BUCS Reports

BUCS Season 2016 – 2017: Match 15

Queen’s Park Shield Semi-Final

29th March 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 1 UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING FIRST 2

The highly-ranked visitors started at a quick pace, with Paul McAfferty a particular danger, showing quick feet and trickery on the left wing. McAfferty had a shooting chance in the first minute when a ball from the right worked its way through to him, but he shot over the bar.

With thirteen minutes played, it was a cross from the left which put Stirling ahead. Following a corner kick, the ball was delivered to the far post, where George Leigh rose alone to head down into the net from close range.

Watt did not learn their lesson and found themselves two behind ten minutes later following a very similar goal. McAfferty turned Ross Fraser and flighted the ball across the goalmouth. This time it was Harvey Moyes who rose close to the far post, and although Jack Robinson got a hand to the ball this time, he was unable to prevent it ending up in the net.

Fraser’s pass down the right to picked out Anton Dowds and there were shouts for a penalty as he was challenged from behind, but a corner was the decision. The visitors were soon pressing forward again and Robinson got a hand to the ball to deflect it behind when it was driven fiercely towards goal from wide on the right.

Stirling might have added a third before half-time when a flowing move on the right ended with the ball being squared to Moyes just inside the penalty box, but with plenty of time to size up his shot, the big man steered it wide of the post.

The last action of the half was at the other end, as Mark Wilkie’s driven free kick reached Ollie Spence, but he had to lean back a little to take the header and the ball passed just over the bar.

Stirling had dominated the first half, but a different Watt made an immediate impression after half-time. A mistake in the visitors’ defence was exploited by Adam Breen to feed Dowds. The striker checked inside and out to create space for a shot, but goalkeeper Ryan Marshall was not deceived and got a leg to the ball as it headed towards goal.

Two minutes later, Dowds squeezed the ball through to Wilkie, but as he entered the box, he was hampered sufficiently by his marker to give Marshall time to run from his goal and block the shot.

Harry Barclay then initiated a good attack on the left, touching the ball round Andrew Gillen and finding Breen with his pass. Dowds sent the ball across goal, but too firmly for Wilkie to reach and eventually Spence sent the ball into the goalkeeper’s arms close to the goalpost.

Substitutions interrupted the play a good deal over the next fifteen minutes, with Jens Willassen, Andreas Ppalis and Harry Warner coming on for Watt and Michael Tuomy and Eric Gilbert for Stirling.

Ppalis it was who sent a wonderful cross-field ball into the stride of Fraser as he ran down the right. Fraser linked with Warner, but the pair got stuck in trying to find a way through a resolute Stirling back line and were eventually crowded out.

With ten minutes left, Stirling’s best move of the second half created another heading chance for Moyes, but his firm header in the middle of the goal was superbly saved by Robinson, who reacted instantly to get his left hand to the ball.

With the last minutes of the game ebbing away, Watt managed at last to pull a goal back. Warner drove at the Stirling defence with great persistence and when the ball came back to Dowds, he drove it first-time past the left hand of Marshall. There was only one goal required now to take the game to a penalty shoot-out, but with very little time left, that goal could not be found and the Watt’s Queen’s Park Shield ambitions were over for another season.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Jack Robinson, Ross Fraser, Harry Barclay (Jens Willassen 55), Adam Woolven, Andrew Imray, Finn Watt (Harry Warner 66), Mark Wilkie, Oliver Spence, Anton Dowds, Chris Lane, Adam Breen (Andreas Ppalis 64). Subs not used: Cameron Atwell, Tom Maher.

University of Stirling First:
Ryan Marshall, Angus Mailer (Michael Tuomy 69), Ross Kellock (Eric Gilbert 71), Ben Cuff, George Leigh, Harvey Moyes (Lewis Hunter 82), Andrew Gillen, Kyle Faulds, Rory McEwan, Paul McAfferty, Tomos Jones. Sub. not used: Michael McAnespie.

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BUCS Season 2016 – 2017: Match 14

Conference Cup Final

22nd March 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 2 ABERDEEN UNIVERSITY SECOND 2 (2 – 2 after extra time; Heriot-Watt won 4 – 3 on penalties)

Watt secured the BUCS Scottish Conference Cup after a penalty shoot-out, following a scrappy but absorbing Final against relentlessly determined opponents from Aberdeen.

It is seldom that a second team gets to a BUCS final and the side from the north was not in the mood to let the chance of a surprise trophy win go by without the expenditure of all their energy and effort. On a compact pitch at breezy St Andrews (when was it ever otherwise), Watt showed early that it was the side with more class and ability, but Aberdeen pressed at every opportunity to deny the Watt players time and space in which to make their passing ability tell.

After a couple of early half-chances for either side, Watt was forced into an early change when Ryan Higgins was on the end of a crunching challenge which left him unable to walk and probably ended his season. Harry Warner came on to replace him.

Just after the half-hour, Aberdeen took the lead when a cross to the far post was headed in by the red number 3. Watt was back on level terms within a minute, however, when Jens Willassen latched on to Chris Lane’s pass, skipped past a challenge and sent in a deep cross which went in to goal close to the far post.

Watt came desperately close to taking the lead when Ollie Spence’s fine right-wing run produced a cross which Adam Woolven rose to head back across goal, only for a defender on the goal-line to drive the ball against Warner and over the bar.

Early in the second half, Callum Smith had the ball past the goalkeeper from the left side of the box, but a defender was again on hand to kick clear. Another close call came when Anton Dowds was brought down and from the free kick, Lane played in Warner to send in a cross which Andy Imray steered towards goal, only for a defender to divert the ball over the bar.

Following Willassen’s cross, the ball was played back to Finn Watt on the edge of the area, but he got too much power into his shot and it rose over the bar. Smith had another good shot saved at full stretch by the goalkeeper before Ross Fraser’s lofted pass picked out Smith and he drove into the penalty area to send a firm drive into the far corner of the net and give the Watt the lead at last.

The game ebbed and flowed as a number of substitutions were made, but it looked to have stabilised and Watt was easing towards the cup when with just a minute left to play, an innocuous-looking ball in from the Aberdeen right bounced through the Watt defence, never seeming to be at the right height for anyone to clear it, and an Aberdeen player poked it past Jack Robinson to equalise.

Extra time was an endurance test, with several players showing signs of fatigue and cramp, but again most of the chances fell to Watt players. Woolven had a good opportunity with a header from a corner on the right, but failed to get over it and sent the ball over the bar. Dowds rose well to send in a header from Watt’s cross, but the goalkeeper dived to turn the ball round the post. Fraser played a wall pass with Lane, but instead of using his left foot on the return pass as he came in from the right, he tried a crabbed little stab with his right foot and sent the ball wide. A shot from twenty-five metres by Dowds was hit well enough, but not sufficiently accurately, and slipped past the post.

After all that, an Aberdeen substitute might have won the trophy for his side when the Watt defence was sucked towards the ball and it was knocked on to him in space on the left side of the area, but his shot was edgy and rose over the bar.

A good move on the Watt left involving Watt and Dowds gave Smith another chance, but as he cut inside, he delayed too long and his shot was blocked away.

The second period of extra time was relatively uneventful and the tie went to a penalty decider.

Aberdeen’s 11 took the first kick, striking the ball to Robinson’s right and although the goalkeeper had started out the other way, he was able to get a leg to the ball and block it from entering the net. Advantage to Watt.

Woolven scored with the first Watt penalty and Aberdeen’s 3 followed with a scoring drive. Spence was next up for Watt and only half-hit his shot. Watt hearts were in mouths as the goalkeeper, who had played well all day, dived the right way, but somehow he allowed the ball to squirm away from him and over the line.

Aberdeen’s 12 scored with a good penalty, then Lane took an even better one to put Watt 3 – 2 ahead. Aberdeen’s 9 levelled again, then Ppalis sent the ball to the goalkeeper’s right; again, the ’keeper got a touch to the ball, but there was enough power in the shot to carry it into the corner of the goal and Watt was in a winning position. Aberdeen’s 2 sent his shot to Robinson’s right and the goalie guessed correctly to dive and block the ball with his arms, giving Watt the victory with one kick spare.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Jack Robinson, Finn Watt, Jens Willassen, Andrew Imray, Adam Woolven, Ryan Higgins (Harry Warner 18 [Ross Fraser 55]), Oliver Spence, Chris Lane, Anton Dowds, Adam Breen (Andreas Ppalis 65), Callum Smith (Tom Maher 105). Sub not used: Callum Reid.

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BUCS Season 2016 – 2017: Match 13

Queen’s Park Shield: Quarter-final

8th March 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 4 ABERDEEN UNIVERSITY FIRST 0

Playing at the unusual venue of Pitch 2 at Riccarton, Heriot-Watt reached the Semi-finals of the Queen’s Park Shield in some comfort at the end of a game played in a strong westerly wind.

There were few chances of note in a first half dominated by the elements, although Anton Dowds got in a couple of efforts for the Watt and Andrew Shaffik twice shot just past for the visitors. Andrew Imray had two good blocks in quick succession as the home defence remained vigilant towards half-time.

Right from the start of the second half, Watt established a firm grip on the game and within five minutes of the restart had scored twice. Chris Lane’s pass gave Callum Smith possession on the edge of the area, but with Hamish Levein in front of him he still had plenty to do. With a quick movement to the left, however, Smith opened up a shooting angle and fired the ball accurately across Jack Maclennan into the corner of the net to open the scoring.

Another good switch of play by Lane three minutes later enabled Oliver Spence to set up Dowds for a shot from the edge of the area. Maclennan saved well, turning the ball round the post, but when Breen sent in an inviting corner kick, Dowds rose to head the ball calmly and carefully down into the corner of goal.

Aberdeen had a chance to grab a goal back five minutes later, when a major stramash in the home penalty area seemed sure to end in someone sending the ball into goal, but Jack Robinson saved well and his fellow defenders threw their bodies in the way of rebound attempts until the ball could be hacked clear of the danger area.

Dowds was in full cry now and posed danger to the visitors’ defence in every attack. His shot from twenty metres was well saved by Maclennan, who managed to grab the ball at the second attempt, but a few minutes later, he created another goal for the Watt, tricking Paul Spence and sending in a low cross to the near post. Adam Breen had anticipated this perfectly to move into position to give himself an easy finish and establish a three-goal cushion for his side.

When, with five minutes left to play, Sam Toufique profited from a defensive error to fire a shot off the underside of the Watt bar and back into play, it seemed to suggest that this would not be Aberdeen’s day and this was confirmed in stoppage time. With the wind gusting fiercely, a corner to the came in from the Watt right. Breen stretched to head the ball on and Finn Watt strode across from the left side of the area, measuring his relationship to the ball with every stride. He struck it on the turn with tremendous force, but also with control. Rather than going over the bar, as might have been expected, the ball soared unstoppably into the top of the goal to put the icing on the cake for the Watt and complete a victory which sets up a semi-final against the University of Stirling.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Jack Robinson, Tom Maher (Finn Watt 59), Jens Willassen, Andrew Imray, Adam Woolven, Ryan Higgins (Max Allison 80), Adam Breen, Oliver Spence (Andreas Ppalis 72), Anton Dowds, Chris Lane, Callum Smith (Harry Warner 70). All subs. used.

Aberdeen University First:
Jack Maclennan, Hamish Levein, Paul Spence, John Pearson, Sam McLaren, Andrew Shaffik, Ryan Grant (Hamish Tubby 75), Joseph Walker (Ciaran Ellison 70), Sam Toufique, Andrew Davidson, Caleb Ogwuru (Parimal Patel 65). All subs. used.

Referee: Mr Michael Scott

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BUCS Season 2016 – 2017: Match 12

BUCS Scottish Conference Division 2A

1st March 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 1 GLASGOW UNIVERSITY FIRST 1

Watt’s hopes of winning BUCS Division 2A and the promotion which goes with it ended with this draw against a strong, physical Glasgow side in a match played on Pitch 3, a poor grass surface.

Anton Dowds gave the Watt a half-time lead with a header from a corner-kick taken by Andreas Ppalis, but quarter of an hour into the second half, Glasgow’s centre-half headed home a set piece to gain a crucial point for his side.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Jack Robinson, Max Allison, Jens Willassen, Andrew Imray, Adam Woolven, Ryan Higgins, Adam Breen (Callum Smith 73), Sean Muhsin (Tom Maher 80), Anton Dowds, Chris Lane, Andreas Ppalis (Ross Fraser 60). Sub. not used: Finn Watt.BUCS Season 2016 – 2017: Match 11

Scottish Conference Cup – Semi-final

22nd February 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 3 GLASGOW CALEDONIAN UNIVERSITY FIRST 0

Heriot-Watt reached the Conference Cup Final with a victory over surprise semi-finalists Glasgow Caledonian University First. Caley, who had eliminated Aberdeen University First in the previous round, proved to be big, strong and durable and showed considerable determination from the start of the game, coupled with occasional demonstrations of accurate passing. The Watt side was well-organised defensively, however, and the back four and central midfielders combined well to keep goalkeeper Jack Robinson protected.

Watt almost scored in the third minute of the game, when Andrew Imray’s incisive pass sent Anton Dowds into the right side of the penalty box, but Caley goalkeeper Harry Usher showed for the first of many times his willingness to leave his line and he crowded out Dowds, who could only gain a corner kick.

Another close thing came in the tenth minute, when Andreas Ppalis played in a free kick and Adam Woolven rose to meet it with a good header. The ball was almost perfectly directed – above the head of the player on the post but under the bar – but it rebounded from the inside of the post, struck a defender on the line and somehow stayed out.

Five minutes later, it again seemed as if the Watt must score when Ppalis rounded the right side of the Caley defence and played the ball across the face of goal. Adam Breen came in to meet the ball, but to his own incredulity, shot against Usher from no distance at all.

On the half-hour, the roles were reversed as Breen set up Ppalis with a beautifully flighted pass over the head of Nick Mortimer, but the wide man shot into the side netting.

Finally, Watt made the breakthrough after thirty-three minutes. Caledonian had been packing their defence ever tighter and it was difficult to see how Watt could pass the ball through, but Ryan Higgins tried it, flicking the ball forward and going for the return. Somehow, he managed to drag the ball through and as it ran across goal, Higgins followed it and managed to tuck it into the corner of goal from around two feet out – which, as he would no doubt concur, makes it a contender for his longest-range goal in Watt colours.

Usher was injured in trying to prevent the goal and for some time it appeared that he would have to be replaced, but after a couple of minutes he was back on his feet and he battled on.

Just before half-time came the saddest event of the day as Sean Campbell stretched for a ball at the far post and had to go off with a recurrence of his groin injury. He was out of action for months last time and was still easing himself back in before this happened. Sean had been patient and had not tried to push too hard to get back into football too soon, so this is a particularly hard blow for a good player and a fine young man. We hope the injury is not as bad as it initially seemed.

There was one more chance for the Watt before half-time, created by Adam Woolven, who made a splendid tackle and moved forward on to a return pass to send Dowds away down the left, but Usher showed that he had recovered from his injury by once again coming from his goal like a shot to block Dowds’ attempt to get the ball past him.

