Under-20s Match Reports

Season 2017 – 2018: Match 3

Lowland & East of Scotland Development League

13th October 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 0 BSC GLASGOW 1

BSC arrived at Riccarton with the confidence of a hundred per cent record from six League and Qualifying League fixtures, although the Glasgow side was beaten in the Scottish Youth Cup by another Development League side, Edusport Academy.

Despite its emphatic win the previous week, this is still a Watt side very much in the construction phase and although there could be few complaints about the result at the end of the game, it is encouraging to know that the team is already capable of coming close to a team that has started the season so well.

The visitors started on the front foot and an angled shot from George Prince tested Alex McMahon in the fourth minute, before Matthew Beckett volleyed over from Callum McKenzie’s cross.

Reece Craig, who is settling in well to the right-back berth, sent an accurate cross-field pass to Cammie Ross to enable him to close in on goal, but his shot across Daryl Smith lacked power and the goalkeeper gathered.

Liam Hutchison did enough to put off McKenzie as he tried to judge a chip over McMahon and the ball went wide. Watt responded quickly and Thomas Rietvelt’s fine pass inside the full-back gave Matthew Law a chance to cross, but he didn’t get enough height on the ball to clear the first defender.

Another through ball by Rietvelt was played on by Mark McGovern to Ross and he went past his marker, but sent the ball across goal with such velocity that no attacking player could reach it. A shot from distance by a BSC player was gathered at the second attempt by McMahon as the game continued goal-less.

Craig’s splendid pass down the right enabled Law to find McGovern inside, but his full-blooded drive cleared the bar by some distance.

Two minutes after this, and five before half-time, came the game’s only goal. A long ball downfield was contested in the air by McKenzie and Ion Diamantopoulos, but the players cancelled each other out and the ball went on into a gap in the middle of the Watt defence. Renee Chung had anticipated this and ran on to beat the advancing McMahon and place the ball in the corner of the net.

BSC went looking to add to this lead and McKenzie worked some space to drive in a shot from twenty metres, but McMahon saved comfortably. Watt’s reply was a thrust on the right and when Chris Macher’s pass reached Law, he did well to flick it over his head and stab the ball inside towards McGovern, but Smith was quickly off his line to gather. Harry Barclay then sent across an inviting low cross which ran to the far side of the goal, from where Law, speeding in, drove in a fierce shot which was deflected behind.

Jackson Barker tried a left-foot shot following a throw-in soon after half-time, but there wasn’t enough power in the effort to trouble Smith. Then, after a sweeping cross-field move, Ross laid the ball back for Barclay to send it a cross which was turned behind by a defender.

Chung came close to doubling his contribution just after this, accepting the ball from a throw-in on the BSC left and sending in a shot which clipped McMahon’s right-hand post on its way past.

McMahon’s long kick was well controlled by McGovern, who got away a shot which Smith spilled, but there was no Watt player close enough to take advantage and the goalkeeper quickly dived on the loose ball.

The table-topping visitors put the Watt defence under some pressure for a spell and Liam Hutchison’s timely challenge on McKenzie prevented him shooting from good position, but the striker did manage to fire the ball through a group of players a few minutes later, finding McMahon alert to save low to his left.

As the game neared its end, a corner from the left gave the Watt an opportunity to create a shooting chance. The ball fell to ground amongst the players in the penalty box, but although Ross got in two shots, both were blocked and in the end the BSC defence was able to clear the ball out of the danger area.

This game against the league leaders perhaps came a little too early for the developing Watt side, which seemed to become anxious quite soon after half-time. Against the Watt’s usual style, they played a lot of balls over the top later in the game and the visitors’ defence simply stepped up and caught the Watt’s forward players offside time after time. Nevertheless, there were good performances from several home players, which will encourage the coaches for the programme ahead.

Heriot-Watt University:
McMahon, Craig, Barclay (Boulstridge 87), Hutchison, Diamantopoulos, Rietvelt (Wilson 52), Law (Hogg 68), Macher, McGovern (Dowds 794, Barker, Ross (Logan 78). All subs. used.

BSC Glasgow:
Smith, Graham, MacIntyre, Dunlop, Wilson, Hughes, Chung (McDowell 86), Irvine, Beckett, McKenzie, Prince (Gallagher 88).

Referee: Mr. Danny MacKinnon

.

Season 2017 – 2018: Match 2

Lowland & East of Scotland Development League

6th October 2017

BURNTISLAND SHIPYARD 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 9

The final score in this game makes it appear that the Shipyard side is a poor one which would have trouble winning a game in the Development League. Not at all: Burntisland is a capable, alert side which passes the ball well and has already won its Qualifying League section and two matches away from home to occupy a mid-table position in the League, but a certain defensive vulnerability made the Shippy side prey for a Watt attack which hunted like a pack of hungry wolves for much of this game.

By the time the Watt opened the scoring in eight minutes, two presentable chances had already been missed, Ion Diamantopoulos heading just past the post from a corner and Chris Macher, another of the new recruits to the squad, shooting past the post on the turn after a penalty-box scramble had seen the ball hit the post twice. The opening goal, when it did arrive, came from a right-side move, with Mark McGovern, who seems to have added extra pace this season, driving past his marker to play the ball low across the penalty box for Cammie Ross to finish at the far post.

Five minutes later, however, the home side scored a quality equaliser. A fine cross from the right wing bisected the Watt central defenders and Reece Brown dived forward to head the ball into the corner of the net.

It took the Watt five minutes more to score again and this time two goals in three minutes from Macher gave them a lead on which to build. A corner on the left was taken short to Ross, who sidestepped a defender, made his way into the box and curled a shot for the far corner. When this effort was blocked, Macher was on hand to turn in the rebound. Then Harry Barclay received the ball from a throw-in and sent in a splendid cross which Macher rose to head past Craig Richardson in the Shippy goal.

More goals might easily have followed quickly. A glorious dummy by Ross was read by Barclay to enable him to make ground on the left before playing the ball inside to Ross and when he was tackled, McGovern snapped in a shot which Richardson held above his head. Then Diamantopoulos, who was showing excellent passing ability, sent a pass to the feet of Ross, who sent in a head-height cross which McGovern, close to goal, just failed to reach. Burntisland was still passing the ball well and mounted a good attack which provided a shooting opportunity from thirty metres, but Alex McMahon confidently held Fraser Gallagher’s drive.

The last eight minutes of the first half brought a bit of a collapse from the home side as Watt scored three times more to establish a winning lead. Barclay found McGovern, who slipped the ball between full-back and central defender for Ross to collect it and slide it past goalkeeper Richardson to put the Watt 4 – 1 ahead, then Barclay again linked with McGovern, who showed strength to shrug off a challenge by his marker and fire the ball across Richardson to the far corner. With the home defence rocking, McGovern then put Jackson Barker in on goal with a back-heel and Barker finished comfortably to make it six for the visitors.

After the rush of goals at the end of the first half, the second started tamely. Perhaps some of the hunger had been sated, but the Watt side, although still playing well enough, was less incisive for a time. Quarter of an hour in, a chance arose when McGovern drove the ball across goal from the left; Richardson dived to palm the ball away to the far corner, where Watt substitute Matthew Law collected, moving inside to cut the ball back to McGovern, who by this time had taken up a position near the penalty spot. A first-time shot was required, but McGovern took a touch, enabling a defender to divert his shot behind.

Three minutes later, Burntisland gained a corner kick and when the ball was played in, Hutchison, finding himself on the wrong side of the player who rose to head it, gave him a little nudge and the referee blew to award the Shippy a penalty kick. To some, the award may have seemed a little sympathetic to a side on the wrong side of a mounting scoreline, but there is no doubt that however slight the push, it completely spoiled the heading attempt from close to goal, so although not all referees would have given the penalty, it was fair. McMahon got a slight touch on Robbie Gibson’s kick, but was unable to keep it out and Shippy had a goal back.

With the usual second-half succession of substitutions taking place, the game became a bit disjointed for a time, but Barker and Ross did combine in an attack of note, Barker’s shot being blocked by Richardson towards Law, who drove the ball back across goal. Barker fired it over the bar, but was given offside in any case.

A deep corner by Ross reached Reece Craig, who struck the ball well but just missed the target, before Watt made another substitution: Tom Rietvelt, another youngster who is quietly but effectively playing himself into familiarity with his role in midfield, was replaced by Ronan Dowds, yet another of the new recruits, but that rare commodity nowadays – a striker. Within a minute, Dowds had the opportunity to mark his arrival with a goal, but having been played through and judged (perhaps wrongly) to be onside, he rounded Richardson and shot past the empty goal.

It was a bad miss, but to his credit, Dowds did not let it affect him and took the other chances that came his way. His arrival had signalled a reawakening for the Watt, which was now pushing forward again with renewed purpose, but when another goal arrived it had little to do with the visitors. Ben Saunders, twenty metres from goal, played the ball back to his goalkeeper. The ball was travelling on a line which would have taken it just past Richardson’s left-hand post, but the goalkeeper, being right-footed, moved to his left to control it. Unfortunately, his first touch only managed to divert the ball just inside the post for an unlucky own goal.

Five minutes later, and seven minutes from full-time, the Watt came up with the first goal of their own making in the second half. McMahon’s accurate kick found Ross on the left and his chest lay-off to Barker sent him down the wing to exchange passes again with Ross before squaring the ball for Dowds to knock home from the edge of the six-yard box.

After a first half in which he had looked constantly threatening, Ross had spent much of the second half trying things which hadn’t come off, but he was back in gear now and in the closing stages of the game he made several trademark runs into the danger area to set up opportunities for his side. The first arose from an exchange of passes with Diamantopoulos following a set piece. Ross went on a slalom run, cutting in from the left, but perhaps went further than he needed to before getting his shot away and sent the ball into the side net.

In the last minute of the game, Ross reprised his mazy run, but this time sent the ball across the face of goal to where Dowds waited for another close-range finish to complete the scoring.

A glance at the scoreline is enough to confidently predict that the Watt management team was happy with the performance, but there were many aspects of this game which would have given satisfaction to Banji Koya and Craig Walkingshaw. Despite the loss of two goals, the defence looked capable and composed, with Alex McMahon giving a confident display, full-backs Reece Craig and Harry Barclay defending well and getting forward at every opportunity and Liam Hutchison forming a promising partnership with Ion Diamantopoulos. In midfield, Chris Macher and Tom Rietvelt were good partners for the more experienced Jackson Barker and in attack Justin Hogg and Cammie Ross provided plenty of inventiveness and thrust to support Mark McGovern, who has a look of great determination about him.

The great thing is that so many of the successes are new players to the side: Diamantopoulos was a particular success, showing a range of passes which gained him such instant respect from his team-mates that it was clear that they were looking to supply him with the ball, with which he was clearly to be trusted. Rietvelt, Hogg and Macher look reliable and workmanlike, and Macher also showed he carries a goal threat; Greig Boulstridge, who we saw only for ten minutes as a late substitute, certainly has a good touch and Ronan Dowds, despite his glaring miss, may just provide us with what all Watt sides have been lacking for some time – a penalty-box striker who is on the spot to finish the close-range stuff that at the moment flashes back and forth across goal without anyone putting a foot to it. With two close-range finishes in this game, Ronan is off to a good start. And let us not forget Reece Craig, who, although not a new student, had limited opportunities last season but has started this time round in a new position looking confident and dependable.

There are yet more good prospects waiting in the wings for the International Clearance mills to grind them through, so in the weeks to come, further talent will become available to add to the quality of what is already looking like a very capable squad. The coaches will hope that some of those players are available for next week’s test against table-topping BSC Glasgow.

Burntisland Shipyard:
Richardson, McLaren (Dunsmore 54), McCann, Gallagher (George 64), Cusick (Gibson 54), Jordan Galloway, Hynd (Akbar 64), Brown, Johnathan Galloway, Saunders, Fisher (Paterson 45). All subs. used.

Heriot-Watt University:
McMahon, Craig, Barclay, Hutchison, Diamantopoulos, Rietvelt (Dowds 74), Hogg (Law 51), Barker, McGovern (Boulstridge 79), Macher, Ross. Sub. not used: Scott.

Referee: Mr. Alan Budd

.

Season 2017 – 2018: Match 1

Scottish Youth FA Cup

29th September 2017

St MIRREN 4 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 0

Heriot-Watt’s third foray into the Scottish Youth Cup brought its first away tie and the tough assignment was to take on top SPFL Development League side St Mirren, who had beaten Heart of Midlothian by three goals to nil in a League match earlier in the month. The venue for the game was the Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie.

The first shot of the game, with a minute on the clock, came from Cammie Ross, the Watt striker taking the ball on the half-volley from twenty metres, but he was unable to generate good enough power or direction to trouble Saints’ goalkeeper David Wilson.

After that, the game soon adopted the pattern which characterised most of the play, with the professional youth side seeing most of the possession and the Watt players working like men possessed to close down space and put pressure on the ball. With fifteen minutes played, a shot from distance by Evan Horne just cleared the bar, but a minute later the Watt wasn’t so fortunate. A cross from the left to the near post found players of both sides challenging in the air and the ball shot into the Watt net off the head of Chris Lane.

A foul on Ross on the Watt left gave an opportunity to play the ball into the penalty box and Aidan Quinn got in a good header which Wilson dived to his left to keep out.

Five minutes from half-time, Saints added to their tally with a well-engineered goal, working the ball in from the right side for striker Lewis Morrison to apply a composed finish.

St Mirren might have added a third goal before the break, but when Samuel Jamieson sent in a fierce angled drive, Alex McMahon dived to his right to make an excellent save.

After Saints winger Matthew Reilly was cautioned for dissent over a trivial midfield incident just before the break, it was unexpected to see all three St Mirren coaches waiting to ambush the match officials on their way to the changing rooms in order to harangue the referee about the incident.

The second half started with St Mirren applying pressure and McMahon saved with his legs as Jamieson cut in from the right. Lane, who was showing great quality in the Watt midfield, went past several tackles before being fouled, but the free kick came to nothing, Aidan Quinn reaching the ball just before it crossed the by-line but being unable to retrieve it.

Lane, again showing the confidence to carry the ball, made another fine run through midfield and linked with Ross, who was brought down around half-way, but again the Watt was unable to fashion a shooting chance from the free kick.

Just on the hour, Saints put the result beyond any doubt with a third goal. It had a good slice of fortune about it, with a ball played in from the right breaking off a defender, but when it fell to Jamieson, he made no mistake, firing it confidently into goal.

McMahon made another good save when the tricky Reilly cut inside and drove in a shot. McMahon got both hands to the ball to turn it over the bar.

Despite the amount of running and covering they had done, the Watt players were showing no sign of flagging and in the seventieth minute a sublime long pass by Lane found Ross on the left touchline. Ross showed a fine piece of skill to leave a defender trailing and sent the ball in towards goal. From such an angle, it would have been an audacious shot if that were what was intended, but whatever Ross was attempting, he came very close to scoring, the ball going over the hands of Wilson and off the face of the bar. Mark McGovern, who had replaced Matthew Law a few minutes earlier, moved in to try to steer the ball in, but it went spinning away close to the by-line. McGovern reached it ahead of Dylan McKendry and drove it in towards goal. The angle was too tight and it would probably have hit the post had it not deflected off McKendry’s leg and gone into the side net, although this was missed by the referee, who awarded a goal kick.

Quarter of an hour from time, St Mirren added a fourth goal with another good move, this time from the left, and again it was Morrison who was in position to finish. The amateur side might have been expected to crumble at this point and concede some more goals, but to the Watt’s great credit, the players kept going right to the final whistle. Three minutes from the end, Reilly went on a mazy run infield and linked with Jamieson, who struck the crossbar with a fierce shot, but that instance apart, there were few alarms for the visitors’ defence as they saw out the game without further concession.

St Mirren:
Wilson, Miller (Breadner 32) Barclay, Erhahon, McKendry, McDonald, Jamieson, Glover, Morrison (King 75), Horne, Reilly. Subs. not used: Henry, Cameron, Little, McFarlane.

Heriot-Watt University:
McMahon, Craig, Barclay, Hutchison, Quinn, Rietvelt, Law (McGovern 62), Lane (Diamantopoulos 67), Barker, Ross, Scott (Hogg 36). Subs. not used: Macdonald, Dowds, Boulstridge, Harkness.

Referee: Mr. Ross Anderson (Motherwell)
Assistant Referees: Mr Alex Bebbington, Mr Callum Tennock

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 28

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

23rd May 2017

EAST KILBRIDE U20 5 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 1

To conclude the season, Watt had the daunting task of facing the champion side on its own ground ahead of the trophy presentation. The final score may suggest that the game was one-sided, but the damage was all done inside a seventeen-minute spell in the second half, during which East Kilbride scored four times. That period apart, Watt played well, although it has to be admitted the team ran out of steam to some extent when it came under heavy pressure after half-time.

This had always looked a tough fixture, but the loss of Aidan Quinn to injury on Friday evening and the subsequent illness of Matthew Law put the tin hat on it for Head Coach Banji Koya. Watt travelled with fourteen players, the starting line-up including Lewis Tod and Greg Benson, neither of whom has seen much action this season. There was an even more inexperienced bench in Ben Atkinson, Marc McCall and yet another debutant, Ali Basheikh.

Nevertheless, Cammy Ross was just a little nearer to fitness, Jackson Barker and Mark McGovern have been in good form and Finn Watt had sufficiently recovered from his knock on Friday to play, so Watt started the match with a well-balanced side, even if it was a bit fragile.

Watt began promisingly, with Tod heading Ross’s cross just past after two minutes’ play and Benson coming even closer seven minutes later, popping up in the inside-right channel to chip the ball across goal past goalkeeper Craig Melrose, only to see it pitch on the line but just on the wrong side of the post.

The cracks began to show after twelve minutes, when Tod, out for most of the season due to health issues, sustained a knee injury and had to be replaced by Marc McCall. The new entrant almost immediately made a telling contribution with a fine tackle to halt a dangerous attack.

The home side opened the scoring in the twentieth minute. The Watt defence had coped well with an attack and had cleared the immediate danger, but when the ball came to Josh Beattie in the middle of the pitch, twenty-five metres from goal, he struck a low shot which cannoned off the inside of the post to Craig Saunders’ right and finished in the opposite corner of the net. It was a great strike.

Watt continued to take the game to the champions whenever possible and although when Ross cleverly dummied his marker to cut in to the edge of the box his shot lacked the power he sought, it was a sign that the visitors carried a threat. Three minutes later, that came to fruition with a quality equaliser which drew generous applause from the home support as well as the visitors. Ross came back into midfield to collect, performed a handbrake turn, shimmied past two challenges and laid the ball to his right to McGovern. His through pass was inch-perfect for the well-timed run of Barker and the midfielder steered the ball accurately past the advancing Melrose to find the corner of the net.

Watt continued to look dangerous in their forward forays and Ross came close to playing in Benson, but the alert Jack McMahon cut out the danger. East Kilbride then applied a sustained period of pressure which the Watt defence withstood competently, the ball finally being driven across goal and past.

The visitors ended the half well, a good spell starting with Ross Fraser’s interception at pace to start a move which ended with Harry Barclay playing in Ross for a shot on target which forced Melrose to turn the ball over the bar. A few minutes later, McGovern’s beautifully-flighted free kick found the head of Benson as he rose in good position, but agonisingly for the Watt support, the ball went just past the post.

The second half began with Stephen Docherty on for East Kilbride in a left-wing position and he made a significant contribution, showing good feet and pace which made life difficult for Fraser. To bring further grief to the Watt right back, Morgan Smith also began to make driving runs down the left and twice in the early minutes of the half, Martin Beattie came close from chances originating in this quarter.

There was no mistaking that the home side had increased the tempo from the start of the second half, but Watt’s play had sagged as well, with crisp passing being replaced by a more laboured and less accurate variety. It appeared inevitable that East Kilbride would score, but when the goal came, it seemed to be the result of sustained pressure rather than anything worked. There were plenty of home players in and around the penalty box as the ball was played inside. Watt came to clear, but the ball spun away from him and he couldn’t get much connection. It was knocked forward again and broke for Ross McNeil, who found himself right through on Saunders. He took the ball past the left hand of the goalkeeper and slid it into goal.

Five minutes later, with the Watt players beginning to look weary, the game was over as a contest. An exchange of passes in midfield was not covered and as the ball was played in to the edge of the area it again fell between two players and ran for McNeil, who was in the clear again and placed the ball into the corner of the net to Saunders’ left.

Another goal came seven minutes later and once more McNeil was the scorer, looking slightly offside as he trapped the ball on his chest to fire past Saunders. It was now a question of trying to keep the score down as far as the visitors were concerned, but five minutes later, with the defence continuing to look ragged, Docherty cut inside from the left and tucked the ball inside the post to make it five for EK. With fifteen minutes still to play, further goals looked likely, but suddenly Watt got a grip again. The passing was a lot more accurate in the last period, with the introduction of Basheikh in midfield helping to steady the visitors. The new lad was stepping into a tough situation for his first appearance, but he coped well.

There was no way back into the game for the Watt, but they managed quite effectively to take the sting out of proceedings for the last quarter of an hour and to keep the rampant home side under some sort of control. To manage to fulfil the fixture in the circumstances, on a date after the end of the University year, and not to suffer an even heavier defeat, seemed like something of an achievement for the last game of the season.

East Kilbride:
Melrose, Robertson, McMahon (Dunn 61), Kidd, Smith, Anderson, Caig (Craig 75), M Beattie, McNeil, J Beattie, Khanna (Docherty 45). Subs. not used: Harrison, Bell, Tough, Davidson.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Fraser, Barclay, Hutchison, Imray, Watt, Tod (McCall [Basheikh 71]), Barker, Ross, McGovern, Benson. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Michael McCart (Bothwell)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 27

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

19th May 2017

EDINBURGH CITY U20 0 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 2

Close to the end of the season it may be, but the Watt Under-20s were still sharp and eager in this fine win at Portobello High School over an improving Edinburgh City side. The victory pushed the Watt back up to third position in the league table, but was achieved at a cost, as there were injuries to two key players who are both now likely to be ruled out of Tuesday evening’s final game away to champion side East Kilbride.

Watt moved the ball well from the start in this game and almost went ahead after six minutes when Robert Wilson, the ‘find’ of the latter part of the season, played in an excellent low cross from the left. Ross Fraser came in at the far post, but a defender did just enough to prevent him squeezing the ball home.

The Watt was playing an experimental 3 – 5 – 2 formation, with Matthew Law partnering Mark McGovern in attack, and it was Law who set up another chance a few minutes later, playing the ball inside to meet the run of Harry Barclay, but the first-time shot was just wide of the post.

At the end of a mazy run into the heart of the home defence, Fraser played the ball through to McGovern, but his shot on the turn was covered well by Jack Blaney, who blocked it behind. When McGovern’s corner came in, the ball found its way to Aidan Quinn at the far side for a shot on target, but goalkeeper Fraser Morton managed to get some part of his anatomy in the way to prevent a goal.

A minute later, a long kick-out from Callum Reid bounced into the stride of Jackson Barker as he ran into the left side of the penalty area, but he didn’t get the contact he wanted on his shot and Morton gathered easily.

After this early Watt domination, City had a spell of attacking in the middle of the half and Charlie Stewart fired a shot into the side netting before two Watt defenders collided, letting Frazer Paton accelerate into the penalty box, sidestep a challenge and send a fierce drive off the face of the bar.

This was a warning for the visitors and they soon resumed the offensive, Andy Imray sending in a shot from distance which cleared the bar by a foot.

Seven minutes from half-time, Watt supporters groaned as Quinn, the inspiration for so much of the good play seen during the season, sustained a foot injury and had to go off. He was replaced by Cammy Ross, with McGovern dropping into a midfield role – which, as it turned out, was a master stroke. The pace of Blaney had denied McGovern easy opportunities in attack, but he played superbly in midfield, regularly picking out raking passes to prime the pump for Watt attacks.

Just after the start of the second half, Watt suffered another blow when Finn Watt, another contender for a central defensive berth at East Kilbride, suffered a recurrence of a previous knee injury and was replaced by Grégoire Dawirs.

Amongst his many attributes, Ross has an uncanny knack of making defenders forget where he is and when a pass reached him a minute later, we were surprised to see that he was in the middle but the two central defenders of City were spread wide. It is clear that Ross has some way to go yet before achieving full fitness and he wasn’t as quick as usual in gathering the ball and carrying it to a shooting location, meaning that he had to get the shot away sooner than he would have liked and he failed to beat Morton. At the other end, Reid was in good position to save a shot on the turn from Callan White.

As the teams vied to get the elusive opening goal, City brought on Tod Rodwell and Tommy Duncan as replacements for Chris Jack and Domenico Pacitti, with Rodwell quickly earning a caution for a late challenge on Wilson, but a third change was soon forced on the home side when White suffered a bad injury, again a repetition of a previous problem, which left him on the sidelines in considerable pain.

Under-20s’ captain Imray has played every minute of every game to this point in the season and had played centre-half without suffering a single caution until he gathered the most bizarre booking of the season. Up with the attack for a free kick, he was called for offside, but when he turned to run back to his position, goalkeeper Morton kicked quickly placed the ball and kicked it against the back of his legs. Although Imray had not lost any time in getting back towards his defensive position and had done nothing to delay the restart of the game, and although the goalkeeper had not actually wished to play the ball beyond him, the referee chose to interpret this as a cautionable offence.

A minute later, the frustration of this unfair event was forgotten as Watt made the breakthrough. McGovern’s diagonal pass landed right at the feet of Ross on the left and in one movement, he controlled the ball and moved it forward. A glance showed Law at the far side of the penalty area and when Ross picked him out, he drove the ball low into the net.

Watt immediately went looking for a second goal, Dawirs and Wilson combining in a fine move on the left through a crowded area of the pitch to provide the ball for a cross which Law fired just past the post. Two minutes after this, however, a second goal did arrive. Fraser pounced to win the ball on the right and quickly transferred it to Ross on the edge of the area. Ross didn’t look short of pace as he played the ball into the box, reached it before the advancing Morton and slammed it past him for his twenty-fourth goal for the Under-20s this season and his thirty-third for the Club overall.

Greg Benson had a run out for the final phase of the game, replacing Wilson, who had put in a strenuous shift in midfield, but Benson’s first involvement was a rash one, conceding a foul a few metres outside the area on the City right. Rodwell sent in a tremendous free kick which looked destined for the top corner of the goal, but Reid was not prepared to give up the clean sheet and threw himself high to his right to make a superb save, turning the ball over the bar.

Rodwell was a lively influence and another shot a few minutes later was carefully watched past by Reid, but the Watt soon surged forward again and another excellent McGovern pass picked out Ross on his left-wing beat. Ross held the ball up until Barker arrived at pace and when the ball came inside, Barker stabbed it past a covering defender into the box, but got just too much pace on the ball and Morton collected.

When apparently trapped at the corner flag, McGovern gave us a tailpiece to his fine performance with a brilliant piece of work to create space for a dangerous cross which found no takers; then Barclay, who had treated us to several jinking runs into City territory, also gave us a final encore.

Finally, Watt missed a gold-plated chance to add to the winning margin when Ross collected with only one defender between him and the goal. He set off on a run to the left, dragging his marker with him, as McGovern ran clear to his right. Ross’s pass was ideal and nothing would have been more fitting than that McGovern should put a cherry on the top of a great performance, but he seemed somehow to get the ball too far back in his stride. He rushed his shot as the sound of pursuit became clearer and the ball flew over the bar.

No great matter – the points were safe and a clean sheet preserved. It was just a pity about those two injuries.

Edinburgh City:
Morton, Balaban, McClung, Watson, J Blaney, Hastie, White (P Blaney 68), Stewart, Paton, Jack (Rodwell 57), Pacitti (Duncan 57). All subs. used.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Hutchison, Barclay, Imray, Quinn (Ross 38), Watt (Dawirs 47), Fraser, Barker, McGovern, Wilson (Benson 81), Law. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Laurie MacKinnon (Bathgate)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 26

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

12th May 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 1 UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING U20 1

Watt’s last home game of the season was a well-fought draw. Stirling had inflicted Watt’s heaviest defeat of the season in the reverse fixture and their side was strengthened for this match by the inclusion of Lowland League players made available due to fixtures in that League being complete. Watt was again struggling for numbers and there was a debut as substitute for Daniel Faber, who has impressed with the Amateurs and also as a member of the “ Freshers’ ” team which gained BUCS promotion as Heriot-Watt Sixth. Robert Wilson retained his place in midfield and Matthew Law and Gregoire Dawirs started in wide midfield, with Cammy Ross, now free from suspension but not yet fully fit, leading the line.

Watt started off in positive fashion and Law was close to clipping the ball past goalkeeper Owen Klijsen in the fifteenth minute, but the goalkeeper was close enough to get in a block.

The Watt took the lead after twenty-one minutes with a piece of pure Ross skill. Wilson’s slick turn and accurate pass found Ross in plenty of space, with the home central defenders well split. As Klijsen came quickly from his line, Ross coolly chipped the ball over his head and into the empty net.

Aidan Quinn, playing in midfield, almost broke through for another effort on goal a few minutes after this, but a well-judged tackle by Jack Mooney halted the move.

