Match Reports: Season 2017-2018

Season 2017 – 2018: Match 32

East of Scotland League

21st April 2018

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 5 TYNECASTLE 2

The Watt finished the season on a positive note with a victory over local rivals Tynecastle, coming back from a two-goal first-half deficit to score five times in the second half.

The curse on Ryan Higgins in front of goal is still working well and showed itself twice in this game. The first time was early on, when he profited from a misplaced pass to drive in towards Tynie goalkeeper Robert Watt. When he had successfully taken the ball round the goalkeeper and sent the ball accurately towards goal, Higgins thought he’d scored at last, but Lewis Grant, covering in behind his ’keeper, swept the ball away from the goal-line.

With Anton Dowds showing his pace and power, often driving in from the left to cut the ball back into the six-yard box, Watt should have managed to get a goal during the first half, but two minutes from half-time the scores were still level and suddenly it was the visitors who struck with a double-whammy. Martyn Robinson eluded a challenge to cross from the by-line on the right. The cross was absolutely flat to the goalposts and when it went over Callum Reid’s head, there was big Craig O’Reilly to head into goal from almost on the line.

Two minutes later, Grant sent in a similar cross, but a bit longer than the previous one and O’Reilly had to gather the ball on the far side and work it back into play. A foul in the centre of the pitch twenty-five metres from goal gave O’Reilly the chance for a strike on goal and he executed it to perfection, giving Reid no chance with a superb drive into the postage-stamp corner.

The Watt came out for the second half full of purpose and within six minutes had reduced the deficit, Dowds making a trademark run down the left to cut inside and rip a low drive past Watt to the far corner. The home side never lost the ascendancy after that and created many chances during the second half. The equaliser came from another left-wing move and this time it was Chris Lane firing a low shot to the corner of goal.

Higgins had his second “must score” moment of the day when he sent a lob over the head of Watt, only for the goalkeeper to reach back and block the shot. As Higgins moved in to knock in the rebound from close range, he was bundled to the ground and was unable to make contact with the ball at all.

With twelve minutes left to play, the scores were still level, but Adam Breen gave the Watt the lead for the first time with a piece of opportunism, stretching to intercept an intended clearance and lofting the ball over the head of Watt, who got a hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it out of goal. Heriot-Watt was full of confidence now and further chances went untaken before Lane eventually added a fourth goal and Dowds a fifth inside the last five minutes.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Snoddy, Munro, Spence, Giovanovits, Higgins (Hutcheson 76), Dargo, Ward, Breen (Laurenson 80), Dowds, Lane. Sub. not used: Quinn.

Tynecastle:
Watt, Grant, McIntyre, Kelly, Leslie, Mason, Ali Samara, Robinson, O’Reilly, Huxford, Chingwalu. Subs. not used:. Liddell, Redmond, Greig, Vinter.

Referee: Mr. George MacDonald (Glenrothes)
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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 31

King Cup

14th April 2018

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1 KELTY HEARTS 5

After the decent display against Kelty a fortnight before, the Watt again tried, in this King Cup Second Round tie, to limit the damage against the highly-accomplished leaders of the East of Scotland League, but had to do it without eight of the players who had featured in the squad for the previous game.

Still missing were top scorer Anton Dowds and key midfielder Chris Lane, with Neil Laurenson also suspended for this match after picking up his sixth caution of the season in the League game against Kelty. Scott Dargo was unavailable and Ryan Higgins out injured, although he took a seat on the bench in case of dire emergency. Michael Ward, Frewen Hutcheson and Neil Robb, who had been listed as triallists in the League game, were ineligible for this cup tie. Ion Athanassios Diamantopoulos, Aidan Quinn, Jackson Barker, Cammie Ross and Mark McGovern had featured in the previous match and although Ross was not available for selection this time, another four Under-20 players – Chris Macher, Harry Barclay, Matthew Law and Alex McMahon – were added, along with the returning Alex Snoddy and Adam Breen.

That meant a starting eleven including six of the Under-20s, with another two on the bench, so it was an inexperienced side to face such opposition, but the lads stuck to their task well and continued throughout the match to play their own game, based on possession and passing. Against a team such as Kelty, which presses high and effectively, it is difficult to make secure passes into midfield, so it was inevitable that many of the passes went backwards or sideways and sometimes players invited pressure on the home defence with wayward passes, but at no time did the team give up its method or stop trying to play football in the way it has been coached.

Callum Reid, who had performed so well a fortnight previously, expected to be busy again and he was called into action as early as the ninth minute, saving with his feet when a cross from the left was headed down by Stuart Cargill.

Kelty opened the scoring after thirteen minutes’ play and the goal came from Watt possession that went wrong. A throw-in on the right was delivered to Aidan Quinn and when he played it back to Reid, Scott Dalziel cleverly cut off the return pass, obliging Reid to look to his left. His pass was intercepted by Cargill, who drove into the right side of the penalty area and cut the ball back for the unmarked Neil McCabe. McCabe’s first-time effort was a weak one, but Reid only managed to block it out to Dalziel, who found a small gap into which to squeeze the ball between Macher and the post.

Reid saved with his legs again to prevent Dalziel adding another goal a minute later, but play settled down for a while after that and it was some time before the visitors came close again. When they did, there were two near things in quick succession, both from crosses by Scott-Taylor Mackenzie, with Dalziel heading just over, then shooting just past the far post.

Watt continued to defend diligently, but when Shaun Greig’s mazy run took him deep into the penalty area, Macher’s mistimed challenge clipped his heels, resulting in a penalty which Stephen Husband struck firmly into the bottom corner to Reid’s left.

The Watt’s best chance of the first half came when, after a good move on the left, McGovern stepped inside and had his shirt pulled as he was trying to settle himself for a shot. McGovern took the free kick himself, but his shot struck Garry Leighton, standing slightly off the four-man wall, and deflected behind.

McGovern had another attempt on goal early in the second half. Barker’s excellent pass sent him away on the left and after he turned inside Ross Philp and brought the ball on to his right foot, he tried to curl a shot for the top corner, but he had to rotate through too great an angle and was unable to get the effort on target.

Another two goals for Kelty in the next few minutes had Watt supporters worrying about the final total. Cargill’s cross from the left was headed down and in by the tall Brian Ritchie, coming in from the right to get above Barclay and Scott Munro. Shortly after this, the Watt contrived its closest effort on goal so far, with Barker setting up McGovern for a shot from outside the penalty box. McGovern caught it sweetly, driving a fierce shot towards the top corner, but Scott Christie dived to turn the ball over the bar and a minute later, Kelty scored for the fourth time. Philp went on a run and linked with McCabe to play a wall pass on the edge of the Watt box. The return pass was too strong for Philp, but happened to run perfectly into the path of Dalziel, who promptly slammed the ball into the top corner to the right of Reid.

Just three minutes later, however, the Watt pegged a goal back and it was a fine one at that. Barclay’s superb pass down the left sent Breen clear on a well-timed run. As he drove in towards goal, the shot looked likely, but Breen kept his head and laid the ball perfectly across the retreating defenders to find Barker, coming in at pace on his right. Barker drove the ball firmly past Christie into the net to cut the deficit and raise a cheer from the home support.

There was still half an hour to play and more goals seemed likely, but after substitutions for both sides, the game went through a quiet period until Cargill had a chance at the near post, firing wide under pressure from Diamantopoulos.

The final goal arrived with fourteen minutes left. Greig’s mazy run was halted by a trip just outside the Watt box and when the ball was set up for Mackenzie, he drove it accurately past the Watt wall and just inside the post to Reid’s left.

Husband played the ball into the Watt area following a corner and Cargill deflected the ball off the crossbar with his head, then Cargill had another chance from Philp’s pass saved low to his right by Reid, but the Watt managed to avoid conceding any further goals. We even had the joy of seeing McMahon, Watt’s Under-20 goalkeeper, come on for the last two minutes as an outfield substitute and play a delightful pass with the outside of his foot.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Spence, Munro, Diamantopoulos, Quinn, Barker, Snoddy (Law 67), Breen, McGovern, Macher, Barclay. Sub. not used: Higgins.

Kelty Hearts:
Christie, Philp, Mackenzie, Carstairs, Leighton, Husband, Ritchie (Nimmo 59), Greig (Ford 59), Dalziel, Cargill, McCabe. Subs. not used:. O’Neill, Courts, Gibb.

Referee: Mr. George Calder (Newbridge)
Assistant Referees: Mr Brent Falconer, Mr Will Pare.

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 30

East of Scotland League

31st March 2018

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 0 KELTY HEARTS 3

This was the first East of Scotland game played in front of the new stands at the John Brydson Arena and whilst there was still plenty of room, it was pleasing to see so many spectators present on the occasion.