Six minutes into the second half, Finn Watt’s throw-in found Dowds on the by-line; he turned and sent a cross right on to the head of Breen, inside the six-yard box. A second goal, we all thought – but for the second time in the game Breen directed the ball straight at the goalkeeper and Usher kept it out.

Two minutes later, Max Allison did sterling work to send Dowds down the left, but when he cut the ball back to Breen, around the penalty spot, the midfielder made it a hat-trick of misses by allowing the ball to run off his foot.

The visitors, still only one goal in arrears, had a good spell for the next few minutes. It started with a run on the right by Mortimer, at the end of which he played the ball right across the face of goal. It only needed a touch to take it into the net, but there were no takers and it ran on for a throw-in on the far side. Caley was encouraged by this action, however, and threw greater numbers into attack.

Watt had a chance on the break when Dowds was sent on a diagonal run to the left. Ath Johanssen did really well to keep up with him and get in a tackle to send the ball out of play, but it was his last involvement, cramp causing him to be replaced by Ross Cowan. Usher again ran to the edge of his box to prevent Dowds finding Ppalis unmarked by throwing up an arm to block.

As GCU committed more to attack, spaces began to open up at the back and although Watt seemed unnecessarily narrow as they broke forward, the ball was stabbed through to enable Dowds to surge past Chris MacLennan and into the box. MacLennan tried to get in a tackle but made contact with Dowds to concede an obvious penalty. Dowds dusted himself down and tucked the ball away in the corner of the net without further ado.

Three minutes later, Watt at last made the game safe when Breen charged down an attempted clearance and executed a perfect chip over the advancing Usher to make it 3 – 0. It was a far more difficult chance than any of the three he’d previously missed, but Breen took it with casual skill.

We were half-way through the second half at this point and the visitors knew the writing was on the wall. Watt knew it too, and all sorts of players were popping up in attack to see if they could claim a goal. That was the problem – everyone was out to get a goal for himself and although Caley’s enthusiasm for defending was visibly reducing, Watt did not play as a team to score more goals.

Dowds was the next to miss a great opportunity when he ran in to meet Breen’s low, firm corner kick and shot straight into the magnetic arms of Usher from around the edge of the six yard box. Higgins tried to get the ball over the head of the goalkeeper from forty metres, but Usher retreated to catch. Chris Lane shot just past from around twenty metres. Imray came forward and stabbed the ball through to Callum Smith, but his effort was deflected behind. Harry Warner got away from Mortimer to run in unchallenged, but Usher read his intentions perfectly to save with his left hand. Finally, Lane sent a shot on the turn from fifteen metres just over.

There could have been more goals if the Watt had played more cohesively, but that would have been hard on a decent and sporting Caledonian side who gave much to this game. Watt Seconds will have to play GCU in the League away from home a week on Wednesday and any Second Team players watching this game will have learned respect for their opponents.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Jack Robinson, Finn Watt, Max Allison, Andrew Imray, Adam Woolven, Chris Lane, Sean Campbell (Oliver Spence 43), Ryan Higgins (Cameron Atwell 75), Anton Dowds (Harry Warner 80), Adam Breen, Andreas Ppalis (Callum Smith 67). Sub. not used: Callum Reid.

Glasgow Caledonian University First:
Harry Usher, Nick Mortimer, Ali Garry, Chris MacLennan, Ath Johansson (Ross Cowan 57), Dylan Wright, Murray McCallum (Stephen Reid 59), Craig Forbes, Connor Gracie, Olyawa Ahmed (Kevin Strain 80), Gary Trussler. Sub not used: Jeffery Ayisi.

Referee: Mr Peter Peace (West Calder)

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BUCS Season 2016 – 2017: Match 10

Division 2A

15th February 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 3 STIRLING UNIVERSITY THIRD 0

Watt kept up their challenge in Division 2A with a comfortable win over University of Stirling Third.

The first goal came after eight minutes. A penetrating run by Anton Dowds took him in along the left by-line and although his cutback failed to find a Watt player, the ball ran loose and Adam Breen was quick to pounce and direct it into goal.

A good passing move almost brought a second goal four minutes later when Mark Wilkie linked with Dowds and Breen and the latter laid a pass in front of Wilkie in the area, but his shot was straight at James Donaldson in the Stirling goal. Another fine move three minutes later came from a break into the Stirling half by centre-back Andrew Imray, who found Sean Campbell on the right. Campbell played the ball on to Wilkie, whose pass sent Dowds into the penalty box, but Donaldson was out quickly and diverted the shot behind.

Stirling almost grabbed an equaliser just after this when Dowds set the ball back to Adam Woolven on half-way. As he turned, Woolven lost his footing and fell, enabling Matt Corfield to drive forward. Imray was unable to catch him before he reached the penalty area and as Jack Robinson advanced, the striker chipped the ball over his head, only to see it smack off the face of the bar and rebound into play.

This turned out to be the closest Stirling came to scoring and in twenty-five minutes Watt went two ahead. The goal was welcome, coming as it did after a spell of spirited play from the visitors, but again it was well created. After good movement in midfield, Campbell drove forward into space and shot from around twenty-five metres. It was a well-struck effort, but it looked as if Donaldson would reach it. There was too much power in the shot for the goalkeeper to prevent it entering the top corner of the goal, however, and Watt had a two-goal cushion.

Mark Wilkie had to go off after half an hour after sustaining an eye injury. This somewhat disrupted Watt’s balance and there were fewer flowing passing movements in consequence. Chris Lane was now the main creative influence in the Watt midfield and he came close to adding a third goal to the scoreline when he sent a fine pass out to Breen on the left and sped into the box to receive a return pass, but striking the ball with the inside of his right foot while moving at pace with his leg at full extension made the shot more difficult to control and the ball passed inches over the junction to Donaldson’s right.

Tom Maher’s excellent pass out to Dowds gave the striker a final chance before the interval, but again Donaldson was rapidly off his line to block the ball behind.

Stirling resumed with the tricky Justicia Bernardo on to replace Ryan McGregor and further substitutions soon followed, Ted Hodges and Klark Thomson replacing Corfield and Anthony McGuire. Jack Clubb managed to get on to a long corner and fired a volley into the side net, but there were few other goalmouth incidents in the early part of the half.

Robinson took a blow in the face whilst punching clear and it took a couple of minutes to get the big man back on his feet and functioning again, although still looking a bit groggy. A further rash of substitutions also broke up the rhythm of the game, with David Lammond replacing Keir Whitefield for the visitors and for Watt, Harry Warner, Max Allison and Cameron Attwell replacing Maher, Lane and Dowds. It was perhaps no surprise that the second half lacked the fluency of the first, but it is reasonable to give some time to players from the bench and take the chance to rest those who will soon be involved again.

Breen was now playing up front and when Imray’s accurate pass found him he took on two defenders and got into the box, despite attempts to impede him. Having done the hard work, however, he pulled his left-foot shot tamely past.

The game had one more moment of excitement left, however. Two minutes into stoppage time, Allison timed his run perfectly to come on to the ball in midfield and lofted it over the head of Ross Wilkinson to enable Warner to attack. The pacy wide man needed no second invitation, taking the ball on the bounce to head it past his marker and striking it in off the far post.

This was a satisfactory exercise for the Watt and keeps the team in contention in Division 2A. There was a fair amount of quality football, particularly in the first half, and the defence, with Imray and Woolven on top form, looked sound throughout.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Jack Robinson, Finn Watt, Jens Willassen, Andrew Imray, Adam Woolven, Chris Lane (Max Allison 81), Sean Campbell (Callum Smith 62), Ryan Higgins, Anton Dowds (Cameron Atwell 83), Mark Wilkie (Tom Maher 30 [Harry Warner 75]), Adam Breen. All subs used.

Stirling University Third:
James Donaldson, Calum Murphy, Ross Wilkinson, Jack Clubb, Euan Robertson, Ryan McGregor (Justicia Bernardo 45), Michael Chan, Keir Whitefield (David Lammond 73), Matt Corfield (Ted Hodges 56), Anthony McGuire (Klark Thomson 58), Danny Whittam. All subs. used.

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BUCS Season 2016 – 2017: Match 9

Scottish Conference Cup – Quarter-final

8th February 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 7 ST ANDREWS UNIVERSITY SECOND 1

After falling behind to a fluke goal after four minutes, Watt gradually found a rhythm and by the end of this match had broken the resistance of their opponents and were scoring almost at will.

Michael Cameron scored the shock opener, flighting in a right-footed cross from the left touchline and watching as it curled perfectly over the head of Jack Robinson to land in the far corner of the goal.

It took the Watt almost quarter of an hour to equalise. The goal came when Anton Dowds outflanked the right side of the visitors’ defence and cut the ball back. Andreas Ppalis executed some skilful footwork to deceive two defenders and send a left-foot shot to the corner of the net.

A good run through the middle of the pitch by Adam Woolven started the move which produced Watt’s second goal. Chris Lane took over and sent the ball in from the right and when it reached Adam Breen, he struck a firm left-foot shot into goal.

By half-time, the Watt was starting to take full control and a third goal arrived just before the break. Andrew Imray timed his run well to meet a corner from the right and sent a header towards the bottom corner of the goal, but Blake Atherton was alert and managed to smuggle the ball past for another corner. This one was taken short to Chris Lane and when he returned the ball to Ppalis, his cross was glanced inside the far post by the head of Dowds.

Despite his goal at the end of the first half, Dowds had been relatively quiet in the game up to this point, but from the start of the second half, he imposed himself on proceedings to great effect. His surging runs in wide areas set up several chances and the St Andrews defence began to look rattled when he came into possession. When the fourth goal arrived, however, it was Ppalis who scored it, latching on to Breen’s astute pass to round the goalkeeper and slide the ball in from the tightest of angles.

Luke Bain came close to catching out Robinson with a deft chip which landed on the roof of the net, but soon Dowds was controlling things again, just failing to link with Callum Smith after reaching the by-line once more.

The opportunity for a fifth goal for the home side was created by Ross Fraser, who cut inside from the left past several opponents and laid a pass out to Max Allison on the right. Allison’s cross took a deflection as it came into the goalmouth and Smith read the flight to head home from close to the goal line.

By this time, the St Andrews side was losing heart and it was no surprise when a sixth Watt goal arrived. It was perhaps the best of the day. Breen’s sublime skills took his marker entirely out of the equation and he played a perfectly-weighted pass for the well-timed run of Sean Campbell, who gave a fine demonstration of how to slide the ball past an advancing goalkeeper.

More good work by Campbell set up the opportunity for a final goal two minutes from time, his intervention in midfield enabling him to play a fine pass to Dowds, who cut in from the left and played the ball firmly past Atherton. As the ball made its way across goal, a defender made a despairing lunge and knocked it into the roof of the net, but it did appear as if the ball was heading for the net anyway, so we’ll give it to Dowds.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Jack Robinson, Finn Watt (Callum Smith 45), Ross Fraser, Andrew Imray, Adam Woolven (Harry Warner 76), Chris Lane, Tom Maher (Max Allison 59), Ryan Higgins (Cameron Atwell 65), Anton Dowds, Adam Breen, Andreas Ppalis (Sean Campbell 65). All subs used.

St Andrews University Second:
Blake Atherton, Jed Alberts, Ross Anderson (Cameron Brown 79), Greg Cox, Joshua Davis, Alexander Gillam (Kai Mackie 67), Michael Cameron, Mark McGuigan, Nicholas Lewis (Timothy Apel 62), Luke Bain, Bradley McCallion. Sub. not used: Alexander Randolph.

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BUCS Season 2016 – 2017: Match 8

Division 2A

18th January 2017

STIRLING UNIVERSITY THIRD 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 2

Watt travelled north with a thin squad for this BUCS league game and Head Coach Banji Koya was happy to return with the three points. A party of only thirteen players was missing a number of regulars and Cammy Atwell stepped in for a debut at right back. The lack of balance available to him meant that Mr Koya had to be imaginative in his selection and he brought Anton Dowds back into midfield with the versatile Max Allison leading the attack.

Despite the unfamiliar line-up, Watt started well on the Gannochy synthetic and opened the scoring after thirteen minutes’ play with a fine goal. Atwell did good work on the right and found Dowds with a pass inside. A clever turn by Dowds took his marker out of play and he sent the ball wide to Harry Warner, whose cross was perfect for the run of Callum Smith, who came in from the left to place a firm header into the net.

Two minutes later, the good work was undone. A ball down the Stirling left was so far out of play that the Watt players stopped, but when it curled back and landed just inside the sideline, the referee allowed play to continue and the home side took full advantage, Lewis McKenzie rounding Craig Saunders and sliding the ball home from a tight angle.

This setback, and the injustice of it, unsettled the Watt players and for a time knocked them out of their rhythm. Stirling sat deep, counting on the pace of their wingers on the break. Saunders saved above his head from a shot by Edward Hodges, but before half-time, Watt was back on the offensive and spent the last few minutes of the first half camped in the Stirling penalty area.

Good play by Smith and Allison put Dowds through to win the first corner, which Adam Woolven narrowly missed at the far post. As Watt continued to press, Woolven had another opportunity when a long throw from the left landed at his feet. He twisted and turned for some time, trying to find space for a shot, but eventually went down claiming an infringement, but it wasn’t clear-cut and the referee ignored the appeals. Eventually, Allison’s cute flick was seen early by James Donaldson, who made the catch.

In the second half, Watt gradually regained control of the match and came close to regaining the lead just before the hour when good foraging by Warner enabled him to find Dowds, whose first-time pass was driven firmly towards goal by Smith. Donaldson had only a split second to react, but managed to get a hand to the ball and divert it on to the crossbar for an excellent save. The rebound did not fall for a Watt player and Stirling scrambled the ball clear.

Allison’s well-timed intrusion on the left set up the next chance, but when he returned the ball to Smith, his shot on this occasion lacked the power to trouble Donaldson.

Finally, with twenty minutes left to play, Watt made the breakthrough. A soft free-kick award for a trip on Smith gave Dowds the chance to play the ball in from the left. The delivery was at head-height with pace and as Andrew Imray closed in for the header, a Stirling defender got his head to the ball first to divert it into the corner of the goal.

With a single-goal lead to protect, Watt understandably came under some pressure towards the end of the game, but the shape remained good and the side saw out the remaining time for a valuable victory.

Stirling University Third:
James Donaldson, Matthew Brown, Calum Murphy, Keir Whitefield, Ross Wilkinson (Ryan McGregor 55), Cameron Cobul (Michael Chan 61), Edward Hodges (David Lammond 71), Lewis McKenzie (Matt Corfield 71), Anthony McGuire, Danny Whittam, Justicia Bernardo. All subs. used.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Craig Saunders, Cameron Atwell, Tom Maher, Andrew Imray, Adam Woolven, Chris Lane, Harry Warner, Ryan Higgins, Max Allison (Ross Fraser 73), Anton Dowds, Callum Smith (Adam Breen 80). All subs used.

