Match Reports: Season 2015 – 2016

 

Season 2015 – 2016: Match 36

East of Scotland League

4th May 2016

 

DUNS 3 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

Watt’s season ended with a whimper at Duns. Without four of the players who had played in Saturday’s win over Ormiston, the Watt side was again an unbalanced proposition and half the fourteen-player squad were Under-20 eligible, but there was hope that the makeshift side might be a match for a Dingers team playing its sixth game in twelve days and which has been calling in favours from former players to fill the shirts. The New Hawthorn Park pitch has been the issue here, the surface having been waterlogged throughout much of the winter, causing many postponements. It has dried out now, but is in poor condition, with its defects now being exacerbated by the number of home games Duns is having to play to catch up on its fixtures.

Watt started brightly enough. A corner in the fourth minute of play found the head of Chris Donnelly at the far post, but although he made a good connection, the ball struck a defender before reaching goal. A minute later, a fine passing move on the left between Donnelly and Anton Dowds took the ball deep into the home penalty area, but when the ball was set back by Donnelly to Dowds close to goal, Dowds slipped it carefully past the goalkeeper but past the far post.

So far, so good – but, sad to say, these early adventures were as good as it got for the Watt. A warning came in the tenth minute when Craig Saunders had to move quickly across goal to keep out a ball swung in from the left by Luke Strangeways following a corner kick. Watt was fortunate that the ball fell to a defender, George Windram, who was up for the corner, and he blazed the ball over the bar.

Dowds had another opportunity when he picked up a poor clearance and moved past a couple of opponents into the box, but his shot was blocked and when play moved to the other end of the pitch, the home side took the lead. The ball was moved inside from the left wing and Daniel Pattenden made a telling intrusion, injecting pace on the edge of the area to carry the ball forward and play it through to Jordan Lauder, who was unmarked in good position in front of goal and fired the ball into the corner of the net to the left of Saunders.

The Watt defence, lacking in experience and height, was struggling whenever Duns won a corner kick and Lauder had two heading opportunities in quick succession. The first was directed off the turf into the hands of Saunders and the second cleared the crossbar.

Watt’s best chance of the half seemed to have arrived when Donnelly accepted a throw-in from the left and nursed the ball across the pitch until he could time a pass to put Dunn in the clear. The pacy winger went into the penalty box, but his first touch on the uneven surface was a poor one and
Sean Robertson stretched to make a good recovery tackle and divert the ball for a corner kick.

The pitch also appeared to defeat Donnelly a few minutes later when a good pass put him in on the left side of the penalty box. Working his way forward, he never did seem to get the ball to sit in a position to strike it and eventually walked into a tackle.

Just before half-time, an excellent pass by Max Allison put Dunn in possession on the right. He cut into the box and seemed ready to move the ball on to his left foot for a shot, but the insistent calling of Donnelly changed his mind and he cut the ball back. The striker was in good space on the edge of the area, but his shot struck the player whom Dunn had been about to sidestep and went behind for only a corner.

Laurenson’s corner kick, not for the first time, landed close to goal amongst the feet of the players, but once again there was no Watt foot to knock the ball home before a home defender could clear it.

There was some hope in Watt ranks that Duns might begin to tire as we went into the second half, but it was the visiting side that appeared lacklustre as Duns took command. Six minutes after the restart, Duns swept forward. Players on both sides advanced towards the Watt goal like a tidal wave, with a suspicion of marginal offside more than once as the ball was passed out to the right wing. When it came back inside again, Strangeways struck it firmly into the corner of the goal.

Three minutes later, things got even worse for the Watt. A ball played down the right seemed to present no great problem for Jack Daniel, but he took his time, unaware that Pattenden was catching up fast. Daniel later admitted he didn’t see Pattenden at all, but as he went to play the ball, just inside the side line of the penalty area, the forward was going past him and he found himself playing his leg instead. It was an unfortunate penalty to concede, but no doubt Daniel learned his lesson and will make no assumptions in similar situations in future. Lauder sent Saunders the wrong way with the penalty to make it 3 – 0 to the home side.

Daniel made a much more positive contribution a few minutes later, surging out of defence and playing an accurate pass to Donnelly on the right. Donnelly found substitute Liam Walker deep inside the penalty box and when Walker took the unusual course of laying the ball back to a position well outside the area, Laurenson came tearing in and fired in a tremendous first-time shot. Unfortunately, he didn’t pick a line to take the ball right up into the corner of the goal and Duns goalkeeper Phil Smith was able to dive to his left and turn the ball away.

With quarter of an hour left, Watt got a toehold in the game with a goal from the unlikely source of right-back Alex Scott. A cross from the right by Walker came back across the penalty area and Scott ran in to drive the ball into the corner of the net.

At last, Watt had the ascendancy and it seemed possible that if another goal could be obtained quickly, an unlikely point could be on the cards. Donnelly picked up the ball in the right-back position and sent a fine pass down the right for Walker, whose cross was knocked behind for a corner kick, but the Duns defence held out and the moment passed. In pushing forward, Watt took some chances at the back towards the end and might well have conceded again, but the closest to another goal was when Pattenden’s shot from Lauder’s pass was touched over the bar by Saunders.

Duns:
Smith, Ainslie (Bouchier 61), Walker, Renton, Windram, Brydon, Wemyss, Strangeways, Lauder, Pattenden, Robertson. All subs. used.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Scott, Laurenson, Higgins, Daniel, Macvinish (MacIver 59), Allison, Munro, Dowds (Walker 55), Donnelly, Dunn. Sub. not used: Wilson.

Referee: Mr. Daniel Graves (Edinburgh)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 35

East of Scotland League

30th April 2016

 

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 4 ORMISTON 1

After a run of five consecutive defeats, it was a somewhat daunting prospect to face a side that had been on a good run until recently and had gone past Watt in the league table with five games still in hand. As it turned out, this was a comfortable victory and might have been so even had Ormiston not been reduced to ten men with the score at 1 – 0.

That view is based on the fact that throughout the game there was a lot of space for the Watt players to use, but is contradicted by the fact that they often didn’t seem to know how to use it. The situation does sometimes arise that there are too many choices for the man on the ball and the Watt players failed to identify the right option on too many occasions.

Watt started purposefully and Anton Dowds came close in the first minute, but an even better chance was passed up soon after by Chris Donnelly, found by Dowds with a pass from the left. Donnelly opened up his body and steered the ball towards the open side of goal, but failed to get enough purchase on the ball and Andrew Jack saved low to his left.

The Watt remained on the offensive, however, and took the lead two minutes later. Sean Campbell timed his intrusion perfectly to carry the ball clear of the visitors’ defence and as Jack advanced, he drove the ball past him into goal.

There was an opportunity to increase the lead four minutes later when Harry Warner was played in on a run towards the left side of the penalty box. He was in a good shooting position, but when Donnelly called for the pass, Warner lacked the conviction to deny his senior partner and go for goal, instead trying to find Donnelly with a pass inside which was never going to reach its target due to the closer presence of a defender.

A minute later, Donnelly popped up on the right and sent in a fine cross, but Campbell, in good position, allowed the ball to slide off his head. It ran to Warner on the left side and he was called offside, which was perhaps as well, as he sliced the ball over the bar anyway.

Dowds was the next to threaten, surging across the pitch into a shooting position, but he dragged his effort across goal and past the post.

After the spell of attacking by the home side, Ormiston got hold of the ball and came down the left side, Pieyan Khosrowpour firing in a shot from the edge of the area which Saunders only just kept out, turning the ball away via the post for a corner kick. Soon, however, Watt was back in the visitors’ area, Ryan Higgins managing to get a touch to take the ball past Jack, but being unable to catch it before it went over the by-line.

Another Watt attack should have brought the second goal, but when Dowds latched on to Donnelly’s pass and took the ball close to Jack, he sent his shot past the goalkeeper but with insufficient momentum to take it into goal and a defender recovered to retrieve it.

Just before the half-hour, an imaginative cross-field run by Campbell was picked out by a fine pass by Neil Laurenson, but as the midfielder went clear, Jack ran from his goal and tripped him before he could reach the penalty area. Jack was sent off, being replaced in goal by Ferguson, but all the Watt gained was a free kick on the edge of the area and from that, Donnelly put the ball over the fence and out of the ground.

Another scoring chance came about through more good work by Campbell, who won two tackles in quick succession to send Dowds away on the right. Seeing the substitute goalkeeper coming towards him, Dowds tried an early shot, but Ferguson did well, saving above his head.

As half-time approached, Laurenson again provided the telling pass, setting Donnelly loose on the left. The roles from the earlier chance were reversed, but when Donnelly cut the ball back to find Dowds, the position was even better. Dowds, however, contrived to slice the ball past the left-hand post.

Two minutes later, Laurenson repeated the trick, sending Donnelly down the left again. This time the striker needed no assistance and he drew out Ferguson and slipped the ball past him to put the Watt two goals ahead at last.

Early in the second half, Higgins shot just over from Campbell’s layoff, then after a quickly-taken free kick Donnelly stretched to put the ball into the side netting before Laurenson went down the left and set up Campbell for a shot which went just past the post.

The pressure eventually told with a third goal just after the hour. Jamie Hume’s ball into the box landed at the feet of Donnelly, who performed a swift turn and knocked a left-foot shot into the corner of the goal.

It seemed a matter now of how many Watt would score, but perhaps the effects of their bad run still weighed on the minds of the players, as four minutes later they conceded a soft goal. Alexander Dimitrov dragged the ball through a series of weak challenges and sent in a shot towards the corner of the net The ball struck someone’s leg and dribbled into the opposite side of the goal.

Suddenly we all felt the nervousness of the Watt defenders. Could they possibly blow such a strong position? It was always possible and Ormiston sensed a chance to achieve something extraordinary. Cam Dunn, who had come on as a substitute, tried to relieve the anxiety with a trademark left-wing run, but he worked his way in too close to goal before attempting a cutback and the ball was blocked behind. Soon Watt was under pressure again and Khosrowpour had a great chance to reduce the arrears further, but sent his shot just past the post.

Dunn rashly conceded a free kick in a dangerous position and the ball was sent across the Watt goalmouth, requiring just a touch to take it in. Khosrowpour sent in another shot, this time from just outside the box, but Saunders grasped the ball gratefully.

There had been almost twenty minutes of anxiety before Watt eventually made the points safe with a fourth goal. It was an expert finish by Max Allison, who had started the game at right-back and had moved into midfield when Alex Scott came on. Reminding us of a similar goal scored in a previous game, Allison showed great composure, timing his run to perfection to accept a pass from Donnelly, accelerating past the last defender and stroking the ball past Ferguson. It all looks so simple when it’s done properly.

Watt tried to put the icing on the cake with another goal, but when Dowds drove the ball across goal from the left, Dunn was not close enough to the far post to finish. He gathered the ball, however, and brought it back into the penalty area, where Ferguson made a fine diving save to deny him.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Allison, Laurenson, Watt, Daniel, Hume, Campbell (Munro 80), Higgins (Scott 62), Dowds, Donnelly, Warner (Dunn 62). All subs. used.

Ormiston:
Jack, Milne, Jones, Devlin, Ferguson, Smith, Osborne, de Almeida (Morgan 56), Woods, Khosrowpour, Dimitrov (Hamilton 56). Subs. not used: Weir, Yule.

Referee: Mr. Billy Cooper (Glenrothes)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 34

East of Scotland League

23rd April 2016

 

TYNECASTLE 6 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2

After a first half in which Heriot-Watt competed well and might have considered the basis for a victory, the brittle morale of the team was demonstrated by the way in which it fell apart after going behind early in the second period.

Early exchanges were favourable to the Watt, with Sean Campbell having the ball at his feet twice during a goalmouth scramble initiated when Neil Laurenson drove to the by-line and cut the ball back firmly. The ball was eventually turned behind for a corner and the chance disappeared.

There were few efforts on goal in the first half-hour and more, with Chris Donnelly’s left-foot effort from Fraser Wilson’s pass coming as close as any, but just passing the post.

Neil Robb had to be withdrawn after suffering a painful ankle injury, Scott Munro coming on with Laurenson pushing forward into midfield and this switch worked in the Watt’s favour six minutes from half-time with a fine opening goal. Donnelly tricked two defenders with a turn in between them and accelerated down the right before cutting into the area. Laurenson called for the ball to be played back to him on the edge of the area and when Donnelly obliged, he sent a firm right-foot shot into the top corner of the net.

There wasn’t long until half-time, but Watt was unable to maintain its lead until the interval. Three minutes after scoring, the visitors conceded a simple goal, a cross from the left finding Scott Coleman in plenty of space in the centre of the penalty area to head into the corner of the net.

The Watt was seldom in the game in the second half. Tynecastle started on the front foot, coming close from a good run and shot by left-back Robbie McIntyre, the best player afield on the day. Watt tried to respond and Wilson turned well on a head-flick by Donnelly, but his shot was blocked.

Eight minutes into the second period, Tynecastle went ahead. A ball was angled into the box from the left and Dean Crabbe popped up to steer it past the left hand of Craig Saunders.

Six minutes later, it was all over as a contest when Watt conceded again. A corner was initially repulsed, but with lots of players defending the area of the post, Martyn Robinson fired high into the net from an improbable angle.

Goals continued to come at regular intervals after this. Watt made a mess of trying to play out from defence and conceded a corner. The ball was played out of the area, but played back to the edge of the box where Mark Leslie controlled it and fired it into goal. This one was contentious, as the Watt defence was pouring out when the ball reached the scorer. The referee seemed to indicate as his view that there were three players offside, but Leslie was not one of them.

A demoralised Watt defence conceded a fifth goal two minutes after this when a cutback from close to the corner flag was driven home by Robinson, but after this, Watt took a bit of a grip and tried to do some attacking. A long clearance by Saunders was laid off by Wilson with a good cushion header into the path of Donnelly, but the striker’s first touch took the ball further right and he was obliged to play it across goal in search of a colleague. A Tynecastle boot was first to the ball to send it behind for a corner.

Former Watt player Calvin Muttitt, who had come on as a substitute for the home side, was giving a very lively performance up front and he set up a sixth goal for Tynecastle with a run to the by-line and a cutback which was turned in by Robinson to complete his hat-trick. Muttitt might have had a goal of his own when he made a good run through the middle and was well found by a forward pass. Muttitt did seem to have gone slightly too early and was probably about a yard offside, but he got away with it and it took a fine save by Saunders to keep out his volley.

Deep into stoppage time, we had the ironic situation of a free kick being awarded for a foul on Donnelly. Throughout the game, the referee had studiously ignored the manhandling of the Watt striker, especially at corner kicks, and had even cautioned Donnelly for a mistimed tackle, but in the last minute of the match he ruled for the striker for the first time, Donnelly’s drive through the centre of the Tynecastle defence having been ended by a challenge on the edge of the penalty area which was by no means the clearest foul perpetrated on him during the game. Donnelly took the kick himself, struck it into the defensive wall and got his foot to the rebound to send in a rather gentle effort which struck a defender and the post and rolled over the goal-line to give the Watt a late consolation.

Tynecastle:
Cockburn, Jardine (Catlin 73), McIntyre, Hall, Leslie, Mitchell (Munro 60), Crabbe, Robinson, Adams, Coleman (Muttitt 66), Malcolm. Subs. not used: Ferguson, Joyce.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Watt, Laurenson, Dunnett, Daniel, Higgins, Robb (Munro 36), Wilson, Donnelly, Warner (Dowds 66), Campbell (Walker 69). All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Lee Pirie (Kirkcaldy)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 33

East of Scotland League

19th April 2016

 

LEITH ATHLETIC 7 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 0

Watt coped well with the league leaders in the early stages of the game and at this stage there was no suggestion of what was to follow later. The first goal arrived after twenty-five minutes’ play and Leith added a second before half-time.

The Watt coaching staff looked for an improvement in the second half, but the loss of a soft goal shortly after the restart gave the home side further confidence and sapped that of the Watt side. Leith played with freedom and purpose as the Watt passing deteriorated. In a half littered with mistakes, the demoralised visitors conceded four more to make this a night to try to forget.

Leith Athletic:
Gordon, Simpson, Fee, Lowson, Melvin, Mason, Martin, Murphy, Hainey, Ferguson, Tracey. Substitutes: Heron, Kneeshaw, Wilson, Hall, Fairnie.

Heriot-Watt University:
Robinson, Allison, Laurenson, Watt, Daniel, Munro, Robb, Campbell (Macvinish), Wilson (Walker), Donnelly, Warner (Higgins). Sub. not used: Saunders.

Referee: Mr. Lee Macaulay (Bathgate)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 32

East of Scotland League

16th April 2016

 

BURNTISLAND SHIPYARD 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 0

Top-scorer Chris Donnelly was confined to the bench, having suffered an ankle knock, and Watt started with Fraser Wilson leading the attack.

It took some time for the visitors to get up to tempo and there were some nervous moments early on. Eventually the Watt settled into the game, however, and with Max Allison making penetrating runs from deep positions, created several chances to score before half-time.

It was all square at the interval, however, and the Watt lost momentum in the second half, giving the ball away frequently and failing to threaten the Burntisland goal. Even the introduction of Donnelly for the last half-hour failed to stimulate the visiting attack.

Shippy, which had caused problems throughout the game with long throws into the Watt penalty box, secured the points with a goal late in the game. Finn Watt attempted to head a long ball back to Craig Saunders and Kevin Masson nipped in to send a lob over the goalkeeper into the net.

Burntisland Shipyard:
Rowbotham, G McCann, Couper, Haywood, Millar, Bell, Lowe, James, Henderson, Masson, Doig. Substitutes: Fotheringham, MacDonald, R McCann.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Allison, Laurenson, Watt, Daniel, Higgins, Robb, Lane, Campbell, Wilson, Munro. Subs.: Donnelly, Dowds, Macvinish, Walker, Warner.

Referee: Mr. Paul Hanlon (Edinburgh)

A fuller report on the game, courtesy of the Burntisland Shipyard website:

A late strike from top scorer Kevin Masson was enough to see the Shipyard take all three points against Heriot Watt University at a sometimes snowy Recreation Park. In a game of few clear cut chances it was the home team that had the most and best opportunities and ultimately deserved their victory. Graeme Haywood, Pete Bell and Ewan Henderson came in for Andy Macdonald, Scott Devaney and Stephen Stark in three changes that manager Raymond Drury was forced to make after Monday night’s defeat to Lothian Thistle HV.

The Shippy came flying out of the traps and almost took the lead in the first few seconds when Henderson was played in on the right hand side of the box and his lofted effort drifted just wide of the far post. The big striker was involved again four minutes later when he headed wide from an Iain Millar long throw.

The Watt hit back in the eighth minute when Shippy keeper Mark Rowbotham had to save low at his near post as Sean Campbell tried his luck from a narrow angle. Heriot-Watt keeper Craig Saunders then had to react quickly as an Adam Doig strike took a deflection on its way to goal. The rest of the first half saw neither team create much in the way of goal scoring opportunities though Heriot-Watt shaded possession.

The visitors had the first attempt of the second half when Chris Lane drove narrowly wide from all of 25 yards in the 52nd minute. Masson drove a shot across the face of goal and just wide of the far post after a deft lay off by Henderson.

Millar’s long throw was a threat and Masson headed over from one in the 71st minute. Saunders then pulled off the save of the match when at full stretch he pushed away an angled Henderson drive from around 12 yards. At the other end Rowbotham saved from Neil Robb as the Watt showed they were more than capable of getting the opening goal.

In the 84th minute the Heriot-Watt defence allowed a long ball to bounce in the box and Masson was able to latch onto the ball but his lobbed effort narrowly cleared the bar. Amazingly the same scenario developed a minute later and this time Masson made no mistake as he lofted the ball over Saunders and into the back of the net. The Shippy were able to see out the remaining minutes without any real threat on their goal and went on to gain a well merited win.

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 31

East of Scotland League

2nd April 2016

 

CIVIL SERVICE STROLLERS 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 0

A Watt side bearing little relation to the team which played against Strollers in December – only Ryan Higgins, Chris Donnelly and Neil Laurenson were common to the starting line-ups – found the experience and competence of the Strollers too much to overcome. It is fair enough to point out that University sides always have to overcome adverse circumstances and can never expect to field a consistent team for long, but it should be recognised that the problems this season have been exceptional and that we are now calling on players who never expected to wear a First Team strip.

Two more players made their debuts in this game – Josh Mawji, who played the whole game at right back, and Murdo MacIver, given some playing time as a late substitute. It must be stressed that all the players who have been asked to step into the breach have done well – David Dunnett being the latest to step up to a regular place and to look quite at home in his role – but as was said in the dressing-room after the game, the Strollers were a team; the Watt a collection of individuals. How could it be otherwise when more and more changes are forced on the Head Coach for every game?

This one came at a particularly adverse time: during the Easter holidays. Several players went home for the break, adding to the problems of an exceptional injury list. Another aspect which may not be generally realised, but which has a big effect at times like these, is that we have a lower number of graduates in the squad than at any time in the last decade. With David Kerr, Michael Connor and Ronnie Napier, all of whom played earlier in the season, no longer involved, only Neil Laurenson and Chris Donnelly are graduates who are regulars in the team. Not only does this bring the side’s lack of experience into focus, it means that we lose a greater proportion of the squad when holidays intervene. To top it off, Jamie Hume was added to the injury list after Wednesday’s game against Tynecastle.

All right – enough tears in the beer. What is great news for the Watt is that we have this season an exceptional crop of new players. The new intake, most of whom have been involved with the Under-20 side this season, shows enormous promise. Already we have seen Jack Daniel, Max Allison, Liam Walker, Anton Dowds, Sean Campbell and Fraser Wilson appearing regularly in the East of Scotland League, but several more of the Under-20 squad have also featured in the First Team at one time or another and so far we have seen little or nothing at First Team level of talents such as Adam Breen, Chris Lane, Thomas Maher and Gregoire Dawirs, all of whom will surely feature in future seasons. In this match, we had Ruaridh Macvinish and Scott Munro to add to Allison, Campbell, Wilson and Walker. From the Amateur side, in addition to Dunnett and the recently-promoted Neil Robb, there were Mawji and MacIver.

As so often over the last month or so, the biggest conundrum for Head Coach Ian Little was what to do about central defence. Dunnett would fill one berth, but who else should be there, and what overall shape should be adopted? The solution for this occasion was to put Allison into the middle with Mawji and Laurenson wide. Higgins played in the anchor role in midfield, supporting Robb and Macvinish, with Campbell and Munro on the flanks and Donnelly up top. Loan goalkeeper Connor Wallace replaced regular custodian Craig Saunders, who was attending a wedding (not his own, we are assured).

The lack of experience of playing together in this defensive formation was apparent from the start . During the first half the Strollers were able to make effective runs into the heart of the Watt rearguard with some regularity and the opening goal was not long in coming. Six minutes had been played when a simple move on the left opened up the Watt defence with ease. Mathew Cunningham made a strong run to the by-line, cut inside and played the ball back for Jordan Finnie to ram it into goal from close range.