Stirling full-back Angus Mailer tested Callum Reid with a long-range effort which the Watt ’keeper turned round the post and the visitors maintained the pressure for a spell, Rory MacEwan getting the break of the ball on the edge of the penalty area but pulling his shot across the face of goal. Quinn was caught in trying to sidestep a Stirling forward on the edge of the area just after this, but fortunately for the Watt, Andy Imray was alive to the danger and came to the rescue in time to prevent serious damage.

Two minutes from the interval, Watt had a chance to go further ahead. Ross took a severe dunt as he gathered a pass on the right, but kept his balance and brought the ball in along the bye-line. As he tried to get into position for a shot, he was tugged by a defender and a penalty was awarded. Ross took the kick himself and struck it firmly and close to the left-hand post of Klijsen, but at a convenient height for the goalkeeper, who dived full-length to turn the ball round the post for a fine save.

The second half was much more of a strain for the Watt players. MacEwan signalled the shift in the balance of power with a splendid run in the second minute after the break, reaching the box and evading a couple of tackles before sending in a shot which passed just over the bar.

Two minutes later, the scores were level and again MacEwan was the man for the moment. As a through ball approached the penalty area, Reid ran from his line and called for it to be left, but then realised he couldn’t risk leaving it to come into the box. Accordingly, he headed it on the bounce as firmly as he could. Unfortunately, the ball went straight to MacEwan. All might still have been well had Reid realised the extent of the peril immediately and concentrated on recovering his ground, but he tried to retreat whilst watching the play and MacEwan’s chip was too precise to allow for that. It was unusual that both goals in the game were scored with shots from distance over the heads of the goalkeepers.

As substitutions were made to conserve the energy of those who had a trip to Coldstream in prospect for the following day, it gradually became clearer that the Watt would but this stage be content to settle for the draw if they could get it. Faber replaced Jackson Barker in the Watt midfield, with Dawirs moving inside to partner Quinn, and Watt dug in and battled away for a point. Jack Higgins curled a shot just over the bar with five minutes left and there were a couple of late scares due to deflections, but Reid dealt with both and the hard work of the Watt side gained its reward.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Fraser, Barclay, Imray, Hutchison, Quinn, Dawirs, Barker (Faber 68), Ross, Wilson, Law (Benson 57 [McGovern 80). Sub. not used: Atkinson.

University of Stirling:
Klijsen, Mailer, Monro, Mooney, Higgins, Miller, Cowley, MacEwan (Shiells 57), Collins (Maclean 73), Borcz, Baber. Subs. not used: Bateman, Brown.

Referee: Mr. David McAlinden

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 25

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

5th May 2017

CUMBERNAULD COLTS U20 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 0

Watt was without the suspended Cammy Ross for this match and lost Robert Wilson due to sickness before ten minutes had been played. The game got off to a slow start, with Mark McGovern’s shot on the turn after fifteen minutes being the first attempt on goal.

In the thirtieth minute, the home side took the lead with a goal which was as spectacular as it was unexpected. When Fraser Sheridan collected the ball in the middle of the Watt half, no danger was apparent, but Sheridan turned and sent a fantastic shot into the top corner of the net.

The game never reached such heights again, but Connor McAteer came close five minutes later, drifting inside and firing a shot just over the crossbar. Watt then broke, with Neil Laurenson feeding Jackson Barker on the left, but the pass was a little too firm and the best Barker could do was to play it behind off a defender. An excellent move on the right brought another chance to Watt, but goalkeeper Kenny Giles saved low to his right.

The Watt was the more dominant side in the second half, but was unable to find the net. Five minutes after the restart, a superb pass by Liam Hutchison sent Matthew Law into the right side of the box, but Giles again dived to his right to save the shot. Tom Maher was the next with an attempt on goal, volleying just over the bar; then, after Connor McKenzie had shot narrowly past for the home side, the Colts defence was again opened up by a through pass. This time McGovern headed on into the box, but when he shot, the angle was too tight and the ball passed across the face of the goal.

Law went through the middle and might have had a free kick when a nudge from a defender caused him to lose control of the ball, but no award was made. Andy Imray’s excellent pass then released Hutchison on the right, but his first-time low cross somehow evaded all three Watt players who were speeding into the penalty box.

McGovern came close again with a shot from the edge of the area which was just too high, but the Watt side was perhaps losing belief in its capability to make one of its chances count and Cumbernauld began to create some opportunities. McAteer cut inside and played the ball through for Jack Curtis, but his shot went harmlessly past; then McAteer had a chance of his own, in plenty of space on the left side of the Watt box, but he took too long to control the ball and had to hurry his shot, enabling Reid to make the save.

With a minute left, Watt paid the price for their failure to convert any of the numerous chances they had created when a freak second goal finished any chance of a positive result. Defender Alexander Foy punted the ball forward from half-way and as Reid came out to gather, the ball bounced high from the firm surface and went sailing over the goalkeeper’s head, crossing the goal-line before Reid could catch it.

Colts mounted another sweeping attack in the remaining moments of the game, but Reid made a good save and the final whistle sounded.

Cumbernauld Colts:
Giles, Byrne, McGarahan, Foy, Flanagan, McAllister (Milne 45), O’Hagan (Dick 71), Sheridan, McKenzie, Murphy (Curtis 66), McAteer. Subs. not used: Devine, Purves.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Hutchison, Barclay (Benson 72), Imray, Quinn, Lane, Maher (Dawirs 66), Barker, Law, Wilson (McGovern 9), Laurenson. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Eddie Ferguson

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 24

Knock-Out Cup – Quarter-final

28th April 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 3 EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY U20 3 (after extra time; Edinburgh University won 4 – 3 on penalties)

The Development League and its competitions provide ideal incubators for young players to be prepared for the rigours of adult football. They give similar opportunities for young referees to learn their craft and in general the two objectives work well together. Both the players and the officials can make mistakes without the consequences being too serious and – usually – without suffering abuse from coaches and spectators. All this is good, but we cannot help feeling that although the young refs learn quickly and generally do a good job, at times they do make things difficult for themselves.

Such thoughts crossed the mind on this occasion. Why, one wonders, did the referee tell the Watt bench and players there was one minute left, then play on for about another four minutes? It seemed the very definition of making a rod for one’s own back. Of course, it was towards the end of this period (the fifth of six minutes of stoppage time played altogether) that Edinburgh scored the equaliser that took the game to extra time – and it was as bizarre a goal you’d see in a long day’s travel.

All this followed a keenly-contested cup tie which from the first whistle was played at a higher tempo than the league game between the same sides four days earlier. In the dressing-room at half-time, the Watt players were very critical of their own first-half performance, but perhaps unjustly so. Once again, Mr Koya had been forced into changes, the fixture being a cup tie meaning that no overage players or triallists could be used. Back came Tom Maher, newly returned after the holidays, and the starting line-up included Matt Law, starting for only the second time and Robert Wilson, in his first start. Despite a concern about his fitness, Liam Hutchison started alongside captain Andy Imray in central defence and Cammy Ross, clearly far from fit, had a place on the bench alongside Greg Benson, who last played early in December. Given that this team had never played together as a unit before and several players in key positions were new to their roles, the football wasn’t bad at all.

The revelation was the play of Wilson, who looked instantly at home in central midfield, showing a good first touch and calmly laying off passes to colleagues. His display throughout was highly encouraging and showed that the Watt can still look to the development of players who haven’t yet had a chance at this level.

It was evident that Edinburgh, who had turned in a rather lacklustre first-half performance in the Monday game, had been told to raise its game. The visitors started in a different frame of mind in this match and took the lead after seven minutes when a diagonal cross from the right was played on into the path of full-back Max Condie, who was arriving at pace and thundered the ball into the roof of the net. The angle was fairly tight, but the power generated by Condie left Callum Reid with no chance of saving the shot.

The lead lasted just five minutes, with Watt equalising with a goal curiously similar to the first goal, scored by Gregoire Dawirs, in the league match on the Monday, but from the other wing. This time, it was Dawirs who played the ball in, from the right-hand side, and the finish was applied by Law, with a first-time strike as he ran across the area. Goalkeeper Conor Barnes was able to get a hand to the ball, but couldn’t keep it out.

Close to the half-hour, Edinburgh took the lead again and it was a self-inflicted wound for the Watt. Mark McGovern moved quickly to get first to the ball around half-way, but he played it backwards firmly and only succeeded in picking out Stuart McNicholas, who collected, sidestepped a couple of challenges as he drove forward into the box, then placed an assured finish past Reid.

Before half-time, Law tested Barnes with a shot which the goalie saved falling to his right and Edinburgh winger Neil McCall fired into the side netting from close range.

The fears about Hutchison’s well-being were confirmed when he failed to appear for the second half, Benson coming on at left-back and Harry Barclay moving into central defence. A short time into the half, Ross replaced Ross Fraser, with McGovern dropping back into midfield.

Ross was plainly short of his usual acceleration and pace, but he still had his trickery and touch and he soon created a chance, running from half-way to the penalty area, but shooting just past.

Edinburgh did a lot of shirt-pulling throughout the game, but Condie committed a foul of a different nature altogether when he brutally cut down Barclay from behind. He was cautioned, but it would have surprised no-one had the card been red. The free kick which followed almost brought a goal for the Watt. Ross came short to collect and laid the ball wide for Law to deliver a fine cross to the far post. McGovern stooped to send in a header which looked a scorer until Barnes flew through the air to make a superb save, turning the ball over the bar. The corner kick brought another near thing, Jackson Barker’s header being headed off the goal-line.

A few minutes later, Ross collected half-way inside the Edinburgh half and despite the almost inevitable jersey-pull, played in Benson on the overlap to strike a fierce drive which smacked off the post.

As the match entered the last ten minutes of normal time, it underwent a sudden and dramatic change. Watt had been chasing the game for most of the previous eighty minutes, but suddenly grabbed the initiative with two goals in three minutes. The equaliser came when McGovern played on a throw-in from the right and Benson diverted the ball into goal. Then, a typically forceful run by Law took him into the penalty area and when a tackle brought the ball to Ross, he flicked it back towards Law, who somehow hooked the ball over his shoulder and the advancing goalkeeper into the far corner for his second goal of the game.

And that appeared to be that, as we waited in constant expectation of the final whistle as the minutes of stoppage time ticked by, but five minutes after the expiry of the regulation ninety, there was still no sign of the game coming to an end. Instead, the whistle indicated a free kick for Edinburgh ten metres inside the Watt half. Up came Barnes to join the rest of his team and when the ball was played into the box, there was a desperate scramble. Eventually, Imray saw his chance to get a firm strike on the ball to take it out of the area, but as evil chance would have it, Barnes had fallen to the ground and the clearance struck the prone goalkeeper and rebounded the eight or nine metres from his body into the corner of the goal.

And so we went to half an hour of extra time, which produced few efforts of note but during which Ross, having earlier been cautioned for delaying the restart of play, was sent off for a late challenge which was surely born of the sheer frustration of not being able to move at his accustomed pace. McGovern came close with a well-struck free-kick which grazed the crossbar, but neither side could find a goal and in due course we went to penalties. The first six kicks were exemplary, with Mark Scott, Fergus Spence and Robert McLean for Edinburgh matched by Greg Benson, Aidan Quinn and Mark McGovern for Watt, before the visitors’ Kieran Ross sent a feeble effort down the middle, enabling Reid to give Watt the advantage. It was a false dawn, however, as Watt’s next two kickers, Harry Barclay and Jackson Barker, were both short of power and Barnes was able to save their kicks, while in between them, Cameron Moir hammered his kick high into the corner of the net to give Edinburgh a 4 – 3 penalties win.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Maher, Barclay, Hutchison, Imray, Fraser, Law, Barker, McGovern, Wilson, Dawirs. All subs. used.

Edinburgh University:
Barnes, Scott, Condie, Moir, , Jones, , , Boath, McNicholas, Iveson. Subs. not used:

Referee: Mr. Lewis Hogarth

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 23

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

24th April 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 3 EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY U20 2

It had been a month to the day since the Watt Twenties had played and the effects of the lay-off were apparent in a dull and slow-paced first half. Without the spark of Cammy Ross in attack, the Watt build-up was as slow as the Athabasca glacier. Max Allison and Tom Maher were also available, so Liam Hutchison filled an unfamiliar right-back role, with Aidan Quinn accompanying Andrew Imray in central defence.

An early corner to the visitors created problems for the Watt defence as Craig Saunders was unable to get much traction on his punch and had to get his body in the way of an effort on the rebound, but having survived a patchy start, Watt took the lead after eleven minutes. A long cross from the right was headed back inside by Ross Fraser and Gregoire Dawirs, running across the area and getting ahead of his marker, tucked a first-time shot between Connor Barnes and his post before the goalkeeper could move.

This might have been the signal for Watt to kick on and grab this game by the throat, but there was too much rustiness and the pace remained pedestrian. Edinburgh, who had initially looked a bit disjointed, began to grow in confidence and had a good spell in the middle of the half, attacking with greater pace than the Watt and winning a series of corner kicks. Following one of them, Rafael Calbacho tried a shot on the turn from the edge of the area, but his elevation was a good couple of feet too high.

Matthew Law replaced the Watt goalscorer at half-time and Edinburgh brought on Stephen McCrossan in place of Cameron Moir, with Calbacho dropping into central defence. Watt showed greater urgency now and came close when Dowds secured the ball on the left and moved it inside for Jackson Barker to find Mark McGovern with a lofted pass. McGovern struck the ball well on the volley, but sent it just past the post.

Half-way through the second half, Edinburgh equalised with a clever flick by Calum Boath after a corner was delivered to the near post. Boath might have doubled his money three minutes later with an attempted hitch-kick on a ball from the right, but he mis-timed it on this occasion and the ball went past off his toe.

It took Watt six minutes to go back in front. A ball down the left gave Dowds the chance to drive in to the box on the diagonal. He got close to the post without appearing to have a clear idea of what to do next and his support was just reaching the penalty area. By design or accident, Dowds played the ball firmly across goal on to the foot of the retreating Calbacho. The defender had little chance of avoiding the ball and made a forlorn attempt to play it upfield, but at the pace he was running back this was never going to happen and he drove it firmly into his own goal.

Dowds had a chance to score a goal of his own two minutes later when Chris Lane played him in on the edge of the area after surging through the visitors’ defence, but when Dowds turned towards goal, he didn’t get hold of his shot properly and there was no danger to the goal of Barnes.

As the game wore towards its close, Edinburgh won a number of corners, causing anxiety amongst the home support, but eventually, with a minute of normal time left, Dowds got his name on the score sheet at last. The goal came at the end of the best passing move in the match, with Watt keeping possession as the ball was moved down the left and eventually inside, where Dowds gathered, slipped past his marker and delivered an assured finish.

Dowds might have completed a late double a minute later as he found space to skip between two defenders, but when he seemed to be breaking free, he found there was one more man still in the way.

Deep into stoppage time and with a two-goal lead, the Watt support was feeling it could relax at last, but there was one more cause for anxiety still in this game. A long cross from the Edinburgh right was chased by Boath, who reached the ball close to Saunders’ right-hand post and delivered a perfect volley across goal into the top corner to reduce the lead to a single goal once again.

Fortunately for the nerves of the Watt faithful, there was little more time to play and at last the win was confirmed.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Hutchison, Barclay, Imray, Quinn, Lane, Dawirs, Dowds, McGovern, Barker, Fraser. All subs. used.

Edinburgh University:
Barnes, Scott, Condie, Moir, Guthrie, Jones, Maskrey, Calbacho, Boath, McNicholas, Iveson. Subs. not used:

Referee: Mr. Colin Whyte

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 22

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

24th March 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 4 TYNECASTLE U20 1

After three successive defeats, Watt bounced back with a positive display which secured a solid win over Tynecastle.

Two goals in each half put the Watt firmly in control. The first half goals came from Ross Fraser and Cammy Ross, with Aidan Quinn scoring twice after half-time. In the last minute of the match, the visitors pulled a goal back through former Watt player Calvin Muttitt.

Reports from the match indicate that this was a fine performance by the home side, in which Aidan Quinn and Harry Barclay were the outstanding performers.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Maher, Barclay, Imray, Quinn, Barker, Fraser (Dawirs 79), McGovern, Ross (Wilson 73), Lane (Law 63), Laurenson. All subs. used.

Tynecastle:
Watt, Fital, Campsie (Small 18), Kelly, Forrest, Fraser, Muttitt, Thiam (Kneebone 68), Snedden, Roue, Greig. Sub. not used: Urquhart.

Referee: Mr Colin Drummond (Stenhousemuir)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 21

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

17th March 2017

SPARTANS U20 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 0

The Watt youngsters learned another lesson about football and life at Ainslie Park as they came achingly close to what would have been a deserved point but finished with nothing to show for their supreme efforts.

The Watt squad was stretched thinner than ever for this tough fixture, with striker Jack Napier coming in for his debut, Marc McCall appearing in the squad for only the second time and Liam Walker responding to a late call to wear a strip for the first time in weeks and make the bench up to three.

Among those missing were influential midfielder Chris Lane and regular defenders Max Allison and Liam Hutchison, but the deputies in those positions were amongst Watt’s top performers, with Ross Fraser and Aidan Quinn both outstanding throughout the game.

Watt showed attacking intent from the first, Fraser’s through pass giving Napier the chance to display some neat footwork and link with Cammy Ross. The home side responded and Callum Reid had to be well positioned to palm away a shot on the turn sent in by Cameron Dawson from a tight angle on the left.

A dangerous rehearsed corner-kick move by Spartans threatened the visitors’ goal half-way through the first half, but good defending kept out Dawson at the near post and when the ball was played back into the penalty area, Andrew Imray headed clear.

Imray and Quinn were working well together in central defence and taking every opportunity to break forward when the opportunity arose. Quinn made a penetrating run forward just before the half-hour and was clearly tripped as he approached the Spartans penalty box. There was one of those silences which showed that everyone in the ground was waiting to hear the whistle, but it never came and a lusty clearance instead gave Dawson another chance to run at the Watt defence. Imray had stayed at home to mind the shop and got in a good challenge to turn the ball behind, but instead of a free kick opportunity at the other end, Watt had to face a corner kick.

Some referees seem to take against big lads and this seemed to be one of those cases. Quinn was penalised several times during the game for challenges in which his physique helped him to win the ball fairly, but none of the numerous fouls on the player produced a free kick. To top it all, he was cautioned, for the first time in this Under-20 season, for a rather mild enquiry involving no expletives. This was one of two incidents in the match interpreted as dissent; both involved Watt players, despite the Spartans characteristically leaving no decision unquestioned throughout the entire duration of the match, often in much stronger terms than Quinn had used.

Jackson Barker set up the next chance for the Watt, cutting inside to find Ross with a square pass, but the first-time strike was too straight and Jordan Pettigrew saved easily. Another chance fell to Spartans when a well-judged lofted pass to the left went over the head of Tom Maher to Jonathan Grotlin, but when he played the ball across goal, Quinn was there again to block Dawson’s effort.

Five minutes before the interval, Watt came close to taking the lead when Ross whipped in a cross from the right to the near post area. The ball was played against the face of Napier, but he recovered immediately to drive in a fierce shot from very close range, only for Pettigrew to contrive to block the ball and somehow remain on his feet, saving superbly and bravely.

Just before the break, Ross repeated the process with another cross from a tight position on the right, but the ball may already have been over the line before Napier’s header went past. Ross then got himself involved in a futile dispute in trying to elicit from the referee how much of the first half was left to play. The answer was merely seconds, but Ross’s persistence in pursuing the matter eventually resulted in a caution.

Ross had made his contribution to the cause, but seemed a little out of sorts and with the ankle injury sustained a fortnight earlier still troubling him, he was replaced by Walker five minutes after half-time. Walker was immediately involved in the action, picked out by Barker’s excellent pass. Walker drove the ball low across the area, but there was no player close to the far post and when Matthew Law eventually arrived, he slammed his shot into the side netting.

Gregoire Dawirs showed good anticipation to intercept the ball and make ground on the right and when Imray passed inside, Napier tried to prod the ball past the fast-advancing Pettigrew, but the goalkeeper was too quick for him and grabbed the ball before it could get past him.

The usual quota of substitutions interrupted the middle part of the second half, but with quarter of an hour to go we still lacked a goal. Dawson changed all that. Harry Barclay had cleared a cross from the left with a good header and when Dawson picked up the ball well outside the box and moved to the right, there didn’t seem to be an imminent threat. The big striker had a different view; he balanced himself and from around twenty-five metres struck a shot which soared into the top corner of the net to the right of goalkeeper Reid. It was a strike of superlative quality, rightly acclaimed around the ground.

With McCall on to replace Law, the Watt went looking for an equaliser. Quinn moved forward to support the attack and the visitors played with confidence and desire. A cross-field pass seemed to strong for Napier to catch, but he sprinted to keep the ball in play and sent in a raking cross from the left. Quinn appeared at the far post, but to his immense frustration, he found himself a yard too far in for the trajectory of the ball and was unable to get over it and head it down into goal.

Then, deep into stoppage time, Watt came about as close to scoring as you can get without doing so. Quinn took a heavy charge in the back as he headed the ball on in midfield, but the ball reached McGovern, who controlled it, turned and drove into a space in the home defence before driving in a powerful low shot. Pettigrew, who had been excellent in the Spartans goal, dived to his right and got a hand to the ball, but it diverted into the path of Napier. The goal was gaping in front of the striker, but the ball had rebounded right to his feet and he had to dig it out. To his horror he found he had hit it too hard and too high and the ball passed an inch or two over the bar. It was the last action of the game and for the second match in a row, Watt had failed to score.

Spartans:
Pettigrew, O’Neill (Clark 73), Allan, Currie, Grant, Archibald, Hall, Hand, Dawson, Grotlin (Walker 64), Sutherland (Logan 69). Subs. not used: Hill, Rae.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Maher, Barclay, Imray, Quinn, Fraser, Law (McCall 77), Barker, Napier, Ross (Walker 51), Dawirs (McGovern 65). All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Steven Wilson

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 20

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

10th March 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 0 EAST KILBRIDE U20 4

From their record in the Development League this season, it was clear that East Kilbride was a formidable side, but they posed a problem which the Watt youngsters had not previously come across in this League. Most Development League teams, including Heriot-Watt, play pass-and-move football, but East Kilbride is much more direct. Most of the team’s players are large size and although there may not be outstanding individuals, they are very well organised and clearly well used to playing together. Watt’s preferred style of play was shredded and before they had worked out some sort of method of coping with the onslaught delivered by their opponents, Watt was three goals down, reduced to keeping the ball away from their goal and struggling to avoid a thrashing.

This had come after a decent start by the home side, who had moved the ball well in the first few minutes of the game, but with just six minutes played, East Kilbride counter-attacked to devastating effect. A pass found Liam Craig wide on the right and he cut inside Ross Fraser to drive the ball across Callum Reid to the far corner of the net.

This was the start of a period of siege for the Watt goal and the flustered players struggled to retain possession whenever they got some. Michael Jones flashed a shot across goal as the visitors kept up the pressure.

In a rare Watt counterattack, Tom Maher had a presentable chance, put through on the right by a good pass, but he fired his shot past the post.

Around the half-hour mark, two goals in quick succession changed the context of the game. From being just one behind and in with a chance if they could snatch an equaliser, Watt was staring down the barrel of a heavy defeat. First, a corner form the right leaked through to the far side and Jack McMahon drove the ball past Reid from a narrow angle; then, when Liam Hutchison was penalised for a challenge on the edge of the ‘D’, the referee moved the Watt wall back an improbable distance, leaving the way clear for Blair Kidd to wallop an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

Watt might have pulled a goal back when a foul on Cammy Ross gave Mark McGovern a chance to play the ball into the box looking for Aidan Quinn, but when the ball broke to Jackson Barker, he pulled his shot past the post.

Two great saves by Reid from efforts by Scott Brodie and James Cassidy kept the arrears to three at the interval and the second half was less frantic for the Watt defence. Great work by Ross on the right set up a chance for Harry Warner, who controlled and turned well in the box, but Craig Melrose blocked his shot and turned the follow-up behind. The corner produced another chance for the Watt, but Kidd got in a fine block as Andy Imray was lining up a shot from close range. Warner had another fine run into the box a couple of minutes later, but his shot was diverted for a corner.

East Kilbride left-winger Nathan Khanna showed good feet and trickery to get half a yard to curl in a cross, but no striker could get to it and it curled past. Soon, Watt was back on the offensive, with Imray again in the thick of things after Warner had got the ball through to Tom Maher. When Maher was crowded out, Imray was on the spot to get a shot away, but it was deflected past. From the resulting corner, McGovern delivered the ball to the near post, where Imray got in a solid header, but the ball seemed to hold up a little and he couldn’t get the direction he wanted.

A reckless challenge by Ross left him injured and Robert Wilson came on to replace him, McGovern pushing forward into attack. As more substitutions broke up the game, time ebbed away. Inside the last ten minutes, a rash challenge by Wilson, whose enthusiasm is encouraging but who needs to exercise better judgment at times, gave the visitors a free kick on the left. When the cross came in, Khanna eluded his marker to head home from around eight metres. This was a little hard on the Watt, which had stabilised the match after a traumatic first half, but E.K. always carried a threat from set pieces, so it wasn’t altogether surprising that a goal came from that quarter eventually.

East Kilbride will take a lot of stopping now in the Development League, but the Watt has three tough league matches still to play, so it cannot afford to lick its wounds for long.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Allison, Fraser (Barclay 71), Imray, Hutchison, Higgins, Craig (Law 77), Barker, Ross (Lane 88), McGovern, Walker. All subs. used.

East Kilbride:
Melrose, Docherty (Tough 75), McMahon, Kidd, Smith (Meechan 59), Cassidy, Craig, Anderson (McGuire 57), Jones, Brodie, Khanna. Sub. not used: Harrison.

Referee: Ms. Fiona Morton (Edinburgh)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 19

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

3rd March 2017

BSC GLASGOW U20 4 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 2

We always knew that BSC was a better team than its league position indicated. At Riccarton in September, the Glasgow side had been unfortunate to lose to a Watt squad that was rather sloppy on the night; but at its home, a Scotstoun synthetic which must be amongst the tightest in the League, the lads from the west showed a level of intensity which an under-strength Watt simply could not match. It’s unpalatable to report that the opposition wanted the win more, but that was the inescapable impression on this occasion. Watt only scraped together a squad of fourteen for the game due to the late addition of debut player Marc McCall. As well as regulars Jackson Barker and Cammy Ross, the squad was missing Sean Campbell, Tom Maher, Harry Barclay and Greg Benson. Sean’s sad recurrence of his groin injury has put him back in the treatment tent indefinitely, joining Tom, with his dodgy knee, and serial injury victim Harry. It’s so long since we saw Greg that his features are beginning to fade from the memory; his last appearance was against the University of Stirling in December. It’s to be hoped that Cammy and Jackson are back to full fitness and raring to go for the home game against East Kilbride.

Right from the start of this game, BSC played at a high tempo, both in possession and in pressing the Watt players when they had the ball. To compensate for the lack of Jackson Barker in midfield, Aidan Quinn had been brought in to the starting line-up alongside Chris Lane. Aidan is a fine player of great versatility and has already made a scoring contribution to the Under-20 side, but his style is somewhat different from that of Jackson. The adjustment altered the balance and the visitors never looked quite comfortable in the middle of the pitch.

A greater deficiency, however, was the unavailability of the Watt’s talisman in attack. Cammy Ross is, of course, known chiefly for scoring a high volume of goals, but his contribution to the side is much more than that. He leads the line in a swashbuckling style that gives a cue to the rest of the team, providing the confidence to relax and play, knowing that if they can provide the service, Cammy will score the goals. His acceleration is highly unsettling for defenders and causes opponents to play more conservatively, knowing they will need several players at the back to try to cover his runs. Watt had Mark McGovern and Adam Breen up front in this game, which provided skill on the ball and accuracy in shooting, but lacked the defence-frightening pace which Cammy contributes.

As BSC dictated the early pace, Callum Reid had a good save from Joe Irvine, turning away a strong shot, but the home side took an early lead after twelve minutes when an ill-judged attempt to play out from the back was headed forward and Fraser Malcolm swept the ball beyond Reid.

Max Allison showed excellent timing and control to play the ball behind when dangerous winger Ayden Nicol drove it across goal as the home side continued to do the bulk of the pressing.

On the half-hour mark, Reid was again called into action to turn a shot from Jordan Brown behind for a corner; and the Watt goalkeeper saved his side again when a fine cross-field pass gave Callum McKenzie the chance to send in a firm drive.

At last, Watt began to settle and respond to the pace of the match and five minutes before the interval Quinn’s through pass gave Ross Fraser a glimpse of goal, but he was quickly crowded out. A minute later, however, Fraser created the chance for the Watt to equalise, foraging superbly to recover the ball and find Quinn on the edge of the area. Quinn’s early shot went over the head of Kyle Gray to bring the scores level.