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BUCS Season 2016 – 2017: Match 7

Division 2A

23rd November 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 3 ST ANDREWS UNIVERSITY FIRST 3

This absorbing game swung back and forth in true pendulum fashion, but although Watt rescued a point late in the match, the win which was required to close on St Andrews at the top of Division 2A was not forthcoming.

Watt’s determination was well in evidence in the early part of the game, with several promising attacks constructed. A good kick-out from Craig Saunders found Finn Watt on the right and he linked with Adam Breen, who moved the ball on to Anton Dowds, but his low cross was claimed by Alec Cadzow as Sean Muhsin went over the back of the goalkeeper.

The Heriot-Watt defenders were pinging some wonderful long passes into wide areas for wing-back Watt to chase. Adam Woolven’s cross-field ball was fired across goal by Watt, but deflected behind for a corner; then Andrew Imray’s superbly-weighted pass put Watt into a race with Cadzow, resulting in the goalkeeper sending the ball out over the sideline.

For all the home dominance in the early stages, it was St Andrews who took the lead after quarter of an hour. The ball was brought in along the by-line and when it was cut back across goal, the Watt defence was strangely hesitant, allowing Yu Okamura to slam the ball into goal from close range.

Six minutes later, the scores were level again. An excellent burst forward by Imray ended with a good pass to Dowds, who exchanged passes with Breen to move into the box at pace and slide the ball accurately past the left hand of Cadzow into the corner of the net for a fine goal.

Two minutes later, Watt had a wonderful chance to go in front. Dowds had missed an open goal from the edge of the box at Dundee last time out, but he topped that easily by missing when unchallenged from almost on the goal-line. Another quality pass by Imray had started the move, putting Robert Service into the area on a diagonal run. Cadzow blocked his shot, but when the ball came back to Service close to the post being defended by the goalkeeper, he played it past him to Dowds, all alone in the middle of the goal. Instead of tapping it into the net, however, Dowds contrived to play it back in the direction from which it had come and into the hands of the astonished Cadzow.

Whilst these misses must be recorded, it should be noted that Dowds is getting himself into shooting positions with great regularity and is still the top scorer in the BUCS side by some distance. However difficult to watch, we’ll tolerate his misses while he continues to contribute regular goals.

Breen came close with an overhead kick following a corner as the Watt kept up the pressure. Woolven sent another accurate long pass out to Watt on the right and his fierce centre came off the leg of a defender and ricocheted on to the bar, rebounding just too high for Muhsin at the far post.

Good work by Chris Lane enabled him to pick out Muhsin to set up another chance, but he was well marshalled and Dowds was unable to control his through ball. Finn Watt continued to offer a threat and Cadzow had to dive to his right to save his curling shot.

Woolven rescued his side when Lane’s passback fell short, denying Alex Carroll the chance to turn the ball into goal, before again releasing Watt down the right, but this time the cross was collected by Cadzow.

As in the first half, the Watt began after the interval on the front foot. Muhsin’s corner was headed over by Woolven under pressure, but a few minutes later the Watt went ahead, a passing movement of great intricacy setting up Muhsin to slide the ball under Cadzow.

A kick-out by Saunders was cleverly headed on down the left by Muhsin for Dowds to check back on to his right foot and send in a cross towards Breen, near the far post, but in one of those infringements which are seldom penalised, the lightweight Breen was eased gently forward by the shoulder of a defender and instead of the ball dropping right on to his head, he was unable to reach it.

A shot on the turn by Dowds from the edge of the area narrowly missed the target before the visitors restored parity halfway through the second half. Jens Willassen was obliged to turn Okamura’s cross behind and when the corner came in from the right, Saunders, attempting to catch the ball, was impeded by a St Andrews player. The ball came off the inside of the goalkeeper’s right arm and headed towards the far post. A Heriot-Watt player blocked it, but visiting centre-back Andrew Meaney was on hand to ram the ball into goal.

Muhsin’s shot on the turn just missed the goal frame on the far side as the teams struggled to regain the lead before the next bit of controversy with quarter of an hour left to play. Dowds leaped to meet Muhsin’s cross as Cadzow came out to reach for the ball. The two collided and Cadzow dropped the ball, but as Dowds swivelled and turned it into goal, the inevitable whistle sounded for a foul on the goalkeeper. Goalkeepers usually do get the decision in such circumstances, but it is hard to see what Dowds did wrong. He was surely entitled to jump for a cross and if that jump took him towards the goalkeeper as he came from his goal, so be it. He did not raise his arms or impede his opponent in any way and St Andrews’ players did not seem to expect the free kick to be awarded.

Things got worse for the Watt as the game went into its final ten minutes. A mistake in defence allowed substitute Ryan Quinn the opportunity to shoot from inside the penalty box and he drove the ball across Saunders into the far corner of the net.

Trailing again in a period in which play was constantly interrupted by substitutions, Watt was relieved to get a late equaliser. A corner from the right was played in to the near post area. Imray and Woolven had half-chances before the ball sprung to Tom Maher to knock home from close in.

Watt might even have got an unlikely winner in the last minute of stoppage time when Andreas Ppalis sent a free kick into the visitors’ area, but when Imray’s shot was blocked, the full-time whistle sounded.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Craig Saunders, Finn Watt, Jens Willassen (Ryan Higgins 91), Adam Woolven, Andrew Imray, Chris Lane, Adam Breen (Tom Maher 87), Robert Service (Andreas Ppalis 79), Anton Dowds, Sean Muhsin, Scott Munro (Max Allison 73). All subs used.

St Andrews University First:
Alec Cadzow, Ross McLennan, Leon Herfort, Joel Butcher, Andrew Meaney, Matthew Holden, Oeyen Verhagen (Ryan Quinn 89), Alex Dodgshon (Greg Egu 73), Max Bolotov (Ian Murray 85), Alex Carroll (Alessandro Purelini 79), Yu Okamura. Sub. not used: Daniel Pilley.

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BUCS Season 2016 – 2017: Match 6

Division 2A

16th November 2016

DUNDEE UNIVERSITY FIRST 0 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 5

This was a rather surprising match in many ways, not the least of which was that after its biggest win in years, the team found itself on the wrong end of a tongue-lashing from a seriously irritated Head Coach. What had annoyed Banji Koya was that despite this much-needed victory and the encouraging result, the Watt had made countless mistakes during the game and had played with a poor shape and at times a poor attitude.

Indeed, it might all have turned out very differently had not Dundee shot themselves squarely in the foot after a first half-hour lacking in goals and in quality. Certainly, the home defence looked very fragile and Anton Dowds had already broken clear twice, only to squander both opportunities – the first time getting the ball stuck under his feet and digging it out too firmly, enabling goalkeeper Andrew Richardson to reach it before he could shoot; the second time missing an actual open goal after the home central defenders had taken out each other and Richardson, running from his penalty box, had missed the ball. Dowds was left with no-one between him and the goal, but instead of running the ball into the net, he shot from the edge of the area and dragged it wide.

Misses like these often cost a side dearly, but not on this occasion, although Dundee did have a chance when the ball was given away in midfield and the dangerous Pat Smith shot from the edge of the box. The Watt defenders had the last of the sun directly in their eyes and it must have been a problem for Jack Robinson, but he saved his side, diving to the left to touch the ball on to the post. What might have happened had that one gone in, we shall never know. A few minutes later, Smith drove in a shot from far out on the left which curled just over the bar, but soon the Watt was creating chances again. A lovely dummy put Robert Service through, but he was unable to shake off the attentions of a defender and had to contrive a shot which slipped past.

In the thirty-fifth minute came the incident which probably decided the game. Dowds cleverly headed into the path of Ppalis, who cut across his marker, Ahmed Aloulou, and entered the penalty box. Before Ppalis could get his shot away, Aloulou made an attempt at a tackle, missing the ball by some distance and bringing down Ppalis. There was no alternative for the referee but to award the penalty and send off the unfortunate defender.

Dowds drove the penalty kick almost straight and the ball may have come off the boot of Richardson before finding the net, but the Watt was ahead. Ten minutes later, Watt doubled its money just before the break, as Dowds went clear on the left and was always in control as he drew Richardson and slipped the ball past him into goal.

Dundee, two goals and a man down, began the second half vigorously, with Smith trying to take the game to the visitors, supported by Anthony Darlington, who is surely wasted at right-back. In the tenth minute of the half, however, it was all up for the Taysiders as Watt scored again. Adam Breen had come on to give Chris Lane a rest and a chance to recover from a first-half knock and was pushed over by Darlington near the left corner. When Ppalis’s free kick reached the edge of the six-yard box, the Dundee marking was so deficient that there was no challenge on Adam Woolven as he stooped to head the ball into the net.

As Dundee’s commitment to the cause ebbed away, there were more chances created and missed. Ppalis put Dowds through again, but in trying to place the ball past the goalkeeper, he also placed it past the post. The two other substitutes, Tom Maher and Max Allison, combined to create a shooting opportunity after Finn Watt’s inviting cross, but Richardson saved Allison’s shot. Breen sent a good cross to the back post, but in trying to position his header precisely, Maher took too much pace off the ball and a defender was able to head away. Jens Willassen, probably Watt’s best player on his First Team debut, played a good exchange with Dowds, but when he went into the box he stumbled and lost his chance – probably the only occasion in the match when his work was anything other than neat and well-controlled. Maher got the ball past Darlington but played it too far ahead of himself and ran into the advancing Richardson.

Finally, with three minutes left, Watt did score again, but only after Robinson had again distinguished himself with a superb save when David Ballingall broke through and shot from inside the area. Somehow, Robinson got a hand to the ball to take it round the post and when the corner came in, Willassen broke quickly and swept the ball out to Allison on the right. Allison cut into the area and fired a low drive across Richardson and in off the far post.

In the last action of the game a few minutes later, Dowds produced an uncannily accurate copy of Allison’s goal, cutting in from the right and finishing across the goalkeeper and off the inside of the post to complete the scoring.

Dundee University First:
Andrew Richardson, Scott Gray, Martyn McCabe, John Millar, Anthony Darlington, Jonathan Aitken, Ahmed Aloulou, Kiffy Scott, Pat Smith, David Ballingall. Subs.: Youssef Aloulou, Ian Boulmer-Myers, Jake Tulloch, Liam Forbes, Jonny Bennett.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Craig Saunders, Finn Watt, Scott Munro, Andrew Imray, Adam Woolven, Chris Lane, Harry Warner (Max Allison 53), Robert Service, Anton Dowds, Adam Breen, Tom Maher (Harry Barclay 71). All subs used.

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BUCS Season 2016 – 2017: Match 5

Division 2A

9th November 2016

GLASGOW UNIVERSITY FIRST 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 1

Let it be said at the outset that Glasgow deserved its victory. The home players were sharp from the start and pressed the Watt throughout the game whilst producing incisive, fast-moving passing football to pose problems for the visitors’ defence.

It would be impossible, however, to discuss this match without touching on the sheer incompetence of the officiating. Moaning about the referee is not our style and we try very hard to say nothing that isn’t positive, but this one just has to get a mention, as he was impossible to ignore.

Before the game, a Glasgow official gave it as his view that the match referee, who does most of Glasgow’s home games, that he was rather severe on Glasgow and that perhaps he was over-compensating because he did not want to be thought of as favouring the home side. If that is the normal situation, this was the game in which he chose to redress the balance for many such performances.

The referee seemed to think it was his duty to prevent the game flowing by stopping it at regular intervals and on many occasions the players had to look to him to see what his decision was, as no-one else had discerned an infringement. The answer was almost always the award of yet another free kick to Glasgow. Glasgow was the better side in this match, but football matches aren’t decided on the relative merits of the football played and had the Watt been given fair treatment by the official, it’s just possible that this match would have turned out differently.

Despite Glasgow starting the match in whirlwind style, it was the Watt which took the lead after five minutes’ play. Anton Dowds drove down the right and played the ball across goal. Harry Warner got a touch and the ball came back off Glasgow goalkeeper Ben Fulton. It ran behind Adam Breen, but as Breen turned, he managed to find a gap into which to direct his shot.

Glasgow surged back and during the next ten minutes there were two major stramashes in the Watt penalty area, during the second of which the ball was sent cannoning off the underside of the bar, but Watt somehow survived these emergencies. Dowds was at his most determined and was leading the line with pace and purpose, but when Chris Lane went on a great run through the middle and played in Dowds to his left, the striker took too long to get his shot away and a good tackle took the ball away for a corner.

No-one watching from the Watt line could identify the reason for a free kick awarded half-way inside the Watt half, but when the ball was played forward, Lesley Goettermann sent in a header which went off the outside of the post.

A couple of efforts on goal around the half-hour mark failed to increase Watt’s lead, Warner’s snap shot from the right finding the side netting, then Tom Maher’s hooked half-volley going over shoulder, bar and fence.

Jordan Diven came close for Glasgow, picking up a clearance to shoot just over from twenty metres, but the half finished in confusion when Dowds was sent away on the left only for the referee to blow for half-time a full two minutes early. This contrasted with the end of the second half, when he played seven minutes over the regulation time.

Andrew Imray made an excellent intervention to concede a corner as Diogene Sergides prepared to shoot, but Watt’s luck had been used up during the first half and shortly after this, a cross from the right was turned into goal by Eamon Nugent-Doyle. Straight from the kick-off, a determined attack from the Watt almost succeeded in restoring the lead, but when Service released Dowds to drive past Euan Small and sweep the ball across goal, it fell just behind Max Allison, who had replaced Warner a minute earlier. Allison gathered and turned, but in his anxiety to get a shot away, he struck too early and the ball slipped past the post.

Half-way through the second period, Glasgow grabbed the goal that turned out to be decisive. A throw-in from the right was sent into the box and a header contested by a player from each side was inconclusive. The ball continued across the box and David Walls saw his opportunity to hook a shot into the top corner to the left of Craig Saunders.

Walls might have added another with quarter of an hour left. Pacy winger Calum Windram came inside along the by-line and cut the ball back, but from no great distance, Walls shot past.

Another rapid attack by Glasgow ended with a drive which brought a good save from Saunders, diving to his right, and Imray completed the job with an acrobatic clearance before any of the onrushing home forwards could capitalise.

In the last few minutes, Watt piled on the pressure, keeping the Glasgow goal under siege for some time, but were unable to give Fulton any serious work. Imray did manage to get his head to a cross from the right, but he was in no position to control the header, which went well over.

One bright feature of the game was the cameo played by Harry Barclay. Harry is new to the University, the city and the Club this season, but he has taken it all in his stride and always looks composed on the ball, even in such a frantic game as this one. It is great to see a young player show such a fine temperament so early in his Watt career.

Glasgow University First:
Ben Fulton, Jordan Diven, Euan Small, Lesley Goettermann, Euan Woodley, Eamon Nugent-Doyle, Calum Windram, Diogene Sergides, Donald Thomson, Calum Davidson (Euan Roseweir 74), Jonathan Baxter (David Walls 59). Subs. not used: Jack McGrath, Paul Kerins, Michael Symington.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Craig Saunders, Finn Watt, Scott Munro, Andrew Imray, Adam Woolven, Chris Lane, Harry Warner (Max Allison 53), Robert Service, Anton Dowds, Adam Breen, Tom Maher (Harry Barclay 71). All subs used.