There were further near things before the Watt defence achieved a degree of cohesion: a good run by Alexander Brown set up a chance for Jack Downie, who shot narrowly past; then Finnie came close again, shooting across goal and just past the far post.

Eventually, Watt began to settle into the game and in the nineteenth minute there was a considerable scramble in the home penalty area following a corner, but when it was cleared, the Strollers, who make a speciality of counterattacking, moved quickly on to the offensive and won a free kick close to the Watt penalty area. When the kick was thumped into the defensive wall, Finnie recovered the ball and when it was returned to the box, Mawji did well, working it away to safety.

Finnie was again instrumental in creating danger for Watt when he slipped through a pass for Cunningham, but Allison showed great judgment in his positioning to keep the ball moving away from goal and get in a block to turn it behind.

Donnelly went on a trademark run just before half-time, hurdling tackles as he went, but just outside the penalty box he was felled by a foul challenge from Marc Milligan, who was cautioned. Campbell’s free kick was struck with power and passed the wall of defenders, but Stuart Burnside dived to his left and got both arms up to provide a strong block.

The Watt defence had slowly come together as the half progressed, but Mr Little clearly felt that there was still too much of a risk and at half-time he introduced Finn Watt, on the bench for the first time since returning from injury. Allison was moved forward into midfield, with Macvinish the unlucky player who was withdrawn.

Right from the restart, Donnelly went on another foray deep into Strollers’ territory, reaching the by-line, but unfortunately he was still going too fast to control his cross and it went behind.

In a frantic phase of play, Donnelly’s near-post header from Campbell’s left-side corner was saved by Burnside; then, in another swift counterthrust, Finnie seemed to be through on Connor Wallace but was foiled at the last second by a challenge from Watt.

Donnelly’s head-on gave Campbell a chance, but Burnside was out very fast and nipped the ball away from Campbell’s feet as he sought to poke it past him. Robb then did well to intrude, collect the ball and exchange passes with Campbell as he ran into the area. Robb then played the ball forward for Donnelly, but as the striker attempted to volley it, an alert challenge blocked the ball and Burnside was able to grasp it.

Finnie then got loose on the right and shot firmly towards the near post area, but Wallace was in good position to turn the ball round the post. Then, when Finnie was brought down two metres outside the penalty box, David Stewart’s shot was touched over the bar by Wallace.

A good header into the box by Robb gave a chance to the newly-arrived Wilson, but after a good first touch, he seemed to lose his footing and the ball ran past the post.

Into the last ten minutes of the game and there was still a single goal separating the teams. Watt tried hard to get back on level terms, with Donnelly picking up a pass to turn and shoot, but seeing his effort pass across goal and miss the far post. Robb then made a fine run down the left and cut inside along the by-line, but although he got to around the six-yard box, he seemed unable to pick an option and was tackled and dispossessed.

With five minutes left to play, the clinching goal came via the penalty spot. Strollers’ substitute Chris Milligan, who had been lively since his introduction, went down the left and took the ball inside Mawji. As he went into the box and was confronted by Dunnett, he feinted towards the line, then cut back inside. Dunnett’s trailing foot was available and Milligan went over it to sprawl on the turf. Most referees would probably have agreed with the penalty decision, but the loud noise produced by the impact of one boot on another confirmed the impression that Milligan, travelling at pace, had instigated the collision against a stationary foot. Anyway, a penalty it was and Finnie despatched it, despite a valiant effort by Wallace, who got a touch on the ball as it headed for the corner of the net.

It was hard to see the Watt coming back from a two-goal deficit in the last five minutes, but a mention must go to a smart piece of play by the Strollers. Gaining a corner deep into stoppage time, they appeared to be going to work the “keep it in the corner” move which invariably gets messy, provokes reckless tackling and often results in an outcome unwelcome to the team trying to execute it.

Strollers took a short corner and moved the ball back towards the corner flag, but then worked it back out again and kept possession as they moved the ball from one wing to the other. Eventually, it came to Finnie, who went into the box and fired in a shot to the near post area which Wallace was obliged to turn behind for another corner. A much more intelligent approach to keeping the ball and seeing out the game.

Civil Service Strollers:
Burnside, M Milligan, Brown (N Stewart 80), Laird, Milven, Cunningham, D Stewart, Clapperton, Campbell (C Milligan 73), Finnie, Downie. Subs. not used: Conroy, Greenhill, McWhirter.

Heriot-Watt University:
Wallace, Mawji, Laurenson, Dunnett, Allison, Higgins (MacIver 83), Macvinish (Watt 45), Robb, Campbell, Donnelly, Munro (Wilson 74). Sub. not used: Walker.

Referee: Mr. Craig Ferguson (Edinburgh)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 30

East of Scotland League

30th March 2016

 

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2 TYNECASTLE 3

Watt’s disastrous home record continued with yet another single-goal defeat. It is now five months since the team enjoyed a home win. In that time, there have been five defeats and a draw, most of them against mid-table opponents. Civil Service Strollers, Coldstream, Hawick Royal Albert, Craigroyston and now Tynecastle have found the Riccarton synthetic to their liking, with the sole home point in that time coming from a draw against Stirling University II. By contrast, none of the five league games played away from home in the same period has resulted in defeat, Watt having beaten Craigroyston, Spartans II and Eyemouth United, and drawn with Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale and Peebles Rovers. It is perhaps fortunate that Watt has only one home fixture left this season (against Ormiston on the 30th of April), but five away games. We can only hope that the sequence continues on Saturday when the Watt visits Christie Gillies Park to take on Civil Service Strollers.

The Watt started brightly in this game and attacked from the first whistle without coming close to creating a clear chance on goal. After withstanding the pressure, Tynecastle took the lead after twenty-one minutes’ play. A cross from the left drew Craig Saunders from his goal and when Stewart Adams made a clever run across the line of the ball and dummied it, Saunders was wrong-footed and the ball ran past him into the corner of the goal. Adams has been given the credit for the goal, but he didn’t appear to get a touch and the player who crossed the ball was probably the last to touch it.

Chris Donnelly found space a few minutes later, collected the ball and ran at the centre of the visitors’ defence, but with Ryan Ferguson pursuing him closely as he approached the advancing Craig Cockburn, Donnelly lost control of the ball and Cockburn was able to thump the ball away.

Donnelly had another couple of forays towards the visitors’ goal before half-time, shooting into the side net from wide on the right, then collecting an excellent pass from Liam Walker to go down the left and cut inside only for a vigilant defender to block his shot on the edge of the box.

After the interval, Watt looked reinvigorated and there were several good passing moves which breached the Tynecastle back line. Donnelly’s pass put Neil Robb into the penalty area, but the ball was on his left side and he may not have trusted his left foot for a shot. In trying to adjust, he played the ball once too often and a little too firmly, enabling Cockburn to dive on it. Then a good run by Sean Campbell took him past several players and when he was tackled, Neil Laurenson swung in a cross. Donnelly got up between the two centre backs, but he didn’t time his header quite right and the ball faded past the post.

From a quickly-taken free kick on the left, Walker sent in a cross which he sliced, almost to good effect, as a scrambling Cockburn couldn’t reach the ball as it slipped only just past the far post. Tynecastle mounted a swift attack after this, with Robbie McIntyre’s firm shot forcing Saunders into a diving save.

Another good intrusion by Donnelly created a chance for Walker and when his cross was turned behind, Campbell’s corner kick found the head of David Dunnett. The defender had to check his run, however, and the ball went upwards to land on top of the goal.

A good turn and pass by Robb sent Campbell into the box, but he couldn’t shake off Ryan Hall and Cockburn was out quickly to grasp his attempt to link with Donnelly.

Finally, half-way through the second half, Watt got the goal their play had promised. Ryan Higgins got the break of the ball on the edge of the box and kept his head to sidestep Cockburn and roll the ball into goal from eight metres.

The equaliser galvanised Tynecastle into more assertive action and five minutes later the visitors took the lead again. A long pass down the right tempted Saunders from his goal, but he had little chance of reaching the ball first. With the action at the far end of the ground, your correspondent was unable to identify the players involved, but the man who took it round the goalkeeper centred it to where two team-mates waited. There were two Watt defenders as well, though; one blocked the initial shot and the other diverted the follow-up over the bar. It seemed like a miraculous escape, but when the corner was delivered to the far post, Ferguson rose to head the ball firmly down and into goal. Some on the Watt side claimed that Jamie Hume had been held down by the scorer and prevented from jumping, but the goal stood and Watt trailed once more.

Five minutes after that, things got worse. The luckless Hume was again involved, penalised for a challenge after a cross into the Watt box. Adams fired the penalty kick into the corner of the goal, assisted in his selection by Saunders diving slightly too soon.

Straight from the kick-off after this goal, Donnelly went on an amazing run, penetrating on the left, then turning across the line of the penalty area, dribbling past one man after another. Eventually, finding himself running out of space to get in a shot as he continued towards the right, he turned and drove the ball towards goal, but William Mitchell was right in the way and blocked the shot almost immediately it was struck.

Although it now looked fairly desperate for the Watt, they kept battling away and trying to create opportunities and with two minutes of regulation time left, the deficit was cut back again to one by a truly sensational goal. Donnelly had launched himself time and again at the Tynecastle defence and when the ball came to him, a long way out with most of his opponents between him and his target, he set off again, coaxing the ball through challenge after challenge in a direct line towards goal. When he got close to the penalty area and was confronted by the last line of defenders, he stabbed the ball past them into the box – perhaps too far, we thought, as Cockburn sprinted from his goal – but then, with a searing burst of speed, Donnelly reached the ball as the goalkeeper stooped to gather it and deftly scooped it over him to allow it to run into the corner of the goal.

It was a goal which will live long in the memory of those who saw it and it was worthy of winning any match – but it didn’t win this one, or even secure a point. Into stoppage time, with the Watt attacking in pursuit of the one goal now needed to secure a point, Alex Scott cut inside and slipped a pass into the area to give Donnelly another opportunity, but as the striker turned and accelerated, a superb tackle stopped him in the act of shooting. From the resultant corner, Scott sent in a good header, but Cockburn got across his goal to turn the ball round the post again. When Laurenson’s second corner fell amongst the players on the far side of the box and Jack Daniel’s effort was blocked, the Watt ran out of time and opportunities.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Scott, Laurenson, Dunnett, Daniel, Hume, Higgins, Campbell (Macvinish 86), Walker (Dunn 75), Donnelly, Robb. Subs. not used: MacIver, Hamill, Sellar.

Tynecastle:
Cockburn, Munro, Mitchell, Ferguson, Hall, Robertson, Crane (Crabbe 64), Robinson, Adams, Malcolm, McIntyre. Subs. not used: Jardine, Leslie, Catlin, Muttitt.

Referee: Mr. Iain Snedden (Edinburgh)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 29

East of Scotland League

19th March 2016

 

EYEMOUTH UNITED 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 7

It has often been remarked how cruel the fates can be to those who are already bearing a burden and Eyemouth will bear testimony to the truth of the adage. Still struggling to find their first point of the season, the Berwickshire club’s players put great effort into this game, but injuries to key players severely affected their chances and will be worrying manager Gary Scott ahead of their Alex Jack Cup Final, in which United takes on the might of Leith Athletic in just a fortnight’s time.

The first half produced chances for both sides. Watt began with an attack in which Ryan Higgins drove into the box and set up Ruaridh Macvinish for a drive from the left side, but Adam Mutch saved with his feet. Eyemouth right-back Alan Speirs was alert to chance to send in a first-time shot when the ball fell to him when an attempted clearance was blocked, but again the goalkeeper was equal to the situation, Craig Saunders catching the ball above his head.

Eyemouth’s first injury problem came as early as the twelfth minute. Chris Donnelly turned outside the area and drove forward, but when the ball was cleared, home centre-back Gordon McInnes was still on the ground. It took him some time to get back to his feet and as he limped off, clearly in pain, it was hard to see him taking further part in the game, but after a couple of minutes he was back to the fray. They make them tough down Eyemouth way.

Shortly after this, things got worse for the Fishermen. Donnelly got round the defence on the Watt left and worked his way inside. Just as he raised his head to try to pick a cutback, he was pushed over from the rear. After the previous week’s late equaliser at Peebles, this was the second time in less than half an hour’s play that the Watt had been given the gift of a penalty kick after an obvious but inexplicable foul. Donnelly didn’t dwell on the motivation of the perpetrator, but simply drove the kick into the corner of the goal as the goalkeeper went the other way.

A good clearing header by Ross Wylie when a corner from the left was headed on at the near post kept the deficit to one and soon Eyemouth was on the attack. A silly foul by Robb gave Lewis Mitchell the chance to play the ball into the danger area. Dean Walker knocked it into the net, but the referee was in good position to cut short his celebrations with an offside decision.

Walker was not to be denied, however, and two minutes later he was celebrating again. The Watt defence was still organising when United worked a short corner move and when Sean Campbell played the ball towards the far post, Walker stabbed it towards goal. Saunders grabbed the ball and pulled it back into his arms, but again Mr Smith was on the spot to judge correctly that it had crossed the line before being pulled back.

The Watt defence was looking fragile and Speirs had a chance on the turn after another corner was allowed to go loose, but Saunders was in position to clutch the ball.

After these alarms, Watt went back ahead. Robb was brought down on the Watt right and when Macvinish delivered a good free kick, Robb timed his run perfectly to direct a firm header past the left hand of Mutch into the corner of the goal.

Eyemouth sought to respond quickly and Paddy Tillbrook struck a half-volley from the edge of the area, but again found Saunders in the right place to make the catch. Wylie then became the next Eyemouth player to suffer an injury, jarring his knee and having to be replaced by Max Scott.

The home side might have equalised again when a good move on the left ended in a precise cross by Tom Wyman which Walker headed just over. Campbell then won a challenge and drove into the penalty box but dragged his shot wide of the post.

A good pass by Jamie Hume picked out Donnelly on the edge of the area, but when he turned and shot, Mutch saved well, diving to his right to turn the ball away for a corner.

Two minutes from half-time, Eyemouth suffered another significant injury. With one central defender already hurt, his partner became the next casualty. Jason Anderson’s challenge on Donnelly, as he tried a hook shot after bringing down a pass on his chest, was a brave one, but the defender paid for his courage by jarring his ankle in the collision which resulted. He also stayed on the pitch, but during the second half it became increasingly obvious that every movement required was giving him great discomfort.

The home side finished the first half on the attack and Jack Daniel was forced into a rather desperate intervention which took the ball on to the top of his own crossbar and behind. From the resulting corner, Speirs got in a header at the near post, but the ball slipped just over the bar.

Within two minutes of the resumption, Tillbrook had come close after a good move on the left gave him a shooting opportunity, but his shot passed just over the junction of post and bar. Soon, however, the Watt began to dominate. Liam Walker couldn’t have come any closer than he did when he took advantage of defensive hesitation to nip the ball away and bring it inside along the line of the penalty area to send in a right-foot shot which struck the post to Mutch’s right, rebounded across the face of goal and curled out of play past the other post.

McInnes at last gave up the struggle against his injury at this point and was replaced by Anthony Howden. It is to be hoped that the bravery of both McInnes and Anderson in playing on under injury does not mean that they are out of action for longer as a result, as they are both important players for United.

No sooner had McInnes left the contest than the Watt lead was increased. Hume tried a shot from all of forty metres and a deflection early in its trajectory took it for a corner on the right. When Neil Laurenson swung in the kick to the near post area, Donnelly was off his mark and leaping high to send a well-judged header past Mutch and high into the net.

Another Laurenson cross gave Robb another heading chance shortly after this; Mutch, diving low to his right, turned the ball aside and Donnelly did his best to turn it back on goal but the angle was too narrow.

Good work by Macvinish created another chance when he worked his way across the pitch and found Walker on the left. Walker cut inside and sent in another good right-foot shot which was touched over the bar by Mutch. Again, Laurenson used his left foot to good effect, sending in a corner which this time went over the head of Donnelly for Hume to head home.

United seems to have the capability to ignore goals conceded and play with the same spirit and despite the unpromising scoreline the players did not allow their heads to go down. A fine attack ended in a fierce shot by Howden for which he had high hopes, but Saunders showed his shot-stopping prowess with a superb diving save to get a firm right hand to the ball and turn it round the post.

Wyman became the latest Eyemouth player to suffer an injury, hurting his arm, but he resumed after treatment. Speirs got in another effort on goal, narrowly missing with a header from a free kick, but with twenty minutes left to play, Watt turned the knife with two goals in a minute.

A good pass by Max Allison picked out Donnelly, who laid it off to his right for Anton Dowds, newly on as a substitute. Dowds measured his shot, took the ball in his stride and sent an unstoppable drive in off the far post. A minute later, another crisp drive, this time sent in by Macvinish from the edge of the area, found the same corner of the net.

Eyemouth’s never-say-die attitude was commendable and after David Dunnett had blocked the ball after good work on the edge of the Watt area had set up an opportunity, Scott drove in the rebound, forcing Saunders to leap to touch the ball over the bar. The corner was a good one, requiring a touch from the big goalkeeper to take it out to the far side away from goal.

After Tillbrook became the latest home player to be forced off by injury, manager Gary Scott deputising, Eyemouth’s increasing defensive immobility as Anderson’s injury took its toll enabled the visitors to add a final goal with six minutes to play. Allison made a good tackle and passed to Dowds, who turned and accelerated between two defenders to slip the ball past Mutch and complete the scoring.

Eyemouth United:
Mutch, Speirs, Wylie (M Scott 28), Anderson, McInnes (Howden 49), Burrell, Tillbrook (G Scott 83), Wyman, Walker, Mitchell, Campbell. All subs. used.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Allison, Laurenson, Daniel, Dunnett, Hume, Robb, Higgins (Hamill 63), Macvinish (Dunn 72), Donnelly, Walker (Dowds 67). All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Nikki Smith (Edinburgh)
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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 28

East of Scotland League

12th March 2016

 

PEEBLES ROVERS 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2

Whitestone Park was declared playable for this fixture, but that perhaps reflects the desperation to get on with the league programme more than the actual state of affairs. There was no water lying on the pitch and the surface was flat enough at the start of the game, but it was so soft that after a very short time, large divots dotted the pitch and the heaviness of the going made constructive football difficult.

As Watt’s injury problems continue, it was once more an unfamiliar-looking selection, with three players promoted from the LEAFA Amateur team included. Neil Robb was making his first start for the First Team this season, Ollie Spence his second and David Dunnett was playing East of Scotland football for the first time, partnering Jack Daniel in the centre of defence, Jamie Hume having joined Finn Watt, Adam Woolven and David Kerr on the list of central defenders unavailable for selection.

Neil Laurenson did good work early on, hooking clear a dangerous diagonal cross which had been headed on around the penalty spot, but Watt began to settle and Chris Donnelly made a great run through the Rovers defence in twelve minutes. Donnelly’s cutback found Sean Campbell, whose shot from close range looked a scorer until somehow Darren Walker managed to get a hand to the ball.

Peebles responded well and the lively Brendan Edwards just missed with a shot from the edge of the penalty area. The home side came close again a few minutes later when Paul Murray drove through a square-looking home defence. He sent a well-judged lob towards goal, but saw Craig Saunders stretch up a long arm to knock the ball into the air and catch it as it fell. Saunders saved his side again a couple of minutes later with another fine stop, but the Watt defence was fortunate that Daniel Rennie’s first touch on the rebound took the ball into a position that made it difficult to shoot and eventually it was scrambled clear.

A goal seemed to be coming for the Rovers and it arrived half-way through the first half. The ball was worked across from right to left and when it reached Rennie, he cleverly returned it to the other side of the goal to give Murray a tap-in.

Peebles stepped up the pressure to try to make the outcome secure at an early stage and within the space of a few minutes James Young came close with a shot and then with a header.

Just before the half-hour, Spence succumbed to the recurrence of a knee problem and was replaced by Liam Walker, but soon the home side was applying more pressure, with a hook shot coming off the bar. Watt survived this torrid spell and after Alex Scott stopped another attack with a good tackle, a ball played upfield gave Walker a chance to use his pace. He ran clear of the pursuit, but sent his shot against the legs of his namesake in the Peebles goal.

This was the signal for a spell of Watt attacking, however, and for a time the visitors applied some pressure, with Campbell combining with Max Allison to win a corner on the left, but before the interval the defence was struggling again to resist the Peebles attack. Saunders made yet another superb save, diving to get his hand to a close-range header, but he could do nothing about Young’s shot which came off the foot of the post.

It was the Watt goalkeeper to the rescue again early in the second half when Kenneth Munro drove in a firm shot through a crowd of players in the penalty area, only for Saunders to throw out a right hand and block the ball away. It was a crucial save, as a minute later the scores were level. A diagonal ball put Liam Walker away again and this time as Darren Walker advanced towards him, he played the ball away to the left. It was too tight an angle for a shot, but Walker sent in a perfect left-foot cross to the far post, where Robb arrived to head the ball into the net from close in.

Survival had been the theme for the Watt early on, but as the game went on, it had become increasingly balanced and now Watt looked as likely to score as their opponents, especially with the pace of Walker and Donnelly a constant threat to a defence which continued to play rather a high line on a pitch made for balls over the top.

Ruaridh Macvinish had replaced the injured Scott and his shot was deflected for a corner on the hour. Shortly after this, Donnelly collected the ball in midfield and sped down the right, hampered by a series of challenges by Robert Johnstone. Robb was lurking in an area similar to that which had got him his earlier goal, but this time the attempted cross was deflected behind.

Just as things were beginning to look promising for the Watt, the home side scored again. A cross from the Peebles left was headed up rather than out and Young performed an overhead kick to send the ball into the postage-stamp corner.

Watt had plenty of the ball now against a Peebles side on which the heavy pitch had taken a toll. A good move involving Donnelly and Watt substitute Anton Dowds gave a shooting chance to Campbell, but on the turn he was unable to generate the power needed to trouble the goalkeeper.

Peebles still had the capability to cause problems and a shot by Edwards was turned round the post by Saunders before Macvinish was on hand to kick a header off the line from the resultant corner.

With two minutes of regulation time to play, Campbell received a painful clip on the ankle in a challenge by Edwards and when the free kick was sent into the Peebles box, a defender unaccountably knocked the ball down with his hand. It was a clear, if puzzling, penalty and Donnelly gratefully accepted the gift with a low drive past Walker to secure a point.

Watt had one final scare when a cross from the left found Edwards in space, but Campbell came in quickly to apply pressure and the shot was sliced wide.

Peebles Rovers:
Walker, Munro (Harris 86), McAleavy, Johnstone, Richardson, Edwards, Anderson, Conaghan, Young, Murray, Rennie (Ndiweni 78). All subs. used.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Scott (Macvinish 59), Laurenson, Dunnett, Daniel, Higgins (Dowds 74), Allison, Campbell, Spence (Walker 28), Donnelly, Robb.