Two minutes later, Fraser was busy again on the left, retaining possession and cutting inside. This time, being unable to find a team-mate in good position, he tried a shot himself. Gray may have been deceived by the fact that Fraser only caught the shot with half the strength he had intended, but he allowed the ball to leak under his body as he dived to give the Watt a rather unlikely half-time lead.

If the luck had been a little in the visitors’ favour in the first half, it swung firmly against them in the second. Ten minutes after the restart, a series of strong attacks almost brought the Watt what could have been a win-clinching third goal, but Gray made a fine save from Breen’s drive from the left and when the ball came back to Quinn around the penalty spot, he blazed it into orbit.

Within the minute, Breen had another good effort which grazed the bar, then McGovern shot straight at Gray from the right side of the box.

Having survived this torrid spell, BSC went straight up the park and grabbed an equaliser, McKenzie arriving ahead of the pursuit at the near post to stab a low cross past Reid. Four minutes later, the Watt fell behind again to a complete fluke of a goal. Right-back John Stewart sent in a cross but gave it more air than he had intended. It was a tough one for Reid to judge as it swung in from the wing and sailed over his head to drop unerringly into the top corner, just under the bar by the far post.

Two minutes later, a foul on Quinn gave an opportunity for a dead-ball strike to McGovern. From the left side, he struck the ball superbly, only to see it clip the bottom of the crossbar and bounce down just in front of the goal-line. Gregoire Dawirs rose for the header, but under pressure from a defender was unable to get enough purchase on the ball to take it forward into goal.

Another McGovern free kick was delivered into the box, but when it fell amongst the feet, fortune did not favour the Watt; then a well-worked move resulted in Quinn shooting just past from the edge of the penalty area.

Eventually, with the prospect of an East of Scotland League match against Coldstream the following day, Watt began to withdraw First Team players. Matthew Law replaced Lane and Ben Atkinson replaced Quinn, the latter making a superb challenge to deny Jordan Brown almost as soon as he had entered the fray.

With ten minutes to go, BSC delivered the coup de grace, although again the Watt’s luck was out. From a corner on the right, Brown headed down towards goal. Dawirs, on the line, did his best to keep the ball out, but the referee, in good position, ruled it had crept just over the line before being cleared.

Watt had no luck in the second half, but taking the match as a whole it is fair to say that if either side deserved a win it was BSC. Their eagerness and will to win did not sag for long during the game and if they can keep this up they may secure more victories before the end of the season. Disappointingly, we did not form as good an impression of the club as we did last season, when their conduct throughout the game and afterwards was very sporting. Perhaps our less favourable view on this occasion was due to the desperation of the team to get away from the foot of the table.

BSC Glasgow:
Gray, Stewart, Prince, Thomson, Irvine, Brown, McKenzie (Murray 77), Irvine, Malcolm (Masiyazi 86), Maxwell (Law 72), Nicol. Sub. not used: Wilson.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Allison, Fraser, Hutchison, Imray, Quinn (Atkinson 82), Dawirs, Lane (Law 66), McGovern (McCall 80), Craig. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Chris Hughes

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 18

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League Challenge Cup: Round One; second leg

24th February 2017

EDINBURGH CITY 0 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 1

Played at Portobello High School.

Goal scored by Aidan Quinn (59 minutes)

Cautions:

Edinburgh City:
Philip Blaney (deliberate trip, 36 minutes)
Jack Blaney (deliberate trip, 55 minutes)
Scott Hay (recklessly dangerous play, 78 minutes)
Liam Hastie (delaying restart, 84 minutes)

Heriot-Watt University:
Mark McGovern (recklessly dangerous play, 37 minutes)
Jackson Barker (recklessly dangerous play, 57 minutes)
Cameron Ross (persistent infringement, 69 minutes)
Jackson Barker (inflammatory actions, 81minutes; sent off for second booking)

Edinburgh City:
Morton, Pacitti (Balaban 71), McClung, P Blaney, J Blaney, Watson, Hastie, Graham, Rowell (Afedzie-Hayford 58), Jack, Paton (Hay 71). Subs. not used: Duncan, Stewart.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Allison (Quinn 24), Barclay, Quinn, Imray, Hutchison, Lane, Dawirs, Barker, Ross, McGovern (Law 65), Craig (Wilson 75). Sub. not used: Fraser.


Referee
: Mr. David McAlinden

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 17

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League Challenge Cup: Round One; first leg

17th February 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 0 EDINBURGH CITY 3

A complacent and lacklustre Heriot-Watt side was well beaten by hardworking and well-organised Edinburgh City on the Oriam indoor surface.

City went in front from a fourteenth-minute corner. The ball was sent in hard and low and Frazer Paton reached back with his left foot to deflect the ball past the defenders on the goal-line.

Watt tried to get back into the game, but much of their build-up play was laboured and the alert City players were for the most part able to keep the Watt strikers at distance.

There should have been an equaliser just before half-time, however, when Cammy Ross was fouled in the middle of the park and Mark McGovern struck his free kick past the wall. Goalkeeper Fraser Morton blocked the ball, but it ran towards Ross Fraser, coming in from the right side. A first-time shot would surely have been a scorer, but Fraser chose to take a touch and it was a poor one, taking the ball further away from goal. He managed to get the ball across, but the chance was lost.

Watt paid for this three minutes after the restart, as the home defence was pulled completely out of shape as City attacked on the left. There were two men waiting in the middle for a square pass and one of them, Domenico Pacitti, easily converted to put the visitors two ahead.

Ross did really well to get on to a firm McGovern pass, but his angle was too tight and he could not force his shot past Morton. Morton was in good position again a few minutes later to field McGovern’s free kick.

Excellent work by Sean Campbell created a shooting chance for Fraser, but his first-time effort cleared the crossbar.

By this time, Watt had the feeling it wasn’t their night and this was confirmed on several occasions towards the end of the match when it seemed they must score at last, only to fail to get the ball into the net. Ross went down the right and cut the ball across the area, but when Andrew Imray shot, the ball was deflected for a corner. Ross then had a shooting chance of his own, but when he slipped the ball past Morton, it struck the base of the post and rebounded into play.

Things got even worse for Heriot-Watt when Edinburgh City added a third goal with eleven minutes to play. There were plenty of defenders back as the ball was crossed from the right, but the only man who moved was City substitute Scott Hay, who headed in unchallenged from close range.

Ross again outflanked the left side of the visitors’ defence, but when he played the ball across goal, Robert Wilson, making his debut as a substitute, contrived to shoot over the bar from close to goal.

In the final minute, Matthew Law did his level best to get his toe to the ball, lunging forward as a City defender tried to shepherd it back to Morton, but although Law got a slight touch, it wasn’t enough to carry the ball past the goalkeeper and Watt’s last chance was gone.

Heriot-Watt did create quite a few chances to score, particularly during the second half, and probably had more efforts on goal overall than the visitors, but that statistic gives a misleading impression of the game. City may not have had all that many shooting opportunities, but from the time they took the lead, there was always a sense that they were in charge of this match, being generally quicker to the ball in all areas of the pitch. Watt will have to adopt a very different attitude to have any chance in the second leg next week. This hard-working City side will not be easy to score against and will not easily surrender its deserved first-leg lead.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Allison, Barclay (Law 85), Quinn, Imray, Lane (Wilson 66), Fraser, Campbell, Ross, McGovern, Craig (Dawirs 76). All subs. used.

Edinburgh City:
Morton, Balaban, Stewart, J Blaney, P Blaney, Hastie, Downie, McClung, Rowell (Hay 54), Pacitti (Jack 66), Paton (Afedzie-Hayford 79). Subs. not used: Duncan, Picken.

Referee: Mr. Paul Hanlon (Edinburgh)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 16

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

13th February 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 4 PRESTON ATHLETIC 1

Watt was quickly into its stride in this match and before twenty minutes had been played established a two-goal lead through Ross Fraser and Cammy Ross.

Two more goals were added in the twenty minutes after half-time, Max Allison scoring the Watt’s third of the evening and Cammy Ross being on target again with the fourth.

With quarter of an hour left to play, Fabio Neto scored a consolation goal for Athletic.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Maher, Barclay, Quinn, Imray, Lane (Higgins 54), Allison (Campbell 64), Barker, McGovern, Ross, Fraser (Craig 56). Subs. not used: Law, Dawirs.

Preston Athletic:
McMahon, Burns, Smith, Reid (Gilchrist 58), Connachan, Tonner, McNaughton, McDelling, Neto, Young, Ormiston. Subs. not used: Cochrane, Archibald.

Referee: Mr. Steven Wilson (Edinburgh)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 15

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

3rd February 2017

WHITEHILL WELFARE U20 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 6

This convincing win over one of the big names of East of Scotland football shows how far the Watt youngsters have come. The loss of an early goal did not upset them and by the end they had demoralised their opponents and could easily have scored more.

It looked very different in the early stages of the game, as a fast-raiding Welfare front line created problems for the Watt defence. Dylan Weldon was the first to threaten, picking up the ball around half-way and driving straight for the heart of the visitors’ defensive area. He shot from the edge of the penalty box and brought a smart save from Callum Reid, who dived low to his right to turn the ball round the post.

With just three minutes played, Whitehill went ahead. Michael Gray showed neat footwork to sidestep a tackle on the edge of the area, closed in on Reid and fired the ball past him into goal.

Two minutes later, Mark McGovern got the Watt machine moving with a fierce shot from twenty-five metres which smacked off the left-hand post of Welfare goalkeeper Ross Jardine. Heriot-Watt began to settle after that and played some good football.

Then, in the fifteenth minute, the equaliser arrived. A fine goal it was, too, Cammy Ross and Harry Barclay combining on the left to play in Reece Craig on the touchline. Craig made for the by-line and sent a penetrating cut-back across the box. Liam Walker had come in from the right and his first-time shot found the net.

Five minutes later, the Watt comeback was complete when a second goal put the side in front. Craig was fouled as he cut in from the wing and McGovern slammed the free kick in off the underside of the bar.

Watt’s high-tempo game was harassing Whitehill, but the home side was far from finished. A free kick played into the Watt box dropped for Greg Lloyd and Reid had to be quick and brave to block the ball behind.

Half-time was reached with just a single goal between the teams, but after the interval, Watt lost little time in increasing the margin and effectively closing out the game. Five minutes after the restart, Ross executed an elegant turn on to his left side, drove past two defenders at high velocity and finished accurately across the goalkeeper for a goal characteristic of his work. Then, two minutes later, Walker drove a corner from the right low and hard across the area. Andrew Imray had a go at it at the near post, but when the ball reached McGovern at the far post, he applied an emphatic finish.

McGovern came close to two in as many minutes when Ross’s pass released Walker to go tearing down the right and cut the ball inside, where McGovern met it to send a shot on to the crossbar.

Welfare tried hard to get back into the game and when Weldon created a chance, Barclay was on hand to head off the line, with Reid making an astounding save from the follow-up shot.

A superb pass by McGovern released Ross, but Jardine was off his line like a shot to block the shot. Watt maintained the pressure and another good cross-field pass found McGovern, but his angle was too tight and the ball slipped past the post.

Reid was again called into action, saving Gray’s first-time shot after the ball rebounded to him and Imray was on hand to clear when a free kick was played low into the Watt penalty area, but soon Watt was setting the pace again. When a break of the ball around half-way took it over the head of Ross, enabling him to turn and take on the last defender, the writing was on the wall again for the home defence. There are few players you’d consider almost certain to score in those circumstances, but Ross is one of those and he easily outpaced the defender, advanced on goal and slipped the ball past Jardine into the net.

Sean Campbell, on his way back from a long period of absence through injury, had come into the action and he did good work to secure the ball and find Ross on the right. Rory Rutherford, who had earlier been cautioned for a reckless challenge, held Ross to prevent him breaking clear again and was given a second booking and dismissed by the referee.

A man short for the last fifteen minutes, Welfare was beginning to look disheartened. Good play by Gregoire Dawirs set up Walker on the right and when he cut into the box and sent the ball across, Jackson Barker shot on the turn. The ball rebounded off a defender and Campbell struck it on the volley, but Jardine saved well, turning the ball round the post.

A minute later, Watt completed the scoring. Tom Maher was strong in midfield to hold off a challenge and find McGowan on the right. He held off another strong challenge and squared the ball to Barker, standing in plenty of space to drive the ball into the net.

Whitehill Welfare:
Jardine, McCabe, Rutherford, Brook, Weir, Ward, Lloyd (Kneebone 63), Gray (Iqbal 68), Adams (Dolan 63), Weldon, Dowie. All subs. used.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Allison, Barclay, Hutchison, Imray, Quinn (Maher 55), Walker, Barker, Ross (Dawirs 75), McGovern, Craig (Campbell 68). All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Nicky Marshall (Edinburgh)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 14

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

27th January 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 4 LOTHIAN THISTLE HUTCHISON VALE 2

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 14

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

27th January 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 4 LOTHIAN THISTLE HUTCHISON VALE 2

This was a fine win for the Watt lads to keep the team firmly at the top of the Development League table.

The game started at a frantic pace, with both teams showing good ball retention and looking to probe each other’s defences, but the sides were well-organised and clear chances were hard to create. Heriot-Watt moved the ball well in the middle of the park and the first chance of note came to Cammy Ross, who slammed the ball off the post.

The visitors started to come more into the game, with Brodie Hamilton showing good skills and passing, but the Watt opened the scoring with a well-constructed move. Ross pulled wide to provide the space for Reece Craig to play Mark McGovern through the middle to finish with aplomb.

The second goal came from a piece of individual brilliance by Ross, who left four defenders in his wake to drive the ball into the corner of the net. Watt’s third was a well-worked goal involving Jackson Barker and Mark McGowan, with Ross applying the finish.

A 3 – 0 lead at half-time was good and things got even better for the Watt seven minutes into the second half, when a patient passing movement from the back eventually resulted in Ross being released on the right to outpace his marker and cross for Barker to draw defenders towards him and lay the ball off for Liam Walker to score.

LTHV got a goal back just after the hour through Aiden McKee after an excellent switch of play from left to right and a similar move produced a second goal for Tommy Simpson ten minutes from time, but Watt comfortably saw out the remaining time to clinch three more points.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Allison, Fraser (Barclay 71), Imray, Hutchison, Higgins, Craig (Law 77), Barker, Ross (Lane 88), McGovern, Walker. All subs. used.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:
Gibb, Simpson, Prior, Shaia (Surgeon 26), Begbie, Henriques, Hutchison, McKee, Korpalski (Mcarthur 46), Hamilton (Jack 63), Taylor. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Lewis Hogarth (Edinburgh)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 13

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

20th January 2017

EDUSPORT ACADEMY U20 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 2

It was easy to see from the start of this match that Edusport has taken steps to address its lack of success in the first half of the Development League season. Watt had been warned by the Academy’s victory away to league-leaders Tynecastle the previous week, but it was clear from the start of this game that the ability of the French players to pass and move was on a level not normally associated with the lower end of the league table.

Watt responded in kind, however, with good shape and balance throughout the team, and with just four minutes played, the visitors took the lead. A fine pass down the left by Liam Hutchison gave Cammy Ross the chance to sprint. Goalkeeper Hugo Boisseaux ran from his line, but the pace of Ross was too much for him. Ross prodded the ball past Boisseaux and slid it into the net from an acute angle.

The Watt side had another attempt on goal seven minutes later when Mark McGovern’s run to the right created space for Max Allison’s pass to find Ross’s run to the right side of the penalty box, but when he controlled the ball and drove in a right-foot shot on the turn, his angles were a little out on this occasion and the ball passed across the goalmouth and out on the far side.

Reece Craig combined well with McGovern to set up another chance mid-way through the first half. Ross sent a fine pass through to Allison and his first-time cross was met on the edge of the area by Chris Donnelly, but with too much elevation.

Edusport came close just after this when a Watt free kick was played backwards and the ball was lost. Can Sihyurek’s drive dipped just over the bar.

Ross created more danger with a cross from the right which came back to Jackson Barker to try a chip which landed on top of the net, but as half-time approached, the home side made a big effort to get back on level terms. Good play on the right gained a corner which was taken short and whipped into the area by Marc Gilquin. Academy captain Alexandre Lebrisse was in good position in the centre of the goalmouth, but sent his header past Callum Reid’s right-hand post. Just before the half-time whistle, a ball across the area found Sihyurek on the edge of the area. Two Watt defenders moved quickly to close him down and this may have been crucial as his hurried shot passed inches to the wrong side of the post.

Sihyurek had another chance from the edge of the area five minutes into the second half, but drove the ball just over the bar and five minutes later the visitors scored again. A through ball gave Ross the chance to run at Guillaume Prevot and although the striker never had the ball fully under control, Watt gained a free kick for a pull by the defender. When McGovern delivered an excellent flighted ball into the box, Andrew Imray stooped to head the ball from close to goal, directing it towards the bottom corner, but Boisseaux made a splendid save, diving to turn the ball round the post.

The goal was merely delayed, however. Donnelly’s prodigious leap at the near post enabled the ball to pass towards the far side of goal, where Ross hooked it from behind his body into the net to put the Watt side two goals ahead.

Donnelly threatened a third two minutes later with a penetrating run through midfield. He was forced to the right all the way, however, and had to turn when deep into the penalty area. It appeared he had run out of space as two opponents closed in, but he managed to send in a fierce left-foot drive which Boisseaux diverted past the post.

McGovern again delivered an accurate ball to the near post; Donnelly again rose further than seemed plausible; and once again the ball passed through to the far post. This time, though, it was not turned into goal.

Ross set up another chance when he picked up the ball in midfield, glided past a couple of defenders and laid a pass inside the full-back for the run of substitute Matthew Law, who was coming in from the right, but Law’s first-time shot was much too high.

With twenty minutes left to play, Watt came close to confirming the win when Boisseaux played the ball straight to Donnelly, who ran directly into the box. When he was challenged, the ball broke to Ross, ten metres from goal. Ross struck the ball with tremendous force – perhaps too well – and it rebounded off the crossbar and out of the danger area.

Watt had a strong penalty claim denied before a mishap in defence made for a nervy finale to the game. A cross into the box was headed high into the air by Ross Fraser, who was having a splendid game in an unfamiliar position at left-back. Reid had not expected Fraser to reach the ball and had come to his left. Getting back quickly towards where the ball was descending, he was unfortunate enough to push it against the post and have it rebound off him into goal.

Edusport made a big effort to get the goal they needed to take something from the match, but the Watt shape remained good. The home side came close when substitute Tristan Salera threw his left foot at the ball on the right side of the penalty area and saw it thump off the crossbar. Salera tried an overhead kick five minutes later, but Reid caught comfortably and Watt saw out the remaining time to gather all three points.

Edusport Academy:
Boisseaux, Seuer, Gilquin, Prevot, Solak, Girault, Moutou, Librisse, Lakrar (Salera 58), Sihyurek (Marcq 64), De Liderkerke. Subs. not used: Rodrigues, Clowez, Mercier.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Allison, Fraser, Hutchison, Imray, Watt, Craig (Law 64), Barker, McGovern (Lane 69), Ross (Dawirs 80), Donnelly. Subs. not used: Maher, Barclay.

Referee: Mr. Nicky Marshall (Edinburgh)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 12

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

16th December 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 2 EDINBURGH CITY 0

After the previous week’s traumatic experience, the Watt side looked a bit tentative in this match, but the lads got back on track with a victory to end the first half of the season. It was hard work, though, and a lively and creative City side made sure of that.

With no First Team match on the morrow, all eligible Under-20s could participate fully. Aidan Quinn, recovered from his recent injury, moved in to the centre of defence to partner Andrew Imray. With injuries to both Harry Barclay and Greg Benson affecting selection, Scott Munro came back to play at left-back for one last time for the side he graced until this season.

There was little to choose between the teams in a first half-hour in which defences were generally on top, although Callum Reid saved an early shot from distance by Matthew Graham and a free kick taken by Jack Blaney. Cammy Ross had a number of chances, but his shooting was a bit below normal standard. He missed the target after being gifted the ball by the visitors’ defence and again from a free kick when Jackson Barker was brought down.

You can’t keep a good man down, though, and when the Watt took the lead ten minutes from half-time, Ross was at the heart of things. His shot from outside the box bounced awkwardly in front of Gallacher, who blocked it but couldn’t hold it. Chris Lane pounced on the rebound to fire into the net.

A minute later, it could have been two when a chipped pass into the box found Lane again in an attacking position. He turned to face Gallacher, but a defender slid in to kick the back of his boot and force it on to the ball. As both players fell to the ground, the ball went past the post. City must have feared the worst, but the referee, apparently judging that Lane had missed a sitter of his own volition, awarded a goal kick.

In the last minute of the first half, City had a wonderful chance to equalise when the Watt was caught out overdoing a tight passing movement in defence and Jake Coulter was put in possession around the penalty spot. He seemed sure to score, but as Reid rushed from goal to narrow the angle, Coulter slid the ball past his right hand and past the post.

The game continued in similar vein but even more vigorously after half-time and several cautions were administered. City tried all they knew to get back on level terms, but the Watt defence remained a cohesive unit and there was always the chance of Ross making something happen on the break. Kieran Watson took a pass from Domenico Pacitti and shot just past with Reid watching closely, then Coulter shot just over when Imray’s attempted clearance rebounded from the head of Pacitti.

Reece Craig was working hard on the Watt left and he did well to gain possession and drive inside along the by-line, his cutback being turned behind for a corner. Following the corner kick, the ball came out to Ben Atkinson on the right and when he fired it low across the goalmouth, Gallagher saved with his foot from Craig’s drive.

Into the last ten minutes we went, with Watt still clinging to a slender lead. Ross tried to increase the security when a good pass from defence put him in possession on the right. He knocked the ball to one side of his marker and went round the other side, but then pulled his shot wide of the far post.

Back came City and the energetic Frazer Paton won a corner on the left, which began a period of intense pressure on the home defence. Eventually, the chance to clear came to Quinn and he sent the ball from deep in his own penalty area into the stride of Ross as he broke to the left. Ross outpaced his marker, made ground and cut inside. As Gallacher came to meet him, he sent in a chip shot. It didn’t look like the cleanest strike he’s ever made, but it was enough. The ball found the net and at last the points had been made safe.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Maher, Munro, Quinn, Imray, Lane, Fraser (Atkinson 75), Allison (Hutchison 62), Ross, Barker, Craig (Dawirs 84). Subs. not used: McGovern, Benson.

Edinburgh City:
Gallagher, P Blaney, Duncan (Jeanm 84), Balaban, Pacitti (Stewart 75), J Blaney, Coulter, Hastie, Paton, Graham (Hay 59), Watson. Subs. not used: Dag, Afedzie-Hayford.

Referee: Mr. Lewis Hogarth (Edinburgh)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 11

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

9th December 2016

UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING U20 5 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 0

The December evening was mild for the time of year and the Falkirk Stadium seemed like an appealing place to play. Lining up as proud league leaders, the Watt knew they’d be in for another testing match, but had passed several such examinations on their way to the summit of the Development League. There was no hint of what the night was about to deliver.

In fact, Watt started off well, pushing forward and probing for an opening, but after ten minutes of sparring, we had the first sign that all was not well. Stirling’s Rory Macewan reached the penalty area too easily and although Liam Hutchison covered his run well, he got his shot away and the rebound from Callum Reid was sent past by Dominic Kane.

Five minutes later, the first of many unnecessary fouls conceded by the Watt side on the night cost the first goal. Andrew Imray was half-way to the half-way line and there was no need to make a rash challenge. When the free kick was sent into the box, Jack Mooney was so ineffectively marked that he actually stooped to head past Reid.

Cammy Ross tried to get Watt moving in attack and surprised Stirling’s central defenders by speeding between them to reach the ball, but he was forced wide and a corner was the best he could get. When the kick was cleared, Watt looked so vulnerable on the counter-attack that Hutchison took down the ball carrier early and was cautioned.

The second goal was not long delayed, however, and it followed yet another free kick. Two corners were cheaply conceded in quick succession and from the second, the ball was played in close to goal and dropped among the feet. David Collins was first to react and slammed the ball in from no distance.

A good touch by Ross sent Liam Walker away on the left and he sped past Struan Robb, but his cross, intended for the head of Ross, was headed clear by Jack Higgins and again Stirling showed pace on the counter-attack, Macewan’s low cross forcing Max Allison to turn the ball behind.

On the half-hour, Higgins had a chance to shoot following a corner and Reid made the first of a series of splendid saves, but when Watt lost the ball trying rather laboriously to make ground on the left, Stirling counter-attacked at lightning speed. The ball was shifted inside, then across to the Stirling left, where Fabian Borcz met it with a first-time shot from the edge of the area which soared into the top corner of the net.

At 3 – 0 down with thirty-three minutes played, the Watt was already looking ragged and shocked and Reid did well to turn a shot from Macewan over the bar.

Mark McGovern tried to get something going for the visitors with a good challenge to take the ball from Mooney and send Ross away on the right. For want of alternatives, Ross took on the shot from a very tight angle and although Owen Klijsen blocked it out, the rebound fell for Jackson Barker on the edge of the area. With most of the goal to aim at, however, he sent his shot just wide.

A few minutes later, Ross returned the compliment with a pass to find McGovern. He moved it to his left and it was a surprise to see that the auxiliary attacker was Hutchison, who took the ball to the left to make space, but his left-foot shot lacked power and Klijsen blocked with his foot.

Another shambles at the back gave a shooting chance with which Reid was able to deal and Watt saw it through to half-time without further mishap.

As the Watt returned for the second period, the question was whether the team would be reinvigorated and would attack with determination to get back into the game, or whether the events of the first half had shaken them too much for that to happen. It didn’t take long for us to get the answer. Just four minutes into the second half, Collins rose in complete isolation to head home a cross from the edge of the six-yard box and remove any doubts about where the points would reside.

After that, it was peep-between-the-fingers time for Watt supporters as the side struggled to find any cohesion. The morale had been shattered and it was hard to remember any occasion in the second half on which three consecutive passes were successfully made. The surprising thing is that Stirling managed only one more goal and that arrived fifteen minutes from time, when a pass down the left enabled Kane to get to the line and cut the ball back. Joshua Emmott must have wondered where all the defenders had gone as he gleefully sent the ball into the corner of the goal with a crisp shot.

There were more good saves by Reid, who denied Macewan twice more and blocked a header by Emmott, but at last the suffering was over and the Watt could retire to lick their wounds.

University of Stirling:
Klijsen, Robb, Monro, Mooney, Higgins, Cowley, McEwan, Miller (Emmott 63), Collins (Shiells 73), Kane, Borcz. Subs. not used: Bateman, Maclean, Baber.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Allison, Benson (Dawirs 57), Hutchison, Imray, Forsyth, Fraser, Barker (Atkinson 73), McGovern (Lane 50), Ross, Walker. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Andrew Craven (Lennoxtown)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 10

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

2nd December 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 3 CUMBERNAULD COLTS 0

This highly-significant victory took the Watt back to the top of the Under-20 Development League table. Such a clear-cut result against one of the League’s top sides was very pleasing, but the manner of it was even more satisfying. Cumbernauld is a talented side which passes the ball well; it has skilful dribblers and plenty of height, but the Watt’s tactics were spot-on for such an encounter. In the end, the visiting side was a bit like a boxer with a big punch which it couldn’t manage to land.

Of course, the Watt had the trump card in striker Cammy Ross, who delivered his best performance of the season so far and scored all three goals. More than that, he tracked back into midfield and sent some fine passes to Ross Fraser and Mark McGovern. On this form, Cammy is a prime asset in the quest for trophies at Riccarton this season.

Watt will be all the more pleased with this result because the squad was a little on the thin side. Liam Hutchison was missing for the first time this season, his absence being covered by Finn Watt, who was unable to travel with the First Team squad on the following day. Tom Maher was also omitted, as he was on First Team duty on the Saturday. Ross Fraser made his second start of the season in midfield; alongside him, Reece Craig made his first. Harry Barclay retained the left-back berth after his fine performance against Tynecastle.

Against the somewhat makeshift Watt line-up, Cumbernauld made much of the early running, with tricky winger Connor McAteer posing a problem or two for Barclay, powerful runner Alex Foy driving at the home defence and another tall player, Ryan Flanagan, showing he could shoot from distance.

The Watt defensive shape was tight and compact, however, and clear-cut opportunities were few. The best early chance for the visitors was when Foy’s penetrating run in the inside-left channel ended in a strong shot to which Callum Reid may have got a touch, as it resulted in a corner.

Although pressed back for much of the time, the Watt showed flashes on the break which suggested they could present a threat at the other end. Ross shaped a shot towards the corner of goal which lacked the power to beat Kenny Giles, but a couple of minutes later he came back into the middle of the park to send a tremendous cross-field pass to Fraser, whose early pass was knocked over the goalkeeper by McGovern only to come back off the face of the bar.

Colts attacked again, but the Watt’s defensive shape remained good and when the ball was played across the park to Finn Watt, he sent a raking pass towards Ross, who was breaking off his marker towards the left. The ball dropped perfectly into his stride and Ross took it first-time on the half-volley to send his shot over the head of Giles into the corner of the net.

It was a fabulous strike and gave the home side a boost to its confidence, which was needed, as it was time for the defence to do its bit again. More good work by McAteer on the Cumbernauld right gave Marc Anthony Byrne the chance to send in a dangerous cross on the overlap, but Max Allison did superbly well, back-heading away to the far side as he ran back towards his goal.