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BUCS Season 2016 – 2017: Match 4

Scottish Conference Cup

2nd November 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 5 STIRLING UNIVERSITY THIRD 3

Having broken its BUCS hoodoo the week before, Watt started this Conference Cup tie against fellow Division 2A side Stirling University Third in confident manner. As it turned out, the game featured four distinct phases.

The first didn’t last long. After the Watt had started brightly and done most of the early attacking, Stirling broke away down the right and took the lead, Ryan McGregor cutting in from the right and chipping the ball over Craig Saunders, who may have gone down a little too early.

That was as good as it got for Stirling and we were quickly into the second phase of the game, which was an immensely productive one for the Watt. Between the eleventh and thirty-sixth minutes, the home side scored five times and it could have been more. Anton Dowds was the main man for Watt, leading the line with pace and control and making the centre of the Stirling defence look pedestrian.

Dowds was involved in the equalising goal, laying the ball back for Adam Breen to play a first-time lofted ball over the Stirling defence for Tom Maher to chase. Jake Warriner dashed from his goal, but Breen’s pass checked on landing and Maher was able to get a toe to the ball to take it past the goalkeeper. It wasn’t in yet, but Maher was able to shield the ball and hold off a determined challenge from a defender to ease the ball into the net.

Two minutes later, Watt was ahead. Adam Woolven probably played the ball too far ahead of himself, but such things can work in the player’s favour and so it worked out here. Woolven accelerated and at pace was able to slip a tackle before sending a delightful pass into the stride of Dowds on the left. Dowds surged past Matthew Brown before sending an accurate shot across Warriner into the far corner of goal.

Just four minutes later, Watt scored again – and it was another excellent goal. From a free kick in midfield, the ball went via Woolven, Maher and Dowds before Breen was given a simple close-range finish.

Watt might have conceded the next goal as Anthony McGuire timed his run well to meet a cross from the right, finding space in the centre of the Watt defence, but with only Saunders to beat, he seemed to contact the ball with the sole of his boot. It ran behind him, away from goal, and the chance was lost.

Superb footwork by Dowds on the right left a Stirling defender bemused and enabled Dowds to send in a tempting cross, but Breen had to jump a little to get his left foot on the ball and he was unable to control it in front of goal.

Just after the half-hour, it was four for the Watt when Calum Murphy left a passback to Warriner woefully short and Dowds nipped in to push the ball past the goalkeeper. Five minutes later, Watt had a nap hand when Breen’s wonderful ball inside the full-back gave Maher the opportunity to take the ball past Warriner and roll it into the empty net.

The Watt’s rampant phase was interrupted by the half-time whistle and after the interval the game entered new territory, as the game became less vigorous. Watt was no longer looking like scoring with every attack and Stirling seemed content to let the game progress without getting any worse. Then the referee triggered the final phase of the game with one of those decisions about which we have so often railed on this site.

It came about after an almost incredible incident. Stirling scorer McGregor, from almost on the by-line on the right, played the ball over the head of Saunders as he stood at his near post. The ball struck the far post and came back, past the startled Saunders, to reach McGregor again. His second attempt to create something was stifled at the expense of a corner. The kick was ineffectually cleared and the ball remained in the box. As Stirling tried to make something happen, the ball flipped up and struck the arm of Robert Service. It was impossible for him to have got out of the way and equally impossible to believe that he had deliberately played the ball, but the referee decided a penalty was appropriate. We have a sneaking suspicion that he felt a bit sorry for Stirling, having lost five goals so quickly in the first half, but if so, he paid for his sympathy, as the game became bad-tempered in its final half-hour.

McGuire drove the ball high past Saunders, who got both hands to the ball but could not keep it out. Two minutes later, McGuire scored again, getting on to the end of a squared pass to knock the ball home from close range. The referee later claimed that Finn Watt had played the scorer onside, but watching from our position in the stand, we beg to differ.

Two quick goals gave the visitors enormous belief and the game became frantic and competitive as they poured forward in search of more goals. Justicia Bermarck, a tricky and competitive wide player, came into the fray and caused some anxiety for the Watt defence. Dowds might have calmed things down again if he had been able to convert Harry Warner’s pass down the right, but when Dowds brought the ball inside, his chip over Warriner lacked the necessary accuracy.

Watt weathered the storm without much difficulty and Dowds had another scoring chance when Warriner could only get one hand to Max Allison’s cross from the right and the ball fell behind Dowds, but when the Watt striker collected and turned to face the open goal, he contrived to drive the ball over the bar from eight metres.

That was the last incident of note in the game, as after that the Watt players seemed to be concentrating entirely on irritating the spectators. It was embarrassing to see a team which had scored five goals in twenty-five minutes and had shown the skills to torment their opponents trying to see out time by holding the ball in the corner when good opportunities to create scoring chances were available.

When a side has achieved a winning position by playing good football and by showing the capability to open up the opposition defence, it seems perverse for it to adopt a practice which creates frustration, often leading to fouls and injuries and which gives the opposition the chance, if they can win the ball, to launch a raid against which is difficult to defend. We hope never again to see a Watt side adopt this self-defeating and unnecessary policy in a match it should be winning easily by continuing to play the football which has put it in that position in the first place.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Craig Saunders, Finn Watt, Scott Munro, Andrew Imray, Adam Woolven, Chris Lane, Harry Warner (Ryan Higgins 77), Robert Service, Anton Dowds, Adam Breen, Tom Maher (Max Allison 71). Sub. not used: Fraser Wilson.

Stirling University Third:
Jake Warriner, Matthew Brown, Calum Murphy, Jack Clubb, Euan Robertson, Ryan McGregor, David Lamond (Justicia Bermarck 65), Kerr Whitefield, Lewis McKenzie, Anthony McGuire, Edward Hodges (Danny Whitten 55). Subs. not used: Cammy Locke, Michael Chan, Klark Thompson.

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BUCS Season 2016 – 2017: Match 3

Division 2A

19th October 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 2 ABERDEEN UNIVERSITY FIRST 0

The Watt’s long winless run in BUCS competition came to an end in this match – and in a way that suggests the corner may have been turned and we can expect more victories to follow.

Strangely, Watt led by two goals at half-time after a largely even first period, but in the second half which the home side dominated, no further goals were added.

The first forty-five minutes were largely a midfield battle during which Watt found it difficult to penetrate in wide positions. Adam Breen is not a natural winger and was tending to drift inside off his left-side beat, whilst Harry Warner was up against a quality full-back in Paul Spence and got very little change out of his opponent. Adam Woolven was in top form for the Watt and saved his side when he did superbly to block a shot from Sam Tofique and recover immediately to get to David Akpara and divert the ball behind before the winger could shoot.

Ten minutes before the break, Anton Dowds was quickly in on a defender who was trying to clear the ball and it sprang forward into the box. Robert Service was in the right place to collect it, round the advancing Jack Maclennan and stroke the ball into the net.

Six minutes later, the Watt added a second goal from the penalty spot. The Aberdeen central defenders were an uncompromising pair and were playing with a certain aggressive recklessness that boded ill for their chances of getting through the game without incident. When Service chased Warner’s through pass into the box, the best he could do was to get a touch which carried the ball through towards Maclennan, but Sam McLaren needlessly stepped across and bodychecked the Watt player so violently that Service admitted after the match that his neck was still sore from the impact he had taken on his jaw.

Dowds fired the penalty into the corner to the right of Maclennan to give the Watt a two-goal cushion.

Watt finished the half on the defensive, as Jordan Smith curled in a free kick from the right, but Head Coach Banji Koya had sent back Dowds to help defend the kick and this paid off when he got his head to the ball and Aberdeen was unable to convert the opportunity into anything tangible.

The second half consisted mainly of a succession of Watt raids and the creation of numerous chances, all of which were missed.

A well-judged pass by Andrew Imray found Finn Watt marauding down the right and he escaped the clutches of his marker to send the ball to the near post area, to where Warner had made a run, but from close range Warner’s touch was so slight that the ball slipped across goal and out on the far side. Dowds’ free kick to the far post was met by the head of Woolven, but the connection was not what he wanted and the ball came off Woolven’s shoulder and went past. Warner’s pass down the wing enabled Dowds to reach the by-line and send in a cross with which Adam Breen connected, but again the ball went across the face of goal and slipped past.

Craig Saunders had to be alert to prevent the visitors grabbing a goal back when Smith came in along the by-line and cut the ball back for Caleb Ogwura to shoot. Saunders dived low to his left to make a smart save. Smith created another dangerous moment a minute later, but Woolven was on hand to play the ball over the crossbar for a corner.

Service was becoming an increasingly influential figure and he set up the next Watt chance, driving through midfield to link with Dowds, who played the ball through for Breen, coming in at an angle, but his ball across goal was neither a shot nor a cross and passed between the goal and the incoming players. After another sweeping move, Dowds took the ball to the by-line and cut it back. Maclennan dived to push the ball out as far as Warner, who turned and tried to force it towards goal, but his effort struck Max Allison close to the goal line.

Watt survived a penalty appeal when Akpara seemed to be pushed as he closed in on the far side. Ogwura, who had been Aberdeen’s main threat in the first half, had been isolated by an adjustment to the Watt formation at half-time and was replaced by Craig Shanks.

Allison’s surprising acceleration caught out an Aberdeen defender and having won the ball, he advanced on goal. Breen was available to his left, but Allison was through on the goalkeeper and took the shot himself, curling it inches wide of the far post.

A powerful shot from the Aberdeen right flashed across the Watt goal, but soon Watt was back on the offensive, with Tom Maher getting into good position but shooting wildly. As the game ebbed to its close, the Aberdeen defence became ever more robust and there were cautions issued. Watt continued to press until the end but the finishing began to lack belief.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Craig Saunders, Finn Watt, Scott Munro, Andrew Imray, Adam Woolven, Chris Lane, Harry Warner (Callum Smith 76), Ryan Higgins (Max Allison 61), Anton Dowds, Robert Service, Adam Breen (Tom Maher 84). All subs used.

Aberdeen University First:
Jack Maclennan, Hamish Levein, Paul Spence, Jack Harkness, Sam McLaren, Joseph Walker, David Akpara, Andrew Shafik (Justin McByran 84), Caleb Ogwura (Craig Shanks 73), Sam Tofique, Jordan Smith. Subs. not used: Hamish Tubby, Paul Kirke, Ciaran Ellison.

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BUCS Season 2016 – 2017: Match 2

Division 2A

5th October 2016

ST ANDREWS UNIVERSITY FIRST 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 1

On a breezy day at the Fife seaside, St Andrews used their local knowledge to take an early grip on this game. Watt was playing up the slope with the sun in their eyes in the first half and the home side used the wind blowing across the park to grab two goals in the first quarter of an hour.

Watt attacked from the kick-off, but when the ball was won by St Andrews they attacked on the left. A diagonal ball over the heads of the Watt defenders found Alessandro Purelini, who cut into the box and used the wind to bring the ball inside the far post as he fired it past Jack Robinson into the far corner of the goal.

Watt tried to respond, with Scott Munro intercepting to find Anton Dowds on the left, but when he sent in a low centre, Callum Smith’s attempt at a shot was blocked.

St Andrews looked dangerous when they came forward and when they worked the ball in from the left again, it was Purelini once more who did the damage, securing the ball and turning quickly to send another curling shot past Robinson’s left hand.

Dowds was showing plenty of energetic endeavour in attack, but too often he had insufficient support. On the half-hour, however, Watt gained a corner kick on the right and Callum Smith, who had seen the effect of the wind, sent the ball curling towards goal, but home goalkeeper Alec Cadzow punched it off the line and Robert Service’s follow-up shot missed the target.

Playing with the elements in the second half, Watt began to push the home side back, but almost gave away another goal when an attempt to work the ball out of defence went wrong. Dowds had come short and sent an optimistic pass in the air towards Tom Maher at right-back. The ball dropped for St Andrews and only a good save by Robinson prevented a goal.

Dowds contributed more positively at the other end, sending in an accurate free kick which Cadzow dived to turn round the post. One corner was quickly followed by another and when this was taken, Cadzow allowed the ball to slip through his hands, precipitating a scramble amongst the crowd in the penalty area. Several Watt players came into possession, but there was no room to shoot and eventually Cadzow dived on the ball after Dowds tried to stab it beyond him.

As Watt maintained the pressure, they gained a succession of free kicks, but when one on the right broke down, St Andrews moved the ball quickly upfield. Max Allison got back at great pace to put pressure on Greg Egu’s shot and Robinson got his angles right to save.

With ten minutes left to play, Watt at last got the goal which put them back in with a chance. Chris Lane played the ball in from the right and Fraser Wilson hooked it past Cadzow into the far corner of the goal.

After the goal, Watt had a number of chances to secure a point from the game. Maher’s drive across the face of goal only needed a touch, but didn’t get one. Then, when Robinson launched a big kick down the left, Callum Gilchrist could only head the ball on into the path of Harry Warner, but when he squared the ball towards Wilson, he was unable to make contact.

Finally, with two minutes of stoppage time played, an excellent move on the Watt right ended with a cross by Allison. Dowds leaped high and sent a header off the underside of the bar and into goal, only to find that the referee had awarded a foul against him, alleging that he had leaned on the shoulder of his marker. Your correspondent is not impartial, but honestly had no idea what the free kick had been given for and had guessed at offside.

This produced a disappointing end to a disappointing day for the Watt. They hadn’t played well overall, but St Andrews were no better. There wasn’t much between the sides and overall a draw would have been a fair result, but there would have been no complaints about a narrow defeat apart from that late incident, which effectively meant that the referee had decided the outcome of the game. It is fair to say that throughout the game he had consistently awarded fouls for the most minor physical contact, so it was not altogether surprising to find him give a foul at any time, but there really seemed no reason to penalise Dowds, who seemed simply to have jumped higher than his opponent. His left arm had to be somewhere and the judgment seemed unfair.

Heriot-Watt University:
Robinson, Maher, Munro, Imray, Watt, Higgins, Smith, Lane, Dowds, Service, Breen.
Subs.: Warner, Wilson, Woolven, Allison.

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BUCS Season 2016 – 2017: Match 1

Division 2A

28th September 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 2 DUNDEE UNIVERSITY FIRST 2

This match was the first full-scale indoor game ever played by a Heriot-Watt University side. The new ‘Oriam’ pitch gave the players the experience of playing in perfect conditions: a completely flat surface with no weather conditions to affect the trajectory of the ball.

Observed from the seating area, Watt played from right to left in the first half and looked as if they needed a bit of practice in playing together. Dundee settled more quickly and took the lead when their striker managed to get his head to an attempted crossfield pass from Andrew Imray to Adam Woolven. All he then had to do was to run in unchallenged and stroke the ball past Jack Robinson.

Watt equalised from a good right-wing move. Anton Dowds had failed with a couple of previous chances, but this time he made no mistake, controlling the ball and steering it into the corner of the net.

Dundee was still playing the more cohesive football, however, and when Watt took the lead it was somewhat against the run of play. Dowds played the ball across goal for Callum Smith to get in ahead of his marker and prod home from close range.