Referee: Mr. Michael Addy (Edinburgh)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 27

King Cup: First Round

5th March 2016

 

LOTHIAN THISTLE HUTCHISON VALE 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

For the third time in four games, Watt lost 2 – 1. This time, the Club tumbled out of the King Cup for this season, but it was gratifying to push the reigning league champions so close with a squad which contained no fewer than eight Under-20s. Indeed, the starting eleven contained three players who had played ninety minutes at Prestonpans the night before and the bench contained two others who had played the full game and another who had played most of it.

During the first half, Watt kept a good shape and took whatever chances they could find to test the Lothian defence. Fraser Wilson came close to giving the visitors the lead half-way through the first period, accepting a crossfield pass and deftly flicking the ball over the head of his marker, but John Gilbertson read the danger and was off his line in a flash to block the shot with his right arm.

The Watt goal came under siege for a spell around the half-hour, but Sean Campbell was alert to get to the ball first when a low cross flashed across the goalmouth and Alex Scott was in position to kick clear from near the post when a corner was headed towards goal.

Having had few moments of anxiety during the first half, Watt fell behind with the last action before the half-time whistle. A foul by Scott on the touchline enabled a free kick to be delivered into the goalmouth. The ball brushed a head in the middle of the penalty area and came to Alan McDonagh at volley height. McDonagh is the scourge of the Watt, as he always seems to get on the scoresheet when playing against us, and he met the ball sweetly to steer it past the right hand of Craig Saunders and high into the net.

Watt started the second half with inventive work by Chris Donnelly which produced a corner, but when Lothian cleared the ball, they mounted a counter-attack to devastating effect. As the ball was moved from man to man across the Watt defence from left to right, Lothian always seemed to have the extra player. When the ball arrived at the feet of the last man in the chain, Willis Hare, he struck it with great power and accuracy across Saunders into the far corner of the goal to put his side two goals ahead.

Wilson, who had played a lot of football within the space of a few hours, was replaced by Neil Robb and the substitute quickly made his mark with some confident running and passing. Campbell was also relieved of further duties shortly after, with Ruaridh Macvinish joining Robb in a diminutive but effective midfield pairing.

With around twenty minutes to play, Watt had an escape when Saunders was only able to block a corner and Scott Taylor-Mackenzie fired the ball over from close range, but a minute later the Watt was back in the game. A free kick on the right was superbly dummied by Scott to enable Max Allison to send in a cross. It arrived at the feet of Donnelly, who must have been surprised to have had time to bring the ball down, turn and fire an accurate shot just inside the post to Gilbertson’s right.

The goal made a huge change to the game. Lothian, who had previously been confident and relaxed, immediately felt the strain, showing anxiety in their play and in their calls to each other. Robb seized on a ball played inside by Donnelly, but the penalty area was crowded and his shot was deflected behind.

Watt remained on the offensive for most of the rest of the game, without managing to create any clear-cut chances as Lothian tried to run down the clock, but the sight of Robb outjumping McDonagh to head the ball forward showed how much effort the visitors were putting into the game. In the end, it wasn’t enough and time ran out on a valiant effort.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:
Gilbertson, Crawford, Taylor-Mackenzie, Wilkes, Munro, Smith, Hare, Moore (Guy 26), Gormley (Moffat 60), McDonagh, O’Donnell (Joint 84). Sub. not used: Ogilvie.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Scott, Laurenson, Imray, Hume, Higgins, Allison, Campbell (Macvinish 65), Wilson (Robb 58), Donnelly, Dowds (Walker 70).

Referee: Mr. Daniel Graves (Edinburgh).

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 26

East of Scotland League

20th February 2016

 

SPARTANS II 0 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2

All the old adages about character emerging in adversity were proved true again at Ainslie Park. One could only gape at the Watt team selection for this game. A squad already depleted by many injuries had lost several more important players: from the previous Saturday’s squad, we were missing Connor Godsell, Mark Hamill, Michael Connor, Bruce Hay and above all, Adam Woolven, injury having brought to an end his superb record of having played every minute of every game to this point throughout the season.

There was no return for Jack Daniel, Harry Warner or Martin Green and added to the continued absences of Finn Watt, David Kerr, Rob Service, Jamie Forsyth, Cam Dunn, Stevie Wright, Ronnie Napier and Alex Scott (and the loss of Elliot Sutherland), the depredations on the playing strength of the squad have been almost unbelievable. In the circumstances, it was fortunate indeed for the Watt to have such a pool of talent available as the Club’s Under-20 squad provides – and somewhat providential that the Riccarton floodlights comprehensively failed a safety inspection this week, putting paid to the Under-20 League fixture due for the Friday evening – but when facing a Spartans squad containing players of the experience of Danny O’Donnell, Michael Bruce and Donal Henretty, it was always possible that the youngsters would find the occasion overwhelming.

Not a bit of it. The Watt starting line-up contained five Under-20s and there were two more on the bench, but you could never have suspected the lack of experience from the performance given by the team. Andrew Imray and Ollie Spence made their First Team debuts, as did Thomas Maher when he came on as substitute. At no time in the match did the resolve of the young side waver and Sean Campbell, on his second start for the top team, showed the spirit of the lads by coming forward to rattle the crossbar with a shot from distance in the last ten minutes.

The first half was tight and tense, with the home side having the bulk of possession, but the Watt defence, well marshalled by Jamie Hume, looked calm and organised. The Watt might have had a chance on the break in eleven minutes, but when Chris Donnelly knocked the ball into space behind Bruce, the defender brought him down crudely and decisively. It was the second bad foul perpetrated by Bruce in the early stages of the game and although this one was committed forty metres from goal, the space in front of Donnelly meant that had he escaped the clutches of the defender he would certainly have had a goalscoring opportunity, but a caution was the sanction applied by the referee.

A splendid tackle by Imray set the Watt on the front foot a few minutes later, the ball moving rapidly out to Donnelly on the left. He advanced into the box and fired in a cross which resulted in the concession of a corner. Then a fine move on the right, again involving Donnelly, put Campbell behind the home defence, but his attempted cutback to Fraser Wilson was anticipated and cut out.

On the half-hour, Spartans produced their best move so far, with good passing and movement on the right taking the tricky Sean Stewart into the danger area to find Blair Atkinson, who drove in a shot to the near post area. Craig Saunders had anticipated that the striker would go across goal with his shot and had started to move to his right, but he managed to thrust out his left hand and block the ball by the post for Hume to clear.

Wilson, recently returned from a knee injury, rejoined the ranks of the injured five minutes before half-time with a recurrence of his knee problem and was replaced by Liam Walker. Watt finished the half positively, a bright move bringing a chance on the edge of the area for Anton Dowds. There were so many defenders massed in front of him that it hardly seemed possible to create space for a shot, but Dowds somehow managed it, although Ross Gilpin gathered his low drive.

Spartans introduced two substitutes at half-time, Henretty and Jordan Brown replacing Stewart and Paul Dickson. This was no bad news for the Watt, as Stewart had been the man who looked most likely to create problems for the visitors’ defence, and it may be that he had taken a knock. Without him, the Spartans, despite having a lot of possession, seldom ruffled the composure of the Watt back line.

In fact, the early stages of the second half were decisive in the match, as the Watt scored twice in three minutes. The catalyst for the first goal, coming five minutes after the restart, was a superb kick-out by Saunders, which fell into the stride of Donnelly as he sped to the right. Donnelly reached the penalty box and, despite being hampered by two defenders, managed to get in a shot which was blocked by Gilpin. The rebound fell for Walker, whose effort was also blocked, and Campbell was on hand to be the third to try a drive. Again, the ball was blocked and again it returned to Walker, but having seen three attempts to pass the goalkeeper with power fail, he sent a chip of the most delicate kind over the prone Gilpin to the corner of the net.

Two minutes later, Dowds set up a second, winning the ball in midfield and sending a great pass to Donnelly on the right wing. Donnelly got close to the corner and had the confidence to wait for the right moment. He waited and waited, in fact, with defenders unwilling to commit themselves – but then suddenly darted to the line and drove the ball hard and low across goal. Spence had read the situation and moved forward to prod the ball in from close range.

A minute later, Mark Gair found space and fired in a shot from distance which passed over the bar by a narrow margin, but soon another excellent clearance by Saunders had Donnelly tearing at the home defence again, this time speeding down the left. His cross soared over the group in the middle, but was retrieved by Campbell. When his cross was headed out, it was retrieved by Dowds, with Ryan Higgins and Neil Laurenson retaining possession, but when Laurenson sent the ball down the line, Donnelly was ruled offside.

Spartans had a period of pressure around the hour mark, but the Watt defence coped well with repeated thrusts following a free kick from the left and Spence bravely cleared under pressure. Brad Raiker recovered the ball but his shot from distance was a wild one.

Henretty and Chris Anderson combined on the edge of the Watt penalty box, but Saunders was in good position to grasp Anderson’s shot. Raiker then got in a drive which Saunders touched behind and Hume headed the corner out of harm’s way for a throw on the far side.

Watt survived this torrid spell and pushed forward again. When Campbell was fouled in the middle of the Spartans half of the field, the ball was touched to Dowds for a shot, but the distance was too great for him to generate enough power to trouble Gilpin.

With twenty minutes left to play came perhaps the nearest thing to a goal for Spartans. The ball ricocheted through the Watt defence and Henretty turned to try to prod a volley past Saunders, but the big goalkeeper was out just in time to spread himself and get a touch to keep the ball out.

Ten minutes from time, another searching run by Donnelly carried the ball into home territory before he turned and found Campbell in good position. The young man, finding himself in space, pushed the ball in front of him and ran forward to strike a shot which flew over the head of Gilpin and struck the crossbar hard before bouncing back into play.

Spartans began to fire the ball forward as time ran away and a long ball succeeded in putting Atkinson behind the Watt defence, but his half-volley lob landed on the roof of the net.

Thomas Maher had come on for the Watt and showed plenty of confidence in dribbling the ball out of defence deep into stoppage time. He looked as if he would be caught out by one of two Spartans players bearing down on him, but managed to find a gap through which he played a superb pass to Campbell on the right. Campbell sped upfield into the home penalty area and fired in a shot which was blocked by Gilpin. Donnelly was in attendance, but the ball didn’t come his way and was knocked behind for a corner, although with little time left, that was almost as good for the Watt, which kept its clean sheet to record a notable victory.

There were many excellent players for the Watt on the day, but some come in for special mention. Surely Andrew Imray will retain his first-team jersey after a mature and determined performance. He defended well but never lost the opportunity to make good passes when he had the ball at his feet. His partnership with Jamie Hume looks to be one on which the Watt defence can be built.

Anton Dowds had a fine match in the middle of the park, working hard and supplying the pass which led to the clinching goal. His Under-20 colleague, Sean Campbell, gave a mature midfield show, covering huge amounts of ground to make a barrier which Spartans always had to try to pass in order to approach the Watt goal, but still being positive enough to support the attack whenever possible; he was on hand to take a shot leading up to the first goal as well as having that late shot against the bar. The mercurial Liam Walker also made a notable contribution; as well as chalking up another goal, his pace and unpredictability worried the home defence. Ollie Spence ran himself into the ground but was still on hand to give himself a moment to remember with the second goal.

Of the first-team regulars, Chris Donnelly showed that he is about more than scoring goals (although he nearly scored on several occasions) and his drive and determination made him so hard to handle. He had a vital hand in both Watt goals and generally gave the home defence no rest. Craig Saunders had the satisfaction of another clean sheet and although he’s had harder afternoons, he made two vital stops, was in good position to make other saves look easy and made a considerable contribution to the attacking effort with some precise kicking to pick out the runs of Donnelly, including the kick which began the move which brought the first goal.

Spartans II:
Gilpin, Boyes, Dickson (Brown 45), Bruce, O’Donnell, Raiker, Stewart (Henretty 45), Gair, Atkinson, Anderson, Maxwell (Imlah 57). Subs. not used: Walker, Cassells.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Allison, Laurenson, Imray, Hume, Higgins, Dowds (Maher 75), Campbell, Wilson (Walker 39), Donnelly, Spence (Davies 86). Sub. not used: Smith.

Referee: Mr. Ryan Lee (Edinburgh)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 25

East of Scotland League

13th February 2016

 

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1 CRAIGROYSTON 2

The report on the Under-20 game on the Friday evening says that the Under-20s, having suffered a rather undeserved defeat in their previous home game, this time lost deservedly. Oddly enough, for the First Team, the story is exactly the same. Having gone down 2 – 1 to Hawick Royal Albert the previous week in a game in which they perhaps deserved better, the Watt capitulated by the same score to Craigroyston and could not complain about the result.

It all started so well, too. With six minutes on the clock, ace scorer Chris Donnelly got back on the goals trail. In the Hawick game, Donnelly had drawn a blank for the first time in a league game he’s started this season, but it didn’t take him long to find the net in this match, side-stepping a defender to lash in a left-foot shot which Paul Tansey was unable to prevent finding the top corner of the net.

Great start – but by the time another six minutes had been played, the Watt was trailing. Greig Tulloch equalised, heading in from close range following a corner, and in twelve minutes came what turned out to be the winning goal.

This time, the Watt could feel hard done by. Max Allison, jumping for a header on the Watt left, was barged by one Craigroyston player into the shoulder of another, but as this happened, his arm apparently came up and struck the ball. The referee’s angle didn’t help him to see the foul on Allison and he awarded the free kick to the visitors. As often happens in such circumstances, a goal resulted. A cross to the far post was headed back across goal by Craig Dickson and Keith Buckley headed home from close to the goal line.

As the Watt defence continued to look porous, Craigie might have scored again when a good pass inside Mark Hamill enabled Chris Inglis to send in a dangerous cross, but the ball was scrambled away.

Watt responded with a cross by Donnelly which went over the players in the penalty box and was retrieved by Allison, who crossed to the far post where a diving header by Bruce Hay missed the target.

Watt’s defensive formation, with Neil Laurenson the latest player to be tried as a central partner for Adam Woolven, was not working well and changes were made, with Allison moving into the centre, Laurenson going to left-back and Hamill moving forward. This improved the balance and half-time was reached without further mishap.

Watt tried to get back on terms in the second half, but their efforts were seldom concerted and it was left to individuals to take on the visitors’ rearguard. Donnelly, with a good take and turn, ran at the Craigroyston defence, but with little in the way of support he was forced on a diagonal and when he took a shot there were three players between him and the goal and the attempt was blocked away.

Head Coach Ian Little did his best to vary the pattern, introducing Scott Munro, Sean Campbell and Liam Walker to the proceedings, but the Watt’s attacking efforts continued to be sporadic and disjointed in the main, although one good move produced a chance when Allison linked with Donnelly, whose pass into the box gave Ryan Higgins a sight of goal, but the Craigroyston defence was vigilant and the best the Watt could get was a corner, from which Walker tried a difficult header on the turn and sent the ball over the bar.

In the last few minutes of the match, Craigie threatened to steal another goal on the break, a dangerous low cross from Inglis just eluding Buckley at the near post and Chris Rooney at the far side. When Craig Saunders caught a cross, Inglis bundled him over the line. It was an obvious foul, but it seemed surprising for someone the size of Inglis to be able to move a man as substantial as Saunders. The game finished with the ball at Watt’s defensive end of the pitch.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Godsell, Hamill, Woolven, Laurenson, Connor, Higgins, Allison, Hay (Walker 78), Donnelly, Dowds (Campbell 71). Subs. not used: Little.

Craigroyston:
Tansey, Pennycuick, Rendall, Fleming, Fisher, White, Inglis, Tulloch (Rooney 45), Buckley, Dickson, Summers (Eadie 59). Subs. not used: Williams, Robertson.

Referee: Mr. Michael Gill (East Wemyss)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 24

East of Scotland League

6th February 2016

 

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1 HAWICK ROYAL ALBERT 2

Chris Donnelly was back in his familiar role in attack for the Watt as they took on a revitalised Hawick side which seems sure this season to attain its best league position for many years.

Donnelly wasted no time in threatening the Albert goal, either, cutting in from the left in the first minute, but he sent his shot high and wide.

With thirteen minutes on the clock, Watt came desperately close to opening the scoring. Michael Connor’s free kick curved round the visitors’ defensive wall and thudded against the inside of the post to the right of Kyle Rankin before rebounding across goal back into play.

Watt maintained the pressure and a good move which started with Connor and went through Harry Warner, Max Allison, Jamie Hume and Chris Donnelly, put Anton Dowds in possession on the left side of the area, but a good tackle by Ryan Stevenson saved the situation for Hawick.

Warner’s testing cross a minute later forced a defender into heading against his own crossbar and a few minutes later the same player did well again on the right, finding Donnelly, who laid the ball off to Connor in good position, but his shot was deflected behind.

In a rare foray forward by the visitors, Josh Morris sent a shot across goal and out on the far side and after this, the Albert began to assert themselves more. Following a corner on the left, Mark McEwen got in a header on goal, although Craig Saunders easily grasped the ball, and this was the prelude to a sustained spell of Hawick attacking which ended in Andrew Laidlaw cutting in from the right and sending a left-foot shot wide of the post.

Five minutes before the interval, a long kick-out by Saunders was well anticipated by Donnelly, who got ahead of his marker and headed on to Dowds. Dowds returned the ball to Donnelly, who was cutting into the box, but rather than taking the shot he opted to try to find Warner at the other side of the goal and his pass was overhit and went past.

Nine minutes into the second half, Watt took the lead with a goal of superb quality. Max Allison made a darting run through midfield and released a pass to Donnelly. Allison kept going forward and received the return from Donnelly on the edge of the box, whereupon he accelerated past two defenders and placed an accurate shot past Rankin’s right hand into the corner of the net. Timing, passing and execution had all been perfect and the goal was a thing of beauty – probably the Watt’s best of the season. What a pity it wasn’t a winner.

Eight minutes later, another huge kick from Saunders created a chance for the Watt. Warner, tearing down the right, got ahead of his marker and drove in a shot towards the near post. Rankin got down well to turn the ball round the post. The kick was directed towards the edge of the area and Donnelly laid it back for Connor, whose shot went narrowly past.

It was all going rather well for the Watt, but a great shock was lying in wait. The lead lasted just ten minutes and in the space of two more minutes, Watt found themselves behind.

The equaliser was a personal disappointment for Allison. Having scored his first goal in East of Scotland football ten minutes before, he must have been on a high, but when a cross from the right overshot the far post and came down where he was standing, all that changed. Allison tried to control the ball whilst facing across goal. It bounced away from him, right in front of Cameron MacFarlane, a few steps from goal. MacFarlane aimed a kick at the ball and Saunders, trying to read his intention, dived to his left, but there was scarcely any contact and the ball bounced gently into goal around where Saunders had been standing.

Two minutes later, a bad pass in midfield gave the ball away and Hawick poured forward again. Morris got the break of the ball in a tackle on the edge of the area and poked the ball under Saunders as he advanced to give his side an unexpected lead.

Watt Head Coach Ian Little tried to freshen up his attack with substitutions, but it took the Watt some time to get its rhythm back and it was into the last ten minutes before any meaningful chances were created. Around that time came the moment that told the Watt that it wasn’t going to be its day.

Liam Walker, one of the subs, went flying down the right, caught the ball just in time and played it to the near post area, to which the predatory Donnelly had made a run. Donnelly reached the ball and turned it across goal away from the area to which Rankin was diving, but the ball struck the foot of the goalkeeper and shot across goal to a position where it could be cleared.

In the remaining minutes, Watt never came as close again and after thirteen consecutive victories against the Albert, defeat was their lot on this occasion.

It must be said that this Hawick Royal Albert side is an entirely different proposition from some we have encountered in the course of the last decade. The side looked much fitter and better organised and had a number of impressive performers – not the least of whom was former Watt player Ryan Stevenson, who seems to have found his best position at right back. Having said all that, most Watt watchers felt that their team deserved better in this game and was worth at least a point. But this is football – you win on goals, not on points. Watt conceded two and could only score one, so that’s a defeat. Well done to the Albert and we’ll try again against Craigroyston next Saturday.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Allison, Laurenson, Daniel, Woolven, Hume, Warner, Connor (Green 75), Higgins (Godsell 68), Donnelly, Dowds (Walker 68). Subs. not used: Hamill, Davies.

Hawick Royal Albert:
Rankin, Stevenson, Spence, Boyd, McEwen (Wales 84), Linton, Pettigrew (Triallist 77), Crozier, Morris, MacFarlane, Laidlaw. Subs. not used: Triallist, Mackay.

Referee: Mr. Paul Hanlon (Edinburgh)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 23

East of Scotland League

23rd January 2016

 

CRAIGROYSTON 0 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

Watt’s unbeaten start to the new year continued with this narrow win on what is likely to be the club’s last visit to St Mark’s Park before Craigroyston decamps to the Junior ranks for next season.

St Mark’s has never been an easy venue from which to take points and the Watt has had many a hard battle there before, but it must be said that on this occasion there was an atmosphere of hostility which considerably exceeded anything we have previously experienced at this ground. In years past, some teams had a policy of trying to intimidate student sides, but over the last decade or so, Watt teams have shown such resistance to these tactics that it has largely disappeared from its games. This match was a bit of a throwback to the old days.

The only goal came early, Neil Laurenson’s eleventh-minute corner landing right on the head of Watt’s goal machine, Chris Donnelly, who maintained his record of scoring in every league game he has started by nodding home for his twenty-fifth of the season in all competitions.

Watt was generally comfortable for the rest of the first half and might have increased its lead when Jamie Hume’s through pass enabled Harry Warner to take the ball into the box, but on his left foot he could only find the side net.

Watt had something of a reprieve when a ball fired in from the right was spilled by Craig Saunders. The goalkeeper fell forward on to the ball, but it was kicked out of his hands into goal. Fortunately, the referee was in good position to see the infringement.

Craigroyston came out for the second half with renewed purpose and won their first corner of the match when David Kerr was harried into playing the ball behind. Watt cleared the corner kick and broke forward quickly, but Warner overhit his return pass to Donnelly and the chance of a counterattack was lost.

Craig Dickson led a drive through the middle and when he was tackled, the ball ran to Steven Moncur, who drove in a shot from the edge of the area, but the ball slipped past the post. A header by Stewart Fisher from Ewan Macintosh’s free kick also came close.

Warner had another chance to give the Watt extra breathing space when Martin Green’s pass put him through, but instead of taking the shot at the first opportunity, he tried to let the ball run further across his body and it ran away from him. In the end, he had to lunge to get in a shot at all and he sliced the ball wide.

There was still fully half an hour left to play and Craigroyston’s sporadic raids were becoming more frequent. Ryan Higgins did well to head a corner out of the danger area whilst under pressure, but soon the ball was back at the visitors’ end and when they were unable to clear their lines, the ball was sent across the goalmouth. Greig Tulloch lunged in but managed to send the ball over the bar from inside the six-yard box, although the referee saved his blushes with an offside call.

As the game entered its final phase with still just the one goal separating the teams, Craigie increased the pressure. A corner from the right was pawed away by Saunders from close to goal and Watt defenders struggled to get the ball out of the area. Eventually a shot came in from the edge of the box, but Saunders showed good handling to gather.

