jamieson (Carluke)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 22:  Saturday 1st February 2014

King Cup: First Round  

Heriot-Watt University  2   Craigroyston  1 

There was some doubt that this King Cup tie would go ahead, with several parts of the Riccarton surface having all the firmness of a milky blancmange, but Mr Allan’s decision was to let the match start.  Despite some moments of concern in the lower penalty area, the match was completed without injury to players or incidents determined by the weather, so the verdict was a good one.  It was good for Watt in particular, who won through to face Preston Athletic in the Second Round when Högni Helgason nudged home a late winner.

There was little to choose between the sides during the ninety minutes.  Early in the first half, David Kerr had done well to recover his ground to make Chris Inglis take his shot from a wide position, resulting in the ball clearing the bar.  For the Watt, David Thomson had an excellent effort from distance, firmly struck to the right of Stuart Burnside, but although the ball eluded the diving goalkeeper, it passed just the wrong side of the post.

Just before the half-hour, Watt took the lead.  David Myatt’s searching cross from the left touchline picked out Chris Donnelly at the far post and he placed a clever downward header across Burnside and inside the far post.

The lead lasted only seven minutes.  The home defence failed fully to clear a corner from the left.  Craigie recovered the ball and recirculated it to the right, from where a cross to the middle of the penalty box was finished with an excellent header by Lotfi Barbirou.

The game continued as an even contest in the second half.  Helgason replaced Henrik Dahle up front for the Watt, then Paul Lynch and Mark Hendrie came on in place of Steven McCormack and Kyle Boggie for the visitors.

Andy Forbes, Watt’s top scorer to date this season, had wretched luck when he met Cam Dunn’s pacy free kick with a superb head-flick which looked all the way a scorer until it caught the underside of the bar and bounced down in front of the line.

As both sides made a late push for victory, Chris Rae replaced Myatt for Watt and in the Craigroyston line-up Nicky Rendall came on for Inglis.  The dangerous Craig Dickson came close with a diving header which went just over the bar, then a minute later Helgason won it for Watt, diverting Dunn’s free kick across goal to curl inside the post.

As Craigie mounted a last, frantic assault in an attempt to take the tie to extra time, Jordan Millar came to Watt’s rescue, punching the ball clear under pressure close to his goal-line, but in the end Watt held out to advance to the next round.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Wilson, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Thomson, Dunn, Myatt (Rae 69), Dahle (Helgason 55), Connor, Donnelly.    Subs. not used:  Dargo, Banks, Anderson.

 

Craigroyston:

Burnside, Young, Hogarth, Barbirou, Jeffrey, Greenhill, McCormack (Lynch 63), Ritchie, Boggie (Hendrie 63), Dickson, Inglis.  Sub. not used:  Sommerville.

 

Referee: Mr Stephen Allan (Bargeddie)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 21:  Saturday 11th January 2014

East of Scotland League – Premier Division:  Craigroyston  5   Heriot-Watt University  1 

It was another depleted Watt squad that made its way to St Mark’s Park to take on Craigroyston for the fifth time in the season.  With Högni Helgason, Henrik Dahle and Cam Dunn still to return to Riccarton, David Myatt still out with the facial injury sustained at St Mark’s in the game just before Christmas, Michael Webster still on the long-term injury list and illness preventing either Hugo Lopes Pereira de Carvalho or Curt Banks being included in the squad, Head Coach Chris Smith had to be inventive with his selection.  He was pleased to be able to include David Kerr, Chris Rae and Scott Dargo, all of whom had been out with injury for some time, in a re-shaped squad, with the likes of Greg Wilson and Michael Connor playing in unfamiliar roles and Brian Anderson making his first start up front alongside Chris Donnelly.  Rae was on the bench along with recently-returned Ryan Stevenson and goalkeeper Craig Saunders.

Watt started brightly, linking well in midfield, but were unable to create good scoring opportunities against a well-drilled home defence.  Craigroyston had little possession in the opening stages, but looked dangerous when going forward and showed good movement in and around the box, particularly Craig Dickson, who opened the scoring in the thirteenth minute, turning in a ball played diagonally across the Watt penalty area.

Watt overcame this setback and gradually began to find little openings.  Just after the half-hour, Jamie Forsyth came on to a ball half-cleared by the Craigie defence, but although he tried to get round it, his approach was too square to the direction of the ball for him to keep down his shot on the turn.

Scott Dargo, settling in to the game after his lay-off, was beginning to show enterprise on the right flank and after linking with Michael Connor, he ran on for the return, but Connor’s delicately-flighted chip was headed behind by a home defender.  Andy Forbes got his head to the subsequent corner, but was unable to direct the ball into goal and the home defence was able to clear.

Five minutes from the half-time interval, Watt fell further behind.  It was one of those situations when you get the feeling it is going to end badly, as Dargo seemed to have played the ball out off the shins of a Craigroyston player, but the throw went Craigie’s way and when the ball was played in again from the right side of the penalty area, another well-timed run enabled Scott Ritchie to flick it past Jordan Millar’s right hand and in at the post.

This was a little hard on Watt, who had seen plenty of the ball, but Craigroyston’s forward craft is fundamental to the success the club has enjoyed this season and the clever runs of Dickson, Ritchie and Nicky Rendall have caught out defences more used to playing together than this makeshift Watt unit.

The Watt had further efforts on goal before half-time:  David Thomson came on to a clearance and although he kept his shot just under bar-height, a slight slice took it just past the post.  Then Dargo’s fine cross found the head of Donnelly on the run, but his close-range header also slipped past, to his immense frustration.  Finally, Neil Laurenson slipped the ball home at the end of an excellent passing move, but the flag was raised for offside.

Early in the second half came the three-minute spell that decided the direction the match would take.  Donnelly started it, harassing the home defence into an error and driving forward sidestepping challenges.  Deep in the penalty area, he was clipped as he prepared to shoot.  Donnelly grabbed the ball to complete the job from the spot, but his kick was feeble and ill-directed.  Stuart Burnside had little difficulty in moving to his right and stopping the ball.

There may have been a suspicion that Donnelly had gone to ground a little easily, but it was nothing to the absolute certainty when Ritchie sought the turf a couple of minutes later with Dargo in attendance.  When the referee blew his whistle and gave no indication why, the players stood around wondering what was to happen next and most must have expected a yellow card to be produced, but when Mr Newman sidled diffidently towards the penalty spot, the amazement in the ground was palpable.  Ritchie showed no diffidence, however, smashing the ball into the corner of the net to put his side three ahead.

Such was the disarray in Watt ranks at this calamity that Craigroyston added a fourth within a minute, Dickson exploiting a huge gap on the left side of the Watt defence to run on to a through ball and drive home a fierce shot of great accuracy beyond the fingers of Millar and just inside the far post.

From seeming to be back in the match, Watt was suddenly four down and facing a hiding.  Two minutes later, it almost got worse as the Watt defence, still in tatters, was caught out again.  Millar advanced only to be beaten to the ball, which was lofted over his head, but fortunately Connor had been alive to the situation and made it back just in time to divert the ball behind before it could roll into goal.

This escape seemed to give the Watt players the resolution they needed to mount a response.  Laurenson exploited another lapse in the home defence and went on a superb, mazy run which took him past several defenders and up to the advancing Burnside, but his right-foot shot went to the wrong side of the post.  Then, after another good move involving Connor and Dargo, Brian Anderson sent in a shot on the turn that found the side net.

Perhaps the best move of all featured another penetrating run by Donnelly, who bored into the box and found Anderson, whose first-time lay-off enabled Thomson to get in a shot on the run, but Burnside made a marvellous save, going down to his left to throw out an arm and block the ball.

Rae and Stevenson replaced Connor and Thomson, but Watt began to run out of steam in the last quarter of an hour and when a fifth goal was conceded, it was all too easy for Craigroyston.  Substitute Steven McCormack was left all on his own in the middle of the penalty area to head past the helpless Millar.

It looked as if the Watt was fated not to score when for a second time the assistant’s flag was raised to deny a goal, Donnelly having turned the ball in after another good save by Burnside from a Jamie Forsyth header, but with a minute left on the clock, the fates suddenly changed end and the visitors were awarded a spurious penalty when Donnelly tried to find Anderson and the ball struck the arm of Liam Jack.  There was no intention involved, but that didn’t stop the referee awarding the penalty and booking the defender.

Unless something is done to stop the rapidly-increasing tendency for referees to penalise players whenever the ball strikes any part of their arm, no matter how hard it is played towards them or the distance from which it is struck, football will have adopted hockey-style rules and players will be aiming for a hand whenever they get near to the penalty box.  No wonder so many defenders try to hide their arms behind their backs nowadays – how “natural” a position is that?  Forsyth had been penalised in similar circumstances earlier, but as the “offence” was just outside the penalty area, he did not receive a caution for something he hadn’t made any attempt to do – unlike the unfortunate Jack, who was punished for something entirely involuntary.  Referees must realise it is impossible to defend properly with one’s arms behind one’s back and an attempt to do so will be unsuccessful – Watt’s single-goal loss to Stirling University at Riccarton provides a fine example.  So common is this practice nowadays, however, that it just has to be based on a directive by the football authorities.  That said, no other referee we have seen anywhere has applied this misinterpretation of the rules with the severity we saw from Mr Newman.

All of this, of course, was of no immediate moment to Donnelly, who this time drove the ball into the corner of the net to give Watt some consolation.

It is difficult to be cheerful when you’ve shipped five goals and Head Coach Chris Smith was disconsolate after the game, but perhaps reflection has lent a new perspective.  Chris did his level best with the materials he had available, but this was a visit to a confident, high-flying side in good form and one which had well beaten the Watt in the last game each side had played.  There was a lot of good play and endeavour from the Watt side, but an unfamiliar defence including two players who have been out of action for some time and one playing out of position was caught out from time to time by clever, experienced forwards and towards the end of the game showed signs of tiredness and strain.  No great surprise there, and no disgrace either.  Next week, against Coldstream, the Watt will have a fuller squad from which to choose and more options on the bench.

Craigroyston:

Burnside, Young, Hogarth, Barbirou, Jack, Greenhill, Dunn (McCormack 68), Hendrie, Ritchie, Dickson (Boggie 80), Rendall.  Subs. not used:  Lynch, Inglis.

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Dargo, Wilson, Kerr, Forbes, Forsyth, Connor (R Stevenson 68), Thomson (Rae 68), Anderson, Donnelly, Laurenson.    Sub. not used:  Saunders

Referee: Mr Chris Newman (Linlithgow)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 20:  Saturday 21st December 2013

East of Scotland Qualifying League – Group C:  Craigroyston  3   Heriot-Watt University  0

A somewhat experimental Watt side travelled to St Mark’s Park for the fourth meeting of these sides during the current season.  Three of the Watt’s successful Under-21 team were included in the First Team squad for the first time, with Steven Wright starting in midfield, Calum Milne in attack and Cameron Stevenson taking a place on the bench.  Ryan Stevenson, back in Edinburgh for the holidays, helped out his old mates by filling the right wing-back slot in a 3 – 5 – 2 formation aimed at using the attacking capabilities of Stevenson and of Neil Laurenson on the left side.  Under-21 coach Banji Koya donned a Watt strip for the first time in over a year and was joined on the bench by Head Coach Chris Smith and goalkeeper Jordan Millar.

Watt settled well into the game and in the early stages played some attractive football, but Craigie did look dangerous going forward and seemed able to get behind the visiting defence with alarming ease.  With ten minutes on the clock John Dunn laid the ball into the path of Craig Dickson, but his shot from the edge of the area passed wide of Craig Saunders’ right-hand post.

A good run by Jamie Forsyth into space on the left was well picked out by the pass of David Myatt, but Milne was just unable to turn Forsyth’s low cross in at the near post and Stuart Burnside bundled the ball behind.

Dunn then broke through and brought a marvellous triple save from Saunders.  The first two blocks sent the ball back to Dunn, but when the third shot came in, the ‘keeper dived to turn the ball round the post.

Steven Wright’s shot from twenty metres was comfortably gathered by Burnside and in their next foray forward, the home side took the lead, Mark Hendrie having the simplest of tasks to tap in a low centre from the left.

Scott Ritchie, a powerful figure for Craigroyston, then let fly with a drive from twenty-five metres that rattled off the junction of post and bar, following which Saunders had to deal with a series of corners swung in on top of him.  When the third came in, Chris Donnelly cleared the danger.

A second goal arrived in the thirty-fifth minute and in many ways set the pattern for what was to follow.  Dickson sped down the left pursued by Forsyth and when he reached the penalty area, cut in front of the Watt man and went down.  There had undoubtedly been contact, although there didn’t seem to have been a challenge, but a penalty was awarded and Hendrie drove the ball into the corner of the net.

The only other incident of note in the first half was an aerial challenge in which Myatt and Dickson clashed heads and were injured.  Dickson was able to resume after treatment, but Myatt joined the Watt’s growing injury list, having sustained a broken nose.

Cameron Stevenson replaced Myatt for the start of the second half, with Watt changing to a 4 – 2 – 4 pattern.  On the hour, Craigie’s propensity to claim for anything in the penalty box was rewarded again when Andy Forbes was astounded to be penalised for a tackle in which he won the ball and his opponent used the available leg to go to ground.  Some justice was done when Dunn drove the spot kick wide, although the caution issued to Forbes was regrettable.

A third goal was not long delayed, however.  Curt Banks, attempting to clear a cross from the left, got the connection wrong and the ball went back towards his own goal.  A Craigroyston foot played it across goal and although the first attempt was blocked, the ball rebounded to Nicky Rendall, who evaded Mikey Connor’s attempt to close him down and drove a low shot into the middle of the goal.

Watt’s best chance to get something on the scoreboard came five minutes after this when a good move on the left, with Milne and Forsyth involved, produced a chance for Donnelly around the penalty spot, but he rushed his shot a little and sent the ball wide of the goal.

Another decent move a few minutes later saw a Milne cross from the right headed behind.  The corner was played in low for the run of Forsyth, but when his shot was blocked, Cammy Stevenson’s hurried effort from the edge of the box was well wide.  The same player had a much better effort a few minutes after that, from much further out, sending a half-volley from over forty metres over Burnside but just wide of the target.

Koya replaced Milne for the last thirteen minutes and it was good to see the affable Bejay up front for the Watt again.

David Jeffrey made a long run through the middle of the park and as the Watt defence backed off, tried a shot from a similar distance to that of Stevenson a few minutes earlier, but Saunders calmly plucked the ball out of the air.

Following a Watt corner which got complicated, Forbes tried to make a shooting chance and the ball ran to Banks on the edge of the area, but his first-time effort went over the bar by a metre.

Referee Mr Hanlon had shown common sense and good judgment in his dealings with players, speaking to them as necessary, but Forsyth left him little option with a blatant foul and was duly cautioned.

With a couple of minutes left, Dickson almost put the seal on a fine performance when he danced through the Watt defence and from around ten metres out, clipped a shot against the post.  Connor had the last effort on goal with a chip on which direction was perfect but elevation just a little too much.

 

Craigroyston:

Burnside, Jeffrey, Hogarth, Barbirou, Jack, Greenhill, Dunn, Rendall (Macintosh 74), Ritchie, Dickson, Hendrie.  Subs. not used:  Young, McCormack.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, R Stevenson, Laurenson, Myatt (C Stevenson 45), Banks, Forbes, Forsyth, Connor, Milne (Koya 77), Donnelly, Wright.    Subs. not used:  Smith, Millar.

 

Referee: Mr Paul Hanlon (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 19:  Saturday 14th December 2013

East of Scotland Qualifying League – Group C:  Heriot-Watt University  1   Hibernian  1

On a day of atrocious weather at Riccarton, Watt restored some pride after its early-season pounding by Hibs with a battling draw in which, despite the conditions, there was much good football to admire.

The first half was a pretty even affair, with both defences generally keeping their assailants at arm’s length.  Henrik Dahle came close to making contact with a dangerous low centre from the left early on, then Craig Saunders was in good position to hold a snap shot from twenty metres, but in the last ten minutes before the break that the Hibs front line began to break through.

Lewis Allan fired in a shot from just inside the penalty area which was deflected behind by Curt Banks, then Taylor Hendry headed home, but was some yards offside.  The goal which the visitors had been threatening came five minutes from half-time when Allan chased a ball down the right wing.  Saunders advanced to close down the space, but when Banks began to close on the striker, the ‘keeper decided to retreat.  Allan chose his moment perfectly as Saunders’ balance was disrupted and clipped the ball past him to roll gently in at the far post.

Two minutes after half-time, the Watt restored parity when Cam Dunn’s free kick evaded the jumpers in the penalty area, deceived Kleton Perntreou and nestled in the corner of the net.

For much of the remainder of the game, Watt was content to hit on the break, but the pace with which these attacks were mounted and the support given by midfield players gave grounds for some optimism.  Watt came close with the last move of the game, when David Myatt broke through the middle towards Henrik Dahle’s pass, but Perntreou came out quickly and bravely to dive at Myatt’s feet and prevent the Watt man from stabbing the ball home.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Wilson, Laurenson, Banks, Forbes, Thomson (Myatt 70), Lopes Pereira de Carvalho, Forsyth, Dahle, Helgason (Blake 74), Dunn.  Sub. not used:  Connor.

Hibernian:  Perntreou, Dunsmore, Martyniuk, Horribine, Gardiner, Wilson, Mullen, Sinclair (Martin 67), Allan, Hendry (Todd 59), Beaton (Smith 74).    Subs. not used:  Horne, Doyle.

Referee: Mr Alan McFadyen (Coatbridge)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 18:  Saturday 7th December 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Heriot-Watt University  0   Stirling University II  1

More frustration was heaped upon the Watt as they went down to a Stirling University side which leads the Premier Division, but which spent most of the afternoon on the defensive.  Stirling managed to grab the points in one of its few attempts on goal in the game and Watt’s Head Coach Chris Smith must now be considering how to increase the number of goal opportunities his side is creating.  The Watt team played some excellent possession football in this game, but perhaps a somewhat more direct approach will be required to rack up the points needed for Premier Division safety.

In the early part of this match, Watt retained the ball for much of the time, but the first real threat came from Stirling.  Blair McWhirter, perhaps his side’s best performer on the day, got to the by-line on the right but his cutback failed to connect with a team-mate and the Watt was able to clear.

Cam Dunn was looking lively and inventive on the Watt left and supplied a number of crosses, but some were deeper than the strikers wanted and it was left to Hugo Lopes Pereira de Carvalho to contest the ball and try to find the front men.

McWhirter again showed his ability with a quick turn and shot from twenty-five metres, but Craig Saunders moved his feet well to get down and turn the ball round the post.

A long kick by the goalkeeper gave Lopes a chance when Högni Helgason headed on to him, but having taken the ball to the edge of the area and turned on to his right foot, Lopes was unable to get enough loft in his shot to get the ball over Jake Fifer.  The visiting goalkeeper was in action later, when a sustained period of home pressure ended with a good save by Fifer, who dived to his right to push away Helgason’s drive.

In the last few seconds of the first half, Watt fell behind.  When Steven Forbes confronted Greg Wilson, the Watt right-back was worried about a cross striking his arm and he put his hands behind his back.  Forbes made a dart for the line and by the time Wilson had changed his posture and got into his running, Forbes was past him and working his way inside.  Watt had plenty of defenders back, but when the ball was played into the six-yard box, Dani Polvara was able to stroke it home without challenge.

Watt gradually increased the tempo in the second half and seemed for a time to be building up a good head of steam, but the Stirling defence coped well.  In one thrust on the right, the ball came inside on the edge of the penalty area and Jamie Forsyth came in at pace for a strike, but Ben Cuff got in a strong challenge at some personal cost just at the critical moment.

Chris Donnelly, back from his sojourn in the Highland League and signed just in time to play in this match, came on to replace Lopes Pereira de Carvalho and might have made an immediate impact when the ball dropped to him on the edge of the area, but it was a difficult volley and he pulled it wide.   A minute later came Watt’s closest thing yet, as after a sustained and determined attack the ball reached Forsyth, who caught it well from inside the penalty area in a central position.  Fifer spread himself as best he could and was successful as the ball struck him and rebounded to safety.

Donnelly was feeling the weight of expectation on his shoulders too keenly and after a caution for a reckless tackle on Jack May, he was given a second booking near the end of the game for a high challenge which arrived slightly late and gave him first use of the showers.

Heriot-Watt University: Saunders, Wilson (Myatt 74), Laurenson, Banks, Forbes, Lopes Pereira de Carvalho (Donnelly 68), Connor, Helgason, Dahle (Anderson 74), Dunn. All substitutes used.

Stirling University: Fifer, Hughes, McCue, Glendinning, Jacobs, Cuff, McWhirter, Harrop (Reilly 67), Polvara (Sutcliffe 59), May, Forbes (Wilson 88). Subs. not used: Smith, Mitchell.

Referee: Mr Billy Cooper (Glenrothes)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 17:  Saturday 30th November 2013

SFA South Region Challenge Cup, Second Round:  Heriot-Watt University  3   Craigroyston    1

Watt have perhaps been lacking a turn of fortune from time to time this season – or perhaps those who say you make your own luck have something and the side just hasn’t been playing positively enough – but in this game, the scores may have been evened up a bit.

Not that Watt didn’t deserve the win – even the visitors, who felt hard done-by on the day, would probably admit in the cold light of day that the Watt was the better side in this game – but key incidents did go for the Riccarton side in a way which hasn’t happened much lately.  A win is a win, but home supporters were left wishing this victory over high-flying Craigie had been a league match.  Cup success is welcome, but we need the league points right now.

Watt started well enough in the game, Högni Helgason’s header in quarter of an hour testing Stuart Addison, who went full-length to touch the ball round the post, but fell behind after twenty minutes’ play.  Craigroyston had attacked on the left side, but when the ball was switched to the right, there was an alarming lack of cover and Mark Hendrie was given all the time he needed to wander into the box, sidestep a challenge and fire in a shot which Jordan Millar was able to touch but not stop.

Millar was called upon again two minutes later, standing up well as John Dunn advanced into the box and making a good save diving to his right.  Hendrie might have made it two a couple of minutes after that when he found space between the Watt’s central defenders but when he appeared to be clear for a run-in against Millar, he unaccountably turned, lost his way and ultimately lost the ball.

Mikey Connor gave Watt a boost with a run on the right, exchanging passes with colleagues before releasing a shot from around twenty metres, but Addison was in good position to catch.  Watt’s next attack brought the scores level, however, as the ball was played in from the right corner and Henrik Dahle headed it on for Helgason to place a precise header inside the near post.

The home side was in the ascendancy now and Cam Dunn sent in a drive from distance which took Addison two attempts to save.  Then, just on half-time, Watt got their noses in front in a controversial way.  The ball was played forward towards Helgason and he jumped with David Jeffrey behind him.  Few of the spectators expected the referee’s whistle, but he blew, awarded a penalty to the Watt and cautioned Jeffrey.  Watt Head Coach Chris Smith had a good view – a much better one than your correspondent, who was the length of the ground away – and was adamant that Helgason was being held down and the award was a correct one.  Connor did not join in the debate, confining himself to despatching the ball accurately into the corner of the net.

The second half started rather quietly, but ten minutes in, Craigie might have begun to sense that it was not to be their day as the Watt goal had a remarkable escape.  Dunn drove into the box on the left and fired the ball in towards the danger area.  Millar dived and turned the ball away to the other side, where it was recovered by the attacking side.  Andy Forbes threw himself in the way of the next shot and when the ball was driven in for a third time, Greg Wilson was perfectly placed to head off the line.  Good defending, it is fair to say, but the visitors must have been surprised not to equalise.

Four minutes later, Craigie found themselves further behind and once again it was from the penalty spot.  And once again, the visitors were enraged by the decision.  However, although the infringement may have been obscure to many onlookers, on this occasion the decision merely gave Watt an opportunity to fail to score.  Following a corner, the ball had been played at the near post and had then continued across goal, where Forbes had been in position to hook it into goal.  A moment before he did so, the referee blew for the penalty, but there is no doubt that it would have been a goal in any case.  Connor once again settled the matter, driving the ball into the opposite corner from the one in which he had placed his previous kick.

The last half-hour was generally comfortable for Watt and the closest thing to another goal came when Lotfi Barbirou played the ball past Addison and the goalkeeper had to run back to retrieve it a foot from the goal-line.

The teams will meet three more times this season: in the Qualifying League, the King Cup and the reverse league fixture.

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Wilson, Laurenson, Banks (Forsyth 66), Forbes, Thomson, Lopes Pereira de Carvalho, Connor, Dahle, Helgason, Dunn.  Subs. not used:  Blake, Cennerazzo.

Craigroyston:

Addison, Young, Hogarth, Barbirou, Jeffrey, Greenhill, Dunn, McCormack (Macintosh 79), Lynch (Ritchie 77), Dickson, Hendrie.    Subs. not used:  Rendall, Manson.

Referee:  Mr Iain McIntyre (Livingston)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 16:  Saturday 16th November 2013

Image Printers’ East of Scotland Qualifying Cup, Second Round:  Heriot-Watt University  1   Leith Athletic  2  (after extra time)

This was the second time these sides had met this season and again the scores were even after ninety minutes – but this time at 1 – 1, not 4 – 4.  There was never any danger of the goal fest that had taken place on the Meadowbank synthetic.

The first half was rather dull, in fact, but such chances as were created were generally the product of the visitors’ endeavour and it was fitting that they led by at the interval.  The goal that separated the sides had arrived in the twenty-eighth minute when Chris Barrie ran on to a diagonal pass to slide the ball just firmly enough past the advancing Jordan Millar.