It goes without saying that a game against a team like Kelty Hearts was always going to be challenging. In all fairness, full points after nineteen League games and an imposing goals for-and-against record was not a surprising position for the winners of last season’s Junior Super League, but it was one bound to command respect.

To make matters worse, the Watt faced this match with a bit of a thin squad. For the first game of the two-match suspensions of top scorer Anton Dowds and key midfielder Chris Lane, Adam Breen was also missing; and this was a particularly unfortunate time for Gregor Macdonald to inform the Club that he was taking a break from football with immediate effect and would not be available for the three matches left in the season. Banji Koya arranged for two more players to feature as triallists: former Watt midfielder Neil Robb, now with Edinburgh amateur side Cavalry Park, and Frewen Hutcheson from the Watt’s own Amateur team. They, along with Michael Ward and Mark McGovern, gave the Watt four on the bench.

When Heriot-Watt visited Kelty in October, they had been overawed by the occasion. They side began to leak goals early on and conceded more at the ends of both halves. This time, instead of freezing, the team showed complete determination to defend its goal and to try to threaten on the counterattack. Callum Reid was on top form, giving his best display in a long time with some top class saves, and the defenders in front of him played calmly and positively. Reid dealt well with a snap shot from Stuart Cargill after eight minutes, diving to his right, and when Watt broke forward, Cammie Ross showed great skill to get past Murray Carstairs on the touchline and send a pass towards Ryan Higgins, who was breaking into the box from the left, but the ball was played behind by a defender.

The corner kick which resulted proved dangerous for the Watt, as Kelty gave a textbook example of how to break from a defensive position. Cargill took possession on the edge of the Kelty penalty area and moved quickly through the middle of the park before sending a pass to Stephen Husband, to his left near the edge of the Watt box. Jack Spence and Jackson Barker were across quickly, but Husband got his shot away and missed the far post by a whisker.

A concerted attack by the visitors in the twentieth minute came close to producing a goal, with Conrad Courts sending in a deep cross which was headed down by Errol Douglas, but Reid turned quickly to parry to his right. Scott Dargo was on the line to get the ball away with the help of Spence and when it was driven back in by Shaun Greig, Spence got his foot in the way and Ion Athanassius Diamantopoulos drove the ball forward towards Ross. This time it was the Watt which threatened on the break, as Ross played the ball to the right and followed it to send a great pass into the middle to pick out the run of Barker as he approached the penalty area. Unfortunately, Barker’s first touch took the ball further to the left and he was unable to get in a shot.

There was another escape for the Watt on the half-hour when again the ball travelled from right to left and again Spence scampered across to close down the space. This time it was Brian Ritchie who took the shot, but he fired the ball off the top of the bar and over.

At last, with thirty-three minutes on the clock, Kelty broke the deadlock. Ross Philp exchanged passes with both Greig and Ritchie before sending over a well-flighted cross to find Errol Douglas lurking near the far post to place a downward header into goal.

The half ended with another piece of skill by Ross, who showed great footwork on half-way to slip away from two opponents and drive forward to the edge of the penalty area. Neil Laurenson was available to his left, but Ross saw the opportunity to shape a curling shot towards the top corner. Unfortunately, he didn’t manage to wrap his foot round the ball as he wanted to and achieved neither the direction nor the power required.

Reid showed good handling again when Philp drove in a shot early in the second half and a few minutes later did even better in dealing with yet another downward header, this time by Ritchie from a Douglas right-wing cross. Reid dived to his left to get a firm left hand to the ball and push it away wide of the goal into a position from which it could be cleared.

Niko Giovanovits’ foul on Conrad Courts posed a threat to the Watt goal, with the free kick being only about eight metres from the by-line, on the edge of the box, but Giovanovits dealt with the problem himself, heading the free kick high and wide to concede a corner which was headed over the bar by Sean O’Neil.

A second goal for the visitors wasn’t far away, however, and it was Cargill who notched it, sliding home a low centre from the left by Courts.

Watt was coming under siege now and Reid produced a brilliant double save to prevent what looked like a certain goal, saving with his feet when Cargill went through on a misplaced pass and throwing himself to his left to save again when Scott-Taylor Mackenzie fired the rebound towards goal.

Unfortunately for the Watt custodian, he was unable to delay the third goal for long. It was a bizarre affair, another Courts cross from the left being half-cleared by Scott Munro, but Ritchie collected and struck a shot which ballooned up into the air off the leg of Cargill and dropped just inside the post to Reid’s left, giving him no chance of saving.

With twenty minutes left to play, it would have been no surprise if the Watt had conceded further goals, but with Robb and McGovern bringing fresh legs into play, the players maintained their focus and their determination and saw out the remaining time without further mishap. There was another good break when a fine pass down the right sent Ross away again, but when he cut in from an angle, his ball across goal had just too much pace for Dargo to connect as he came in from the left.

Kelty substitute Neil McCabe was a lively addition to the proceedings and came close when a tackle on the edge of the box wasn’t enough to stop him and he lunged forward to push the ball past Reid, but just past the post. Another dangerous move was halted by Robb’s intervention to play the ball firmly out for a throw-in.

For the final phase of the game, Ross was given support in attack by the introduction of Hutcheson, but the last couple of efforts on goal were at the home end. An exchange between Cargill and Scott Dalziel gave a shooting chance to Cargill, but Reid was well positioned and clutched the ball. In the last minute of play, Cargill came closer, dancing into the area to clip a shot off Reid’s right-hand post, but another goal at that stage would have been hard on the Watt.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Spence, Munro, Diamantopoulos, Giovanovits, Quinn, Dargo (Hutcheson 84), Higgins (McGovern 75), Barker, Ross, Laurenson (Robb 70). Sub. not used: Ward.

Kelty Hearts:
Christie, Philip, Courts, Carstairs, O’Neill, Husband (Leighton 79), Ritchie, Greig, Douglas (Dalziel 73), Cargill, Mackenzie (McCabe 73). Subs. not used:. Nimmo, Ford, Gibb.

Referee: Mr. Terry Ormiston (Glenrothes)

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 29

East of Scotland League

17th March 2018

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2 LEITH ATHLETIC 3

It will take Watt followers a while to get properly over this one. It was a day of celebration – the day the Groundhoppers came to town, with the Watt given special permission to use the Oriam Indoor Arena for the event. In front of a crowd of over 200, including relatives of several of the players, the Watt attempted to break its hoodoo and gain a victory over Leith Athletic for the first time in twenty attempts. With just over a third of the match gone, Heriot-Watt led 2 – 0. Half-way through the second half, the Watt was still ahead – but in the last quarter of the match, it all turned to dust in our hands. Two goals to give Leith a 3 – 2 win and two Watt players sent off left the home support with a bitter aftertaste it will take some time to dispel.

Lest there be doubt, however, we take nothing away from Leith. They have shown time after time that they will not easily accept defeat and as long as the game is still in progress they will do everything possible to win it. If their first two goals in this game could be considered poor defensively, the winner was an excellent strike. But from a Watt point of view, we cannot help but reflect on missed chances, unforced errors and a loss of discipline which is most unusual for the team.

Early play was on familiar lines for these fixtures. Leith is a fluent attacking side and saw a lot of the ball in the first half, but during most of it the home team defended calmly and efficiently and when it managed to get the ball forward it capitalised on the chances it created.

The first goal came after eleven minutes’ play, during most of which Athletic was pressing hard and probing the Watt defence. Aidan Quinn strode through midfield and sent a fine diagonal pass to the left for the run of Anton Dowds. Dowds tricked his marker and brought the ball inside, then laid it across the box. It made its way to Michael Ward, near the far post, and he squeezed a shot past Campbell McLellan into the corner of the goal.

Callum Mein came close to equalising three minutes later, meeting a ball from the left to volley just over the bar, but Heriot-Watt was gradually building a platform in the game and half-way through the half good play by Neil Laurenson sent Chris Lane through to pick out Dowds, but his cross failed to find a team-mate.

More pressure from Leith followed, but when another goal came, it was the home side which increased its lead. The ball was played out of defence very coolly, eventually being sent to the right for Gregor Macdonald to deliver a low centre. Again, it was Ward who was on the spot to steer a shot across goal past the right hand of McLellan and into the corner of the net.

So far, so good, with Dowds looking constantly threatening, although his final ball into the danger area often eluded his colleagues. Five minutes later, however, the cracks began to appear. Kern Hutchison made a good run on the right, evading a couple of attempted challenges to square the ball to John Robertson. It looked as if Robertson had a straightforward chance with a first-time shot, but he took a touch, allowing several defenders to crowd round him. None of them got close enough to tackle him, though, and when he eventually decided he had to try a shot, he scuffed it. Callum Reid, in the Watt goal, seemed to anticipate a shot to his left, but when the half-hit shot went to the other side, he was wrong-footed and watched as the ball trundled past him into goal.