Watt had a good spell in which Green sent a free kick just over the bar and Jamie Hume tried to catch out goalkeeper Paul Tansey with a backheel. The best chance was created by substitute Liam Walker, who did well to get past Stewart Fisher and sweep the ball in low from the left. It passed behind Donnelly and Scott Davies had a chance at the far post, but he failed to control the ball.

The referee had tolerated a level of dispute throughout the game and had continued to make his own judgments, but the increasing stridency of the dissent led to a number of cautions for Craigroyston players late in the game. Walker was unlucky enough to pick up a booking too, when the ball bounced up and struck his arm. This also gave Craigie a free kick close to the corner of the box. Chris Inglis tried to bend it in at the post, but Saunders got down to turn the ball away for a corner.

The game finished on a sour note when Steven Tognieri, who had earlier been booked for a foul on Laurenson, tripped Higgins and was cautioned for a second time. Few referees would have hesitated to send off the player, but Tognieri was so incensed that he released a volley of invective which earned him a second red card. There was just time for a final dissent caution before the final whistle brought an end to proceedings.

The win kept the Watt in a high position in the table and although most other teams have games in hand, they can’t all win all of them. Watt must simply do its best to maintain a high success rate and see what that achieves at the end of the season.

Craigroyston:
Tansey, Fisher, Rendall, Barbirou (Summers 81), Fleming, Tognieri, Buckley (Inglis 60), Macintosh, Moncur (Penicuik 68), Dickson, Tulloch. Subs. not used: Williams, Rooney.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Allison, Laurenson, Kerr, Woolven, Connor (Godsell 72), Warner, Higgins, Davies (Dowds 66), Donnelly, Hamill (Hay 60). Subs. not used: Forsyth, Walker.

Referee: Mr. Iain Snedden (Edinburgh)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 22

East of Scotland League

16th January 2016

 

LOTHIAN THISTLE HUTCHISON VALE 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2

The remainder of this match was rather overshadowed by an incident which happened as early as the third minute. The home midfield gave the ball away and Neil Laurenson pushed it through to connect with the run of Chris Donnelly. Just inside the penalty area, Donnelly tried to shoot past the advancing Kevin Swain, but the goalkeeper got there at around the same time and his forearm took the full force of Donnelly’s shot. He knew at once that something had given way and an ambulance was called. After a delay of almost twenty minutes, the game restarted with Liam O’Donnell taking over the gloves. It would have been a disappointing injury at any time, but a few days before a Scottish Cup Fourth Round tie with Celtic awaiting the outcome was just the worst time possible for this most unfortunate accident to happen and sympathy for Kevin Swain was expressed on all sides.

From the recommencement of proceedings, the sharp home attackers gave the Watt defence a tough time and Mathew Joint headed just over following a cross from the dangerous Willis Hare, but when the first goal came, it was for the visitors. Substitute goalkeeper O’Donnell’s attempted clearance was blocked by Donnelly and the ball rebounded off the pitch over O’Donnell’s head into goal.

The lead lasted for fourteen minutes. Jack Daniel was unlucky to get the faintest of touches on a rather wild cross from the left, resulting in a corner, and when Max Allison’s header reached the edge of the penalty area, Darren Smith drove the ball into the net past the left hand of Craig Saunders.

The champions continued to press during the remainder of the first half, with Hare looking particularly lively. Kevin Brown headed a cross past the post from close quarters, then Hare cut inside to fire a shot across goal. In the last minute of the half, Scott Gormley rolled the ball across the face of the Watt goal but Smith was just too late to arrive on the scene.

Smith switched to the right for the start of the second half and the home side continued to push forward. Smith’s clever cross was met by Scott Taylor-Mackenzie on a run across the area, but when he tried to flick the ball in at the near post, Saunders produced an outstanding save to divert it behind.

Just before the hour, Lothian eventually went ahead for the first time. Hare stepped inside from the right and lofted the ball into the box, where Gormley knocked it over the advancing Saunders and into goal.

There was little change to the pattern of the game, with the home side pressing forward and Watt seeking to defend effectively and hit on the break. Taylor-Mackenzie was keen to support his attack whenever possible and three times during the second half was able to come short to the point of the penalty box to take a shot following a short corner. The first two efforts failed to trouble Saunders but the third attempt was well struck and the big goalkeeper made a marvellous double save, blocking out the shot, then diverting the ball behind when Smith pounced on the rebound to fire in a shot from close range.

As the game entered its final phase, the Watt was increasingly able to escape from its defensive straitjacket and trouble the home defence. A nice touch by Donnelly gave Harry Warner a chance to run into the penalty area, but he was tackled before he could get away his shot. Then a fine pass by substitute Martin Green gave Laurenson the chance to send in a low cross from the left, but the ball eluded both Donnelly and Warner.

A minute later, Warner picked up a crossfield pass from Laurenson to win a corner on the right. Laurenson’s corner kick was headed down by Adam Woolven but blocked near the line by the thigh of a Lothian player.

With Scott Davies on to support Donnelly in attack, the Watt pushed forward again in search of an equaliser. Woolven showed superb judgment to secure the ball on the right touchline and find Donnelly, whose pass inside gave Davies a shooting chance, but the first-time shot was well saved by O’Donnell, diving to his left.

With a minute of regulation time left, persistence paid off for the Watt side. The tireless Allison supported on the right and drove forward to the by-line before playing the ball towards the near post, where Davies applied a touch to take the ball into goal.

It was a tough one to take for the home side. In trying to get a game on to warm up for a major cup tie, they had lost their well-regarded goalkeeper to injury and been deprived of two league points due to a late equaliser. It is to their credit that they accepted the events of the day in such a sporting manner.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:
Swain (O’Donnell 2), Moore, Taylor-Mackenzie, Joint, Crawford, Mearns, Hare, Brown, Gormley (Moffat 68), Kerr, Smith. Subs. not used: McDonagh, Shala, Mungall.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Allison, Laurenson, Kerr, Woolven, Connor (Godsell 72), Warner, Higgins, Davies (Dowds 66), Donnelly, Hamill (Hay 60). Subs. not used: Forsyth, Walker.

Referee: Mr. Alan Macfadyen (Whifflet)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 21

East of Scotland League

9th January 2016

 

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2 STIRLING UNIVERSITY II 2

Watt lined up for the first match of the new year with several key players missing and still a long way from a settled side. Harry Warner made his first start since the fourth of August, playing on the right side of midfield and Max Allison started a first-team game for the first time, coming in at right back. Scott Davies also made his first start of the season, partnering the returning Chris Donnelly in attack. Another player starting a match for the first time in a while was Mark Hamill, who had last been included in an Alex Jack Cup tie at Duns on the third of October. But in his position as usual was the ever-dependable Adam Woolven, who has played every minute of every match so far this season. Adam clearly takes a justifiable pride in having established himself as a regular first-team player. Some of the absentees may find a lesson in that attitude and that commitment.

Having again been forced to put together a side as best he could, Head Coach Ian Little would no doubt have been satisfied with a draw at the end of this game against a Stirling side featuring eight of the players who started the previous meeting of the sides in August. He might certainly have taken a draw after watching a first half in which his side once again scored first before losing its way and trailing at the interval. By the end of the game, however, the Watt was giving at least as good as it got and indeed might well have won the match.

Watt started the game on the front foot and an early corner from the right gave Scott Davies a chance at the back post. He rose well for the header but a defender deflected it behind. A minute later, Craig Saunders had an awkward situation to deal with, Joe Greig’s punt from distance threatening to drop over his head and under the bar, but in somewhat ungainly fashion the goalkeeper managed to get a hand to the ball to divert it over the crossbar.

Watt took the lead in the fourteenth minute after winning another corner on the left. Michael Connor’s kick curled beyond the far post, but David Kerr quickly moved to head the ball back towards goal and Sam MacLean pushed it behind. The next corner was from the right and Mark Hamill bent it in dangerously towards the back of the goal. The slightest of touches from the head of Chris Donnelly was enough to send the ball into the corner of the goal.

Peter Lynch came on to replace the injured Greig at right-back for Stirling and continued his predecessor’s support for his attack and his delivery of quality crosses.

The Watt lead lasted just ten minutes. The home midfield was finding it difficult to contain the forward surges of the visitors and David McCaughie was one of the chief driving forces. McCaughie picked up the ball some thirty metres from goal, strode forward to his right and fired a superb reverse shot across Saunders, striking the inside of the post and shooting across goal into the other corner.

Woolven’s pass picked out the run of Neil Laurenson, whose low cross on the run reached MacLean just before Donnelly could get to the locus, but this was an isolated attack in what was increasingly becoming a rearguard action for Watt. Ryan Higgins was caught in possession not far from his own penalty box and Rory MacEwan stepped up to send in a rasping shot which brought a splendid save from Saunders, diving to his right to turn the ball round the post. The resultant corner brought more problems for the home defence, the ball bouncing off the top of the bar and coming back into play before Watt eventually got it out of the danger area.

McCaughie showed his shooting power again with an effort ten minutes from the interval, but this time Saunders was able to watch it pass the post; however three minutes later the visitors took the lead. A simple passing move found striker David Collins moving to the right across the penalty area. Collins took his shot quickly and this perhaps provoked Saunders into committing himself early to a dive. There was no great power in the shot, but it was very accurate and despite his size, the Watt goalkeeper was unable to reach the ball as it rolled inside the post. Was there time for Saunders to have taken a couple of quick steps before making his dive? We’ll never know, but it seemed possible, although such a judgment may be a little hard on the big man.

There were no changes of personnel at half-time, but Ian Little’s talk seemed to have found its target, as Watt looked brighter in the early stages of the second half. Harry Warner’s fine pass gave Donnelly a chance, but Lynch’s well-timed tackle snuffed out the danger. Saunders was unsighted when Michael McAnespie fired in a low shot from distance, but although he saw it late, the goalie saved low to his left.

Donnelly threatened the Stirling defence again with a run from left to right, but his reverse shot was angled slightly too much and passed the post to MacLean’s right. Davies then set up Connor for a shot from twenty-five metres but although it was well struck, MacLean was right in line.

MacLean spilled a low cross from the Watt left and Donnelly pounced on the loose ball but had to turn through a full circle to get a left-foot shot away and sent it wide.

With Bruce Hay and Anton Dowds on to support the forward effort, Watt pressed forward again. Warner’s cross found Dowds coming in from the left, but his first touch took the ball too close to MacLean and the goalkeeper was out quickly to block.

Watt’s final change was to bring on Connor Godsell at right back and push Allison into midfield. Within a minute, the scores were level, Donnelly running into the space between his marker and the advancing goalkeeper to chest the ball past MacLean into goal.

With quarter of an hour left, it was anyone’s game now and the play surged from end to end. Watt cleared a free kick and drove forward, with Donnelly thwarted by a touch from MacLean which diverted the ball past the post.

A good cross from the Stirling right was headed by MacEwan over the head of Saunders, only for the goalkeeper to stretch back and touch the ball on to the bar and over.

Kerr has been nursing a hamstring problem for the last month, but although he might have succumbed and been replaced at half-time in this match, he battled on and was an important player in the closing stages. From the corner resulting from Saunders’s save, the ball curled towards the far post and two Stirling players closed in to finish off, but Kerr got his head to the ball to take it out of harm’s way for a throw. After two important tackles, this was the third significant intervention Kerr had made in the space of a few minutes.

With two minutes of regulation time left, there was a dramatic incident at the other end. A similar cross to the one which had produced the equaliser found Donnelly again between defender and advancing goalkeeper. He leaped prodigiously to get his head to the ball and played it past MacLean, who then clattered him painfully on the side of the head. It was one of those situations in which everyone holds their breath waiting for the referee’s decision, but when no whistle sounded, the game went on. A defender reached the ball in front of the goal-line and played it out to the edge of the area, where Dowds struck the ball towards the unguarded goal with ferocious power – much harder than was necessary, in fact – but with not quite enough accuracy. It rattled off the crossbar and came back into play.

Should the Watt have had a penalty? It was absolutely clear that Donnelly had played the ball before the goalkeeper struck him and equally clear that MacLean had come out to try to get at the ball. Presumably referee Mr Doyle’s decision was that no intentional infringement had been committed and as Donnelly could not have reached the ball first, he had not been prevented from doing so. There is little doubt that it would have been given as a foul anywhere else on the pitch, but Mr Doyle was in good position to see the incident and as he is almost certainly the best young referee currently performing at this grade and had had another fine match, the Watt were content to accept his judgment.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Allison, Laurenson, Kerr, Woolven, Connor (Godsell 72), Warner, Higgins, Davies (Dowds 66), Donnelly, Hamill (Hay 60). Subs. not used: Forsyth, Walker.

Stirling University II:
MacLean, Greig (Lynch 16), McAnespie, Munro, Mooney, McCaughie (Shiells 85), Allison, MacDonald, Collins (Fitzpatrick 60), Burgess, MacEwan. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Calum Doyle (Newtongrange)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 20

East of Scotland League

19th December 2015

 

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1 COLDSTREAM 3

This was a game that neither side wanted to play, but the decision by the League to force this game on them at short notice and for no discernible benefit left the clubs no alternative but to get on with it.

Both sides were significantly understrength, but although neither had much to substantiate a belief in a positive outcome, the visitors were probably the more pessimistic. Despite fielding its youngest side ever, the Watt should have been able to do better after taking an early lead. The Streamers had been obliged to cobble together a side as best they could, including the recruitment of a triallist goalkeeper on the morning of the game, so all credit goes to them for a cohesive and disciplined performance, orchestrated from midfield by Des Sutherland, who used his gamecraft and endeavour to telling effect.

The Watt was thankful for its youth side in fulfilling this fixture. Of its squad of fourteen, half had played for the Under-20s this season or are eligible to do so; and the only players over the age of twenty-one in the starting eleven were Craig Saunders and Neil Laurenson. Nevertheless, whilst there were two players making first-team debuts and others who hadn’t played much, there should have been enough experience to make more of a game of it than the Watt managed to do. Perhaps it’s the difference in style between Under-20 and first-team football that made it so difficult for this line-up to gel.

Actually, the Watt started the match reasonably well and took the lead after nine minutes’ play, Cameron Ross producing a goal similar to the one he had scored for the Under-20s in his previous outing. Receiving the ball on the right side of the park just inside the Coldstream half, Ross turned and accelerated past his marker, sped to the edge of the penalty area and fired the ball past the right hand of Coldstream’s loanee goalkeeper.

The goal might have settled the Watt, but it was a false dawn, as the side’s understandable lack of organisation began to become evident. Ross’s early goal may have had a retrograde effect on his play, as after scoring he became much less direct and frequently dallied on the ball, giving the visitors’ defence time to regroup.

The Watt defence was also lacking in cohesion and this caused the shape of the game to change in the last quarter of an hour before the interval. On the half-hour mark, two of the more experienced players in the side (albeit both are only twenty), Adam Woolven and Adam Kerlin, were culpable as the Streamers drew level. Woolven misjudged the flight of a cross from the right and jumped for a header he couldn’t reach; Kerlin failed to cover, staying too wide and leaving Ash Langford, the only forward in the picture, time to bring the ball down on his chest, run in on Saunders and send an emphatic drive into the top corner of the net.

Eight minutes later, Coldstream took the lead. A pass from the left was struck by Langford at the edge of the penalty area. Ryan Higgins dived to try to block, but when the ball struck his arm, a penalty was awarded. This time we’re not going to make our customary rant about the way in which ball striking hand is interpreted by referees these days; Higgins did have his hands above his head and seemed to be doing an impression of a goalkeeper. Hagen Steele sent Saunders the wrong way from the spot.

Just before half-time came a killer third goal. A free kick from the centre of the park found the right side of the Watt defence fast asleep and Danny Simpson had time and space in which to bring the ball down and send it past Saunders as he came towards his near post.

With Connor Godsell on at right back, shortly followed by Harry Warner on the right wing, with Sean Campbell moving to the left side, Watt tried to get back into the game in the second half, but Coldstream kept it tight at the back and the Watt lacked the guile to break down the visiting defence. The triallist goalkeeper worked effectively and kicked well, but only had one direct shot to deal with in the whole of the second half and the game simply ebbed away to a quiet conclusion. An improvised scoop shot from Sutherland and a Langford free kick which passed just over were the Streamers’ closest attempts in this period, whilst for the Watt, the two closest things came right at the end: a dangerous free kick from Laurenson which was well punched clear by the goalkeeper and a shot from the same player which cleared the bar.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Kerlin (Godsell 45), Daniel, Woolven, Dowds, Campbell, Higgins, Wilson (Davies 68), Ross, Walker (Warner 51).

Coldstream:
Triallist, Maxwell, Dancaster, Vannini, Inglis, Scott, Sutherland, Hossack, Langford, Simpson (Craven 84), Steele (Demri 61).

Referee: Mr. Matthew MacDermid (Motherwell)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 19

East of Scotland League

12th December 2015

 

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2 CIVIL SERVICE STROLLERS 3

A slow start gave the Watt a lot to do to get back into this game and the three-goal disparity between the teams’ scores at half-time was not an unfair reflection on first half play overall, but at the end of the match it was another frustrating narrow defeat in which once again the Watt was left to rue refereeing decisions which went against the side. They say these things even themselves out over a season, but if that is true the Watt will be looking forward to the second half of the programme, because the season so far has produced a number of decisions which have gone unjustly against the Riccarton men and have cost league points.

From the start of this game, Civil Service was the livelier side and its movement and passing was far better than that of the Watt. The first minute of the game brought a shot from David Stewart from Matthew Cunningham’s lay-off, but Craig Saunders was in position to save. Watt had a good move on the right at the end of which Adam Kerlin’s deflected cross reached Neil Laurenson, but his attempted shot was blocked away for a corner. Mikey Connor’s inswinger was tricky for Stuart Burnside to deal with and he palmed the ball over the bar for another corner, but Strollers cleared that and soon took control again.

The opening goal came after ten minutes, Jordan Finnie doing well to hook the ball over his shoulder and in off the underside of the bar when Saunders’ punch failed to clear the penalty box.

Watt responded with another move on the right at the end of which Chris Donnelly sent the ball back for Jack Daniel to race forward and fire in a powerful shot from distance which Burnside had to dive to turn round the post.

The game’s defining moment arrived after fourteen minutes. Strollers had broken upfield and although Ian Ballantyne had made a weak connection at the end of a sweeping move, the ball had stayed alive and come out towards the edge of the penalty area. Adam Woolven got in a good tackle on Stewart to send the ball out of play, but when the players’ boots then audibly met and Stewart fell, the referee decided, to the amazement of the Strollers’ bench as much as that of the Watt, that a penalty kick was in order. Saunders got a hand to Stewart’s low kick to his left but was unable to keep it out and visitors led by two goals.

Another decent Watt move failed to produce work for Burnside when the alert Strollers defence smothered Laurenson’s attempt to get in a shot, before the Civil Service lead rose to three in the twenty-eighth minute. The ball was played wide to Chris Milligan and again Saunders got a glove to the shot but was unable to prevent it entering the goal.

Mr Smith is generally a calm and sensible referee, but in this match he did seem to make some curious decisions. Just after the half-hour, Donnelly was fouled and sought the ball in order to take the free kick promptly. It was normal for the Strollers throughout the game to try to prevent the restart of the game by removing the ball from the locus and one of the visiting players did that. Donnelly tried to recover it and there was a certain amount of pushing and shoving, shared about equally between the players, but when the referee brought out his yellow card, it was shown only to the Watt striker, not to the Strollers player who had very clearly been guilty of the cautionable offence of delaying the restart of play as Donnelly did his best to get the game going again. The Strollers accepted this as carte blanche to continue their policy and proceeded to delay every restart by the Watt for the remainder of the game. A caution went to one of their players for this offence in the third minute of stoppage time at the end of the match.

Watt managed to stabilise things in the remainder of the first half. Anton Dowds had a good turn and shot, but although the ball was heading for just inside the post, the distance from which the shot was taken was such that Burnside had time to get across his goal and make the save.

Cam Dunn replaced Mikey Connor at half-time, with Jamie Hume moving forward into midfield, being replaced by Jack Daniel in central defence with Neil Laurenson moving to left-back. Watt looked immediately more potent with the lively Dunn marauding down the left. A good cross in the first minute of the second half found Fraser Wilson in good position, but the ball bounced up on him and he couldn’t get his shot away.

Following a free kick on the right, Kerlin’s accurate cross found the head of Dunn in front of goal, but he allowed his header to slide away past the post. Strollers’ substitute David Middlemass had an opportunity from a cutback just after this, but shot wide.

With Sean Campbell on for his first-team debut, replacing Dowds in midfield, Watt grabbed a goal back in the seventieth minute. A free kick from the right made its way across the box to Dunn, who fired a shot back across goal and inside the post to Burnside’s left.

Five minutes later, the deficit was down to one. A long diagonal pass picked out Dunn on the left wing. He took the ball past a defender and played it in to the near post area, where Donnelly finessed it past Burnside from close range.

Watt was right back in the game now and play was becoming quite open, suggesting that chances might arise when the ball was worked forward, but the Strollers defended stoutly and clear-cut opportunities were few. One almost arose for Wilson when Dunn played the ball across from the left, but when Wilson ran on to the ball, Barry Milven got in a superb challenge to take it away for a corner. It wasn’t Woolven’s day, as just as the corner kick was struck, he was prevented from contesting the ball due to being abruptly taken out of the play by the arm of a defender at about the same place in the penalty box where he had been penalised for his first-half challenge. Unfortunately for the Watt, this foul went unnoticed and the game ebbed away without further significant events.

There are many less competent referees than Mr Smith – we have seen quite a few of them this season – and in general he did not have an especially poor game, but it has to be said that this game turned on two decisions which Watt partisans have to regard as poor ones. At the end of the match, the referee himself seemed to realise it had not been his finest hour. It could be argued that Watt’s improved showing in the second half did not fully compensate for the superiority of the Strollers in the first and that the home side’s play over the full match did not deserve any better, but football matches are not decided on the quality of play or on which side might be judged the more deserving of the victory. Whether the Watt deserved a better result or not, the bald fact is that the outcome of this match was determined by the decisions made concerning two penalty-box incidents. The foul on Woolven late on might not have been easy to spot from the referee’s view of a crowded penalty area, but there was no such difficulty with the award that was made. In penalising Woolven’s challenge, the referee simply did not seem to realise that the player had played the ball at all.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Kerlin, Daniel, Woolven, Hume, Connor (Dunn 45), Dowds (Campbell 68), Higgins (Allison 88), Wilson, Donnelly, Laurenson. Subs. not used: Davies, Walker.

Civil Service Strollers:
Burnside, Sutherland (Middlemass 50), Brown, Laird, Milven, Cunningham, Stewart, Clapperton, Ballantyne (Young 75), Finnie (Boggie 82), C Milligan. Subs. not used: M Milligan, Watson.