A shot by Kenneth Hall was well saved by Millar and Lewis Tracey’s effort just cleared the bar before Neil Laurenson’s free kick gave the Watt encouragement close to half-time, Iain Gordon making an unorthodox save.

Watt looked livelier at the start of the second half, with David Thomson combining well with Henrik Dahle, but with quarter of an hour to play there was still no sign of an equaliser and Millar had to excel again, touching a shot from Euan Campbell over the bar.

Högni Helgason’s well-executed drag back, turn and drive was the closest the Watt had come at that point, but Gordon dived to his right to turn the ball round the post.  Andy Forbes kept Watt in the game with a fine tackle on lively substitute Lewis Martin and with two minutes remaining, the Watt grabbed an equaliser when Hugo Lopes Pereira de Carvalho pounced on a loose ball, steadied himself and from twenty-five metres drilled a great shot into the corner of the net.

Six minutes into extra time, Martin again caused a problem on the left and when the ball arrived at the feet of Campbell in a central area, he was again the scourge of the Watt, finding space to slam the ball home for a goal to add to the three he scored in the previous meeting of the sides.

Towards the end of the game, brilliant work by Michael Webster almost took the game to penalties, but having played a flick from Helgason into the box and got a foot to the ball ahead of Gordon, he watched as the ball rolled agonisingly across goal and just past the post.

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Wilson (Cennerazzo 86), Laurenson, Banks, Forbes, Myatt, Thomson (Dargo 76), Connor, Helgason, Dahle (Webster 70), Lopes Pereira de Carvalho.   Sub. not used:  Saunders.

Leith Athletic:

Gordon, Hogg (Simpson 81), Hall, Black, Leslie, Burns, Barrie (Cairns 90), Lauder, Campbell, Mason (Martin 71).   Subs. not used:  Lynch, Tainsh.

Referee: Mr Michael Gill (East Wemyss)
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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 15:  Saturday 9th November 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Heriot-Watt University  0   Spartans II  0

Given the way they had crumbled in the second half the previous week against Tynecastle and the fact that Spartans had won the reverse fixture with a degree of comfort just a fortnight earlier, this was a decent point for Watt, though not the season’s most exciting match.

There were few chances created by either side in a first half of midfield endeavour, although Neil Laurenson’s shot following a corner just after the half-hour looked as if it might trouble the goalkeeper before taking a deflection behind.  David Myatt had an attempt on goal after this, but was really too far out to try a shot with the inside of the foot.  As Watt continued to push forward, David Thomson was the next to have a shot deflected for a corner.

Spartans responded with a shot from a central position which brought a fine save from Jordan Millar before good work by Mikey Connor created two chances in a minute just before the half-time whistle.  For the first, he dragged the ball through a tackle and improvised a shot from the edge of the area that had the visiting goalkeeper struggling to get near it, but which slipped just past the post.  Then Connor’s good work and flicked pass gave Högni Helgason an opportunity from the edge of the box.  His shot on the turn was the closest of the day, clipping the post on its way past.

Ten minutes into the second half, Laurenson laid the ball wide for Hugo Lopes Pereira de Carvalho, but his shot was another to be deflected behind.

On the hour, Spartans missed the most clear-cut chance of the game when Reece Gordon played the ball inside.  When it reached Dave Gordon, he leant back and shot over from close range.

Spartans’ tall winger headed into the side net as the Ainslie Park side stepped up a gear, but Watt resisted and had another close thing as the match entered its last twenty minutes.  A Connor free kick, played in firmly, was scooped up by the Spartans ‘keeper.  Helgason got on to the ball and played it across goal.  Andy Forbes had a go at it and eventually Scott Dargo tried a half-volley from a tight angle, striking the ball well but watching it flick off the frame of the goal and go past.

Michael Webster then found Dargo on the right.  Helgason ran in to connect with the cross but the goalkeeper was able to knock it away and catch it just inside the area.

There was a nasty moment for Spartans when a passback went straight past the goalkeeper as he advanced and slipped inches past the post.  From the corner, Connor played the ball back to Laurenson, who came in at pace and sent in a tremendous first-time drive which the goalkeeper parried over the bar.

Connor was on hand to clear from the goal-line when a header was glanced across the Watt goalmouth following a corner but that was nothing to the drama in stoppage time when Millar was unable to hold a cross and the ball came to Lee Zavaroni around the penalty spot.  He struck it firmly past the goalkeeper, only to see Forbes play a real captain’s role, watching the ball calmly and moving across the line to head clear and save a point for the Watt.

Heriot-Watt University:  Millar, Wilson, Laurenson, Banks, Forbes, Myatt, Thomson (Dargo 68), Connor, Helgason, Dahle (Webster 68), Lopes Pereira de Carvalho.  Subs. not used:  Napier, Dunn, Saunders.

Referee: Mr Keith Maskell (Star)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 14:  Saturday 2nd November 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Heriot-Watt University  3   Tynecastle  4

This was the sort of match that leaves you wondering why you bother.  Three goals up at half-time, Watt had a disastrous second half in which the prospect of a great three points vanished and the team finished with nothing at all except a bitter taste in the mouth.

It had all started so well – Watt, shooting down the slope towards the pavilion, had started in lively fashion, with Jamie Forsyth making a good early run into the box and being unlucky to have the ball rebound off the goalkeeper and touch him before going behind.

Tynecastle responded with a good move on the left which brought a fine save from Jordan Millar before the rebound was fired wide, but a minute later, Watt went ahead.  Mikey Connor fired in an accurate free kick from twenty-five metres and when Tynecastle ‘keeper Cadger was unable to hold the ball, Andy Forbes was on hand to turn it across goal from the tightest of angles and squeeze it in at the far post.

Twelve minutes later, the same double-act made it two for the homesters, Forbes this time making a run across the box to apply an expert touch to Connor’s flighted free kick, steering his shot in close to the post once more.

This was better than Watt supporters could have dared to hope for, but after Millar preserved the lead with another quality save, Forbes came close to notching his hat-trick following yet another Connor free kick.  This time, Cadger punched the ball straight at the onrushing Forbes, but he was unable to adjust quickly enough to get a foot to the ball and it went harmlessly past.

As half-time approached, however, Watt did add a third.  Henrik Dahle drove into the right-hand side of the box and released a shot which Cadger saved to his right, but Watt kept the move alive and when the ball was played back into the danger area, Dahle knocked it past Cadger, who took out the striker for a penalty.  Connor made a competent job of despatching the kick and Watt went into the break in fine shape.

Ten minutes into the second half, that all began to change through a penalty award which, in the words of the late Ian Archer, describing a similar injustice, was “not so much dubious as spurious”.  The unexpectedness of the decision was demonstrated by the fact that when the referee blew his whistle, the players on both sides looked to him to see what was the matter.  Tynie officials were frank enough to admit later that the referee was the only one who thought it was a penalty, but as he was the man who mattered, a penalty it was.

Mr McWilliam, who is a very personable and likeable man, was in charge of his first ever East of Scotland match and had no guide to the respective positions of the teams involved.  It may be that he thought the game was sufficiently one-sided that the award wouldn’t matter much.  It is certainly difficult to believe he would have made the same decision had the scores been level.  He may not have realised that with the Watt second-bottom of the table and Tynecastle second-top, the score at that stage in the game was startlingly good from the home point of view.

It came about like this:  Tynecastle had gained a corner on the left and when the ball came across, it fell amongst the feet.  The visitors’ centre-back was up for the corner and he got on to the ball, then turned and went down.  The referee was positioned on the edge of the six-yard box on the side from which the corner had been taken and the incident was a good fifteen yards away across a crowded penalty box.  The two nearest Watt players to the incident appeared almost completely static.  There seemed no reason for the player to have gone to ground at all.  Then we heard the referee’s whistle, sounding almost apologetic.

Ousman See tucked away the penalty and from that moment the game changed utterly.  Watt couldn’t seem to get the injustice out of their minds, but Tynecastle was mightily encouraged and began to dominate, committing more players to attack and, having evidently decided there were penalties to be had from the referee, making use of available legs when inside the box.

Ten minutes after the penalty, a soft free kick given against Scott Dargo enabled Tynie to play the ball into the penalty area and See rose with little challenge to head the ball off his shoulder just inside the post to Millar’s left.

Watt’s last chance to restore some control and secure the points came with a decent move on the right.  Connor played in Ronnie Napier, who shot first-time.  Cadger blocked with his foot and Connor, cutting inside, fired the rebound towards goal, but by this time recovering defenders had closed in and the ball was cleared.

Three minutes later, the equaliser which had seemed inevitable arrived.  Another free kick was headed in off the underside of the bar.  There were still seventeen minutes to play and few of the spectators can have expected the Watt to last out for a point.

In the event, there were only five minutes to go when the winning goal came.  It came from another mischance, Curt Banks slipping and falling as he went to clear a cross, leaving See to gather the ball and, to give credit where it is due, strike an excellent shot from the edge of the area into the corner of the net past Millar’s left hand.

There was still time for Jamie Forsyth to put the finishing touches on a galling occasion for the Watt by picking up a booking in stoppage time, thereby gaining a suspension.

And so it was left to Tynecastle to describe a great comeback, which from the visitors’ point of view it was.  Tynecastle has some previous form in this respect and it was pointed out before the game that much of its success is founded on the recognition that a match lasts for ninety minutes and you don’t give up while there is still time left to play.  Watt is the latest victim of this determination and application.  But it is still hard to believe this game would have been lost had it not been for the referee’s apparent vote of sympathy for the team which was trailing at the time.

Heriot-Watt University:  Millar, Wilson, Laurenson, Banks, Forbes, Myatt (Thomson 79), Forsyth, Connor, Dahle (Dunn 82), Helgason (Napier 45), Lopes Pereira de Carvalho.  Subs. not used:  Dargo, Saunders.

Tynecastle:  Cadger, Scott, Fee, Ferguson, McCarthy, Hawkins (Swanson 61), Brown, Turnbull (Russell 79), See, Muir, Devlin (Gilmour 89).    Subs. not used:  Costello, Matthews.

Referee: Mr Andy McWilliam (Glasgow)
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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 13:  Friday 25th October 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Spartans II  2   Heriot-Watt University  0

This Friday evening game under the Ainslie Park side showed the Watt’s developing side to be no match for a smart young Spartans team marshalled in defence by the experienced Danny O’Donnell.

Spartans started at a fast pace, playing rapid pass-and-move football which made the Watt midfield look pedestrian.  With eleven minutes played, the home side went ahead when Ian Ballantyne went past Curt Banks and worked his way in along the by-line before cutting the ball back for Paul Roberts to fire calmly past the right hand of Jason Millar.

Lucasz Rusin, who was showing a lot of flair in a free role in the Spartans midfield, fired just over from twenty metres midway through the half as the home side continued to press for openings, but soon the Watt was doing some attacking of its own and Högni Helgason won a corner from which only the close attentions of O’Donnell prevented Jamie Hume getting a header on target from the centre of the goalmouth.

A fine pass by Andy Forbes picked out David Thomson on the left and he gathered superbly to go past Keith Boyes and work in along the by-line.  Whether it was that no forward made a decent angle for the cut-back or Thomson delayed a little too long was unclear, but when the cutback came, a Spartans foot played it behind, possibly off the post.

Watt was well in the match now and a further corner from Mikey Connor was tailor-made for the run of Forbes; but, meeting the ball at pace in the near-post area, the centre-back was unable to keep his header below the bar.

Another good move involving Connor on the left ended with Greg Wilson trying a shot from twenty metres, but it was blocked before travelling far and it was easy for Murray Jackson to collect.

Watt had gradually begun to establish a foothold in the game, but a minute later, the home side scored again.  This time, there was something of a sense of injustice, as Thomson, trying to work the ball away on the left, was accosted by two opponents and appeared to be fouled, but the referee, who had a good game overall, did not judge the challenges illegal and allowed play to continue.  Watt was exposed on the left side and when the ball was played through to David Stewart, he finished expertly, cutting inside to fire a left-foot shot across Millar into the top corner.

The Watt fought back to try to reduce the arrears before half-time and Carlo Cennerazzo’s cross was swept towards goal by Helgason, Jamie Forsyth almost managing to get a foot to the ball before it was collected by the advancing Jackson.  Then a driven right-foot cross from the left wing by Thomson found the head of Helgason, but unfortunately for Watt, the header found Jackson in good position again.

Finally, the closest call of all came two minutes from the break, when Connor’s free kick was headed back across goal by Banks.  Helgason’s athletic attempt to hook the ball towards goal failed to connect, but the ball continued on its way and shaved the post to Jackson’s right on its way past.

Spartans started the second half with renewed energy and a run from the back by O’Donnell opened the door for the dangerous Roberts to send in a shot from the edge of the area, but Millar had his angles right and dived to his right to turn the ball round the post.

The home side continued to press and from another corner, Hume did particularly well to challenge O’Donnell in the air and get his head in the way of the Spartans man’s header.

Watt weathered the early storms and responded to create a great chance.  Cennerazzo picked up the ball on the right, worked his way inside and laid it back for Forsyth to shoot from close range, but the Watt youngster leant back and drove the ball over the bar.

Roberts threatened again, taking the ball on his chest and turning to send in a dipping shot from twenty metres, almost catching out Millar, who had strayed a little off his line.

For Watt, Cameron Dunn, who had replaced Cennerazzo with Thomson moving inside, began brightly, getting past Boyes and being stopped by a pull on his shirt.  This set up the closest thing of the game for Watt, as Connor’s flighted ball to the near-post area was finessed by the head of Forbes towards goal.  Jackson blocked the ball and it fell at the feet of Hume, who from no distance to speak of bundled the ball against the post.  The rebound struck the goalkeeper and a defender on the line, but did not fall again to a Watt foot and the home defence smuggled it clear.

David Myatt was cautioned for bringing down a player on the run through midfield for the second time in the game and was withdrawn to be replaced by Ashley Blake, but the game rather petered out towards its end, with few chances created by either side.

 

Spartans II:  Jackson, Boyes, Cochrane, O’Donnell, Armstrong, Laird, Stewart, Rusin, Roberts, Cunningham, Ballantyne (Pyda 83).    Subs. not used:  Gray, McMillan, Ghamgosar, Brown.

 

Heriot-Watt University:  Millar, Banks, Wilson, Hume, Forbes, Myatt (Blake 71), Forsyth, Connor, Helgason, Cennerazzo (Dunn 59), Thomson (Napier 85).   Subs. not used:  Laurenson, Saunders.

 

Referee: Mr Paul Crosbie (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 12:  Saturday 19th October 2013

East of Scotland Qualifying League, Section C:  Burntisland Shipyard  1   Heriot-Watt University  3

There were another three debutants in the Watt line-up for this first-ever visit to Recreation Park on East of Scotland business.  Greg Wilson started in defence, replacing Scott Dargo, injured in the last match against Leith Athletic; Hugo Lopes Pereira de Carvalho appeared on the left side of midfield after himself overcoming an injury; and Ashley Blake partnered Högni Helgason in attack.

Watt almost scored in the opening minute.  Jamie Forsyth sped down the right and sent a low cross across the face of goal.  Blake stretched forward but just failed to make contact.

With seven minutes played, Watt did take the lead.  Helgason challenged a defender as he tried to clear a bouncing ball and the ball looped up perfectly to go over the head of goalkeeper Jordan Mushet and drop under the bar.

Watt sought to build on this break, pushing forward at every opportunity, but the Shippy side was also lively and spirited, with left-back Peter Bell a particular talent.

Curt Banks came close to shocking Mushet when he feinted to the left and turned to send in a tremendous drive from a standing position around forty metres from goal.  The ball clipped the bar as it passed over.

A silly incident between Grant Blyth and Jordan Millar caused the atmosphere to deteriorate and the challenges became teethier.  Millar got his angles right to save a shot from Lee Henderson.

Helgason had two opportunities in quick succession with only Mushet to beat, but the goalkeeper stood up well to make the save on the first occasion and on the second, Helgason got the ball past the goalkeeper but it slipped past the post.

Four minutes into the second half, Mushet brought out a fine save to deny Andy Forbes from Mikey Connor’s corner.  Lopes Pereira de Carvalho made a good run on the left, showing useful pace, but carried the ball too close to Mushet, who blocked his shot.

Eleven minutes into the second half, the Watt scored a second goal.  Blake held up a ball played down the right, then turned it inside where Helgason shook it free for David Myatt to send in a drive.  Mushet saved well, but the rebound fell to Lopes Pereira de Carvalho, who fired home from a tight angle.

Burntisland substitute Kevin Masson did well to hold off Forbes and find the net, but was ruled offside.  With around half an hour to play, former Watt favourite Brendan Napier came into the fray to replace Henderson and shortly after that, Carlo Cennerazzo came on for Blake.

Napier made an immediate impact, supplying a stream of dangerous corners and crosses.  Blair Smart might have done better when he headed down a Napier free-kick but directed the ball past the post.

Millar saved at his near post at the expense of a corner when Napier went down the right and drilled the ball in to the near-post area and Shipyard gained a succession of corners as the Watt defence struggled to clear.  The visitors’ defence held firm, however, and with three minutes left scored a clinching goal.  Fergal Doherty had come on to replace Myatt two minutes earlier and he surged on to Cennerazzo’s pass on the right side of the penalty box.  Mushet got a touch on his shot, but it was firmly struck and held its line into the far corner of the goal.

A good pass by Helgason picked out Cennerazzo’s run a minute later and the striker’s first-time shot fizzed just past the junction of bar and post.  Cennerazzo returned the favour a couple of minutes later, his enthusiasm releasing the ball for Helgason on the edge of the box, but again the shot was slightly off-target.

Shippy weren’t finished yet, however, and deep into stoppage time, Bell ran on to a return pass on the left side of the Watt box.  His shot took a slight wick off the boot of Banks and this was enough to take it over Millar’s head into goal and spoil Watt’s clean sheet.

 

Burntisland Shipyard:

Mushet, Bridges, Bell, Smart, MacDonald, Crombie (McKay 79), Blyth, Lowe, Sartarello (Masson 43), Robertson, Henderson (Napier 62).    Subs. not used:   Clark, Morrison.

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Banks, Wilson, Hume, Forbes, Myatt, Forsyth, Connor, Blake (Cennerazzo 74), Helgason, Lopez Pereira de Carvalho.    Subs. not used:  O’Hagan, Saunders.

Referee: Mr Chris Carrick (Kirkcaldy)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 11:  Saturday 12th October 2013

East of Scotland Qualifying League, Section C:  Leith Athletic  4   Heriot-Watt University  4

This was an amazing game on the Meadowbank synthetic.  Right from the start, it had ‘goals’ written all over it and goals did arrive at regular intervals throughout.

Watt almost had one in the fourth minute when Carlo Cennerazzo, making his first start in attack, chased a badly-directed backpass which went past goalkeeper Jamie Newman, but there was just too much pace on the ball and although Cennerazzo did catch it before it crossed the by-line, the best he was able to do was to clip it against the post and Leith managed to scramble it clear.

The Watt had started the game at a fast pace and took a deserved lead after ten minutes with a fine goal.  Following a throw on the left, Cennerazzo slipped the ball to Michael Webster as he cut inside.  Webster sent a well-judged shot across Newman into the postage-stamp corner.

David Myatt’s well-weighted pass sent Cennerazzo away into the box, but where a first-time shot might have been the thing, he took a touch, allowing the Leith defence to get in a challenge and concede the corner.

After being on the receiving end for the first fifteen minutes, Athletic began to show some attacking intent and the dangerous Euan Campbell drove in a shot from around twenty-five metres which Jason Millar dived to his right to touch round the post.

Five minutes later, Leith equalised.  A cross to the left side of the box resulted in Jamie Forsyth and Chris Wright tangled up on the ground.  The ball fell to Kenneth Hall and as the Watt defence hesitated, he sent in a cross which was swept into the net from the edge of the six-yard box by Lewis Martin.

Eight minutes later, it got worse for Watt.  Forsyth, just inside the penalty area,  miscontrolled the ball and when it bounced up and struck him around the top of his arm, the referee awarded a penalty.  Millar got a hand to Campbell’s kick but was unable to keep it out of goal.

A bad foul on Scott Dargo left him in some difficulty, although he was eventually able to continue.  The game had changed now and Watt had lost the ascendancy.  Forsyth’s tracking back was vital as he got in a good tackle on Hall, who had ventured forward as a move built up on the right.

Millar made a rash run from his box to try to clear a ball played down the Leith left, but Wright was able to take the ball past him and work his way along the by-line, but Andy Forbes stood his ground at the near post and blocked the ball away for a corner.

A minute before half-time, a corner from the right taken with a bit of pace was met full tilt by Curt Banks, who looked on in disbelief as the ball was somehow diverted behind.

Two minutes after the restart, the Watt found themselves two goals down when Campbell’s shot from the edge of the box squirmed under Millar’s arms into the corner of the net.  Straight from the kick-off, Webster went on a determined run, cutting in along the line of the penalty area, but he shinned his shot well over the top.

A good ball by Dargo gave Cennerazzo a chance, but his shot was blocked and Webster was unable to get in a second effort.  Cam Dunn’s free kick then found the Banks beyond the far post, but he made a poor contact and his header went tamely past.

Two minutes later and twelve minutes into the second period, the Watt fight-back was under way.  Gary Black was always ahead of Forsyth to reach Myatt’s ball down the right, but when the Leith defender passed the ball back to Newman, Forsyth kept running and when the goalkeeper tried to sidestep him, Forsyth got in a solid tackle which carried the ball directly into goal.

Two minutes later, it was all square with another excellent goal.  Dunn cut inside from the left and laid the ball in front of the advancing Myatt, who struck a shot of controlled power and great accuracy into the top corner to the right of Newman.

Watt were flying now and when Dargo won a corner on the right, Mikey Connor found Forsyth, whose cross was backheeled towards goal by Banks.  Webster cut across and seemed to take the ball away from Myatt as he made to shoot.  Then, after Högni Helgason had come on to replace Cennerazzo, Forbes’s huge clearing header from a corner set Watt scampering forward again, but Dunn failed to find Webster as he charged through the middle in space.

Helgason shot just wide from Forsyth’s pass, but soon the Watt scored again, taking the lead for the first time since the first time.  Dunn’s corner from the left found Forbes unaccountably unmarked and he ran forward to crash a header into the net.

Ronnie Napier replaced Webster as the game became almost unbelievably loose.  Leith came close when a corner struck Wright on the thigh and almost went in, then, after Dargo succumbed to his earlier injury and was replaced for his debut by Jack O’Hagan, another dangerous corner by Dunn was met with another formidable header by Banks, only for Newman to bring off an unbelievable save low by his left-hand post.  Following the corner, Forbes hooked a shot over his shoulder and Dunn shot wide from the follow-up.

Helgason, Napier and Dunn combined to attack a thinning Leith defence, but perhaps there were too many options and the wrong one was chosen.  Then, with two minutes of normal time left, the influential Campbell did it again, cutting in from the left and firing in a shot reminiscent of Webster’s early goal to give a symmetrical appearance to the scoring.

Even after this, there were further chances as three minutes of stoppage time were played.  Myatt made a run to the edge of the area and Napier’s shot from a tight angle was blocked away.  Campbell played in Martin, who tried to clip a shot over Millar and didn’t miss by much.  Finally, Dunn and Napier combined, but Dunn’s centre had too much pace to connect with the run of Helgason.

 

Leith Athletic:

Newman, Simpson, Hall (Tainsh 89), Black, Leslie, Lynch (Barrie 57), Martin, Cairns (Boggie 75), Wright, Mason, Campbell.    Sub. not used:  Tracey.

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Dargo (O’Hagan 78), Laurenson, Banks, Forbes, Myatt, Forsyth, Connor, Cennerazzo (Helgason 66), Webster (Napier 73), Dunn.  Sub. not used:  Saunders, .

Referee: Mr Gary Hilland (Glasgow)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 10:  Saturday 5th October 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Heriot-Watt University  3   Civil Service Strollers  2

Watt made it two 3 – 2 wins in a row in the Premier Division with another late show to snatch all three points against the Strollers.

To achieve this, Watt had to come from behind twice.   Michael Dick opened the scoring for Civil Service before a David Thomson penalty brought things level.  Then, after Liam Jack had put the visitors back in front, Curt Banks’s cross was turned into his own goal by a defender to make it all square again.  In the last minute, Högni Helgason grabbed the winner to take Watt on to six points and away from the foot of the table.

 

Heriot-Watt University:    Saunders, Banks (Napier 83), Laurenson, McDonald, Forbes, Thomson, Myatt (Connor 75),  Rae (Dunn 40), Forsyth, Helgason, Webster.   Subs. not used:  Doherty, Cennerazzo.

Civil Service Strollers (squad):    Jack, Lister, Raeburn, Salton, Ford, Newall, Dick, Jack, Moprice, Burns, Bryce, Raeburn, Fenwick, Gibson, Inglis, Stewart.

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 9:  Saturday 28th September 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Heriot-Watt University  3   Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale  2

Watt went into this game against a team fancied by many to win the championship with a league record of played 3, lost 3 and the inevitable necessity to bring in new players to replace those unavailable through injury or other reasons.  This time young defender Fraser McDonald made his first appearance and on the left side of midfield, Cam Dunn started for the first time after his impressive showing at Stirling a fortnight earlier.

There was an early warning as the visitors’ centre-back, John Williams, advanced to strike a powerful drive from distance which carried just over the bar, but it was the Watt who took the lead with just seven minutes played.  David Thomson gathered on the right and exchanged passes with Högni Helgason before playing the ball across the area for Jamie Forsyth to slide home.