Dowds had the last effort of the first half, firing wide and high on the turn when picked out by a pass from Jack Spence. Dowds was also the first player to catch the eye in the second period, making the first of several surging runs on the left, outpacing the Leith defence, but his centre was straight into the hands of McLellan. Quinn’s interception then enabled him to find Dowds in the box and from an angle the striker fired in a powerful shot which McLellan did well to turn on to the post and behind. The corner was met at the near post by a firm header from Dowds, but the ball passed just the wrong side of the post.

Half-way through the second half, with the game fairly even and the Watt looking reasonably comfortable, disaster struck the home side. Quinn is noted for his reliable ball control and good passing, but as he tried to size up his options in the left-back position, he took a heavy touch which sent the ball straight to Daniel Garvey, who had replaced Robertson a little earlier, Garvey had little trouble in slipping the ball past Reid to level the scores.

The Watt responded well to this setback and came close again three minutes later. A good ball by Spence found Jackson Barker and he played the ball on first time into the path of Dowds. Dowds’ fierce drive struck McLellan and rebounded out of the penalty area towards Mark McGovern, but although McGovern took careful aim, his shot slipped past the target.

Four minutes after this, with fifteen minutes remaining, came an incident which changed the context of the game. Dowds, tussling with a Leith player on the left touchline, clearly felt he should have had a foul, but the referee had been allowing robust tackling throughout the game and it was no real surprise that he didn’t penalise this challenge. As his opponent made off with the ball, however, the red mist visibly descended on Dowds and he lunged back, stretching out a long leg without much hope of reaching the ball. He made little, if any, contact with the player, but his intention was clear. The visiting players did everything they could to assist the referee to his decision, crowding around and jostling Dowds, even after a red card had been produced.

Strangely, although Dowds had played a very prominent part in the game, his departure did not swing things decisively in the direction of Leith and the Watt still had its share of the opportunities as the game rocked towards its conclusion. McGovern made a good run through the middle, but when the ball reached him, he was pulled up for a highly-marginal offside decision, which was made from some distance away due to the fact that for this significant match, the Assistant Referees had been withdrawn by the SFA at after half-past four on the Friday in order to run lines at Lowland League and Junior games. In those circumstances, we have every sympathy for the referee, who will tend to err on the side of caution where there are close calls.

It was a crucial decision, as a minute later, a ball across the edge of the Watt box reached Mein, who fired a splendid shot from the point of the area over the hands of Reid into the top corner of the net to provide a rewarding finale for the Groundhoppers and other neutral visitors.

The suffering wasn’t over for the Watt yet, though. In the last minute of the game, with the home side throwing everything into attack in search of a late equaliser, Leith broke forward. Lane, who had been cautioned ten minutes earlier for a late challenge, brought down the ball-carrier and was shown a second yellow card. Inside fifteen minutes, the Watt had doubled the number of its players sent off during the season. The Watt’s next two games are against Kelty Hearts, in the League and in the King Cup, and both Dowds and Lane will be missing for both matches.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Spence, Munro, Giovanovits, Quinn, Ward (Ross 82), Macdonald (Barker 62), Higgins (McGovern 45), Dowds, Lane, Laurenson. Subs. not used: Diamantopoulos, McMahon, Barclay, Dargo.

Leith Athletic:
McLellan, Pennel, Larner (Middleton 57), Robertson (Garvey 55), Smith, Anderson, Mein, Ritchie (Beaton 88), Redpath, Hutchison, Swanson. Subs. not used: Pont, Mackenzie, Hay.

Referee: Mr. Michael Addy (Edinburgh)

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 28

East of Scotland League

24th February 2018

ORMISTON 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 3

It was an unusual experience for the Watt to play Ormiston on the East Mains synthetic, but after a frustrating first half, Watt secured the points with three goals in the second.

For most of the first half, Ormiston stayed in a deep defensive shell, with the Watt trying to work out a way to penetrate the carapace. Cammie Ross was the first to create space, tricking his man on the left to bring the ball into the penalty area and cut it back for Anton Dowds, close to goal. Dowds created a little room for himself and poked the ball towards goal but home ’keeper Aaron Jones diverted it behind with his leg.

A Dowds shot from distance missed to the goalkeeper’s left before Ross came close to embarrassing Jones when he got his foot to an attempted clearance, but the ball went across the face of goal rather than into it. Ross then sent in a fine cross from the right; Dowds met it with a firm header, but the ball rebounded from the underside of the bar and was headed away on the bounce by a defender.

Further shots by Ross and Dowds came close, then Neil Laurenson’s right-foot shot from twenty metres had Jones scrambling across his line, but curled away just past. Chris Lane ran to meet a corner at the near post and connected well with a header only to see it flash past the post too.

After all these near things, Watt could have conceded a goal when a diagonal ball put Declan Heron in on the left. Callum Reid came out to the edge of his box to face the winger and managed to get something on the ball as Heron tried to play it over him. By the time a second attempt succeeded in getting past Reid, Aidan Quinn was in good position to mop up behind him.

Just before half-time, Ross was preparing to jump to head a cross towards him on the left side of the Ormiston penalty box, but before he could get off the ground, his marker leapt on top of him and brought him to the ground. It looked as clear a penalty as could be wished, but the referee made no award, explaining later that he felt the Watt forward had backed into the defender. We all see these incidents differently, but to your correspondent, Ross appeared only to have eyes for the ball and no movement towards the player was evident.

Gregor Macdonald replaced Ryan Higgins at half-time as the Watt sought more width for the second half, but in the early stages after the resumption the home team surprised their opponents by committing a lot more resources to attack. Dylan Clark’s shot from distance brought a save from Reid, diving to his right, and there were a number of other attempts on goal which did not trouble the goalkeeper.

Ten minutes into the half, Dowds had the sort of chance he normally thrives on. Ross played the ball through for Laurenson, who rounded a defender and cut the ball back to the top scorer, who was in space around the penalty spot. Dowds struck the ball with plenty of power, but seemed to catch it too far back in his stride, causing it to rise over the bar.

A good passing move put Macdonald through on the right side of the box, but for some reason, he didn’t fancy the shot and chose to alter the angle, ending up with a corner kick. Before that could be taken, Watt’s young central defender, Ion Athanassios Diamantopoulos, had to be replaced, having failed to overcome a first-half knock to the inside of the knee. Mark McGovern came on, with Laurenson going into central defence.

McGovern quickly began to make an impression. When Lane burst out of defence and picked him out on the left, his pass found Jackson Barker as he ran into the box, but the midfielder’s shot from good position rose over the bar. Lane injected pace again in midfield and found Ross on the left, but when he sent in a curling cross, the breeze carried it through to Jones.

McGovern continued to pose a threat to the home defence and when Dowds sent the ball through to him, he took the ball down superbly and rapidly sent in a fierce drive which skimmed the bar.

All previous chances paled into insignificance with the next Watt miss. A good ball to the left picked out Ross and when Jones came out to the edge of his area, Ross was too sharp and quick for him, rounding the goalkeeper and sending the ball to the far post, where Barker was running in alone. Those close to the action say that the ball bobbled as Barker went to strike it, but for sure the midfielder will be making no excuses to himself for sending the ball over the bar with the goal gaping in front of him.

Fortunately, within a few minutes it was all forgotten (for a while, anyway!) as Watt grabbed two quick-fire goals. Barker showed that his misses hadn’t affected him by setting up the opener, making ground in midfield and picking out Dowds, who executed a marvellous piece of mid-air control with his right foot, nipped the ball past the advancing Jones and slotted the ball in from an angle.

Two minutes later, McGovern played a clearance first-time to Ross on the left. Ross came inside two defenders and sent a curling shot towards the far post. The low sun shining towards Jones probably made it more difficult to judge the flight of the ball, but it was slightly surprising to see it elude the goalkeeper’s grasp and slip inside the post to double the lead.

That should have been that, but having gone seventy minutes without a goal, the third in the space of six minutes arrived. Ormiston defender Brad Hainey, spotting Reid a few metres off his line, took advantage of a bouncing ball in the centre circle to attempt a long-distance lob. He couldn’t have judged it much better, as it dropped towards earth right at the goal and would probably have crossed the line before reaching terra firma had there been no intervention. As it was, Reid, looking up and running backwards, leapt to touch the ball over the bar, but didn’t get the connection he wanted and the ball dropped under the bar and into goal. Once again, we were reminded that in such circumstances the goalkeeper’s first priority must be retreat to his line, from where he can approach the descending ball on the front foot.