Referee: Mr. Nikki Smith (Edinburgh)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 18

SFA South Region Challenge Cup – Second Round

14th November 2015

 

SPARTANS 5 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2

Watt faced its toughest assignment of the season so far, an away cup tie at prominent Lowland League side Spartans, with perhaps the thinnest squad so far this term. Regular left-back Jack Daniel was added to the long list of the unavailable and Under-20 defender Andrew Imray was unable to take the opportunity to join the squad. Rodrigo Almeida’s International Clearance has yet to come through and Stevie Wright sustained a bad injury in training this week. Mikey Connor returned to midfield for his first game for seven weeks and three of the Under-20 side which had visited Ainslie Park the evening before occupied places on an incomplete bench.

Nevertheless, the Watt side started the game with purpose, stroking the ball around confidently and with six minutes on the clock came desperately close to opening the scoring. A flowing move through midfield ended with a layoff by Neil Laurenson which put Anton Dowds in on the edge of the penalty area. Dowds had perhaps just too much time to gather himself and he struck the ball with ferocious power but just a shade too high and it rebounded back into play from the crossbar.

When you come close and don’t score, you just know what is going to happen next and it duly did a minute later. Dean Horribine got to the line and forced Connor Godsell to concede a corner. David Kerr headed out the kick at the near post, but when it was played into the box again, Eddie Malone glanced a header past the grasp of Craig Saunders into goal.

The roles were reversed around the twenty-minute mark as Kerr’s well-timed tackle prevented Aaron Murrell getting in a shot from good position. Having survived this attempt on its citadel, Watt grabbed an equalising goal shortly afterwards. Chris Donnelly cut in from the right and as he ran across the line of the penalty box, fired in a left-foot shot. As he had been obliged to strike the ball square to his line of travel, he had little control over the exact direction, but the height was perfect and the ball was on track to go in just under the bar. It was directly over the head of Blair Carswell, however, and the Spartans goalkeeper rose to tip the ball over the bar. The corner was delivered deep and Adam Woolven was in perfect position to head downwards across Carswell into the corner of the net for that elusive first goal he’s been seeking for quite a while.

Spartans moved ahead again nine minutes from the interval. Murrell held off a defender, moved to the edge of the penalty area and struck a shot which flew into the top corner close to which Saunders was standing. It was a strike of stunning power and accuracy and the goalkeeper, who is in excellent form, simply had no time to make an attempt at saving it.

Three minutes later, Spartans scored again to make their position secure. This one was a bit annoying. Throughout the half, the home forwards had lost no opportunity to hit the deck in the penalty box and when Conner Duthie ran across the box parallel to goal, he was undoubtedly seeking a foot to fall over. He found that of Godsell, duly fell over it and gained a penalty award which Murrell despatched.

Murrell’s quick-time double ended his contribution, as he was replaced at half-time by Robbie Ross, but Watt’s bolt was shot and it was now a question of damage limitation. Spartans added a fourth on the hour when Saunders came off his line but got nowhere near the ball before Keith Murray secured it to chassis round the ’keeper and roll the ball home.

Nine minutes later, a run to the corner flag by Alan Brown was climaxed by a superb cross which was ideal for Ross, who applied a firm header back towards the near post as Saunders tried to cover across goal.

Five minutes later, Saunders saved well, turning a shot round the post to give Spartans a corner on the right and from the kick, Ewan Saunderson headed over. For Watt, Chris Donnelly fired in a shot from twenty-five metres, but it was a metre too high.

Close to time, Mark Hamill made a goal-saving tackle as Keith Murray moved the ball in from the left. Watt moved the ball forward and Donnelly beat a defender and the advancing Carswell to get a touch to the ball, take it past the goalkeeper and slip it into goal to put a slightly better gloss on the final score.

Spartans:
Carswell, Brown, Stevenson, Malone, Thomson, Greenhill, Horribine, Herd (Raiker 34), Murrell (Ross 45), Murray, Duthie (Saunderson 64). Sub. not used: Gilpin.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Godsell, Dunn (Hamill 64), Kerr, Woolven, Connor (Kerlin 64), Laurenson, Higgins, Dowds, Donnelly, Walker (Lane 78). Sub. not used: Maher.

Referee: Mr. Gavin Duncan (Bo’ness)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 17

East of Scotland League

31st October 2015

 

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 4 BURNTISLAND SHIPYARD 0

Shipyard finished last season strongly, but although there have been no wholesale changes to its squad, this season has gone much less well for the Fife club so far. It was worth bearing in mind, however, that although it had lost its last seven matches before arriving at Riccarton, the previous five had all been single-goal defeats, so there was the cautionary thought in Watt minds that Shippy might be close to a breakthrough. Watt had Craig Saunders in goal again after recovering from injury in time to take over from Alín Roman, himself injured last week.

The game started in startling fashion, Watt taking the lead within the opening minute. The first attack was built down the right and when Anton Dowds squared the ball, the Shippy defence was posted missing as Chris Donnelly rolled it into the net.

Burntisland settled to some neat attacking football and when Darrell Anthony tried to bore his way into the Watt penalty box and was brought down, Dean Robertson’s well-struck free kick dipped just too late, landing on top of the net.

Donnelly’s pass found Steven Wright on the Watt right wing; his near-post centre eluded Cam Dunn, but an attempted clearance struck the referee and fell for Donnelly to send in a curling shot just wide of the post.

The visitors were taking every opportunity to test Saunders and a shot from Anthony had the Watt goalkeeper diving low to his right to push the ball away. Shortly after this, a pass from Ryan Higgins gave Dowds a shooting chance. As Jordan Mushet advanced towards him, Dowds went for the chip, but missed the target.

Wright’s left-wing corner was headed over by David Kerr and Shipyard attacked next with Ewan Fotheringham’s controlled shot caught just under the bar by Saunders.

Watt went two up in the twenty-second minute with a goal which shows how simple football can be sometimes. Adam Woolven was faced with a situation on the Watt right in which a clearance was needed from close to the touchline. He took care to get the ball forward as far as possible by playing it parallel to the line and when it reached Dowds, he headed it on. Whether or not the ball was intended for Donnelly is unclear, but it fell perfectly into his stride, enabling him to race through to trick Mushet, pass him to his right and slide the ball into the empty goal.

Shippy was still playing some tidy, co-ordinated football and the Watt defence had to be alert. Fotheringham was a threat on the right and he ran on to a pass from Robertson to play on the volley an inviting ball into the danger area, but to his despair no man in white was in position to attack it.

Dowds was supplying some clever passes and he sent Donnelly away with a well-timed ball to the left, but Ben Saunders was quickly on the case to get the ball away for a corner. Dowds held the ball for Donnelly’s run again a few minutes later and gave the striker the chance for a first-half hat-trick, but Donnelly’s first touch took the ball back towards Saunders and he promptly got a foot to the ball to send it back in the direction of Mushet.

There were two more opportunities for Shipyard before half-time. The first fell to Ewan Henderson, who quickly sized up a bouncing ball twenty metres from goal and sent in a strong half-volley which passed just over the bar; then Gavin Sullivan’s free kick was caught by Saunders above his head.

Early in the second half, Donnelly slipped the ball to Dowds, but his attempted shot screwed well wide of the goal.

Five minutes into the second period, Anthony was sent off for a stamp on Donnelly and this probably had a decisive influence on the game. Anthony had been one of Burntisland’s liveliest attacking players and his removal put a lot of weight on the remaining midfielders, who gradually tired, giving Watt time and space.

Much of the attacking after this was done by the home side. Donnelly had a close-range heading opportunity from Wright’s cross, but headed straight at Mushet. Then Connor Godsell’s cross was headed in the air and fell for Donnelly, who took the ball down on his chest and sent a half-volley just over the bar.

Around the half-way mark in the second half, a dangerous low centre by Dunn was turned behind for a corner. When Wright’s kick from the left came into the penalty box, Kerr rose to send a powerful header into goal and give the Watt a secure three-goal lead.

The next good chance, however, fell to Shipyard and it was perhaps the visitors’ best opportunity in the match. Careless defending on the Watt left enabled Shippy to work the ball inside and when it reached Henderson in space and he turned and drove in a solid shot, a goal was expected, but a deflection took the ball behind for a corner.

With quarter of an hour still to go, there was a passage of play during which a goal for the Watt was expected with every moment, but somehow Shipyard managed to keep the ball out. A diagonal pass put Wright into the penalty box and it looked as if he was set to score at last, but Mushet’s right foot denied him. As Liam Walker pounced on the loose ball, we were sure it was going in anyway, but another heroic block by a defender protected the goal again; but the rebound this time went to Donnelly, so surely he would score – but no, Mushet was there again, pushing the ball away for a throw-in. When that was taken, Wright had another shooting opportunity, but Mushet got down by his post to save again.

Mushet’s determination to prevent further goals was again evident a few minutes later when after Donnelly’s run at the visitors’ defence was halted, the ball ran to Walker, who sent in a fierce drive, only to see the goalkeeper soar to tip the ball over the bar. The resultant corner was headed towards goal, cleared off the line and when Woolven headed it back in again, was smuggled round the post.

This was the prelude to a most unfortunate incident. As Wright was in the process of taking the kick, the referee blew his whistle to delay proceedings so he could have a word with a couple of players indulging in some petting in the six-yard box. When the ball arrived at Graeme Haywood, he volleyed it, apparently in an attempt to play it back towards the corner-flag, but as the ball was spinning, it went in an entirely different direction and disappeared over the fence. The referee took a dim view of this and as Haywood had previously been cautioned for dissent, he had to endure a bizarre dismissal. Three minutes later, a third Shippy player was sent off when Andy MacDonald, who had also been booked for dissent, made contact with Donnelly with such severity that the impact was easily audible on the sidelines.

These red cards reduced Shippy to eight players, but as they both happened in the final eight minutes of the match, they had no material affect on the result. Watt did add a fourth goal, however, when a nice ball by Mark Hamill to the near post area was turned home by Donnelly to complete his hat-trick and give him a total of ten goals in the last seven games.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Godsell, Daniel, Woolven, Kerr, Laurenson (Green 75), Wright, Higgins, Dowds (Walker 75), Donnelly, Dunn (Hamill 70). All subs. used.

Burntisland Shipyard:
Mushet, Saunders, Bell, MacDonald, Drury, Fotheringham (Haywood 70), Anthony, Lowe, Sullivan (Anderson 70), Robertson, Henderson. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Nikki Smith (Edinburgh)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 16

East of Scotland League

24th October 2015

 

ORMISTON 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

Watt’s third visit to Recreation Park since August produced the team’s best result from their worst performance.

In the first half, Watt played away from the pavilion and into the inevitable wind, but held their own pretty well for most of the time. An early take and turn by Chris Donnelly gave him a shooting opportunity, but from a tight angle he was looking for a space that wasn’t there between Andrew Jack and his post. In another good breakout a minute later, Donnelly’s lay-off found Liam Walker, who sent in a dangerous cross which was headed behind for a corner. When the corner-kick was delivered into the six-yard box, it fell amongst the feet, but no Watt player was near enough to take advantage. The ball was half-cleared, but played in again by Adam Woolven and Donnelly headed over the bar.

Steven Wright was next to have a go from a tight angle, but Jack blocked his attempt. As Watt continued to see plenty of the ball, Wright’s corner was a good one, but Donnelly had to step back smartly to reach it. Leaning back, he headed over.

After this Watt attacking, Ormiston came close to a goal when a header by Andrew Jones from a corner-kick was cleared off the line by Woolven and cleared by Neil Laurenson. A good cross from the left gave Johnathan Edmond a heading opportunity. He put that one well past, but it was only a sighter, as his next chance came thumping back off the bar. Good defending by Connor Godsell, making his East of Scotland debut, dealt with a dangerous cross by Nicky Cairns at the cost of a corner. The corner-kick was curled right into the goalmouth, but Alín Roman got a good punch to the ball to send it away from the danger area.

Ormiston was on top now and Roman dealt well with a shot from distance by Cameron Milne before making a superb diving save to get an arm to a piledriver from Michael Osborne.

Towards half-time, Watt broke upfield following a clearance by Woolven. Donnelly hooked the ball on towards Walker, but Jack was out quickly to kick the ball away. Watt maintained the momentum, however, and when the ball was played back into the penalty area, Donnelly’s quick take and turn was too sharp for his marker, who bundled him to the ground to concede a penalty. Donnelly dusted himself down and drove the ball high into the net to give the Watt a lead at half-time.

With the wind in the favour of the visitors in the second half, we looked forward to a lot of Watt possession and the goals to cement victory, but that was never the story. Watt seldom got a grip of the game in the second half and after equalising on the hour, Ormiston should have gone on to win the game. An injury towards half-time severely limited Roman’s movement from that time on, but he still managed some important saves to help his side retain a point.

It might all have been different if Walker had been a little quicker to seize on the chance given to him by a short passback at the start of the half, but he was a little hesitant and Jack sped out from his goal to clear in front of the Watt forward. Walker had another chance to create a real scoring opportunity just after this when put away down the right by Woolven, but with Donnelly and Laurenson advancing inside the penalty box, Walker’s centre passed harmlessly along the corridor between the goalkeeper and the players running in and past the far post.

Watt had a let-off when Alan Morgan’s fierce shot was saved by Roman. The rebound was knocked in by Osborne, but from an offside position. Osborne then got past David Kerr on the right to set up a chance for Jones, but the winger’s shot was inaccurate.

The equaliser came from a corner which was headed out from the near-post area. Morgan got hold of the ball and fired it towards goal and when it got stuck in the crowd moving through the penalty area, Chris Cairney was the first to size up the situation. He knocked the ball forward and as Roman came towards him, managed to nudge it past the ’keeper and into goal.

Ormiston was well in the ascendancy now and Osborne, who is as hardworking and able as he is cantankerous, turned sharply on the edge of the area to whip in a shot which Roman saved brilliantly, touching the ball on to the bar with his fingertips. The corner which followed this was half-cleared and as Woolven pursued it to the edge of the area, the ball was thumped against him from no distance. This resulted in Ormiston players wildly claiming for some time afterwards that a penalty should have been awarded for handling. This was bizarre, because Woolven did not have his hands in a high position, it was far from certain that the ball had struck any part of his arms and there could be no serious suggestion that he had played the ball deliberately with any part of his anatomy. It is regrettable that the change to the way in which the rule against handling is now implemented has ensured that many such impassioned but spurious claims are made.

There were a few efforts on goal in the last ten minutes, mostly from the energetic Osborne, but none came very close to changing the scoreline. At the final whistle, the Ormiston players were frustrated and had a right to be, as they certainly had the better of the second half and might well have won the game, but Roman’s courage was rewarded.

Ormiston:
Jack, Hogg, Milne (Watson 48), Gray, Cunningham, Cairns, Cairney, Morgan, Edmond, Osborne, Jones. Subs. not used: Quinn, Russell, Hamilton, Robertson.

Heriot-Watt University:
Roman, Godsell, Daniel, Woolven, Kerr, Laurenson, Wright, Napier (Dunn 71), Higgins, Donnelly, Walker (Davies 61). Subs. not used: Dowds, Green, Muttitt.

Referee: Mr. Calum Doyle (Newtongrange)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 15

SFA South Region Challenge Cup – First Round

17th October 2015

 

GALA FAIRYDEAN ROVERS 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2 (after extra time); Heriot-Watt won 4 – 3 on kicks from the penalty mark

At Netherdale, where the team had turned in its best performance last season in beating Rovers in the same competition, the Watt started brightly, with Stevie Wright trying an ambitious volley on the run from Martin Green’s crossfield pass. Ronnie Napier’s penetrating run then gave Green a shooting chance and his effort wasn’t far off target.

There was some alarm for the visitors when a free kick from Dean McColm was played across the fact of the Watt goal by Sean Guiney, but goalkeeper Alín Roman, making his debut as a replacement for the injured Craig Saunders, watched carefully as the ball went past the post.

After a mix-up in the Watt defence, with Neil Laurenson caught in possession, Jamie Gibson fired in a strong shot which rose just over the bar, before Guiney had another attempt, driving a shot past the post from the edge of the area.

After surviving these attempts on goal, Watt went up the park and took the lead with a simply-executed goal. Liam Walker picked up the ball on the left and protected it until Chris Donnelly made a run across the box. Walker then rolled an accurate pass inside to connect with the run and Donnelly whipped the ball across Mark Wilson into the far corner of the net.

Seven minutes later, Donnelly had the chance to score again when, turning quickly on to Ryan Higgins’s pass, his shirt was pulled, resulting in a penalty. Donnelly is normally reliable from twelve yards, but on this occasion, perhaps seeing Wilson incline to his right, he changed his mind as he approached the ball and pushed it further to his left than he intended. The ball slipped past the post and the score stayed as it was.

Gala pushed forward seeking an equaliser and following a corner from the right, Colin Galbraith sent in a volley from a very tight angle, but drove the ball too high. A few minutes later, however, after McColm had made ground through the centre of the Watt defence, Scott Main played the ball into the danger area and from a tight angle, Ryan Clapperton fired it into the net.

Clapperton tried for a second goal a few minutes later, but from twenty metres sent his shot narrowly over the bar.

Napier’s fine pass gave Walker a chance to reprise the move that had brought the Watt’s earlier goal. This time it was Laurenson who made the run into the box, but he was closely marshalled and couldn’t get in a shot.

Gibson outpaced David Kerr into the left side of the Watt penalty area, but Roman got both hands to his cutback and Higgins was on hand to clear the danger. As Rovers counterattacked following the breakdown of a Watt free-kick move in the last minute of the half, another good run by McColm threatened the visitors’ goal, but Adam Woolven was on hand to get in a vital touch to carry the ball for a corner kick.

Early in the second half, the Watt goal had a narrow escape when the skilful and inventive Clapperton played a pass towards Ross Lamb, but the ball bounced up too high for good control and the chance was lost. Play switched to the other end and Green headed a Napier free-kick just past the post from fifteen metres.

Five minutes into the second period, Watt went back in front. Laurenson’s pass found Walker on the edge of the area and he deceived his marker and stroked the ball under the advancing Wilson and into goal.

Watt threatened to increase its lead eight minutes later when a dangerous free-kick was feathered on by the head of Donnelly and Woolven, at a tight angle but very close to goal, hooked the ball over the bar.

With eighteen minutes left to play, it was all square again. Woolven made what seemed to be a perfectly fair tackle near the touchline on the Gala right, but when as a result of the challenge his opponent fell down, a free-kick was awarded. This seemed surprising, as Mr Cairns is not an over-fussy referee; he had refereed well and had not generally been inclined to penalise honest challenges which succeeded in playing the ball. The kick was perfectly flighted into the Watt box and centre-back Ian Chalmers rose to head into goal from close range.

Another good attempt by Clapperton was pushed out towards the corner flag by Roman, but shortly after this Clapperton was forced to leave the fray after taking the full force of an attempted clearance from Kerr in the face from very close range.

Watt seemed to have a good opportunity when Donnelly found substitute Anton Dowds in space on the edge of the Rovers area, but Dowds unaccountably dallied and tried to return the ball to Donnelly. An interception brought the opportunity to an end.

As the last nervous minutes of the cup tie ebbed away, McCord’s dangerous corner kick was played on by Roman to the far side, from where the ball was blazed high and wide by David Bonnar. Woolven stepped forward to win a good challenge in the Gala half and get the ball forward to Napier, who was fouled, but the free kick came to nothing.

Green had worked like a Trojan all day and was still there with a successful tackle in the last minute of the game to enable Donnelly to win a corner; then he sent in a superb left-foot cross to give late substitute Fraser Wilson a chance to win the game at the last gasp, but Wilson was unable to get enough purchase on the ball to direct it down and into goal.

The last action of the ninety minutes was back at the Watt end, where Woolven was again alert to get in front of a Gala man and prevent the possibility of a shot.

Extra time never seems as long as the last half-hour of a game and these two periods of fifteen minutes slipped away quietly. The Gala substitutes were imposing themselves, with Woolven again stepping in to deny Callum Jardine as he went down the right and Jack Daniel getting in ahead of the same player to steer the ball back to Roman. Stuart Noble sent in a good effort from distance and didn’t miss by much. Every corner won by Rovers was now being curled into the goalmouth, but Roman was working well, punching away when under pressure and denying any clear opportunities to the home side.

In the second half of extra time, Watt showed more attacking intent. Donnelly took down a long pass from Kerr and swivelled to fire a shot a couple of feet over the bar. Then, when Mark Hamill took advantage of a mistake in the home defence to find Donnelly, his cross picked out Laurenson around the penalty spot. By the time Laurenson had brought the ball down on his chest, however, a defender had closed in and a corner was the best he could get. When the corner-kick came in, Donnelly found space to send in a header, but he was straining to reach the ball and couldn’t control its direction.

Dowds then exchanged passes with Donnelly to move into the penalty box, but the ball wouldn’t sit properly for him and his shot was a rather awkward affair, ending in the side net.

Dowds sent in a corner from the left to which Donnelly, speeding across the box, got a touch. Wilson couldn’t quite reach the ball, but Napier turned it back to Dowds, who gave Donnelly the chance to surge past Chalmers and fire in a shot which Wilson did well to reach with his right hand and turn behind. The corner, driven long, was headed down by Wilson to Laurenson. His shot was blocked and Hamill put the rebound over the bar.

Bonnar had the last effort of the match, driving across the pitch, but his shot was more or less on the same trajectory as his run, which meant it finished well wide of the post.

So the game went to a decider on “kicks from the penalty mark”. Watt went first and Laurenson started things off with a confident left-foot kick high to Wilson’s right. McColm was first up for Gala and although his kick was well struck, Roman dived to his right to make a fine save. Donnelly, Kerr and Napier found the net for Watt and Gibson, Noble and Aitchison did likewise for Rovers, so when Dowds stepped forward, the score was 4 – 3 in Watt’s favour. Dowds drove his kick hard to Wilson’s right, but the goalkeeper brought off a splendid save, diverting the ball against the post and out. Scott Main was last of the ten and put plenty of power into his kick, but too much loft and it smashed against the crossbar to put the Watt through to a second-round visit to Ainslie Park to play Spartans.

Gala Fairydean Rovers:
Wilson, Guiney, Main, Chalmers, Galbraith, Hope, McColm, Bonnar, Gibson, Clapperton, Lamb Subs. not used: King, Herdman.

Heriot-Watt University:
Roman, Higgins, Daniel, Woolven, Kerr, Laurenson, Wright (Dowds 82), Napier, Green (Hamill 102), Donnelly, Walker (Wilson 82). Subs. not used: Kerlin, Stevenson.

Referee: Mr. Evan Cairns (Edinburgh)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 14

East of Scotland League

10th October 2015

 

COLDSTREAM 5 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 3

At the impressively-enhanced Home Park – we particularly admired the imaginative development of the east end of the ‘Pivvy’ and the neat little covered enclosure named in honour of Morain Scott – Watt’s self-destructive talents were on view again as once more three goals were not enough to gain any points.

The match started as it meant to go on – Watt had a fine chance in the first minute of the game before conceding in the second. Chris Donnelly’s superb pass in the first attack put Liam Walker in behind right-back Ben Maxwell, but his low centre was too close to goalkeeper Willie Stewart, who gratefully dived to grab the ball before it could reach Donnelly.