Only another seven minutes elapsed before it was back to level terms.  A good pass into the box found Sean Wringe, who was slow to secure the ball and a challenge took the ball to the Watt right, with Craig Saunders drawn well out of his goal.  A slack pass gave possession to Calum Connolly and all he had to do was to make sure he avoided Saunders as he rushed back to try to guard the goal.

The visitors were in the ascendancy for the rest of the first half, with a shot from Ross Elliot coming close before a great tackle by Andy Forbes thwarted Willis Hare.  Seven minutes before half-time, the goal which had been threatening arrived when Wringe rounded McDonald near the corner flag and took the ball in along the by-line before cutting back to make a shooting angle and tucking the ball behind Saunders.

Watt responded with a good move involving Jamie Forsyth, David Thomson and Craig Dargo, with Dargo’s shot being saved by Kevin Swain down at his near post, but soon the visiting side was applying the pressure again and it was Dargo who made a goal-saving intervention after Wringe had taken the ball past Saunders.

Ewan Henderson replaced Dunn at the start of the second half and soon began to make an impression with strong running into wide areas.  His first charge down the right took him into the area, but he took the ball too close to Swain, although the rebound from the goalkeeper almost fell for Helgason.

Ten minutes into the second period, a rejuvenated Watt equalised from the penalty spot after Thomson was felled by Dale Horribine.  Henderson grabbed the ball and made a fine job of the kick, firing high past Swain.

Suddenly Watt looked the more likely side and a good ball by Forsyth picked out Henderson, in space again on the right.  Helgason went in at the near post to meet the low centre, but just missed the target.

Although the Watt was now on top, Lothian continued to show a threat in possession and when a free kick was conceded twenty metres from goal, Elliot got the ball round the wall to force a splendid save from Saunders, diving to his left to turn the ball round the post.

When Watt resumed the offensive, Henderson had a great chance gifted to him by a misplaced pass which let him go into the box with only Swain to beat, but his shot was struck straight at the goalkeeper.

Saunders made an even more impressive save than his earlier one when Craig Stevenson hammered in a shot from the edge of the area and the Watt ’keeper showed lightning-fast reactions to touch the ball over the bar.  With the match on a knife-edge, it was a very important contribution and paved the way for Watt to snatch victory.

Thomson’s excellent corner from the left gave Chris Rae the next opportunity and from beyond the far post, Rae rose to get in a powerful header, but the ball shot back across goal and past the post.

With just two minutes of regulation time left to play, Andy Forbes took things into his own hands.  Reading a pass in the centre circle early, Forbes strode forward, won the ball cleanly and made off at high speed straight through the startled visitors’ defence, which had pushed up and become compressed.  Within seconds, Forbes was past the lot and bearing down on Swain.  He shaped to curl the ball past the goalie’s left hand, then swept it past his right into the corner of the net.  A fantastic goal and one which will live long in the memories of all Watt people who saw it.

There were fully five minutes of stoppage time to endure, but Watt was not seriously threatened until the last gasp, when a free kick from the Thistle left found the head of Connolly, but to the immense relief of the home side, the ball carried over the bar.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, McDonald, Forbes, Rae, Thomson, Myatt, Helgason, Forsyth, Dunn (Henderson 45).  Subs. not used:  Robb, Doherty, Cennerazzo.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:

Swain, Horribine, Crawford, Wilkes, Williams, Elliot, Macdonald (Milligan 53), Connolly, Stevenson, Wringe (McDonaugh 76), Hare (Ferguson 60).  Subs. not used:  Irvine, Rooney.

Referee: Mr Keith Maskell (Star)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 8:  Saturday 21st September 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Tynecastle  2   Heriot-Watt University  0

Watt added another to its collection of frustrating visits to Fernieside as despite monumental effort, the team failed to click on the day and Tynecastle gathered the points.

The home side opened the scoring with just seven minutes on the clock, Matt Costello rising to head a corner back across goal and just inside the post, giving Craig Saunders no chance.

Watt toiled away throughout the remainder of the half without finding much fluency and were eventually reduced to long-range efforts, with both David Myatt and Michael Webster trying shots from too great a distance.

Early in the second half, Saunders was called upon to keep the score to one, saving with his feet from Tynecastle’s left winger.  David Thomson, on in place of Webster, was given a chance to shoot by a fine pass by Michael Connor, but his effort was partially blocked and spun over the bar on to the roof of the net.

Just after this, with fifteen minutes left to play, Tynecastle claimed a second and clinching goal when a long cross was missed by the Tynecastle forwards and deflected off Scott Dargo just inside the post.

Late on, Saunders made another good save, touching a chip shot over the bar.

Watt finished on the offensive; a great ball down the wing by Neil Laurenson was moved on by Ewan Henderson to Thomson, whose shot was well saved by the goalkeeper, who touched it round the post.  Laurenson reprised the pass a minute later and this time Henderson was tripped.  The free-kick was headed behind by a defender and from the corner Connor crossed for the head of Andy Forbes, but he was under too much pressure to find the target.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, Hume, Forbes, Connor, Forsyth, Myatt, Helgason (Robb 78), Rae (Henderson 69), Webster (Thomson 56).  Sub. not used:  Doherty.

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 7:  Saturday 14th September 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Stirling University II  2   Heriot-Watt University  1

Another Saturday, another defeat by another university side – but there was real frustration afterwards that Watt had failed to take something from this game against a team that has now gone to the top of the Premier Division.

With David Kerr having suffered a stress fracture of the right foot, there was another new partner for Andy Forbes in central defence, but Jamie Hume, who had done so well as a substitute right-back at Peffermill the previous Saturday, stepped in to the role and again gave a good account of himself.  Scott Dargo, another who impressed in a substitute role when he had appeared against Craigroyston two weeks ago, was at right-back for his first start of the season and also played well.

With a team featuring some of the new recruits for this season “headhunted” from league clubs on both sides of the border, including Khan Williams-Mitchell, brought in from AFC Wimbledon, who impressed so much in the Alex Jack Cup tie at Riccarton three weeks ago, Stirling started impressively with a game full of slick passing and good movement.  The Watt side worked hard to contain the sharp work of the Stirling midfield, in which Gary Crooks and former Partick Thistle man Scott Tully were prominent, as well as Williams-Mitchell.

Stirling’s tall, mobile striker Elliot Sutcliffe was a hard man to pin down and showed his danger early on with a shot on the turn from twenty metres which Craig Saunders dived to his right to save, but half-way through the first half, it was Sutcliffe who made the breakthrough.  Williams-Mitchell, another tall player, got between two Watt defenders to reach a dangerous far-post cross from the left and head the ball back across goal.  Sutcliffe didn’t make a good contact with his shot and it deflected off a defender, deceiving Saunders, who was on his way down to his left when the ball straightened and went over him into the middle of the goal.

Four minutes later, a second goal arrived.  The Watt midfield was slow to react to a quickly-taken free-kick and Williams-Mitchell was allowed to run straight through the middle.  When he got to twenty metres out and found the Watt defence still backing off, he simply fired a low shot just inside the post to the right of Saunders.

This was a very dispiriting goal to lose, but Watt battled back well.  A foul on Ewan Henderson near the right touchline gave Michael Connor the chance to play the ball in to the danger area and he sent in a fine free kick which Henderson just failed to reach.  Then Chris Rae went on a driving run through the middle of the pitch and found Neil Laurenson on the overlap on the wide left.  Laurenson’s cross reached Henderson near the back post, but when he headed back across goal, Michael Webster could only glance the ball with his head at full stretch and goalkeeper Dane Smith was able to gather.

Webster, in his first outing of the season, was beginning to make his presence felt and a couple of trademark runs off the left wing reminded us of his talent.  At the end of one such run, he found Henderson on the left and his pass made its way across to Jamie Forsyth on the opposite wing.  As Forsyth cut inside, however, the Stirling defence closed in and the danger was snuffed out.

Although the Watt had enjoyed an excellent quarter of an hour at the end of the half, the last action might have sealed the result, another deep cross from the left finding Sutcliffe lurking at the far post, but the big man headed just over.

Watt resumed with renewed purpose and a determined run on the left by David Myatt enabled him to link with Webster, who got away a shot which Smith blocked behind.

Cameron Dunn replaced Webster for the last half-hour and his trickery and pace were immediately troubling for the Stirling rearguard.  In the sixty-eighth minute he outflanked the home defence and cut the ball back for Connor on the edge of the box.  He played it across to Forsyth, who, as defenders closed in, had just enough time to place an accurate side-foot shot into the corner of goal to the right of Smith.

Watt was back in the hunt now and dominated the remainder of the game against a home side which could hardly wait for the final whistle.  The closest Watt came to claiming what would have been a deserved share of the spoils came with a minute left to play.  David Thomson, who had earlier replaced Connor in midfield, sent in a cross from the right and the ball made its way out to the left side, where Dunn, from a tight angle, smashed in a first-time half-volley which thumped against the post and rebounded into play.

Watt continued to press forward until the end and when Laurenson sent in a cross from the left it was defender Forbes who was in the penalty box to throw himself forward in a desperate attempt to head an equaliser.

A frustrating game but surely an indication of better things to come as the Watt squad builds.

Stirling University II:  Smith, Parish, Sheridan, Glendinning, Cuff, May, Tully (Wilson 71), Crooks, Sutcliffe, Williams-Mitchell (Sub 63), Jacobs (McCue 45).    Subs. not used:  Polvara, Tierney.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, Hume, Forbes, Connor (Thomson 71), Forsyth, Rae, Henderson, Myatt (Robb 90), Webster (Dunn 58).  Sub. not used:  Green.

Referee: Mr Chris Phillips (Kirkcaldy)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 6:  Saturday 7th September 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Edinburgh University  2   Heriot-Watt University  1

There were more changes to the Watt squad for the trip to the east of the city to meet our student rivals from Edinburgh University.  David Thomson made his first appearance in East of Scotland football and two Under-19 players, Jamie Hume and Olly Holt, were amongst the substitutes.

The home side made most of the early running, with Stuart Macfarlane showing good deternination to get past Neil Laurenson and swing in a cross which was headed narrowly over by Stefan Ross.  Edinburgh centre-half Hamish Flett sustained a head knock and had to be replaced by Graeme Armstrong when the bleeding could not be stopped satisfactorily, but a couple of minutes later, the Peffermill faithful were celebrating when their team went ahead.  Watt goalkeeper Craig Saunders misjudged the strength of a cross from Paul Sutherland and after coming to collect, found he could only get his fingertips to the ball, which fell at the feet of Calum Frain to knock into the vacant goal.

Another flowing Edinburgh move brought a shooting opportunity to George Nikalaidis, but his attempt was well off target.  On the half-hour, there was another opportunity for the home team to get a cross into the area and Jack Guthrie got in a close-range header, but Saunders got his hands up in an instant and David Kerr moved quickly to block the follow-up shot.

Watt had a chance for an equaliser when Tim Rawlinson fouled Ryan Stevenson, giving Michael Connor the chance to play an inventive free kick low to the near post, where Andy Forbes turned to chip the ball to the far side of goal to the waiting Ewan Henderson, but the big fellow had no forward momentum as he rose for the header and it went tamely off his head and past.

Two minutes from half-time, a clash of heads between Macfarlane and Laurenson left the Edinburgh man grounded, but Laurenson was the one with his head covered in blood.  After a stoppage for this situation to be dealt with, Watt concentration was perhaps lacking as Guthrie drove hard down the right, surviving tackles by both Watt central defenders, to get in a cross.  Frain, coming in from the left, met the ball at speed and Chris Rae did very well to track the ball and head it over.  Unfortunately for the Watt, the corner kick made its way through a crowded area to Ross, who turned it into the net from close range.

Early in the second half, Saunders came to Watt’s rescue, diving to his left to turn away a free kick by Vince Coleman.  Edinburgh goalkeeper Liam Valentine was soon called into action too, rushing from his goal to block the ball behind when Henderson got past the left side of the Edinburgh defence and reached the by-line.

Jamie Hume became the Watt’s second debutant on the day when he replaced Neil Robb in the fiftieth minute and his excellent cross set up a chance for Jamie Forsyth, but the Watt midfielder headed the ball so firmly downwards that it bounced up over Valentine and the home custodian had to backpedal to touch it over the bar.

Watt continued the pressure, however, with Forsyth turning on Mark Hamill’s centre to fire in a left-foot snap shot from the edge of the area only to see Valentine dive to his left to save; then, when Forsyth’s run down the left was halted by a foul by Armstrong, Connor delivered a penetrating cross into the home penalty box.  An Edinburgh foot played the ball away towards the edge of the area, but Forbes was first to reach it and he drove it with conclusive force into the postage-stamp corner.

The Watt pressed forward, desperately seeking an equalising goal, but Saunders had to be alert, firstly to deny home substitute Kohei Habata when he advanced quickly on to a through pass, then to block from Armstrong after he got behind the Watt defence.

The last chance came for the visitors when a good cross from Laurenson was dropped by Valentine.  Forsyth was on hand to turn the ball towards goal, but he found an Edinburgh defender in position to block with his thighs a yard from the goal line.

This was another hard one to take for the Watt, who remain at the bottom of the Premier Division table.  There were several noteworthy performances – Mikey Connor, who is maturing with every game into a better midfielder, was calm in possession and passed the ball consistently well; Neil Laurenson shrugged off his head wound to make a quality contribution; Jamie Forsyth battled hard and got himself into striking positions; Chris Rae made many telling challenges and took every opportunity to press forward; Craig Saunders, despite his unfortunate misjudgment for the first goal, was resolute and stood up well to form a barrier to the ambitions of Edinburgh forwards; Andy Forbes was as reliable and committed as ever, as well as weighing in with a memorable goal; young Jamie Hume showed in his relatively brief time on the pitch that he has what it takes to make a substantial contribution.  So onward and upward to Stirling next week in a quest for the points which will kick-start the Watt’s season.

Edinburgh University:  Valentine, Macfarlane, Sutherland, Murray, Flett (Armstrong 12), Coleman (Habata 64), Ross, Rawlinson, Guthrie, Nikolaidis, Frain.    Subs. not used:  Oswald, Patterson, Thomson.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Rae, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Connor, Robb (Hume 49), Forsyth, Henderson, Thomson (Hamill 55), Stevenson (Green 85).  Subs. not used:  Heraghty, Holt.

Referee: Mr John Weir (Denny) 

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 5:  Saturday 31st August 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Heriot-Watt University  1   Craigroyston  3

Watt entertained Craigroyston for the second time in the infant season and the result was exactly the same as it had been in the first meeting.  Never mind, there will be four more opportunities during the course of this campaign, with the sides paired in the King Cup and South Region Challenge Cup as well as in the Qualifying League.

For the first time since the opening match against Burntisland Shipyard, Watt actually took the lead in this game.  When Mikey Connor’s corner was played back to him, he played it in again to the near post area, where Jamie Forsyth stepped forward to score a goal curiously reminiscent of Andy Forbes’s counter against Craigroyston in the previous game between these teams at Riccarton a couple of weeks earlier.

Watt, buoyed by this goal, pressed forward and Neil Laurenson’s teasing cross eluded David Myatt only for goalkeeper Stuart Burnside to flatten him as he leaped to punch the ball for a corner.

Craigroyston looked quick and capable in attack but the Watt defence looked secure and was dealing well with the visitors’ thrusts until the thirty-fourth minute, when Forbes was judged late in a challenge in the area and James Guy fired home the penalty.

Scott Dargo came into the action for the first time this season when he replaced Neil Robb on the hour mark and almost immediately made an impact, working hard to dispossess Liam Young and send in a fine cross which gave a good opportunity to Ewan Henderson.  Curiously, the tall striker was only able to head the ball up and out towards the edge of the box, from where it was prodded forward by Mark Hamill.  Henderson got another touch on the ball on the way through, but it then came off Burnside and went behind.  The referee’s award of a goal kick was unexpected, but was not thought too serious; however, Craigie went straight up the field and took the lead, Guy’s trickery creating the chance to play the ball in to the near post where Stewart Adams headed it in.

Craigroyston maintained the ascendancy for some time after this and added a clinching goal twelve minutes later.  A deep cross from the left reached Craig Dickson well beyond the far post and his precise header went back across goal and in at the post.

David Kerr’s good block on Dickson’s shot prevented Craigie adding to the lead before Dargo’s drive was well saved by Burnside diving to his right.

In the final minute, David Myatt, who had been cautioned earlier, volunteered for first use of the showers by barging over an opponent who was making a run through midfield.

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Rae, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Connor (Sutherland 82), Robb (Dargo 59), Myatt, Henderson, Forsyth, Hamill (Stevenson 70).  Subs. not used:  Doherty, Smith

Craigroyston:

Burnside, Young, Hogarth, Campbell, Jeffrey, Greenhill, Dunn, Hendrie (McCormack 6), Adams, Dickson, Guy (Rendall 82).  Subs. not used:  Barbirou, McWilliams, Addison.

Referee: Mr Jim McCunnie (Bothwell)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 4:  Saturday 24th August 2013

Alex Jack Cup, First Round:  Heriot-Watt University  0   Stirling University  4

After the previous week’s chasing by Hibernian, a tie against Stirling University’s Lowland League side could not be considered good news for the Watt and fears of another pounding were raised as the home side went two goals down within thirteen minutes of the start.   As in the Watt’s previous home game the Saturday before, the first goal came from an error by goalkeeper Craig Saunders, who came to catch a cross but could only parry the ball and as it fell at the feet of Stirling danger man Liam Corr, the striker swept it home.

Corr was on the mark again four minutes later, weaving a mazy path through the home defence off the right side and stabbing the ball past Saunders from the edge of the six-yard box.

Watt fought back with Jamie Forsyth winning a corner, following which he got in a shot from the edge of the area, but when this was blocked, Stirling broke quickly and Andy Forbes had to be alert to cut out a pass intended for Corr.

The visitors’ right-winger Darren Walker had been called for several offsides and it was perhaps inevitable that he would escape the trap at some stage.  When he did, Corr had the opportunity to complete a quick-fire hat-trick, but when Walker’s cross came in, he headed over from good position.

Ronnie Napier had a good effort from distance after a period of spirited home play, but Dane Smith gathered the shot comfortably enough.  Soon Stirling resumed the attack and Forbes had to be vigilant again to foil Paul Sludden, then to tackle Walker in the act of shooting.  Despite these heroics, a third Stirling goal arrived a minute from half-time, Corr shooting home once again.

Saunders made a splendid save from George Leigh early in the second half, diving full length to turn the ball round the post as Stirling, with Khan Williams-Mitchell in full control in midfield, turned the screw on the harassed home defence.

Another shot by Napier might have brought joy for the Watt, but it was deflected for a corner.  Mikey Connor’s kick to the far post was headed goalwards by Forbes but Smith collected.

Leigh threatened again with a volley following a corner on the Stirling right, but Saunders and Mark Hamill combined to block on the line before Saunders did well again, blocking with his legs after Williams-Mitchell’s penetrating run had carried him into the danger area.  The increasingly-busy Watt ‘keeper was there again a few minutes later to touch Sludden’s shot round the post, but he was beaten in the seventy-fourth minute, despite saving Walker’s shot, when Leigh was on hand to finish the job.

It may simply have been that Stirling, their place in the next round of the Alex Jack Cup secure, began to relax at this point, but several of the best efforts in the remaining quarter of an hour came from the home side.  Forbes went for a hitch-kick from Connor’s free kick and saw his attempt deflected over the bar; from the resultant corner-kick, Neil Laurenson’s shot was blocked and a few minutes later, substitute Martin Green shot just over the bar.

The final effort, however, came from Sludden, who struck a tremendous drive from around thirty metres which rebounded from the top of the bar and cleared the fence behind.

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Rae, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Myatt (Green 75), Robb (Henderson 60), Napier,  Forsyth, Connor, Hamill.  Subs. not used:  Doherty, Smith

Stirling University:

Smith, McWhirter, McCue (Sheridan 56), Glendenning, Cuff, Williams-Mitchell (Crooks 74), Walker, Leigh, Sludden, Corr (Sutcliffe 60), Mitchell.  Subs. not used:  Hughes, Tierney

Referee: Mr Michael Gill

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 3:  Saturday 17th August 2013

East of Scotland Qualifying League – Section C:  Hibernian  8   Heriot-Watt University  0

This was the match in which Watt’s player problems caught up with them with a vengeance as the side suffered its worst defeat in more than a decade against a fit, skilful Hibs professional youth side.

Not only has the Watt squad been patchy in the early part of the season, but even amongst those who have been involved, availability has not been universal and for this difficult match, two key defenders, Neil Laurenson and David Kerr, were absent.  Michael Heraghty stepped in for his first appearance of the season at left back, with Martin Green making his first start for the senior side in front of him on the left side of midfield.  On the right side, Fergal Doherty retained his place after playing his first game of the season against Craigroyston in the midweek.  Despite having taken little part in pre-season training, Ronnie Napier returned in midfield through force of necessity, the bench being occupied only by the inexperienced Mark Hamill and Elliot Sutherland, alongside Head Coach Chris Smith, who listed himself in case of emergency.

For twenty minutes, Watt held the green machine at bay, playing constructively when the opportunity arose, but then the roof fell in.  Hibernian right-back Aaron Dunsmore, whose marauding runs constantly threatened the Watt defence, fired in a low cross and Doherty, coming in from the right and attempting to clear, got the ball on the wrong part of his boot and fired it firmly into the top corner of the net.

Five minutes later, a cross from Jamie Beaton looked likely to produce a goal, but good defence closed off the far-post chance, only for the ball to be turned across goal again and volleyed fiercely past Craig Saunders by Jason Cummings.

Three minutes after this, Dunsmore sped down the right again.  After he had passed Heraghty, the retreating Green took a swipe at him and fortunately missed.  Dunsmore continued into the area and fired a low shot across Saunders and in at the far post.

A fourth goal in twelve minutes arrived when Max Todd brushed aside the challenge of Doherty and poked the ball under Saunders, then six minutes later it was five when Green’s rash challenge conceded a free kick just outside the penalty box.  Although Saunders was able to push out Jordan Sinclair’s shot, Euan Smith was on hand to lash in the loose ball.

Watt managed to get through to half-time without further concessions and when the second half started, went even longer without mishap, fully half an hour passing without another goal, although this time there were few occasions on which the pressure was relieved for long after a first-minute chance to pull a goal back.  Ewan Henderson chased down goalkeeper Kleton Perntreou, who kicked a clearance against him, but Henderson, having to take the shot from a tight angle whilst the opportunity lasted, was unable to get his effort on target.

The sixth goal, when it came, was the best of the day, Todd cutting in from the right and driving the ball across goal into the top corner.  Watt had hopes of avoiding the score getting any worse, but two goals in a minute from the eighty-second minute of play dashed that ambition.  Firstly, substitute Gareth McCaffrey accepted a through pass to shoot home, then a fine shot from the edge of the box by Tom Gardiner completed the rout.

Saunders had not abandoned his post and was called upon once more, diverting a shot by Cody Mulhall away from goal.

Hibernian:

Perntreou, Dunsmore, Crane, Paul, Wilson, Gardiner, Smith (Mulhall 65), Sinclair (McCaffrey 58), Cummings, Todd, Beaton.  Subs. not used:  Baptie, Martyniuk, Horne.

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Doherty (Sutherland 74), Heraghty, Rae, Forbes, Myatt, Forsyth, Myatt,  Henderson, Connor, Green (Hamill 69).  Sub. not used:  Smith

Referee: Mr Craig Ferguson

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 2:  Tuesday 13th August 2013

East of Scotland Qualifying League – Section C:  Heriot-Watt University  1   Craigroyston  3  

It was bound to have an effect.  The departures of five regulars from the previous season’s First Team squad at the end of last season (Sean Muhsin, Frazer Paterson, Aaron James, Chris Donnelly and Ricky Burke), plus Blair Carswell, who kept goal in about a third of the matches during the season, adding to the losses during the season of Paul Ewing through injury and Simon Ferrie through personal circumstances, had left the Watt player pool threadbare, with the bench again incomplete for this match.  The late departure of Head Coach Michael Renwick to take up an opportunity in the U.S.A. had also meant a change on the bench, Chris Smith stepping up from the Under-21s to take charge.

Watt had got away with it on the Saturday against Burntisland, but the visit of the First Division champions placed too much of a burden and Watt lost out to a smart Craigroyston side.

Stuart Addison, in the Craigie goal, had been forced into a diving save early on when David Myatt pounced on a defensive error to set up Mikey Connor for a solid drive from the edge of the area, but that was as good as it got for the home side and after Mark Hendrie had brought out a similar save from Craig Saunders, the visitors took the lead just after the half-hour.  Saunders was involved here too; he ran off his line to catch a cross, but was going too quickly to make a sound catch and when he dropped the ball, the vigilant Hendrie knocked the ball into the vacant goal.

Saunders prevented Craigroyston doubling their lead a few minutes later, standing up superbly to deny John Dunn.

Ewan Henderson had half a chance just before half-time, but having taken the ball round Michael Somerville, he couldn’t fashion a clear shooting opportunity and his attempted pass to Neil Robb was intercepted.

Two minutes into the second half, Craigroyston added a second goal when David Kerr pulled back Paul Lynch inside the box and Lynch tucked away the penalty.  Eight minutes later, it was three, when Somerville rose at the near post to meet a corner and plant a header firmly behind Saunders.