Getting the goal back encouraged Ormiston and they mounted a number of attacks, gaining some corners and putting pressure on the Heriot-Watt defence, but the visitors also had their share of attacks in the final phase of the game, gaining a couple of free kicks from striking distance, but making little of them. Ross came closest with a shot which went past off the outside of the post.

As the match went into stoppage time, there were Ormiston penalty claims, more in hope than expectation, when the ball struck the hand of a defender, though close to the body and still. Watt then sealed the victory with a late goal. Lane passed the ball to Macdonald and ran on into the box. Macdonald unexpectedly chose to ignore Lane’s run, probably correctly thinking that Lane had run offside by the time the ball reached him, and instead sent an accurate pass across the line of the area to Dowds. The striker moved to the left, then to the right, then finally back on to his left side and sent a low shot past the left hand of Jones into the corner of the net. On the balance of play, it was no more than the Watt deserved.

Ormiston:
Jones, Fraser, Bathgate (Cochrane 73), Rogers-Jones, Hainey, Kustra (Murray 45), Ballard, Law, Doig, Clark (Bonar 75) Heron. Sub. not used: Fairnie.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Spence, Munro, Quinn, Diamantopoulos (McGovern 57), Higgins (Macdonald 45), Barker (Ward 74), Ross, Dowds, Laurenson. Sub. not used: Breen.

Referee: Mr. Paul Hanlon (Edinburgh)
Assistant Referees: Mr Will Pare, Mr Blair White

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 27

East of Scotland League

17th February 2018

TWEEDMOUTH RANGERS 0 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 6

This was a pleasant day out for the Watt at a most hospitable club, but there was concern that the dedicated people who run Tweedmouth Rangers and ensure that the club meets all its fixture obligations are finding difficulty in recruiting to replace those who left at the end of last season and as a result it has become difficult for them to field a competitive side at East of Scotland level, despite having some decent players in their squad.

The Watt played downhill in the first half, encouraged by the raucous shouts of the Under-20 party en route Newcastle for a weekend off the leash. The first close call came in the tenth minute when a corner from the left came in low to the near post and several Watt players had attempts blocked before Aidan Quinn knocked the ball high in the air from close to goal. Ion Diamantopoulos was positioned close to the far post, where the ball came down, but a diligent defender headed it away from him to concede another corner, from which Neil Laurenson headed over.

Continuing to pour down the hill, Watt soon had Rangers pressed back in defence and opened the scoring when Jack Spence’s cross reached Anton Dowds and his shot rebounded to Laurenson, who struck it crisply past the left side of goalkeeper Stuart Allan into the corner of the net.

A good ball by Chris Lane sent Dowds in on Allan a few minutes later, but the goalkeeper was quickly out to the edge of his area to block. Michael Ward picked up the rebound and was tripped by Keiran Cromarty five metres outside the box in the centre of the pitch. Quinn struck the free kick past the post.

Gregor Macdonald was the next to have a shooting chance when a free kick for a foul on Dowds was played to him, but he had too much ground to make up to reach the ball and his shot was charged down.

A good pass from Laurenson gave Dowds another chance to drive in from the left, but his cutback was just too far ahead of Macdonald, although he did get a slight touch to take the ball off a defender towards Laurenson, whose shot was diverted for a corner.

Callum Reid had been a spectator for the first half-hour, but a thrust down the Tweedmouth right provided a good cross which Michael Robinson did his best to reach, but the Watt custodian neatly caught the ball above his head.

A shot and a header from Laurenson both slipped past the post, but ten minutes from the interval, the Watt scored again. Dowds was positioned on the edge of the area with a marker close behind, but when the ball rebounded to him, he used the players running to his left as a decoy as he turned and smashed a shot of stunning power accurately into the space between Allan and his left-hand post.

The Watt continued to pound the home defence and when Laurenson’s shot was blocked. Ward fired the rebound towards the corner of goal, but Allan got across to save low to his right. Dowds almost created another opportunity, closing in quickly on Allan as he tried to clear with his feet. The ball struck body of the Watt striker, but rebounded past the post.

Aidan Quinn sent a header from a corner over the bar just before half-time and did the same again early in the second half, but when the next corner came in from the right, he ran forward to meet the ball and rammed his header into goal to put the visitors three ahead.

The Watt was in full cry now against a harassed defence and Ward created a fourth goal when his ball in from the right wing found Lane in the near-post area. Lane cleverly turned and slid the ball across Allan into the far corner of the goal. Lane doubled his money two minutes later to make it five. Mark McGovern, who had replaced Dowds, played a good pass to Macdonald, who sent the ball on for Lane to drive the ball in off Allan’s right-hand post. Five minutes after this, Laurenson also notched his second of the day, seeing the chance for a tap-in as the ball came in from the right.

Tweedmouth’s closest effort of the day came soon after the restart, when a silly foul by Laurenson just inside the Watt half gave the opportunity for the ball to be played into the penalty box. The ball in was a good one and Robinson read it perfectly to slip in behind the defence and power in a header which he must have expected to see bulge the net, but Reid was determined that his clean sheet would not be spoiled and made a fabulous save, getting his left hand to the ball to turn it round the post.

Tweedmouth Rangers:
Allan, McLeod, Cowens (Lowe 82), Cromarty, Moore, Graham, Powling, Aitchison, Robinson, Colquhoun (Strangeways 75), Robertson. Subs. not used: Murray, Brown.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Spence, Munro, Quinn, Diamantopoulos, Higgins, Ward, Lane (Hogg 80), Macdonald (Ross 84), Dowds (McGovern 71), Laurenson. Sub. not used: Barker.

Referee: Mr. Alan Hogg (Edinburgh)

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 26

East of Scotland League

10th February 2018

[From our Special Correspondent]

PRESTON ATHLETIC 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

Having lost heavily on a grass pitch at Peebles the previous week, the Watt was determined that the same should not happen again at the Pennypit and started the game well, moving the ball smartly and attacking dangerously from wide areas, with Michael Ward prominent in the visitors’ midfield.

The Watt came close to opening the scoring early on when Scott Munro found Chris Lane with a pass inside. Lane moved the ball on to Ward, who found Scott Dargo coming in from the right wing to strike a powerful shot just wide of the post.

Preston tested the Watt defence with crosses into the area and when one of these was headed down, a shot struck a Watt player on the arm. Although there seemed no volition involved, the referee awarded a penalty to the home side, but fortunately for the Watt, the kick went wide.

Heriot-Watt took the lead with seventeen minutes played. The ball was won deep in the Watt half and Jack Spence’s pass enabled Scott Dargo to pick out the run of Anton Dowds, who took the ball close to the by-line and sent a superb chip over the goalkeeper into the net from the tightest of angles.

Watt dominated for long spells after this and another good chance came when Ward’s run and exchange of passes with Niko Giovanovits put him through on Craig Pennycuik, but the goalkeeper saved well.

In the second half, Athletic peppered the Watt penalty area with long crosses and throws and eventually the Watt defence failed to deal with a header down from a corner, enabling Gavin Stevenson to steer home an equaliser.

For the last quarter of the match, the Watt remained on the front foot in the quest for a winning goal. Lane put Gregor Macdonald through, but he shot wide; then Macdonald’s pass found Dowds, who took the ball past a defender and sent in a shot which hit the post.

At the end of ninety minutes, the Watt had been unable to find another goal and had to settle for a draw, but the players would have felt that a chance for a win had been missed.

Preston Athletic:
Pennycuik, M McFarlane, Innes, Cowan, Campbell, Woodcock (L McFarlane 59), Jack, Stevenson, Binnie (Dimitrov 70), Jardine (Cochrane 53), Grotlin. Subs. not used: Walker, Conway, Reid.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Spence (Laurenson 77), Munro, Giovanovits, Quinn, Lane, Macdonald (Barker 73), Higgins, Dowds, Ward (Ross 85), Dargo. Subs. not used: Breen, Barclay, McMahon.

Referee: Mr. David McAlinden (Livingston)

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 25

East of Scotland League

3rd February 2018

PEEBLES ROVERS 4 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

It appears that the Watt has once again become so unused to playing on a heavy grass pitch that the adjustment is too much. There was a slight improvement in the second half of this game, but in general, the team seemed to want to ignore the fact that the conditions were not conducive to its normal style of passing the ball out from the back and building play.

Rovers’ play was much more direct and much more effective and it took the home side just two minutes to open the scoring. Following a corner kick on the Peebles right, the ball was half-cleared to the edge of the Watt area. Michael McEwan cleverly ran back behind the ball, screening it, and veered out of the way at the last moment before the advancing Jamie Mackay struck the ball. Mackay got everything he had behind the ball and it avoided collision with any of the crowd in the box as it went like a bullet into the corner of the goal.