The Watt’s attacking was sporadic but threatening and when Ross dummied for Barclay to go down the left, his firm centre towards two inrushing colleagues was unfortunate to elude both. Ross then slipped the ball across the edge of the penalty area to enable Jackson Barker to slide a pass into the path of Fraser, cutting in off the right, but his shot across Giles went just wide.

Lee Foggin had an opportunity with a free kick just outside the Watt box, but his powerful shot rebounded off the defensive wall. Foggin moved forward and struck the ball even harder, but the second effort was well wide.

A fierce drive by Flanagan found a gap in the home defence, but Reid was alert to the danger and got both forearms in position to block the ball away and Barclay was able to escort it out of the area. Flanagan had another opportunity from a free kick in a central area, but sent his shot just over.

Three minutes from half-time, the speed with which the Watt could move from defence to attack paid off again. Breaking out from the back, Chris Lane found McGovern in midfield and he sent the ball quickly to the left towards Ross. Colts had a couple of defenders back, but the ball was played into an area that enabled Ross to use his flaring acceleration and he outpaced the markers to draw Giles from his goal and calmly slide the ball past him to put his side two goals ahead.

Reid had one more problem to deal with before the interval, but he dealt well with an awkward, dipping shot which took a deflection and bounced just in front of him.

Colts came out for the second half determined to increase the pace and put on the pressure, but the home defence retained its compact shape and five minutes after the restart, Watt again mined the seam which had provided the last reward. Another great through ball by McGovern found Ross hitting the afterburner button and outpacing the Colts defence to slide the ball past Giles again and complete his hat-trick.

This took some of the wind from the Cumbernauld sails and for a time the game subsided into a less frenetic period. Ross might have gained a penalty kick when he seemed to be tugged as he rose to head McGowan’s free kick, but no infringement was indicated.

With the home defence remaining focused and well-organised, the visitors’ forward forays began to lack conviction and the Watt had the chance to take the game to its opponents. A fine cross-field pass by Craig sent Allison down the right to win a corner, then a well-timed intrusion by Ross enabled him to direct a pass down the left for McGowan, but his shot slipped past the far post.

Allison’s well-judged challenge on Connor McKenzie prevented the striker getting in a shot from good position as the home defence kept up its good work while the minutes ebbed away. Cumbernauld produced a final concerted effort to get some consolation, but despite committing numbers to the attack, they couldn’t get a clear sight of Reid’s goal and the Watt players kept their clean sheet intact to gain three valuable points.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Allison, Barclay, Watt, Imray, Lane (Law 72), Fraser (Dawirs 68), Barker, McGovern, Ross, Craig. All subs. used.

Cumbernauld Colts:
Giles, Byrne, McAllister, Foy, Foggin, Bateman (McNee 63), O’Hagan, Flanagan, McKenzie, Devine (McGarahan 51), McAteer (Dick 63). Sub. not used: Running.

Referee: Mr. Laurie MacKinnon (Bathgate)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 9

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

18th November 2016

TYNECASTLE U20 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 1

This was a high-tempo match played on a compact pitch and in the end a draw was probably about right on the balance of play, but with both goals coming from penalty kicks, Watt was left a little aggrieved, their clear-cut first-half penalty being cancelled out by a highly-dubious award to their opponents in the second period.

Watt had the better of the first half, with Cammy Ross leading the line in his usual unpredictable way and being well supported by some accurate passing. Chris Lane put an early effort just over, then Ross Fraser couldn’t quite get his foot high enough to generate the power to trouble Robert Watt from Ross’s pass across the area. Elliot Sutherland’s burst of speed on the left took him past the defence but when he cut inside and pulled the ball back, there was no Watt player in position to capitalise.

Sutherland’s free kick after a foul on Jackson Barker passed just over the bar before Watt should have scored just after the half-hour. Liam Hutchison drove out of defence and sent a raking pass into the stride of Ross, who showed great pace and control to outflank the home defence on the left and play the ball across goal. Had either Adam Breen or Max Allison been arriving on his own, he would surely have finished the chance, but they seemed to leave it to each other before Allison realised that someone had to go for it and stabbed the ball wide from no distance.

Tynie centre-half Josh Urquhart had a chance following a corner but pulled his shot wide and soon Watt was back on the attack. Andrew Imray, who had been off the pitch for around ten minutes earlier when his nose had made contact with the back of an opponent’s head when he was trying to head clear, swung in a diagonal ball to the edge of the area. Sutherland rose to meet it as goalkeeper Watt, running from his goal, put in his challenge. There was an awful clash which left both players on the ground for some minutes before play could resume. At such times, the main concern is for the safety of the players, but it did seem that Sutherland was the only one to play the ball and that the collision came after he had headed it past Watt. No penalty was awarded, however, and eventually the game got back under way.

Ironically, the next action of note did bring a penalty to the Watt. Another fine pass by Hutchison put Ross away to the left side and he rounded the advancing Watt, who then pulled him down. Ross took the penalty kick himself and drove it into the net, despite a valiant attempt to save by Watt, who got both hands to the ball and was only defeated by the force of the strike.

Ross finished the half with another attempt on goal, accepting a throw-in to drive in from the right, but on this occasion he should have cut the ball back to one of the team-mates waiting in the middle, rather than choosing to slam the ball against the legs of Watt from an impossible angle.

Tynecastle increased the tempo in the second half and poured players forward in quest of an equaliser, but the Watt defence stayed calm under the pressure. Calum Reid had little direct involvement and although the visitors’ attacks were now taking place on the break, they still carried a threat. Ross had two long-distance shots in quick succession, from passes by Barker and Breen, both of which just missed the frame of the goal.

With twenty minutes left to play, Tynecastle attacked on the left and when the ball was brought inside, Hutchison made a tackle at the edge of the box. The challenge was rather a tentative one, with the defender taking care to place his leg carefully and it was a surprise when the referee penalised it. It was even more of a surprise to realise that he had judged that the alleged offence had taken place inside the penalty area. Louis Swanson had no hesitation in slamming the ball into the corner of the net from the spot.

The game continued in similar vein, with Tynecastle doing most of the attacking but seldom involving Reid, whilst the Watt always looked as if they might snatch something on the break. Mark McGovern’s cross almost found Grégoire Dawirs in front of goal, then Harry Barclay won the ball and drove forward through several tackles to release Ross on the left to win a corner. As time ebbed away, McGovern tried his luck from distance, with his shot passing narrowly over the bar; then, in the last action of the game, a mistake in the home defence gave Ross possession on the left, but with Barker waiting in the middle, his cross was intercepted by goalkeeper Watt.

It was good to see the Watt side back to something like normal after two indifferent performances and there was much to encourage the support. Cammy Ross hasn’t scored many from open play recently, but he was as lively and as hard to pin down as ever and the goals will surely start to flow again soon if he can get up against the last man instead of dropping so deep that he has half a dozen between him and the goal when he collects the ball. The defence and midfield kept cool amid the second-half storm – and amongst them, we must mention again the tonic being given to the side by newcomer Harry Barclay, who played at left-back in this game but has shown himself equally capable in a midfield position. No matter how frantic the game, Harry plays with remarkable calmness. His play is always constructive and his decision-making and the timing of his passes shows unexpected maturity. He will surely be an asset to the Club throughout his time at Riccarton.

Tynecastle:
Watt, Grieve, Easton, Kelly, Urquhart, Robertson, L Swanson (Singh 86), Mayer, Sneddon, Greig (Roue 67), S Swanson. Subs. not used: Fital, Quinn.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Allison, Barclay, Hutchison, Imray, Lane, Fraser (Benson 83), Barker, Ross, Breen (Dawirs 61), Laurenson (McGovern 73). Sub. not used: Maher.

Referee: Mr. Steven Wilson (Edinburgh)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 8

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

11th November 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 2 SPARTANS 4

After the First Team losing its unbeaten league record six days before, the Under-20s followed suit. However, unlike the game in which the Watt went down 2 – 1 away from home to the reigning champions, this was not a game from which Watt staff and supporters could take much satisfaction.

We had hoped that the narrow squeak with which the Under-20s were involved in their previous match against the team at the bottom of the league would have woken the side from its lethargy, but unbelievably, playing against the league’s form side and a strong championship contender, the Watt seemed just as complacent.

Even the loss of an early goal didn’t spur the Watt into action. In the second minute of the game, a low cross from the right was deflected at the near post and fell just right for Lewis Temple to drive it past Calum Reid from close range.

Reid had to make three good saves in the next twenty minutes to keep the deficit to one goal, touching over a hooked volley by Jonathan Grotlin, then diving bravely at the feet of Cameron Dawson before denying Dawson again with a flying tip-over when a mistake in the Watt defence allowed him to close in on goal.

After clearing the resultant corner, Watt responded with a sweeping move, Jackson Barker and Tom Maher combining on the right to feed the ball inside to Cammy Ross, but when he played it on, Adam Breen’s shot was wild.

A minute later, not even Reid could prevent the Watt falling further behind. There were claims for offside as Spartans broke on the right, but when the referee allowed play to continue, a low cross found Dawson unmarked in the middle. His connection was a poor one, which probably only served to deceive Reid as the ball found its way into goal off the inside of the post.

Watt tried to get a foothold in the game, with new boy Harry Barker showing good endeavour on the left. He managed to get a foot to a ball which Calum O’Neil was trying to shepherd over the side-line and sent in a good cross, but when the ball was headed out to the edge of the area, Jackson Barker’s shot was well wide.

There was worse to come two minutes before half-time when a poor pass in midfield was intercepted, leaving Watt thin at the back as Spartans broke in numbers. Dawson took the ball down the left and squared it for Grotlin to tap in.

Another good save by Reid prevented an even worse half-time score and Watt began the second period with serious work to do. Barclay cleverly worked an opportunity for Ross, but when he turned and shot from twenty-five metres, he came nowhere near to finding the target.

Greg Benson, nursing another injury, was replaced by Matthew Law, with the versatile Barclay moving to left-back. Shortly after this, Watt had their closest thing to a goal thus far, Andrew Imray heading Mark McGovern’s corner across goal and just past the far post. McGovern then moved forward purposefully, exchanged passes with Ross and sent a shot just over the junction of post and bar. When a similar move a couple of minutes later produced the same result, it appeared that the Watt was beginning to assert itself at last, but Spartans interrupted these positive reflections with a fourth goal. The ball was simply played on through the middle of the home defence and poked by Grotlin past the advancing Reid.

Ross Fraser and Grégoire Dawirs came into the action, completing the Watt’s substitute allowance, and both made positive contributions in the time during which they were involved – especially Dawirs, who was in sparkling form and added invention and determination to the Watt’s attacking efforts.

Watt got a goal back when Breen was fouled by Temple on the Watt right. Breen curled the free kick into free space in the penalty area and Imray strode forward to meet the ball on the volley and send it past Rae’s left hand into the corner of the net.

Too late it may have been, but at last the Watt was playing its proper game, taking the game to its opponents with good passing and movement. Chris Lane took a pass from Dawirs and slalomed into the box before losing control, then Barclay again fed Ross for the striker to try a long-range effort which dipped just over.

Lane then stepped in to win the ball and send in a shot which Rae dived to turn behind. Breen played the corner short to Imray, received the ball back and sent in a cross which Dawirs rose to head inside the post and put a better gloss on the final score. It was encouraging to see improved form from the Watt in the final phase of the game, but another very challenging fixture awaits next in the shape of an away game against Tynecastle and it is to be hoped that the Watt players have now got the message that they have to play consistently to a high standard to get rewards in this league.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Maher, Benson (Law 54), Imray, Hutchison, Lane, McGovern (Fraser 68), Barker (Dawirs 73), Breen, Barclay. All subs. used.

Spartans:
Rae, O’Neill (Clark 71), Sutherland, Shaw, Corbett, Laing (Allan 60), Hall, Temple, Dawson, Grotlin (Brady 66), Archibald. Subs. not used: Hand, Girdwood.

Referee: Mr. Ross Hoggan (Edinburgh)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 7

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

28th October 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 3 BSC GLASGOW U20 2

The Under-20s showed in this match that they are no more immune than any other Watt side to the complacency trap. Make any Watt side favourite to win a match and the players will suddenly become over-confident and fail to produce their best form. That happened here, but to suggest that was the only reason for Watt’s difficulties would be to do a grave disservice to BSC. The Glasgow side arrived at Riccarton with only eleven players, five of whom were listed as triallists, with no points from three League games previously played and almost the whole length of the league between the teams, but there can be no argument that over the course of the ninety minutes BSC was the better team in this game and even a draw would have flattered Watt.

Watt got off to a good start and set the early pace, but the first chance of note came to the visitors, Fraser Forbes clipping a low cross from the left towards the bottom corner and bringing out a good save from Callum Reid, who was quickly down to his right to turn the ball round the post.

Cammy Ross was showing good movement and his usual quick-feet skills, but he was in self-indulgent mood, seeking several times to take on the whole BSC defence on his own and eventually being thwarted by force of numbers. Early in the game, trying to retrieve a ball which had got away from him as he ran into traffic, his lunge conceded a foul and also gave him a leg knock which he had to run off.

Greg Benson was another who suffered a leg injury and in his case it was severe enough to force him out of the game after quarter of an hour’s play. Grégoire Dawirs came on as replacement, with some positional adjustments being made to the team.

Max Allison played in a good ball from the right soon after this, but Ross was well covered by a defender tracking back and couldn’t get in a clean strike. In the next significant action, Ross was the instigator, finding Allison with a good pass. Allison’s hard, low centre went across the goalmouth and was turned back from the left into the path of Ross, whose shot was saved by the legs of goalkeeper Stephen Barr.

Two minutes later, Watt took the lead. Mark McGovern’s corner reached the far side of the box, from where it was played back into the middle. Tom Maher was moving as others stood still and directed the ball into goal.

Jackson Barker’s foul gave BSC a chance to play the ball into the penalty box. Andrew Imray headed clear and a shot from distance cleared the bar by a margin, but ten minutes after the Watt opener, BSC was back on level terms. A good pass through the home defence was chased by Forbes and his marker, Liam Hutchison as Reid advanced from his goal. Hutchison knew that with Forbes behind him ready to pounce, he had to reach the ball, but at full stretch he was only able to get a toe to it. Reid, anticipating that the ball would run on, was wrong-footed and the ball passed exactly into the corridor between the goalkeeper and the post.

Ross tried to restore the Watt advantage with a left-foot shot from the edge of the area, but Barr parried and the ball was turned behind for a corner. When McGovern sent the ball into the box, it fell amongst the feet and several players had a go at it before Imray belted it towards goal from a tight angle. Again, Barr was equal to the task and diverted the ball behind.

The second half started with a bang. In the first few seconds, with several people still making their way back to dugouts and spectating areas, the ball was played back to goalkeeper Barr. He aimed to kick the ball upfield, but such was the pace of Ross that he closed in on Barr and charged down the kick, sending the ball directly into goal.

This was a real bonus for the Watt, but it by no means disheartened BSC, who immediately stepped up their efforts and applied severe pressure on the Watt defence, winning a corner, following which defender Steven Irvine, in good position in the box, leaned back and shot well over.

Watt might have wrapped up the points three minutes later. A free kick near the left corner flag curled in and Chris Lane came forward to meet it with a really solid header from around eight metres. It looked a scorer all the way, but Douglas Milne, stationed by the post, had other ideas. Moving rapidly to his left, he somehow contrived to get his head to the ball and send it up and over the bar. It was a sensational piece of defending.

Maher picked up a loose ball in the middle of the park and sent in an accurate shot which was turned round the post by Barr and just after this he was brought off to enable Reece Craig to make his debut during the last half hour. Craig’s first involvement was an exchange of passes which enabled McGovern to send in a good cross which was headed just past by Imray.

From around the half-way mark in the second half, BSC began to ratchet up the pressure on the Watt defence, with Imray doing important work to protect his team’s goal, but Watt was giving away too many free kicks and that was their undoing when BSC equalised again. A silly foul half-way inside the Watt half enabled BSC to play a quality ball right into the danger area. The home defence was on the turn and it was all very reminiscent of Maher’s goal when Stephen Gethin moved through to knock the ball past Reid.

It looked as if the Watt was in trouble now, but football is for ever giving us the unexpected and a minute later the home side was in front for a third time. A cross from the left by Dawirs was cushioned, on the edge of the area, into the path of McGovern, who carefully placed a precise shot with the inside of his left foot into a position just inside the post to Barr’s left.

There was around quarter of an hour left to play and for most of that time the Watt goal was under siege. BSC poured forward in numbers and the harassed Watt players could not seem to find each other with their passes when they could actually get a kick at the ball. A very risky attempt by Reid to find Ross Fraser with a pass from the goal area was picked up by Joe Sweeney, who made a bee-line into the box, but when faced with the goalkeeper, shot just over the bar, to his own intense chagrin.

Another free kick was conceded in a dangerous central area, thirty metres from goal, but Reid dived to turn a well-struck shot round the post.

When Watt did eventually manage to get forward, an offside decision halted their momentum and when BSC played the free kick forward, an indecisive defensive header left the ball available. The ball came to Steven Irvine, coming in at an angle, and he looked odds-on to score, but Reid quickly advanced and bravely spread himself, throwing his body in the way and blocking the ball away to the far side of the goal.

The Watt defence gratefully recovered the ball and Dawirs played a good ball down the right. Barker carried it forward and cut in along the by-line, but his cutback wasn’t strong enough to reach McGovern and a defender got there to play it behind. That was enough to ensure the Watt was able to see out the remaining seconds for its most fortunate victory of the season to date.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Allison, Benson (Dawirs 16), Imray, Hutchison, Lane, Maher (Craig 61), Barker, McGovern, Ross (Fraser 66), Barclay. Sub. not used: Cunningham.

BSC Glasgow:
Barr, McGowan, Clarke, Irvine, Wilson, Prince, Milne, Beckett, Forbes, Gethin, Sweeney. No subs.

Referee: Mr. Lewis Hogarth (Edinburgh)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 6

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

21st October 2016

PRESTON ATHLETIC U20 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 3

The progress of the young Watt side was maintained by a fine victory at Middleshot featuring three superb first-half goals.

As seems usual these days, the Watt was a little slow to get going in this game and the home side made much of the early running, but that all changed after fifteen minutes play. After a swift move out of defence, Jackson Barker spotted goalkeeper Alexander McMahon was off his goal-line and sent a finely-judged shot over his head to dip under the bar and give the visitors the lead.

Six minutes later there was a second Watt goal. Andrew Imray’s diagonal ball was headed on by Adam Breen and found Cammy Ross, who was breaking to the left. The pace of Ross kept his marker at bay as he moved forward to send the ball smoothly past the advancing goalkeeper into the corner of the net.

Breen was a real creative influence in the Watt midfield and he set up Ross for another shooting chance on the edge of the area, but after creating space with some rapid footwork, Ross was slightly off-balance when he released his shot and it passed harmlessly by the post.

Two minutes later, however, the striker finished a goal which surpassed in quality even the previous two counters. Again, Breen and Ross worked in tandem. Ross spotted the opportunity and accelerated quickly into a diagonal run and Breen played a pass of perfect weight and direction into his stride, enabling Ross to place a first-time shot past the right hand of McMahon and inside the post.

Ross combined with Neil Laurenson a few minutes later on the edge of the box, but as he went through on to Laurenson’s back-heeled return pass, the referee judged him to be offside.

Athletic pushed forward to try to get a foothold in the game and a shot by Tyler Connachan was saved low to his left by Callum Reid before Chris Lane closed down Jordan Easton as he was attempting to gain space to shoot.

Early in the second half, Ross picked up a slack pass in midfield and attacked on the right, but as he tried to elude the retreating home defence, he ran into traffic and lost possession. Barker’s shot on the turn from a pass by Lane dipped just over and Tom Maher struck a solid shot wide of the goal, but the next close thing was again from Ross. Liam Hutchison’s pass set Greg Benson away on the left and his low centre was clipped by Ross against the far post.

Breen was the next with an effort on goal, accepting a lay-off by Harry Barclay at the end of a swift move and trying to lob the goalkeeper, but the ball just cleared the crossbar. Barclay then gave Ross another chance, but the pass was slightly deflected by a defender and Ross was forced wider than ideal, so when he turned and shot, the ball passed across goal and went out on the far side.

Preston had another good spell after this and Jack Shanks headed wide from Marc Reid’s free kick before Easton’s shot from distance dropped just over the bar. Watt responded with a flowing move and after Barclay carried the ball through midfield, Benson played it into the danger area for Ross, but in trying to shoot on the turn, he missed the ball.

As the match neared its conclusion, Preston pushed hard to get something to show for their efforts and Benson did well to head away a corner before it could reach Shanks.

Ross Fraser made a good run on the right and was brought down on the edge of the penalty area. Breen sent a teasing ball to the far post area, where Eoghann Douglas did well to smuggle the ball behind for a corner.

Preston resumed their quest for a goal, but a quick break forward gave Watt a chance. Breen’s pass found Mark McGovern on the left, but with McMahon well out of his goal, McGovern was unable to find the target with a shot on the turn.

With seconds remaining, the home side got the consolation they had sought when a corner was only half-cleared and Reid sped forward to meet the ball on the edge of the box and fire an unstoppable shot into the corner of the goal.

Preston Athletic:
McMahon, Gordon (Apicella 61), Torrance, Burke (Gilchrist 73), Shanks, Reid, Macnaughton, Easton, Connachan, Cochrane, Hannigan (Douglas 39). Subs. not used: Currie, Ross.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Maher (Fraser 63), Benson, Imray, Hutchison, Lane, Barclay (McGovern 73), Barker (Law 78), Ross, Breen, Laurenson. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Dale Kerr (Edinburgh)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 5

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

15th October 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 3 WHITEHILL WELFARE U20 0

In the end, another good win for the Watt youngsters, but they started a bit sloppily against eager and capable opponents. Callum Reid was forced into early action, touching away a dangerous inswinging free kick, but eventually Watt settled and Cammy Ross came close with a shot taken quickly on the edge of the box.

Watt took the lead in the twentieth minute. Ross turned his marker and sent the ball out to Max Allison on the right. Allison burrowed deep into the penalty area and fired in a drive to the near post area. Ross Jardine parried the powerful shot, but Ross, who had continued his run, came on to the loose ball and drove it into the corner of goal.

A good effort from Rory Rutherford, who stepped inside and shot just over, was a reminder of Whitehill’s danger, but fine work from Adam Breen soon gave the Watt another chance. Ross sent the ball out wide and when the cross came in, Harry Barclay headed it into the danger area, where Ross came in to steer it against the inside of the post before a defender played it behind. Breen sent the ball in to the near post area following the resultant corner and Jackson Barker turned it towards goal, but the Welfare defending was vigilant and the ball was turned behind for a corner on the other side.

Watt’s lead was preserved by Reid, who diverted over the bar another pacy inswinger from a corner on the left, and half-time came soon after.

As the pattern of the game remained similar in the second half, both sides eventually turned to their substitutes and after three replacements were made, Watt went further ahead with twenty minutes remaining. Breen’s free kick was headed back across goal by Finn Watt, and with Jardine at his near post, Greg Benson rose to head into the open area of the goal.

Three minutes later, a third goal confirmed that the points would remain at Riccarton. Barker was tripped just outside the ‘D’ in the middle of the pitch and Ross made an expert job of the free kick, driving it with power and accuracy through a gap into the corner of the net.

Whitehill kept it going to the end and a smart snap shot by Robbie Dowie from the right side of the penalty area tested Reid, but the Watt goalkeeper showed his concentration was still sound as he dived to make a fine save.

After Ross came close again following an exchange of passes with Breen on the edge of the box, Whitehill showed what might have been by striking the post twice in three minutes with similar moves involving Michael Gray bringing the ball in from the left and playing the ball across goal. Reid then punched clear at the edge of his area above the head of Dowie as Welfare continued to push forward in search of a goal. The Watt defence held out, however, to keep its clean sheet and ensure the side’s unbeaten record in the Development League continued for another week.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Allison, Benson, Hutchison, Imray, Watt, Dawirs (McGovern 74), Barker, Ross (Law 80), Breen, Barclay (Lane 65). Sub. not used: Laing.

Whitehill Welfare:
Jardine, Rutherford, (Kaye 65) Robinson, Tonner, Palfreyman, Kneebone, Gray (McCabe 65), Dowie, Robertson (Dolan 87), Weldon, Heron. Sub. not used: Wright.

Referee: Mr. Craig Macrae

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 4

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

8th October 2016

LOTHIAN THISTLE HUTCHISON VALE U20 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 4

The Watt’s Development side put in another hard-working performance to secure another notable League victory.

As Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale has made arrangements to use Riccarton as its home venue for the season, Watt had the unusual experience of playing as the ‘away’ side on its own pitch.

Cammy Ross, playing as the lone striker, was a constant thorn in the side of the Vale defence during an absorbing first-half. In the first few minutes he turned to play a ball passing behind him into the path of Harry Warner as he ran into the box on the left. Warner’s shot was accurate but not powerful enough to beat Quinn Franklin, who dived to turn it round the post with his left hand.

Ross came even closer two minutes later, latching on to a through ball to accelerate past the last defender and shoot past the advancing Franklin, only to see the ball rebound from the inside of the post and come back towards him before being turned behind for a corner.

The next penetrating run by Ross took him past a number of defenders before being brought down by Cameron Begbie. Ross took the free kick himself, but fired it low into the defensive wall.

Watt was playing with considerable flair and attacking at every opportunity and the next move produced a goal. Jackson Barker drove forward on the right and when he laid the ball off to the overlapping Max Allison, the full-back struck an accurate shot across Franklin to the far corner of the net.

The home side responded well, however, and the Watt lead didn’t last long. Andrew Imray went across to cover a ball played down the Vale left, but instead of heading the bouncing ball out of play, he seemed to try to do something more constructive, but lost control and when the ball was swept across the area, Jordan Easton ran in to place an emphatic header behind Callum Reid.

Warner made a determined run down the left and cut the ball back to Ross, but he was closely guarded and couldn’t get away an accurate shot. Another near thing was created when Allison combined with Adam Breen on the right to set up Ross, who used Warner as a decoy and sent in a shot of considerable power which was well saved by Franklin. Gregoire Dawirs tried to force in the rebound, but Franklin was again equal to the task.

There was a near thing at the other end when the Watt defence made heavy weather of clearing a free kick and Reid ended up grasping the ball whilst lying on his back and the Watt ’keeper was called into action again minutes later to grasp a shot from Elliot Taylor.

Jackson Barker was giving a typically energetic performance in the Watt midfield and he intercepted a pass to drive in on goal, but perhaps shot too soon and just missed the target to the goalkeeper’s right. The half ended with another good Watt move, with Warner playing in Greg Benson on the overlap to win a corner following which Ross played the ball across goal for Imray to improvise a shot, but he was unable to test Franklin.

The second half started poorly for the Watt, with a diagonal pass inside Allison reaching Taylor. Allison got back to challenge, but was adjudged to have fouled his man and a penalty was awarded. Ryan Fox drove the kick fiercely towards goal but slightly too high and the ball rebounded from the underside of the crossbar and bounced up off the ground. Fox advanced to head the ball past Reid, but as no other player had touched the ball since Fox had struck the penalty, it was no goal.

The Watt side gradually got back into its stride. Franklin saved from Breen before Warner and Ross combined to set up another chance, but Ross’s shot passed just over the bar.

Around the half-way point in the second half, with the match still perfectly poised, it took a decisive swing in favour of the Watt. Ross, using his close control to good effect again, went past Thomas Prior inside the box and was brought down for a penalty kick. Ross took the kick and found the corner of the net, despite a valiant attempt by Franklin, who got a hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it out.

Taking the lead again gave the Watt side greater confidence and ten minutes later came another goal. Allison’s throw-in on the right was collected by Breen, who passed inside to Ross. A couple of metres from the by-line, facing away from goal with a marker in close attendance didn’t look too promising a position, but Ross made light of the difficulties, showing lightning control to turn and whip the ball across the face of goal to where Warner, lurking near the far post, lunged forward to steer the ball into the corner of the net.

Ten minutes further on, and with the end of the match in sight, Watt sealed the win with a fourth goal. Imray’s long pass down the right enabled Warner to collect and drive into the area, where he knocked the ball past Franklin and took a whack from the goalkeeper, resulting in another penalty. This time Barker stepped up and fired the ball crisply into the corner opposite to the one the ’keeper had selected.

It was another splendid victory for the Watt youngsters, who are growing in stature with every performance. No-one will deceive themselves into thinking this was a comfortable win because the score looked decisive by the end. Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale is an excellent side and only the fourth goal with a couple of minutes left enabled Watt supporters to relax and take the win as confirmed. For most of the game it had been very competitive, with lots of good football on both sides, as is normal for this high-quality Development League. The Watt is delighted to have shown again that it can compete with top sides at this level and will look forward to next Friday’s challenge.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:
Franklin, McArthur (Watson 66), Prior, Shala, Begbie, Surgeon, Hutchison, Fox, Taylor (Apicella 59), Easton, A Wood. Sub. not used: J Wood.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Allison, Benson (Barclay 48), Imray, Hutchison, Lane, Dawirs (Law 83), Barker, Ross (Fraser 82), Breen, Warner. Sub. not used: Fraser.