The Streamers then carried the ball up the left side of the pitch and a fine cross was just right for Ash Langford, who peeled off his marker, retreating a yard or two to gather the ball, take it inside two defenders and tuck a left-foot shot into the corner of the net.

Cam Dunn responded with a driving run across the pitch and sent the ball out to Walker again, but this time his low cross was too sharp for Donnelly and went behind off his ankles. Then Craig Saunders was on hand to block with his feet and prevent Langford reprising his previous goal – and we’d still only been playing five minutes.

It gradually got a bit less hectic, but after quarter of an hour’s play, a long pass from Ryan Higgins gave Walker his best opportunity to date. The ball went over the head of Maxwell and left Walker with only the advancing Stewart to beat. Walker did stab the ball past the goalkeeper, but so softly that a retreating defender was able to get to the ball before it could reach the goal.

Within another minute, Watt came close again. Walker’s pass found Donnelly and he played the ball on for Fraser Wilson to shoot, but he pulled his first-time effort just past the post.

A good clearing header by Jack Daniel was picked up by Coldstream midfielder Jay Wilson, who drove into the box and cut the ball in towards the near post area, where it was turned behind. Following the corner, the home side maintained pressure on the Watt goal for some time. Higgins got in a good block and eventually Hagen Steele drove the ball past the post.

It’s always difficult for referees without assistants to get the offside calls right and it’s often the case that the better the timing, the more offside the player looks. This was Dunn’s fate as he latched on to a defence-splitting pass on the edge of the Coldstream penalty box and was halted by an offside call, although Streamers officials, with a better view of the incident than the referee, were honest enough to disagree.

Daniel Simpson, who was a problem for the Watt defence throughout, sent over a dangerous cross from near the corner-flag on the right, but again it was Higgins who was in position to clear the immediate danger by heading behind.

Adam Woolven almost put his side in trouble when he heeded calls to tell him he had plenty of time. Woolven slowed down, his judgment of the backpass he was attempting was affected and he underhit the pass. Saunders was coming out of his goal but stopped when he realised he wasn’t going to get there before Langford; however, rather than play the available ball, the striker elected to try for a penalty, leaving the ball alone in order to fall over Saunders. The referee was awake to this ruse and cautioned Langford.

The Watt goal had a very narrow escape when Steele’s shot after a powerful run to the line was blocked by Saunders and defenders clustered round quickly to prevent Paul Hossack despatching the rebound. There was another similar episode before half-time, with Higgins again getting in an important block after Des Sutherland’s subtle pass created a shooting chance for Steele. The rebound was played across the goalmouth, but two Streamers players lurking by the far post were unable to make contact.

Watt made it through to the interval without further mishap, but after half-time fell further behind. Four minutes after the break, a foul by David Kerr brought a free kick forty metres from the Watt goal. When the ball was played in to the area, Simpson led the charge and headed the ball on the bounce into the top corner of the goal.

Six minutes later, the cause looked lost as Coldstream added a third. Good combination play on the left between Simpson and Sutherland ended with the latter playing the ball inside to Steele, who placed a firm side-foot shot into the net.

Four minutes after the loss of this goal, the Watt began an unlikely revival. In attempting an acrobatic clearance, Maxwell injured himself and there was a delay as he received treatment. The game restarted with a throw by Jack Daniel and when the ball reached Walker, his cross to the far post was headed back across Stewart by Donnelly, whose had peeled off his marker in much the same way as Langford had done for Coldstream’s opener.

Two minutes later, it looked as if it was unimportant. When Coldstream attacked on the right and moved into the Watt penalty box, the ball was driven against the arm of Kerr. He claimed that not only was the contact unintentional but he was actually over the by-line and off the pitch at the time, but a penalty was awarded and Kerr booked for “deliberate handling”. We have often ranted before about how referees are encouraged to interpret the rule on handling nowadays and will refrain from endangering the stability of the blood pressure by reviewing the matter again. On this occasion, however, the Watt was given a let-off when Langford drove the penalty kick over the bar.

Almost immediately, Watt surged to the other end. Higgins drove into the box and was almost surrounded by Coldstream players when he came down after a challenge from behind. Donnelly took the penalty and fired the ball firmly into the top of the goal to cut the deficit to one.

With fresh legs on in the shape of Adam Kerlin and Scott Davies, Watt was in full cry now and with seventy minutes played, won a corner on the right. Neil Laurenson’s kick reached the edge of the six yard box, but there was such a crowd in the goalmouth that Donnelly had to step back to head the ball towards goal. It took a deflection off Wilson and Stewart got a hand to the ball, but it finished up in the goal and the scores were level. The official match record attributes an own goal to Wilson.

For five or six minutes after this, the momentum was all with the visiting side. Dunn cut in from the right, used Donnelly as a decoy and fired in a low shot from twenty-five metres that Stewart dived to turn round the post. Following the corner, the ball was played in from the point of the penalty box and hit the post. It was then played across to Dunn, around the penalty spot, but he leaned back and shot over the bar.

There was plenty of space in the Coldstream defence for the pacy Watt forwards to exploit, but some of the passing was careless: Dunn played the ball too far ahead of Davies and the ball ran to the goalkeeper; Walker had unmarked players to right and left but tried to find Davies with a straight pass through the middle.

Eventually, with about ten minutes left to play, Kerr was penalised near the by-line on the Coldstream left and when Wilson played the free kick into the box, Jason Inglis sent a header into goal to put the home side back in front.

Watt responded by bringing on Martin Green, sending Dunn to the left and Davies to the right. This was logical enough, but Davies always looks at his most dangerous when played through the middle and he didn’t feature much after this.

The coup de grâce was administered with a couple of minutes of regulation time to play. It immediately followed an incredibly long period for which no match ball was available. There had been three or four balls around during the game, but when the ball being used was sent to somewhere from which it could not be promptly returned, it was clear that no effort had been made to recover those which had previously gone “over the wall”. A delay of a few seconds is not unusual, but time seemed to stretch on and on as we waited for one of the match balls to make an appearance. Coldstream has a tightly enclosed pitch affording plenty of opportunity for balls to be temporarily lost and the Club must surely take steps to ensure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen regularly, especially when it is one goal ahead and there is little time left to play.

When a ball was eventually produced, Coldstream launched it into the Watt box. Saunders blocked a shot, but the ball kept pinging around the area until it reached Sutherland, who fired it into the net to put an end to the Watt’s hopes.

Coldstream:
Stewart, Maxwell, K Scott (Farr 89), Allan, Inglis, Wilson, Simpson, Hossack, Langford, Sutherland, Steele (J Scott 76). Sub. not used: Gillie.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Higgins, Daniel, Woolven, Kerr, Laurenson, Dunn, Wright (Kerlin 59), Wilson (Davies 63), Donnelly, Walker (Green 84). Subs. not used: Hamill, Muttitt.

Referee: Mr. Paul Hanlon (Edinburgh)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 13

Alex Jack Cup, Round 1

3rd October 2015

 

DUNS 5 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 4

We have had occasion before to remark on the worrying tendency for the Watt team this season to build a good lead and then self-destruct, but this example will go down as the type descriptor. Three times two goals ahead and with a penalty saved with the scores back to parity, the Watt still managed to concede another goal to lose this game. It could only be the Alex Jack Cup.

To be fair, the Watt side had a very makeshift look, especially in defence. With David Kerr and Adam Kerlin having joined the ranks of the absentees, Ryan Higgins was drafted into an unfamiliar right-back berth and Jack Daniel joined Adam Woolven in the centre of defence as his fourth different partner already this season. Nevertheless, Watt started well and took the lead after ten minutes. A powerful run by Anton Dowds outflanked the Duns defence on the right and he cut the ball across for Martin Green to send a careful sidefoot shot into goal.

Chris Donnelly was finding plenty of space behind a Duns defence playing rather a high line and a good ball from Neil Laurenson put him in with a chance, but Sean Robertson narrowed the angle to make the save. The Duns goalkeeper was out quickly to deny Donnelly again a few minutes later after another fine pass by Laurenson enabled Green to play the ball inside.

Half-way through the first half, Watt increased their lead when Dowds played the ball through from a deep position. This time there was a long way for Robertson to come and Donnelly got there first to nip the ball past the goalkeeper and find the net.

Having established this lead, the Watt set about giving some of it back. Three minutes later, a straight ball down the middle caused hesitation in the Watt defence. Daniel Pattenden showed none, however, speeding through to steer the ball past Craig Saunders.

Two minutes later, Watt spurned a glorious chance to restore its two-goal advantage. A free kick was played into the Duns penalty box and when Donnelly hooked the ball across goal, Dowds knocked it down for Green, close to Robertson’s left-hand post. With his back to goal, Green clipped the ball on, but at such an angle that it went right across goal and out on the other side.

Duns then had a great chance for an equaliser as Pattenden’s diagonal run into the area left him with a clear shooting opportunity, but his shot to the reverse corner lacked the power to beat Saunders, who dived to his right and stretched out a long arm to get a hand to the ball.

Almost every attack was producing a chance and at the end of a good run on the right, Cam Dunn delivered another shooting opportunity to Donnelly, but his first-time effort was saved by the vigilant Robertson.

Donnelly’s break through the middle of the field gave him a position from which to play in Dowds, but his pass was not accurate enough and gave Robertson a chance to arrive at the same time as the Watt man and an inconclusive tussle ended with the ball striking the corner flag.

Half-time was reached without either side taking any more of the possibilities arising to add to the score, but five minutes into the second half, Watt went two in front again, Dunn knocking the ball in from close range after Laurenson’s cross from a quickly-taken short corner was missed by the crowd at the near post. But once again it took only two minutes for the Watt to give away their improved position. Mark Hamill committed a foul on the Duns right and Jordan Lauder headed the free kick firmly into the net.

A minute later, Watt had a good chance to rebuild its two-goal lead, but when Woolven’s beautifully-weighted pass put Donnelly through, he tried to find Green to his left and Kieran Lee turned the ball behind.

On the hour mark, Duns brought all three substitutes into play, but ten minutes later, Watt scored again. Laurenson’s fierce drive from Green’s pass following a good break by Dunn was superbly tipped over by Robertson, but when Laurenson’s subsequent corner was played back out to the edge of the penalty area, Laurenson took the ball on the volley to send the ball rocketing into the postage-stamp corner for a memorable goal.

For a third time, the Watt had established a two-goal lead and for the third time it was quickly surrendered. Within two minutes of the restart, a corner was conceded on the Duns left and when the near-post group allowed the ball to pass by, Steve McHoul lunged in to force it over the line.

This time, the Watt was not to be the next side to score. Four minutes later, Donnelly chased a ball down the right but Robertson came out of his box to clear down the line. The ball was picked up by Pattenden and switched across to the right, from where Mike Robinson easily moved into the area and fired a low shot across Saunders to tie the scores.

Another four minutes on, and still ten minutes from the end of regulation time, a Duns player ran into the right side of the Watt box, came into a collision with a defender and went down. A penalty was awarded, but when Lauder drove the ball low on a line just inside the post to Saunders’ left, the big ’keeper reprised his save against Edinburgh University earlier in the week, blocking the ball away with a firm hand.

It was to no avail. Five minutes later, a barge by Woolven thirty metres from goal enabled Duns to play the ball into the box and again Lauder was there to steer a header into goal.

Just on the ninety minutes, Watt gained a corner on the left and Ronnie Napier’s kick reached Dunn on the right side of the box. As he tried to move inside, he was challenged and came down. It seemed a clear case for a penalty, but none was awarded and the possibility of extra time disappeared. There were lots of players in the vicinity at the time of the incident, so the most likely explanation seems to be that the referee, though nearby, was unsighted.

In any case, had the match gone to extra time, there is nothing to suggest that the result would have been any different. Having scored three times in the last twenty minutes or so of the game, the momentum was decisively with Duns, who would surely have gone on to score again. We wish them and their opponents, Eyemouth United, a good match in the semi-final.

Duns:
Robertson, Lee, Beasley, McHoul, Windram, Bullen, Davaney (Ainslie 60), Paulino (Waddell 60), Strangeways, Pattenden. All subs. used.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Higgins, Hamill (Walker 81), Woolven, Daniel, Laurenson, Dunn, Napier, Dowds (Wilson 77), Donnelly, Green. Sub. not used: Muttitt.

Referee: Mr. Ryan Lee (Musselburgh)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 12

East of Scotland League

26th September 2015

 

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 3 DUNS 2

On the occasion of the Club’s 70th Anniversary celebrations, the Watt was pleased to scrape a victory against opponents who are never easy to subdue.

Indeed, it was the visitors who drew first blood. With eight minutes played, Rui Paulino went down the left and his cross found Sean Robertson running in unmarked to bullet a header into goal from around six metres.

Five minutes later, Chris Donnelly had a great opportunity to level when played in on the right side, but unaccountably took much too long to get away a shot and Paul Tansey blocked the ball away.

Watt had the greater part of possession as the game went on and equalised just after the half-hour. Not for the first time this season, a strong clearance by Adam Woolven turned out to be a perfect pass and on this occasion Anton Dowds benefited, holding off a defender to steer the ball into the corner of the net.

Penalty appeals were turned down a couple of minutes later when Fraser Wilson took the ball past a defender and seemed to be barged off the ball, but Watt could have taken the lead with half-time approaching when Michael Connor’s flighted pass picked out Donnelly, who squared the ball for Wilson, but the big striker’s effort lacked conviction and a defender turned the ball behind.

Donnelly was in the action again early in the second period, blazing high and wide after Tansey had blocked his first effort. Two minutes later, a more controlled effort from the striker came much closer: when Wilson’s good work on the right provided the ball to Donnelly, his shot across goal struck the far post.

Half-way through the second half, Watt had a glorious chance to go ahead. Neil Laurenson’s superb pass sent Wilson away on the right and when he delivered an excellent cross to the far post, Dowds had only to head downwards to score – but he headed upwards and over.

With the remaining time down to little more than a quarter of an hour, Watt got the breakthrough they craved. A corner swung in from the left by Connor was headed sharply down by Woolven and as the Duns defence hesitated, Donnelly crashed the ball in off the underside of the bar. Luke Strangeways was blamed by some Duns followers for being slow to clear, but this seemed a little harsh, as Donnelly’s instincts in front of goal are razor-sharp.

Ten minutes later, the most controversial decision of the season to date might have cost the Watt two points. A corner from the Duns left was played into the goalmouth. The Watt cover looked adequate, but it was static and when Strangeways ran in to get his head to the ball from close range, he was unmarked. The header went fairly straight at Saunders, however, and the goalkeeper blocked it with his arms with Ryan Higgins providing cover behind him. When the referee’s whistle sounded, we wondered if the ball had struck an arm and a penalty had been awarded, but in fact Mr Macaulay had judged the ball to be over the line and had awarded a goal.

The judgment was later disproved by pictures provided by a photographer with the Duns party and it may be safely assumed that the Watt would have nursed a sense of grievance had the game finished all square, but three minutes later, the matter was put right. Donnelly challenged along with a defender for a free kick played in by Ronnie Napier and the ball continued across the penalty box. Laurenson came in from the far side and met it with a well-timed volley into the roof of the net.

Duns hadn’t finished yet and Saunders was required to make a good save from Daniel Pattenden in stoppage time, but the Watt held on to put the gloss on their celebrations.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Kerlin, Daniel, Kerr, Woolven, Connor (Napier 77), Dowds, Higgins, Wilson, Donnelly, Laurenson. Subs. not used: Service, Wright, Muttitt.

Duns:
Tansey, Beasley, Walker, Stewart, Lauder, Lee, Robertson (Waddell 73), Bullen, Paulino (Douglas 81), Pattenden, Strangeways Sub. not used: Devaney.

Referee: Mr. Lee Macaulay (Bathgate)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 11

East of Scotland League

19th September 2015

 

HAWICK ROYAL ALBERT 0 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

Watt kept a rare clean sheet in this rather low-key affair and gladly accepted the three points provided by Chris Donnelly’s characteristic goal.

There should really have been an early penalty for the Watt in this game, Cammy Stevenson’s feet being swept from under him as he came in along the by-line. Mr Thomson has deservedly earned a reputation as an official who does his best to let the game flow and who will permit strong challenges within the laws, but Stevenson was clearly brought down and the feeling amongst watchers was that perhaps it was a little too early in the match for a penalty award.

Although as the game progressed, the Watt defence seldom came under serious pressure, it was similarly difficult for the visiting forward players to create clear chances against a resolute Hawick defence. Donnelly’s pace and trickery are always likely to pose problems for defenders, however, and when his diagonal run resulted in a corner in the thirteenth minute, he headed the kick back across goal to where Martin Green was positioned, close to the post. The ball might have gone in had Green avoided it, but he chose to head it and from a metre or so from goal managed to find the crossbar.

Watt had the better of play as the half wore on, but when former Watt favourite Ryan Stevenson got his head to Kyle Rankin’s long kick-out, Craig Saunders had to stretch to touch the ball round the post.

This was an isolated incident, however, and just before the half-hour the Watt went in front. Green found Donnelly on the left and he battled past his marker towards goal. When Rankin advanced, Donnelly managed to slip the ball past him with a precise shot from a tight angle.

Five minutes from half-time, Green managed to surpass his earlier close-range miss. A free kick was played low into the goalmouth and when two Watt players failed to make contact, the ball ran on to Green, unmarked near the far post a couple of metres from goal. He stretched out a leg and knocked the ball back across goal into the grateful hands of Rankin.

Sloppy defending in the last minute before half-time might have been costly for Watt. A weak shot from Cameron McFarlane should have been held by Saunders, but he pushed it behind and as Albert continued on the attack, a challenge near the by-line might brought claims for a penalty.

In a largely uneventful second half, Watt created few chances. In the best of them, Neil Laurenson’s fine pass sent Donnelly away on the left, but when his cutback found Mark Hamill in the box, the full-back leant back and skied his shot.

Apart from that, it was largely a matter of trying not to concede. Saunders did well to get a good punch on the ball in an awkward situation when it came off the top of the bar and dropped back towards earth very close to goal; following a corner, Hawick centre-half Mark McEwen thumped the ball across the face of goal from close range; near the end, Gavin Pettigrew’s free kick was just too high, although Saunders, being uncertain, touched it higher to make sure.

Hawick Royal Albert:
Rankin, Robertson, Crozier, Boyd, McEwen, Linton, Stevenson, Lockhart (McKenzie 86), McFarlane (Nwanze 51), Pettigrew (Mitchell 65), Campbell. Sub. not used: Lynch.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Kerlin, Hamill, Kerr, Woolven, Connor (Dowds 76), Stevenson, Higgins, Donnelly, Green (Wright 88), Laurenson. Subs. not used: Daniel, Napier, Walker.

Referee: Mr. Rab Thomson (Edinburgh)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 10

East of Scotland League

Wednesday 16th September 2015

 

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 4 PEEBLES ROVERS 4

This remarkable match certainly gave the spectators their money’s worth, supplying drama right to the last kick, but it demonstrated the Watt’s growing tendency to trip up in matches that appear to be won, a feature which must be of concern to the coaching team.

Watt started this game in assured fashion and raced into a two-goal lead within the first half-hour. Then, when a third goal was scored soon after half-time, it seemed that victory was assured. Rovers did not get on to the scoreboard until the seventy-fourth minute of the match and although there was a considerable amount of stoppage time, that still represents a considerable collapse from the home side, which required a last-gasp equaliser to rescue a point.

Scott Sutherland had shown some early intent for Peebles, coming close with a header from a Daniel McAleavy corner, then being stopped in the act of shooting by a fine tackle from Adam Woolven, but it was the Watt which took the lead in the twenty-second minute. Neil Laurenson came in from the left to latch on to Cammy Stevenson’s pass and score with a right-foot shot.

Eight minutes later, Watt scored again; a corner swung to the back post was headed back across goal by Woolven and Fraser Wilson steered the ball between Darren Walker and his post.

Jason Darling sent a scorching drive just over the bar as Peelbes sought a way back into the match, but Watt came very close to a third goal when, after good work on the right, Stevenson sent over a cross which Laurenson struck powerfully for goal, only to see Walker save superbly, touching the ball over the bar.

Rovers applied pressure to the Watt defence early in the second half, but when Woolven sent a lusty clearance upfield, the visiting defence was caught out as the ball fell perfectly for Wilson, who ran on to slam the ball past the left hand of Walker and give the Watt a three-goal lead.

Wilson came close again a few minutes later with a chip from Michael Connor’s pass, but the ball landed on top of the goal net. Gradually, Peebles began to ramp up the pressure, with Watt’s attacks becoming more infrequent. In one good move, Connor’s pass found Martin Green, but when he moved the ball on, Stevenson was forced a little wide, resulting in his shot rising just over the bar.

Twenty minutes into the second half, Peebles brought on Brendan Edwards in place of Sutherland and pushed Paul Murray up front. This proved to be a game-changing alteration, as Murray’s skill and running troubled the Watt defenders for the rest of the match.

It might not have mattered, however, had Wilson been able to convert a chance to complete his hat-trick five minutes later. Connor’s excellent pass sent him in on goal and it seemed he had only to pass Walker to score, but his shot went past the near post.

Three minutes later, the Peebles fightback began. A Daniel McAleavy corner from the left found Dale Richardson beyond the far post and his header went over the hands of Craig Saunders and into the net.

Peebles took great encouragement from the goal, but the Watt was still attacking with purpose, with Wilson’s strong running continuing to trouble defenders. His cutback found Connor on the edge of the area, but the shot was well blocked.

With nine minutes of regulation time to play, Murray cut in from the right and passed across the penalty area to Edwards. He tried to shape a curling shot towards the far post, but got the contact completely wrong and the ball would have gone some yards past had not Watt defender Jack Daniel made an involuntary movement with his foot and played it into the corner of the goal.

It was a most unfortunate occurrence, but there was only one goal in it now and Peebles pressed forward enthusiastically. Just two minutes later, the scores were level. Murray, now a highly potent force, cut in from the left this time and got the curling shot attempted by his team-mate exactly right. Saunders had no chance of reaching the ball as it curved perfectly inside the post to his left as he dived.

Watt was now walking in a nightmare, but Chris Donnelly, returning from injury as a substitute, tried hard to remedy matters with a shot which Walker saved well and a header which went across goal and just past. Then, as Watt pressed, the inevitable happened: a big clearance from defence fell into the stride of Murray and when he sped into the area and went down under the first challenge, the referee, from a distance of half the pitch away, awarded the penalty. Daniel McAleavy, pumped up almost beyond belief, fired the kick low into the corner of the net and was then cautioned for remarks directed to the sidelines.

A minute later, a throw on the Watt right was sent in to Rob Service, whose legs were promptly swept from under him by a rash challenge in the Peebles box. Action stopped for a second or two as players and spectators alike awaited the surely-inevitable whistle, but the players had to continue as the realisation dawned that no whistle was going to sound.

Cautions for two Rovers players followed as the visitors tried to see out time and when Laurenson curled a free kick into the area, Walker had to rescue Richardson with a tremendous save, touching the ball against the bar when the centre-half played it towards his own goal.