Henderson had a chance a few minutes later when the ball squirted across the goalmouth in his direction, but he lost his footing.  Craigroyston broke quickly upfield and David Kerr had to get in a good block to deny Dunn.

The Watt finally got on to the scoreboard with twenty minutes left to play and it was defender Andy Forbes who expertly volleyed home on the turn from Connor’s free kick.  The cause had looked forlorn before this, but suddenly the visitors were looking a bit vulnerable.  Chris Rae’s superb through ball gave Henderson the chance to knock the ball over the head of the advancing Addison, but he was unable to turn it into goal before he was closed down by retreating defenders.

Craigie should have made the game safe with five minutes left on the clock, but after one substitute, Andrew Sinclair, cut inside and fired in a powerful shot which Saunders did well to parry, another of the visitors’ replacements, Steven McCormack, somehow knocked the ball over the bar from close range with the goal at his mercy.

The game finished on a sour note for the Watt when Kerr reacted to a poor decision by the referee and was sent off for using abusive language.

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Doherty, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Myatt, Robb (Green 51), Rae, Connor, Henderson, Forsyth (Sutherland 75).  (All subs. used)

Craigroyston:

Addison, Young, Hogarth, Campbell, Somerville, Greenhill, Macintosh, Hendrie (Ritchie 75), Lynch (McCormack 65), Rendall (Sinclair 65), Dunn.  Subs. not used:  Barbirou, McWilliams

Referee: Mr Michael Addy (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 1:  Saturday 10th August 2013

East of Scotland Qualifying League – Section C:  Heriot-Watt University  3   Burntisland Shipyard  0

So far, so good.  As the team from the higher division, Watt would have been expected to see off Burntisland Shipyard on Saturday, but with a much-altered team from last season, the Riccarton side could be well satisfied with three goals and a clean sheet against hard-working opponents who had former Watt favourite Brendan Napier pulling the strings in midfield.

The new-look Heriot-Watt side started the match briskly, with Ewan Henderson doing well to cut in fron the left and link with Jamie Forsyth, but when he laid the ball off to David Myatt, he didn’t get the strike he wanted and Jordan Mushet gathered.

Brendan Napier reminded us of his capabilities, picking up a loose ball in midfield and driving through the middle of the pitch, but his shot was deflected for a corner and Watt kept their goal intact.

With twenty minutes played, the home side took the lead with a fine goal.  A left-wing corner was headed back across goal by Neil Robb and Chris Rae, enjoying the freedom of playing in midfield, threw himself sideways to send a firm, accurate hitchkick past Mushet.  Rae came close to a second from Neil Laurenson’s near-post corner, but the visitors were restricted to sporadic attacks and long-range shots which lacked the accuracy to trouble Craig Saunders.

Early in the second half, Watt went further ahead.  Henderson controlled Laurenson’s free kick and laid the ball back to the edge of the area, where Mikey Connor took one touch to set up the ball and lashed it across Mushet into the far corner.

Watt remained vigilant in defence, with Andy Forbes dominant in the air and David Kerr alert to make a fine tackle to deny Renato Sartarello from a right-wing cutback.

With four minutes to go, Watt sealed the win with a third goal.  Henderson played in Myatt on the left and he cut into the area and slammed a shot off the bar.  The ball rebounded on to the Watt right wing, from where it was turned back to the edge of the penalty box, at which point Rae met it with an accurate left-foot shot past the left hand of the goalkeeper.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Robb, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Myatt, Forsyth (Weir 90), Rae, Henderson, Connor (Green 73), Stevenson (Heraghty 68).

Burntisland Shipyard:  Mushet, Morrison (Bridges 58), Connor, Smart, McKay, Lowe, Doig, Robertson, Sartarello (Bell 64), Napier, Henderson (Fotheringham 78).  Subs. not used:  Clark, Crombie

Referee:  Mr Keith Maskell (Star)

SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 32:  Wednesday 30th April 2014

King Cup:  Second Round 

Heriot-Watt University  2   Preston Athletic  3

Having played the last league game of the season as week and a half earlier with a very thin squad, Watt’s player availability had got even worse by the time this King Cup tie came along.  This time, the opposition was Lowland League side Preston Athletic, which had beaten the Watt 5 – 1 in a South Region Challenge Cup tie two months earlier, so when  the notes for the match handout said that Watt might be happy with a similar result, it was no false modesty.  The previous season had finished with a match against the same opponents and with a squad containing such luminaries as Sean Muhsin, Ricky Burke and Jamie Forsyth, watt had crashed to a 6 – 0 defeat.

The string of players who had already disappeared from the Watt player pool before the Civil Service game on the 19th was added to by the absence for this match of Michael Lynch, Högni Helgason and David Thomson and there was a real concern that the result could be even more humiliating this time.  Watt was thankful to have David Kerr available due to his suspension starting after this match and for the return of Henrik Dahle, but even so Curt Banks played half-fit and did well to last more than an hour before being replaced by Watt’s only substitute, Adam Woolven, a player who had made his first-team debut as a late substitute in the last league game at Muirhouse.  Alex Scott, his team-mate from the Under-19 side, had to play the full match and acquitted himself well, particularly in the first half.

It’s well known that adversity often brings out the best in people and this match was further proof of the point.  After losing a freak early goal, Watt played with a determination which was to the enormous credit of the players and led 2 – 1 from just after half-time until late in the game, but the perverse nature of sport was shown by the fact that although Watt played even better in the second half than they had in the first, with the players working together to produce some fine cohesive moves, and although they faced only ten men for the last twenty minutes, the game turned against them during that period and Athletic won through with a goal three minutes from the end of normal time.

The weather during the day had been very wet and it was no surprise that referee Mr Hogg had considerable reservations about the condition of the pitch before kick-off.  Some emergency remedial work brought a slight improvement and Mr Hogg was persuaded that the game could begin.  It was fortunate that there was no heavy rain during the course of the match, but the surface remained greasy throughout and the ball was wet and slippery, a factor which in the end had a considerable bearing on the outcome.

With just five minutes on the clock, a cross from the Preston left was met on the volley by Michael Osbourne in the middle of the Watt box.  Striking the ball on the volley is a difficult skill and although the striker caught the ball solidly it was heading in the direction of the corner flag until it struck a defender, changed course and shot low past Craig Saunders into goal.

Refusing to be discouraged by this ill-fortune, Watt pressed forward, with Chris Donnelly looking dangerous in attack.  Pouncing on a loose ball, Donnelly drove at the heart of the Preston defence, but slightly overhit the ball and Craig Pennycuick came out bravely to smother.

Preston also looked menacing coming forward, using the full width of the pitch and it took a superb save by Saunders to prevent the visitors adding a second goal.  When Paul Devlin played in Ryan Moore for a shot from the edge of the area, it looked a scorer until the big goalkeeper threw himself upwards to touch the ball over the bar.

Donnelly came close for Watt, driving in a strong shot which passed just over the bar, before Watt was rescued by the Assistant’s flag.  Saunders got down to a low shot but was unable to hold the ball, but when Moore lifted it over him into the goal, he did so from an offside position.

Dale O’Hara was supporting well on the Preston left and he played in a good cross which was headed over by Sean Martin, who would have been disappointed to miss the target.

Just on the half-hour, Watt got back on to level terms.  Scott’s cross to the back post looking for Brian Anderson was headed behind by Mark Cherrie and when the corner came in to the near-post area, Neil Laurenson headed the ball down past Pennycuick and into the net.

Saunders did well to protect his goal shortly after this, sprinting from his line to get a hand to O’Hara’s cross, then following up with another block.  Watt defenders poured in to help out and managed to work the ball away from the danger area.

Just before half-time, Watt had a scare when Saunders was caught in possession by Martin, but once again the vigilant home back line crowded round to help out the ‘keeper and the half ended with scores equal.

In the first minute of the second half, Watt hit the front.  A great run on the right by Chris Rae brought the ball into the Preston box and when the ball broke to Scott Dargo, he finished calmly to become the second Watt player in the game to open his account for the season.

Watt took confidence from the goal and went looking for another.  In a swift counterattack, Dargo played in Dahle, whose first-time shot slipped just past the post, then Andy Forbes played in Laurenson, whose pass for Anderson was played away for a corner.

On the hour, an excellent pass from Laurenson put Dahle away on the left and his centre was steered across goal by Anderson.  Forbes then set up Donnelly for a run in off the right, but his left-foot shot struck a defender.

With twenty minutes left, it appeared Watt might have gained a decisive advantage when Richie Ramsay took exception to a tackle from David Kerr and seemed to swing a punch right in front of the referee, leaving his team a man short when he was sent off.

All seemed set for a famous victory for the Watt, but the match took a sudden turn in Athletic’s favour.  With just fourteen minutes of the ninety left, the ball slithered from the grasp of Saunders as he sought to make a catch at the near post.  Osbourne was first to the loose ball and although Saunders got both hands to his shot, it again squirmed from his grasp and trickled over the line.

Watt continued to look threatening, with a beautiful cross from Laurenson finding the gap between the two visiting central defenders, but Forbes sent his header well wide.  A good cross by Donnelly gave a chance to Anderson, but Pennycuick just managed to get a touch on the ball to take it away for a corner.  Anderson then profited from a slip in the Athletic defence to go through on goal, but his shot failed to beat Pennycuick.  Brilliant work by Forbes almost gave Anderson another one-on-one, but when Forbes slipped the pass through, the striker was just offside.

After all this Watt pressure, Preston went upfield to grab the winner.  A free kick near the home box was touched wide to Kevin Morrison, whose run into the area was covered by Forbes, but the central defender turned back and fired a left-foot shot to the near-post area.  If Saunders had another opportunity in this situation, he would probably opt to turn the ball behind or at least to get it away from the danger area, but again the slippy ball proved Watt’s undoing as the goalkeeper was unable to hold it and it ran loose.  Preston substitute Petar Kakalchev nipped in to collect the ball, swivel and shoot accurately across goal just inside the post.

Watt was not finished yet.  In stoppage time, a sensational run by Donnelly, who left several defenders in his wake, set up a chance for Anderson.  His shot from twenty metres was sweetly struck and Pennycuick was well beaten, but the ball rebounded from the post to the ‘keeper’s right with such velocity that it was past the onrushing Donnelly before he could get a boot to it.

So the match and the season finished in disappointment, but there was nothing but praise in the Watt dressing room for the skill and application shown by the players in this game.  It was very encouraging to see them, to a man, prepared to “play for the jersey” and to battle it out to the last with their higher-rated opponents.

One hesitates to end the season’s reports on a sour note and it is not our policy to be critical of the conduct of our visitors, although it is sad to note that during this season the standard of behaviour both on and off the pitch in the East of Scotland League has undoubtedly declined, with poor sportsmanship and discourtesy becoming increasingly prevalent.  However, it must be said that the Lowland League’s Preston Athletic gave us on this occasion the worst experience of the season.  For a club which aspires to play in the Scottish League and which has already applied twice to that end, it was unexpected.  David Bingham was a superb player, one of the most skilful that Scotland has produced in recent decades, and remains a popular and respected figure within football circles in East Central Scotland, so it was very disappointing to see him at the end of the match confront the referee in the way that so many of his players had done during the game.  Mr Hogg is a tolerant and humane man and a fair referee and there cannot be many officials in the game who would have taken so much direct abuse without producing the red card, or who would have turned a deaf ear to some of the calls from the sidelines.  No doubt Preston was rattled by the prospect of defeat by the team which had finished bottom of the division below them, but we suggest, in a constructive spirit, that the club and its officers must be able to accept defeat, let alone the victory they ultimately achieved in this game, with a better grace than they showed at Riccarton, or the reputation of the club will surely suffer.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Rae, Laurenson, Kerr, Banks (Woolven 68), Donnelly, Dargo, Scott, Anderson, Forbes, Dahle.

Preston Athletic:

Pennycuick, Cherrie, O’Hara, Dodd, Morrison, Ramsay, Stewart, Moore, Martin, Devlin, Osbourne.    Subs. not used:  Bingham, Gilbertson

Referee: Mr Alan Hogg (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 31:  Saturday 19th April 2014

East of Scotland League:  Premier Division  

Civil Service Strollers  3   Heriot-Watt University  1

For the last game of the league season, Watt Head Coach Chris Smith had to use his imagination again, as he had only eleven members of his First Team squad available and had to allocate positions to them.  On the bench were Fergal Doherty, who had played a few East of Scotland games earlier in the season and Adam Woolven, an Under-19 player on his first outing with the top team.

With three central defenders in his eleven, Mr Smith elected to push captain Andy Forbes into central midfield alongside fullback-turned-midfielder Chris Rae.  David Thomson was the left-wing choice, with Chris Donnelly partnering Högni Helgason through the middle.  Wtih Jordan Millar recalled by Hearts from his loan spell, Craig Saunders returned yet again between the sticks.

Watt started brightly enough, Forbes feeding Rae for an early strike from twenty metres and Donnelly a lively presence in attack as usual.  Saunders got down well to save an effort from Chris Tobin.

Donnelly’s pace and trickery was causing problems for the Strollers’ defenders and he was brought down regularly.  From one free kick within striking distance, Thomson fired a dipping shot just over.

Strollers’ forwards were also showing purpose and James Guy drove into the left side of the box, but as Saunders narrowed his angle, he sent the ball across goal and past.

Three minutes before the half-hour, Watt went ahead.  Pressure from Michael Lynch convinced Greg Summer to head behind and Neil Laurenson’s curling corner kick to the far post was tailor-made for Forbes to head down and in.

The lead lasted only nine minutes.  Strollers took their time about the build-up and moved the ball to and fro across the pitch, but eventually Keiron McGachie, a tall, mobile striker on loan from Clyde, engineered a shooting chance on his right foot and lashed the ball high into the corner of the goal.

Straight from the kick-off, Watt created a fine chance, with Scott Dargo combining with Helgason on the right to supply Donnelly, but the striker’s touch was heavy and the opportunity was lost.

In the last minute of the first half, Strollers’ Jordan Bruce side-footed the ball into goal after a sweeping move from right to left, but was given offside, keeping the game all square at the interval.

In all truth, the second half belonged almost entirely to the home side.  Straight from the kick-off at the start of the half, Donnelly’s rampaging run through the centre of the park gave a shooting chance to Laurenson, but on his right foot, the full-back drove the ball against a defender and as it turned out, the Watt had no better chance in the remainder of the match.

Five minutes after the restart, the Strollers went ahead for the first time with Tobin’s simple header from a corner by Jordan Bruce.  Donnelly tried to respond, a good run on the right ending in a low cross which was missed by both Helgason and Thomson, but soon Civil Service resumed the offensive, the dangerous McGachie crossing for Guy, but his header was well off target.

Fergal Doherty, having replaced Lynch, had a chance within seconds of arriving and struck the ball well on the turn, but unfortunately for Watt, a Strollers defender was in the way.

Rae had switched with Dargo and was now playing right-back, which meant that when Craig Newall sped into the Watt box, Rae was the man to pursue him.  When he caught up, Newall was almost at the by-line and posing little danger, but Rae launched himself into a rash challenge and brought down his opponent, conceding a penalty.  McGachie found the net with a low shot to give his side a two-goal cushion.

Woolven, a tall young man with some presence, made his debut with twenty minutes left, but there was little further action of note and Watt was confirmed as the wooden spoon recipient.

 

Civil Service Strollers:

Campbell, Moyes, Devine (Raeburn 85), Summer, Moffat, McWilliams (Pettigrew 80), Guy, Newall, McGachie (McFadden 82), Tobin, Bruce.    Subs. not used:  Wijelath, Dimingo.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, Banks, Kerr, Rae (Woolven 71), Lynch (Doherty 65), Forbes, Donnelly, Helgason, Thomson.    Sub. not used: Smith.

 

Referee: Mr Paul Hanlon (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 30:  Saturday 12th April 2014

East of Scotland League:  Premier Division  

Heriot-Watt University  1  Coldstream  2

Having obtained only draws in their previous two games, against Edinburgh University and Leith Athetic, Watt were at last faced, with two games to go, with a genuine ‘must-win’ scenario.  Both Coldstream and Civil Service Strollers would have to be beaten if the Watt were to have a chance of escaping the bottom two places in the Premier Division table – but as those were the other two sides in sharing the bottom three with Watt, it still didn’t seem impossible.

The harder game looked like the last one, away to improved Strollers, and there may have been a tendency for some to take for granted a home game against a team beaten away from home recently, especially when it became known that Coldstream had severe player availability problems and their three-man bench included veteran Phil Johnson, who has not played regularly for some time.

True, the Watt was also a long way short of its best selection:  not only missing long-term injury victims Jamie Forsyth and Hugo Lopes Pereira de Carvalho, but also, for various reasons, without Chris Rae, Henrik Dahle, regular left-back Neil Laurenson and the inspirational Cam Dunn.  David Myatt, recently reunited with the squad, was only accorded a place on the bench, but David Thomson was somewhat controversially included in the starting line-up after failing to appear in time for the Leith game in midweek.

There was a strong, gusty wind in the east of Scotland on the day and many a game was affected by it.  Riccarton is a bit better protected than some grounds because of the trees on two sides, but the wind still had a profound effect on the game.  Watt had it at their backs in the first half and appeared to be well in control of the game and it was not until after the interval that we realised that much of the dominance shown in the first half was attributable to the conditions.

Having said that, Watt’s old failings in front of goal were all too evident again and had first-half chances been taken, they would surely have gone on to win the game.  Chris Donnelly was once more the first to threaten, his penetrating run in fourteen minutes being curtailed by a foul on the edge of the area.  Michael Connor took the free kick and played it past the wall only to see the ball rebound from the post to the goalkeeper’s left.

Martin Green’s cross to the far post forced Richard Baxendale to head over his own bar and when the corner was played on to Thomson on the right, his whipped cross was just too high for even the spring-heeled Andy Forbes.  Green was again the creator two minutes later when he floated a cross to Donnelly around the penalty spot, but the striker allowed the ball to bounce too far off his chest and Mark Walters managed to smother the ball before Donnelly could poke it past him.

Johnson entered the fray on the half-hour, replacing Kieran Ainslie, who had tweaked a hamstring.  Johnson had no difficulty in playing out the remaining hour with skill and energy.

Watt eventually did make the breakthrough, Green’s free kick from the right being deflected into goal by a defender.  Coldstream came close to an equaliser when a mistake in the Watt defence gave Dean Powling a chance to shoot, but Jordan Millar was in good position to save at his near post.

Green was again the creator for Watt when his fine cross presented Thomson with an excellent chance, but after coming to meet the ball with conviction, Thomson headed up and over the bar.

The final chance of the half came when neat play on the left set up a strike by Connor from twenty metres, but his shot was sliced so comprehensively that Thomson was able to collect on the right wing and play in a cross with which the lunging Donnelly just failed to connect at the far post.

It had been mainly Watt throughout the first half, but there was a shock for the home support on the restart, as an eager and determined Streamers side forced Watt back.  Powling set the tone with an early shot from twenty metres that skimmed the crossbar, before Gary Wales failed to control the ball with an ambitious attempt to take a long cross on the volley.  Conor Devaney shot well over the bar, but it was clear that Coldstream had stepped up the pace and that their players were determined to take every opportunity to test Millar.  A mistake by Curt Banks gave the ball to Wales and he promptly sent a well-judged chip across the Watt ‘keeper, looking for the top corner, but Millar retreated to clasp the ball with equally good judgment.

Still under considerable pressure twenty minutes after half-time, Watt made changes, Brian Anderson and Michael Lynch replacing Green and Calum Milne, but it was Coldstream who continued to make the running and just two minutes later came an equalising goal.  Forbes did excellent work to hold up Devaney on the right and prevent him getting in a cross, but he could have done with some help, as when the ball rebounded, Wales collected, darted to the line and fired the ball low across the goal area.  Powling got the break of the ball in a challenge and was left with a simple finish.

At last, Watt came to life and Thomson won a corner on the left which Connor played firmly across goal, evading Forbes’s attempt to get his head to the ball, leading to a crowd scene at the far post.  The ball was forced towards goal, blocked on the line and forced forward again before being turned back by a defender to Walters, who dived on the ball and grasped it.  The referee was in a very good position to see the action and firmly waved away the Watt ‘passback’ claims.

Watt was in the ascendancy now and a good cross from the right passed Thomson and came to Connor on the left side.  He played the ball inside to Anderson and ran on to take the return, but his side-foot shot from the edge of the area was straight at Walters.

Connor then combined with Donnelly on the left and when the ball was crossed it was played on for Scott Dargo to strike on the run, but control of direction was lacking in the shot.

A concerted attack then resulted in Johnson conceding a corner, but Connor’s near-post kick was headed away by Wales.  Thomson returned the ball to Connor, but the Coldstream defence stood firm to clear the cross.

Greg Wilson made a run through the middle and was picked out by a clever pass by Donnelly, but again Johnson was alert to the danger and got in a tackle before Wilson could shoot.

With seven minutes left to play, the Streamers made what was by this time a rare sally upfield.  Millar comfortably caught Wales’s shot, but his clearance was poor and Connor failed to control it.  Coldstream brought the ball to the right side and in a move eerily reminiscent of their earlier goal, Wales swept the ball across and Devaney clipped it into the corner of the net.

Watt could not recover from this late blow.  With two minutes to go, Connor’s corner curled into the goalmouth and Walters punched away under pressure, but Watt once again could make nothing of the loose ball and now face Civil Service Strollers in their final match, needing a win to avoid propping up the table.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Dargo, Banks (Helgason 81), Kerr, Forbes, Wilson, Thomson, Connor, Milne (Anderson 64), Donnelly, Green (Lynch 64).    Sub. not used: Myatt.

Coldstream:

Walters, Hebdon, Baxendale, Birkett, Ainslie (Johnson 30), Douglas, Wales, McCrudden, Powling, Devaney (McKeown 85), Shearer.    Sub. not used:  Heugh.

 

Referee: Mr Stephen Allan (Bargeddie)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 29:  Tuesday 8th April 2014

East of Scotland League:  Premier Division  

Heriot-Watt University  2   Leith Athletic  2

With three games left in the league programme, Watt’s need for points was becoming acute, but it was a thin squad that took the field against Leith Athletic, themselves not quite clear of the quicksand at the start of play.

Watt started purposefully and with five minutes on the clock, Chris Donnelly tried an inventive lob from wide on the left which only just carried over the goal.  Brian Anderson also had a chance but Iain Gordon advanced to block his shot.

Donnelly was again prominent after twenty minutes, bursting between two defenders to fire in a shot which Gordon did well to parry away to his right.  Anderson retrieved the ball and returned it to Donnelly, but this time he tried to link with a colleague and the pass went astray.

Leith began to dictate play after this.  Robbie Mason turned Neil Laurenson and made ground to the edge of the box, but Jordan Millar got his angles right and dived to his right to save well from Mason’s well-struck shot.  As Watt continued to struggle, Scott Dargo directed a header across his own goal and when Lewis Martin controlled the ball and shot on the turn from close range, Millar again came to the rescue with a superb stop.  Conor Scott was next in the attack and when his shot deflected off a Watt player to land on top of the goal, Scott delivered the corner on to the head of Mark Leslie, whose header gave the goalkeeper no chance of saving.

Watt tried to respond, with Donnelly again the mainspring, battling to win the chance of a left-foot shot which was turned behind.  Michael Connor took the corner short and when the ball was returned to him, sent a cross to the near post in just the right slot for Andy Forbes to flash a firm header for goal, only to see Gordon throw himself to his left to make an unbelievable stop.

Martin Green did well to win a corner on the left as Watt kept up the pressure, but when Connor’s corner was played out to David Kerr on the edge of the area, his powerful shot was a couple of metres wide.

A poor pass gave Martin a chance to extend the visitors’ lead before half-time, but he blazed his shot well over the bar and half-time arrived without further scoring.

Four minutes into the second half, Watt got the equaliser they sought.  Good passing between Michael Lynch and Brian Anderson started the move and when the ball was laid back to Connor, he flighted a precise ball forward into the path of Lynch.  Gordon tried to get there first, but Lynch headed the ball past the goalkeeper and calmly slid it into the vacant goal.

After another four minutes had passed, it got even better for the home side.  The ball broke inside from the left wing and into position for Donnelly, whose twenty-metre drive flashed past Gordon into the roof of the net.

Watt’s lead lasted nine minutes before they were again undone from a corner.  Millar’s attempt to reach the ball was thwarted by heavy traffic in the six-yard box and Martin found himself unchallenged as he placed a downward header into the net.

Watt lived somewhat dangerously for a time after this and another corner, this time from the left, seemed to graze the bar on the way across goal and when it came back to earth, the ball was driven firmly into the side net.

Millar, playing perhaps his best game yet for the Watt, made another superb save low to his left to save a close-range Martin effort and a long-range shot from Mason scraped the bar before Watt showed again in attack, Green linking with substitute Calum Milne to feed Laurenson, whose cross perfectly bisected the Leith central defenders and found the head of Donnelly, but from just inside the penalty area the striker couldn’t generate enough power to trouble Gordon.

When Donnelly made yet another determined run through the Leith midfield and was halted by a challenge for which Mason was cautioned, Connor’s free kick found Forbes on the edge of the area, but when the ball was played out to Donnelly on the right, his cross was cleared by the visitors’ defence.

The point gained from the match keeps Watt’s points total moving, but soon it will need to be victories if there is to be any prospect of an escape from the bottom two in the Division.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Dargo, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Lynch, Donnelly, Myatt (Wilson 74), Anderson (Milne 67), Connor, Green.    Sub. not used: Smith.