Referee: Mr. Steven Wilson (Edinburgh)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 3

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

23rd September 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 3 EDUSPORT ACADEMY 2

At around this time of last season, the Watt Development side was given its worst-ever beating by the young French collegial side, but this time the Riccarton team was better prepared. It played bright, positive football from the start and ended with a very satisfying victory.

It took only ten minutes for the home side to take the lead. Following a corner to Edusport, Chris Donnelly broke out of defence and found Cammy Ross, who quickly transferred the ball into the path of Jackson Barker, who was making a well-timed run on the right. Barker gathered the ball, outpaced his pursuers and slotted his shot past the advancing Granit Zejnullahi.

Two minutes later, another good Watt move ended in a very different way. The ball was played through to striker Mark McGovern and when he was called for offside, he made his displeasure known in a very audible way. The referee took exception and with almost eighty minutes left to play, the Watt side was reduced to ten.

It is greatly to the credit of the remaining players that the depleting of its outfield stock by ten per cent had little obvious effect on the side. So hard did they work for the cause and so well did they pass and move that the shortage was not obvious. Cammy Ross pushed further forward after McGovern’s departure and this worked so well that before half-time he had scored twice.

The first came from a clever pass by Finn Watt, with Ross taking full advantage to send a crisp shot across the goalkeeper to the far corner. A few minutes later, Edusport claimed a goal back with a stunning strike from captain Alexandre Lebrisse, who, receiving the ball midway inside the Watt half, chose the totally unexpected option of shooting for goal. Bale or Suarez could not have executed the shot better, for the ball soared into the top corner of the net with Callum Reid, at full stretch, not even close to it.

Ten minutes later, however, Ross gave us his response, gathering a ball in the inside-left channel and tricking his marker into thinking he was cutting across on to his right foot before switching back to his left side and sending a fierce drive just inside the far post for a wonderful goal.

Watt jeopardised its position by conceding a soft goal just before half-time. The defenders failed to clear a corner and although Reid saved the first shot with his legs, when the ball came to Tristan Salera close to goal, he rammed it in to bring the deficit back to one.

The second half provided a fascinating contest. The Watt was concentrating on keeping it tight at the back, but despite the team’s numerical disadvantage, the players had a fundamental belief that more goals were possible and never fell back into deep defence to try to hold what they had. Edusport is a fine side, but everything they tried was answered by a calm Watt team which was always keen to use pace on the counter-attack.

In the end, the ten men saw it through for a famous victory which carries the Watt into the top half of the Development League table.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Maher, Benson, Hutchison, Imray, Watt, Dawirs (Allison 53), Barker, McGovern Ross (Barclay 70), Donnelly (Law 87). Sub. not used: Laing.

Edusport Academy:
Zejnullahi, Sueur (Grond 45), Gilquin, Alecton, Prevot, Moutou, Amet-Tranchandon (Boualem 45), Lebrisse, Salera, Gadrat (Sihyurek 70), De Liedekerke. Sub. not used: Solak.

Referee: Mr. Ross Hoggan (Edinburgh)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 2

Lowland and East of Scotland Development League

23rd September 2016

EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 2

Watt let two points slip through their fingers in the gloom of West Peffermill. Apologies for being unsure about which players were involved in some of the incidents in this game, but the floodlights are so poor at this pitch that it is very difficult to recognise any of the players at more than a short distance. One cannot imagine that this was the standard of ground envisaged when the Development League was started and it is a mystery how Edinburgh University can continue to get away with using it.

Nevertheless, Watt had plenty of opportunities to make all three points secure before conceding a late equaliser. Liam Walker had the first excellent chance after five minutes’ play when he got in front of his marker to reach a low cross from the right, but his shot lacked conviction and leaked past the post. Six minutes later, Walker was again the guilty party, but at the other end of the pitch. A free kick was played into the Watt penalty box and when the referee’s whistle was heard, few of the players on either side seemed to know the reason, but it was a penalty for a pull by Walker and the referee must get credit for a good spot, as the player later confirmed he had held his opponent. Fraser Glen sent the penalty to the right of Callum Reid, who got a touch to the ball but was unable to keep it out of the net.

Watt did not stay behind for long. Two minutes later, a good move on the right enabled the ball to be played into the near-post area, where Cammy Ross collected and fired it low and hard across goal for Chris Lane to tap in from close range.

Watt began to dominate after this, penetrating through midfield and in wide positions. Mark McGovern sent a shot just over, then Ross dragged the ball through a tackle and fired the ball just past the post. McGovern presented Walker with another chance when he robbed a defender and played the ball inside, but Walker’s connection was weak and the ball was blocked away. McGovern then came close again, picking up an attempted clearance on the edge of the area and driving in a shot which was deflected behind.

Jackson Barker’s driving midfield runs were a potent threat for Watt and he was instrumental in the goal which gave the Watt the lead in twenty-five minutes, storming into the box and playing the ball through for McGovern to attack on the right. Edinburgh captain Max Condie, who suffered a torrid evening trying to handle the runs of Barker, Lane and Max Allison, felled the Watt striker for a clear penalty and McGovern despatched the kick with aplomb.

Ross was another threatening presence and he was the next to come close, powering into the penalty box despite having his shirt pulled and shooting just over the bar.

Soon after this, Callum Reid rescued the Watt when a ricochet off a Watt player put Stuart McNicholas through on goal. The ’keeper held his ground, then timed his run to perfection to block the shot behind.

Watt would come to regret not turning first-half dominance into more goals, as the second period was much more even. It started well enough, with Ross almost getting on to a through ball created by Barker’s fine tackle, then pulling his shot wide when Allison sped past Condie and delivered the ball to his feet, but there was a warning when a ball from the home right flank leaked through to McNicholas, who stabbed it past Reid and against the outside of the post.

Allison again left Condie in his wake to play the ball to the near post, but McGovern was unable to force it past Scott Hainey, who turned it behind. From the resulting corner, Edinburgh broke quickly on the right and when Reid came out of his area to chest the ball away, only his immediate retreat enabled him to catch the accurate chip sent in by Michael Ivesen.

Ross and Allison created more problems on the right, Ross securing the ball to send in a right-foot shot which Hainey could only divert into the path of Allison, but the Watt man’s first-time shot was from too tight an angle and he could only find the side net.

Liam Hutchison did well to block the ball behind as Edinburgh attacked on the right, but the home side could make nothing of the corner on that occasion. There was a much closer call for the visitors ten minutes later, when a sustained attack originating from the Edinburgh left saw the ball played back and forth across the box until eventually an effort on goal had to be cleared off the line.

With both sides making three substitutions in the second half, the pattern of play was somewhat disrupted and the game seemed to be ebbing to its close, but with seven minutes left, a clumsy challenge from Watt substitute Matthew Law gave the home side a free kick twenty-five metres from goal. Reid seemed to be wrong-footed when home full-back Mark Scott sent in the kick, but it was always going to be a hard one to reach and entered the goal around the postage-stamp corner to give the home side a point which had seemed unlikely for most of the match.

Edinburgh University:
Hainey, Scott, Condie, McLean, Smith, Matthew, Higgins (Calbacho 60), Glen, Cumming (Iveson 51), McNicholas, Newman (McCall 68). Subs. not used: Dobens, Wilbers.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Allison, Benson, Hutchison, Imray, Lane, Ross (Law 77), Barker, McGovern (Laing 70), Dawirs, Walker (Barclay 66). Sub. not used: Maher.

Referee: Mr. Greig Haynes (Edinburgh)

.

Season 2016 – 2017: Match 1

Scottish Youth Cup – First Round

2nd September 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY U20 0 PARTICK THISTLE U20 6

This was surely amongst the very hardest ties with which the Watt youngsters could have been faced. Partick Thistle was one of only three Scottish Premiership clubs to be included amongst the thirty-nine clubs in the First Round draw, with Hamilton Academical the only other in the Central Section. The Watt’s tie was one of only four Central Section ties in the First Round and being drawn at that stage in the competition meant a start very early in the season – before the arrival of the new student intake and before the squad had had a chance to train or play together.

Watt’s confidence in the approach to this tie was not increased by seeing the Thistle Under-20s demolish Clyde – the first team, not a youth side – by five goals to nil at Broadwood in the First Round of the ‘Irn Bru’ Scottish Challenge Cup. Thistle scored all five goals in the second half of the Clyde game, suggesting a high level of fitness which might be problematic for the hastily-assembled Watt squad, some of the members of which had arrived in Edinburgh within twenty-four hours of the game; one, Gregoire Dawirs, having come by car from Belgium.

Having disposed of Clyde, the Thistle youngsters had gone on to draw 1 – 1 after extra time with Queen’s Park in the Second Round of the Challenge Cup, before succumbing in a penalty shoot-out.

The Watt team that took the field may not have had the ideal preparation, but, boosted by the arrival of the contingent from Currie Star through the Community Club pathway, it looked to be of decent quality. Aidan Quinn has impressed all who have seen him since his arrival at Riccarton; goalkeeper Callum Reid performed splendidly in a goalless draw in a training match at Alloa Athletic last Monday, although he took his place two days after a horrific road accident in which a vehicle struck his car from behind and left it a write-off; and central defender Andrew Imray, impressive last season, also showed fine form in the Alloa match. Cammy Ross had the ideal stage on which to demonstrate his mercurial talents and all the other squad members have shown ability either during the last Under-20 campaign or in matches played previously this season.

A score like 6 – 0 against would usually be considered embarrassing, but in the context of this game, it did the Watt great credit. Youth matches are often high-scoring and the opposition here was the professional youth team of a Premiership club. Head Coach Banji Koya had privately recognised the enormity of the task prior to the game and had accepted that keeping the score reasonable was likely to be the target for the day, but we hoped the opportunity might arise to sneak a goal at some stage. There were a couple of chances early in the game, but when the Watt couldn’t finish them, it got harder as the match progressed.

The home side defended with great endeavour and skill, however, and it took a full half-hour for Thistle to open the scoring. Unfortunately, the visitors showed a propensity to score goals in multiple quantities and added a second within a minute.

The first goal followed a cross from the left by the dangerous James Stokes. Callum Wilson stabbed the ball towards goal, but Reid blocked it. Turning, the goalkeeper seemed to have grabbed the ball in front of the line, but it squirmed from his grasp and Wilson poked it into the net. The second goal was the best of the evening, Wilson again being the scorer after a fine move involving good movement and precise passing.

Minutes later, a splendid tackle by Tom Maher prevented the Watt falling further behind, but five minutes before the interval Thistle left-back James Penrice drove the ball firmly and accurately across Reid and just inside the far post to give the visitors a three-goal lead.

A good save by Reid kept the score to three at half-time and at the start of the second period the Watt side kept its shape well, although it was beginning to show signs of weariness after chasing the ball for long periods. Watt supporters feared the worst when Partick hit another scoring burst, striker Neil McLaughlin scoring three times in five minutes to double the score. The first came from a fine strike; accepting the ball from the right, McLaughlin took one touch, then fired a fierce drive past Reid. A minute later, he applied the finishing touch from close range and four minutes later, when Quinn had made an uncharacteristically rash challenge to concede a penalty, he fired the ball home to complete his hat-trick.

With almost half an hour left to play, it looked grim for the tiring Watt side, but somehow the lads, with Lewis Tod and Ben Atkinson providing fresh legs, regrouped and got their shape back, even managing an occasional attack of their own. Tod showed great persistence to get past the Thistle defence on the right side, but by the time he got his shot away the angle was too tight.

Tod was forced to leave the field due to an asthma attack with about ten minutes to play and as all permitted home substitutes had been used, the weary Watt players were obliged to complete the game with a man fewer than their professional opponents, but a heroic effort prevented the concession of any further goals to leave the final score at a level which, in the circumstances, we can only consider a respectable one. It is fair to say that if the Thistle lads had needed another goal they could probably have got one, but by no means had they given up the attempt to score and showed disappointment at any chances which were not taken. To hold out for such a long period of time in such circumstances was a considerable achievement for the Watt side.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Maher (Atkinson 73), Benson, Hutchison, Imray, Quinn (Tod 66), Allison, Barker, McGovern (Dawirs 56), Lane, Ross. Sub. not used: Carmichael.

Partick Thistle:

Cullen, I Stokes, Penrice (Fleming 56), McInally, McMullin, McCarthy, Lamont (Hall 68), Wilson, McLaughlin (Higgins 68), Docherty, J Stokes. Subs. not used: Kerr, Kelly, Duncanson.

Referee: Mr. Daniel Graves (Edinburgh)
Assistant Referees: Mr Danny MacKinnon, Mr Stewart Davidson.

.

East of Scotland Under-20 League
Friday 20th May 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 4 CUMBERNAULD COLTS 0

The Watt Development side brought its season to a highly-satisfactory end with a comprehensive victory completing a three-match unbeaten run.

Chris Lane was in commanding form in the Watt midfield, playing with composure in tight areas, and his swift turn created the first goal early in the game when he drove towards goal and was brought down in the box. Scott Munro, who had not previously scored in his two seasons in the ‘Twenties’ squad, was entrusted with the kick and made a poor job of it, striking rather a soft shot straight at the goalkeeper. Fortunately, he got the rebound and this time he smashed the ball into the goal.

Adam Breen pulled a hamstring shortly after this and was replaced by Liam Walker and it was the substitute who put the Watt side two up shortly afterwards, accepting a pass to cut in and drive the ball under Taylor Jackson from a tight angle.

Watt continued to press forward through good passing movements and Walker came close again when he was sent through on the right-hand side, but probably took one turn too many before shooting and Jackson got down well to his left to divert the ball round the post.

The Watt defence made a nonsense of trying to clear a free kick just after this and Ross MacDonald had to get quickly to the point of danger to block the ball behind, but soon Watt was surging forward again, with Walker’s pace a constant threat to the Colts’ defence. Another through ball sent him away down the middle and when his right-foot shot was blocked by Jackson, Neil Laurenson followed up to score off the post to the goalkeeper’s right.

Lane finished the half with a stinging shot from twenty metres, but the direction was too straight and Jackson was able to get his hands up quickly to save above his head.

The flowing football continued in the second half, with the influence of Harvey Swann becoming more pronounced. Swann looks a fine prospect and he created a chance by threading a fine ball through to Walker inside the area, but Walker can’t have fancied the angle as Jackson advanced and he delayed, then squared the ball as Tom Maher came speeding into the box from the right. Maher’s run was matched all the way by Michael McGarahan, who got in an excellent challenge to prevent a scoring opportunity.

Max Allison then went on a storming run down the right, continuing even when barged after playing the ball ahead, and cut the ball back from the line, but on this occasion no Watt player had got into the appropriate area to profit.

From a corner on the Cumbernauld left, Andrew Imray sent a clearing header out of the penalty box and a superb first touch by Maher took him past Cameron McKay, who tripped him as he passed. Mr McGregor showed great restraint in merely talking to the offender.

A perceptive pass from Grégoire Dawirs picked out Laurenson on the right and when he played the ball back to Allison, his first-time cross was met with a firm header by Lane, but he got his direction all wrong and the ball passed the post by a distance.

Ruaridh Macvinish replaced Laurenson just before another bit of skill by Swann set up Walker for another foray on the left. This time Walker accelerated into the box, but from a tightish angle his shot flashed across the face of the goal. Walker tried his luck with a shot from thirty metres a few minutes later, but again he was off-target.

MacDonald broke up a Cumbernauld attack with a forceful run out of defence, taking the ball through a number of tackles before Blair Bateman brought him down heavily and was cautioned. Just after this, Coach Banji Koya showed he will not allow his authority to be impugned by bringing on Sandeep Saji in place of Macvinish, who had been on for only ten minutes, but had answered back when given an instruction from the technical area. This was rather a sad end to the Under-20 career of Macvinish, who had contributed significantly over two seasons, but no doubt he will learn from the incident and come back wiser for next season.

A minute later, Watt added the final cherry on the top of this confection with a fourth goal. Fittingly, it was Lane who saw the opportunity given by Walker’s angled run and supplied the ball for the paceman to easily outdistance his marker and send a right-foot shot past the right hand of Jackson to complete the scoring.

As the match neared its conclusion, Allison was cautioned for a reckless challenge from behind, probably fuelled by annoyance at himself for losing the ball. There was just time for Lane to prime the pump again with a pass across the pitch to find Maher, but entering the right side of the box on his own, Maher surprisingly chose to play the ball across goal in an effort to link with Walker, who had to lunge forward and was unable to control the ball. You can’t ask more than a clean sheet and four goals for your last game, though, and at the final whistle Watt was able to celebrate moving up at least one place in the League table.

In the dressing room, Club captain Chris Donnelly handed the ‘Man of the Match’ award of a club tie to Andrew Imray.

Heriot-Watt University:
Robinson, Maher, Munro, Imray, MacDonald, Lane, Dawirs, Allison, Swann, Breen (Walker 10), Laurenson (Macvinish 68 [Saji 78]). Subs. not used: Atkinson, Carmichael.

Cumbernauld Colts:
Jackson, Byrne, McGarahan, Sheridan, Milne, Bateman, Fergus (Devine 65), Flanagan, McKay (McNee 63), McAllister, McAteer. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr Gary McGregor

.

From our Special Correspondent at K-Park

East of Scotland Under-20 League
Friday 13th May 2016

EAST KILBRIDE 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2

On paper, this might have seemed like a meaningless end-of-season game with neither side having much to play for, but that description couldn’t have been further from the way the teams approached this match on a chilly night at the impressive K-Park. At times the nature of the action resembled that of a basketball game, with both teams looking to take advantage of each other’s attacking slip-ups. Games in this Development League are always contested with enthusiasm and commitment, which means they are usually great to watch.

On the back of a fine victory the previous week the young Watt side was on the hunt for successive wins for the first time this season.

After a settling-in period, the first half-chance fell for the Watt after eight minutes when a nice interchange of play between Adam Breen and Liam Walker almost sent the latter through, however the pass was slightly misread and bounced off Walker’s heel. When this attack broke down, the home side created its first opportunity in a counterattack, but on this occasion the ball was sent harmlessly over the bar by Stephen McCulloch.

In the fourteenth minute, East Kilbride threatened again with a fizzing shot from distance by Matthew Ashelby. Craig Saunders, in the Watt goal, was untroubled, however, as the ball ended up wide of the target. After this, Max Allison went on a mazy run (the first of many), taking two home players out of the game before being upended about thirty metres from goal. The resulting free-kick was well dealt with and another counter attack was started, from which East Kilbride won a corner. Anton McGuigan delivered the set piece low from the right and Stephen McCulloch was allowed to amble past several defenders to tap home with eighteen minutes on the clock.

Within a minute of the restart, Allison was sent clear by Walker. Unfortunately he was unable to compose himself when faced with a one-on-one and triallist goalkeeper Scott Whyte did well to “stay big” and make the save. A couple of minutes later Breen and Walker again showed good initiative to play the ball into Grégoire Dawirs, however the home defence recovered well to surround the Belgian before he could set himself.

McCulloch came close to adding to his earlier goal when he struck the bar just before the half hour mark. A good old-fashioned goalmouth stramash followed, but the Heriot-Watt defence was able to clear its lines.

Breen was unable to keep a cut-back down and the ball went over the bar from about twelve metres, but the Watt finally levelled in the thirty-sixth minute. Walker delivered a corner from the left and with similarly poor defending to the earlier goal in evidence, Chris Donnelly headed home from close range. Another goal almost immediately followed with the best phase of play in the match. It started with a Tom Maher throw-in in the right-back position. A series of passes which involved Breen, Lane and Allison eventually found Walker on the left. He did well to cut in and have a shot with his right foot, but Whyte made another good save.

Half-time: 1-1

The second half began in the same way in which the majority of the first half had been played, with attacking football. This time it was East Kilbride threatening. When the ball was won in central midfield, Ashelby took aim again from distance. This time Saunders was forced into making a fine save, tipping the ball over the bar. From the resulting corner, again poorly defended, McCulloch was only too grateful to accept the gift of another goal.

Shortly after this, Donnelly turned well on the edge of the box but just couldn’t keep his shot down. Then McCulloch was denied a hat-trick by Saunders. In the sixty-seventh minute Walker was sent clear, but McGuigan recovered well to ensure his shot was hurried. A few minutes later Walker was in on goal again. After Whyte saved well, the ball fell back to Walker from a tight angle, and unfortunately there was no-one to convert his cross-cum-shot and East Kilbride survived to keep their lead intact.

An equaliser seemed to be slipping away from the Watt until in the seventy-eighth minute, Donnelly picked up the ball on the right, maintained control while weaving past several defenders and tucked a shot past Whyte for a goal which lived up to his ‘Maradonnelly’ social media tag.

Ryan McEwan on the East Kilbride right had a chance to add his name to the scoresheet when he took a great diagonal pass in his stride and sent a shot just off target. Watt substitute Ruaridh MacVinish went close with a free kick that was well saved by Whyte. The last major action of the game arrived in the eighty-third minute, when Kwame Antoine showed a great piece of skill in the middle of the park and forced Saunders to make another fine save.

A breath-taking game was brought to an end with the scores equal for the second time between these teams this season. Football can be a very funny game at times. It was very surprising that three of the four goals came from corners, despite the chances created in open play from both teams. All in all, it was another very entertaining game in a highly competitive youth league.

East Kilbride: Whyte, Devine (Ferguson 61), McGuigan, Rafferty, O’Kane, McEwan, Craig, Ashelby, McCulloch, McDonald, Antoine. Sub not used: MacDonald.

Heriot-Watt University: Saunders, Maher, Munro, Imray, Daniels, Lane, Dawirs (Notman 70), Allison, Breen (Carmichael 80), Walker (MacVinish 76), Donnelly. All subs. used.

.

East of Scotland Under-20 League
Friday 6th May 2016

BSC GLASGOW 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 5

It was remarkable how much resemblance this game bore to the previous Friday’s match, which Watt had ended in losing 5 – 1. Just like last week, the first three-quarters of the match were closely contested by two well-matched teams – but in the last phase of the match one team forged ahead, won decisively and could have scored more by the end. This time, however, it was the Watt which blossomed late in the game.

To be fair, Watt was never behind at any time in this match and although twice a lead was surrendered, it seldom looked like conceding the initiative. Tom Maher set the tone with a driving run down the right to supply Ross Fraser, whose shot passed just over the bar and four minutes later, the visitors went ahead. Andrew Imray started the move, winning a fine tackle and working the ball out of defence. Watt lost control in midfield, then Adam Breen won the ball back and found Liam Walker on the right with a well-judged pass. Walker came forward into the right side of the penalty box and sent a shot across goalkeeper Stephen Barr and in off the far post.

Two minutes later, a bizarre equaliser put BSC back on level terms. Tall, skilful winger Fraser Malcolm worked his way in along the by-line, but his cutback was intercepted by Scott Munro, who played the ball to Fraser in the right-back position. Fraser’s attempted left-foot clearance sliced off his foot, went over the head of Jack Robinson in the Watt goal and might very well have gone into the net on its own accord had not Mark McGowan headed home from almost on the goal line.

Fraser, who had been a fitness risk at the start of the game, succumbed to his injuries and left the field after twenty-four minutes’ play, being replaced by Grégoire Dawirs. Ross MacDonald joined the attack a few minutes later and was brought down just outside the area. Chris Lane’s free kick thumped off the face of the bar and shot up in the air, but drifted just over rather than falling back into play.

BSC striker Vinnie Newlands tried a shot from distance just after this, but Robinson confidently grasped the ball. Max Allison was next to come close for Watt, superbly anticipating a back-header and getting into the gap to strike a volley which went just past Barr’s right-hand post.

Watt continued to enjoy a greater share of the attacking and went back in front five minutes from half-time. The ball was worked infield from the right and Neil Laurenson, following it across the pitch, nipped it away as Barr came to try to claim it. The goalkeeper’s momentum carried him into the Watt player to concede a penalty kick. Walker converted clinically, sending a firm shot to the corner of the net.

At the start of the second half, BSC brought on the powerful Luke Murphy to add drive to the midfield area and he presented a new challenge to the Watt. The first meaningful attacks were again by the visitors, however. Max Allison sent in a free-kick from thirty metres which Barr saved low to his right; then, after Maher’s strong run had been halted by a trip by Lee Cruickshanks, Laurenson’s free kick passed the post on the other side of goal.

Having survived these alarms, BSC equalised again ten minutes after the break. Malcolm, who had been tackled firmly and often by Maher, had switched wings and when he sprinted down the right and came just inside the box, he tempted MacDonald to an injudicious challenge. Murphy put away the penalty without fuss.

BSC’s best chance of taking control came after this second equaliser. Newlands tested Robinson with a well-struck free kick which had the Watt goalkeeper at full stretch to his right to scoop the ball away for a corner and the home side maintained the pressure for a time, gaining another corner from Maher’s well-timed tackle, but this time, after Imray headed clear, Allison, Breen and Maher combined to play the ball out of defence.

Robinson had to make another save low to his right when Malcolm sent in a snap shot from well out on the right as play ebbed and flowed and the result hung in the balance. Lane sent Walker away on the right to begin a spell of Watt pressure, then Husnain Mansoor made a determined run on the left for BSC, but eventually shot into the side netting.

Newlands chased a ball on the BSC left and, having caught it, found that Maher had inserted himself between him and the ball. When he was penalised for fouling the Watt man to try to get it back, he booted the ball away in frustration and was immediately substituted, Joel Cask coming on to replace him. This action was in keeping with the general demeanour of the BSC bench, which was the best-conducted we have witnessed this season.

Watt began to turn the screw at this point. Allison was having a big influence in the midfield and after winning the ball well, he slipped it through for Dawirs on the edge of the area. Dawirs took slightly too long to get his shot away and it was partially blocked. He tried to reach it to poke it into goal, but Barr was off his line in a trice to thwart him.

Two minutes later, a huge kick downfield by Robinson bounced over the heads of the BSC defenders. Laurenson read the situation perfectly and reached the ball in the corner, sweeping it across goal first-time. Walker was on the same wavelength and was in perfect position to knock the ball into the net to complete his hat-trick.

Walker almost returned the compliment three minutes later with an instant take and turn which enabled him to send a pass to the left in search of Laurenson, but his shot from a tight angle fizzed across goal and past the far post.

As Watt continued to press forward, a brilliant pass by Imray sent Walker away on the right yet again. He might have chosen to shoot, but drew out Barr and held the ball awaiting reinforcements in the penalty box. Lane arrived, but was well policed and was unable to generate much power in his shot and although the goalkeeper had been taken out of the scenario, a defender reached the ball before it could cross the line.

After these near things, Watt’s next attack was decisive. Once again it was Walker who went down the right. He took the ball into the box and when Laurenson arrived at pace played the ball to him for a simple finish.

Murphy almost pulled one back for the home side after a Watt move broke down, but after powering his way through the middle, he shot past the post when confronted by the advancing Robinson.

Five minutes from time, it got even better for Watt. A nice passing movement on the edge of the box ended with the ball being slipped through to the nimble feet of Breen, who drew out Barr and slipped the ball past him for a fifth goal.

The last action of the game almost brought another for the visitors’ tally. Ben Atkinson went down the right and although his first attempt to cross struck a defender, the ball came back to him and he played it in towards Allison, who stretched to send the ball to the right of Barr, but the goalkeeper did very well to reach the ball and hang on to it.

BSC Glasgow:
Barr, Carrell, Prince, Irvine, Niven, Cruickshanks, McGowan (Murphy 45), Larmour, Newlands (Cask 66), Mansoor, Malcolm. Subs. not used: McDowall, Wilton.

Heriot-Watt University:
Robinson, Maher, Munro, Imray, MacDonald, Lane, Fraser (Dawirs 24), Allison, Walker (Atkinson 83), Breen (Cunningham 87), Laurenson. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr Ross Birrell

.

East of Scotland Under-20 League
Friday 29th April 2016

LOTHIAN THISTLE HUTCHISON VALE 5 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

Seldom can a game have altered so completely and suddenly as this one did. For five-sixths of the game, the teams were closely matched and the result was unpredictable, then in the last fifteen minutes the roof fell in on the Watt, resulting in a heavy defeat which could have been much worse by the end.

Watt created a couple of good early chances, Cam Dunn firing across goal, then a corner resulting in a goalmouth stramash which the visitors were unable to turn to their advantage. The ball was cleared downfield from this latter event and the bounce was misjudged by the Watt defence, enabling Jordan Mungell to slip the ball past Callum Reid to give Vale the lead.

The home side maintained some pressure after this and Andrew Imray saved a second goal with a back-headed clearance off the line after Reid had been tempted to the side of his penalty box and the ball chipped past him.

Back came the Watt, with a good tackle by Chris Lane to set up Liam Walker, who shot just past the post. Thomas Maher followed this with a driving run down the right to play and a switch of play to the left, but after trying to shake off his marker, Dunn shot into the side netting.