For a time after this, the Watt held its own, creating a chance when Anton Dowds went into the left side of the box. He tried to find Scott Dargo, who was running in from the right, but a retreating defender blasted the ball against Ben McGinley, his goalkeeper, and the ball fell kindly for the Rovers’ defence.

There was another nasty moment in the Watt defence when Ger Rossi sent a swinging cross into the box. Callum Reid tried to reach over a knot of players to get a punch on the ball, but he made little contact and fell to the ground as the ball landed at the feet of a Peebles player. With quick thinking, Reid, from a sitting position, got the toe of his boot to the ball to take it away from immediate danger and enable his fellow defenders to tidy up. Play immediately switched to the other end and a ricochet put Neil Laurenson through to face McGinley, but he veered too far to the left and when he got his shot away, it went across goal and slipped past the far post.

We didn’t know it at the time, but this was the Watt’s last chance to take anything from the game. Eight minutes later, the ball was played through to home striker Alan McMath, who seemed to be finding a lot of room in the centre of the visitors’ defence. McMath stepped inside the challenge of Nico Giovanovits and tried a shot. His connection was a poor one and Reid was expecting something firmer than an effort which trundled towards him over the bumpy surface, but he would have been very disappointed when he allowed the ball to slip from his grasp and run on into the corner of the net.

Three minutes later, there was another defensive calamity for the visitors. A simple ball through the middle set McEwan on his way. Reid ran from his line in an effort to kick the ball away, but when he reached the ball just ahead of McEwan, he blasted it off the legs of the Peebles player, who ran on to catch the ball as it slowed on the muddy surface and slipped it into goal to put his side three ahead.

The Watt defence continued to play like strangers to each other and McMath could hardly believe the space he was getting. He gathered again in acres of space, but this time Reid came out smartly and blocked the shot with his legs. A minute later, however, a rebound gave McMath a similar chance and this time he took the ball to the side of Reid and drilled it into goal for number four.

Watt managed to get to half-time without the situation deteriorating any further and after the interval looked somewhat less vulnerable, although David Lindsay’s free kick went just past the post before the Watt defence was sliced open again down the left and a ball fired across the six-yard box found Lee Zavaroni at the far post. It looked like a clear-cut chance and this was confirmed by Zavaroni’s reaction of disappointment when he shot past the post.

Alex Snoddy, having been booked earlier, was shown leniency by the referee in the difficult conditions when his standing foot gave way and he slid into a Peebles player, but when he appeared to have been brought down in the box a minute later, the official ruled that the challenging defender had got a slight touch on the ball and did not award a penalty. Snoddy’s participation didn’t last much longer, as he sustained an ankle knock and had to be replaced, Ronan Dowds coming on, with Dargo dropping back into defence.

As the game neared its end, the Watt began for the first time to look more composed and effective in attack. Their efforts were rewarded with a goal five minutes from time, resulting from the biggest slice of good fortune to come their way during the game. A corner kick was played into the Peebles box and when it fell amongst the players, it rebounded off the referee and landed at the feet of Adam Breen. When he turned and shot from close range, the ball struck goalkeeper McGinley and trickled over the line. The official verdict was an own-goal against the luckless McGinley.

During stoppage time, Rovers’ Raymond Fleming was dismissed for a head-butt on Ronan Dowds, who was cautioned for his reaction.

Peebles Rovers:
McGinley, Mackay (Renwick 69), Brown, Dodds, G Lamb (R Lamb 52), Rossi (Smith 75), Fleming, McEwan, Lindsay, McMath, Zavaroni. Subs. not used: Sterricks, Newell.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Snoddy (R Dowds 63), Munro, Quinn, Giovanovits, Lane, Dargo, Higgins, A Dowds, Breen, Laurenson (Spence 54). Subs. not used: Ross, McDuff.

Referee: Mr. Greig Haynes (Tranent)

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 24

East of Scotland League

27th January 2018

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2 LOTHIAN THISTLE HUTCHISON VALE 3

[From our Special Correspondent]

The Watt has had some bad days and some frustrating days in recent times against LTHV, but seldom can the team have had a better chance to score a convincing victory against their highly-rated opponents – only for the day to turn sour with late goals for the visitors bringing another defeat.

The first half was full of chances for both sides. Five minutes in, a corner from the visitors deflected off Aidan Quinn and it took an alert clearance from Scott Munro to prevent a goal. Five minutes later, a quick free kick by Quinn put Anton Dowds through on the right, but he fired his shot wide of the near post.

Dowds showed good strength to draw a foul in a promising area on the right, but the free kick was cleared by the LTHV defence.

As the game continued to surge one way and then the other, Alex Snoddy was cautioned after bringing down a Lothian forward as he neared the Watt penalty box. The resultant free kick was deflected high in the air and Callum Reid was obliged to touch the ball over the bar. From the corner which followed, Grant Munro volleyed into Reid’s hands from close range.

Liam O’Donnell was next to threaten for the visitors, drilling in a good cross which Liam Hutchison cleared for a corner. The kick was taken short and worked to Kevin Brown, who sent in a shot which found Reid in the right place to catch. The Watt had a penalty claim turned down by the referee when Dowds fell under challenge after being picked out by a pass from Snoddy.

The Watt took the lead after half an hour. A great tackle in defence by Neil Laurenson started an attack and when Chris Lane, after exchanging passes with Dowds, was brought down in the penalty area, Dowds calmly sent the penalty to the opposite corner to the one towards which Swain was diving.

Heriot-Watt had the ball in the net again a minute later and we can only speculate on what would have happened had that goal been allowed to stand. Lane’s pass sent Dowds through to slip the ball between Swain’s legs into goal, but a marginal offside decision denied the Watt a two-goal lead.

Ryan Higgins was the next to go through one-on-one with Swain, but the goalkeeper did well, advancing quickly and making Higgins rush his attempt to lob the ball over him, resulting in the ball going tamely past the post.

After half-time, the Watt continued to create and miss chances, Dowds shooting over when clean through just before the hour mark. Six minutes later, the scores were level again. Louis Swanson clipped the ball into the box and its flight deceived everyone, bouncing and bending inside the far post without anyone else touching it.

Having gained the encouragement of an equalising goal, the visitors stepped up their efforts. A free kick was confidently grasped by Reid, then Anthony Muir screwed a shot wide of the post. Finally, with five minutes left to play, the siege of the Watt goal produced results. A fine header from substitute Samuel Nhamburo struck the bar and was cleared for a corner. When the kick came in, it was partially cleared, but when the ball was returned into the box, Nhamburo got his head to it again and this time found the net.

Three minutes later, Brown scored a third goal for LTHV, giving the score line a look which bore little relation to the greater part of the game, but in the last minute, Dowds scored again to reduce the deficit to a single goal.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Snoddy, Munro, Giovanovits, Hutchison, Quinn, Higgins, Lane, Breen (Law 72 [McGovern 87]), Dowds, Laurenson (Manson 82). Subs. not used: Boulstridge, McMahon.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:
Swain, Moore, O’Donnell, Crawford, Munro, Muir, Hare (Hutchison 67), Brown, Wringe, Murray (Nhamburo 67), Swanson (Mungall 87). Subs. not used: Gibson, Williams, Simpson, Shala.

Referee: Mr Andrew Strang (Stirling)
Assistant Referees: Mr Kian Gallacher, Mr Darren Robertson

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 23

East of Scotland League

13th January 2018

BURNTISLAND SHIPYARD 0 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

It was everything the Watt has come to expect on a visit to the Fife coast when a thin squad travelled to Recreation Park – except for the narrow defeat which had become all-too-normal in recent times. The Watt had lost by a single goal on each of its previous four matches at this venue, but this time courage and determination deservedly saw the points return to Riccarton.

Watt kicked off in front of a partisan crowd and what is surely the most incendiary Technical Area currently to be found in the East of Scotland League. Early indications were good, as the Watt players moved the ball around well and created a number of shooting chances. A good diagonal ball by Chris Lane found Anton Dowds on the left, but his first-time shot was fielded low to his left by Ryan Adamson, but a minute later, the goalkeeper presented the visitors with a chance when he slipped in trying to kick clear. The ball went straight to Gregor Macdonald, just inside the Shipyard half; he took careful aim and lofted the ball over the head of Adamson as he retreated, but just a foot over the bar.

Burntisland’s best move in the early stages came when a pass inside Alex Snoddy gave the tall and pacy wing-back Brian Breen the chance to stride into the Watt area. Snoddy turned and managed to get a foot to the ball, but only succeeded in playing it against Breen, who continued towards goal and sent a fierce shot fizzing just over the junction of bar and post.