What will be will be, however, and in the last action of the game, Watt substitute Liam Walker sped down the left and swept the ball across. As Wilson waited in the middle to turn it into goal, Richardson spared him the necessity by reaching the ball first and this time not even Darren Walker could prevent it from finding the net.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Scott, Daniel, Watt, Woolven, Connor (Walker 83), Stevenson (Donnelly 66), Napier, Wilson, Green (Service 66), Laurenson. Subs. not used: Kerlin, Kerr.

Peebles Rovers:
Walker, Munro, D McAleavy, Young, Richardson, C McAleavy (Flockhart 53), Taylor (Ndiweni 92), Darling, Sutherland (Edwards 65). Sub. not used: Aitchison.

Referee: Mr. Mark Rennie (Edinburgh)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 9

East of Scotland League

12th September 2015

 

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1 LEITH ATHLETIC 3

The League leaders proved at Riccarton that they will provide a stiff challenge for any team in the East of Scotland League this season. Watt stuck by their task manfully, but the hastily-assembled side found it difficult to cope with the touch, movement and co-ordination of an Athletic side which, though young, has at its core a nucleus of players well used to playing together and confident in each other.

Leith attacked from the off and Neil Laurenson saved his side with just five minutes played, clearing from close to goal when Craig Saunders was rounded by James Hainey.

Left-winger Scott Wilson was giving the Watt defence some trouble and shot just past after cutting in from the wing. A few minutes later the same player reached the by-line and swept over a low cross which just eluded two Leith players closing in towards the far post.

With twenty minutes played, a rash challenge by Anton Dowds resulted in a free-kick ten metres inside the Watt half. The Watt defence did well to clear the kick, but Ryan Higgins was unable to retain possession in midfield and Robbie Mason drove into the left side of the box. When he played the ball into a central area, a clumsy challenge by Liam Walker produced a penalty decision. Mason struck the kick high into the net to the right of Saunders to give Athletic the lead.

More penetrative running by Wilson on the Leith left threatened the Watt goal again, but his curling shot should have been held by Saunders instead of being parried out to Hainey, but the goalkeeper redeemed himself with a good save, although in any case offside was awarded.

Watt’s best attack so far came in twenty-five minutes, but Walker’s cross failed to find a team-mate.

Ten minutes before half-time, the Watt got back on level terms. Cammy Stevenson was pushed over twenty metres from the corner flag on the Watt right and when Michael Connor played in a searching free kick, Stevenson’s run at the near post distracted goalkeeper Iain Gordon. The ball continued across goal and went in at the far post.

Leith pressed again and when Gary Black sent in a good cross, Mason fired the ball back across goal but missed the target. Then, with the last move of the half, a sharp thrust down the left, a pass inside set up the shot for Kerr Allan, but somehow Saunders managed to get his right arm to the ball and knock it over the bar.

Adam Woolven’s alert intervention cleared the danger in the first minute of the second half as Daniel Simpson drove into the penalty box, but the Watt settled comfortably into the second half and a good run by Neil Laurenson supplied Stevenson with the chance to pick out Dowds, but he was unable to control the ball and the chance was lost.

A well-timed tackle by Alex Scott halted another Simpson intrusion into the Watt area at the expense of a corner, following which Allan’s header was cleared by Dowds.

Twenty minutes into the half, Watt had a chance when a clearance following a corner left Stevenson with a chance to hook the ball past an exposed Gordon, but in trying to bring the ball from behind himself he was unable to generate enough power to take the ball past the goalkeeper.

A minute later, the Watt found themselves behind. Wilson took advantage of some indecisive defending to fire in a shot. Saunders blocked the ball but couldn’t hold it and Mason knocked in the rebound off the underside of the bar.

Now chasing the game, Watt did everything possible to put pressure on the visitors’ defence. A good attack ended with Dowds winning a corner on the right, but nothing came of it. With extra resources committed to attack, Watt was vulnerable to Leith pace on the break and Laurenson’s excellent intrusion denied Grant Burns following an incisive move down the right. Burns came close again from the corner which resulted, driving in a fierce shot which was stopped by Saunders and cleared by Connor.

A good counterattack by the Watt followed the breakdown of a Leith attack, with Connor’s pass finding Stevenson on the left. He played in Dowds, but his pass to Fraser Wilson found the striker in an offside position.

With two minutes to play, Leith sealed the match with a penalty goal. Sean Murphy, with his back to goal, was challenged by Laurenson. Murphy seemed to be leaning so far back that had Laurenson not been behind him he’d have fallen on his own account, but when he came to ground the award was given and Burns slammed the kick into the top corner of the goal.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Scott, Laurenson, Watt, Woolven, Connor, Stevenson (Green 87), Higgins (Wright 87), Wilson, Dowds, Walker (Dunn 62). Subs. not used: Kerlin, Muttitt.

Leith Athletic:
Gordon, Black, Simpson, Lowson, Melvin, Burns, Allan (Heron 59), Murphy, Hainey, Mason (Ferguson 67), Wilson. Subs. not used: Glynn, Murray, Fairnie.

Referee: Mr. George MacDonald (Kirkcaldy)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 8

East of Scotland League

5th September 2015

 

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 4 SPARTANS II 3

The Watt started this game in sparkling fashion and had the ball in the net twice in the first four minutes. The first came when Anton Dowds turned the ball home after a sweeping move on the right, but this was disallowed for offside. This verdict was later seriously called into question by the Watt players, but in any case just a minute later the ball was fired home for a second time and this time there was no doubt. A fine move started by Alex Scott ended with the ball being laid in front of Adam Kerlin and he slammed the ball high into the net.

Craig Saunders has well over a hundred appearances for the Watt to his credit, but this was surely his finest performance to date and we lost count of the number of vital interventions he produced during the match. The first brilliant save was in the tenth minute, when he soared to his left to touch a powerful shot from Chris Anderson over the bar.

Watt got lucky a little after this when a free kick penetrated the defensive wall, struck the post to Saunders’ left and spun across goal, missing all obstacles to go past the post on the other side.

As the visitors kept up the pressure, a fierce drive from Gerry Rossi was blocked by Saunders and when Ewan Saunderson put the rebound into goal off the far post, he was ruled offside.

Two more tremendous saves from Saunders preserved the Watt goal as he stopped close-range headers from Anderson and Andy Howat, before the Watt went further ahead. Chris Donnelly timed his run to the left to connect with a pass from Mark Hamill. He then took the ball past Saunderson and bored into the penalty box. When Ross Gilpin advanced, Donnelly stretched to play the ball off the goalkeeper and poke the rebound past him.

Five minutes before half-time came the first penalty awarded to Spartans. Blair Atkinson worked his way along the by-line towards the Watt goal, but appeared to be on his way down before David Kerr’s challenge. Kerr had been a little rash, however, in making a tackle in such a position and had given the referee a decision to make. The verdict went against the Watt. Saunders, however, was equal to even this test, throwing himself to his left to divert Sean Stewart’s kick away along the by-line for Adam Woolven to play the ball behind.

Unfortunately for Saunders and his team-mates, their goal was breached before the safety of the half-time dressing-room could be reached. With a minute of the first period remaining, a cross from the left which was curling out of play was inadvertently touched by Hamill. The ball fell in front of Anderson so close to goal that he only had to prod it to turn it in.

The Watt defence maintained its vigilance at the start of the second half, with a timely tackle by Woolven preventing Howat from breaking through, and soon Watt was back on the attack, with Donnelly picking up a good pass by Liam Walker to drive towards goal from the left. Iain Thomson tackled Donnelly and Danny O’Donnell slammed the ball behind, but strangely the decision was a goal kick and the referee also turned a blind eye to Thomson pushing Donnelly’s head into the pitch as he rose to a kneeling position.

Kerr had suffered an earlier injury and was replaced by Finn Watt, with Stevie Wright coming on in place of Kerlin.

With around twenty minutes to play, a lovely passing move from the home side ended with Donnelly moving on to the ball on the right side of the penalty box. He got his shot away, but Thomson’s very late challenge badly injured the Watt striker. Thomson escaped with a caution, perhaps because the referee reckoned that as Donnelly had already struck the ball it didn’t count as a goalscoring opportunity by the time the challenge came in, but a penalty was awarded. Donnelly is the Watt’s usual penalty-taker, but as he was unfit to take any further part in the game, Anton Dowds took the responsibility and made a fine job of it, giving Gilpin no chance to save and putting Watt 3 – 1 ahead.

As the game wore on, Spartans stepped up their endeavour, seeking a route back into contention. Following a corner with eight minutes of normal time left, the ball was played to Keith Boyes, who sent in a shot from the right side of the box. The ball struck the post to the left of the diving Saunders and rebounded on to the goalkeeper’s back. Spartans substitute Harry Girdwood won the scramble to connect with the loose ball and hacked it over the line to reduce the gap to one.

As Spartans sought an equaliser, a good strike from twenty-five metres by Atkinson slipped past the post. Then, a minute into stoppage time, Stewart’s run on the right created a chance for Boyes, but after taking careful aim he sliced his shot past the far post.

A minute later, the Watt was in despair. The Spartans forwards were doing their best to get into the penalty area whenever possible and when Atkinson came in from the left, in desperation he threw himself across the hip of the nearest Watt defender. There was a sense of disbelief when the referee awarded another penalty, which was duly despatched by Howat to level the scores.

The sense of injustice felt by the Watt players was palpable, but things almost got worse as a move on the right broke down and Spartans poured forward. Girdwood struck a firm shot from the edge of the area, but Saunders was still on top form and reached the ball high to his left to push it on to the bar. Stewart came in from the right to pick up the rebound, but Saunders was already back on his feet and saved that too, although offside was awarded.

With Spartans still pushing for a winning goal, Girdwood won a corner on the left. When the cross came in, it was headed on to the far side and Dowds managed to prevent it going behind for another corner, playing it towards the sideline. Hamill sped after it and played it down the line to Walker, who tricked his marker and set off down the left. He cut inside two retreating defenders and as a third came to challenge, sent in a shot which took just enough deflection off the defender’s boot to spin neatly over the head of Gilpin and under the bar. The referee blew the full-time whistle.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Scott, Hamill, Kerr (Watt 57), Woolven, Kerlin (Wright 57), Green, Higgins, Donnelly (Dunn 72), Dowds, Walker. Subs. not used: Stevenson, Muttitt.

Spartans II:
Gilpin, Saunderson (Girdwood 81), Boyes, Thomson (Wilson 74), O’Donnell, Rossi, Stewart, Raiker, Howat, Anderson, Atkinson. Subs. not used: Schulz-Keith, Imlah, Jarron.

Referee: Mr. Paul Hanlon (Edinburgh)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 7

East of Scotland League

29th August 2015

 

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1 LOTHIAN THISTLE HUTCHISON VALE 4

Thistle Vale arrived at Riccarton with the intimidating record of successive wins over Tynecastle and Craigroyston, good-quality opponents from last season’s Premier Division, in which thirteen goals had been scored and none conceded. The Saughton side amply demonstrated their abilities in this match too, but a battling Watt side kept the score to a respectable level and at one point in the second half looked as if they might give their illustrious opponents a fight for the points.

The visitors forced the pace from the start, but Watt resisted with great resolution and seldom looked in serious bother until LTHV suddenly made the breakthrough half-way through the first half. The goal was a personal disaster for Watt goalkeeper Craig Saunders, whose form has otherwise been excellent during the season to date. Eddie Mearns sent in a shot from outside the area – a dipping effort aimed at getting the ball over the ’keeper’s head. Saunders seemed to expect more force than there was in the shot and when he tried to guide the ball over the bar, he managed only to parry it up in the air. By the worst sort of luck, the ball’s descent carried it towards goal, under the bar and over the line before Saunders could scoop it out.

Watt tried to make a quick response and after good work by Chris Donnelly and Mark Hamill, Fraser Wilson sent the ball wide to Anton Dowds, who squared the ball from close to the by-line, but Kevin Swain swept the ball clear with his foot.

A well-judged cross which eluded Calvin Muttitt gave Willis Hare a chance to play the ball in for Scott Moffat, but from good position he shot wide. The tricky Hare was a problem for the Watt defence, but when he cut the ball back from the line, Adam Woolven had read the situation and cut out the ball.

Since the opening goal, the Watt defence was looking vulnerable and the LTHV attack more confident and with 34 minutes on the clock, a second goal was added. It was a simple affair, Dean Cummings playing a wall pass on the edge of the area to fire the ball past Saunders’ right hand from fifteen metres.

Two minutes later, it was three for the visitors. Saunders saved the first effort, but Moffat was on hand to poke the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net.

Watt needed to get a grip on things and Neil Laurenson tried to set up a response with a fine pass to Liam Walker on the right. His low centre was just out of reach for Dowds.

Watt was still coming under severe pressure and Saunders made an outstanding save to prevent Moffat scoring again when he drove Darren Smith’s cutback towards goal. Jamie Hume then got his head in the way of a shot to deflect the ball for a corner.

Hare threatened again, shooting from the edge of the area, but a deflection helped Saunders to collect and Watt reached the break without further damage.

The interval steadied the Watt and the second half started quietly, but just before the hour, the home side became the first team to score against the champions this season. A free kick was taken short to Wilson, who went down the right and sent a low centre across goal for Donnelly to steer the ball home at the far side of the six-yard box.

Watt enjoyed a good spell after this and Dowds came close to putting Donnelly through with a smart backheel, but Swain was quickly out to deny the striker.

Neil Laurenson dived recklessly into a challenge and received a caution. Both sides made substitutions as the game entered its final phase.

With ten minutes left to play, good running by Donnelly on the left took him into the penalty area. He played the ball a little too far in front of himself and as Swain ran out, he played it off the goalkeeper. Laurenson got on to the rebound and as he tried to carry the ball away from Swain, the goalkeeper dived in from behind him to try to get a touch. Laurenson went over and the referee, construing this as simulation, issued him with a second caution which ended the match for him.

With further substitutes on, Watt tried to see out the game without conceding further goals, but with two minutes of normal time left, the ball was worked inside from the LTHV left and laid back to Cummings, who found the corner of the goal from around eight metres.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Scott, Hamill, Kerr, Woolven, Wright (Green 69), Laurenson, Higgins (Kerlin 78), Dowds, Donnelly, Walker (Muttitt 63). Subs. not used: Wilson, Stevenson.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:
Swain, Moore, Taylor-Mackenzie, Crawford, Munro, Mearns, Hare, Cummings, Brown (Wilson 75), Moffat, Smith (O’Donnell 75). Sub. not used: Joint.

Referee: Mr. Ryan Lee (Edinburgh)

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 6

East of Scotland League

25th August 2015

 

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  6 EYEMOUTH UNITED 0

There was a last-minute panic about the floodlights, but when that was sorted, the first match on Watt’s new 3G pitch got under way. Player availability was the best of the season so far and Head Coach Ian Little chose an attacking line-up, using Neil Laurenson and Liam Walker in wide positions with Anton Dowds and Chris Donnelly up front.

On a fine late-summer evening, with the midgies helping to ensure the players kept on the move, the new surface seemed superb and both sides played good passing football in the early stages. Watt had the ball in the net after eight minutes when Donnelly flattened his run to find space and pick up a through ball from Dowds, but when he rounded Kieran Davidson and played the ball towards goal, Liam Walker was given offside when he tapped it over the line.

After that, play was pretty even until the half-hour mark. Walker’s low cross eluded Dowds and Donnelly, then his cutback was driven by Dowds against a defender, while good work on the Eyemouth right was thwarted when Mark Hamill played the ball off Jake Rutherford and behind.

Steven Wright, who was having a good game in the Watt midfield, created the opportunity from which Watt opened the scoring after half an hour’s play. Wright burst on to a loose ball and drove forward to send a pass to Laurenson, who played the ball first time into the path of Donnelly, who had again lost his marker and had plenty of time to slip the ball past Davidson into goal.

Watt began to dominate after this, with Walker featuring in much of the attacking play. He got loose again on the right, but his cross fell between Donnelly and Dowds and was cleared. Then Dowds crossed from the left and Donnelly hooked the ball back across goal, from where it was headed behind for a corner.

United took the chance to attack whenever they could and Aiden Lauder fired in a crisp drive from the point of the penalty area which Saunders was unable to catch and had to bundle behind for a corner, but when Laurenson and Higgins combined to clear the corner kick and Alex Scott intercepted an attempt to build again on the Eyemouth left, Wright played the telling pass once more, threading the ball through for Donnelly to move in close to goal and square the ball for Walker to tap in and put the Watt two goals up.

Watt was playing with confidence now and added a third goal before half-time. Saunders’ accurate throw found Hamill on the left. He played the ball up to Donnelly, whose marker, Tom Wyman, got his head to the ball but could only play it upwards. When it came down again, Donnelly controlled it and played it square to where Walker was waiting in space to slip the ball past the exposed Davidson.

Two minutes after half-time, Walker completed his first East of Scotland hat-trick with a fine goal. The ball spun out wide to the Watt right and the tireless Donnelly was on to it quickly. He cut it back to Walker, who had taken up a position on the right side of the penalty box. Walker sent a defender the wrong way and, turning, sent a right-foot shot with deadly accuracy across goal beyond the despairing dive of Davidson and just inside the far post. It was a memorable moment for the young man, who is taking the step up to East of Scotland senior football in his stride.

Walker might have had another two minutes later, but his touch was slightly too heavy and when Davidson blocked the ball out to Dowds, Donnelly shot over.

Donnelly almost claimed his second of the evening four minutes after this, when a good pass from Laurenson put him away on the left and his shot hit the base of the post and spun past.

Another good pass by Laurenson gave Donnelly the opportunity to attack again from the left soon after this and although hampered all the way by Shaun Ford, he kept his balance but drove his shot into the side net.

Several substitutions by both sides disrupted the flow a little and there were few incidents of note for a time, but as we went into the last quarter of an hour, that changed abruptly. Martin Green had been brought on to play on the left side of the Watt midfield, a position he had commented was unfamiliar to him, but when he was found by a pass by Hamill, he showed he had some idea of what to do. As Green ran swiftly into the left side of the box, we looked for the cross which might pick out Donnelly or Dowds, but as the angle tightened, Green simply hammered a left-foot shot high into the net, giving Davidson no chance at all. For the second time in the half, the game had been illuminated with a goal of quality.

The Fishermen battled away, with the industrious and skilful Rutherford at the heart of much of their best work, but it was centre back Ford who came closest, powering in a shot from around thirty-five metres. It may have been going just over the bar, but Saunders could take no chances and turned it over to make sure. From the resultant corner kick, the ball reached Ford again, standing a few yards beyond the far post, but he snatched at the chance and skied it.

Five minutes from time, Watt concluded the scoring with a sixth goal. Dowds saw the chance and set off on a run, inviting Donnelly to play him in. When Donnelly did so, Dowds was clear of the defence and advanced on Davidson, but most unselfishly played the ball to his left and allowed Donnelly to roll the ball into goal.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Scott, Hamill, Kerr, Woolven, Wright (Green 69), Laurenson, Higgins (Kerlin 78), Dowds, Donnelly, Walker (Muttitt 63). Subs. not used: Wilson, Stevenson.

Eyemouth United:
Davidson, Speirs, Love (Boyne 71), Wyman, Ford, Rutherford, Lauder (Scott 78), Williamson, Walker, Thomson, Muir (Whelan 78). Subs. not used: Anderson, Campbell.

Referee: Mr. Robert Thomson (Edinburgh)

 

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 5

East of Scotland League

22nd August 2015

 

STIRLING UNIVERSITY II  3   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  3

For the opening match of the East of Scotland League programme, Watt visited Airthrey Estate to try to rectify an anomalous but unpalatable statistic. Since the creation of the Lowland League, at which point Stirling University and Spartans cloned their football teams and achieved the remarkable feat of simultaneously moving and staying put, two matches had been played between Heriot-Watt and the Stirling second string which plays in the East of Scotland League. Those matches were played during a season in which the Watt was not at its strongest and it lost both, making Stirling University II the only team in current of past membership of the League against which the Watt had a zero success ratio. The record against the Stirling First Team is much better!

By the end of the match, the sad statistic had been eradicated, but it had taken a battling performance to get the single point which the Watt achieved in a match full of interest and in which the result was in doubt right to the end.

Indeed, Watt could scarcely have made a worse start to the game, conceding two goals in the first ten minutes – but in an even shorter time the deficit had been made good. The scores remained tied well into the second half, but then the Watt fell behind again, before once more fighting back to equalise.

The game started off at a fast pace and continued that way. With just two minutes played, a long ball down the right was headed behind by Adam Woolven, perhaps unnecessarily. When the kick sailed over the heads to the far post, it came off the thigh of Mark Hamill, who was guarding the post, and Liam Allison lashed it into the roof of the net.

Watt tried to respond quickly and a shot from Ryan Higgins was just wide of the post. Hamill’s cross then troubled the home defence and when Steven Wright linked with Fraser Wilson to set up Chris Donnelly for a shot, the equaliser seemed imminent, but goalkeeper Tim Hughes reacted superbly to reach the ball and turn it round the post.

This was an important save, as a minute later Stirling scored again, moving the ball much too easily down the left, then inside, with players always in space. When the ball was rolled in front of Andrew MacDonald, he had no difficulty in placing a low shot with the inside of his right foot past Craig Saunders and into the corner of the goal.

This was a severe blow, but the Watt spent no time dwelling on their misfortunes and grabbed a goal back within a minute. A lofted ball down the middle of the park was headed on well by Wilson for Donnelly to run in on goal. Although being hampered all the way by the attentions of Jack Mooney, Donnelly kept his balance to steer the ball past the left hand of Hughes.

Six minutes later, the scores were level again. The goal followed a good move on the Watt right involving Cammy Stevenson and Alex Scott, who combined with Higgins to enable Wright to cross. The ball came off the leg of a defender and Liam Walker instantly despatched it into goal.

Stevenson’s reckless challenge gave Stirling a free kick some 35 metres from goal, but the wall did its job when the shot came in from Blair Munn. Donnelly led the counter-attack through the centre of the pitch, but when he laid the ball off to Walker, his first touch was too heavy and Hughes was able to gather, albeit with some difficulty.

Another dangerous thrust on the Stirling left found Hamill alert to deny the opportunity when the ball was swung across and Higgins blocked another effort from Munn as Stirling kept up the pressure.

Wright’s excellent first-time pass came close to creating a scoring opportunity, with Walker doing well to hold off the challenge of Vilyan Komitski and play the ball across to Donnelly, but when the striker drove in a shot from around eight metres, he was again denied by Hughes, who dived to his left to divert the ball past the post.

Watt looked the more dangerous side now and when Woolven’s cross was played back across goal, Donnelly laid it back for Wilson to shoot, but his effort slid past the post. The next opportunity was from a free kick played into the Stirling area. Wilson played it through and Donnelly got the call to let it run on, but instead of trying a first-time shot, Stevenson tried to work a clearer chance and was tackled.