The lead did not endure until half-time. Dundee’s number 12 made a good run on the right and fired the ball across goal for number 9, who had given the Watt defence plenty to think about during the half, to steer it into the corner of the goal from close range.

After the four-goal first half, the second period was something of an anti-climax, with no further scoring.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Jack Robinson, Finn Watt, Scott Munro, Andrew Imray, Adam Woolven, Sean Muhsin, Max Allison, Chris Lane, Fraser Wilson, Anton Dowds, Callum Smith. Subs.: Harry Warner, Adam Breen, Ryan Higgins, Tom Maher.
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BUCS Queen’s Park Shield: Quarter-Final

Albyn Park, Broxburn

2nd March 2016

EDINBURGH COLLEGE FIRST 4 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 2

A much-depleted Watt side took the field for this Queen’s Park Shield match at Broxburn, but got off to the perfect start with a fine goal in the first minute. Mark Hamill’s contribution was crucial; he won the ball with a good tackle, sped past a man in midfield and sent the ball forward to Bruce Hay. Hamill continued forward and after Hay’s touch he sent a first-time pass into the stride of Anton Dowds, who was moving towards the left. Dowds showed good strength and composure to hold off a challenge from the College centre-half and finish with an accurate low shot to the far corner of the goal.

Watt continued to look the more likely side and Dowds might have scored again five minutes later, but after sending a pass wide and getting into the box for the return, he delayed his shot slightly too long and the ball was deflected to the College goalkeeper.

Andreas Ppalis had a chance when Hay’s free kick picked him out not far from goal, but he was unable to generate enough power on his header to trouble the goalkeeper. Another chance was created when a good run by Sean Campbell took defenders away to enable Ppalis to send a disguised pass into the penalty box for the run of Adam Kerlin, but Kerlin had to stretch for the shot and sent the bal just past the post to the goalkeeper’s right.

After all this good play, Watt then conceded a goal when stand-in centre-half Ryan Higgins was penalised for a tug on a shirt and a penalty was awarded. Jack Robinson went the right way and made a good attempt to save the kick, but the College number 9 had sent the ball high to the corner of the goal and it eluded the ’keeper’s grasp.

Ten minutes later, things got worse for the Watt. Dowds appeared to be fouled near the touchline, but play was allowed to continue and the College 9 went on a run down the right wing. Several Watt players tackled him, but on each occasion, the tackle was inconclusive and the player in possession got the break of the ball to continue his run. Eventually he reached the penalty area and from a fairly tight position sent an accurate shot across Robinson to the far corner of the net.

Watt pressed for an equaliser and the College 6 headed a free kick just past his own post. From the subsequent corner, Campbell tricked his opponent and got in a cross, but Hay headed over the bar.

The situation got even worse for the Watt when Higgins lunged at a ball played across the goalmouth and sent it towards his own goal. Robinson had to move smartly to keep it out, but the next player to reach the ball was the College 8 and he hooked the ball towards goal. It struck the underside of the bar and fell over the line to put College 3 – 1 ahead.

It was Watt’s turn for a slice of luck and this came in the last minute of the half, when the College 11 tried to block a cross by Adam Kerlin. The ball spun over the head of the goalkeeper and dropped into the net to reduce the arrears to one.

After five goals in the first half, it was difficult to see the game going much further without more scoring, but the second half fell into a rut. For much of the time, the College side played defensively and wasted time where possible, but whilst it was clearly content to try to hold what it had, it was still capable of threatening on the break. Watt had a lot of the ball, but lacked the guile to penetrate the ranks of defenders.

There were some worthwhile efforts: Higgins won the ball with a good tackle, strode through the middle of the park and sent a fine pass to Dowds. Dowds seemed minded to go for goal himself, but such was the insistence of Hay that he passed instead, but the pass was overhit and Hay was obliged to shoot from too tight an angle and found only the side net.

Conor McKenna came on to replace Hamill and had a chance when a cross from the right found him in good position. He was able to gather the ball and turn, but his shot was palmed round the post by the College goalkeeper.

Dowds got behind the College defence but delayed his cutback too long and it failed to find a team-mate. Then Dowds played in Scott Munro with a good pass, but Munro’s low cross was turned behind by a defender.

In the last action of the game, Watt was caught on the break as it tried to push forward. The College 10 got ahead of Max Allison to slip the ball past Robinson as he advanced to make the final score 4 – 2.

Edinburgh College First:
No team lines received.

Heriot-Watt University:
Robinson, Kerlin, Hamill (McKenna 65), McIntosh, Higgins, Allison, Campbell, Munro, Ppalis, Hay, Dowds. All subs. used.

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BUCS Division 1A
24th February 2016

STRATHCLYDE UNIVERSITY FIRST 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 0

The Watt side which took the field at Stepps was unrecognisable from the first meeting of these sides on the 14th of October. There were only thirteen players in the travelling party and of those, the only ones who had taken part in the earlier game were Jack Daniel, Ryan Higgins and Adam Kerlin. There were starts for Toby Macintosh, Andreas Ppalis, Connor McKenna, Bruce Hay and Scott Munro, none of whom featured in the First Team in the early part of the season and the first three of whom made their next appearances in the Amateur side in the LEAFA match on Saturday.

At the end of the ninety minutes, the Watt had completed two league seasons in BUCS without recording a win. Given the makeshift nature of the side, this was no surprise, but in fact the Watt lads played pretty well. There was seldom any likelihood of scoring a goal, but at no point did it look as if the team was going to be soundly beaten and the players filling First Team shirts they never expected to wear gave of their best and let no-one down.

Early exchanges favoured the home side without much in the way of goalmouth incident and it took almost twenty minutes for a meaningful attempt on goal to be made. Then, Mac Duncan, looking suspiciously as though he might have been offside, got his foot to a ball coming over his shoulder and steered it towards goal, but Craig Saunders was down exceptionally quickly to make a smart save, blocking the ball with his right hand.

Over the next ten minutes, the Watt eased a little more into the game and suggested they were capable of creating a chance or two. Callum Smith made a good run towards the left side of the penalty box and it took the full length of Scott Litster’s leg to get a toe to the ball and prod it away for a corner before he brought down Smith. The corner kick was bent in superbly from the left and it took a good header off the line to prevent it going directly into goal.

On the half-hour mark, however, the home side took the lead. Two Strathclyde players made a drive through the centre of the Watt defence and the ball was poked past Saunders. As the goalkeeper looked round, he saw it strike the post to his left and long before he could get back, Hive Wilson had stabbed it into goal.

From that point until half-time, Strathclyde was well in control and further chances arose. Blair Shearer headed over from good position, then Nathan Leicester volleyed past the post from the edge of the area. Just before half-time, a cross from the right reached Michel Smith, but from just inside the box his firm header was directed a long way wide of the left-hand post of Saunders.

Watt regrouped at the interval and started the second half well, Toby Macintosh’s cross going just over the head of Smith. Connor McKenna reached the ball but was unable to control it for a shot.

McKenna, who had done well in his comeback after a long injury lay-off, was tiring fast and was replaced by Ruaridh Macvinish. Shortly after this, Smith also came off, Adam Kerlin taking his place. Before the reshuffled Watt side had a chance to impose itself, it conceded again. A free kick from the left was swung to the far side of the box where Litster had plenty of room to volley home from close to goal.

Saunders did well to prevent a third goal soon after, anticipating well at a corner from the left and moving across his goal to block a shot from point-blank range, but as a flurry of home substitutions interrupted the flow of the game, the time ebbed away. Macvinish started and finished the last chance, finding Macintosh with a good pass, but when the cross came in and it was headed out to the edge of the area, Macvinish’s volley was just too high.

Strathclyde University:
Rennie, Gray (Philp 80), Aubrey, Jamieson, Litster (Macinnes 80), Watson, Duncan, Shearer (Murtagh 74), Leicester (Robertson 68), Smith, Wilson. Sub. not used: Ralston.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Allison, Macintosh, Hume, Daniel, Higgins, Ppalis, McKenna (Macvinish 59), Smith (Kerlin 64), Hay, Munro. All subs. used.

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BUCS Division 1A
10th February 2016

ABERTAY UNIVERSITY FIRST 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 1

At Gussie Park, the Dundee United Football Academy ground close to Tannadice used by Abertay University for its home games, the atmosphere was tense as the locals sought the win which would give them the BUCS Scottish Conference championship for the first time. Perhaps we may excuse the over-excited condition of the home bench in the early stages, but the conduct was more like one would expect to find in an amateur league than in university competition and the visiting party clearly resented the discourtesy.

Abertay, with the incentive of a championship before it, was sharper and quicker to the ball throughout the game, but the Watt players stuck doggedly to their game plan and defended stoutly.

A corner after nine minutes gave the home side its nearest thing yet, as Gregor Anderson headed past, but Watt responded with a good move on the right, Jamie Hume’s accurate pass being well controlled by Ryan Higgins and a corner won.

Soon, however, the home side was driving forward again and tall, powerful right-back Sean Melvin drove the ball fiercely towards the goal from close to the corner flag. In truth, it was a speculative effort with no obvious clear purpose, but a startled Jack Robinson, at his near post, pushed the ball high into the air over his own head. When it fell towards earth, Murray Macintosh was first to reach it and headed in to give Abertay the lead.

Watt alarmed the home side fifteen minutes later, a well-directed free kick by Bruce Hay reaching the centre of the penalty area. Scott Davies ran in and threw himself forward for a diving header, but his contact was not quite right and the ball rose just over the bar.

With just a goal of advantage, Abertay remained on edge and four minutes from half-time came the equaliser they were dreading. Martin Green’s through pass was perfectly judged for Hay’s run. Hay got to the ball a fraction of a second before the outrushing Anton Mordente and sent the ball high over the goalkeeper’s head to drop under the bar and square the scores.

With Abertay’s pressing incentive driving them on, Watt was seldom seen as an attacking force in the second half. Dillan Duddy’s tremendous volley was matched by a superb diviing save by Robinson and the Watt goalkeeper then saved with his legs two minutes later when Duddy’s free kick was deflected. Anderson’cleverly headed a corner back across goal for his fellow central defender Cameron Williamson, but Williamson headed past the post.

Time was wearing on and although the Watt had survived a few close things, there hadn’t been too many and the belief was growing that at least a draw could be achieved, with the chance of a breakaway winner. However, Abertay striker Lewis Baker was continuing to make searching runs and he eluded Hume to run into the box. His shot from a tightish angle was blocked by Robinson and when he fired in the rebound, Woolven was on the line to play the ball away for a corner kick.

Abertay substitute Greg Fairweather headed a corner over the bar from good position three minutes later, but the Watt was beginning to take the opportunity to probe forward when the chance arose and gained a free kick when Scott Munro was taken late. This, however, was the team’s undoing, as Abertay, quick on the break and with the speedy and strong Baker leading the charge forward, had the resources to make an attacking free kick dangerous to take. When the Watt’s free kick was cleared, Abertay stormed forward, Baker reached the penalty area and stabbed the ball under Robinson for the goal the home side had sought. Cue wild rejoicing.

Watt almost destroyed the party atmosphere two minutes later, when Service chased hard to win a corner on the left. When the kick came in to the near post area, Ollie Spence got his head to the ball, but with insufficient force to take it into goal and it flashed across the goalmouth and past the post.

There was just enough time for an ugly collision of heads between two Watt players. Service was able to resume after the blood was cleared away, but Davies required more extensive treatment and was unable to return to play.

Abertay University First:
Mordente, Melvin, Wilson, Williamson, Anderson, Middleton, Mackintosh (Macrae 93), McCabe (Fairweather 69), Ross, Duddy (Braid 76), Baker. Subs. not used: Bews, Geekie.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Robinson, Higgins, Daniel, Hume, Woolven, Service, Campbell (Smith 84), Hamill (Spence 82), Davies, Hay (Macvinish 88), Green (Munro 45). All subs. used.

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BUCS Division 1A
3rd February 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 0 EDINBURGH NAPIER UNIVERSITY FIRST 1

The first half was an even contest in which Watt had the better of the play without looking very threatening, long-range efforts from Sean Campbell and first-team debutant Andreas Ppalis failing to stretch visiting goalkeeper Ryan Cooper. However, in the last minute of the half, Watt contrived to lose the goal which separated the teams at the end.

Adam Woolven unnecessarily conceded a corner, turning the ball behind rather than use his left foot to clear. He realised his error, but was made to pay for it when the corner was headed on at the near post and left-back Jack Blaikie headed home to give Napier the lead.

Early in the second half, a good shot on the turn by Callum Smith was well saved by Cooper and from the resultant corner, Jamie Hume got in a header with which the goalkeeper also dealt. Rob Service did well to collect a ball in midfield and send Bruce Hay away on the left, but Hay’s firm, low cross passed across the goal area without a Watt player being in a position to attack the ball.

Poor defensive work gave Sam Jones a shooting chance, but the ball was deflected behind. Then, after a pass down the left by Mark Hamill, Smith did really well to dispossess Euan Terry as he tried to shepherd the ball over the line. Smith cut inside and fired the ball in to the near-post area, where Cooper blocked with his foot. Watt recovered the ball, but when it came back to Smith, he somehow failed to get his shot away and the chance was lost.

A surging run on the right took Service towards the Napier goal and his pass found Anton Dowds in the penalty box, but Jean Dumartin got in a well-timed challenge to concede a corner kick from which Hume headed past.

Jack Robinson’s one-fisted punch on a dangerous cross cleared the ball from the vicinity of the Watt goal and Woolven’s fine pass sent Dowds away. Dowds exchanged passes with Higgins, who got past Dumartin and cut the ball back to Service, who was tackled in the act of shooting. Dowds picked up the loose ball and fired it towards goal from close range, but somehow it still stayed out, striking a player on the goal-line and rebounding into play.

When Napier broke clear again, a long ball downfield found Hume a little suprised by the pace of Jack O’Donnell and when the two players fell in a heap just outside the penalty area, there were calls from Napier partisans for Hume to be sent off, but those who were doing the shouting had clearly failed to notice Woolven, who had come across from the right and had taken the ball away just as the clashing players fell to ground.

Hume was again penalised close to the Watt penalty box two minutes later and when Cormac O’Brien played the ball into the goalmouth, Conor Scott headed just over the bar.

Watt stepped up the pursuit of an equaliser as the game drew towards a close. Sean Campbell found Dowds, whose shot was blocked, but when Service returned the ball to Campbell, his effort went into Oriam.

A free kick was played forward and Woolven, popping up on the left wing, sent across a dangerous low cross, but Scott Davies, not long on the field as a substitute, tried to control the ball instead of just diverting it towards goal and it ran out of play on the far side.

Another narrow defeat against a highly-placed team in Divison 1A – it’s the story of the Watt’s BUCS season.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Robinson, Allison, Hamill (Munro 70), Godsell, Woolven, Hume, Campbell, Service, Smith (Dowds 56), Hay (Davies 77), Ppalis (Higgins 56). All subs. used.