Shippy were getting in some robust challenges and a foul on Lane which saw Rab Kinnaird booked gave the Watt a chance to create something, but although Dowds was put clear, his shot was straight at Adamson. A good header by Neil Laurenson enabled Dowds to go through again a minute later, resisting a tough challenge on the edge of the penalty box, but a deflection on his shot made it easier for Adamson to gather low to his right.

Burntisland striker Tam Graham tried his luck with an overhead kick, but Callum Reid escorted the ball past his left-hand post and Graham then found himself added to the referee’s notes after a nasty foul on Lane. The Watt midfielder went through the middle into the box a few minutes after this, but a fine recovery tackle by Callum McAulay took the ball away before Lane could shoot.

With a dissent caution for McAulay the only other incident of note, we reached half-time without a goal having been scored.

Soon after the restart, another reckless challenge made Sam Glancy the fourth home player to be cautioned, but five minutes later, the referee brandished a red card to Jackson Barker, the first Watt player to be shown a card of either colour, for a challenge similar to that which had earlier put Graham’s name in the book. Some Shipyard supporters later said they felt the sending-off was severe, but at the time of the incident, there was little sign of leniency in the views of the highly vocal spectators who make the atmosphere at Recreation Park so hostile. It is likely that the Watt comes in for some special treatment, due to its recent poor record at the venue and the belief still persisting in some quarters that as a student side, the team must have a vulnerability to physical play.

Instead of being discouraged by the reduction in numbers, the Watt continued to attack and went ahead two minutes later. A nice pass by Lane gave Dowds the chance to make a run towards the right and as Adamson advanced, Dowds beat him to the ball and lifted it over the goalkeeper into the far side of goal.

Within the next few minutes, Watt had two further scoring chances. Lane found Macdonald in a wide area and his low centre was diverted away from Dowds for a throw-in, following which the head of Dowds met Snoddy’s cross too well, the ball carrying over the bar. Then Lane’s through ball from a free kick rebounded from a defender into an area where Dowds could lunge forward and send in a volley, but Adamson was in the right place to make the catch.

Ryan Higgins was the next to be cautioned for a foul as the game remained highly competitive. Shippy was driving forward as often as possible in the search for an equaliser and Lennie came close with a header from a long corner kick. The ten men of the Watt were being forced back at times, but were doing everything they could to break out at every opportunity. Dowds went on a storming run on the left, surviving strong challenges by two defenders, but when he got near to the corner flag, his attempt to find Lane in the middle showed weariness. A free kick from inside the Watt half was well delivered by Aidan Quinn and brought down with a velvet touch by Dowds, but this time when he did get the ball across goal, Lane had come too far towards him and there was nobody in position for the tap-in which could have resulted.

A foul on Dowds on the left touchline gave the Watt a free kick and Laurenson timed his run to perfection to go clear of the defence, but his low centre went into the territory between the goalkeeper and the advancing players and slipped past the post. Laurenson and Dowds combined again a minute later, but the return ball was taken away from Laurenson as he ran on to it.

Watt maintained a high-energy game and a good ball by Lane put Snoddy away on the right, but the full-back found that he had so far outdistanced his team-mates that he had little option but to shoot from a tight angle. The direction was good, but the power was insufficient to beat Adamson, who dived to his right and pushed the ball towards the far side, where it was cleared.

Yet another foul on Dowds produced a free kick from just outside the penalty box and Laurenson’s perfectly-flighted ball was met firmly by the head of Dowds, but the ball slipped just past.

As time ebbed away, the visitors had the chance to fashion a clinching goal when strong defending sent the ball rebounding to the feet of Dowds around half-way. Lane, seeing the opportunity, broke alongside him, but with only Glancy ahead of him, Dowds chose to knock the ball past the defender and run him for it, but Glancy showed his experience by moving across to block out Dowds and reach the ball first.

In the last few minutes of the game, the referee chose to caution Dowds for delaying the restart of play and, incredibly, Laurenson for kicking the ball out of play too hard, which is something we have never seen before (and hope never to see again). It seems more than bizarre to issue a caution to a player for the way in which he chooses to play a ball which is still live, especially in these days when there is always another ball ready to hand so that the game can be quickly restarted. It took much more time to issue the caution than it did to get another ball on to the park. In a game played against very robust opponents, this actually meant that the Watt finished the game with the worse disciplinary record, which seems absurd.

During the period of added time, the Watt was driven back as Shipyard moved the ball as well as at any time during the game and there was a final heart-in-mouth moment as substitute Ross Watt had a chance to shoot from the edge of the area. The shot was firm but just past Reid’s right-hand post and the final whistle followed.

This was a performance full of character from the Watt side, which had the chances to increase the margin of victory. The result was founded on a strong defence, with the teenage central defenders solid and well partnered by calm and determined full-backs. In midfield, Lane and Laurenson were tireless and skilful both in defence and attack and up front Dowds gave no rest to two strong and capable central defenders in Sandy Strang and Ross Lennie.

Burntisland Shipyard:
Adamson, Kinnaird (Powrie 63), Breen, Lennie, Strang, Clancy, Watt, McAulay (Watt 77), Johnstone, Johnathan Galloway, Graham (Hamilton 63). Subs. not used: Ferry, Anderson, Jordan Galloway, Malpas.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Snoddy, Munro, Hutchison, Quinn, Higgins, Macdonald (Manson 65), Lane, Dowds, Barker, Laurenson. Subs. not used: Diamantopoulos, McGovern, Ross.

Referee: Mr. Lee Pirie (Kirkcaldy)
Assistant Referees: Ms Kirsty Morgan, Mr Craig Stevens
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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 22

East of Scotland League

6th January 2018

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2 STIRLING UNIVERSITY 2

This match was played on the Oriam indoor pitch by permission of the East of Scotland Board, due to the current work on the new grandstand requiring some of the floodlights at the John Brydson Arena to be disconnected.

The visitors set the pace in the early stages and it was no great surprise when they went into the lead, but the goal was an unfortunate one for Watt goalkeeper Callum Reid. The shot from around twenty-five metres by Stirling’s David Beaton wasn’t a powerful one, but it dipped in front of Reid, who went on to his knees to gather. As the ball came up off the surface, it spilled over the goalkeeper’s right shoulder and dribbled into the goal.

By the mid-point of the first half, the Watt was dictating play, but when a good pass by Liam Hutchison and another by Chris Lane put Cammie Ross through, the striker’s well-struck shot rebounded into play from the far post.

Heriot-Watt continued to dominate, with Chris Macher’s pass to Neil Laurenson enabling him to slip the ball through for Ryan Higgins, but the Derry man was caught just offside. Laurenson had the next attempt, but his shot lacked the power to beat John Allan in the Stirling goal.

The Watt remained on the attack as the second half got under way. Jackson Barker went through on a pass into the area, but diligent defending denied him a shooting opportunity. Two minutes later, however, Ross’s pass gave Barker the chance to drive into the area again and when he was tripped, the Watt had an opportunity to level from the penalty spot. Ross spotted up the ball, but it really seemed as if the fates were against the home side when as Allan went to his left, Ross’s kick struck the opposite post. Watt players were slow to get on to the rebound and the Stirling defence was able to clear.

In a rare Stirling attack, the dangerous Justicia Bernardo set up Anthony McGuire for a shot, but Reid saved above his head and soon the Watt was back on the offensive with a good move involving Barker, Ross and Lane before Laurenson’s cross was headed behind. Aidan Quinn, who has left his little spell of indifferent form well behind and looks to be right back to his best, won a good tackle in his own half and charged forward, exchanging passes on the edge of the Stirling penalty area and getting on to the return pass, but his half-volley finish slipped just past the post to Allan’s left.

Further chances saw efforts from Ross and Barker turned away from goal as the Watt continued the assault, but there was less than quarter of an hour left to play when at last the home side gained an equaliser. Ross was the creator, timing a through pass perfectly for the run of Barker, who went clear of the defence to slip the ball past Allan into the corner of the goal.

It was a just reward for an hour of domination, but it didn’t guarantee success and just two minutes later, the Watt was behind again when David Collins went through unchallenged from the right side to finish with a crisp shot.

Back to the same situation after all that effort, Watt might have concluded it wasn’t their day, but there was no sign of capitulation. Quinn was moved forward to bolster the attack and when a cross into the box was contested inconclusively in the middle, the ball came on to Ross on the right side. Ross knocked the ball past a defender and sent a fierce angular shot inside the far post to give the Watt a share of the points which was the least they deserved on the day.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Woolven (Lloyd 73), Munro, Hutchison, Quinn, Higgins (McGovern 60), Barker, Macher, Ross, Lane, Laurenson. Subs. not used: Boulstridge, McMahon.