Leith Athletic:

Gordon, Simpson, Hall, Black, Leslie, Burns (Barrie 50), Mason, Scott, Martin, Campbell, Tracey.    Subs. not used:  Cairns, Maxwell, Thom, Newman.

 

Referee: Mr David Doig (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 28:  Saturday 29th March 2014

East of Scotland League:  Premier Division  

Heriot-Watt University  0   Edinburgh University  0

Edinburgh started the game in lively fashion, with both wide players giving the Watt defenders their hands full.  In particular, Jack Guthrie, wearing number 11 but playing on the right, was a thorn in Watt’s side and in the first minute he left Neil Laurenson trailing to send in a cutback which was hammered first-time into the side net by Dan Ward.  A couple of minutes later, Guthrie cut inside and let fly on his own account, the ball flashing a couple of yards wide of the post.

On the other wing, Joe Aitken began to threaten, evading Greg Wilson to send  the ball inside for Guthrie and only a tackle by Andy Forbes prevented a shot from a dangerous position.  An accurate chip for the top corner then brought a fine save from Jordan Millar, who landed on top of Guthrie, much to the discomfort of the Edinburgh player.

Millar was in action again a couple of minutes later, diving to prevent a cutback from the line reaching its intended target as the visitors kept up their momentum.

Once Edinburgh’s initial drive had abated, however, a very different picture began to emerge, as it became clear that the visitors’ game plan was based on solid defence and counterattacking play.  For much of the remainder of the match, Edinburgh was happy to allow Watt to have the ball but to ensure with pressing play that it was difficult to create anything positive.  It was five minutes short of half-time before Watt had a goal effort worthy of the name and even that failed to trouble Mark Tait, Michael Connor’s shot from 35 metres bouncing in front of him and enabling him to block with his shins and pick up.  Two minutes later, however, another Connor effort from closer range brought out a fantastic save from the Edinburgh ‘keeper.  A deflection caused a change of direction and Tait twisted in mid-air to stretch to his left and claw the ball away for a corner.

The game did not improve much as a spectacle in the second half.  Edinburgh maintained their defensive tactics but were now seldom troubling the Watt defence on the break and Watt lacked the guile to create much against a team playing in such a manner.  There was a strong claim for a penalty when Brian Anderson appeared to be clipped by Duncan Black when running on to a ball played in from the left, but no award was made.  Högni Helgason’s shot from a tight angle flashed across the face of goal but went past the far post.

The closest we saw to a goal came in a moment of rare quality when a well-flighted Edinburgh free kick found Calum Murray pulling away at the back post to make an unchallenged header.  The ball passed in front of Millar and struck the base of the post to his right before rebounding into the arms of the grateful goalkeeper.  Murray had another chance when Forbes made a rare misjudgment, but the Watt skipper recovered quickly and Curt Banks was on hand to help clear up.

Watt’s best chance of the half came four minutes from the end, when Forbes’s fine pass to Helgason on the right gave the big Icelander the chance to cross to the far post, where Chris Donnelly came in to meet the ball, but he was unable to keep the ball below bar height.

A final moment of anxiety for the home side came when a last-minute corner was sent curling in to the far post area, but Millar used his strength and reach to punch away under pressure and David Myatt brought the ball away upfield.  Watt broke quickly, with Cam Dunn finding Donnelly.  A defender impeded Donnelly, making it hard to get away his shot and a deflection took it behind.  The first corner was played behind again and when the second was played in by Dunn, Forbes headed firmly across the goal, but no-one applied a finishing touch and the ball went harmlessly behind.

 

Edinburgh University:

Tait, MacFarlane, L Murray, Flett, Black, Daniels-Yeoman, Aitken, Rawlinson (Maelger 82), C Murray, Ward (Sutherland 56), Guthrie (Coleman 87).  All subs. used.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Dargo, Laurenson, Banks, Forbes, Wilson, Donnelly, Thomson (Helgason 56), Anderson (Lynch 67), Connor (Myatt 76), Dunn.    Sub. not used: Rae.

 

Referee: Mr Keith Maskell (Star)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 27:  Saturday 22nd March 2014

East of Scotland League:  Premier Division  

Leith Athletic  1   Heriot-Watt University  0 

Not much seems to be going right for Heriot-Watt this season and here was another example.  In four previous matches against Leith Athletic this season, the teams had been level after ninety minutes and the situation was the same again in this match.  An hour and a half of toil and endeavour by both sides had failed to produce a goal, but in the third and last minute of stoppage time – the game was over as soon as the ball was kicked off again – Watt was the victim of a blight of football in our age, the penalty award when the ball is driven against an arm at close range.

This is no ‘sour grapes’ rant – we’ve been saying for the last two or three years that penalty awards in these circumstances are ruining the game.  It’s a mockery when two teams have fought hard and fairly for an hour and a half and the game is decided when the ball happens to strike an arm in a situation where the defender has no time to move.  That was the position for Watt captain Andy Forbes, who had fellow central defender David Kerr so close beside him he wouldn’t have been able to move his arm in any direction.  There is no justice in such awards, but someone appears to have decided it will increase the number of goals scored if such penalties are given, so fairness to the players doesn’t matter.

It wasn’t Leith’s fault that the penalty was given, but it left Watt nursing a justifiable sense of grievance, although to their great credit the players did nothing to express their frustration and accepted the situation with no more than the grinding of teeth.

In a first half in which there were few real chances, Leith centre-half Mark Leslie was a threat from set pieces and headed narrowly over from a corner just before the half-hour.  Watt’s best move of the half came six minutes from the break with precise passing down the right wing.  The ball was played through for the run of David Thomson, who slipped it into the corner of the goal, but Watt celebrations were cut short by the flag for offside against Thomson.

In stoppage time at the end of the half, Euan Campbell fired a free kick just over the Watt crossbar.

Athletic began the second half vigorously, but a break by Watt almost caught out their hosts when Cam Dunn found Chris Donnelly on the break, but he was brought down by Lewis Cairns, who was cautioned.  Forbes headed Mikey Connor’s free-kick goalwards, but Iain Gordon was well positioned to catch.

A good spell of Watt pressure followed this, but the closest thing to a goal was a header by Brian Anderson which passed just over the bar.

As players tired andthe game began to loosen up, the chance of the match came Watt’s way.  Donnelly reached a ball down the right before Gordon and rounded the goalkeeper.  His shot from a tight angle struck the base of the post and rebounded to Thomson.  With the goal at his mercy, the Watt midfielder took careful aim and drove the ball firmly over the bar.

Leith took encouragement from this miss and Jamie Lauder brought a save from Millar with a shot from twenty metres, but Watt was now generally on top.  Gordon showed alertness to bound from his goal and knock a cross from Donnelly off the head of Greg Wilson, then saved from Scott Dargo, who burst through the middle on to a pass.

Leith substitute Conor Scott tested Millar with an accurate shot which the Watt ‘keeper saved diving to his right, but soon Watt was back on top and Donnelly’s fine run into the box, much hampered by the attentions of a defender, brought a good save from Gordon to save his shot.  Forbes was a frequent visitor to the Leith penalty area for set pieces and got his head to a free kick, enabling Dunn to fire in a shot from a wide area which the home defence blocked behind.  Forbes and Donnelly combined to send another cross goalwards, but again Gordon clutched the ball just under the bar.  Dargo had another effort from distance after Donnelly held the ball up, but missed the target.  Finally, with two minutes of stoppage time played, Watt substitute Michael Lynch crossed and when the ball was headed into the air, Gordon was there to catch once more and send Scott scampering away upfield.  When he was brought town by Kerr, the resultant free kick was deflected for a corner and when that was cleared to the edge of the area, the second shot by a Leith player struck the arm of Forbes.  Jamie Lauder took the penalty kick and shot to Millar’s left.  The goalkeeper went the right way, but the ball squirmed under his body into goal and Watt was left with nothing.

 

Leith Athletic:

Gordon, Simpson, Hall, Black, Leslie, Burns (Scott 74), Cairns (Barrie 70), Lauder, Mason, Campbell (Maxwell 70), Martin.  Subs. not used:  Thom, Newman.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Rae, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Wilson, Thomson, Connor (Dargo 71), Anderson (Lynch 65), Donnelly, Dunn.    Subs. not used: Banks, Milne.

 

Referee: Mr John Weir (Denny)

 

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 26:  Wednesday 19th March 2014

East of Scotland League:  Premier Division  

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale  3   Heriot-Watt University  0 

LTHV were looking like the strong favourites to take the Premier Division title, but Watt went to Saughton Enclosure knowing that the one defeat suffered by their opponents during the league season had come at Riccarton, when Andy Forbes’s wonderful goal of vision and determination had secured the points.

Any inspiration supplied by the recollection of these heroics lasted only a few seconds, however.  It was a windy, blustery evening in the west of Edinburgh and Craig ‘Grinchy’ Stevenson, noticing that Jordan Millar was some way away from his goal-line, had the ball touched to him from the centre and thumped it into the night air.  The goalkeeper retreated, gradually realising just how accurate the effort was, but suffered the calamity of being unable to prevent the ball entering the corner of the goal just under the bar.  There were three lessons here for the young ‘keeper:  be concentrating and ready to start the game when the whistle sounds; don’t take liberties by wandering around further from your goal than you can readily recover; and when the ball is in the air, it won’t come down any sooner for watching it constantly – the goalkeeper must get back on his line as first priority.  Had he done that, there was plenty of time for the tall, strong young man to have prevented the goal.

That said, Jordan showed excellent temperament by refusing to let his early mistake upset him unduly and played well throughout the rest of the match.

Watt played against the general direction of the wind in the first half and against their illustrious opponents coped very well.  There were few opportunities for either side in the early stages and Watt managed to settle into the game with good shape and gradually began to express a bit of attacking intent.  During the course of an uneventful forty-five – after the first few traumatic seconds – the home side’s only goal attempts of note were a header from Sean Wringe turned round the post by Millar and a snap shot from Connor McDonald which Millar was well positioned to save above his head.  Watt responded with a good shot from distance by Cam Dunn; Kevin Swain’s save conceded the first of three consecutive corners as Watt probed for an equaliser.  Watt had another good spell just before half-time, when following a free-kick just outside the Thistle box in a central area, David Thomson bored into the area and from a tackle another two corners eventuated.

Four minutes into the second half came the action which was decisive in the game:  from a corner on the Watt right, Donnelly got on to the ball and fired in a shot from around ten metres.  Swain threw himself to his right to bring off a tremendous save.  Watt reclaimed the ball and brought it back to the danger area, where Curt Banks hammered in another fierce drive, only to see Swain reprise his heroics with an almost identical stop.

It was matchwinning stuff from the home ‘keeper and two minutes later, when Thistle gained a corner on the Watt left, poor marking left Paul Crawford on his own at the far post.  When the ball leaked through to him, he drove it into the corner of the Watt net, despite Millar’s effort in getting a hand to the ball on its way into goal.

Two goals down away to the league leaders was a position Watt was unlikely to recover and although Brian Anderson worked hard to stretch the home defence, with Dunn and Donnelly doing their best on the supply route, there were few real chances and eventually Thistle added a third through a penalty awarded when substitute Jordan Finnie ran into the box in pursuit of a return pass and managed somehow to find the leg of Banks to fall over.  Millar guessed correctly but John Williams’s kick was too accurate to stop.

With a minute to go, Watt substitute Steven Wright came close to enhancing his reputation for long-range goals when his very crisp strike from around thirty-five metres narrowly avoided Swain’s right-hand post and it may be that Head Coach Chris Smith will be considering when the First Team can benefit more regularly from the young midfielder’s ball-striking ability.

 

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:

Swain, Crawford, Dignan, Williams, Wilkes, McDonaugh, Hare, Stevenson, Wringe, Moffat, McDonald.  Sub. not used: .

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Rae, Laurenson, Banks, Kerr, Wilson, Dargo, Thomson, Anderson, Donnelly, Dunn.    Subs. not used: .

 

Referee: Mr Duncan Smith (Edinburgh)
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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 25:  Saturday 1st March 2014

East of Scotland League:  Premier Division  

Coldstream  0   Heriot-Watt University  1 

This was the sort of day that reminds you why you follow East of Scotland football – one of a sort that has been all too rare for the Watt this season, and accordingly mightily satisfying.

It started with an enjoyable trip through the Borders countryside under a blue sky and although the wind was chilly when Home Park was reached, the weather was close to ideal for football.

Watt kicked off, shooting towards the pavilion, and almost suffered by their own actions in the second minute, Jordan Millar’s clearance from a backpass going directly to Conor Devaney.  Andy Forbes closed in to force Devaney wider and his shot went harmlessly across goal.

Gary Wales was losing no opportunity to get up the right wing and his cross to the back post in the tenth minute gave a heading opportunity to John Crawford, but Millar was in position to block the shot and Forbes stepped in to complete the clearance.

A corner on the right gave the Watt a chance to threaten and when the ball was headed out as far as Brian Anderson at the edge of the penalty area, his volley was crisp, but there was no way through the crowd of players in the box.  Greg Wilson was at the heart of another thrust by the Watt almost immediately, exchanging passes with Anderson and Chris Donnelly to create a shooting chance, but his side-foot effort from fifteen metres was straight at Mark Walters.

Watt again made things difficult for themselves at the back by getting in a muddle in trying to play out of defence and Wilson had to concede a corner, but when the kick was taken, the same player rose well in front of Crawford to deny him a close-range heading opportunity.

Andrew Douglas timed his run superbly through the centre of the Watt defence to collect a through ball, but Millar was again on his mettle and dived to his right to make a splendid save, palming the ball away from the goal and allowing Chris Rae to bring it clear.

As the half-hour approached, Watt came close again when a free kick was played into the home penalty box.  Forbes had a go at it, as did Scott Dargo before it came out to Cam Dunn on the edge of the area, but he had to rush his shot and it cleared the bar.

The jumping ability of Forbes was illustrated when he rose well above the crowd at the back post to meet a free kick from the left, but he was unable to control his header.

In the last minute of the half, Curt Banks was the latest Watt defender to get in an effective challenge in the air to thwart the dangerous Crawford.

Watt began the second half with all guns blazing.  Donnelly was put through but couldn’t get his shot away before Walters rushed out far enough to block with his legs.  Then Dunn cut infield and when his shot was blocked, Wilson played the ball through for David Thomson to fell Michael Allan with a blistering drive before Donnelly put the rebound over.

Thomson made a telling intrusion on the right wing, sending in a cross which Wilson would have headed home easily at the far post had it been a foot lower as it passed over his head.

Twenty minutes into the second half, with Watt still dictating the game, came the crucial goal.  Dunn headed on in midfield and Donnelly accelerated between two defenders to fire the ball past the right hand of the advancing Walters into the corner of the net.

Seven minutes later, a precise pass by Dunn put Anderson in possession inside the box, but the home defenders were quickly on the scene and by the time the striker had worked space for a shot, a blocker was in position.  Two minutes later, Anderson had another chance to give Watt a cushion, but after his subtle touch sent Donnelly away on the left, Anderson’s first-time shot from Donnelly’s return pass grazed the bar on its way over.

As the match neared its end, Coldstream stepped up the pace in an effort to save the game, but the Watt defence, with Forbes and Banks alert and resolute at its heart and Millar behind them remaining cool and decisive, held firm to ensure the Watt secured three great points.

 

Coldstream:

Walters, Wales, Cannon, Allan, Ainslie, Douglas (Myer 74), Hebdon, McCrudden, Crawford, Devaney, S Simpson (Birkett 84).  Sub. not used:  Baxendale.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Rae, Laurenson, Banks, Forbes, Wilson, Dargo, Thomson, Anderson (Helgason 78), Donnelly, Dunn.    Subs. not used:  Kerr, Connor.

 

Referee: Mr Paul Crosbie (Edinburgh)
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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 24:  Saturday 22nd February 2014

SFA South Region Challenge Cup: Third Round  

Preston Athletic  5   Heriot-Watt University  1 

The Watt had another day of suffering at the Pennypit.  Athletic actually started the game in a surprisingly lethargic manner, but apart from an early shot into the side net from Högni Helgason when set up by Greg Wilson’s good tackle and pass, Watt failed to make much of the time and space granted to them.  Ten minutes into the game, Preston had woken up, as shown by Gary McCormack’s break into the box.  When Jordan Millar saved the shot with his feet, Sean Martin fired the rebound over the bar from the edge of the box.

Watt did not heed the warning and within the next ten minutes Preston struck twice.  The first was an outrageous fluke, Ryan Moore’s cross from the right finding the perfect trajectory to go over Millar’s head and drop into the far top corner of the goal, but there was no disputing the quality of the second, a firm and accurate volley by Ricky Ramsay from a corner.

Watt did not play very well in the remainder of the half but saw out the time without further mishap and from the start of the second period looked a much better and more purposeful side.  Curt Banks joined the attack, but with several men over, wasted the opportunity by driving a left-foot shot against a defender.

The best attack of the period was one on the left side in which Cam Dunn combined with Neil Laurenson and the latter sent in a fine cross from near the corner flag.  Helgason met the ball at the near post but sent his header just over.

At the end of quarter of an hour of Watt ascendancy, Preston virtually killed the game with a third goal.  Martin came inside to meet a cross from the right by-line with a downward header.  Millar got a hand to the ball but was unable to stop it crossing the line.

Ten minutes later it was four, as another cross from the right was diverted in by Martin and after another five minutes it was five, Martin again popping up to take advantage when Laurenson was unfortunate to see his ball-winning tackle benefit an opponent.  Martin bundled the ball home at the third attempt after his first two efforts had been blocked.

Watt at last got on the scoresheet when Chris Donnelly’s determined run on the right created a chance.  After shots by Donnelly and Brian Anderson had been blocked, Donnelly was able to drive in the third opportunity.

Donnelly came very close to pulling another goal back when Banks’s deep cross found him at the far post, but his header came back off the bar and the ball fell behind the onrushing Wilson.

 

Preston Athletic:

Pennycuick, Stewart, O’Hara, Davidson, Foster (Dodd 62), Ramsay (Morrison 51), McCormack, Moore (Philp 51), Martin, Osbourne, Thomson.  All subs. used

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Banks, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Rae, Donnelly, Wilson, Helgason (Anderson 70), Connor, Lopes Pereira de Carvalho.    Subs. not used:  Dargo, Dahle.

 

Referee: Mr Paul Reid (Edinburgh)

 

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 23:  Saturday 8th February 2014

East of Scotland Qualifying League:  Section C   

Heriot-Watt University  2   Leith Athletic  2

This match, although nominally Watt’s home game, was played at Leith’s home pitch, Meadowbank synthetic.  Watt needed a win to stand a chance of heading off Leith for third place in Section C, but the early play made the task a very difficult one.  Leith started at much the better tempo and took advantage of some drowsy defending to build a two-goal lead.

The first arrived after only three minutes when a corner from the left crossed the central area.  When it was played back across goal from near the by-line,

Chris Wright found himself on his own and just had to nod the ball downwards to open the scoring.

As Leith kept up the pace, David Kerr put in a good clearing header, but five minutes after the first goal, Watt fell further behind.  After a move on the Athletic right, a cross found Robbie Mason making a late run unmarked into the heart of the penalty box and he headed past the exposed Jordan Millar from eight metres.

It could have got even worse with quarter of an hour played.  Wright went down the left and his centre was cut out by Neil Laurenson with a corner resulting.  When the ball was cleared as far as Kenneth Hall, he headed it back into the area.  A Watt player got his head in the way and took the pace off the ball, which produced danger when it dropped in front of Mason close to goal.  Fortunately for Watt, the bounce defeated the Leith man and Millar was able to grasp the ball.

Watt then produced its first move of note, Chris Donnelly cutting in off the wing to test Jamie Newman with a left-foot shot from twenty metres.  Ten minutes later, with Watt at last looking involved in the game, the leeway was reduced to one.  A good attack involving Brian Anderson and Michael Connor produced a chance for Donnelly, whose low drive was deflected for a corner on the left.  Cam Dunn’s kick found Anderson unmarked and he stooped to head into the corner of the net.

Watt was now the dominant side and when Greg Wilson picked out David Thomson on the edge of the area, he shot left-footed across goal and past.  A minute later, Connor was set up by Donnelly, but his shot also went across the face of goal.

Connor had another attempt a few minutes later, going into the left side of the box, but Newman was quickly out to block with his feet.  The resultant corner produced another and from the latter, Andy Forbes rose at the far post but headed over the bar.

A quick counterattack by Watt in the first minute of the second half almost brought an equaliser, but Newman got down well to save Donnelly’s shot from Connor’s astute pass.

In a rare Leith attack, Jamie Lauder fired over after a quickly-taken free kick.  Soon Watt returned to attack and Newman was brave to punch clear as Anderson closed in on a Connor free kick.

With quarter of an hour remaining, a clever free kick on the left almost worked for the Watt, but when Laurenson drove the ball across close to the goal, only Newman got a foot to it and it passed across the goalmouth unhindered.

At last, with ten minutes left, Watt got back to parity.  A good move on the left resulted in a corner.  When the ball was played in from the left, Henrik Dahle rose to head the ball down into goal.

Forbes managed to get his head to a free kick a few minutes later, but when Newman saved, Watt’s last chance had gone.

 

Leith Athletic:

Newman, Simpson, Hall, Black (Martin 55), Leslie, Cairns, Barrie, Lauder, Wright (Combe 68), Mason, Tracey.   Subs. not used:  Burns, Campbell, Gordon.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Dargo, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Wilson, Donnelly, Thomson (Myatt 68), Anderson (Dahle 65), Connor (Helgason 75), Dunn.    Sub. not used:  Banks.

 

Referee: Mr Scott Jamieson (Carluke)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 22:  Saturday 1st February 2014

King Cup: First Round  

Heriot-Watt University  2   Craigroyston  1 

There was some doubt that this King Cup tie would go ahead, with several parts of the Riccarton surface having all the firmness of a milky blancmange, but Mr Allan’s decision was to let the match start.  Despite some moments of concern in the lower penalty area, the match was completed without injury to players or incidents determined by the weather, so the verdict was a good one.  It was good for Watt in particular, who won through to face Preston Athletic in the Second Round when Högni Helgason nudged home a late winner.

There was little to choose between the sides during the ninety minutes.  Early in the first half, David Kerr had done well to recover his ground to make Chris Inglis take his shot from a wide position, resulting in the ball clearing the bar.  For the Watt, David Thomson had an excellent effort from distance, firmly struck to the right of Stuart Burnside, but although the ball eluded the diving goalkeeper, it passed just the wrong side of the post.

Just before the half-hour, Watt took the lead.  David Myatt’s searching cross from the left touchline picked out Chris Donnelly at the far post and he placed a clever downward header across Burnside and inside the far post.

The lead lasted only seven minutes.  The home defence failed fully to clear a corner from the left.  Craigie recovered the ball and recirculated it to the right, from where a cross to the middle of the penalty box was finished with an excellent header by Lotfi Barbirou.

The game continued as an even contest in the second half.  Helgason replaced Henrik Dahle up front for the Watt, then Paul Lynch and Mark Hendrie came on in place of Steven McCormack and Kyle Boggie for the visitors.

Andy Forbes, Watt’s top scorer to date this season, had wretched luck when he met Cam Dunn’s pacy free kick with a superb head-flick which looked all the way a scorer until it caught the underside of the bar and bounced down in front of the line.

As both sides made a late push for victory, Chris Rae replaced Myatt for Watt and in the Craigroyston line-up Nicky Rendall came on for Inglis.  The dangerous Craig Dickson came close with a diving header which went just over the bar, then a minute later Helgason won it for Watt, diverting Dunn’s free kick across goal to curl inside the post.

As Craigie mounted a last, frantic assault in an attempt to take the tie to extra time, Jordan Millar came to Watt’s rescue, punching the ball clear under pressure close to his goal-line, but in the end Watt held out to advance to the next round.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Wilson, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Thomson, Dunn, Myatt (Rae 69), Dahle (Helgason 55), Connor, Donnelly.    Subs. not used:  Dargo, Banks, Anderson.

 

Craigroyston:

Burnside, Young, Hogarth, Barbirou, Jeffrey, Greenhill, McCormack (Lynch 63), Ritchie, Boggie (Hendrie 63), Dickson, Inglis.  Sub. not used:  Sommerville.

 

Referee: Mr Stephen Allan (Bargeddie)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 21:  Saturday 11th January 2014

East of Scotland League – Premier Division:  Craigroyston  5   Heriot-Watt University  1 

It was another depleted Watt squad that made its way to St Mark’s Park to take on Craigroyston for the fifth time in the season.  With Högni Helgason, Henrik Dahle and Cam Dunn still to return to Riccarton, David Myatt still out with the facial injury sustained at St Mark’s in the game just before Christmas, Michael Webster still on the long-term injury list and illness preventing either Hugo Lopes Pereira de Carvalho or Curt Banks being included in the squad, Head Coach Chris Smith had to be inventive with his selection.  He was pleased to be able to include David Kerr, Chris Rae and Scott Dargo, all of whom had been out with injury for some time, in a re-shaped squad, with the likes of Greg Wilson and Michael Connor playing in unfamiliar roles and Brian Anderson making his first start up front alongside Chris Donnelly.  Rae was on the bench along with recently-returned Ryan Stevenson and goalkeeper Craig Saunders.

Watt started brightly, linking well in midfield, but were unable to create good scoring opportunities against a well-drilled home defence.  Craigroyston had little possession in the opening stages, but looked dangerous when going forward and showed good movement in and around the box, particularly Craig Dickson, who opened the scoring in the thirteenth minute, turning in a ball played diagonally across the Watt penalty area.