Just after this, it appeared that Watt had scored, when Walker went down the left and sent the ball over the goalkeeper’s head and apparently into goal, but the custodian nonchalantly collected the ball and played on. Spectators were not quite sure what they had witnessed, but Walker later confirmed that from his angle he could see that the ball had not crossed the line, so Mr Newman’s judgment was correct.

Watt continued to push for an equaliser. Ruaridh Macvinish won the ball and fired in a shot which was saved, then Dunn’s low centre was backheeled towards goal by Walker but without enough force. Dunn went on a mazy run into the centre of the home defence and was brought down on the edge of the area, but Macvinish’s free kick was slightly too high.

A good move by Vale, moving at pace down the left, created a chance for Keiran Young, but his flick went past the post. Watt came again through Adam Breen, who sent Walker away on the right. Walker waited until the penalty box was populated and sent in a good cross, but Dunn had come inside and when the ball passed just over his head, there was no-one on the left to pick it up.

Imray started the last move of the first half and it was one of the best, the ball moving with one touch from man to man to win a corner kick on the right. Maher’s header from the corner was superbly saved and a second shot was blocked on the line as Watt tried to force the ball home, but Vale managed to keep it out.

The Watt side took up where they had left off for half-time and from the start of the second half played some fine pass-and-move football and nine minutes after the restart, their enterprise was rewarded. A great tackle by Macvinish won the ball and he played the ball through for Dunn to sweep a left-foot shot firmly into the net.

Vale responded to this by bringing on top-rated player Ryan Fox, who the home team’s manager later admitted he had hoped not to have to use after a recent injury. Fox did not have an immediate effect on the game, but his influence on the later stages was decisive.

In the meantime, Watt continued to set the pace, with another good effort by Macvinish just missing the target and another admirable passing movement on the right enabling Maher to win a corner.

Elliot Taylor became the second Vale substitute half-way through the second half and it was the combination of the two replacements which eventually turned the game the way of the home side, but for a time the Watt remained in the ascendancy. Breen’s shot just passed by the left-hand post, then Walker was sent through the centre by Macvinish. The Vale goalkeeper rushed out of his area, but Walker was there first to get his shot away, only for the ’keeper to block the ball without recourse to his hands or arms.

As the game entered its last quarter of an hour, the complexion of the contest suddenly changed. Vale grasped the initiative and Reid had to make two good saves to thwart a thrust through the middle. Walker had the ball in the net for Watt but was ruled to have been offside and a minute later, Vale started to score goals in bulk.

Fox began the onslaught, gathering the ball from a throw-in and turning to wriggle between two defenders before sending in a shot that spun off the leg of a Watt player and looped over the head of Reid into goal. A minute later, the home side made it 3 – 1 with a goal of quality, going down the right at pace for the ball to be cut back to Fox, whose first-time shot gave Reid no chance.

Walker tried to respond with a dash down the right, but his cross was too hard for any player to make contact and soon Vale created a fourth goal, a cross from the left being headed by Taylor over Reid from the edge of the penalty area. Watt’s nightmare continued a few minutes later when Fox amazingly managed to keep in play a ball that appeared to be going over the sideline. Vale swept forward and when the visitors’ defence was unable to clear in a scramble in the box, Fox was there again to poke the ball under Reid.

There were only five minutes left to play, but in the course of that time, Watt had their goalkeeper to thank for preventing the score against them mounting higher, Reid making three fine stops within that short period. There is no doubt that the Watt players were shocked by the change that had come upon the game, but there is a lesson there for the youngsters, who must learn that losing one goal must not mean that you lose your shape and concede more. Full credit to Vale for the way in which the game was seized, but the Watt defence did rather fall apart towards the end of the game.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:
(goalkeeper not listed), Kay, Prior, Shala, Begbie, Simpson, Viola (Fox 57), Mungell (Taylor 67), Hutchinson, Young, Wood. Sub. not used: Bleakley.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Maher, Munro, Imray, MacDonald, Lane, Walker, Dawirs (Atkinson 74), Breen, Macvinish (Cunningham 85), Dunn (Connolly 80). All subs. used.

Referee: Mr Chris Newman

.

East of Scotland Under-20 Knock-out Cup
Friday 22nd April 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 0 SPARTANS 3

This was the Watt Development side’s first game for a month, during which the players had been home for the Easter break and had not trained together. Against a team of the quality of Spartans, this was sure to have an effect and from the start of this game the visitors pushed forward with menace and purpose, Harry Girdwood giving an early warning with a shot across the face of goal.

Liam Walker is a valuable asset going forward, but in defence he can be liable to give away silly fouls which put the defence under unnecessary pressure and in the tenth minute when Liam conceded provided Spartans just such an opportunity, a goal resulted. The ball was cleared as far as Anthony Laing, just outside the penalty area, and he fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net.

Spartans kept up the pressure, with Jonathan Grotlin the next to threaten with a dangerous run across the penalty box, but he reversed his shot too much and missed the goal.

Watt produced a good attack when Chris Lane’s fine pass sent Walker away on the right, but when he played the ball across the goalmouth, Thomas Maher was unable to turn it in.

Spartans showed their lethal touch again in the twentieth minute when a cutback from the right was deflected by a Watt defender to the edge of the area and Brandon Archibald reached the ball before Ross Fraser could close him down. Archibald’s shot with the inside of the right foot went in off the underside of the bar to put his side two ahead.

Watt continued to look a bit off the pace and when they overplayed the ball in trying to build from the back, Dylan Tait sent a shot off the top of the bar and over. Tait had another attempt within a minute of this, but Elliot Redmile did well to block the attempt to ease the ball past him.

Watt had switched things around a bit, with Fraser going to the left wing and Max Allison dropping into the right side of defence, but again Watt made a mess of trying to play out from the back and it took a superb intervention by Andrew Imray to deny Spartans.

Ten minutes before half-time, Spartans scored again. The ball was worked down the left, turned back up the line and played in to the point of the penalty box, where Tait expertly controlled the ball with his first touch and turned fully to place a controlled shot just inside the post to the left of Redmile.

Watt had the goalkeeper to thank a few minutes later when he prevented further damage with a good save from Tait’s shot from a tight angle, getting a hand up quickly to divert the ball behind, and Watt reached the interval without conceding again.

There seemed no reason to suppose that the second half would follow a different pattern and another three goals for the visitors would have surprised few, but when play resumed, the match had utterly changed. Somehow, the Watt players had become a team again and had shaken off the rustiness from their period of inactivity. The home side went immediately on to the offensive, Allison setting the new mood with a run and shot, and it was not long before the Spartans bench was expressing dissatisfaction with the pattern of play.

Adam Breen came into the Watt midfield and his artistry enhanced the side’s creativity, but in general the movement was much better and good passing movements were regularly assembled. A good move produced a headed pass which Lane directed towards goal, but Spartans’ goalkeeper, Euan Morton, did well to stop the ball and hang on to it.

A driving run through the middle by Maher was ended by a cynical foul which brought a caution for Spartans substitute Seweryn Syska, but the Watt failed to use the free kick to good effect.

A misplaced pass in the Spartans midfield gave Watt a chance to create and after a lovely move involving Maher and Breen, Walker moved into the box on the right, but again Morton showed his ability, narrowing the angle with great judgment to produce an excellent save. As Watt continued to apply pressure, a tremendous run by Scott Munro was finished by a good cross which enabled Breen to take the ball across Morton, but the goalkeeper was determined not to be beaten and speedily recovered his ground to block Breen’s attempt to play the ball past him.

It was not Syska’s night and with three minutes left on the clock, he sustained a bad injury which caused a long stoppage. The visitors had used all their substitutes and had to play out the remaining time with ten players. Despite this, the visitors came close when Shaun Miller cut in along the by-line to send the ball off the crossbar from the tightest of angles.

Watt finished the game on the attack, winning a corner on the left, but when the ball was played out of the danger area, the full-time whistle sounded.

Whilst the Watt coaching staff would have preferred that the form shown in the second half of this game had been produced for the whole ninety minutes, Banji Koya and Euan Cole were rightly delighted by the improvement in the second period and by the application shown by the Riccarton youngsters.

Heriot-Watt University:
Redmile, Fraser (Breen 52), Munro, Imray, MacDonald, Lane (Cunningham 67), Macvinish (Connelly 82), Allison, Maher, Dawirs, Walker. All subs. used.

Spartans: Morton, Clark, O’Neil, Hendry, Imlah (Syska 52), Smith, Girdwood (Tomassi 71), Laing, Tait, Grotlin, Archibald (Miller 60). Sub. not used: Mair.

Referee: Mr Greig Haynes

.

East of Scotland Under-20 League
Sunday 20th March 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 0 EDUSPORT ACADEMY 1

This was a thoroughly modern match, played on the latest synthetic surface between two well-coached sides. It was an interesting game, but after the fashion of a game of chess. Football has become a very different game during the last decade and this match was a good illustration of that. Perhaps it is only for the older spectator such as your correspondent that the game at times seems a little sterile – or perhaps just antiseptic.

Edusport, as expected, passed and moved as a well-oiled machine, probing for openings. The Watt defence had to be alert and vigilant, but in the central defensive pairing of Max Allison and Andrew Imray they had pace, strength and guile and the visitors did not find it easy to penetrate.

In Maxime Zajac, Edusport had a lively and inventive striker and in the eighth minute a diagonal ball put him in possession on the right. Elliot Redmile had come well out of his goal when the ball went wide and Zajac’s shot passed him, but Allison had covered in behind and was able to divert the ball for a corner.

Watt had a bit of a let-off after ten minutes’ play when Corentin Barreteau cut in from the right and fired in a left-foot shot which struck the bar. Zajac advanced to head the rebound, but was immediately halted by the offside whistle.

Zajac came close again five minutes later when picked out by a good through pass, but having pulled the ball down well on the edge of the area, he sent a shot with the inside of his right foot over the crossbar.

Watt settled into the game after this and for some time prevented their cultured opponents from creating clear-cut chances from their dominance of possession, but with thirty-four minutes played, Edusport produced a goal of some quality. The ball was passed around the edge of the area with such rapidity that the Watt defence found it hard to track it and when it came to Dorian Millet, he drove a firm, accurate shot into the corner of the goal to the left of the diving Redmile.

From then until half-time, the visitors pressed strongly and it was a matter of containment for the Watt, but the interval was safely reached. During the break, Watt coach Banji Koya made an adjustment to the formation and put new motivation into his players and from the restart it was a different game. Liam Walker came into the action just after half-time and Watt began to get the ball wide and to penetrate down the touchlines. Cammy Ross, who had shown us glimpses of his talent but had been a rather isolated figure, began to get possession closer to the opposition goal and might have had a penalty when he seemed to be tugged as he turned to create a shooting opportunity. The ball ran on to Imray, who got in a shot but fired the ball over the bar.

By no means was Edusport’s threat eliminated, however, and within a minute Redmile made a good catch going to his left.

Watt were getting within striking distance now, however, and a Ruaridh Macvinish drive went just past the post. Jacob Duffy came into the action shortly after this, with Walker switching to the right as Watt probed on both flanks, but Edusport’s rapid counterattacks were dangerous and influential midfielder Nicholas Hernandez was always a threat. A good move on the left ended with Hernandez firing a low cross towards the far post area, but an advancing forward was unable to reach the ball.

Edusport introduced the tall, powerful figure of Alexander Arthur and he was soon involved as Hernandez sent him away on the left, but a fine tackle by Imray stopped his advance.

A pass down the line released Walker and his pace took him past the defence and into the box, but although he has a good shot in his right foot, he is a little less trusting of it than his left and he waited too long to get the shot away, making it easier for Guillaume Guemon to make the save.

The Academy players are technically excellent, but when their defence is threatened, they don’t hesitate to bring down a player to stop the move and when Neil Robb made a dangerous run towards the area, Antoine Brunet-Debaines came forward to ensure he got no closer, accepting the caution as an occupational hazard. The free-kick was within Ross’s range, but on this occasion he thumped the ball into the defensive wall.

The last attack of the game was Watt’s best of the match and almost brought the equaliser the team’s second-half display would have justified. Allison started it from deep in his own half, winning the ball with an excellent tackle and moving to his right past a couple of players before delivering a good pass to Ross Fraser on the right. Fraser sent a pinpoint pass up the line for Walker and he outpaced his pursuit to reach the penalty box, then sent a good low cross to the far post. Robb was arriving there at speed, but had to stretch a little to reach the ball and leaned back, sending his shot over the bar.

It was yet another single-goal defeat for the Watt side, but another occasion on which they had given an excellent account of themselves against strong opposition. It wouldn’t take much improvement to start converting narrow defeats into victories and that will be the objective in the final few games of the league programme.

Heriot-Watt University:
Redmile, Fraser, Munro, Imray, Allison, Dawirs, Duffy, Macvinish, Ross, Robb, Maher. Subs. not used: Notman, Dowds, Connolly, Walker.

Edusport Academy:
Guemon, Descoss, Roch, Brunet-Debaines, Menant, Millet, Barreteau, Bouchentouf, Zajac, Hernandez, Ha. Subs. not used: Loyal, Collinet, Simoes, Grossepiece, Arthur.

Referee: Mr Steven Wilson
.

East of Scotland Under-20 League
Monday 14th March 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2 SPARTANS 3

This was the Under-20s’ second game in four days and it produced the same result at the previous one. This time the opponents were the league leaders, but although the young Watt side seems able to match most sides for much of a game, it isn’t having much luck when it comes to the final stages.

As in the previous game, the Watt players came off nursing a sense of injustice and again it was related to a refereeing decision. Actually, for the most part, Mr Marshall had a very good game, but he demonstrated one very unusual trait. Most referees working without assistants tend to give the defending side the benefit of the doubt in offside calls, but throughout the game, Mr Marshall applied the opposite point of view. Spartans seemed to recognise this early on and benefited several times from being allowed to play on in “close call” situations. Watt got a similar benefit on at least one occasion in the second half, but in general the policy seemed to benefit the visitors more.

It didn’t seem to matter, as none of the calls, or lack of them, led to goals until close to the end of the game, but just after the Watt had got back on level terms for the second time, with two minutes of regulation time left, Spartans scored the winner following a cross from a player who the Watt defenders, to a man, were certain was clearly offside. None of them is neutral, of course, and they could all be wrong. Certainly the referee was well up with play and in a good position to make a judgment, but it was another sore one to take for the Watt lads after giving their all for ninety minutes against the free-flowing Spartans side.

When playing a top opponent, you don’t want to concede a poor goal early on, but Watt gave themselves that impediment in this game, the home defence misjudging the flight of a lomg throw-in into the box and allowing the ball to bounce. Alex Imlah ran in to head the ball on the rise into the corner of the Watt goal.

In possession, Spartans moved with fluency and the home midfield had a lot of running to do, but Watt was also capable of passing well when it could get hold of the ball. In a concerted period of attacking just after the half-hour, the ball was passed back and forth across the Spartans box several times, with Scott Munro and Tom Maher getting in good crosses, but no shooting opportunity was created until Anton Dowds succeeded in firing in a low drive which Cameron Rae pushed away close to his left-hand post. Gregoire Dawirs reached the rebound, but sent the ball into the side net.

As half-time approached, Andrew Mair sent in a shot from the edge of the area which was turned round the post by Craig Saunders. Spartans took a quick short corner, but when the cross was sent to the back post, Andrew Imray was alive to the danger and headed clear.

Watt striker Cameron Ross, whose penetrating runs were causing some concern for the visiting defenders, fired in a shot early in the second half, forcing Rae to save with his feet. Ross reached the rebound, but under pressure from a defender put the ball into the side net.

A minute later, however, the Watt was level. Munro made a splendid run on the left, cutting in along the by-line to send the ball across goal for Dawirs to knock it in from close range.

Cameron Dawson got the benefit of the doubt on an offside call shortly after this and it was the turn of Saunders to save with his feet, Mair dragging the rebound wide, but a minute later Spartans led again. Harry Girdwood did well on the right wing and cut the ball back for Dawson, who fairly hammered the ball into the top corner.

Saunders saved Miller’s shot from a tight angle after another of those close no-offside decisions and then Mair fired one in from distance. It looked as if it was rising just over the bar, but it was too close to take a chance and Saunders helped it over.

The Watt players noisily claimed a penalty when Ross sped into the box and went over the arms of the diving Rae, but the referee was in excellent position to make the decision and was quick to wave away the claims. A minute later, Watt was back on the offensive, Liam Walker passing inside to Ross, whose first-time shot with the inside of the foot concentrated on placement rather than power, but Rae was equal to the challenge, diving to his left to make the save.

A good pass by Adam Breen put Walker away on the left, this time with the Watt getting the benefit of the offside doubt, and he sent in a high, hanging cross which Ross headed down towards the corner of the goal, with Rae again diving to make keep the ball out and turn it round the post.

With five minutes of normal time left to play, a long through ball sent Ross speeding past the Spartans defence, only to be tripped by Imlah when twenty-five metres from goal. It appeared that this intervention had prevented a goal, but Ross proved otherwise, firing the free kick into the corner of the net.

It appeared that the Watt had managed to secure a point, but when a free kick was partially cleared, then played down the Spartans left, the cross was headed home from close to goal by Adam Corbett. The Watt players were distraught, but it must be said that the cross was not well defended, as Corbett’s header from around the edge of the six-yard box was unchallenged.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Maher (Breen 45), Munro, Imray, Daniel, Hume, Dowds (Notman 81), Campbell (Dawirs 25), Ross, Allison, Walker. Sub. not used: Smyth.

Spartans:
Rae, Clark, O’Neil, Imlah, Corbett, Smith, Miller, Mair, Dawson (Girdwood 74), Tait, Archibald (Laing 74). Subs. not used: Hendry, Morton.

Referee: Mr Nicky Marshall
.

East of Scotland Under-20 Challenge Cup – First Round, Second Leg: Friday 11th March 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2 PRESTON ATHLETIC 3

An insipid first-half display by a Watt side which looked short of confidence seemed to have ended home interest in the Challenge Cup and it looked as if the Watt could be on the end of a hiding from their energetic opponents. Lacking the usual central defensive pair of Andrew Imray (family event) and Ross Macdonald (injured), the makeshift pairing of Gregoire Dawirs and Fraser Wilson struggled for cohesion against a lively visiting attack. After half-time, however, the recovery was such that not only was levelling the scores on the night a possibility, it even seemed conceivable that the Watt might rescue the tie.

Watt fell behind after just four minutes. One is always sympathetic to referees who have to make offside judgments without assistants and this was one of the cases in which it had a telling effect. A Preston player on the left, realising he was in an offside position, was running back up the line when the ball was passed to him. Your correspondent happened to be right in line with the incident and was therefore in a good position to see that the player hadn’t quite made it in time, although of course a split second later the situation looked quite different. The fact that he was running back might have given the referee a better chance to make the judgment, but with players running in opposite directions it wasn’t an easy one to call. Play was allowed play to continue and when the ball was crossed to the far side of the goal, it was played back across and knocked into the net by Aaran Currie.

A second goal arrived after sixteen minutes’ play and this time there could be no complaint. David Porcher lofted the ball in from the right wing and Connor Brydon watched its flight carefully to sweep a well-timed volley past Elliot Redmile into the corner of the goal.

As Athletic continued to press, Brydon played the ball wide, from where it was sent low across the face of the Watt goal and out on the far side.

Before half-time, the visitors added a third goal. A long ball through the middle split the Watt defence and when Fraser Wilson’s lunge failed to reach the ball, Preston substitute Brandon Cameron had a clear run in on goal to send a shot into the corner of Redmile’s net. Cameron came close to adding yet another goal a minute later, his shot from a tight angle coming off the outside of the post on its way past.

In the last minute of the half, the Watt mounted a good, sustained attack and although this finished tamely, perhaps it served to send the team into the dressing-room in better heart. Perhaps coaches Banji Koya and Euan Cole managed to find the right words to give their side new motivation. Whatever the reason, the Watt side looked brighter from the restart and reduced the arrears six minutes after half-time. A corner from the left was not properly cleared by the visitors’ defence and when the ball was lofted into the middle of the bunch of players in the penalty box, two Preston defenders misjudged the flight and missed the ball. Matthew Smyth, who had played in goal for the Watt in the first leg, read the flight correctly and volleyed past Dean Robertson into the corner of the net.

A good save by Redmile from a sharp shot by Currie prevented a goal denting the Watt revival, but gradually another factor began to intrude into the proceedings. At the end of the previous week’s first-leg match, the referee had commented favourably on the Watt’s discipline, but in the space of a week something seemed to have altered. A number of refereeing decisions which didn’t go their way seemed to rattle some of the players, but the attitude of the official was perhaps also a factor, as Mr Haynes seemed at times to be unnecessarily aggressive in the way in which he addressed his comments to the players.

A number of Watt players were cautioned for dissent, which is in itself very unusual, but although the players were making their points forcibly and may have struck a tone which the referee did not altogether appreciate, no foul language was apparent. This was a good game of football between two youth teams both of which were trying to play good football and the number of cautions issued seems to suggest a different story. If a referee is so offensible as to caution players for questioning decisions without resorting to inappropriate language, he is likely to find his book filling rapidly in matches played in a less positive spirit.

With twenty minutes left to play, Watt grabbed a second goal to bring the gap between the scores back to one (on the night) and two (on aggregate). Robertson had come out to the edge of his area to intervene, but the ball was secured by the Watt and when Ruaridh Macvinish came into possession on the left, he lofted a shot towards the empty goal. The ball came back off the crossbar and Josh Notman was on hand to fire in the rebound.

Redmile made another smart save, this time preventing an own-goal when a ball played in from the right deflected off a defender, but he surpassed this effort a few minutes later. He made a fantastic stop from a close-range shot and was immediately back on his feet to keep out the rebound, giving the opportunity for the ball to be cleared.

Six minutes from the end of regulation time came the incident that had everyone talking after the end of the game. Watt mounted an attack on the left and Dowds brought the ball in along the by-line before cutting it back to the waiting strikers. The ball was driven into goal, but to general astonishment, the referee ruled the goal offside. When Macvinish remonstrated, pointing out that the ball had been played back from the line, he was issued with two yellow cards and a red one, the referee telling him he had “talked himself into two”.

We have every sympathy with the position of referees in our grade of football. As we have said above it is never easy to work without assistance and we are reluctant to be critical of any official. We must say, however, that we have never before heard of a player being given two yellow cards for a single uninterrupted speech. Macvinish was not warned that he was being cautioned and he would be sent off if he continued his dissent and he did not use foul language. When he had finished what he had to say, the referee showed him the three cards, one after the other.

It is only fair to point out that we were not within earshot of Macvinish when he spoke his piece, but we have no doubt that even without the use of colourful language, he expressed his views with some feeling. Looked at objectively, this incident was a salutary lesson for all the Watt players. Macvinish had played from the start of the game and had seen others cautioned for dissent before him. By the eighty-fourth minute he should have known the referee’s temperament and despite the provoking circumstances he should have kept his emotions under tighter control. None of the other players felt it necessary to harangue the referee as he did. It appears that the coaches made their point to the players, as in the following game against Spartans the Watt side returned to normal and had no cautions.

Despite the loss of a player, the Watt continued on the offensive for the remainder of the match. Walker got behind the Preston defence on the left and when he played the ball into the penalty area, Adam Breen got on to it and sent in a shot which Robertson did well to block with his arm. Walker came on to the rebound, but his shot from a tight angle went past.

Heriot-Watt University:
Redmile, Maher, Munro, Dawirs, Wilson, Allison, Duffy, Dowds, Smyth, Macvinish, Walker. Subs. not used: Lane, Cunningham.

Preston Athletic:
Robertson, Reynolds, Thomson, Baillie, Siegel, Cochrane, Stevenson, Moffat, Brydon (Cameron 37), Currie, Porcher. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr Greig Haynes
.

East of Scotland Under-20 Challenge Cup – First Round, first leg: Friday 4th March 2016

PRESTON ATHLETIC 4 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 3

Heriot-Watt’s third meeting of the season with Preston ended, like the other two, in defeat, but the closeness of the scoreline in this two-legged tie left a chance for the Watt side in the final clash of the sides at Riccarton a week later.

All that was after the game got off to the worst possible start. With no goalkeeper available for the game, Watt had striker Matthew Smyth wearing the gloves, so a freak goal in the first minute was the last thing the side wanted, but that’s what it got. A miscued pass in midfield ended at the feet of Preston 10 in space on the left. He chipped the ball towards the far post area, but it sailed over the head of Smyth and into the top corner of the net.

To their credit, the Watt lads did not let this setback disrupt their game plan and ten minutes later they were level. Chris Lane sent through a pass for Josh Notman and although the ball was partially cleared, it was picked up by Sean Campbell, who drove past several players into the penalty area and slipped the ball to Notman, who sidestepped one more before sending a left-foot shot past the goalkeeper.

Preston saw a lot of the ball in the first half and the Watt was often pushed back into defence, but the side kept a good shape and Athletic was unable to penetrate easily. Preston 9 had a shot which clipped the bar on the way over, but generally the Watt’s counterattacks looked just as likely to produce a goal. When Ruaridh Macvinish’s attempt to play in Jacob Duffy on the right was blocked back towards him, he changed direction and played a first-time pass to Liam Walker on the left. Walker got into his stride and went past the full-back at remarkable speed, but his low centre into the space between goalkeeper and defenders did not find a Watt player rushing in to convert and passed out for a goal kick.

Stand-in goalkeeper Smyth did well to keep out an angled drive from Preston 10, diving to turn the ball round the post to keep the scores level and with four minutes of the first half left, things got even better for the visitors. A free kick was played down the right for Thomas Maher, who cut inside a defender and lofted the ball to the far post area, where Lane advanced to time his shot perfectly and drive the ball firmly into the net on the half-volley.

Watt maintained the momentum towards half-time and in the last minute of the half, Macvinish’s corner from the right was headed by Duffy across goal and just past the far post.

Preston came out for the second half with renewed purpose and played very well, passing and moving with pace and precision and giving the Watt defence a severe examination. Within five minutes of the restart, the scores were level again, a good run on the left by Preston 3 producing a cross from which Preston 8 headed past Smyth.

Preston 11 struck a firm shot from Preston 9’s cutback, but the ball passed just wide of the junction of post and bar, but Watt battled away, got in some good tackles to keep the home side at bay and remained dangerous on the break. Fraser Wilson was playing in defence, but remained a threat at set pieces and only just failed to get his head to a free kick as he ran in towards goal. Notman then had evil luck when a defender misread the flight of the ball and he took it on the volley to pass the goalkeeper but saw the ball rebound off the far post and come straight back towards him. He closed in to meet the rebound, but a defender managed to get a leg in to deflect the ball over the bar.

Duffy cut in from the right and sent in a left-foot shot which was saved by the goalkeeper. Athletic went forward in a fine move which ended in a diagonal ball through the Watt defence which was converted by Preston 9 to put his side back in the lead. Four minutes later, Preston 9 scored again with a low shot to the far corner of the net and with twenty minutes left to play there was a danger the tie would drift beyond the Watt, an idea reinforced when a Preston forward hit the bar with a header as the visiting defence came under severe pressure.

Watt survived the crisis without further mishap, however, and Macvinish came close, letting fly from an improbable distance following a free kick for a foul on Duffy and two minutes later another free kick produced a goal to bring the deficit back to one. Sandeep Saji, who had done very well since replacing Notman, was fouled on the Watt right and Macvinish’s excellent free kick was reached at the far post by Wilson, who sent a powerful header into the net.

A fine move on the right a few minutes later might have given the Watt an even better outcome, but Campbell’s cross was just a fraction too high for the men in the middle and Watt was content to know that the tie was still alive for the return leg at Riccarton.

Preston Athletic:
Campbell, Cameron, Thomson, Bailey, Reynolds, Robertson, Cochrane (Stevenson 64), Porcher, Currie, Moffat (Johnson 91), Bryden. All subs. used.

Heriot-Watt University:
Smyth, Maher, Munro, Imray, Wilson, Lane, Duffy, Campbell, Notman (Saji 71), Macvinish, Walker (Cunningham 77) All subs. used.

Referee: Mr John Brown
.

East of Scotland Under-20 League: Friday 26th February 2016

PRESTON ATHLETIC 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

We look on participation in sport as benefiting students in a number of ways, including the building of character and this match was a case in point. Early in the game, the Watt players had to work hard to contain a brisk and pacy Athletic side, but having conceded a goal improbably far into first-half stoppage time, they battled back to square the scores and looked like they could go on to win before losing to an own goal following a corner arising from dubious circumstances. Not an easy one to take, and not really the best preparation for a cup double-header against the same side over the next two Fridays.

Preston showed great alertness and quick movement in the early stages of the game, but the first good chance was created by the visitors with a good pass by Anton Dowds to Liam Walker, who went down the right and played the ball across low and hard. The home defence half-cleared the ball, but Dowds recovered it, sidestepped a challenge and sent a shot against the base of the post to Craig Pennycuick’s right.

Dowds had another chance a few minutes later when a misdirected pass from defence landed at his feet thirty metres from goal, but his pass to the left for Jack Connolly was struck too firmly and the striker was forced wide, resulting in a shot which missed the goal.