As half-time approached, Wilson held up a ball out of defence and flicked it on for the run of Donnelly, but there was a lot of ground for the pace merchant to make up and when he reached the box he was travelling at such speed that he lost a bit of control and in trying to strike the ball as it bounced up, he screwed his shot wide.

In the last minute of the half, Stirling had its best effort for some time, MacDonald coming in from the right to drive in a powerful shot towards the top corner, but Saunders had his angles right and dived high to his left to block the ball behind. Munn’s long corner was volleyed by Rory McEwan back in the direction from which it had come, giving Munn a second chance to find a colleague. This time he played it short to Lewis McKenzie inside the Watt penalty box. The ball bounced high and McKenzie turned and very clearly used his arm to bring it round before playing it across the area, but amazingly the referee did not seem to recognise this and allowed Allison to take a shot which hammered off the underside of the bar. Had the ball gone in, the Watt would have suffered a major injustice in falling behind right at the end of the first half, so it was with some relief that the players went off for the break.

For the first twenty minutes of the second half, there was little to choose between the sides and the game was played mainly in midfield, but it suddenly sparked into life again. Hamill’s corner from the left was headed out as far as Wright, who exchanged passes with Hamill before crossing to the far side of the goal, from where the ball was played back across to Donnelly. Once again, Donnelly slammed the ball towards goal from close range and once again Hughes was there to deny him, reading the direction of the ball in an instant and actually catching it.

As on a previous occasion, Hughes’ heroics brought a swift dividend, for two minutes later Stirling went ahead again. Allison broke through on the left and sent a low cross into the area. The first attempt to shoot was blocked, but McEwan got his foot to the rebound to poke it under Saunders as he advanced.

Anton Dowds and Neil Laurenson were brought on to give fresh impetus to the Watt attack and they soon began to make their contributions. Dowds showed good footwork and sent a fine pass through to the scampering Donnelly, but on this occasion the striker failed to gather in the ball as he ran.

The next Watt attack was more productive. Wright chipped a delicate free kick on to the chest of Dowds, just inside the penalty area. Dowds controlled the ball, moved to his left across the area, swivelled and fired a powerful shot past the left hand of Hughes into the corner of the net for the best goal of the game.

Dowds almost doubled his money two minutes later, running on to a through ball before Hughes could reach it and taking it past the goalkeeper, but he was travelling too fast and at too steep an angle to sent the ball into goal and by the time he had turned and crossed, Hughes had recovered his ground and made the catch.

Donnelly, whose inspiration and endeavour seems to build throughout a match, almost clinched the three points for the Watt in stoppage time with a marvellous piece of imagination and improvisation. Saunders’ clearance was headed inside by Laurenson and as Donnelly accelerated after it with two defenders to cope with, there seemed no immediate threat to the Stirling goal, but the striker had noticed that Hughes had advanced towards the edge of his area and as he ran across the pitch, Donnelly stretched out a leg to clip the ball between the two defenders with the inside of his foot. He got plenty of power into his shot and the ball went past Hughes, but the angle wasn’t quite right and the ball slipped a foot or so past the post.

Stirling University II:
Hughes, Komitski, McAnespie, Monro, Mooney, Munn, McCaughie (Collins 64), MacDonald, McKenzie (Dey 64), McEwan, Allison (McNaught 88).

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Scott, Hamill, Hume, Woolven, Wright, Walker (Dowds 66), Higgins, Wilson (Holmen 81), Donnelly, Stevenson (Laurenson 66). Subs. not used: Kerr, Kerlin.

Referee: Mr. Lee Macaulay (Bathgate)

 

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 4

East of Scotland Qualifying Cup – First Round

15th August 2015

 

ORMISTON  3   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  2

The sides had met just a fortnight before in the Qualifying League, but there were numerous changes to both teams for this Qualifying Cup tie. Watt’s new Head Coach, Ian Little, had decided to view the proceedings from the pitch and listed himself on the right side of midfield alongside Ryan Higgins and Martin Green. Jamie Hume came in to partner Adam Woolven in central defence and in the absence of Alex Scott, Lars Holmen filled the right-back berth.

Ormiston was the first to draw blood after Mark Hamill’s challenge just outside the penalty area was penalised. Watt had a four-man wall, but Michael Osborne fairly hammered the ball past them into the far corner of the net.

Half-way through the first half, things got worse for the Watt. Chris Donnelly’s attempt at fancy footwork in the middle of the park didn’t come off and he lost the ball. It was quickly moved forward and Andrew Jones found Osborne on the left. Moving into the penalty area, Osborne drove the ball into the small gap between Craig Saunders and his near post.

Donnelly seemed to feel a personal responsibility to redress the balance and from the restart went on a tremendous run through the middle of the park and across the Ormiston defence to the right. He played the ball to the near post area but Cammy Stevenson was beaten to it and the best that Watt could get was a corner.

Ormiston was still making the better chances and Osborne came close again with a header from a corner, but eventually the Watt began to impose some pressure with shots from Donnelly and Ryan Higgins.

Two down at half-time, Watt replaced Green and Stevenson with Stevie Wright and Anton Dowds and within two minutes had a goal back. Gareth Gray was unable to cut out a pass to Donnelly, who went past the defender to slip the ball past Derek Robertson in the Ormiston goal.

Unfortunately for the Watt, this bright start to the half was undone two minutes later. Saunders, normally so reliable with the ball at his feet, received a pass from the right and tried to play it on first-time to Hamill, wide on the left, but he didn’t get nearly enough purchase on the ball and left Chris Robertson with a tap-in to make it 3 – 1.

As Ormiston sought to put the tie beyond Watt’s reach, Saunders dived to his right to save a shot from Osborne. Watt responded with a thrust on the right which brought a corner. Hume looked as if he was timing his run well to reach the kick, but the communication channels weren’t working and before Hume could reach the ball, Donnelly leaned back and headed the ball over the bar.

Ormiston still carried a threat going forward and after Jones narrowly missed with a chip for the far corner, Johnathan Edmond tested Saunders with a drive which the big goalkeeper turned round the post.

In the Watt’s last available change, Fraser Wilson replaced Little. A fine pass by Dowds picked out Walker on the left. His first touch was good, but Johnny Malcolm was in quickly to knock the ball away for a corner. Wright’s kick was played behind by Ross Ferguson as the home defence looked anxious.

As the match entered its last twenty minutes, Edmond had a close-range opportunity as he ran across goal to meet a bouncing ball which deceived the Watt defenders, but he headed over the bar. Watt went straight up the pitch and when Dowds headed on to Walker, his low cross was met by Donnelly at the far post. His shot passed Robertson but came flush off the far post and landed in the ’keeper’s arms.

Watt was trying desperately to get a goal and reduce the deficit to one and Dowds had a close-range header blocked, but Ormiston still had the capability to trouble the visitors’ defence and there were two close things in quick succession before Saunders grasped Osborne’s header low to his right.

The strength and running of Wilson had made a difference in attack for Watt and with five minutes of normal time left he got behind the Ormiston defence, driving into the box from the left. Gray pulled him down, conceding a penalty and gaining first use of the showers. Donnelly made a tidy job from the spot.

Watt had at last brought the gap back to a single goal, but although there were three minutes of stoppage time, there were no further meaningful chances and the home side hung on to go through for a trip to Meadowbank to face Edinburgh City in the Second Round.

Ormiston:
D Robertson, Malcolm, Milne, Gray, Cunningham, Hamilton (ferguson 53), Cochrane (Borthwick 66), Osborne, Edmond (Ramsay 75), C Robertson, Jones. Subs. not used: Watson, Cairns.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Holmen, Hamill, Hume, Woolven, Green (Dowds 45), Little (Wilson 63), Higgins, Walker, Donnelly, Stevenson (Wright 45). Subs. not used: Muttitt, Munro.

Referee: Mr. Philip McLean (Linlithgow)

 

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 3

East of Scotland Qualifying League

8th August 2015

 

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  4   COLDSTREAM  5

The Watt’s last match on the pitch which has been its home since the construction of the Brydson Arena was played on a bright August afternoon with the grass looking wonderful. It was a game of some drama and many goals. Given the final score, it is no surprise that there were also many mistakes and ultimately the result was determined by one of the worst.

Despite having lost its previous two Qualifying League ties, the Watt still had a chance of progressing to the League Cup if a two-goal winning margin could be achieved, but after four minutes of this match, the task had become greater. Coldstream’s veteran attacking midfielder, Des Sutherland, still carries a potent threat and when a cross was headed out of the area towards him, he controlled it on his chest and drove the ball on the drop into the top corner to the right of Craig Saunders. It was a fine finish and there was nothing for it but to admire the skill of the marksman.

Four minutes later, however, the Watt was back on level terms. A poor clearance by Streamers’ goalkeeper Luc Glasper gave Cammy Stevenson an opportunity which he gladly accepted.

A penetrating pass by Ryan Higgins put Adam Kerlin in on the right to advance on Glasper, but from a tightish angle he blazed the ball over the bar to squander a good opportunity.

Stevie Wright won the ball well to drive forward and find Chris Sellar on the right, but with Glasper advancing, Sellar couldn’t decide whether or not to try to take the ball past him and finally put in a poor cross which Stevenson reached but could only fire well over the bar.

Watt enjoyed a good spell of attacking, with three corners in quick succession, from the last of which Chris Donnelly headed just over. Then a visiting defender was cautioned for bringing down Donnelly as he bored in from the left side and when Stevenson drove the free kick to the near post area, it seemed to come off the post and shoot across goal. Kerlin played it back into the mix, but when Stevenson’s shot was blocked, Coldstream broke quickly and it took a good tackle from Kerlin to halt the advance.

After all this pressure, the Watt fell behind again. Wright committed a needless foul, for which he was cautioned, some thirty metres from goal and when Jay Wilson played the ball to the far post, only one Watt defender went back with the clutch of Coldstream players who flooded the box. When the ball was headed back across goal, any one of a number of players might have applied the finish, but Sutherland hooked the ball home for his second goal.

The Watt’s period of ascendancy was over and Coldstream dominated the remainder of the half. Ash Langford headed over from close range, then Sutherland set up James Scott for a shot which Saunders did well to save low to his left. A sally forward by Sellar and Donnelly finished with a cross by Sellar which Donnelly stretched to head just past the post, but before half-time things had got worse for the Watt. Langford, coming into possession twenty metres out and side-on to the goal, flicked up the ball and struck it perfectly into the same patch of net which had been used by Sutherland for the visitors’ first goal. Once again, one could only admire the expertise of the scorer.

The second half started as the first had finished and Adam Woolven’s alert intervention took the ball off the toe of Liam Wallace as he lined up a shot. Then Sutherland’s shot was well covered by Saunders, but the goalkeeper could do nothing to prevent the Streamers going further ahead when the Watt defence was outflanked on the left and the ball was rolled inside for Scott to score easily.

The situation was now looking dire for the home team: three goals adrift of a rampant Coldstream side with around forty minutes still to play. Gradually, however, the Watt began to settle and play some decent football. A good move involving several players brought a corner when Sellar hooked the ball wide to Wright, whose dangerous cross aimed for Stevenson had to be intercepted. Martin Green’s well-flighted corner was headed down by Woolven at the far post and blocked back to Sellar, but his shot from the edge of the area lacked the power to trouble Glaspin.

A good switch of play by Sutherland put Stuart Spence away on the Coldstream left. He went past Kerlin and the Watt player brought him down blatantly. It was a caution, but could have been worse.

Half-way through the second half, Sellar was replaced by Liam Walker and the young man didn’t take long to make his mark. A good ball out of defence by Green picked out Donnelly on the left. He outstripped the tiring Sutherland, cut into the box and played the ball across goal for Walker to apply a light touch and deflect the ball into goal off the far post.

Suddenly it was the Watt which was in the driving seat and the Streamers began to look weary. Craig Heugh and Hagen Steele were brought into the action to provide fresh legs, while for the Watt, Fraser Wilson came into the attack and Scott Munro into midfield.

We reached the last ten minutes and there were still plenty of goals left in this game. First of all, Donnelly won a superb header in midfield and Wilson headed the ball into the path of the pacy striker as he drove forward again, showing a great turn of pace to reach the penalty area and fire a left-foot shot between Glaspin and his near post.

The deficit was only one now and the Watt could sense an opportunity, but four minutes later a mix-up in defence proved decisive. Steele crossed from near the corner flag on the right and David Kerr tried to chest the ball down for Saunders to collect, but as the two Watt players left it to each other, the Watt’s regular persecutor, John Crawford, was able to stretch out a leg and poke the ball into goal.

It was a ridiculous goal to lose, but the great-hearted Donnelly was still giving up nothing and a minute from the end of regulation time he once again brought the gap back to one goal. Walker’s lay-off enabled Donnelly to leave the left side of the Coldstream defence standing and fire the ball across Glaspin into the far corner.

With Donnelly in full flow and the visitors’ defence looking out on its feet, it really did look as if the Watt could get something from the match yet if there were only time for yet another goal. As the match went into stoppage time, Donnelly accepted the ball from a throw-in on the left, backheeled it past a defender and powered into the box again, but was stopped at the cost of a corner. Wright’s kick was a long one and although Woolven got the top of his head to the ball, he could not control its direction and the ball slipped past. It was the Watt’s last chance on the Riccarton grass.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Kerlin, Muttitt, Kerr, Woolven, Wright, Green (Munro 79), Higgins, Sellar (Walker 67), Donnelly, Stevenson (Wilson 75). All subs.used.

Coldstream:
Glasper, Maxwell, Spence, Allan, Inglis, Farr, Wallace, Wilson, Langford (Steele 75), Scott (Crawford 51), Sutherland (Heugh 70).

Referee: Mr. Paul Hanlon (Edinburgh)

 

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Season 2015 – 2016: Match 2

East of Scotland Qualifying League

4th August 2015

 

LEITH ATHLETIC  2   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  0

With about half the squad still unavailable, the Watt side which contested this match at the home of the side which led the League for most of last season included few names familiar from last season and in reality was no match for a slick Athletic side which attacked with variety and pace.

The Leith side is itself a youthful one, but already it has significant East of Scotland experience and is a well-organised unit. Good touch and movement are its hallmarks and although the Watt missed some good chances to score in this match, a two-goal defeat was acceptable, as Leith came close on numerous occasions and things could have been worse. Having said that, the Watt side put up a spirited display and played some decent football when it could get the space to do so.

An early chance for Chris Donnelly came from a long clearance by Craig Saunders. Judging the bounce well, Donnelly slipped inside his marker, but as he was preparing to shoot, his pocket was picked by a defender arriving quickly on the scene.

Donnelly was again involved a few minutes later as Watt made progress on the left. Stevie Wright moved into position to accept a pass inside and swept a precise long pass out to Harry Warner on the right, but the excellent LA3 got in a tackle to concede the corner.

Leith took the lead after sixteen minutes’ play. Bursting through a couple of feeble attempts to tackle, James Hainey reached the edge of the area and unleashed a superb left-foot shot which soared high past Saunders’ left hand into the top corner of the goal.

Saunders was a little fortunate not long after this when his misjudged clearance was quickly returned for Lewis Martin to shoot. Saunders managed to block with his legs and to his relief the ball looped up into the air and fell into his arms.

Athletic was stretching the Watt defence in wide positions, with the pacy Martin and Stephen Baigan troubling Mark Hamill and Alex Scott. When Baigan set up Sean Murphy to send the ball low across the face of the Watt goal, Hamill did well to deny Martin.

As half-time approached, Adam Kerlin’s square pass enabled Wright to get in a shot, but his shooting position was cramped and although his direction was good he was unable to generate enough power to trouble Leith goalkeeper Neil Fairnie. Cammy Stevenson then executed a good turn and cross from the right, but the ball passed just over the head of Warner as he came in from the other side.

Five minutes into the second half, the Watt had their best chance of the game. Warner set the ball back for Donnelly to strike from around twenty metres. The ball swerved in the air and Fairnie could only block it back out. Stevenson was charging in and got to the scene a little too soon, as he had to try to improvise a shot before the ball was past him. The ball struck Fairnie again and Stevenson had another rebound to deal with, but his off-balance effort was cut out near the post by a returning defender.

Two minutes after this, the Watt had a big let-off when Kyle Fee’s free kick was headed against the bar by Alan Murray and from the rebound Steven Glynn headed against the bar and over.

David Kerr, who had been cautioned earlier, lived dangerously with a foul on the edge of the Watt area, but Saunders dealt well with Scott Wilson’s shot, diving to his left to push the ball well away from goal.

Donnelly, who had dropped into the “hole”, allowing Stevenson to go forward, was relishing his midfield duties and made a good run through the centre of the pitch, but with Warner available on the left he tried a very difficult pass to Stevenson and the Leith defence mopped up.

Another good save by Saunders from Martin’s free kick set the Watt surging forward again, Stevenson timing his jump perfectly to head on for Donnelly’s run, but when he received the return pass as he sped in on the right, his first-time shot was somewhat ambitious and missed the target by a distance.

With twenty minutes to play, the home side added a second goal, which had been threatened for some time. A cross-field pass picked out Martin on the right and although Hamill did his best to time his challenge to block the shot, Martin was clever enough to hold his shot until Hamill was committed before ramming the ball just inside the far post.

Leith came close again when Fee’s corner curled into the near post area; Ryan Higgins did well to head the ball against the underside of the bar and Saunders swiped it clear of the players closing in. Again, Watt swept quickly to the other end, but with Liam Walker coming in from the left, Stevenson chose to shoot and his shot faded across goal.

Leith substitute Steven Froude surged into the Watt penalty box and it took the combined efforts of Kerr and Saunders to thwart him, but soon the Watt pressed forward again with another good right-wing break. The attack was sustained for some time, Martin Green winning a corner after Stevenson was eased off the ball as he jumped close to goal, but when Leith cleared the corner kick, players poured forward and it looked like a problem for the Watt. Froude took the shot, but Warner, who had tracked back at pace, threw himself in to divert the ball behind.

A tiring Watt defence was given an uncomfortable last ten minutes. A driving run on the right by Gary Black ended with a pass clipped inside into the stride of Martin, who shot first-time of the half-volley, missing the post by a small margin. Several corners were conceded in quick succession and Murray shaved both posts with headers, but Watt lasted out without further mishap.

Leith Athletic: Fairnie, Black, Fee, Murray, Glynne, Burns, Baigan (Simpson 60), Wilson, Hainey (Froude 66), Murphy, Martin (Allan 75).    Subs. not used: Lowson, Mason.

Heriot-Watt University: Saunders, Scott, Hamill, Kerr, Woolven, Kerlin (Higgins 56), Warner, Stevenson, Donnelly, Wright (Green 78), Holmen (Walker 66).    Subs. not used: Muttitt, Wilson.

Referee: Mr. Mark Rennie (Edinburgh)

 

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Season 2015 – 2016:  Match 1

East of Scotland Qualifying League

1st August 2015

 

ORMISTON  4   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  3

Eight minutes of slackness at the end of the first half cost the Watt the points in the opening Qualifying Cup match at Recreation Park.

Playing into a stiff breeze, Watt held its own for the first half-hour. An early turn and shot from the edge of the area by Chris Sellar cleared the bar by only a few inches as Watt looked lively from the start. The home side responded with a driving run through the middle of the pitch by George Cunningham, ending in a shot from distance which missed the junction of post and bar by a foot or so.

Michael Osborne was Ormiston’s most creative force and his shot from the left was securely taken by Craig Saunders. Then a good move on the Watt left involving Adam Woolven and Mark Hamill resulted in Ryan Higgins winning a corner. When Adam Kerlin’s kick was played to the edge of the area, Harry Warner drove in a low shot but this was blocked somewhere in the forest of legs in the penalty box.

Further shots by Lee Cochrane and by Osborne failed to find the target for Ormiston and with almost half an hour played, Watt took the lead with a fine goal. Cammy Stevenson accepted a throw on the left, turned his man and swept the ball across from the line. Warner had made a well-timed run and when the ball reached him, he turned his foot and directed a precise shot past the left hand of Jamie Walton into the far corner of the net.

Saunders was tested by shots from Anton McKillop and the persistent Osborne, but there was no warning of the suddent capitulation of the Watt defence in the last few minutes of the first half. Mikey Hamilton started it, darting on to a quickly-taken free kick and outflanking the right side of the Watt defence. The angle was tight and there may have been a deflection, but his shot went past the right hand of Saunders and into goal for an equaliser.

Two minutes later, Ormiston led when at the end of a fluent move on the right, Osborne cut the ball back into the danger area. It was not well cleared and Johnathan Edmond struck a shot which was deflected precisely into the spot between the outstretched hand of Saunders and the post to his left.

In the last minute of the half, the Watt defence was at sixes and sevens in trying to deal with McKillop’s free kick. A shot came in from close range and Saunders got his body in the way, allowing a defender to turn the ball behind. When the corner was played in, however, there was more indecisive defending and George Cunningham was able to play the ball through the ruck of players and under Saunders to give the home team a 3 – 1 interval lead.

In the early part of the second half, the main thing on the minds of players and spectators alike was the weather. A hard, sleety rain fell steadily, drenching everyone unable to escape to cover.

Chris Donnelly, held back from a starting position due to a niggling injury, replaced Chris Sellar in attack a few minutes into the second half, but with sixty-two minutes played, Ormiston went further ahead when Gareth Gray rose unchallenged to send a firm header into the net.

By this time, the rain had relented somewhat and the Watt sent on its last two substitutes, Stevie Wright and Ronnie Napier.

As the match entered its last twenty minutes, the visitors made it a contest again, reprising the trick earlier performed by their opponents by scoring two goals inside three minutes. Firstly, Napier ran on to a ball down the right, advanced into the box, drew out Walton and slipped the ball inside for Warner to finish; then Warner did it all for himself, running through to win a ball for which he was second-favourite, then turning to fire the ball under Walton to complete his hat-trick.

There was time enough for Watt to seek an equaliser and Warner had yet another chance to shoot when the ball came back to him after Donnelly had chased down a ball which Walton was trying to gather, but this time the shot was blocked.

Wright had the next opportunity, the ball running to him on the edge of the area after Stevenson was tackled, but although he struck a crisp shot, Walton dived to his left to turn the ball away and when Warner played the ball back in towards goal, a defender blocked it, enabling the goalkeeper to collect.

The best chance of all came to Stevenson, but having latched on to a pass in the inside-left channel and taken the ball past the advancing Walton, his angle was tight and when he shot the ball slipped past the far post.

It was certainly a day to remember for young Harry Warner. No-one can recall a player scoring a hat-trick on his East of Scotland debut for the Watt before. What a pity the feat was achieved in defeat.

Ormiston: Walton, Malcolm, Milne, Cochrane, Ferguson, Edmond, McKillop, Osborne, Cunningham (Ramsay 75), Gray, Hamilton. Subs. not used: Pearson, Watson, Borthwick, Inglis.

Heriot-Watt University: Saunders, Muttitt, Hamill, Kerr, Woolven, Kerlin (Napier 65), Warner, Higgins, Sellar (Donnelly 51), Green (Wright 65), Stevenson. Subs. not used: Walker, Wilson.

Referee: Mr. Alan Hogg (Edinburgh)