Watt overcame this setback and gradually began to find little openings.  Just after the half-hour, Jamie Forsyth came on to a ball half-cleared by the Craigie defence, but although he tried to get round it, his approach was too square to the direction of the ball for him to keep down his shot on the turn.

Scott Dargo, settling in to the game after his lay-off, was beginning to show enterprise on the right flank and after linking with Michael Connor, he ran on for the return, but Connor’s delicately-flighted chip was headed behind by a home defender.  Andy Forbes got his head to the subsequent corner, but was unable to direct the ball into goal and the home defence was able to clear.

Five minutes from the half-time interval, Watt fell further behind.  It was one of those situations when you get the feeling it is going to end badly, as Dargo seemed to have played the ball out off the shins of a Craigroyston player, but the throw went Craigie’s way and when the ball was played in again from the right side of the penalty area, another well-timed run enabled Scott Ritchie to flick it past Jordan Millar’s right hand and in at the post.

This was a little hard on Watt, who had seen plenty of the ball, but Craigroyston’s forward craft is fundamental to the success the club has enjoyed this season and the clever runs of Dickson, Ritchie and Nicky Rendall have caught out defences more used to playing together than this makeshift Watt unit.

The Watt had further efforts on goal before half-time:  David Thomson came on to a clearance and although he kept his shot just under bar-height, a slight slice took it just past the post.  Then Dargo’s fine cross found the head of Donnelly on the run, but his close-range header also slipped past, to his immense frustration.  Finally, Neil Laurenson slipped the ball home at the end of an excellent passing move, but the flag was raised for offside.

Early in the second half came the three-minute spell that decided the direction the match would take.  Donnelly started it, harassing the home defence into an error and driving forward sidestepping challenges.  Deep in the penalty area, he was clipped as he prepared to shoot.  Donnelly grabbed the ball to complete the job from the spot, but his kick was feeble and ill-directed.  Stuart Burnside had little difficulty in moving to his right and stopping the ball.

There may have been a suspicion that Donnelly had gone to ground a little easily, but it was nothing to the absolute certainty when Ritchie sought the turf a couple of minutes later with Dargo in attendance.  When the referee blew his whistle and gave no indication why, the players stood around wondering what was to happen next and most must have expected a yellow card to be produced, but when Mr Newman sidled diffidently towards the penalty spot, the amazement in the ground was palpable.  Ritchie showed no diffidence, however, smashing the ball into the corner of the net to put his side three ahead.

Such was the disarray in Watt ranks at this calamity that Craigroyston added a fourth within a minute, Dickson exploiting a huge gap on the left side of the Watt defence to run on to a through ball and drive home a fierce shot of great accuracy beyond the fingers of Millar and just inside the far post.

From seeming to be back in the match, Watt was suddenly four down and facing a hiding.  Two minutes later, it almost got worse as the Watt defence, still in tatters, was caught out again.  Millar advanced only to be beaten to the ball, which was lofted over his head, but fortunately Connor had been alive to the situation and made it back just in time to divert the ball behind before it could roll into goal.

This escape seemed to give the Watt players the resolution they needed to mount a response.  Laurenson exploited another lapse in the home defence and went on a superb, mazy run which took him past several defenders and up to the advancing Burnside, but his right-foot shot went to the wrong side of the post.  Then, after another good move involving Connor and Dargo, Brian Anderson sent in a shot on the turn that found the side net.

Perhaps the best move of all featured another penetrating run by Donnelly, who bored into the box and found Anderson, whose first-time lay-off enabled Thomson to get in a shot on the run, but Burnside made a marvellous save, going down to his left to throw out an arm and block the ball.

Rae and Stevenson replaced Connor and Thomson, but Watt began to run out of steam in the last quarter of an hour and when a fifth goal was conceded, it was all too easy for Craigroyston.  Substitute Steven McCormack was left all on his own in the middle of the penalty area to head past the helpless Millar.

It looked as if the Watt was fated not to score when for a second time the assistant’s flag was raised to deny a goal, Donnelly having turned the ball in after another good save by Burnside from a Jamie Forsyth header, but with a minute left on the clock, the fates suddenly changed end and the visitors were awarded a spurious penalty when Donnelly tried to find Anderson and the ball struck the arm of Liam Jack.  There was no intention involved, but that didn’t stop the referee awarding the penalty and booking the defender.

Unless something is done to stop the rapidly-increasing tendency for referees to penalise players whenever the ball strikes any part of their arm, no matter how hard it is played towards them or the distance from which it is struck, football will have adopted hockey-style rules and players will be aiming for a hand whenever they get near to the penalty box.  No wonder so many defenders try to hide their arms behind their backs nowadays – how “natural” a position is that?  Forsyth had been penalised in similar circumstances earlier, but as the “offence” was just outside the penalty area, he did not receive a caution for something he hadn’t made any attempt to do – unlike the unfortunate Jack, who was punished for something entirely involuntary.  Referees must realise it is impossible to defend properly with one’s arms behind one’s back and an attempt to do so will be unsuccessful – Watt’s single-goal loss to Stirling University at Riccarton provides a fine example.  So common is this practice nowadays, however, that it just has to be based on a directive by the football authorities.  That said, no other referee we have seen anywhere has applied this misinterpretation of the rules with the severity we saw from Mr Newman.

All of this, of course, was of no immediate moment to Donnelly, who this time drove the ball into the corner of the net to give Watt some consolation.

It is difficult to be cheerful when you’ve shipped five goals and Head Coach Chris Smith was disconsolate after the game, but perhaps reflection has lent a new perspective.  Chris did his level best with the materials he had available, but this was a visit to a confident, high-flying side in good form and one which had well beaten the Watt in the last game each side had played.  There was a lot of good play and endeavour from the Watt side, but an unfamiliar defence including two players who have been out of action for some time and one playing out of position was caught out from time to time by clever, experienced forwards and towards the end of the game showed signs of tiredness and strain.  No great surprise there, and no disgrace either.  Next week, against Coldstream, the Watt will have a fuller squad from which to choose and more options on the bench.

Craigroyston:

Burnside, Young, Hogarth, Barbirou, Jack, Greenhill, Dunn (McCormack 68), Hendrie, Ritchie, Dickson (Boggie 80), Rendall.  Subs. not used:  Lynch, Inglis.

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Dargo, Wilson, Kerr, Forbes, Forsyth, Connor (R Stevenson 68), Thomson (Rae 68), Anderson, Donnelly, Laurenson.    Sub. not used:  Saunders

Referee: Mr Chris Newman (Linlithgow)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 20:  Saturday 21st December 2013

East of Scotland Qualifying League – Group C:  Craigroyston  3   Heriot-Watt University  0

A somewhat experimental Watt side travelled to St Mark’s Park for the fourth meeting of these sides during the current season.  Three of the Watt’s successful Under-21 team were included in the First Team squad for the first time, with Steven Wright starting in midfield, Calum Milne in attack and Cameron Stevenson taking a place on the bench.  Ryan Stevenson, back in Edinburgh for the holidays, helped out his old mates by filling the right wing-back slot in a 3 – 5 – 2 formation aimed at using the attacking capabilities of Stevenson and of Neil Laurenson on the left side.  Under-21 coach Banji Koya donned a Watt strip for the first time in over a year and was joined on the bench by Head Coach Chris Smith and goalkeeper Jordan Millar.

Watt settled well into the game and in the early stages played some attractive football, but Craigie did look dangerous going forward and seemed able to get behind the visiting defence with alarming ease.  With ten minutes on the clock John Dunn laid the ball into the path of Craig Dickson, but his shot from the edge of the area passed wide of Craig Saunders’ right-hand post.

A good run by Jamie Forsyth into space on the left was well picked out by the pass of David Myatt, but Milne was just unable to turn Forsyth’s low cross in at the near post and Stuart Burnside bundled the ball behind.

Dunn then broke through and brought a marvellous triple save from Saunders.  The first two blocks sent the ball back to Dunn, but when the third shot came in, the ‘keeper dived to turn the ball round the post.

Steven Wright’s shot from twenty metres was comfortably gathered by Burnside and in their next foray forward, the home side took the lead, Mark Hendrie having the simplest of tasks to tap in a low centre from the left.

Scott Ritchie, a powerful figure for Craigroyston, then let fly with a drive from twenty-five metres that rattled off the junction of post and bar, following which Saunders had to deal with a series of corners swung in on top of him.  When the third came in, Chris Donnelly cleared the danger.

A second goal arrived in the thirty-fifth minute and in many ways set the pattern for what was to follow.  Dickson sped down the left pursued by Forsyth and when he reached the penalty area, cut in front of the Watt man and went down.  There had undoubtedly been contact, although there didn’t seem to have been a challenge, but a penalty was awarded and Hendrie drove the ball into the corner of the net.

The only other incident of note in the first half was an aerial challenge in which Myatt and Dickson clashed heads and were injured.  Dickson was able to resume after treatment, but Myatt joined the Watt’s growing injury list, having sustained a broken nose.

Cameron Stevenson replaced Myatt for the start of the second half, with Watt changing to a 4 – 2 – 4 pattern.  On the hour, Craigie’s propensity to claim for anything in the penalty box was rewarded again when Andy Forbes was astounded to be penalised for a tackle in which he won the ball and his opponent used the available leg to go to ground.  Some justice was done when Dunn drove the spot kick wide, although the caution issued to Forbes was regrettable.

A third goal was not long delayed, however.  Curt Banks, attempting to clear a cross from the left, got the connection wrong and the ball went back towards his own goal.  A Craigroyston foot played it across goal and although the first attempt was blocked, the ball rebounded to Nicky Rendall, who evaded Mikey Connor’s attempt to close him down and drove a low shot into the middle of the goal.

Watt’s best chance to get something on the scoreboard came five minutes after this when a good move on the left, with Milne and Forsyth involved, produced a chance for Donnelly around the penalty spot, but he rushed his shot a little and sent the ball wide of the goal.

Another decent move a few minutes later saw a Milne cross from the right headed behind.  The corner was played in low for the run of Forsyth, but when his shot was blocked, Cammy Stevenson’s hurried effort from the edge of the box was well wide.  The same player had a much better effort a few minutes after that, from much further out, sending a half-volley from over forty metres over Burnside but just wide of the target.

Koya replaced Milne for the last thirteen minutes and it was good to see the affable Bejay up front for the Watt again.

David Jeffrey made a long run through the middle of the park and as the Watt defence backed off, tried a shot from a similar distance to that of Stevenson a few minutes earlier, but Saunders calmly plucked the ball out of the air.

Following a Watt corner which got complicated, Forbes tried to make a shooting chance and the ball ran to Banks on the edge of the area, but his first-time effort went over the bar by a metre.

Referee Mr Hanlon had shown common sense and good judgment in his dealings with players, speaking to them as necessary, but Forsyth left him little option with a blatant foul and was duly cautioned.

With a couple of minutes left, Dickson almost put the seal on a fine performance when he danced through the Watt defence and from around ten metres out, clipped a shot against the post.  Connor had the last effort on goal with a chip on which direction was perfect but elevation just a little too much.

 

Craigroyston:

Burnside, Jeffrey, Hogarth, Barbirou, Jack, Greenhill, Dunn, Rendall (Macintosh 74), Ritchie, Dickson, Hendrie.  Subs. not used:  Young, McCormack.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, R Stevenson, Laurenson, Myatt (C Stevenson 45), Banks, Forbes, Forsyth, Connor, Milne (Koya 77), Donnelly, Wright.    Subs. not used:  Smith, Millar.

 

Referee: Mr Paul Hanlon (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 19:  Saturday 14th December 2013

East of Scotland Qualifying League – Group C:  Heriot-Watt University  1   Hibernian  1

On a day of atrocious weather at Riccarton, Watt restored some pride after its early-season pounding by Hibs with a battling draw in which, despite the conditions, there was much good football to admire.

The first half was a pretty even affair, with both defences generally keeping their assailants at arm’s length.  Henrik Dahle came close to making contact with a dangerous low centre from the left early on, then Craig Saunders was in good position to hold a snap shot from twenty metres, but in the last ten minutes before the break that the Hibs front line began to break through.

Lewis Allan fired in a shot from just inside the penalty area which was deflected behind by Curt Banks, then Taylor Hendry headed home, but was some yards offside.  The goal which the visitors had been threatening came five minutes from half-time when Allan chased a ball down the right wing.  Saunders advanced to close down the space, but when Banks began to close on the striker, the ‘keeper decided to retreat.  Allan chose his moment perfectly as Saunders’ balance was disrupted and clipped the ball past him to roll gently in at the far post.

Two minutes after half-time, the Watt restored parity when Cam Dunn’s free kick evaded the jumpers in the penalty area, deceived Kleton Perntreou and nestled in the corner of the net.

For much of the remainder of the game, Watt was content to hit on the break, but the pace with which these attacks were mounted and the support given by midfield players gave grounds for some optimism.  Watt came close with the last move of the game, when David Myatt broke through the middle towards Henrik Dahle’s pass, but Perntreou came out quickly and bravely to dive at Myatt’s feet and prevent the Watt man from stabbing the ball home.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Wilson, Laurenson, Banks, Forbes, Thomson (Myatt 70), Lopes Pereira de Carvalho, Forsyth, Dahle, Helgason (Blake 74), Dunn.  Sub. not used:  Connor.

Hibernian:  Perntreou, Dunsmore, Martyniuk, Horribine, Gardiner, Wilson, Mullen, Sinclair (Martin 67), Allan, Hendry (Todd 59), Beaton (Smith 74).    Subs. not used:  Horne, Doyle.

Referee: Mr Alan McFadyen (Coatbridge)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 18:  Saturday 7th December 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Heriot-Watt University  0   Stirling University II  1

More frustration was heaped upon the Watt as they went down to a Stirling University side which leads the Premier Division, but which spent most of the afternoon on the defensive.  Stirling managed to grab the points in one of its few attempts on goal in the game and Watt’s Head Coach Chris Smith must now be considering how to increase the number of goal opportunities his side is creating.  The Watt team played some excellent possession football in this game, but perhaps a somewhat more direct approach will be required to rack up the points needed for Premier Division safety.

In the early part of this match, Watt retained the ball for much of the time, but the first real threat came from Stirling.  Blair McWhirter, perhaps his side’s best performer on the day, got to the by-line on the right but his cutback failed to connect with a team-mate and the Watt was able to clear.

Cam Dunn was looking lively and inventive on the Watt left and supplied a number of crosses, but some were deeper than the strikers wanted and it was left to Hugo Lopes Pereira de Carvalho to contest the ball and try to find the front men.

McWhirter again showed his ability with a quick turn and shot from twenty-five metres, but Craig Saunders moved his feet well to get down and turn the ball round the post.

A long kick by the goalkeeper gave Lopes a chance when Högni Helgason headed on to him, but having taken the ball to the edge of the area and turned on to his right foot, Lopes was unable to get enough loft in his shot to get the ball over Jake Fifer.  The visiting goalkeeper was in action later, when a sustained period of home pressure ended with a good save by Fifer, who dived to his right to push away Helgason’s drive.

In the last few seconds of the first half, Watt fell behind.  When Steven Forbes confronted Greg Wilson, the Watt right-back was worried about a cross striking his arm and he put his hands behind his back.  Forbes made a dart for the line and by the time Wilson had changed his posture and got into his running, Forbes was past him and working his way inside.  Watt had plenty of defenders back, but when the ball was played into the six-yard box, Dani Polvara was able to stroke it home without challenge.

Watt gradually increased the tempo in the second half and seemed for a time to be building up a good head of steam, but the Stirling defence coped well.  In one thrust on the right, the ball came inside on the edge of the penalty area and Jamie Forsyth came in at pace for a strike, but Ben Cuff got in a strong challenge at some personal cost just at the critical moment.

Chris Donnelly, back from his sojourn in the Highland League and signed just in time to play in this match, came on to replace Lopes Pereira de Carvalho and might have made an immediate impact when the ball dropped to him on the edge of the area, but it was a difficult volley and he pulled it wide.   A minute later came Watt’s closest thing yet, as after a sustained and determined attack the ball reached Forsyth, who caught it well from inside the penalty area in a central position.  Fifer spread himself as best he could and was successful as the ball struck him and rebounded to safety.

Donnelly was feeling the weight of expectation on his shoulders too keenly and after a caution for a reckless tackle on Jack May, he was given a second booking near the end of the game for a high challenge which arrived slightly late and gave him first use of the showers.

Heriot-Watt University: Saunders, Wilson (Myatt 74), Laurenson, Banks, Forbes, Lopes Pereira de Carvalho (Donnelly 68), Connor, Helgason, Dahle (Anderson 74), Dunn. All substitutes used.

Stirling University: Fifer, Hughes, McCue, Glendinning, Jacobs, Cuff, McWhirter, Harrop (Reilly 67), Polvara (Sutcliffe 59), May, Forbes (Wilson 88). Subs. not used: Smith, Mitchell.

Referee: Mr Billy Cooper (Glenrothes)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 17:  Saturday 30th November 2013

SFA South Region Challenge Cup, Second Round:  Heriot-Watt University  3   Craigroyston    1

Watt have perhaps been lacking a turn of fortune from time to time this season – or perhaps those who say you make your own luck have something and the side just hasn’t been playing positively enough – but in this game, the scores may have been evened up a bit.

Not that Watt didn’t deserve the win – even the visitors, who felt hard done-by on the day, would probably admit in the cold light of day that the Watt was the better side in this game – but key incidents did go for the Riccarton side in a way which hasn’t happened much lately.  A win is a win, but home supporters were left wishing this victory over high-flying Craigie had been a league match.  Cup success is welcome, but we need the league points right now.

Watt started well enough in the game, Högni Helgason’s header in quarter of an hour testing Stuart Addison, who went full-length to touch the ball round the post, but fell behind after twenty minutes’ play.  Craigroyston had attacked on the left side, but when the ball was switched to the right, there was an alarming lack of cover and Mark Hendrie was given all the time he needed to wander into the box, sidestep a challenge and fire in a shot which Jordan Millar was able to touch but not stop.

Millar was called upon again two minutes later, standing up well as John Dunn advanced into the box and making a good save diving to his right.  Hendrie might have made it two a couple of minutes after that when he found space between the Watt’s central defenders but when he appeared to be clear for a run-in against Millar, he unaccountably turned, lost his way and ultimately lost the ball.

Mikey Connor gave Watt a boost with a run on the right, exchanging passes with colleagues before releasing a shot from around twenty metres, but Addison was in good position to catch.  Watt’s next attack brought the scores level, however, as the ball was played in from the right corner and Henrik Dahle headed it on for Helgason to place a precise header inside the near post.

The home side was in the ascendancy now and Cam Dunn sent in a drive from distance which took Addison two attempts to save.  Then, just on half-time, Watt got their noses in front in a controversial way.  The ball was played forward towards Helgason and he jumped with David Jeffrey behind him.  Few of the spectators expected the referee’s whistle, but he blew, awarded a penalty to the Watt and cautioned Jeffrey.  Watt Head Coach Chris Smith had a good view – a much better one than your correspondent, who was the length of the ground away – and was adamant that Helgason was being held down and the award was a correct one.  Connor did not join in the debate, confining himself to despatching the ball accurately into the corner of the net.

The second half started rather quietly, but ten minutes in, Craigie might have begun to sense that it was not to be their day as the Watt goal had a remarkable escape.  Dunn drove into the box on the left and fired the ball in towards the danger area.  Millar dived and turned the ball away to the other side, where it was recovered by the attacking side.  Andy Forbes threw himself in the way of the next shot and when the ball was driven in for a third time, Greg Wilson was perfectly placed to head off the line.  Good defending, it is fair to say, but the visitors must have been surprised not to equalise.

Four minutes later, Craigie found themselves further behind and once again it was from the penalty spot.  And once again, the visitors were enraged by the decision.  However, although the infringement may have been obscure to many onlookers, on this occasion the decision merely gave Watt an opportunity to fail to score.  Following a corner, the ball had been played at the near post and had then continued across goal, where Forbes had been in position to hook it into goal.  A moment before he did so, the referee blew for the penalty, but there is no doubt that it would have been a goal in any case.  Connor once again settled the matter, driving the ball into the opposite corner from the one in which he had placed his previous kick.

The last half-hour was generally comfortable for Watt and the closest thing to another goal came when Lotfi Barbirou played the ball past Addison and the goalkeeper had to run back to retrieve it a foot from the goal-line.

The teams will meet three more times this season: in the Qualifying League, the King Cup and the reverse league fixture.

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Wilson, Laurenson, Banks (Forsyth 66), Forbes, Thomson, Lopes Pereira de Carvalho, Connor, Dahle, Helgason, Dunn.  Subs. not used:  Blake, Cennerazzo.

Craigroyston:

Addison, Young, Hogarth, Barbirou, Jeffrey, Greenhill, Dunn, McCormack (Macintosh 79), Lynch (Ritchie 77), Dickson, Hendrie.    Subs. not used:  Rendall, Manson.

Referee:  Mr Iain McIntyre (Livingston)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 16:  Saturday 16th November 2013

Image Printers’ East of Scotland Qualifying Cup, Second Round:  Heriot-Watt University  1   Leith Athletic  2  (after extra time)

This was the second time these sides had met this season and again the scores were even after ninety minutes – but this time at 1 – 1, not 4 – 4.  There was never any danger of the goal fest that had taken place on the Meadowbank synthetic.

The first half was rather dull, in fact, but such chances as were created were generally the product of the visitors’ endeavour and it was fitting that they led by at the interval.  The goal that separated the sides had arrived in the twenty-eighth minute when Chris Barrie ran on to a diagonal pass to slide the ball just firmly enough past the advancing Jordan Millar.

A shot by Kenneth Hall was well saved by Millar and Lewis Tracey’s effort just cleared the bar before Neil Laurenson’s free kick gave the Watt encouragement close to half-time, Iain Gordon making an unorthodox save.

Watt looked livelier at the start of the second half, with David Thomson combining well with Henrik Dahle, but with quarter of an hour to play there was still no sign of an equaliser and Millar had to excel again, touching a shot from Euan Campbell over the bar.

Högni Helgason’s well-executed drag back, turn and drive was the closest the Watt had come at that point, but Gordon dived to his right to turn the ball round the post.  Andy Forbes kept Watt in the game with a fine tackle on lively substitute Lewis Martin and with two minutes remaining, the Watt grabbed an equaliser when Hugo Lopes Pereira de Carvalho pounced on a loose ball, steadied himself and from twenty-five metres drilled a great shot into the corner of the net.

Six minutes into extra time, Martin again caused a problem on the left and when the ball arrived at the feet of Campbell in a central area, he was again the scourge of the Watt, finding space to slam the ball home for a goal to add to the three he scored in the previous meeting of the sides.

Towards the end of the game, brilliant work by Michael Webster almost took the game to penalties, but having played a flick from Helgason into the box and got a foot to the ball ahead of Gordon, he watched as the ball rolled agonisingly across goal and just past the post.

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Wilson (Cennerazzo 86), Laurenson, Banks, Forbes, Myatt, Thomson (Dargo 76), Connor, Helgason, Dahle (Webster 70), Lopes Pereira de Carvalho.   Sub. not used:  Saunders.

Leith Athletic:

Gordon, Hogg (Simpson 81), Hall, Black, Leslie, Burns, Barrie (Cairns 90), Lauder, Campbell, Mason (Martin 71).   Subs. not used:  Lynch, Tainsh.

Referee: Mr Michael Gill (East Wemyss)
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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 15:  Saturday 9th November 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Heriot-Watt University  0   Spartans II  0

Given the way they had crumbled in the second half the previous week against Tynecastle and the fact that Spartans had won the reverse fixture with a degree of comfort just a fortnight earlier, this was a decent point for Watt, though not the season’s most exciting match.

There were few chances created by either side in a first half of midfield endeavour, although Neil Laurenson’s shot following a corner just after the half-hour looked as if it might trouble the goalkeeper before taking a deflection behind.  David Myatt had an attempt on goal after this, but was really too far out to try a shot with the inside of the foot.  As Watt continued to push forward, David Thomson was the next to have a shot deflected for a corner.

Spartans responded with a shot from a central position which brought a fine save from Jordan Millar before good work by Mikey Connor created two chances in a minute just before the half-time whistle.  For the first, he dragged the ball through a tackle and improvised a shot from the edge of the area that had the visiting goalkeeper struggling to get near it, but which slipped just past the post.  Then Connor’s good work and flicked pass gave Högni Helgason an opportunity from the edge of the box.  His shot on the turn was the closest of the day, clipping the post on its way past.

Ten minutes into the second half, Laurenson laid the ball wide for Hugo Lopes Pereira de Carvalho, but his shot was another to be deflected behind.

On the hour, Spartans missed the most clear-cut chance of the game when Reece Gordon played the ball inside.  When it reached Dave Gordon, he leant back and shot over from close range.

Spartans’ tall winger headed into the side net as the Ainslie Park side stepped up a gear, but Watt resisted and had another close thing as the match entered its last twenty minutes.  A Connor free kick, played in firmly, was scooped up by the Spartans ‘keeper.  Helgason got on to the ball and played it across goal.  Andy Forbes had a go at it and eventually Scott Dargo tried a half-volley from a tight angle, striking the ball well but watching it flick off the frame of the goal and go past.

Michael Webster then found Dargo on the right.  Helgason ran in to connect with the cross but the goalkeeper was able to knock it away and catch it just inside the area.