Edinburgh Napier University First:
Cooper, Terry, Blaikie, Gibb, Dumartin, Scott, Smart, Jones, Eadie (McCullach 82), O’Brien, Kelly (O’Donnell 60). Sub. not used: Murray.

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Queen’s Park Shield
27th January 2016

UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF SCOTLAND FIRST 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 1
Heriot-Watt won 4 – 3 on kicks from the penalty mark

A Watt side without regulars Jack Daniel, Cam Dunn and Connor Godsell struggled to overcome a spirited West of Scotland side in gloomy conditions at Toryglen Football Centre.

Watt was first to threaten, a corner from the left after ten minutes’ play being headed on at the near post by Rob Service for Bruce Hay, but the Watt striker sent his header straight at goalkeeper Jordon Roberts.

Danny Collins was a lively presence for UWS and his pace was troubling the Watt defence, particularly as the referee did not seem keen to make offside judgments. The UWS forwards cottoned on to this early in the game and made full use of it throughout, to the increasing frustration of the Watt defence.

Around the midway point of the first half, Scott Davies came closest so far to opening the scoring with a quick turn and strike from a narrow angle on the left. The direction was perfect and a goal would have been the outcome but for Roberts’ leap to divert the ball behind. Following the resultant corner, Ryan Higgins struck a firm shot from around twenty metres, but again Roberts was in good position to make the save.

The home side took the lead after twenty-six minutes through the industrious Danny Collins. Again there was a suspicion of offside when a rebound from the UWS half soared up the pitch and landed at the feet of the striker. He got in front of Jamie Hume, dragged the ball across the advancing Jack Robinson and tucked it away in the corner of the net.

Five minutes later, the scorer almost gave a reprise of his goal, but this time, although he again got past Hume, he was denied by Robinson, who came out quickly and spread himself at the edge of his area to gather the ball.

A good move on the Watt left created the next chance, with a good pass by Higgins picking out Davies, whose first-time cross would have been met by the head of Hay, had not Neil Stevenson managed to touch the ball with the top of his head and divert it over the Watt man.

Seven minutes before half-time, the Watt defence got in a dreadful tangle. Robinson tried to pass the ball out to a defender, but whoever he was trying to reach wasn’t on the same wavelength and the ball ran to UWS striker Ross Anderson, who played it into the box for Robbie Collins to attack. Adam Woolven got there first, but sliced the ball behind.

The next chance of note was created by Harry Warner, who executed some dazzling footwork in the left corner to leave a couple of defenders behind, then worked inside along the by-line. As so often happened during the game, however, the Watt player failed to find a colleague with his pass and a corner was the best that could be obtained.

As half-time approached, Higgins made a driving run towards the right side of the penalty box. He eluded a couple of tackles, but as he got within a foot of the line, Andy Stokes made certain that he went no further. The free kick by Mark Hamill curled round the wall, but went tamely into the arms of Roberts.

Watt started the second half in much livelier fashion, but when no breakthrough had been made as time wore on, a change was made, Martin Green replacing Warner. Very soon after this came a minute’s play which turned out to be decisive. Danny Collins, who was straying further and further offside as he continued to get away with it, ran on to a long pass. Robinson came out to the edge of his area and Collins chipped the ball over him. Robinson seemed to think the game had been stopped and made no attempt to chase the slow-moving ball, but it slipped just past the post and a goal-kick was the result. From the kick, Martin Green came into possession and made a strong run forward. When he was fouled as he approached the area, Hay took the free kick and curled it just inside the post to the right of Roberts.

Back on level terms, the Watt replaced Davies with Callum Smith and the substitute had an early chance, being put through on the goalkeeper by a pass from Higgins, but he shot much too straight and Roberts made the save.

Higgins was again in action a minute later, doing well to gather a clearance on the right wing and play the ball inside for Hume to nudge it past the outrushing Roberts, but Hume then ran out of space and the ball went past.

Tom Maher came on to replace Spence and the Watt, who had been playing with Woolven, Service and Hume as a back three, went to four at the back, full-backs Hamill and Max Allison dropping back, with Service joining Maher, Higgins and Green in midfield behind Smith and Hay. It was UWS which came nearest to a winning goal, however, when a cross from the left gave Robinson concern. It seemed to come off the bar, although the goalkeeper may have got a punch on the ball. As it came out of the penalty box, Green tried to turn an incoming player, but caught him on the ankle, with the result a free kick just outside the area. The kick was touched to the side, but the Watt players were alert to this and the attempted shot was charged down.

A final chance for the home side in the last seconds was smashed high and wide from a very acute angle by Anderson and we were into “kicks from the penalty mark” to decide the match.

Andy Murdoch went first for UWS and drove his kick straight down the middle to score. Ryan Higgins was the first Watt taker and blazed his kick high and wide. Chris Brown took a tidy penalty to put UWS two up, but Martin Green did likewise to make it 2 – 1. Ross Anderson sent Robinson the wrong way, but shot past the post and Bruce Hay’s authoritative kick squared it at 2 – 2. Luke Pye was next up for UWS and seemed to lack confidence. His weak kick was saved by Robinson diving to his left, but the referee offered him a reprieve by ruling that Robinson had moved off his line too soon. Pye’s second effort was struck almost straight but no harder and Robinson kept it out too. Mark Hamill gave Watt the lead for the first time with a lofted shot to the corner before Simon Cain kept UWS in it with a firm low shot. The tenth penalty was taken by Adam Woolven, who sent Roberts to the wrong side and found the corner of the net to give the Watt victory.

University of the West of Scotland First:
Roberts, Cain, Stokes, Pye, Stevenson, Murdoch, D Collins, Brown, Anderson, Murray, R Collins. Sub. not used: Corr.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Robinson, Allison, Hamill, Service, Woolven, Hume, Warner (Green 54), Spence (Maher 73), Davies (Smith 60), Hay, Higgins. All subs. used.

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BUCS Division 1A
20th January 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 2 EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY FIRST 4

Head Coach Ian Little has sprung some surprises in his team selections this season, but there has surely been none so startling as this one. For a match which surely had to be won if there were to be any prospect of retaining BUCS top-division status, the team which took the field could have been predicted by no-one. Certainly, Edinburgh Head Coach Dorian Ogunro must have been scratching his head in trying to identify some of his opponents – only three of those who started the reverse fixture in September were in the starting line-up for this game.

One was Rob Service, who has played little football this season, and all of it in BUCS matches, as he tries to recover from his knee injury. Using Rob in central defence rather than in a more demanding midfield role seemed a great idea when it was used previously, but on this occasion the midfielder playing in defence looked ahead to see two centre-backs playing as the central midfield pairing. Jamie Hume and Finn Watt have done sterling work in defence, but combining them in the middle of the park in this way and keeping Ryan Higgins on the bench was an act of some faith. Apart from the ever-reliable Adam Woolven as partner to Service in defence, Cam Dunn was the only player from the previous game against Edinburgh to start this match, and he was moved from left midfield to left-back.

Further forward, there were more surprises, with Martin Green and Bruce Hay, neither of whom has seen much first-team action recently, preferred to Harry Warner and Anton Dowds, with Connor Godsell also kept on the bench.

Despite the substantial changes of personnel, there was much about the pattern of the game to remind one of the previous encounter between these sides. Watt started brightly and pushed forward with Jamie Forsyth and Cam Dunn probing on the flanks and Scott Davies busy in the centre; but, as in the previous game, Edinburgh got stronger as the first half wore on and with less than ten minutes to the interval, took a decisive grip on the game with two goals in a minute. The first was down to a short passback to Jack Robinson and the alertness of the Edinburgh striker, number 18. Robinson attempted to kick the ball clear, but only succeeded in kicking it off the forward and watched in dismay as the rebound crept inside the post. The second goal was much more decisive, the Edinburgh number 7 coming in to meet a cross from the left with a firm header.

Davies tried to get the Watt back into the match with a typically determined run into the right side of the box, shrugging aside a defender, but his low cross eluded team-mates in the centre. Dunn brought the ball back inside and flicked it into a dangerous area, but once again no Watt player could reach it.

Finn Watt, continuing his recovery from a bad injury to his left knee, suffered another injury to the same area from a late challenge by the contentious Edinburgh number 8 just before half-time and was replaced by Anton Dowds.

Watt came close to falling further behind in the first minute of the second half when a shot from the edge of the area struck Robinson’s left-hand post and Woolven stepped in to clear, but eight minutes after the restart the visitors did add another to their tally. The Edinburgh number 18 went on a mazy run from midfield and although Allison tackled him on the edge of the box, he got the break of the ball to continue into the area and fire a left-foot shot past Robinson.

Before the restart, Warner came on to replace Hay, who had made little impact. Soon, a great piece of work by Dunn sent Warner away on the left to send in a fine cross, but there was no Watt player attacking the far post area.

With Godsell and Higgins providing fresh legs, Watt pressed forward and grabbed a goal back with a fine move. An excellent take, turn and pass by Dowds gave Warner the chance to stride into the right side of the penalty area, from where he sent a crisp low shot to the far corner of the goal.

This challenge seemed to rouse Edinburgh and a good move put number 10 in for a shot which Robinson turned over the bar. This was to no avail, however, as the corner from the right came off the thigh of Higgins and sat up nicely for the Edinburgh number 7, who drove it in to restore the visitors’ three-goal advantage.

Five minutes later, Watt brought it back to two again, Hume executing a well-judged over-the-shoulder header to meet a free kick from the right and wrong-foot the Edinburgh goalkeeper. After this, it was all Watt, but the domination came too late and the frantic attacking failed to produce any further goals. Davies’ clever cushion-header gave Warner a shooting chance which the goalkeeper turned behind; then Allison drove forward and laid the ball wide for Green to send in a cross which was cleared as far as Dowds, but his shot was blocked in a crowded area and Higgins despatched the rebound into Oriam. Higgins was fouled near to the area, but this time the free kick by Dowds found Oriam. Davies’ close-range header from Godsell’s quality cross was turned over the bar by the goalkeeper, who also got hands to Hume’s volley when Dowds headed down Green’s cross, before completing his work for the day by saving Warner’s shot from twenty metres.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Robinson, Allison, Dunn (Godsell 62), Service, Woolven, Hume, Forsyth (Higgins 62), Watt (Dowds 44), Davies, Hay (Warner 53), Green. All subs. used.

Edinburgh University First: no team lines received.

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BUCS Men’s Division 3A
2nd December 2015

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY SECOND 1 GLASGOW CALEDONIAN UNIVERSITY FIRST 2

If they ever need reminding of how frustrating a game football can be, Watt people who watched this match will think of it and remember the feeling. Caley started the match well and took an early lead, but after the Watt scored a well-deserved equaliser early in the second half, it seemed that the home side was by far the more likely winner. Having dominated the second half, however, Watt was caught out by a sucker punch late in the game.

The home side started sluggishly and fell behind after fourteen minutes when the defence made a poor job of trying to clear a corner and GCU’s number 6 found the corner of the net through a forest of legs. Two minutes later it could have been worse when Adam Kerlin’s rash challenge on the edge of the area resulted in a penalty to the visitors, but Elliot Redmile saved superbly from the GCU number 7’s kick, throwing himself to his right to turn the ball round the post.

Watt still didn’t get into their stride for some time after this, but eventually the team began to click. Adam Breen’s wonderful dummy gave Neil Robb the chance to burst through on the left, but his square ball was a little too firm and forced Elliot Sutherland wide, so that when he shot he could only find the side net.

Before half-time, Max Allison replaced Olly Spence, who had been unable to shake off a knee injury.

The second half belonged almost entirely to the Watt. Breen was brought down on the edge of the area soon after the restart and Sutherland’s free kick was turned round the post by the GCU goalkeeper. When Sutherland’s long corner was turned back to Andres Santa, the midfielder timed his shot well but his direction was out and the ball passed harmlessly past the far post.

Watt then forced a series of corners, culminating in Cam Dunn’s ball across goal being turned away for a corner on the right. When the corner came in, Breen made good ground across the box to send a low header into goal for the equaliser.

Scott Davies, Thomas Maher and Sean Campbell all came into the fray as Watt sought a winning goal. Campbell’s shot after an exchange of passes with Maher just missed the target, then the same player bored into the penalty box and fired in a shot which was deflected for a corner on the left. Campbell took the corner himself and curled the ball in at the far post, obliging a defender to head off the line for a corner on the right. Toby McIntosh’s corner to the near post struck a defender and the goalkeeper was able to dive on the ball.

A few minutes later, McIntosh got up well at the back post but sent his header just wide. The visiting goalkeeper had a stroke of luck when he escaped punishment after punching the ball away from outside his area, but was a bit less fortunate when he rushed from his goal to kick the ball away and his foot was stood upon. This caused the ‘keeper to hirple about briefly, but caused no lasting discomfort, so it was amazing to see him at the end of the match offering to fight the player he held responsible for his slight injury. If he cannot accept the knocks which happen in a contact sport without such a reaction, perhaps this player should consider taking up another game.

As the match entered its final minutes, GCU began to get forward a little more. Redmile saved well when the visitors’ number 9 sent in a good shot at the end of a smart move and then with three minutes left on the clock, disaster struck the Watt side. Breen got in a good block on the edge of the box, but the ball spun loose and as various players tried to get a touch, the GCU number 7 steered it past the advancing Redmile into the goal.

Watt did their best to grab another equaliser in the remaining moments, but it was predictably frantic. Allison made a great run off the right wing into the box, but waited too long to cut the ball back and there were plenty of defenders around to intercept. Caledonian’s number 8 was cautioned for taking out Allison on a run down the right and from the free kick, a corner was gained. Sean Campbell accepted the ball short and crossed to the far post, but although several Watt players, including McIntosh and Robb, launched themselves towards the ball, none made contact and it went out for a goal kick. In the last action of the game, Davies was brought down by the GCU number 2 on the left side. Kerlin’s free kick was a good one, but Robb had to lean back slightly to take the header and it grazed the bar as it went over.

Heriot-Watt University:
Redmile, Kerlin, McIntosh, Spence (Allison 42), Imray, MacDonald, Sutherland (Maher 63), Robb, Breen, Santa (Davies 56), Dunn (Campbell 63).

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BUCS Trophy – First Round
25th November 2015

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 1 MANCHESTER METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY (Cheshire) FIRST 4

This looked on paper like a tough draw for Watt, against the team in third place in the top division of the Northern Conference, and that impression was not misleading. Watt tried hard against a slick-moving MMU side and there wasn’t much between the teams, but in the end it could not be denied that the visitors deserved their victory, although a goal with the last kick of the game perhaps gave a misleading look to the final score.

Watt lined up with Jack Robinson in goal, Connor Godsell and Jack Daniel at full back; Jamie Hume was fit again after his long injury lay-off and partnered Adam Woolven in central defence; Ryan Higgins and Anton Dowds played in central midfield with Elliot Sutherland and Cam Dunn in the wide positions; and Bruce Hay was up front along with Scott Davies.

After a closely-contested half-hour of play which made good watching, the visitors went ahead in thirty-four minutes. The goal had a touch of good fortune about it, with the shot from the MMU number 6 taking a deflection and looping over the head of Robinson into goal.