Stirling University:
Allan, Baber, Gunn, Solomons, Siegel, Whitefield, Beaton (Landles 84), McGuire, Burgess (Downie 71), Collins, Bernardo (McGregor 60). Sub. not used: Bremner.

Referee: Mr Jonathan Gall (Duns)
Assistant Referees: Mr Sean Redgrave, Mr Jack Frame

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 21

East of Scotland League

25th November 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2 PEEBLES ROVERS 1

This was every bit as difficult a game as the Watt had anticipated. The visitors showed all the Borders grit we have come to expect from Rovers sides and could perhaps consider themselves a little unfortunate to have taken nothing from the game.

Peebles made most of the early running in the match, hitting the post from around the penalty spot before three minutes had been played and coming close a few minutes later with a shot from the left which slipped past the far post.

The Watt eventually responded, Ryan Higgins making a good interception to find Anton Dowds, who moved the ball on for Mark McGovern, but when he turned and shot, he found Ben McGinley well positioned to make the catch.

The referee was lenient with a defender who grabbed Dowds’ sleeve and pulled him back, preventing him reaching the penalty area as he cut in from the left. McGovern’s free kick attempt wasn’t one of his better ones, but Heriot-Watt had gradually built a platform from which to apply pressure, and although Peebles had another attempt which grazed the bar shortly after this, it was the home side which took the lead after twenty-one minutes, Dowds heading a free kick from Chris Lane over the hands of McGinley into goal.

Saul Schulz-Keith had two good efforts in quick succession, the first just missing Callum Reid’s right-hand post and the second, from a right-wing cutback, being held by the Watt goalkeeper.

Dowds was beginning to give regular trouble to the Rovers’ defence, but his run on the left was well covered by Jamie Mackay, who prevented a low centre coming in at the expense of a corner. Lane’s kick found Dowds close to the near post, but his free header was angled too obtusely and passed the far post.

A good cross by Gregor Macdonald found Dowds on the left side of the box and he battled hard to get the better of two defenders, but had to drag the ball through to direct it towards goal and McGinley was able to smuggle it over the bar for a corner kick which was headed over by McGovern.

There was a nasty moment for the home side when Adam Woolven, stretching to reach a ball in defence, was unable to generate enough power to take the ball back to Reid and Gregor Lamb nipped in to send a shot across goal and just past.

Five minutes from the interval, the visitors were reduced to ten men when Dowds pulled back Ross Lamb and the Peebles man responded by kicking his leg right in front of the referee. Rovers had the free kick from Dowds’ foul, but couldn’t get it on target.

The second half started in dramatic fashion. Within a minute, a Peebles forward drove into the area and was challenged by two Watt defenders. When he came down in the sandwich, the referee pointed to the penalty spot. The kick was well-struck but at a height which gave the goalkeeper a chance and Reid seized the opportunity, diving full-length to his right to get strong hands to the ball and push it away. A Rovers player came on to the rebound and fired in a shot, but Reid had pushed the ball so far wide that the angle was against the striker and the ball went into the side netting.

Having escaped unscathed from this alarm, the Watt came close to increasing its lead when a fine diagonal pass put Macdonald in possession. Cutting in from the left, he got ahead of the pursuit as he entered the penalty area, but seemed to run straight into McGinley as he ran from his line and the goalkeeper emerged with the ball.

Dowds gave another chance to McGovern with a good cross from the left, but he couldn’t get much force on his header and the ball leaked past the far post. A good pass by Woolven found substitute Matthew Law on the right and when he played the ball inside, it came right across to Macdonald on the left, from where he delivered a good cross. McGovern’s header was firm this time, but just over the bar.

Dowds was well found on the edge of the box and as he slipped his marker to set up a shot, we all expected to see the net bulge, but on this occasion, Dowds didn’t get the contact he wanted and the shot was easy for McGinley to field.

Niko Giovanovits started another Watt attack with a good pass to McGovern on the left, but when his firm, low cross reached the far post, Law was unable to control it.

McGovern almost scored a picture goal just after this, laying the ball off nicely and moving into good position for a chipped return. McGovern brought the ball down on his chest, but McGinley had advanced to take up a good position and blocked the striker’s shot.

Jackson Barker entered the fray for the last fifteen minutes and immediately sent a good pass to Dowds as he broke towards the left. Dowds waited for the right moment to take the ball inside his marker and when he had created space for a shot, drilled the ball past McGinley into the corner of goal.

This appeared conclusive, but with two minutes left on the watch, Peebles substitute Lee Zavaroni put the result in doubt once again, cutting in off the right to send a tremendous left-foot shot across Reid into the top corner of the Watt goal. It was a strike of top quality and gave the goalkeeper no chance whatsoever, depriving Reid of what would have been a well-earned clean sheet.

Watt saw out the remaining time readily enough, finishing the game on the attack, and reflected on another match in which Dowds’ contribution had been essential to securing the points.


Heriot-Watt University
:
Reid, Snoddy, Willassen, Lane, Woolven, Giovanovits, Macdonald (Barker 75), Higgins (Law 45), McGovern (Balastrier 80), Dowds, Laurenson. Sub. not used: Spence.

Peebles Rovers:
McGinley, Mackay, Fleming, Brown, C Smith, J Smith (Lindsay 70), G Lamb, R Lamb, Schulz-Keith (Zavaroni 70), McMath, Renwick (McEwan 45). Subs. not used: Dodds, Lindsay.

Referee: Mr. Mark Rennie (Leith)

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 20

East of Scotland League

18th November 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2 COLDSTREAM 2

This latest meeting with the men from the town on the Border had the now-familiar outcome, with the Watt salvaging a point with a stoppage-time goal for the third game in a row between the sides.

It was actually the Watt’s best result against the Streamers at Riccarton since February 2012, with all four games since then resulting in away wins, but it didn’t feel like a good outcome in the dressing room afterwards, when the general feeling was one of frustration at surrendering a winning position and making the rescue act necessary in order to get anything from the game.

Coldstream made a lively start, with Shane Bonnington looking dangerous on the right, if inclined to go down rather too easily. His fall gained a free kick in the fifth minute of play and when the ball was played to the near post, Matt Corfield, although surrounded by defenders, got his foot to it, but directed his shot against Callum Reid in the Watt goal.

Chris Lane came on to a cross and struck a fierce volley across the face of the Coldstream goal as the Watt responded, but play was mainly confined to midfield in the first half-hour. Kieran Lee then sent in what appeared to be intended as a cross, but the ball missed the far post by an inch or two.

Lane’s pass sent Gregor Macdonald scurrying to the line to send a firm centre flashing across goal, but Anton Dowds, coming in wide of the far post, could only stub the ball in front of him and past.

Coldstream then attacked on the left and the Assistant Referee was out of position as a controversy arose about whether or not the ball had been out of play before being crossed into the goalmouth, but in any case, Ben Jackson headed well over.

Six minutes from half-time, the Watt opened the scoring when Macdonald saw the opportunity to intercept and stabbed the ball through to Dowds. Taking on the last defender, it appeared that Dowds had been forced too far to the left to get in a scoring shot, but such was the accuracy of his drive that even at full stretch, the tall Jamie Shiel was unable to reach the ball as it passed just inside the far post.

Coldstream started the second half full of determination and had the better of play in the initial stages. Bonnington sped down the right, but Adam Woolven tracked him close to the by-line and when Bonnington sent in a strong shot it found only the side netting. Then Gary Windram sent in a curling shot from the edge of the area, but it cleared the bar.

Finally, with an hour played, the visitors drew level. Several defenders seemed to have a chance to clear as the ball worked its way inside from the right, but eventually it made its way through to Windram, who eluded Woolven to poke the ball under the advancing Reid. Despite Woolven’s vehement protests that he had been pushed past the ball, the referee was unmoved and allowed the goal to stand.

A bad foul on Lane a few minutes later which brought him a caution was Bonnington’s last involvement in the game, as he was immediately replaced by Callum Chamberlain, with Bailey Paterson substituting for Lee at the same time.

The next attack of note was by Heriot-Watt and it was the work of Lane, who picked up the ball on the right, moved inside and after finding Dowds, made a run to his left to receive a well-timed return pass and drive in a powerful shot which was well saved by Shiel, diving to his right to turn the ball round the post.

The save was important, as a minute later the Streamers went ahead. Again, the ball was played in from the right; Woolven attempted to hook clear, but sliced the ball towards Corfield. Before Reid could come off his line and narrow the angle, the striker fired in a strong shot which curved away from the ’keeper and just inside the post.