There was a nasty moment for Spartans when a passback went straight past the goalkeeper as he advanced and slipped inches past the post.  From the corner, Connor played the ball back to Laurenson, who came in at pace and sent in a tremendous first-time drive which the goalkeeper parried over the bar.

Connor was on hand to clear from the goal-line when a header was glanced across the Watt goalmouth following a corner but that was nothing to the drama in stoppage time when Millar was unable to hold a cross and the ball came to Lee Zavaroni around the penalty spot.  He struck it firmly past the goalkeeper, only to see Forbes play a real captain’s role, watching the ball calmly and moving across the line to head clear and save a point for the Watt.

Heriot-Watt University:  Millar, Wilson, Laurenson, Banks, Forbes, Myatt, Thomson (Dargo 68), Connor, Helgason, Dahle (Webster 68), Lopes Pereira de Carvalho.  Subs. not used:  Napier, Dunn, Saunders.

Referee: Mr Keith Maskell (Star)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 14:  Saturday 2nd November 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Heriot-Watt University  3   Tynecastle  4

This was the sort of match that leaves you wondering why you bother.  Three goals up at half-time, Watt had a disastrous second half in which the prospect of a great three points vanished and the team finished with nothing at all except a bitter taste in the mouth.

It had all started so well – Watt, shooting down the slope towards the pavilion, had started in lively fashion, with Jamie Forsyth making a good early run into the box and being unlucky to have the ball rebound off the goalkeeper and touch him before going behind.

Tynecastle responded with a good move on the left which brought a fine save from Jordan Millar before the rebound was fired wide, but a minute later, Watt went ahead.  Mikey Connor fired in an accurate free kick from twenty-five metres and when Tynecastle ‘keeper Cadger was unable to hold the ball, Andy Forbes was on hand to turn it across goal from the tightest of angles and squeeze it in at the far post.

Twelve minutes later, the same double-act made it two for the homesters, Forbes this time making a run across the box to apply an expert touch to Connor’s flighted free kick, steering his shot in close to the post once more.

This was better than Watt supporters could have dared to hope for, but after Millar preserved the lead with another quality save, Forbes came close to notching his hat-trick following yet another Connor free kick.  This time, Cadger punched the ball straight at the onrushing Forbes, but he was unable to adjust quickly enough to get a foot to the ball and it went harmlessly past.

As half-time approached, however, Watt did add a third.  Henrik Dahle drove into the right-hand side of the box and released a shot which Cadger saved to his right, but Watt kept the move alive and when the ball was played back into the danger area, Dahle knocked it past Cadger, who took out the striker for a penalty.  Connor made a competent job of despatching the kick and Watt went into the break in fine shape.

Ten minutes into the second half, that all began to change through a penalty award which, in the words of the late Ian Archer, describing a similar injustice, was “not so much dubious as spurious”.  The unexpectedness of the decision was demonstrated by the fact that when the referee blew his whistle, the players on both sides looked to him to see what was the matter.  Tynie officials were frank enough to admit later that the referee was the only one who thought it was a penalty, but as he was the man who mattered, a penalty it was.

Mr McWilliam, who is a very personable and likeable man, was in charge of his first ever East of Scotland match and had no guide to the respective positions of the teams involved.  It may be that he thought the game was sufficiently one-sided that the award wouldn’t matter much.  It is certainly difficult to believe he would have made the same decision had the scores been level.  He may not have realised that with the Watt second-bottom of the table and Tynecastle second-top, the score at that stage in the game was startlingly good from the home point of view.

It came about like this:  Tynecastle had gained a corner on the left and when the ball came across, it fell amongst the feet.  The visitors’ centre-back was up for the corner and he got on to the ball, then turned and went down.  The referee was positioned on the edge of the six-yard box on the side from which the corner had been taken and the incident was a good fifteen yards away across a crowded penalty box.  The two nearest Watt players to the incident appeared almost completely static.  There seemed no reason for the player to have gone to ground at all.  Then we heard the referee’s whistle, sounding almost apologetic.

Ousman See tucked away the penalty and from that moment the game changed utterly.  Watt couldn’t seem to get the injustice out of their minds, but Tynecastle was mightily encouraged and began to dominate, committing more players to attack and, having evidently decided there were penalties to be had from the referee, making use of available legs when inside the box.

Ten minutes after the penalty, a soft free kick given against Scott Dargo enabled Tynie to play the ball into the penalty area and See rose with little challenge to head the ball off his shoulder just inside the post to Millar’s left.

Watt’s last chance to restore some control and secure the points came with a decent move on the right.  Connor played in Ronnie Napier, who shot first-time.  Cadger blocked with his foot and Connor, cutting inside, fired the rebound towards goal, but by this time recovering defenders had closed in and the ball was cleared.

Three minutes later, the equaliser which had seemed inevitable arrived.  Another free kick was headed in off the underside of the bar.  There were still seventeen minutes to play and few of the spectators can have expected the Watt to last out for a point.

In the event, there were only five minutes to go when the winning goal came.  It came from another mischance, Curt Banks slipping and falling as he went to clear a cross, leaving See to gather the ball and, to give credit where it is due, strike an excellent shot from the edge of the area into the corner of the net past Millar’s left hand.

There was still time for Jamie Forsyth to put the finishing touches on a galling occasion for the Watt by picking up a booking in stoppage time, thereby gaining a suspension.

And so it was left to Tynecastle to describe a great comeback, which from the visitors’ point of view it was.  Tynecastle has some previous form in this respect and it was pointed out before the game that much of its success is founded on the recognition that a match lasts for ninety minutes and you don’t give up while there is still time left to play.  Watt is the latest victim of this determination and application.  But it is still hard to believe this game would have been lost had it not been for the referee’s apparent vote of sympathy for the team which was trailing at the time.

Heriot-Watt University:  Millar, Wilson, Laurenson, Banks, Forbes, Myatt (Thomson 79), Forsyth, Connor, Dahle (Dunn 82), Helgason (Napier 45), Lopes Pereira de Carvalho.  Subs. not used:  Dargo, Saunders.

Tynecastle:  Cadger, Scott, Fee, Ferguson, McCarthy, Hawkins (Swanson 61), Brown, Turnbull (Russell 79), See, Muir, Devlin (Gilmour 89).    Subs. not used:  Costello, Matthews.

Referee: Mr Andy McWilliam (Glasgow)
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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 13:  Friday 25th October 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Spartans II  2   Heriot-Watt University  0

This Friday evening game under the Ainslie Park side showed the Watt’s developing side to be no match for a smart young Spartans team marshalled in defence by the experienced Danny O’Donnell.

Spartans started at a fast pace, playing rapid pass-and-move football which made the Watt midfield look pedestrian.  With eleven minutes played, the home side went ahead when Ian Ballantyne went past Curt Banks and worked his way in along the by-line before cutting the ball back for Paul Roberts to fire calmly past the right hand of Jason Millar.

Lucasz Rusin, who was showing a lot of flair in a free role in the Spartans midfield, fired just over from twenty metres midway through the half as the home side continued to press for openings, but soon the Watt was doing some attacking of its own and Högni Helgason won a corner from which only the close attentions of O’Donnell prevented Jamie Hume getting a header on target from the centre of the goalmouth.

A fine pass by Andy Forbes picked out David Thomson on the left and he gathered superbly to go past Keith Boyes and work in along the by-line.  Whether it was that no forward made a decent angle for the cut-back or Thomson delayed a little too long was unclear, but when the cutback came, a Spartans foot played it behind, possibly off the post.

Watt was well in the match now and a further corner from Mikey Connor was tailor-made for the run of Forbes; but, meeting the ball at pace in the near-post area, the centre-back was unable to keep his header below the bar.

Another good move involving Connor on the left ended with Greg Wilson trying a shot from twenty metres, but it was blocked before travelling far and it was easy for Murray Jackson to collect.

Watt had gradually begun to establish a foothold in the game, but a minute later, the home side scored again.  This time, there was something of a sense of injustice, as Thomson, trying to work the ball away on the left, was accosted by two opponents and appeared to be fouled, but the referee, who had a good game overall, did not judge the challenges illegal and allowed play to continue.  Watt was exposed on the left side and when the ball was played through to David Stewart, he finished expertly, cutting inside to fire a left-foot shot across Millar into the top corner.

The Watt fought back to try to reduce the arrears before half-time and Carlo Cennerazzo’s cross was swept towards goal by Helgason, Jamie Forsyth almost managing to get a foot to the ball before it was collected by the advancing Jackson.  Then a driven right-foot cross from the left wing by Thomson found the head of Helgason, but unfortunately for Watt, the header found Jackson in good position again.

Finally, the closest call of all came two minutes from the break, when Connor’s free kick was headed back across goal by Banks.  Helgason’s athletic attempt to hook the ball towards goal failed to connect, but the ball continued on its way and shaved the post to Jackson’s right on its way past.

Spartans started the second half with renewed energy and a run from the back by O’Donnell opened the door for the dangerous Roberts to send in a shot from the edge of the area, but Millar had his angles right and dived to his right to turn the ball round the post.

The home side continued to press and from another corner, Hume did particularly well to challenge O’Donnell in the air and get his head in the way of the Spartans man’s header.

Watt weathered the early storms and responded to create a great chance.  Cennerazzo picked up the ball on the right, worked his way inside and laid it back for Forsyth to shoot from close range, but the Watt youngster leant back and drove the ball over the bar.

Roberts threatened again, taking the ball on his chest and turning to send in a dipping shot from twenty metres, almost catching out Millar, who had strayed a little off his line.

For Watt, Cameron Dunn, who had replaced Cennerazzo with Thomson moving inside, began brightly, getting past Boyes and being stopped by a pull on his shirt.  This set up the closest thing of the game for Watt, as Connor’s flighted ball to the near-post area was finessed by the head of Forbes towards goal.  Jackson blocked the ball and it fell at the feet of Hume, who from no distance to speak of bundled the ball against the post.  The rebound struck the goalkeeper and a defender on the line, but did not fall again to a Watt foot and the home defence smuggled it clear.

David Myatt was cautioned for bringing down a player on the run through midfield for the second time in the game and was withdrawn to be replaced by Ashley Blake, but the game rather petered out towards its end, with few chances created by either side.

 

Spartans II:  Jackson, Boyes, Cochrane, O’Donnell, Armstrong, Laird, Stewart, Rusin, Roberts, Cunningham, Ballantyne (Pyda 83).    Subs. not used:  Gray, McMillan, Ghamgosar, Brown.

 

Heriot-Watt University:  Millar, Banks, Wilson, Hume, Forbes, Myatt (Blake 71), Forsyth, Connor, Helgason, Cennerazzo (Dunn 59), Thomson (Napier 85).   Subs. not used:  Laurenson, Saunders.

 

Referee: Mr Paul Crosbie (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 12:  Saturday 19th October 2013

East of Scotland Qualifying League, Section C:  Burntisland Shipyard  1   Heriot-Watt University  3

There were another three debutants in the Watt line-up for this first-ever visit to Recreation Park on East of Scotland business.  Greg Wilson started in defence, replacing Scott Dargo, injured in the last match against Leith Athletic; Hugo Lopes Pereira de Carvalho appeared on the left side of midfield after himself overcoming an injury; and Ashley Blake partnered Högni Helgason in attack.

Watt almost scored in the opening minute.  Jamie Forsyth sped down the right and sent a low cross across the face of goal.  Blake stretched forward but just failed to make contact.

With seven minutes played, Watt did take the lead.  Helgason challenged a defender as he tried to clear a bouncing ball and the ball looped up perfectly to go over the head of goalkeeper Jordan Mushet and drop under the bar.

Watt sought to build on this break, pushing forward at every opportunity, but the Shippy side was also lively and spirited, with left-back Peter Bell a particular talent.

Curt Banks came close to shocking Mushet when he feinted to the left and turned to send in a tremendous drive from a standing position around forty metres from goal.  The ball clipped the bar as it passed over.

A silly incident between Grant Blyth and Jordan Millar caused the atmosphere to deteriorate and the challenges became teethier.  Millar got his angles right to save a shot from Lee Henderson.

Helgason had two opportunities in quick succession with only Mushet to beat, but the goalkeeper stood up well to make the save on the first occasion and on the second, Helgason got the ball past the goalkeeper but it slipped past the post.

Four minutes into the second half, Mushet brought out a fine save to deny Andy Forbes from Mikey Connor’s corner.  Lopes Pereira de Carvalho made a good run on the left, showing useful pace, but carried the ball too close to Mushet, who blocked his shot.

Eleven minutes into the second half, the Watt scored a second goal.  Blake held up a ball played down the right, then turned it inside where Helgason shook it free for David Myatt to send in a drive.  Mushet saved well, but the rebound fell to Lopes Pereira de Carvalho, who fired home from a tight angle.

Burntisland substitute Kevin Masson did well to hold off Forbes and find the net, but was ruled offside.  With around half an hour to play, former Watt favourite Brendan Napier came into the fray to replace Henderson and shortly after that, Carlo Cennerazzo came on for Blake.

Napier made an immediate impact, supplying a stream of dangerous corners and crosses.  Blair Smart might have done better when he headed down a Napier free-kick but directed the ball past the post.

Millar saved at his near post at the expense of a corner when Napier went down the right and drilled the ball in to the near-post area and Shipyard gained a succession of corners as the Watt defence struggled to clear.  The visitors’ defence held firm, however, and with three minutes left scored a clinching goal.  Fergal Doherty had come on to replace Myatt two minutes earlier and he surged on to Cennerazzo’s pass on the right side of the penalty box.  Mushet got a touch on his shot, but it was firmly struck and held its line into the far corner of the goal.

A good pass by Helgason picked out Cennerazzo’s run a minute later and the striker’s first-time shot fizzed just past the junction of bar and post.  Cennerazzo returned the favour a couple of minutes later, his enthusiasm releasing the ball for Helgason on the edge of the box, but again the shot was slightly off-target.

Shippy weren’t finished yet, however, and deep into stoppage time, Bell ran on to a return pass on the left side of the Watt box.  His shot took a slight wick off the boot of Banks and this was enough to take it over Millar’s head into goal and spoil Watt’s clean sheet.

 

Burntisland Shipyard:

Mushet, Bridges, Bell, Smart, MacDonald, Crombie (McKay 79), Blyth, Lowe, Sartarello (Masson 43), Robertson, Henderson (Napier 62).    Subs. not used:   Clark, Morrison.

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Banks, Wilson, Hume, Forbes, Myatt, Forsyth, Connor, Blake (Cennerazzo 74), Helgason, Lopez Pereira de Carvalho.    Subs. not used:  O’Hagan, Saunders.

Referee: Mr Chris Carrick (Kirkcaldy)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 11:  Saturday 12th October 2013

East of Scotland Qualifying League, Section C:  Leith Athletic  4   Heriot-Watt University  4

This was an amazing game on the Meadowbank synthetic.  Right from the start, it had ‘goals’ written all over it and goals did arrive at regular intervals throughout.

Watt almost had one in the fourth minute when Carlo Cennerazzo, making his first start in attack, chased a badly-directed backpass which went past goalkeeper Jamie Newman, but there was just too much pace on the ball and although Cennerazzo did catch it before it crossed the by-line, the best he was able to do was to clip it against the post and Leith managed to scramble it clear.

The Watt had started the game at a fast pace and took a deserved lead after ten minutes with a fine goal.  Following a throw on the left, Cennerazzo slipped the ball to Michael Webster as he cut inside.  Webster sent a well-judged shot across Newman into the postage-stamp corner.

David Myatt’s well-weighted pass sent Cennerazzo away into the box, but where a first-time shot might have been the thing, he took a touch, allowing the Leith defence to get in a challenge and concede the corner.

After being on the receiving end for the first fifteen minutes, Athletic began to show some attacking intent and the dangerous Euan Campbell drove in a shot from around twenty-five metres which Jason Millar dived to his right to touch round the post.

Five minutes later, Leith equalised.  A cross to the left side of the box resulted in Jamie Forsyth and Chris Wright tangled up on the ground.  The ball fell to Kenneth Hall and as the Watt defence hesitated, he sent in a cross which was swept into the net from the edge of the six-yard box by Lewis Martin.

Eight minutes later, it got worse for Watt.  Forsyth, just inside the penalty area,  miscontrolled the ball and when it bounced up and struck him around the top of his arm, the referee awarded a penalty.  Millar got a hand to Campbell’s kick but was unable to keep it out of goal.

A bad foul on Scott Dargo left him in some difficulty, although he was eventually able to continue.  The game had changed now and Watt had lost the ascendancy.  Forsyth’s tracking back was vital as he got in a good tackle on Hall, who had ventured forward as a move built up on the right.

Millar made a rash run from his box to try to clear a ball played down the Leith left, but Wright was able to take the ball past him and work his way along the by-line, but Andy Forbes stood his ground at the near post and blocked the ball away for a corner.

A minute before half-time, a corner from the right taken with a bit of pace was met full tilt by Curt Banks, who looked on in disbelief as the ball was somehow diverted behind.

Two minutes after the restart, the Watt found themselves two goals down when Campbell’s shot from the edge of the box squirmed under Millar’s arms into the corner of the net.  Straight from the kick-off, Webster went on a determined run, cutting in along the line of the penalty area, but he shinned his shot well over the top.

A good ball by Dargo gave Cennerazzo a chance, but his shot was blocked and Webster was unable to get in a second effort.  Cam Dunn’s free kick then found the Banks beyond the far post, but he made a poor contact and his header went tamely past.

Two minutes later and twelve minutes into the second period, the Watt fight-back was under way.  Gary Black was always ahead of Forsyth to reach Myatt’s ball down the right, but when the Leith defender passed the ball back to Newman, Forsyth kept running and when the goalkeeper tried to sidestep him, Forsyth got in a solid tackle which carried the ball directly into goal.

Two minutes later, it was all square with another excellent goal.  Dunn cut inside from the left and laid the ball in front of the advancing Myatt, who struck a shot of controlled power and great accuracy into the top corner to the right of Newman.

Watt were flying now and when Dargo won a corner on the right, Mikey Connor found Forsyth, whose cross was backheeled towards goal by Banks.  Webster cut across and seemed to take the ball away from Myatt as he made to shoot.  Then, after Högni Helgason had come on to replace Cennerazzo, Forbes’s huge clearing header from a corner set Watt scampering forward again, but Dunn failed to find Webster as he charged through the middle in space.

Helgason shot just wide from Forsyth’s pass, but soon the Watt scored again, taking the lead for the first time since the first time.  Dunn’s corner from the left found Forbes unaccountably unmarked and he ran forward to crash a header into the net.

Ronnie Napier replaced Webster as the game became almost unbelievably loose.  Leith came close when a corner struck Wright on the thigh and almost went in, then, after Dargo succumbed to his earlier injury and was replaced for his debut by Jack O’Hagan, another dangerous corner by Dunn was met with another formidable header by Banks, only for Newman to bring off an unbelievable save low by his left-hand post.  Following the corner, Forbes hooked a shot over his shoulder and Dunn shot wide from the follow-up.

Helgason, Napier and Dunn combined to attack a thinning Leith defence, but perhaps there were too many options and the wrong one was chosen.  Then, with two minutes of normal time left, the influential Campbell did it again, cutting in from the left and firing in a shot reminiscent of Webster’s early goal to give a symmetrical appearance to the scoring.

Even after this, there were further chances as three minutes of stoppage time were played.  Myatt made a run to the edge of the area and Napier’s shot from a tight angle was blocked away.  Campbell played in Martin, who tried to clip a shot over Millar and didn’t miss by much.  Finally, Dunn and Napier combined, but Dunn’s centre had too much pace to connect with the run of Helgason.

 

Leith Athletic:

Newman, Simpson, Hall (Tainsh 89), Black, Leslie, Lynch (Barrie 57), Martin, Cairns (Boggie 75), Wright, Mason, Campbell.    Sub. not used:  Tracey.

Heriot-Watt University:

Millar, Dargo (O’Hagan 78), Laurenson, Banks, Forbes, Myatt, Forsyth, Connor, Cennerazzo (Helgason 66), Webster (Napier 73), Dunn.  Sub. not used:  Saunders, .

Referee: Mr Gary Hilland (Glasgow)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 10:  Saturday 5th October 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Heriot-Watt University  3   Civil Service Strollers  2

Watt made it two 3 – 2 wins in a row in the Premier Division with another late show to snatch all three points against the Strollers.

To achieve this, Watt had to come from behind twice.   Michael Dick opened the scoring for Civil Service before a David Thomson penalty brought things level.  Then, after Liam Jack had put the visitors back in front, Curt Banks’s cross was turned into his own goal by a defender to make it all square again.  In the last minute, Högni Helgason grabbed the winner to take Watt on to six points and away from the foot of the table.

 

Heriot-Watt University:    Saunders, Banks (Napier 83), Laurenson, McDonald, Forbes, Thomson, Myatt (Connor 75),  Rae (Dunn 40), Forsyth, Helgason, Webster.   Subs. not used:  Doherty, Cennerazzo.

Civil Service Strollers (squad):    Jack, Lister, Raeburn, Salton, Ford, Newall, Dick, Jack, Moprice, Burns, Bryce, Raeburn, Fenwick, Gibson, Inglis, Stewart.

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 9:  Saturday 28th September 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Heriot-Watt University  3   Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale  2

Watt went into this game against a team fancied by many to win the championship with a league record of played 3, lost 3 and the inevitable necessity to bring in new players to replace those unavailable through injury or other reasons.  This time young defender Fraser McDonald made his first appearance and on the left side of midfield, Cam Dunn started for the first time after his impressive showing at Stirling a fortnight earlier.

There was an early warning as the visitors’ centre-back, John Williams, advanced to strike a powerful drive from distance which carried just over the bar, but it was the Watt who took the lead with just seven minutes played.  David Thomson gathered on the right and exchanged passes with Högni Helgason before playing the ball across the area for Jamie Forsyth to slide home.

Only another seven minutes elapsed before it was back to level terms.  A good pass into the box found Sean Wringe, who was slow to secure the ball and a challenge took the ball to the Watt right, with Craig Saunders drawn well out of his goal.  A slack pass gave possession to Calum Connolly and all he had to do was to make sure he avoided Saunders as he rushed back to try to guard the goal.

The visitors were in the ascendancy for the rest of the first half, with a shot from Ross Elliot coming close before a great tackle by Andy Forbes thwarted Willis Hare.  Seven minutes before half-time, the goal which had been threatening arrived when Wringe rounded McDonald near the corner flag and took the ball in along the by-line before cutting back to make a shooting angle and tucking the ball behind Saunders.

Watt responded with a good move involving Jamie Forsyth, David Thomson and Craig Dargo, with Dargo’s shot being saved by Kevin Swain down at his near post, but soon the visiting side was applying the pressure again and it was Dargo who made a goal-saving intervention after Wringe had taken the ball past Saunders.

Ewan Henderson replaced Dunn at the start of the second half and soon began to make an impression with strong running into wide areas.  His first charge down the right took him into the area, but he took the ball too close to Swain, although the rebound from the goalkeeper almost fell for Helgason.

Ten minutes into the second period, a rejuvenated Watt equalised from the penalty spot after Thomson was felled by Dale Horribine.  Henderson grabbed the ball and made a fine job of the kick, firing high past Swain.

Suddenly Watt looked the more likely side and a good ball by Forsyth picked out Henderson, in space again on the right.  Helgason went in at the near post to meet the low centre, but just missed the target.

Although the Watt was now on top, Lothian continued to show a threat in possession and when a free kick was conceded twenty metres from goal, Elliot got the ball round the wall to force a splendid save from Saunders, diving to his left to turn the ball round the post.

When Watt resumed the offensive, Henderson had a great chance gifted to him by a misplaced pass which let him go into the box with only Swain to beat, but his shot was struck straight at the goalkeeper.

Saunders made an even more impressive save than his earlier one when Craig Stevenson hammered in a shot from the edge of the area and the Watt ’keeper showed lightning-fast reactions to touch the ball over the bar.  With the match on a knife-edge, it was a very important contribution and paved the way for Watt to snatch victory.

Thomson’s excellent corner from the left gave Chris Rae the next opportunity and from beyond the far post, Rae rose to get in a powerful header, but the ball shot back across goal and past the post.

With just two minutes of regulation time left to play, Andy Forbes took things into his own hands.  Reading a pass in the centre circle early, Forbes strode forward, won the ball cleanly and made off at high speed straight through the startled visitors’ defence, which had pushed up and become compressed.  Within seconds, Forbes was past the lot and bearing down on Swain.  He shaped to curl the ball past the goalie’s left hand, then swept it past his right into the corner of the net.  A fantastic goal and one which will live long in the memories of all Watt people who saw it.

There were fully five minutes of stoppage time to endure, but Watt was not seriously threatened until the last gasp, when a free kick from the Thistle left found the head of Connolly, but to the immense relief of the home side, the ball carried over the bar.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, McDonald, Forbes, Rae, Thomson, Myatt, Helgason, Forsyth, Dunn (Henderson 45).  Subs. not used:  Robb, Doherty, Cennerazzo.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:

Swain, Horribine, Crawford, Wilkes, Williams, Elliot, Macdonald (Milligan 53), Connolly, Stevenson, Wringe (McDonaugh 76), Hare (Ferguson 60).  Subs. not used:  Irvine, Rooney.

Referee: Mr Keith Maskell (Star)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 8:  Saturday 21st September 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Tynecastle  2   Heriot-Watt University  0

Watt added another to its collection of frustrating visits to Fernieside as despite monumental effort, the team failed to click on the day and Tynecastle gathered the points.

The home side opened the scoring with just seven minutes on the clock, Matt Costello rising to head a corner back across goal and just inside the post, giving Craig Saunders no chance.