Before half-time, Watt was back on level terms. The ball was worked in from the right and Dunn slipped it through to Hay, who placed a precise shot past the goalkeeper from quite a tight angle.

The second half belonged mostly to the ‘ManMet’ team, who went ahead five minutes after the restart when their number 9, a striker of some quality, accepted a pass to find the corner of the goal. In sixty-five minutes the same player made it three for the visitors, converting a dangerous low centre from the right back.

A flood of substitutions followed, disrupting the flow of play, and this may have been the reason for so much stoppage time being played. This brought an unfortunate ending to the game for the Watt. Woolven was adjudged by the referee to have fouled a player in a position that prevented a goalscoring opportunity and was sent off. The MMU number 9 took the penalty and struck the ball to the left of the diving Robinson. The ball struck the inside of the post, shot across the goal, hit the other post and finished in the arms of the surprised but grateful goalkeeper. Watt came close after a quick break upfield when substitute Fraser Wilson accepted a pass from Mark Hamill to drive into the box and slide a shot across the goalkeeper but just past the post, but there was a further sting in the tail as MMU substitute number 12 tapped the ball into goal when the number 9 cut the ball back from the line in the fifth minute of stoppage time. The ball had no sooner reached the net than the referee blew for full time.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Robinson, Godsell (Kerlin 72), Daniel, Woolven, Hume, Higgins, Sutherland (Warner 72), Dowds (Wilson 83), Davies (Green 65), Hay, Dunn (Hamill 65). All subs. used.

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BUCS Women’s Division 3A
11th November 2015

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 21 QUEEN MARGARET UNIVERSITY FIRST 0

Remarkably, in view of the scoreline, the comment from Watt Coach Banji Koya after this match was that the Queen Margaret side wasn’t by any means as bad as the score makes it appear. The Watt side, however, was ruthless and very efficient at converting its chances.

In training, Watt had been working at getting the ball into wide positions and attacking the box to meet crosses – and no fewer than fifteen goals came from that route.

Rebecca McArthur filled her boots with a double-figures personal haul. How many times in a career can anyone claim to have done that? Rachael Connor chipped in with another five goals, Emily Reynolds bagged three and there were two each for Marz Roberts and Suzanne Macdonald.

When the BUCS table is finally updated to show this result, the Watt team will be up to third, three points behind Edinburgh Napier First with a game in hand.

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BUCS Men’s Division 1A
11th November 2015

STIRLING UNIVERSITY SECOND 4 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 2

This game, played on the Gannochy synthetic in rain which varied from heavy to very heavy, was a big disappointment for the improving Watt side, which deserved better than a two-goal defeat.

The side which started for the Watt was a real makeshift effort. Both Rob Service and Adam Woolven, the central-defensive pairing which had served the Watt so well against Abertay in the previous match, were unfit for this fixture, the previously ever-present Woolven having sustained an injury in training. Jack Daniel was moved into the centre with Ryan Higgins alongside him. With Liam Walker and Elliot Sutherland also missing from the side, there was a start in attack for Bruce Hay, scorer of the Watt’s goal in the Abertay game and Portuguese midfielder Rodrigo Almeida, who provided a bright cameo in a late substitute appearance in that match, gained his first starting berth.

There was no scoring in the first half, although Daniel Fitzpatrick had a great chance for Stirling when the ball bounced through to him from a throw-in on the left. Fitzpatrick took a step back to make quite sure of his aim, then sent a shot across goal past the post to the right of Craig Saunders.

Almeida showed lots of skill and endeavour and his good ball control set up a chance for Hay, but his shot, although accurate, lacked the power to beat Tim Hughes.

Just before the interval, Watt had a real scare when Martin Green accepted a short pass-out from Saunders and passed the ball straight to Stirling striker Rory MacEwan on the edge of the penalty area. MacEwan tried to curl the ball round Saunders, but the Watt goalkeeper presents a formidable barrier and he was able to block the ball away and let a defender clear it.

Three minutes into the second half came a game-changing incident which left the Watt seething over its injustice. Fitzpatrick cut in from the right and sent in a shot which Saunders, diving low to his right, saved superbly. The ball, however, shot up against the arm of Higgins, who was standing in very close proximity. Higgins had no time to move and his arm was across his chest – and after striking him, the ball was nudged into goal by a Stirling player anyway – but none of those facts counted.

The referee was an old friend from East of Scotland football, John Weir, but he responded in a most unfriendly fashion. It is uncertain whether the referee had already decided to penalise the Watt player or whether he reacted to the interference of the Assistant Referee, who raised his flag, but although the ball had gone into goal, the decision was a penalty and a dismissal for the distraught Higgins, who was sent off for standing still in the wrong place.

We have often commented on this site about the unfairness of the current application of the rules about handling and the deleterious effect it is having on the game. This was the most glaring example of our experience to date. We have never seen a player sent off for taking less action or for less of an attempt to influence play. Players cannot be expected to make their arms disappear and sending them off for happening to have arms is destructive to the spirit of the game.

None of this was of concern to Malcolm Burgess as he struck the penalty kick high into goal to put Stirling ahead.

Five minutes later, with the Watt still groggy and trying to adjust to having lost another central defender, Burgess increased the home lead, accepting a pass from the left and drilling a shot past Saunders from the edge of the area.

Having suffered these severe setbacks, the Watt players gritted their teeth and fought their way back into the match. Mark Hamill started it off with a good run into the box and a shot which Hughes, diving low to his left, managed to get enough of a hand on to send the ball off the post and behind. The corner was met by Anton Dowds with a firm header into the net.

Five minutes later, the ten men brought the scores level. Hay was fighting a losing battle with two Stirling defenders, but managed to hold up the ball for long enough for Almeida to arrive. Almeida nipped the ball away and as defender and goalkeeper hesitated, Almeida got a foot in to lift the ball over Hughes and then followed in to make sure it entered the goal.

Watt was in full cry now and when Cam Dunn’s good run on the left ended in a low cross, a Stirling defender, in trying to block it, fell over in the penalty box and the ball struck his upper arm. It was quite correct that he was not penalised, however, as he clearly did not play the ball intentionally.

Stirling pressed back strongly and Fitzpatrick went down the right, carrying the ball momentarily over the sideline, but being allowed by the Assistant to continue his run and win a corner. From this kick, the ball was delivered beyond the far post and contested by Connor Godsell and Harry Ball-Lindsay. The players cancelled each other out and the ball fell between them. Godsell lost sight of it, enabling Ball-Lindsay to strike a fierce drive towards goal from just a few metres out and to hold his head in disbelief as he saw Saunders react instantly to turn the ball round the post.

Watt never did manage to get the ball back over the half-way line, however, and eventually another corner delivered into a similar area was headed in by Liam Allison to put the home side ahead again. Once again, the Assistant’s mistake was decisive – though this time it was a lack of action.

Goals in this match came in braces and having scored once, Stirling was bound to score again. Five minutes later, the Watt defence gave the ball away and Burgess came into possession on the edge of the area. His finish was masterly, body movement deceiving Saunders before he stroked the ball into the corner of the goal.

There were further chances close to the end of the match and Saunders further distinguished himself with a double save before Watt substitute Scott Munro had a clear opportunity on the left side of the area, but failed to shoot first time and was tackled before he could get his shot away.

Stirling University Second:
Hughes, Greig, McAnespie, Mooney, Ball-Lindsay, Monro, Fitzpatrick, Hunter, MacEwan, Burgess (Shiells 82), Allison (Collins 78). Subs. not used: McCaughie, Halley, Keane.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Saunders, Godsell, Hamill, Higgins, Daniel, Dowds, Davies (Kerlin 55), Green (Allison 86), Hay (Spence 74), Almeida (Duffy 86), Dunn (Munro 78). All subs. used.

Referee: Mr John Weir (Denny)

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BUCS Men’s Division 1A
28th October 2015

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 2 ABERTAY DUNDEE UNIVERSITY FIRST 2

It’s a funny old game, Saint. Having performed miserably last week to make it four defeats in a row in Division 1A, the Watt put on a spirited performance against the unbeaten table-toppers and came within half a minute of securing the victory.

At the start of this game, we had the unexpected sight of Rob Service lining up at centre-back alongside Adam Woolven. This turned out to be a very smart move, giving the still-recuperating Service a break from the constant hard graft of a midfield berth, providing for Woolven a skilful and dependable partner, releasing Jack Daniel to play left-back and allowing Cam Dunn to move forward. From the start, the Watt looked the sharper side, with Dunn causing anxiety with darting runs on the left and Elliot Sutherland, restored to the side on the right wing, always liable to do the unexpected.

Dunn created a chance after twelve minutes with a fine run which carried him inside to thread a pass through for Anton Dowds and when he was tackled, Scott Davies gathered to give Sutherland a clear run through on goalkeeper Cameron McPherson. Sutherland, however, shot straight at McPherson and the goalkeeper gathered easily.

Two minutes later, the Watt got a huge break, courtesy of the Abertay defenders. Dowds had tried to tiptoe through the middle of the visitors’ defence and when he was tackled, the ball ran through towards goal. Abertay left-back Frankie Lannen steered the ball back towards McPherson only to find that the ‘keeper had come up behind him. The ball trickled gently into the corner of the net to give the Watt the lead.

Six minutes later, Abertay got an equaliser that also had an element of good fortune about it. After a sustained attack on the left, the ball was worked inside and laid back for midfielder Stewart MacRae to strike. There was a crowd of players in the penalty box and the ball struck one of them and deflected out of the reach of Jack Robinson into the corner of the net.

Abertay had started the game lethargically, but this goal seemed to give the side a big lift and suddenly the visitors started to show some of the form that had given them so much success in previous matches. MacRae was a dynamic force in the middle of the park and Lewis Baker a threat in attack. David Geekie, a skilful midfielder, went on a mazy run six minutes from half-time, taking him all the way to the Watt penalty area before a tackle set the ball back for Pillan Duddy to strike. His curling effort came off the outside of the post on its way past.

The weather was never pleasant at any time during the day, but for the second half it was especially dismal, with heavy rain a feature throughout.
Both sides found it harder to create clear-cut chances in the early part of the half, but around the hour mark Duddy knocked the ball down for Baker in a central area. The ball bounced high, however, and the striker was unable to generate much power in his shot. Shortly after this, a superb pass by Dunn and a well-timed run by Davies gave the Watt striker a run in on goal, but he had a fair amount of ground to cover and with McPherson advancing quickly and Davies running full tilt, it was a hard one to judge. At the critical moment, Davies lost his footing and was unable to get his shot away.

Davies had another chance a few minutes later, going down the right to connect with a through pass. Although Mark Hamill was in good position to his left, Davies fancied his chances with the shot, but he missed the target by a foot or so.

MacRae then came in from the right and drove in two shots, both of which were blocked, and when the ball came back to Duddy, Robinson had to be smartly out to block the ball behind.

With seven minutes left on the clock, the Watt retook the lead with a goal of high quality. Hamill’s pass down the left was precisely weighted to connect with Davies’s run and enable him to play the ball into the middle first time. The cross was perfect, passing between defender and goalkeeper to enable Bruce Hay, who had only been on the pitch as a substitute for three minutes, to steer a volley with the inside of his right foot into the corner to the left of McPherson. Beautiful!

Four minutes later, as Abertay pressed forward in quest of an equaliser and the game became very loose, Watt had a glorious chance to wrap up the win. Davies and Hay broke upfield with only a single Abertay defender for company, but when Davies slipped the ball through to Hay, his attempt to curl the ball past the goalkeeper’s left hand was woefully underhit and McPherson was able to get a hand to the ball. As the ball ran free, Davies managed to get his foot on it, but under heavy pressure was unable to direct it towards goal.

It was a crucial missed opportunity, as two minutes later, Service halted an Abertay attack with a foul thirty metres from goal and Baker thundered the free-kick in off the underside of the bar. Half a minute later came the final whistle.

This was a much better performance than any the Watt has previously given in BUCS competition this season, but the side must learn how to maintain a lead. Twice the Watt lads went ahead in this game and twice they were pegged back six minutes later. If this habit can be cured, there is some prospect of an improvement in the league position.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Robinson, Godsell, Daniel, Woolven, Service, Higgins, Sutherland (Hamill 65), Green, Davies, Dowds (Almeida 16), Dunn (Hay 80). Subs. not used: Imray, Munro.

Abertay Dundee University First:
McPherson, Williamson (Melvin 61), Lannen, Picher, Anderson, MacRae, MacKintosh, Geekie, Baker, Duddy, Wilson (Grant 61). Sub. not used: Otto.

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BUCS Men’s Division 1A
21st October 2015

EDINBURGH NAPIER UNIVERSITY FIRST 3 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 1

After losing an early goal and fighting back to equalise before half-time, Heriot-Watt slumpted to another defeat with a limp second-half performance. By the end, the result could have been much worse had not Jack Robinson in the Watt goal turned in a fine display.

The Watt lost an early goal when Cam Dunn was adjudged to have fouled Matt Fraser on the Napier right and the free kick was powerfully headed into goal by Jack Blakey.

Watt seemed to have equalised when a good pass by Anton Dowds was hooked past Ryan Cooper by Cammy Stevenson. Fabian Sta did supremely well to get back quickly and hook the ball away from the goalmouth, but the ball did appear to be fully over the line and it came as a surprise when the assistant referee kept his flag down and no goal was awarded.

Five minutes later, Watt did produce an equaliser. Stevenson’s corner from the left was headed away at the near post and Dunn advanced quickly to strike a firm, low shot which took a deflection on its way through the crowd in the penalty box, but continued on its way into goal.

A cute dragback by Pat Kelly gave the Napier winger the chance for a shot from the edge of the area, but from a standing position he drove the ball a yard over the bar.

Jack Daniel got in a good block to stop a further attack by the home side and Watt broke quickly, with Mark Hamill cutting in from the left and sending the ball curling on a trajectory which would have taken it just inside the far post, had not Cooper dived to touch it round the post.

Watt had a huge let-off when Zander Murray wriggled his way into the box and sent in a low shot. Robinson was quickly out to block with his legs, but the rebound went straight to Chris Eadie. With the goal gaping, the Napier striker took the ball on the volley and missed the target.

Robinson saved again before half-time when Fraser profited from Murray’s set-up work to shoot from the edge of the area, but the Watt goalkeeper was quickly down to his right to save.

Dunn then made a great run out of defence, going all the way to the penalty box and getting his shot away, but when it was blocked behind, the half-time whistle sounded before the corner could be taken.

The second half started unpromisingly for the visitors when Robinson was called into action in the first minute, diving to turn Eadie’s shot round the post. Napier had brought on two substitutes at half-time, Jamie Smart replacing Fraser and Christopher Price replacing Rees Dalby.

The latter move enabled Michael Gibb to be pushed forward and this had a profound effect on the game. Gibb’s pacy, searching runs were a big feature of the second half. He showed his danger with a run to the by-line and a dangerous cutback which eluded the strikers but was picked up on the right, eventually leading to a pass inside by Smart which was nudged towards goal by Murray and dribbled just past.