For the next period of the game, Preston played some good stuff in midfield without penetrating the Watt cover and when the next good chance came, it was again for the visiting side. Walker was once more the creator with a trademark low cross into the area between goalkeeper and defenders. Connolly came on to the ball at the far post, but with the goal beckoning, blazed his shot over the crossbar.

Preston’s best chance thus far came just after the half-hour when Aaran Currie, a smart striker who is quick on the turn, got a yard on Andrew Imray, but Craig Saunders dived to touch his shot on to the post and past. The corner was headed towards the corner to Saunders’ right, but Grégoire Dawirs was on the line to control the ball calmly and send it away to safety.

Watt underwent a difficult period after this. Scott Munro, trying to retain possession and emerge from defence, had to give Jack Daniel a pass under some pressure. David Porcher nipped in to steal the ball away, but his shot passed across goal and out.

Liam Walker was then very harshly penalised for what appeared to be a perfectly-timed tackle, the free kick being awarded a few metres outside the penalty box after the tackled player fell dramatically. Nick Thomson’s kick was accurate and firm, but Saunders was up to the challenge with a superb save high to his right.

There had been a short stoppage when a blow to the face of Dawirs had produced some blood, but when a long cross from the Preston right which overshot its target and turned into a threat to goal had to be pushed over the bar by Saunders, we were already three minutes over the regulation time. Watt cleared the corner, but the game went on and when Athletic recovered the ball and sent in another cross, Gavin Stevenson stole in front of the advancing Saunders to touch the ball past him into goal and give his side the lead.

The instant that the ball was centred, the half-time whistle sounded.

Watt continued to make and miss chances as the second half progressed. Five minutes after half-time, a corner was dropping towards the head of Ross MacDonald when Dowds, apparently not alerted by his team-mate, stepped in front of him and headed just over.

Three minutes later, Walker allowed the ball to run past him on the right wing and was brought down by Preston captain Scott Siegel as he tried to move on to it, resulting in a caution for Siegel. A good free kick by Sean Campbell went loose in the penalty area, but no Watt player could prevent it being cleared. Preston broke with typical swiftness and Daniel did well, committing the man on the ball to playing the ball inaccurately and allowing Saunders to collect.

Watt came close again a minute later, a good pass by Dowds enabling Campbell to send Walker away on the right again, but having come inside, Walker found his attempted cutback for Connolly intercepted by the legs of goalkeeper Pennycuick and diverted behind.

Just on the hour mark, a free kick on the right was played by MacDonald to the edge of the area, where Dowds headed it down and on. Campbell had anticipated well and rapidly moved on to the ball to drive it fiercely between Pennycuik and his post for the equaliser.

Max Allison was introduced and made an immediate impact with a driving run through midfield and a pass to Thomas Maher, whose cross just eluded Dowds near the far post.

Saunders was called into action again when the Watt was caught in possession whilst trying to play the ball out of defence and Aaron Moffat sent in a shot, but the big goalkeeper moved to his right to make the stop.

Allison was given possession from a bad pass in the home defence and drove down the right. Siegel impeded him but Allison drove on into the penalty area, where Siegel brought him down with a charge from behind. The Athletic centre-back was cautioned for a second time and sent off, but the award was merely a free kick outside the box, which Dowds drove off the wall for a corner.

A superb Watt move created another fine chance, Imray’s precision pass to the right being headed by Maher perfectly into the stride of Walker as he ran through the inside-right channel, but with only Pennycuick to beat, the Watt striker sent his shot past the far post.

Three minutes later, Walker had another opportunity, running on to a pass from Dawirs, but Pennycuick had anticipated well and gambled on a run from his goal. Walker only had to get the ball past him to have a shot into an open goal, but the ’keeper managed to get his left foot to the ball and the chance came to nothing.

Preston brought on a number of substitutes in succession and suddenly, although the numbers were in Watt’s favour, the tenor of the game changed. Now the Watt defence was under pressure and Athletic had somehow wrested back the initiative. A free kick from thirty metres was blocked out by Saunders and cleared, but the visitors’ defence remained under siege.

With seven minutes left to play, Stevenson went down the right wing. He carried the ball right on to the line – and then moved it further to the right. He soon brought it back again, but it seemed clear that the ball had gone out of play, even if only briefly. The referee did not see it this way, however, and allowed Stevenson to continue and win a corner. When the kick was driven hard into the knot of players on the edge of the six-yard box, it struck Watt substitute Fraser Wilson on the back of the head and shot into the net.

Watt piled forward in the closing minutes, with all the big men pushed into attack, but there was a frantic aspect to the play and the nearest the visitors came to a second equaliser was from a throw-in which was headed on by Dowds and then over the bar by MacDonald.

A number of circumstances had proved adverse on the day for the Watt side, but at least the lads had given a good account of themselves and had demonstrated that the 5 – 1 defeat suffered at Riccarton earlier in the season was not up to the standard available from the team. In the end, the players must reflect that if they had managed to take a proportion of the good chances they created, they would not have left the pitch with such feelings of frustration. That may be kept in mind when contemplating the next two games against this fit and lively Preston Athletic side.

Preston Athletic:
Pennycuick, Cameron, Thomson (Reynolds 81), Nicholson (Ormiston 76), Siegel, Robertson, Stevenson, Porcher, Currie, Moffat, Cochrane (Bryden 65). Sub not. used: Campbell.

Heriot-Watt University:
Saunders, Maher, Munro, Imray, MacDonald, Daniel, Campbell, Dawirs (Wilson 77), Walker (Macvinish 84), Connolly (Allison 62), Dowds. Subs. not used: Smyth, Cunningham.

Referee: Mr Steven Wilson

.

East of Scotland Under-20 League: Friday 12th February 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1 CIVIL SERVICE STROLLERS 2

In its previous home game, the young Watt side put on a good display despite defeat by Edinburgh City and went on to beat Whitehill Welfare away from home the following week – but this was no repeat of the “unlucky” scenario. After the sterling performance of the previous week, Coach Banji Koya had sent out the same starting eleven, but to recall such a limp performance from the side we have to go back to the early stages of the season. Such a lack of energy and commitment was never going to succeed against this hardworking Strollers side.

Watt fell behind after only eight minutes, with goalkeeper Calum Reid, who had played so well against Whitehill the previous week, making a bad misjudgment. Reid is keen not to be hanging about on his line when he can help his defence, but when the ball was played down the Strollers’ right wing, he sped from his goal towards the edge of his box and was comfortably beaten to it by Ryan William Conroy, who neatly slotted the ball into the net from a tightening angle but from a long way out.

Watt responded well with a good move on the left and Liam Walker tried to find Thomas Maher coming in from the right side, but Calum Murphy rose to head clear before the ball could reach the Watt player.

Sean Campbell made a good intrusion on the left side of the penalty area, but could perhaps have played the ball inside to Adam Breen rather than take it past another defender and make the angle tight for his attempted pass.

The visitors pressed forward at every opportunity and after David Beaton shot high and wide, a header from Paul Campbell was well saved by Reid.

Andrew Imray had an opportunity from a corner, moving in at the back post to take the ball on the volley, but his side-footed effort strangely lacked power and was easily saved by William Brown. A good spell of pressure by the Watt followed this, but a determined Strollers defence stood firm and eventually Murphy got the ball away for Andrew Thompson to drive forward and win a corner.

The Watt side looked lacklustre at the start of the second half and Banji Koya soon made a change, bringing Fraser Wilson into the action on his return from injury, but the visitors continued to look the more positive side. A good move on the left ended in a shot to the side net by Beaton, before Conroy got a foot to the ball to send it just past the post as the Watt defence took too long to clear.

These warnings were not heeded and on the hour, Strollers scored a second goal. Cunningham committed an unnecessary foul near the touchline and when the free kick was played towards the near post, Campbell got ahead of his marker to flick a header past Reid.

Chris Lane and Jack Connolly came into the action, but the second goal seemed to have sapped what had remained of the Watt’s belief and morale and the visitors continued to dominate, winning a series of corners.

Only in the closing stages did the Watt side begin to fight back. Sean Campbell timed his run well to move on to a through pass and run clear, but although he struck his shot well, Brown dived to his left to bring off a wonderful save. Wilson chased a pass into the penalty area, but Brown again saved his side with a brave dive at the feet of the big striker.

Eventually, in stoppage time at the end of the match, the Watt did get a goal back. Clearing a corner, the Watt moved quickly down the right and Walker got a chance to show his considerable pace. When he passed inside, Wilson’s first touch wasn’t the greatest and his attempted shot was blocked, but as the ball ran free, Wilson, now on the ground, was able to hook it over the line from a recumbent position.

There were three more minutes of stoppage time to play, but although the visitors were now showing all the signs of alarm associated with such a situation, the Watt could not score again.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Cunningham (Lane 66), Munro, Imray, MacDonald, Dawirs, Maher, Campbell, Smyth (Wilson 51), Breen (Connolly 72), Walker. Subs. not used: Duffy, Redmile.

Civil Service Strollers:
Brown, Ramsay (Beveridge 69), Murphy (Bell 87), Hutchinson, Stewart, Downie, Campbell, King (Callaghan 79), Conroy, Beaton, Thompson. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr David McAlinden.

.

East of Scotland Under-20 League: Friday 5th February 2016

WHITEHILL WELFARE 0 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2

The Watt side put on a display of great courage and resilience at Lasswade High School to thwart a Welfare side which had not previously failed to score in any league match this season.

Watt settled into the game with a good shape and after seventeen minutes came close when Adam Breen found Matthew Smyth in good position and his first-time shot found the side netting.

A minute later, the Watt lads took the lead when the ball ran over the foot of Blair Lawson as he tried to control it and Liam Walker latched on to it to run into the area and place a right-foot shot past Ben McGinlay.

Five minutes after this, Breen again created a good chance, his clever pass to Walker giving him the chance to step inside a defender and fire in a shot which fizzed across goal and narrowly missed the far post.

Whitehill stepped up the pace in an effort to get back on level terms before half-time and James Flynn had an effort blocked before the Watt broke clear to come very close to scoring again. Breen broke out of defence and again found Walker on the left. Walker drove forward and sent a firm, low cross into the gap between goalkeeper and defender for Smyth to run on to, but the Watt striker failed to get over his shot and it sliced off his foot and went past.

Smyth was annoyed with himself for this miss, but after the half-time reassurances of his team-mates, he found the net eight minutes into the second half. Once more, the Whitehill defence contributed to its own downfall, an attempted backpass falling short, but Smyth didn’t hestitate and sped in to slip the ball past McGinlay to put the Watt two up.

Whitehill threw everything into the attempt to get back into the game. Mark Wilkie had a shot from the edge of the area, but the ball went well wide of the post. Flynn got the break of the ball to fire in a shot, but Callum Reid was in good position to gather. Good work on the wing by Daniel McKinlay took him into the penalty area and Watt had a shade of good fortune as Ross MacDonald played the ball against his own post and past.

A clearance from the Watt box found Flynn, who lobbed the ball back into the goalmouth. It bounced off the top of the bar and came back into play, but the Watt defence dealt with the issue. McKinlay was causing problems as the game entered its last phase and played in a dangerous ball which Reid did well to block. As Welfare continued the onslaught, a superb challenge by Andrew Imray took the ball out for a throw.

Welfare had one final near miss, when Bradd Campsie headed a long throw against the outside of the post, but the Watt side had the look of a team which has worked for what it holds and doesn’t mean to give it up.

From the last few paragraphs it is clear that for much of the second half the Watt was pushed back into defence, but the organisation was good, the temperament calm and in Imray and MacDonald they had a central defensive partnership which was alert, decisive and resolute. Fresh-faced young Grégoire Dawirs also excelled in a defensive midfield role, tackling with great commitment. Jack Cunningham, very inexperienced at this level, had the satisfaction of maintaining his place for the ninety minutes and stuck to his task determinedly, even finding the energy to support his forwards in a late foray. Scott Munro, Thomas Maher and Sean Campbell contributed much both in attack and in defence, supporting the key efforts of Breen, Smyth and Walker, and in Reid, the Watt had a brave – and vocal – last line of defence.

Whitehill Welfare:
McGinlay, McCowatt, Ure, Pollock (Stark 58), Campsie, Lawson, McKinlay, Wilkie, Flynn, Ryan (Gray 87), Crowther (Meldrum 58). All subs. used.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Cunningham, Munro, Imray, MacDonald, Dawirs, Maher (Connolly 81), Campbell (Macvinish 84), Smyth (Lane 72), Breen, Walker. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr Gary McGregor

.

East of Scotland Under-20 League: Friday 29th January 2016

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1 EDINBURGH CITY 2

This game was one of the few Development League fixtures to survive the effects of Storm Gertrude on Friday night, but despite difficult conditions both teams put on a good show, with lots of chances for each side.

Watt had several regular players missing due to first team call ups, injuries and illness, so it was very much a make-shift starting XI with a bench that only included two fit players. Nevertheless, as has become normal, those who played gave their all for the Watt cause.

In an impressive first half display, right-back Jack Cunningham found himself beyond the City left-back on three occasions after great combinations with Adam Breen, Gregoire Dawirs and captain Andrew Imray. City had also created chances and forced Elliot Redmile into some impressive saves. An unfortunate collision forced Jack Cunningham off early.

The Watt took the lead midway through the first half during a spell when it was reduced to ten players, with Cunningham receiving treatment. Matthew Smyth gathered the ball on the right hand side, drove past a couple of defenders and had the composure to lift the ball over the advancing goalkeeper into goal. Jack Connolly replaced Cunningham shortly after this.

As the first half had done, the second half began in lively fashion, with a few half chances being created by both teams.

Eventually City equalised, with the appropriately-named Ronaldo pouncing on a rebound after Redmile had saved well. The Watt had a shaky five-minute spell after this with lots of passes going astray, but with great resilience they rolled up their sleeves and battled to stabilise things. 

City was playing well and sensed an opportunity to claim its first league win. With a new combination in central midfield of Breen and Dawirs, with Tom Maher dropping to right back, the young Watt side handled the pressure very well for a time, but with around twenty minutes to play, conceded again when Dean Carse took possession at the right corner of the box and drove past Liam Walker before slamming a powerful shot high past Redmile.

With time running out for the Watt to salvage an equaliser, a chance fell to Scott Davies but his attempt went harmlessly over the bar. Liam Walker continued to threaten from the left but to no avail. Ross Fraser and Sandeep Saji made appearances from the bench.

At the full-time whistle, the unbeaten run of the Watt was over, despite a spirited performance by the depleted squad. Most pleasing was the fitness of the players, who were able to maintain a high intensity performance throughout, despite having in their ranks a few players who hadn’t previously enjoyed a lot of game-time for the side. The “periodisation” training has had clear benefits to the young side in the tough Development League as is shown by the number of Under-20 players who have featured in First Team squads during the season.

Heriot-Watt University:
Redmile, Cunningham (Connolly (30), Munro, Imray, MacDonald, Breen, Maher, Dawirs, Smythe (Fraser 60), Davies (Saji 82), Walker. Sub not used: Mulder.

Edinburgh City:
Mancini, Birrell, MacKenzie, P Blaney, O’Donell, Downie, Carse, McConnel, Williams, J Blaney, Davidson, Ronaldo.
Subs.: Slater, Aitken, Dag, Lukeito, Hannah.

Referee: Mr Greig Haynes

.

East of Scotland Under-20 League: Friday 22nd January 2016

EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 3

A storming recovery after the loss of two goals in the first ten minutes of the second half gave the Watt a deserved victory at Peffermill.

The Watt party had a shock on arrival – because Edinburgh University’s Lowland League side had a home fixture scheduled for the Saturday, this match had been shunted on to a thoroughly unsuitable pitch. Known as the ‘West’ pitch, this is no more than a training area with floodlights insufficient for match play, on to which portable goals had been wheeled. The pitch was soft and greasy at the start of the game and deteriorated steadily throughout the period of the match.

Whilst the going was still reasonable, the Watt side played some good football in a first half in which a strong breeze, blowing across the pitch and somewhat towards the Watt goal, combined with the poor visibility to make constructive play difficult. Liam Walker ran through directly from the kick-off and forced Edinburgh ‘keeper Callum Davison to turn the ball behind, then Chris Lane had two efforts in quick succession kept out by the home defence.

Anton Dowds was showing drive in the centre of the park and almost played in Ruaridh Macvinish, but slightly underhit the pass. Edinburgh broke quickly up the park and Bruce Scott tried to curl a shot in at the post from outside the penalty box. Elliot Redmile looked unconcerned but the ball wasn’t far wide of the target.

A strong run by ‘Burgh left-back Max Condie took him into a forward position, but when he tried a shot, his angle was too tight and the ball flew over the junction of post and bar as Redmile covered.

Towards the end of the half, Dowds broke through on the left, but delayed his shot, enabling Davison to block. The ball broke to the Watt and Dowds had another chance but dragged his shot inches wide of the post.

Playing with wind assistance in the second half, Watt sought to push forward and a good effort from Grégoire Dawirs tested Davison, who turned the ball over the bar. Suddenly, however, the game turned against the visitors as Edinburgh scored two goals in seven minutes.

The first one was a bit strange, as Scott broke out of a tight situation on the right and sent the ball across goal with the inside of his left foot. Whether it was a shot or a cross was unclear, although there wasn’t much support to aim for, so the big striker may have been trying his luck. Perhaps the wind was also a factor, but in any event the ball found the far corner of the goal.

Things got worse for the Watt shortly after this when the best move of the match provided the home team with a second goal. Euan Lannon carried the ball down the left and found Daniel Pacitti, whose pass inside gave Scott a shooting chance. His first-time strike hit the post to Redmile’s right and shot across goal to where Stuart McNicholas was waiting to fire home.

Early in the season, the Watt side might have collapsed in these circumstances, but the squad is now a lot tighter and more determined. Sean Campbell, having a fine match at right-back, supported his forwards and sent in a good cross which was turned behind for a corner on the left. Campbell took the corner himself and swung it in to the goalmouth with such whip that although Davison got a hand to the ball, he was unable to keep it out.

Campbell almost doubled his returns a few minutes later with a free kick from thirty metres that passed the post by inches, but shortly after the Watt did draw level, Walker executing an excellent turn near the left corner flag, then bringing the ball inside and playing it across goal with such accuracy that Dowds only had to touch it over the line.

Three minutes later, Watt led for the first time. Matthew Smyth had come on to replace Dawirs a minute earlier and when Edinburgh gave the ball away in midfield, Smyth’s pass found Walker in a central area. Turning this way and that, Walker left his marker confused and struck a right-foot shot just inside the post, past the right hand of Davison.

Breen came close to adding to Watt’s tally from a flick by Thomas Maher, but there were few close things at either end in the last fifteen minutes of the match and Watt saw out the remaining time to clinch an encouraging away victory.

Edinburgh University:
Davison, Lannon, Condie, McLean, Verkaik, Ritchie, McNicholas, Pacitti (Isama 82), B Scott, J Hersee (A Hersee 62), Howel. Subs. not used: Hannah, Astridge, M Scott.

Heriot-Watt University:
Redmile, Campbell, Munro, Imray, MacDonald, Lane, Macvinish (Maher 67), Dowds, Walker (Connolly 85), Breen, Dawirs (Smyth 76). All subs. used.

Referee: Mr Iain Snedden

.

East of Scotland Under-20 League: Friday 11th December 2015

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 3 EAST KILBRIDE 3

This was another step on the learning ladder for the Watt youngsters, who have not yet learned how to close out a game but have now reached the point at which they are salvaging draws from games which at one time they would probably have gone on to lose.

Like most Under-20 matches, this one started off with both sides playing attractively, with plenty of good movement and passing. With twenty-four minutes played, Watt took the lead with a fine goal. Ruaridh Macvinish’s run through midfield ended with a pass to link with the run of Adam Breen. As usual, Breen’s first touch was quality and he left the last defender standing and fired the ball past the advancing Jacob Kean.

Three minutes later, Watt scored another excellent goal. This was all down to Cameron Ross, who took a pass ten metres into the East Kilbride half, accelerated between the two central defenders, sidestepped a covering full-back and slammed his shot past Kean into goal.

There might have been a third goal three minutes later after a corner was cleared and the Watt surged up the pitch. The ball was switched to the left for Liam Walker, but he had come a little too far inside and had to chase the pass back out to the left. When he took the shot, he didn’t manage to bend the ball back far enough and it went past the post.

Five minutes before the end of a great half for the home side, Breen came close to adding another goal when he nipped the ball away from a defender and slalomed through the remaining cover before trying to chip Kean, but he didn’t get enough loft on the shot and the goalkeeper saved above his head.

Before the start of the second half, Sean Campbell came on to replace Ross Fraser, who has been carrying an injury recently. Max Allison dropped into the right-back position.

Having reached half-time comfortably, Watt was caught out early in the second half. Passing the ball along the back four, the Watt play was too ponderous and when Scott Munro received the ball, he was pounced upon by two opponents and dispossessed. When the ball was crossed towards the far post, Elliot Redmile got a hand to it, but perhaps should have diverted it over the bar, as it continued its course and fell on to the head of Lewis MacDonald. He headed against the inside of the post, but although Redmile scooped the ball out again, it had crossed the line.

In the following minute, Watt might have regained its two-goal lead when Breen brilliantly held back until the precisely right moment to release Ross. With the East Kilbride defence behind him, Ross sped towards goal, but just outside the penalty area was felled from behind by a trip by Ryan McEwan. One never wishes to see a player sent off, especially in an age-limited game, but as McEwan had to chase Ross and stretch to bring him down, there was no doubt that he was “last man”, had denied a clear goalscoring opportunity and in any other grade of football would have been dismissed. In this game, he was merely cautioned and the chance was lost, as Ross fired the free kick and the rebound into the wall and the second rebound was sent over the bar by Macvinish.

Seven minutes later, Watt again came desperately close to restoring its two-goal advantage. A long kick-out by Redmile was headed on by an East Kilbride defender. Walker had read the situation perfectly and the ball fell into his stride. He took it right-footed on the half-volley and struck it over Kean. It looked all the way to be heading for the net, but the goalkeeper performed superbly, stretching his left hand to get fingers to the ball and take it on to the bar and over.

Watt’s good work was undone around the hour mark when a mazy run by a Kilby player (the numbers on their strips are indistinguishable from any distance), cutting inside along the line of the penalty area, was curtailed by a challenge from Chris Lane. The free kick was awarded and although the Watt lined up five players, Jordan Craig got the ball round or through the wall and into the corner of goal for an equaliser.

This was a blow, but six minutes later, the game again turned the way of the Watt. Walker picked up a loose ball on the left and found Ross, whose penetrating run was ended when he was pulled down by Paul O’Kane to concede a penalty. Walker’s kick was struck firmly but rather straight and Kean got his left hand to the ball, but he was unable to prevent it continuing into goal to put the Watt back in front.

This time the lead lasted only six minutes. The visitors had just replaced two players – hard to tell which numbers went off or came on – and attacked down the right. When a low centre came in, Redmile chose to stay on his line, which was perhaps not the best decision, as the ball reached the unmarked MacDonald. His shot was a complete mis-hit, but it went in the right direction and eluded Redmile as he grasped thin air.

The visitors really got into top gear now and it looked gloomy for the Watt. A good move on the left with slick passing ended with a ball across the box to find an unmarked player, but his well-struck shot, which he clearly, and rightly, expected to be a scorer, was brilliantly saved by Redmile, diving full-length across goal.

Suddenly, however, Watt rediscovered their rhythm and began to look very dangerous going forward as the match became increasingly open. Following a corner on the left, Andrew Imray secured the ball and played it inside to Breen, who brought it down and struck a shot on the turn which passed just over the bar. A fine tackle by Allison started a right-wing move involving Campbell and Breen before Ross took the ball past the last defender but sent his shot across goal, just missing the far post. Thomas Maher had come on and was looking inventive, then Jacob Duffy appeared as the Watt’s last substitute and almost had a matchwinning impact, cutting inside and driving in a shot which Kean saved close to his post.

The last action of the game came when a pass was sent through to Ross. As he broke into space, he was clearly onside, but moments before, the referee had seemed to indicate to the coaches a satisfaction with tied scores and he acted to retain that position by blowing for offside.

Heriot-Watt University:
Redmile, Fraser (Campbell 45), Munro, Imray, MacDonald, Lane, Macvinish (Maher 75), Allison, Ross, Breen, Walker (Duffy 86). Sub. not used: Goodlad.

East Kilbride:
Kean, McKechnie (O’Neill 69), Ferguson, Devine, O’Kane, Edgar (Cameron 69), McEwan, Johnstone, McCulloch, MacDonald, Craig. Subs. not used: Maxwell, McClymont.

Referee: Mr Steven Wilson

.

East of Scotland Under-20 League: Friday 4th December 2015

CUMBERNAULD COLTS 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

On a night on which you wouldn’t have sent a dog out, the Watt side visited Broadwood Stadium, which looks even more impressive at pitch level than it does from the stands. The floodlighting is superb, but it illuminated a match dominated by the wind, which made it necessary, particularly in the second half, to have someone to steady the ball for every place kick.

Watt played into the wind in the first half and did well, although Cumbernauld did squander a couple of golden chances. The first came to right-back Marc Anthony Byrne after just six minutes play, when Alex Tilley went down the left and played the ball into a gap in the Watt defence. Byrne had just the goalkeeper to beat, but as Elliot Redmile spread himself, the ball came back off his legs.

Watt attacked well on the left in seventeen minutes, but Liam Walker’s tempting low centre just eluded the strikers at the far post. A minute later, Colts spurned their second big opportunity. A free kick was played quickly into the box and Jeff Fergus got past the defensive line, only to screw his shot past the post.

Corners were dangerous and Redmile had his work cut out in thirty-four minutes, having to make ground across his goal to touch away an awkward, curling ball for another corner on the other side.

A penetrating run by Max Allison gave the Watt midfielder a chance to shoot from distance, but into the wind it would have taken a great shot to trouble Kenny Giles in the Colts’ goal.

Four minutes from the interval, the Watt’s hard toil facing the wind was undermined. Tilley did well to get between two defenders near the right corner-flag, but having got past them, he made straight for the penalty box and having got there, fell over the first leg he could find. He appeared to be well on his way down before he made contact with a stationary leg, but the referee gave Colts the verdict and Jordan Pirrie made a fine job of putting away the penalty kick.

If anything, the wind had intensified as the second half got under way and it remained difficult to play constructive football, but Watt came close when Walker’s cross from the right crept over the head of a Cumbernauld central defender to where Adam Breen had created a little space. It was a very awkward header to take and Breen sent the ball into the air, hoping that it would drop in close to the post, but it faded just over the crossbar.

Watt was starting to come close, though, and a few minutes later, a good through ball gave Walker the chance to race past the home defensive line. The alert Giles was coming the other way, however, and the players arrived simultaneously. In the challenge, the ball went over the goalkeeper’s head, but by the time it came down, a defender had arrived to turn the ball behind.

There was no denying Walker, though, and in the seventieth minute of play, he scored a fine equaliser. A ball down the left was well timed to enable him to sprint into the box and fire a powerful shot across Giles into the far corner of the net.

Four minutes later, Walker almost created another goal, tricking a defender wide on the left, coming quickly inside and cutting the ball back to the near post area. Chris Lane tried to side-foot the ball past Giles, but he was too close to the goalkeeper, who was able to block with his legs. A minute later, Watt cut the Colts defence open again, Breen’s pass sending Ruaridh Macvinish away on the right to go past a defender and play the ball inside to Walker. Walker got past his marker, but again Giles was quickly off his line and blocked the shot.

Neither side was able to create a clear-cut chance in the last quarter of an hour and each had to settle for a point.

Heriot-Watt University:
Redmile, Fraser (Macvinish 68), Munro, MacDonald, Mulder, Imray, Maher (Dawirs 52), Lane, Breen, Allison, Walker (Notman 84). All subs. used.

Cumbernauld Colts:
Giles, Byrne (McNee 49), McGarahan (Flanagan 70), Fergus, Milne, Bateman, O’Hagan (Devine 83), McKay, Pirrie, Tilley. Subs. not used: Struthers, Beirne.

Referee: Mr Robert Thomson

.

East of Scotland Under-20 League: Friday 27th November 2015

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 3 LOTHIAN THISTLE HUTCHISON VALE 3

After the previous Friday’s debacle against Preston Athletic, there was some concern about how the Watt side would fare against the league leaders, but we needn’t have worried – this was much more like the side’s true form and the only disappointment here was that the win was not secured after a rampant Watt side had roared into a three-goal lead.

After an opening period in which both sides played some neat football without looking very penetrative, Adam Breen tested Byron Gibb in the visitors’ goal with a shot which came at the end of a good move on the right. Max Allison was next with an effort on goal, but although he got Liam Walker’s cross under control and struck a powerful shot, it was blocked before reaching the goal.

LTHV’s dangerous left-winger, Elliot Taylor, bored in along the by-line, but the Watt defence got the ball away and switched play quickly to the other end of the park, winning a corner on the right. Walker headed the corner kick back across goal, but although the ball reached Paul Mulder, he had to turn away from goal to control it. Chris Lane picked the ball up in midfield and played a pass of perfect weight for the run of Breen, who collected the ball and slipped it past the advancing Gibb before slotting home from a tight angle.