Watt toiled away throughout the remainder of the half without finding much fluency and were eventually reduced to long-range efforts, with both David Myatt and Michael Webster trying shots from too great a distance.

Early in the second half, Saunders was called upon to keep the score to one, saving with his feet from Tynecastle’s left winger.  David Thomson, on in place of Webster, was given a chance to shoot by a fine pass by Michael Connor, but his effort was partially blocked and spun over the bar on to the roof of the net.

Just after this, with fifteen minutes left to play, Tynecastle claimed a second and clinching goal when a long cross was missed by the Tynecastle forwards and deflected off Scott Dargo just inside the post.

Late on, Saunders made another good save, touching a chip shot over the bar.

Watt finished on the offensive; a great ball down the wing by Neil Laurenson was moved on by Ewan Henderson to Thomson, whose shot was well saved by the goalkeeper, who touched it round the post.  Laurenson reprised the pass a minute later and this time Henderson was tripped.  The free-kick was headed behind by a defender and from the corner Connor crossed for the head of Andy Forbes, but he was under too much pressure to find the target.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, Hume, Forbes, Connor, Forsyth, Myatt, Helgason (Robb 78), Rae (Henderson 69), Webster (Thomson 56).  Sub. not used:  Doherty.

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 7:  Saturday 14th September 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Stirling University II  2   Heriot-Watt University  1

Another Saturday, another defeat by another university side – but there was real frustration afterwards that Watt had failed to take something from this game against a team that has now gone to the top of the Premier Division.

With David Kerr having suffered a stress fracture of the right foot, there was another new partner for Andy Forbes in central defence, but Jamie Hume, who had done so well as a substitute right-back at Peffermill the previous Saturday, stepped in to the role and again gave a good account of himself.  Scott Dargo, another who impressed in a substitute role when he had appeared against Craigroyston two weeks ago, was at right-back for his first start of the season and also played well.

With a team featuring some of the new recruits for this season “headhunted” from league clubs on both sides of the border, including Khan Williams-Mitchell, brought in from AFC Wimbledon, who impressed so much in the Alex Jack Cup tie at Riccarton three weeks ago, Stirling started impressively with a game full of slick passing and good movement.  The Watt side worked hard to contain the sharp work of the Stirling midfield, in which Gary Crooks and former Partick Thistle man Scott Tully were prominent, as well as Williams-Mitchell.

Stirling’s tall, mobile striker Elliot Sutcliffe was a hard man to pin down and showed his danger early on with a shot on the turn from twenty metres which Craig Saunders dived to his right to save, but half-way through the first half, it was Sutcliffe who made the breakthrough.  Williams-Mitchell, another tall player, got between two Watt defenders to reach a dangerous far-post cross from the left and head the ball back across goal.  Sutcliffe didn’t make a good contact with his shot and it deflected off a defender, deceiving Saunders, who was on his way down to his left when the ball straightened and went over him into the middle of the goal.

Four minutes later, a second goal arrived.  The Watt midfield was slow to react to a quickly-taken free-kick and Williams-Mitchell was allowed to run straight through the middle.  When he got to twenty metres out and found the Watt defence still backing off, he simply fired a low shot just inside the post to the right of Saunders.

This was a very dispiriting goal to lose, but Watt battled back well.  A foul on Ewan Henderson near the right touchline gave Michael Connor the chance to play the ball in to the danger area and he sent in a fine free kick which Henderson just failed to reach.  Then Chris Rae went on a driving run through the middle of the pitch and found Neil Laurenson on the overlap on the wide left.  Laurenson’s cross reached Henderson near the back post, but when he headed back across goal, Michael Webster could only glance the ball with his head at full stretch and goalkeeper Dane Smith was able to gather.

Webster, in his first outing of the season, was beginning to make his presence felt and a couple of trademark runs off the left wing reminded us of his talent.  At the end of one such run, he found Henderson on the left and his pass made its way across to Jamie Forsyth on the opposite wing.  As Forsyth cut inside, however, the Stirling defence closed in and the danger was snuffed out.

Although the Watt had enjoyed an excellent quarter of an hour at the end of the half, the last action might have sealed the result, another deep cross from the left finding Sutcliffe lurking at the far post, but the big man headed just over.

Watt resumed with renewed purpose and a determined run on the left by David Myatt enabled him to link with Webster, who got away a shot which Smith blocked behind.

Cameron Dunn replaced Webster for the last half-hour and his trickery and pace were immediately troubling for the Stirling rearguard.  In the sixty-eighth minute he outflanked the home defence and cut the ball back for Connor on the edge of the box.  He played it across to Forsyth, who, as defenders closed in, had just enough time to place an accurate side-foot shot into the corner of goal to the right of Smith.

Watt was back in the hunt now and dominated the remainder of the game against a home side which could hardly wait for the final whistle.  The closest Watt came to claiming what would have been a deserved share of the spoils came with a minute left to play.  David Thomson, who had earlier replaced Connor in midfield, sent in a cross from the right and the ball made its way out to the left side, where Dunn, from a tight angle, smashed in a first-time half-volley which thumped against the post and rebounded into play.

Watt continued to press forward until the end and when Laurenson sent in a cross from the left it was defender Forbes who was in the penalty box to throw himself forward in a desperate attempt to head an equaliser.

A frustrating game but surely an indication of better things to come as the Watt squad builds.

Stirling University II:  Smith, Parish, Sheridan, Glendinning, Cuff, May, Tully (Wilson 71), Crooks, Sutcliffe, Williams-Mitchell (Sub 63), Jacobs (McCue 45).    Subs. not used:  Polvara, Tierney.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Dargo, Laurenson, Hume, Forbes, Connor (Thomson 71), Forsyth, Rae, Henderson, Myatt (Robb 90), Webster (Dunn 58).  Sub. not used:  Green.

Referee: Mr Chris Phillips (Kirkcaldy)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 6:  Saturday 7th September 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Edinburgh University  2   Heriot-Watt University  1

There were more changes to the Watt squad for the trip to the east of the city to meet our student rivals from Edinburgh University.  David Thomson made his first appearance in East of Scotland football and two Under-19 players, Jamie Hume and Olly Holt, were amongst the substitutes.

The home side made most of the early running, with Stuart Macfarlane showing good deternination to get past Neil Laurenson and swing in a cross which was headed narrowly over by Stefan Ross.  Edinburgh centre-half Hamish Flett sustained a head knock and had to be replaced by Graeme Armstrong when the bleeding could not be stopped satisfactorily, but a couple of minutes later, the Peffermill faithful were celebrating when their team went ahead.  Watt goalkeeper Craig Saunders misjudged the strength of a cross from Paul Sutherland and after coming to collect, found he could only get his fingertips to the ball, which fell at the feet of Calum Frain to knock into the vacant goal.

Another flowing Edinburgh move brought a shooting opportunity to George Nikalaidis, but his attempt was well off target.  On the half-hour, there was another opportunity for the home team to get a cross into the area and Jack Guthrie got in a close-range header, but Saunders got his hands up in an instant and David Kerr moved quickly to block the follow-up shot.

Watt had a chance for an equaliser when Tim Rawlinson fouled Ryan Stevenson, giving Michael Connor the chance to play an inventive free kick low to the near post, where Andy Forbes turned to chip the ball to the far side of goal to the waiting Ewan Henderson, but the big fellow had no forward momentum as he rose for the header and it went tamely off his head and past.

Two minutes from half-time, a clash of heads between Macfarlane and Laurenson left the Edinburgh man grounded, but Laurenson was the one with his head covered in blood.  After a stoppage for this situation to be dealt with, Watt concentration was perhaps lacking as Guthrie drove hard down the right, surviving tackles by both Watt central defenders, to get in a cross.  Frain, coming in from the left, met the ball at speed and Chris Rae did very well to track the ball and head it over.  Unfortunately for the Watt, the corner kick made its way through a crowded area to Ross, who turned it into the net from close range.

Early in the second half, Saunders came to Watt’s rescue, diving to his left to turn away a free kick by Vince Coleman.  Edinburgh goalkeeper Liam Valentine was soon called into action too, rushing from his goal to block the ball behind when Henderson got past the left side of the Edinburgh defence and reached the by-line.

Jamie Hume became the Watt’s second debutant on the day when he replaced Neil Robb in the fiftieth minute and his excellent cross set up a chance for Jamie Forsyth, but the Watt midfielder headed the ball so firmly downwards that it bounced up over Valentine and the home custodian had to backpedal to touch it over the bar.

Watt continued the pressure, however, with Forsyth turning on Mark Hamill’s centre to fire in a left-foot snap shot from the edge of the area only to see Valentine dive to his left to save; then, when Forsyth’s run down the left was halted by a foul by Armstrong, Connor delivered a penetrating cross into the home penalty box.  An Edinburgh foot played the ball away towards the edge of the area, but Forbes was first to reach it and he drove it with conclusive force into the postage-stamp corner.

The Watt pressed forward, desperately seeking an equalising goal, but Saunders had to be alert, firstly to deny home substitute Kohei Habata when he advanced quickly on to a through pass, then to block from Armstrong after he got behind the Watt defence.

The last chance came for the visitors when a good cross from Laurenson was dropped by Valentine.  Forsyth was on hand to turn the ball towards goal, but he found an Edinburgh defender in position to block with his thighs a yard from the goal line.

This was another hard one to take for the Watt, who remain at the bottom of the Premier Division table.  There were several noteworthy performances – Mikey Connor, who is maturing with every game into a better midfielder, was calm in possession and passed the ball consistently well; Neil Laurenson shrugged off his head wound to make a quality contribution; Jamie Forsyth battled hard and got himself into striking positions; Chris Rae made many telling challenges and took every opportunity to press forward; Craig Saunders, despite his unfortunate misjudgment for the first goal, was resolute and stood up well to form a barrier to the ambitions of Edinburgh forwards; Andy Forbes was as reliable and committed as ever, as well as weighing in with a memorable goal; young Jamie Hume showed in his relatively brief time on the pitch that he has what it takes to make a substantial contribution.  So onward and upward to Stirling next week in a quest for the points which will kick-start the Watt’s season.

Edinburgh University:  Valentine, Macfarlane, Sutherland, Murray, Flett (Armstrong 12), Coleman (Habata 64), Ross, Rawlinson, Guthrie, Nikolaidis, Frain.    Subs. not used:  Oswald, Patterson, Thomson.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Rae, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Connor, Robb (Hume 49), Forsyth, Henderson, Thomson (Hamill 55), Stevenson (Green 85).  Subs. not used:  Heraghty, Holt.

Referee: Mr John Weir (Denny) 

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 5:  Saturday 31st August 2013

East of Scotland League, Premier Division:  Heriot-Watt University  1   Craigroyston  3

Watt entertained Craigroyston for the second time in the infant season and the result was exactly the same as it had been in the first meeting.  Never mind, there will be four more opportunities during the course of this campaign, with the sides paired in the King Cup and South Region Challenge Cup as well as in the Qualifying League.

For the first time since the opening match against Burntisland Shipyard, Watt actually took the lead in this game.  When Mikey Connor’s corner was played back to him, he played it in again to the near post area, where Jamie Forsyth stepped forward to score a goal curiously reminiscent of Andy Forbes’s counter against Craigroyston in the previous game between these teams at Riccarton a couple of weeks earlier.

Watt, buoyed by this goal, pressed forward and Neil Laurenson’s teasing cross eluded David Myatt only for goalkeeper Stuart Burnside to flatten him as he leaped to punch the ball for a corner.

Craigroyston looked quick and capable in attack but the Watt defence looked secure and was dealing well with the visitors’ thrusts until the thirty-fourth minute, when Forbes was judged late in a challenge in the area and James Guy fired home the penalty.

Scott Dargo came into the action for the first time this season when he replaced Neil Robb on the hour mark and almost immediately made an impact, working hard to dispossess Liam Young and send in a fine cross which gave a good opportunity to Ewan Henderson.  Curiously, the tall striker was only able to head the ball up and out towards the edge of the box, from where it was prodded forward by Mark Hamill.  Henderson got another touch on the ball on the way through, but it then came off Burnside and went behind.  The referee’s award of a goal kick was unexpected, but was not thought too serious; however, Craigie went straight up the field and took the lead, Guy’s trickery creating the chance to play the ball in to the near post where Stewart Adams headed it in.

Craigroyston maintained the ascendancy for some time after this and added a clinching goal twelve minutes later.  A deep cross from the left reached Craig Dickson well beyond the far post and his precise header went back across goal and in at the post.

David Kerr’s good block on Dickson’s shot prevented Craigie adding to the lead before Dargo’s drive was well saved by Burnside diving to his right.

In the final minute, David Myatt, who had been cautioned earlier, volunteered for first use of the showers by barging over an opponent who was making a run through midfield.

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Rae, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Connor (Sutherland 82), Robb (Dargo 59), Myatt, Henderson, Forsyth, Hamill (Stevenson 70).  Subs. not used:  Doherty, Smith

Craigroyston:

Burnside, Young, Hogarth, Campbell, Jeffrey, Greenhill, Dunn, Hendrie (McCormack 6), Adams, Dickson, Guy (Rendall 82).  Subs. not used:  Barbirou, McWilliams, Addison.

Referee: Mr Jim McCunnie (Bothwell)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 4:  Saturday 24th August 2013

Alex Jack Cup, First Round:  Heriot-Watt University  0   Stirling University  4

After the previous week’s chasing by Hibernian, a tie against Stirling University’s Lowland League side could not be considered good news for the Watt and fears of another pounding were raised as the home side went two goals down within thirteen minutes of the start.   As in the Watt’s previous home game the Saturday before, the first goal came from an error by goalkeeper Craig Saunders, who came to catch a cross but could only parry the ball and as it fell at the feet of Stirling danger man Liam Corr, the striker swept it home.

Corr was on the mark again four minutes later, weaving a mazy path through the home defence off the right side and stabbing the ball past Saunders from the edge of the six-yard box.

Watt fought back with Jamie Forsyth winning a corner, following which he got in a shot from the edge of the area, but when this was blocked, Stirling broke quickly and Andy Forbes had to be alert to cut out a pass intended for Corr.

The visitors’ right-winger Darren Walker had been called for several offsides and it was perhaps inevitable that he would escape the trap at some stage.  When he did, Corr had the opportunity to complete a quick-fire hat-trick, but when Walker’s cross came in, he headed over from good position.

Ronnie Napier had a good effort from distance after a period of spirited home play, but Dane Smith gathered the shot comfortably enough.  Soon Stirling resumed the attack and Forbes had to be vigilant again to foil Paul Sludden, then to tackle Walker in the act of shooting.  Despite these heroics, a third Stirling goal arrived a minute from half-time, Corr shooting home once again.

Saunders made a splendid save from George Leigh early in the second half, diving full length to turn the ball round the post as Stirling, with Khan Williams-Mitchell in full control in midfield, turned the screw on the harassed home defence.

Another shot by Napier might have brought joy for the Watt, but it was deflected for a corner.  Mikey Connor’s kick to the far post was headed goalwards by Forbes but Smith collected.

Leigh threatened again with a volley following a corner on the Stirling right, but Saunders and Mark Hamill combined to block on the line before Saunders did well again, blocking with his legs after Williams-Mitchell’s penetrating run had carried him into the danger area.  The increasingly-busy Watt ‘keeper was there again a few minutes later to touch Sludden’s shot round the post, but he was beaten in the seventy-fourth minute, despite saving Walker’s shot, when Leigh was on hand to finish the job.

It may simply have been that Stirling, their place in the next round of the Alex Jack Cup secure, began to relax at this point, but several of the best efforts in the remaining quarter of an hour came from the home side.  Forbes went for a hitch-kick from Connor’s free kick and saw his attempt deflected over the bar; from the resultant corner-kick, Neil Laurenson’s shot was blocked and a few minutes later, substitute Martin Green shot just over the bar.

The final effort, however, came from Sludden, who struck a tremendous drive from around thirty metres which rebounded from the top of the bar and cleared the fence behind.

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Rae, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Myatt (Green 75), Robb (Henderson 60), Napier,  Forsyth, Connor, Hamill.  Subs. not used:  Doherty, Smith

Stirling University:

Smith, McWhirter, McCue (Sheridan 56), Glendenning, Cuff, Williams-Mitchell (Crooks 74), Walker, Leigh, Sludden, Corr (Sutcliffe 60), Mitchell.  Subs. not used:  Hughes, Tierney

Referee: Mr Michael Gill

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 3:  Saturday 17th August 2013

East of Scotland Qualifying League – Section C:  Hibernian  8   Heriot-Watt University  0

This was the match in which Watt’s player problems caught up with them with a vengeance as the side suffered its worst defeat in more than a decade against a fit, skilful Hibs professional youth side.

Not only has the Watt squad been patchy in the early part of the season, but even amongst those who have been involved, availability has not been universal and for this difficult match, two key defenders, Neil Laurenson and David Kerr, were absent.  Michael Heraghty stepped in for his first appearance of the season at left back, with Martin Green making his first start for the senior side in front of him on the left side of midfield.  On the right side, Fergal Doherty retained his place after playing his first game of the season against Craigroyston in the midweek.  Despite having taken little part in pre-season training, Ronnie Napier returned in midfield through force of necessity, the bench being occupied only by the inexperienced Mark Hamill and Elliot Sutherland, alongside Head Coach Chris Smith, who listed himself in case of emergency.

For twenty minutes, Watt held the green machine at bay, playing constructively when the opportunity arose, but then the roof fell in.  Hibernian right-back Aaron Dunsmore, whose marauding runs constantly threatened the Watt defence, fired in a low cross and Doherty, coming in from the right and attempting to clear, got the ball on the wrong part of his boot and fired it firmly into the top corner of the net.

Five minutes later, a cross from Jamie Beaton looked likely to produce a goal, but good defence closed off the far-post chance, only for the ball to be turned across goal again and volleyed fiercely past Craig Saunders by Jason Cummings.

Three minutes after this, Dunsmore sped down the right again.  After he had passed Heraghty, the retreating Green took a swipe at him and fortunately missed.  Dunsmore continued into the area and fired a low shot across Saunders and in at the far post.

A fourth goal in twelve minutes arrived when Max Todd brushed aside the challenge of Doherty and poked the ball under Saunders, then six minutes later it was five when Green’s rash challenge conceded a free kick just outside the penalty box.  Although Saunders was able to push out Jordan Sinclair’s shot, Euan Smith was on hand to lash in the loose ball.

Watt managed to get through to half-time without further concessions and when the second half started, went even longer without mishap, fully half an hour passing without another goal, although this time there were few occasions on which the pressure was relieved for long after a first-minute chance to pull a goal back.  Ewan Henderson chased down goalkeeper Kleton Perntreou, who kicked a clearance against him, but Henderson, having to take the shot from a tight angle whilst the opportunity lasted, was unable to get his effort on target.

The sixth goal, when it came, was the best of the day, Todd cutting in from the right and driving the ball across goal into the top corner.  Watt had hopes of avoiding the score getting any worse, but two goals in a minute from the eighty-second minute of play dashed that ambition.  Firstly, substitute Gareth McCaffrey accepted a through pass to shoot home, then a fine shot from the edge of the box by Tom Gardiner completed the rout.

Saunders had not abandoned his post and was called upon once more, diverting a shot by Cody Mulhall away from goal.

Hibernian:

Perntreou, Dunsmore, Crane, Paul, Wilson, Gardiner, Smith (Mulhall 65), Sinclair (McCaffrey 58), Cummings, Todd, Beaton.  Subs. not used:  Baptie, Martyniuk, Horne.

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Doherty (Sutherland 74), Heraghty, Rae, Forbes, Myatt, Forsyth, Myatt,  Henderson, Connor, Green (Hamill 69).  Sub. not used:  Smith

Referee: Mr Craig Ferguson

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 2:  Tuesday 13th August 2013

East of Scotland Qualifying League – Section C:  Heriot-Watt University  1   Craigroyston  3  

It was bound to have an effect.  The departures of five regulars from the previous season’s First Team squad at the end of last season (Sean Muhsin, Frazer Paterson, Aaron James, Chris Donnelly and Ricky Burke), plus Blair Carswell, who kept goal in about a third of the matches during the season, adding to the losses during the season of Paul Ewing through injury and Simon Ferrie through personal circumstances, had left the Watt player pool threadbare, with the bench again incomplete for this match.  The late departure of Head Coach Michael Renwick to take up an opportunity in the U.S.A. had also meant a change on the bench, Chris Smith stepping up from the Under-21s to take charge.

Watt had got away with it on the Saturday against Burntisland, but the visit of the First Division champions placed too much of a burden and Watt lost out to a smart Craigroyston side.

Stuart Addison, in the Craigie goal, had been forced into a diving save early on when David Myatt pounced on a defensive error to set up Mikey Connor for a solid drive from the edge of the area, but that was as good as it got for the home side and after Mark Hendrie had brought out a similar save from Craig Saunders, the visitors took the lead just after the half-hour.  Saunders was involved here too; he ran off his line to catch a cross, but was going too quickly to make a sound catch and when he dropped the ball, the vigilant Hendrie knocked the ball into the vacant goal.

Saunders prevented Craigroyston doubling their lead a few minutes later, standing up superbly to deny John Dunn.

Ewan Henderson had half a chance just before half-time, but having taken the ball round Michael Somerville, he couldn’t fashion a clear shooting opportunity and his attempted pass to Neil Robb was intercepted.

Two minutes into the second half, Craigroyston added a second goal when David Kerr pulled back Paul Lynch inside the box and Lynch tucked away the penalty.  Eight minutes later, it was three, when Somerville rose at the near post to meet a corner and plant a header firmly behind Saunders.

Henderson had a chance a few minutes later when the ball squirted across the goalmouth in his direction, but he lost his footing.  Craigroyston broke quickly upfield and David Kerr had to get in a good block to deny Dunn.

The Watt finally got on to the scoreboard with twenty minutes left to play and it was defender Andy Forbes who expertly volleyed home on the turn from Connor’s free kick.  The cause had looked forlorn before this, but suddenly the visitors were looking a bit vulnerable.  Chris Rae’s superb through ball gave Henderson the chance to knock the ball over the head of the advancing Addison, but he was unable to turn it into goal before he was closed down by retreating defenders.

Craigie should have made the game safe with five minutes left on the clock, but after one substitute, Andrew Sinclair, cut inside and fired in a powerful shot which Saunders did well to parry, another of the visitors’ replacements, Steven McCormack, somehow knocked the ball over the bar from close range with the goal at his mercy.

The game finished on a sour note for the Watt when Kerr reacted to a poor decision by the referee and was sent off for using abusive language.

Heriot-Watt University:

Saunders, Doherty, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Myatt, Robb (Green 51), Rae, Connor, Henderson, Forsyth (Sutherland 75).  (All subs. used)

Craigroyston:

Addison, Young, Hogarth, Campbell, Somerville, Greenhill, Macintosh, Hendrie (Ritchie 75), Lynch (McCormack 65), Rendall (Sinclair 65), Dunn.  Subs. not used:  Barbirou, McWilliams

Referee: Mr Michael Addy (Edinburgh)

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SEASON 2013 – 2014         Match 1:  Saturday 10th August 2013

East of Scotland Qualifying League – Section C:  Heriot-Watt University  3   Burntisland Shipyard  0

So far, so good.  As the team from the higher division, Watt would have been expected to see off Burntisland Shipyard on Saturday, but with a much-altered team from last season, the Riccarton side could be well satisfied with three goals and a clean sheet against hard-working opponents who had former Watt favourite Brendan Napier pulling the strings in midfield.

The new-look Heriot-Watt side started the match briskly, with Ewan Henderson doing well to cut in fron the left and link with Jamie Forsyth, but when he laid the ball off to David Myatt, he didn’t get the strike he wanted and Jordan Mushet gathered.

Brendan Napier reminded us of his capabilities, picking up a loose ball in midfield and driving through the middle of the pitch, but his shot was deflected for a corner and Watt kept their goal intact.

With twenty minutes played, the home side took the lead with a fine goal.  A left-wing corner was headed back across goal by Neil Robb and Chris Rae, enjoying the freedom of playing in midfield, threw himself sideways to send a firm, accurate hitchkick past Mushet.  Rae came close to a second from Neil Laurenson’s near-post corner, but the visitors were restricted to sporadic attacks and long-range shots which lacked the accuracy to trouble Craig Saunders.

Early in the second half, Watt went further ahead.  Henderson controlled Laurenson’s free kick and laid the ball back to the edge of the area, where Mikey Connor took one touch to set up the ball and lashed it across Mushet into the far corner.

Watt remained vigilant in defence, with Andy Forbes dominant in the air and David Kerr alert to make a fine tackle to deny Renato Sartarello from a right-wing cutback.

With four minutes to go, Watt sealed the win with a third goal.  Henderson played in Myatt on the left and he cut into the area and slammed a shot off the bar.  The ball rebounded on to the Watt right wing, from where it was turned back to the edge of the penalty box, at which point Rae met it with an accurate left-foot shot past the left hand of the goalkeeper.

Heriot-Watt University:  Saunders, Robb, Laurenson, Kerr, Forbes, Myatt, Forsyth (Weir 90), Rae, Henderson, Connor (Green 73), Stevenson (Heraghty 68).

Burntisland Shipyard:  Mushet, Morrison (Bridges 58), Connor, Smart, McKay, Lowe, Doig, Robertson, Sartarello (Bell 64), Napier, Henderson (Fotheringham 78).  Subs. not used:  Clark, Crombie

Referee:  Mr Keith Maskell (Star)