Four minutes later, Gibb reprised his earlier run, leaving Connor Godsell in his wake. This time, however, he cut inside and sent a right-foot shot curling high into the top corner of the net, giving Robinson no chance.

Murray had been a danger to the Watt defence throughout and he made a threatening break on the right, taking a pass on the half-volley, but driving his shot across goal and past. Rob Service was most unfairly dealt with, receiving a caution for the second of two excellent challenges which were both wrongly penalised and shortly after he and Martin Green were replaced by Jamie Forsyth and Sean Campbell.

Watt looked short of ideas and energy and Dowds provided an example of this when he was caught dallying on the ball and Napier poured forward in numbers, Robinson rescuing his side again with a fine save when Murray turned on to his left side and sent in a rasping shot. Gibb got to the by-line again and cut the ball back for Sam Jones, but he shot wildly.

Adam Kerlin replaced Hamill and was soon involved in the action, hooking the ball into the box to match Stevenson’s run, but it was a hard one to convert and the shot went into the ground, enabling Cooper to save easily.

Eventually, with five minutes remaining, Napier sealed the win with a third goal. This one was characteristic of Watt’s day, as a pass struck the referee and fell to a Napier player. The home side had plenty of men forward and the ball was worked through for Murray to tap in.

Another comment on Watt’s afternoon came in stoppage time when Godsell, who had never stopped trying to make a contribution to the attacking effort, cut inside, exchanged passes with Forsyth and sent a left-foot shot off the inside of the post with Cooper rooted to the spot. The ball then shot across goal and was turned behind out of harm’s way.

Edinburgh Napier University First:
Cooper, Sta, Gibb, Dumartin, Blakey, Dalby (Price 45), M Fraser (Smart 45), Jones, Eadie, Murray, Kelly (J Fraser 83). Sub. not used: Terry.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Robinson, Godsell, Dunn, Woolven, Daniel, Higgins, Hamill (Kerlin 78), Service (Forsyth 70), Stevenson, Green (Campbell 70), Dowds. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr Gary Mackenzie

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BUCS Men’s Division 1A
14th October 2015

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 1 STRATHCLYDE UNIVERSITY FIRST 3

Watt confirmed in this match that BUCS 1A football is going to be a struggle this season. Strathclyde was the tighter side throughout and after being three goals down at half-time, Watt might have taken a heavier beating. There may be some consolation in having stopped the rot and improved the score in the second half, but Strathclyde seemed content at that stage to hold what they had and always appeared to have something in reserve.

In the early stages of the game, there were hopeful signs, with a decent effort from Jamie Forsyth skimming the bar and Scott Davies getting in two shots in quick succession, Mark Hamill having supplied the link. Rob Service had the best chance of all when a free kick played low through the Strathclyde defence bounced up ahead of him, but he couldn’t get the necessary purchase on his shot and Adam Rennie was able to make the catch.

When this early surge passed, the visitors were able to make their greater cohesion tell and with twenty minutes on the clock Michael Smith opened the scoring with a curling right-foot shot after Blair Shearer and Nathan Leicester had combined on the left to secure the ball and play it inside.

A poor clearance might have given Watt the chance to level, Ryan Higgins sending a header through to Fraser Wilson, but he was quickly challenged and when the ball ran to Davies, his shot went across the goalmouth rather than towards goal. A superb ball by Adam Woolven then picked out Adam Kerlin on a run down the right, but the low cross was cut out by a defender.

Mac Duncan had a free run on goal from the left, but his attempted chip was easily picked out by Jack Robinson. Then, seven minutes from half-time, came another of those incidents we so often fulminate against. An attempted shot struck the arm of Jack Daniel and the result was the award of a penalty and a caution for the defender.

As we have so often said (just as often when the decision has been in our favour as when it’s been against us), the instructions nowadays given to referees about handling offences are stupid, illogical and radically unfair. A player who is making an honest attempt to play the ball is now penalised because in making his challenge he hasn’t considered the positions of his arms and brought them to a disposition the football authorities consider “natural”, which is approximately by his sides – the most unnatural position possible. If it happens twice, the player is sent off, despite having done nothing intentionally against the spirit of the game. With this in mind, a player will often now try to challenge in the box with his arms behind his back, which is a ludicrous precaution to have to take. This interpretation of the rules is doing much to ruin matches and is now causing forwards to aim for the limbs of opponents as hockey players do.

Anyway, the result of this referee applying the rule as he’s been taught is that Leicester fired in the penalty and the Watt’s hopes were fading fast.

A minute before half-time, bad went to worse as a ball across the face of the Watt goal was turned in by Duncan to make the half-time score 3 – 0 to the visitors.

With Cammy Stevenson on for Wilson, Watt surged forward. A foul on Stevenson gave the Watt a free kick in a promising position, but the adrenalin was coursing through Stevenson’s body and he struck the free kick into Oriam.

The forward momentum didn’t last long and amidst a welter of substitutions the game became fragmented. Strathclyde threatened occasionally, with Hamill stepping in to thwart Duncan in one raid and Leicester heading a Kris Gray cross past in another.

With less than twenty minutes left to play, Watt got the encouragement of a goal. Higgins made a run into the left side of the penalty area and a clumsy challenge from Martin Kollveit brought him down as he neared the goal. Not that we like to harp on about such things, but it is interesting to note that although Daniel was automatically cautioned for something over which he had no control, Kollveit was not sanctioned for bringing down a player about eight metres from goal with only the goalkeeper to beat. Dunn’s penalty kick was saved by Rennie, diving to his left, but the rebound was tucked away into the other corner by Dunn.

There was no real threat of a Watt revival and the nearest thing to another goal came just a couple of minutes from the end. Stevenson came into possession on the edge of the box and eluded two defenders to get to the by-line and turn the ball across for Davies, but although near to goal, Davies was so closely marked that he was unable to get in an effective shot.

There is still a lack of cohesion to the Watt’s play and it may be asking too much of Rob Service and Jamie Forsyth to expect them to dominate in midfield whilst still making their ways back from serious injuries. Anton Dowds seemed like a good man to have in reserve, but when he made his entrance with almost a third of the game still to play, he didn’t seem to get sufficiently involved and played much too deep to make a significant contribution to the effort of getting the Watt back into the game. Ryan Higgins was his usual busy self, but needs others with similar commitment and energy alongside him.

Cam Dunn was by far the most potent attacking force for the Watt in this game, but all the attacking players seemed to get isolated, making it easy for the Strathclyde defence to pick them off.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Robinson, Kerlin (Godsell 86), Dunn, Woolven, Daniel, Higgins, Davies, Service (Dowds 66), Wilson (Stevenson 45), Forsyth (Green 75), Hamill. All subs. used.

Strathclyde University First:
Rennie, Gray, McInnes (Aubrey 80), Kollveit, Jamieson, Watson, Shearer, Smith, Leicester (Robertson 85), Hansson (Cogan 60), Duncan (Morrison 68). Sub. not used: Comrie.

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BUCS Men’s Division 1A
7th October 2015

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 1 STIRLING UNIVERSITY SECOND 2

Playing on Pitch 1 in weather which ranged from light drizzle to steady downpour, Watt gave an indifferent performance, but might well have taken something out of this game.

After a downbeat start to the match, Watt had a couple of half-chances. Anton Dowds used the run of Jamie Forsyth as a decoy and put Mark Hamill in on the left with a reverse pass, but Stirling goalkeeper Tim Hughes was out quickly to narrow the angle and make the save. Hamill had another shooting opportunity a minute or two later from Fraser Wilson’s chest layoff, but this time he fired high and wide.

With eighteen minutes played, Stirling took the lead. A low ball in from the right skidded past the players in the middle and reached the unmarked David Collins, who drove the ball under the diving Craig Saunders.

A poor clearance by the Watt goalkeeper almost cost a second goal seven minutes later. Saunders rushed off his line to try to remedy the situation, enabling Collins to head over his hands, but Adam Woolven had spotted the danger and covered behind to sweep the ball away for a corner.

Stirling’s tall, strong midfielder David McCaughie was an influential force and his shot through a crowded box was turned behind by the diving Saunders. This came at the start of a period of fragility for the Watt. Woolven’s vigilance was required to deal with a dangerous cross from the left, then Liam Allison brushed past the right side of the home defence to cut the ball back to McCaughie, but the big man’s shot was unexpectedly weak and Saunders was able to grasp the ball as he came back across his line. Shortly after this, McCaughie had another effort from twenty metres, but although he struck the ball more firmly this time, his shot was sliced and missed the target.

Seven minutes into the second half, Watt’s best move of the match by far produced a fine equaliser. Good sharp passing on the left enabled Hamill to send a perceptive curling pass across the Stirling defence. Forsyth couldn’t quite make up the ground to strike the ball first time, which meant that he had to take the shot from a tighter angle than was ideal; nevertheless, he drilled an accurate shot across Hughes into the far corner of the net.

Watt came desperately close to effecting a complete turnround in the game with another goal a minute later. Hamill caught a defender napping and cleverly played the ball into a position from which he could shoot with his next touch. As Hughes advanced, Hamill sent a well-judged chip over his head, but the goalkeeper did supremely well, reacting instantly to stretch back and get just enough glove on the ball to carry it over the bar. It was a sensational save and one which in all likelihood made the difference between defeat and victory for his side.

Just four minutes after this, Stirling regained the lead. The ball broke to Allison on the left and his low drive carried too much force for Saunders to hold it. The ball spilled invitingly in front of Lewis Hunter, who only had to tap it into the vacant goal.

There weren’t many goalmouth incidents in the last half-hour of the game, although Ryan Higgins came perilously close to scoring at the wrong end when he tried to direct a header back to Saunders and headed just past the post instead.

Adam Kerlin replaced Forsyth and for the last ten minutes of the game we had a first glimpse of Jacob Duffy. The youngster looked lively too and with five minutes left to play, Watt should have had a penalty when a good header on by Wilson was anticipated by Duffy, who touched the ball past a Stirling defender and was then taken out of the play. For some reason unknown, the referee did not consider this a foul and Stirling held on to take the points.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Saunders, Higgins, Dunn, Woolven, Daniel, Service, Hamill, Green, Wilson, Dowds (Duffy 79), Forsyth (Kerlin 70). All subs. used.

Stirling University Second:
Hughes, Greig (McFadyen 83), Mooney (McAnespie 28), Monro, Lynch, Ball-Lindsay, Hunter, McCaughie, Collins, Halley (Underhill 59), Allison (Corrin 90).

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BUCS Men’s Division 1A
30th September 2015

EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY FIRST 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY FIRST 0

Watt could consider themselves a little unfortunate to find themselves behind after a first half in which they had created several good chances but just failed to score, then lost a goal in stoppage time at the end of the half. By the end of the game, however, there was no doubt about the better side and Edinburgh deservedly took the points.

The first chance of note came in the tenth minute, when Ryan Higgins took advantage of a mistake in the centre of the home defence, but his pass to Cam Dunn was too far ahead of him and Dunn was obliged to stab the ball past the advancing Calum Davidson, but in doing so played the ball over the by-line.

Edinburgh had a threatening attack in the following minute. Calum Murray, whose pace and power were a menace to the Watt defence throughout, got past Adam Woolven. Jack Daniel blocked his shot and Peter Mair fired the rebound over the bar.

A few minutes later, a free kick played in by Cammy Stevenson was flicked on by Anton Dowds, but Dunn’s stabbed shot lacked belief and dribbled past the post.

Jack Duffy headed a cross from the right just past as Edinburgh responded. Fraser Wilson then sent in a good right-footer from twenty-five metres, but a subtle pull on his arm just before he took the shot disrupted his aim and the ball went just past.

Wilson had a better chance shortly after this as he caught Jamie Jackson dawdling on the ball and robbed him on the edge of the penalty area. With just the goalkeeper to beat, Wilson took the ball on too far and struck Davidson with his shot. He got the ball back on the rebound, but by this time he was too tight to the by-line and in trying to turn the ball into goal, struck the outside of the post.

The shooting power of the tall, strong Mair was a threat for ‘Burgh and he fired in another effort from Jack Daniel’s poor clearance, but the angle was tight and his shot went over the bar. Murray’s searching cross created a difficulty for the Watt defence; Daniel got his head to the ball but couldn’t get much purchase and when it returned to playing height, Duffy hooked it over the bar.

A low cross from the right asked a question of the Watt defence but Woolven, running towards his own goal, coolly cleared the danger with a backheel to Rob Service. Watt progressed upfield and Service combined with Dowds to attack the centre of the home defence and when Dowds confused Jackson with a stepover too many for the liking of the defender, he felled the Watt man to concede a free kick, but Stevenson shot wide.

Towards the end of the half, Edinburgh attacked on the left. Higgins went to challenge but was unlucky with a ricochet which allowed Duffy to continue into the area where he was clumsily brought to earth by Adam Kerlin. Scott McCrorie-Irving fired the penalty firmly towards the corner of goal to the left of Craig Saunders, but the Watt goalkeeper dived to save superbly, getting a strong hand to the ball and pushing it away towards the corner flag.

McCrorie-Irving sought to compensate for his failure from the spot and when he tricked his way past Woolven, was brought down on the edge of the box, some fifteen metres from the corner flag on the Edinburgh right. Woolven made amends, however, with a good clearance when the free kick was played in.

There was plenty still to happen in a first half which included three minutes of stoppage time. Watt had their closest thing yet after an excellent move; Dowds inventively flicked the ball through for Stevenson on the right side of the box. Stevenson, with his back to goal, still had plenty to do, but he did it well, turning sharply to lose his marker and driving a superb shot across Davidson. Unfortunately for the Watt, the ball thumped off the underside of the bar and fell for the defenders.

In the last action of the first half, a free kick was conceded on the Edinburgh left. Ross Paterson played it in over the Watt defensive wall and as players ran across the line of the ball without anyone seeming to get a touch, the ball dipped sharply and went under Saunders into goal.

Nine minutes into the second period, Watt came desperately close to an equaliser. Stevenson set the ball back for Higgins on the edge of the area and his low shot slipped inches past the post as Davidson stood rooted to the spot in the middle of the goal.

That was the Watt’s last real chance to get back into the game. A free kick which hammered off the underside of the Watt bar and bounced down not far from the goal-line was a warning. Paterson then struck a first-time shot just over the bar. Then, half-way through the second period, the home side scored a second goal.

An Edinburgh attack on the left seemed to have fizzled out, but the Watt defenders gave the ball back and when it was played low into the centre, David Oswald found himself in isolation to tap in from close range.

Watt gave some game time to Callum Smith and Bruce Hay, but there were no further attempts of note on either goal.

Edinburgh University First:
Davidson, Thomson, Murray, Irvine, Jackson, Maelger (Verkaik 70), McCrorie-Irving, Mair, Duffy, Oswald, Paterson. Subs. not used: McIntosh, Aitken, Evans, Mortimer.

Heriot-Watt University First:
Saunders, Kerlin, Hamill, Daniel, Woolven, Higgins, Stevenson (Hay 70), Service (Green 62), Wilson, Dowds (Smith 70), Dunn. Sub. not used: Forsyth.