Five minutes later, Watt went two ahead. Walker went down the left and sent in a cross to the far post. Breen got his head to the ball, but could only send it further on the same trajectory; however, as it came down, Thomas Maher arrived to send a fine volley into the far corner of the goal.

Goodlad turned a header by Arran Wood round the post to preserve Watt’s lead and in the following minute the lead was increased further. Allison won a good challenge in midfield and played the ball on to Breen. Seeing Gibb advancing, Breen sent a chip of exquisite judgment over the goalkeeper’s head and into goal.

Once again, however, Watt paid the price for susceptibility after scoring and just a minute later, LTHV began to eat into the arrears. Following a corner on the left, the ball reached Joseph Viola on the edge of the penalty box. His side-foot shot had little power, but it took a deflection which confused Goodlad and the ball somehow found its way past the goalkeeper into the net.

Watt came storming back and a fine pass by Andrew Imray put Lane through for a shot which crept inches past the post, but the visitors sensed an opportunity and Watt had a bit of a let-off a couple of minutes later when a good cross by Reyce Kay was headed by Ryan Hutchinson against the base of the post.

In stoppage time at the end of the first half, Watt’s lead was down to one. When LTHV was awarded a free kick on the left, Wood did that ‘last moment’ thing, wandering well offside, then making his way back as the kicker ran up to take the kick. The Watt defenders were sure he hadn’t made it all the way back onside, but when the ball dropped into the gap in front of Goodlad, Wood had turned again and was the only player in the vicinity. He got a faint touch with his head and the ball continued on its way inside the post. Whether or not Wood was offside, the Watt players were culpable for failing to move to cover as the ball came in.

The second half was a different sort of game. Watt, still a goal in front, played defensively, trying to hold what they had, and when the equaliser came with around twenty minutes to play, the team had lost its forward momentum and attacked only sporadically. Ross Fraser, who had developed a hamstring injury in the first half, was replaced early in the second period by Ruaridh Macvinish, with Allison, who up to that point had been one of the main attacking forces for Watt, moving to right back.

Although Watt had lost two goals in quick succession towards the end of the first half, there was very little goalmouth action in the second half. Watt defended calmly and effectively and the visitors were mainly confined to fruitless crosses and inaccurate long-range efforts. There seemed as much chance that the Watt would add to its lead in one of its occasional forays upfield and this almost happened half-way through the half when a corner from the left was cleared as far as Macvinish. His cross was struck first-time by Maher, forcing Gibb into a save with his foot.

With seventy-three minutes played, LTHV scored an equaliser. It came from a set-piece, which looked about the most likely source of a goal. Imray’s tackle, right in the middle of the pitch some twenty-five metres from goal, looked a good one from the sideline, but he was penalised and substitute Aiden McKee made the most of the opportunity of a free kick in a dangerous position, sending an unstoppable shot into the postage-stamp corner.

There were few other chances for either side until stoppage time. The Watt defence was a little slow to clear a corner and a block took the ball back towards goal. McKee stabbed it into goal, but was well offside. Then Walker went on a run down the left and fired the ball across. Lewis Swaney stretched and came close to diverting the ball into his own goal, but it went behind for a corner. We knew from information provided by the referee that we were into the last minute of the match and it was a little disappointing that the order from the Watt bench was to hold the ball in the corner and play out time, rather than try for a last-gasp winner. It was an understandable decision, however. A point against the top of the league side was worth having and the thought of losing the game if the visitors were able to break quickly was too galling to contemplate.

Heriot-Watt University:
Goodlad, Fraser (Macvinish 49), Munro, Mulder, MacDonald, Imray, Maher (Dawirs 69), Lane (Duffy 66), Breen, Allison, Walker. All subs. used.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:
Gibb, Kay, Prior, Swaney, Cook, Simpson, Hutchinson (Lauder 65), Young, Viola, Wood, Taylor (McKee 55). All subs. used.

Referee: Mr Ben Burton

.

East of Scotland Under-20 League: Friday 20th November 2015

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1 PRESTON ATHLETIC 5

At last, the team lines from this match have been found and the missing details have been inserted in the report below.

The visitors got quickly into gear at the beginning of the match and put the Watt defence under sustained pressure. Watt goalkeeper Andrew Goodlad saved his side from going behind after three minutes, diverting a shot on to the roof of the net with his foot. Having survived this close thing, Watt quickly moved down the left and Fraser Wilson’s centre gave a chance to Thomas Maher, but his first touch took the ball too wide and when he shot, he didn’t have the angle to beat Preston goalkeeper Ryan Forsyth.

Athletic took the lead from a ninth-minute corner. Goodlad came to his near post but in the crowd he couldn’t get a touch to the ball and Greg Binnie was left with a simple heading chance at the back post.

A great ball by Adam Kerlin picked up Maher’s run, but after cutting inside a defender, Maher shot just over.

A big scramble in the visitors goalmouth looked likely to produce a goal, but after Adam Breen took the ball past the goalkeeper and played it across goal, it took a deflection and Liam Walker was just unable to stab the ball home.

The equaliser Watt had been threatening arrived just before the half-hour. Breen latched on to the ball at the edge of the penalty area and struck a well-placed shot just inside the post to the goalkeeper’s right.

Having eventually got back on terms, Watt failed to consolidate and fell behind again four minutes later. A cutback from the right found Jamie Cochrane unmarked and he struck a shot which took a deflection and ended up in the corner of the goal.

Preston had a good spell after this and it took a double-save from Goodlad to prevent Watt falling further behind.

The first half had been pretty even, but Athletic, busy and alert, established a firm grip on the game early in the second half, adding two more goals. The first came from a corner, delivered long, which Aaran Currie headed down and in; the second from a cutback which found Connor Bryden in complete isolation and able to pick his spot.

Watt made changes, Ruaridh Macvinish replacing Wilson, who was making his return from injury, and Jack Cunningham replacing Paul Mulder. With Imray and Fraser doing notable work in defence, Watt stablised the situation, but seldom looked dangerous going forward. With twenty minutes to play, Gregoire Dawirs came on in place of Breen, but in the following minute things got still worse as Preston added a fifth goal. The Watt defence gave the ball away in the left-back position, allowing Bryden to saunter into the box and drive the ball into the far corner.

Watt saw out the match without further damage, but overall this was the most disappointing performance of the season so far.

Heriot-Watt University:
Goodlad, Fraser, Scott, Imray, Mulder (Cunningham 63), Lane, Maher, Kerlin, Wilson (Macvinish 56), Breen (Dawirs 71), Walker. Sub. not used: Allison.

Preston Athletic:
Forsyth, Muir, Johnston, Robertson, Moffat, Cameron, Stevenson, Currie, Bryden, Binnie (Kerr 72), Cochrane (Thomson 80). Sub. not used: Cook.
.

East of Scotland Under-20 League: Friday 13th November 2015

SPARTANS 4 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

The weather was wild as the Watt Under-20s took on Spartans at Ainslie Park. Alex Scott, Andrew Imray and Liam Walker were missing from the Watt line-up and with the continued absence of Fraser Wilson and an additional injury to Matthew Smyth, Watt Coach Banji Koya was left with selection problems at the centre of both defence and attack. He went with Thomas Maher to lead the line, supported by Max Allison and Ruaridh Macvinish, and for Jack Cunningham to fill the central defensive role alongside Paul Mulder.

Spartans went ahead after fourteen minutes’ play when Harry Girdwood sent in a strong shot from outside the area. Elliot Redmile dived to his right to save, but could only block the ball back out. Two Spartans players had closed in for the rebound and no Watt defenders went with them, leaving Dylan Tait a simple opportunity to put his side ahead.

The lead lasted just four minutes, however, as Spartans goalkeeper Cameron Feather brought down Maher inside the penalty box and Ruaridh Macvinish fired in the penalty, despite Feather’s valiant attempt to stop the kick.

Watt had the better of the play during the middle part of the first half, but almost fell behind again approaching the half-hour, when Anthony Laing’s powerful header from a left-wing corner was cleared off the line by the head of Ross Fraser. The reprieve was of short duration, however. Watt’s dedication to playing the ball from the back often leads to overplaying it and they gave away a goal in lamentable fashion, with four players combining to gift the lead back to Spartans.

Adam Kerlin started it with an ill-advised pass that put Fraser under pressure on the right touchline. He passed back to Cunningham, who was immediately in a tight spot but made things worse by taking his eye off the ball. When Girdwood accepted the gift and went into the penalty area, Redmile completed the charity by leaving a big gap at his near post into which Girdwood gratefully drove the ball.

Having committed this blunder, Watt had another good spell and might have equalised again when Maher capitalised on a mistake in the home defence to slip in Macvinish, but his shot from the edge of the area with the inside of his right foot wasn’t too testing for Feather, who turned the ball round the post.

Just before half-time, a good move on the Spartans left almost produced a goal. Jack Smith exchanged passes with Andrew Mair to reach the by-line and cut the ball back dangerously. Tait met the ball ten metres from goal and his fierce drive came off the face of the bar with Redmile beaten.

The Watt side started the second half with determination to get back on level terms, Adam Breen putting Macvinish through for a shot which curved just wide of the post; then Mulder heading just wide from a left-wing corner. As far as the half-way point in the second half, Watt looked the side more likely to score, but that all changed when Spartans won a corner on the left. There are several tall players in the Spartans ranks and it’s hard at set pieces to mark them all effectively, but when Mair’s corner arrived at the head of Duncan Player, there was no defender challenging and the big man headed down across Redmile to the far corner of the goal.

That goal really drained the belief from the Watt side and from that point on they seemed to be playing out time. Redmile came under frequent pressure and did well as Spartans piled the ball on top of him in a nasty, swirling wind, also making a fine save when Girdwood broke through to fire in a firm shot.

In the end, however, the goalkeeper couldn’t counteract his defence’s continuing tendency to overplay the ball and that produced a fourth goal for the home side with eleven minutes left to play, Tait benefiting from a repeated failure to use possession positively to curl a shot past Redmile and in at the post.

The Watt substitutes were still doing their best to impress and good work from Jacob Duffy provided a shooting chance for Maher, but Feather was on hand again to turn the ball round the post.

Spartans:
Feather, Clark (O’Neil 63), Smith, Player, Imlah, Laing, Archibald, Brown, Girdwood (Dawson 85), Tait, Mair.
Subs. not used: Corbett, Morton.

Heriot-Watt University:
Redmile, Fraser, Munro, Cunningham, Mulder, Lane, Allison (Dawirs 87), Kerlin, Maher, Breen (Warner 69), Macvinish (Duffy 78). Subs. not used: Notman, Goodlad.

Referee: Mr George Calder (Edinburgh)

.

East of Scotland Under-20 League: Friday 6th November 2015

CIVIL SERVICE STROLLERS 3 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

It’s unusual to play an away game on your own pitch, but as the Strollers lease the Riccarton 3G for their Under-20 home games, that was the situation for the Watt lads in this match. Whether that helped to give the boys a false sense of security, or whether they had their minds on the night out planned for later, or whether they simply underestimated Strollers, who had lost all four of their previous league matches, the Watt side never got to grips with this game and their opponents, looking more assured as the game progressed, deservedly took the points.

There were promising signs for the Watt early on as Liam Walker showed how hard he can be to pin down, moving inside and outside as the spirit moved him. An early cutback split the Strollers’ defence, but no Watt player was able to get on the end of it.

Watt had a warning in fifteen minutes when a misdirected pass by goalkeeper Elliot Redmile went straight to David Beaton, but the surprise of the striker at finding himself presented with such an opportunity gave the Watt defence a chance to close in, which they quickly did.

Although the Strollers’ finishing was initially a bit wayward, they were beginning to create some shooting chances in their own right and in thirty-four minutes, they took one in fine style. A good move on the right was climaxed with a pass inside which was judged to perfection by Paul Campbell, who sent a well-controlled shot with the inside of his right foot well out of the reach of Redmile into the top corner of the goal.

Straight from the kick-off, Campbell almost doubled his tally. When Watt dithered in midfield and lost possession. the ball was moved forward for Campbell to send a low shot towards goal. Redmile, diving to his right, managed to get just enough on the ball to carry it on to the inside of the post and was relieved to see it head straight back to him. Watt immediately went on the attack on the left and Walker once again drove in close to goal before cutting the ball firmly across. With Ross Fraser waiting to knock the ball home, Calum Murphy tried to get it away but diverted it into his own net.

If the Watt players thought they had survived the crisis, they were very quickly disabused of that idea. Three minutes later, Beaton made a determined run through the middle of the Watt defence, stabbed a shot against the advancing Redmile and continued his run to collect the rebound and run it past the goalkeeper into goal to restore Strollers’ lead.

Just before half-time came the first of two injuries to strike the Watt side on the night when Matthew Smyth landed awkwardly and damaged his ankle. He had to be lifted off the pitch and is likely to be missing for some time. Adam Breen came on to replace him.

Five minutes into the second half, Watt’s plans for a comeback took a severe knock when Civil Service scored again. Beaton broke past the Watt defence fifteen metres past the half-way line, surviving the claims for offside, and sped towards goal pursued by Andrew Imray and Scott Munro. Imray put in a tackle about twenty-five metres from goal and seemed to have won the ball, which ran on to Munro on the edge of the Watt area, but a free-kick was awarded and Imray was cautioned. Campbell then drove the free kick fiercely into goal.

Jack Connelly replaced Ruaridh Macvinish and was involved in a move just after the hour which almost brought the Watt back into contention. Connelly laid off a pass to Walker, whose tempting cross brought Michael Lee off his line to punch clear. Watt recovered the ball and Breen’s shot from the edge of the area struck the post and came back into play. Connelly, however, was injured by a challenge after releasing his pass and a few minutes later, having failed to shake off the injury, had in turn to be replaced by Sandeep Saji.

Watt had much of the play now and Dean McConnell did well to get between two attackers and head an accurate free kick behind for a corner. Strollers should have made the points secure, however, when Campbell cut in from the right with the goal at his mercy, but he delayed his shot, enabling Alex Scott to get in an excellent block.

Saji’s pass inside gave Walker a shooting chance from the edge of the area, but with little time and space to work with, Walker’s only option was to put plenty of power into the shot. This he did, but Lee was in good position to save, although the force of the shot meant he needed two attempts to grasp the ball.

Ewan Herriot, supporting on the Strollers left, almost gave the game a stylish ending when he seized on a ball coming out from the Watt goal area to fire in a powerful drive on the run, but it was the side net which took the impact.

A late free-kick gave the Watt a chance to get a goal back, but when Chris Lane played the ball through for Max Allison, his shot was blocked. The rebound came to Saji, whose effort was heading for the goal before a defender diverted it over the bar. When Lee rose confidently to clutch the corner kick, the final whistle was blown.

Civil Service Strollers:
Lee, Mannion, Herriot, McConnell, Murphy, Ramsay, Fife (Brown 70), Campbell, Beaton (Callaghan 85), Hutchinson (Thompson 70). All subs. used.

Heriot-Watt University:
Redmile, Scott, Munro, Mulder, Imray, Lane, Fraser, Allison, Smyth (Breen 45), Macvinish (Connelly 55; Saji 70), Walker. Subs. not used: Cunningham, Goodlad.

Referee: Mr Daniel Graves (Edinburgh)

.

East of Scotland Under-20 League: Friday 23rd October 2015

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1 BROOMHILL SPORTS CLUB (GLASGOW) 2

Defeat could not take away from another very impressive performance from the young Watt team in the Club’s first match at any level against BSC Glasgow. 

During the week, the Watt side had been working on building from the back; allowing the centre halves to get on the ball and enabling the full backs to create overloads in wide areas. The players responded very well to this and the Watt team enjoyed good spells of possession throughout the game. The pace and movement of Tom Maher, Cameron Stevenson and debutant Matthew Smythe proved to be a handful at times but unfortunately there was no immediate reward. 

The Watt side found itself 0-2 down in a matter of minutes approaching half time with the visitors showing no mercy to pounce on a couple of mistakes with a smart finish and then a header from a corner. The Watt players were understandably frustrated at the manner of this, but held their heads very high after half time.

The introduction of Sean Campbell brought a fresh sharpness to the Watt attack and further good possession was maintained. The midfield trio of Max Allison, Chris Lane and Adam Breen grew in influence as the game progressed. 

Eventually the positive Watt play was rewarded with a goal. From substitute Findlay Gordon’s corner, Andrew Imray produced a sharp finish to bag his first goal at this level and bring the students back into the game. 

The game took a sour turn with 12 minutes to play when Sean Campbell suffered an unfortunate collision with the BSC goalkeeper. Normally, such an incident would have no repercussion, but unfortunately after a delay in play, Campbell was forced to miss the remainder of the game. All Watt’s substitutes had been used and the remaining ten men battled hard to the end, even flashing the ball across the goal a couple of times, but to no avail. 

Head coach Banji Koya and assistant Euan Cole were very happy with the overall display. The week-by-week progression has been evident in all the performances so far.

Watt team: Redmile, Fraser, Munro, Imray, Mulder, Allison, Lane, Breen, Maher (Gordon), Smythe (MacVinish), Stevenson (Campbell). Sub. not used: Goodlad.

.

East of Scotland Under-20 League: Friday 16th October 2015

EDINBURGH CITY 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 3

In a thoroughly entertaining match on the main pitch at Meadowbank Stadium, the Watt youngsters gained three more league points. Having had the better of play for most of the match, it was disconcerting to see the Watt lads having to hang on at the end, but they deservedly saw out the game as City turned up the heat in the closing stages.

The Watt side was in sparkling form from the start and in the first minute Anton Dowds sent a good effort just past the post. Cammy Stevenson was on great form and his pace took him past the left side of the City defence, but his cutback eluded the Watt players in the middle and the best Watt could get was a corner. Then more good work by Dowds and Stevenson gave Fraser Wilson a chance, resulting in another corner. There were still only five minutes on the clock!

Adam Breen had a frustrating wait for International Clearance from Northern Ireland, but now he is making up for lost time. His velvet touch almost produced a goal in the tenth minute when he exchanged passes with Wilson to fire in a shot which home goalkeeper Luke Mancini did well to keep out.

As Watt continued to produce flowing football, Ross Fraser was the next to get into a shooting position after a move the length of the field, but his shot curled into Mancini’s grasp.

Kyle Fairgrieve took advantage of some uncertain defending to get in an attempt on goal for City, but hooked his shot wide. Soon Watt was back on the attack, with Breen winning the ball in midfield and finding Fraser with a pass inside full-back Scott Fair, but Mancini was quickly out from his line to close down the space and in trying to lift it over him, Fraser played the ball past the post.

When Dowds barged over a City player some forty metres from goal, the resultant free kick was struck so fiercely by David Mackenzie that Elliot Redmile could only parry the ball and had to get down quickly to block a follow-up shot. Soon the Watt was probing at the home defence once more, however, with Breen, found by the industrious Chris Lane, skipping his way past challenges towards the box. When he was tackled, Wilson was following up to take over and win another corner.

An excellent cross by Stevenson might have been perfect for Wilson’s height, but Fraser was the man in the middle who rose to contest the ball. He did get in a header, but he was under pressure from a brave defender who preserved his goal at the expense of a head knock.

Yet another dashing run by Stevenson produced another good cross, this time hooked towards goal by Wilson, but again Mancini showed his qualities by turning the shot over the bar. Another Breen sortie then brought the Watt a free kick on the edge of the area, but when Stevenson drove the ball towards goal, Mancini was there again to touch the ball round the post.

A fine pass by Dowds gave Fraser a chance to advance on Mancini, but his first touch was heavy and the ball ran through to the goalkeeper. Dowds then popped up on the left to work the ball through to Stevenson, who turned and fired in a shot which was deflected for a corner.

After all this attacking by the Watt side had failed to produce the breakthrough, it was perhaps inevitable that City would find the way through, but when they did so, it left the Watt nursing a sense of severe injustice. Fraser’s sliding tackle on Grant Aitken was perfectly timed and won the ball cleanly, but the referee adjudged that Fraser’s trailing leg had brought down the City player. Given that it was a sliding tackle and his back had descended to ground level, it was physically impossible that Fraser should keep his legs from rising, but the free kick was awarded. When the ball was played into the penalty area, Redmile made a valiant attempt to reach it, but was coming over a knot of players and could get little force on his punch. The ball fell amongst the players and was stabbed into goal by Scott Hannah.

The City lead lasted just five minutes. An excellent pass by Scott Munro set Fraser free on the left side of the penalty area. He knocked the ball past the advancing Mancini and the goalkeeper took his legs away. Stevenson made a clinical job of the penalty, sending Mancini the wrong way.

Just two minutes later, Stevenson doubled his tally, catching out Mackenzie as he tried to take the ball past him. Stevenson’s angle was fairly tight, but he kept calm and drove the ball past Mancini to turn the tables and send Watt in with a lead at half-time.

For most of the second half the pattern was similar. Stevenson started the half with another good effort, going outside then inside to create space for a left-foot shot, but Mancini dived to turn the ball round the post once again.

In a good breakout move on the left, Dowds sent Wilson striding away right to the by-line. Cutting inside, Wilson let fly with a fierce angled drive which Mancini tipped over the bar.

Mackenzie reminded us of City’s threat with a dangerous cross which passed close to two forward players, but Watt remained in control of the ball for much of the time. Stevenson’s pass, imaginatively dummied by Breen, gave Wilson a chance, but the big striker took too long to line up his shot and it was blocked.

Twenty minutes into the second half, Watt gained the third goal their play deserved and it was fitting that it should be scored by Breen, who had given a display of quality in the midfield. After a good move on the Watt left, Wilson played the ball inside. As usual, Breen’s first touch put the ball just where he wanted it and his second was a drive into the corner of the net.

Stevenson almost gave Breen the opportunity to make it a double a couple of minutes later, but his pass had just too much pace on it for Breen to control. Dowds then made a good break on the left and his centre would have provided a tap-in for Stevenson but for Mancini’s alert diving stop. Shortly after this, Stevenson did get a shooting opportunity, as he cut inside following a short-corner move, but as he reached the penalty area he leaned back slightly and sent his shot just over the bar.

The Watt side seemed to be in control with its two-goal cushion, but when the lead was reduced to one with more than quarter of an hour to play, the game underwent a change. Aitken looked as if he might have been offside as he ran on to a diagonal pass, but he finished with conviction and City was suddenly back in the game.

The pattern of play was quite different for the remainder of the match, as the home side, feeling the game was there for the saving, pressed forward eagerly and the Watt looked increasingly edgy, but the visitors’ defence, with Paul Mulder and Andrew Imray providing a secure combination in the central area, held out with few alarms. The best chance that fell to City was from a corner on the right, from which Mackenzie, unmarked close to goal, sent a header just over the top.

Edinburgh City:
Mancini, Fair (Sanderson 68), Mackenzie, Begbie, O’Donnell, Slater, Lukieto, Fairgrieve (Williams 72), Gilhoolie (Ronaldo 76), Hannah, Aitken. Subs. not used: Robertson, MacCowatt.

Heriot-Watt University:
Redmile, Scott, Munro, Imray, , Lane, Stevenson, , Wilson, Breen, Fraser. Subs. not used:.

Referee: Mr Michael Addy (Edinburgh)

.

East of Scotland Under-20 League: Friday 9th October 2015

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1 EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY 3

Edinburgh University chalked up a second victory of the season against their local rivals with this win at Under-20 level in which all four goals in the game were scored in the first half-hour.

The Watt side started well and a good move almost brought it the lead in ten minutes. Cammy Stevenson cut in from the right and on the edge of the penalty box Ross Fraser took over, moving past two defenders before sending a right-foot shot just past with goalkeeper Callum Davidson rooted to the spot.

Three minutes later, Watt did open the scoring. Fraser and Stevenson were again involved, a chip by Fraser being gathered by Stevenson inside the area. Stevenson and Adam Breen had to battle to retain possession, but a pass across the box found Liam Walker and he steered the ball past the left hand of Davidson into goal.

Unfortunately, the Under-20s showed exactly the same vulnerability after scoring as has been demonstrated so often by the First Team in games to date this season. Within a minute Edinburgh had equalised and within five had gone ahead.

Bruce Scott was the man who did all the damage. First, he turned on a pass on the edge of the area and sent a curling shot into the corner of the net past Watt goalkeeper Andrew Goodlad, whose mobility was clearly impaired by a back problem.

Then, after Watt had come close to regaining the lead with a strong drive by Fraser which was well saved by Davidson, Scott took advantage of a misjudgment in the Watt defence to gather the ball and surge forward to slip the ball past the advancing Goodlad.

Watt continued to do their share of attacking in a very open first half and Ruaridh Macvinish was the next to come close, his shot from a tight angle being blocked by Davidson. Just before the half-hour, however, Scott struck again, moving swiftly down the left and sending an accurate drive across Goodlad and inside the far post.

Stevenson’s effort from Walker’s pass cleared the bar as Watt battled to get back into contact, but although the action remained frantic, there was no further scoring in the first half.

By comparison, the second half was a tame affair. Watt replaced the injured Goodlad with Elliot Redmile and brought on Tom Maher for Walker and the substitute goalkeeper was soon in action, saving at the near post after Joe Hersee worked his way in along the by-line.

On the hour, Chris Lane had to drop back into central defence when Liam Milne left the field with an injury, Sean Campbell coming on to replace him. Five minutes after this, Watt might have scored when Fraser went down the left and sent over a cross which seemed to be heading straight for Adam Breen, but Stevenson, not knowing this, stepped back to take a header he was unable to control.

Breen did get in a header five minutes from the end, sending Macvinish’s free kick inches wide. Edinburgh’s Aidan Hersee had the last significant effort on goal a minute later, but his shot from distance, though close, was always curling away from the post.

Heriot-Watt University:
Goodlad (Redmile 45), Scott, Munro, Imray, Milne (Campbell 60), Lane, Breen, Macvinish, Walker, Stevenson, Fraser. Subs. not used: Allison, Macdonald.

Edinburgh University:
Davidson, Lannon, Condie, Reichelt, Verkalk, Ritchie, J Hersee, Pacitti, Isama, A Hersee, B Scott. Subs.: Zdankho, McNicholas, Howel, M Scott, McLean.

Referee: Mr Craig Ferguson (Edinburgh)

.
 

Scottish Youth Cup (Under-20) Friday 18th September 2015

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 0 ALLOA ATHLETIC 2

In front of over a hundred spectators, Heriot-Watt made its entrance into a national cup competition for the first time with a hastily-assembled group of players evenly divided between still-eligible returners from last season and freshers who caught the eye in the Trials the previous week.

In an absorbing match on the Riccarton 3G, the Watt lads did themselves and the Club proud against the side sitting at the top of SFA Development League 2.

The more experienced Alloa side had the greater part of possession, but the Watt lads were not without their moments. Anton Dowds took advantage of a mistake in the visitors’ rearguard in the early minutes to run in on goal, beating a couple of defenders but being halted by the last man standing. Fraser Wilson was the next to threaten, bringing a fine double save from the Alloa goalkeeper.

Andrew Goodlad started well in the Watt goal, diving low to his right to save a header from a corner kick, but with eighteen minutes on the clock he was deceived when an Alloa player ran across him as Ryan Hoggan played the ball in from a wide position. The ball continued on its way and crept inside the far post to give Athletic the lead.

Watt tried hard to get back on terms, with Liam Walker’s low centre fired just past by Wilson, but just on the half-hour fell further behind when a bouncing ball down the middle was well read by Sam Collumbine, who steered it past the exposed Goodlad.

Another Watt attack produced concern in the Alloa defence, but when the ball was hooked back into the goalmouth, Dowds was penalised for his jump against the goalkeeper. A quick throw to Collumbine then caught the Watt defence napping, but Goodlad rescued the situation with a fine save low to his right.

There was another nasty moment for the Watt custodian before half-time when a very awkward cross swung in towards the goal, but Goodlad managed to divert the ball off the post and into the air and retrieve it as it fell.

Dowds was the first to come close in the second half, his rasping drive from just outside the box missing by inches. Watt had a lucky escape when a shot came off the underside of the bar and returned to play, but soon Sean Campbell, who was very impressive in the match, created another chance with a sparkling run on the right, but on this occasion Dowds shot well off target.

Half-way through the second period, Watt had a period of sustained pressure, winning several corners, but the visiting defence held firm. Before the end, Watt gave three more players the opportunity to play in the national competition. Watt battled away right to the end and in the last attack, Wilson did well to bring the ball inside from the left, but when his shot was blocked, the last chance of a goal for the Riccarton side had gone.

Over the ninety minutes, none could begrudge the Alloa side their victory, but had the Watt been able to snatch the goal which they several times threatened, it would have been no more than just reward for their efforts and the remarkable cohesion shown by the players coming together for the first time.

Heriot-Watt University:
Goodlad, Fraser, Munro, Daniel, Milne (Connelly 71), Imray, Campbell, Macvinish (Dawires 85), Wilson, Dowds, Walker (Cunningham 75). Sub. not used: Allison.

.
 

Previous matches:

Friday 2nd October: Edusport Academy 8 Heriot-Watt University 0

Friday 25th September: Heriot-Watt University 3 Whitehall Welfare 2