Watt came close to conceding again when Macdonald was penalised for a bodycheck in seeing the ball over the goal-line near to the corner flag and a header from the free kick flashed across the goalmouth. Watt Head Coach Banji Koya tried a change of approach, introducing Mark McGovern to the attack, with Dowds going into a deeper role and Aidan Quinn dropping back into central defence.

Lane tried a shot from thirty metres, but it was wide of the goal and smacked a little of desperation. A minute later, a more productive attack was built up on the right when Dowds linked with McGovern. Macdonald stepped in to win the ball back and feed Alex Snoddy, who came up the wing and played the ball inside for Dowds, who was brought down just outside the penalty box. Free-kick specialist McGovern took the kick, but having driven the ball past the defensive wall, he watched in despair as it cannoned back off the left-hand post with Shiel a spectator.

An injury to Michael Allan, who had gone over on his ankle upon landing, caused a delay, after which Kai Strang came on as a replacement for the injured player and Watt resumed the pursuit of an equaliser. A through ball picked out McGovern, who brought it down and drove a perfect left-foot shot into the corner of the net – but then found that the flag had been raised for a marginal offside decision.

In the final minute of normal time, it looked long odds-on that Coldstream would confirm victory with a third goal when Windram sent in a powerful shot from close range, but somehow Reid managed to get his forearms up to block the ball – then, after Patterson’s follow-up effort had struck him, Reid saved again from another Patterson shot to enable a defender to help him out at last and get the ball away for a throw-in.

It was a multiple save which was as significant as it was astonishing. Within a minute, Quinn had sent a tremendous pass from deep inside the Watt half to find Dowds on the left side of the Coldstream penalty area. Dowds checked back inside Callum Chamberlain on to his right foot and fired a blistering low drive across Shiel into the corner of the net to earn a share of the points.

In recent seasons, Heriot-Watt has looked to Chris Donnelly for a regular supply of goals, but recognising that the team needed options in the striking department, Banji Koya converted attacking midfielder Anton Dowds into a striker alongside Donnelly. This season, with Donnelly missing for the duration, Dowds has taken on the responsibility up front and he showed in this game what an accomplished finisher he has become. Both his goals were struck with power and accuracy and it is an indication of how well he has adapted to the role that when he turned in the box late in this game, Watt supporters had little doubt that he would score. Dowds now has seventeen goals to his credit this season, at a rate of one per 74 minutes of play, plus six in BUCS competition. That is a record of which any striker in the East of Scotland League would be proud.

Finally, a mention for full-backs Alex Snoddy and Scott Munro, who were alert and decisive and rated amongst the Watt’s best performers on the day.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Snoddy, Munro, Giovanovits, Woolven (McGovern 75), Quinn, Macdonald (Balastrier 89), Lane, Dowds, Higgins, Laurenson. Subs. not used: Warner, McMahon.

Coldstream:
Shiel, Dixon, Common, Allan (Strang 85), Beasley, Bullen, Bonnington (Chamberlain 64), Jackson, Corfield, Lee (Patterson 64), Windram. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Paul Hanlon (Edinburgh)
Assistant Referees: Mr Darren Cormack, Mr Gary Aitchison

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 19

East of Scotland League

11th November 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 6 EYEMOUTH UNITED 1

This match had been pulled forward from later in the fixture programme, pitting the sides against each other again just a fortnight after they had met at Warner Park.

In that previous game, played in a fierce wind, the Watt had ultimately prevailed by four goals to two, but it had been hard work all day. There were only three scorers in the game, with doubles for Anton Dowds and Gregor MacDonald for Heriot-Watt and the inevitable John Crawford for the Fishermen.

It was clear from the team listings that Eyemouth had problems for this game, with coach Ronald Smith the only substitute and it emerged later that two of the players who started had not played for a couple of years but had been dragooned into action due to player shortages.

To make matters worse for the visitors, the Watt scored twice in the first three minutes of play. The first came when Dowds found Chris Lane and when his shot was parried by Mark Walters, that most irregular of scorers Ryan Higgins was able to prod the ball home from his favourite distance.

A minute later, Dowds went past his marker to slide the ball between Walters and his post to put the home side two ahead. This looked ominous for Eyemouth, but to their credit, they dug in and created the next good chance. Crawford’s pass found William Giacopazzi in good position and, in an echo of the Watt’s first goal, Callum Reid got a hand to the ball but couldn’t prevent it continuing towards goal. On this occasion, however, there was a defender on hand rather than a forward and Neil Laurenson brought the ball away from the danger area.

In the minute following this close thing, and with only quarter of an hour played, the visitors suffered another blow with an injury which forced Scott Adamson to be replaced by Smith, the only substitute available. Eyemouth was now at full stretch, but with Walters in fine form, the Fishermen saw it through to half-time without further mishap. Dowds had four good chances during the intervening half-hour, but Walters was on fine form and kept the striker at bay with good positioning and quick reactions.

Dowds did get his second of the day eight minutes into the second half after a neat exchange of passes with Higgins put him through to the edge of the box, from where he fired an accurate drive to the corner of the goal. Five minutes later, however, the Watt’s habit of spoiling every clean-sheet opportunity came to the fore again when possession was squandered in midfield and a silly foul conceded. Kevin Strachan’s accurate free kick caused confusion in the Watt penalty box and Daniel Blackie stepped forward to smack the ball into goal off the far post.

Once more, encouragement for Eyemouth was quickly followed by a setback as five minutes after scoring, the side lost another man to injury, with Strachan limping off unable even to walk properly. With no more substitutes to call upon, Eyemouth played the remaining twenty-seven minutes with only nine outfield players.

The strain on the Eyemouth defence was beginning to tell and it didn’t take long for the Watt to add more goals. The next one was a cracker, Lane exchanging passes with Dowds as he moved on a diagonal from left to right until he found a space giving him a glimpse of goal, at which he swivelled and sent a shot across his line of travel and perfectly placed just inside Walters’ right-hand post.

The fifth goal, eight minutes later, was also a thing of quality. Mark McGovern had come on as a substitute and he chased a ball down the right with a defender matching his run and another covering behind. When McGovern reached the ball a yard or two from the by-line, a right-foot first-time cross was anticipated, although we knew there was a big chance that the defender tracking McGovern would divert the ball behind. Instead, McGovern, whose body shape had looked for all the world like that of a man about to cross the ball, turned the ball back and with his left foot sent a perfect chip over the two defenders to land right at the feet of Dowds, who had slipped into position at the far side of the goal. Dowds had only to trap the ball into goal to complete his hat-trick.

With the energetic Aubin Balastrier coming into the Watt attack, it looked bleak for United, but to their great credit, they remained competitive, pushing forward whenever the opportunity arose and Aidan Lauder came very close to adding a second to their tally after a fine move on the right wing which ended with a shot from Lauder which clipped the post on its way past.

Having lasted out for almost all the remaining time, it was unfortunate for Eyemouth to concede again in the last minute, but when the ball was played in from the right and reached McGovern on the edge of the area, we all knew what was likely to follow. McGovern has been in deadly striking form of late and with his usual accuracy he drove the ball past the right hand of Walters to complete the scoring.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Spence, Willassen, Watt, Giovanovits, Higgins, Macdonald (Woolven 74), Lane, Dowds (Balastrier 74), Quinn (McGovern 66), Laurenson. Sub. not used: Breen.

Eyemouth United:
Walters, Green, Strachan, Spiers, Wilson, Adamson (Smith 15), Blackie, Lauder, Crawford, Giacopazzi, Sword. All subs. used: .

Referee: Mr. Jonathan Gall (Duns)

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 18

East of Scotland League

4th November 2017

LEITH ATHLETIC 5 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2

The Watt were the authors of their own downfall on their last appearance at Meadowbank 3G. Not often does a team come back from a four-goal half-time deficit and there was a proverbial mountain for the visitors to climb when they found themselves in that position after a first half in which each poor goal from a defensive point of view was followed by another even worse.

Leith, and in particular Brodie Mackenzie, profited efficiently from the Watt profligacy and gave themselves a lead that looked unassailable. The Watt gave it their best shot in the second half and pulled back two goals in the first five minutes after the restart, but a quality fifth goal for the home side effectively finished the game with more than half an hour to play.

The first goal came after just five minutes and the shocking simplicity of it may have had a psychological effect beyond the fact of giving the home side the lead. Stefan Hay picked up possession not far inside the Watt half and got up pace as he headed forward into a welcoming space which opened up in the middle of the Watt cover. In all truth, Hay hardly had to move the ball off a straight line as he ran unchallenged into the box and slipped the ball past the left hand of Callum Reid.

It has been rather lost in the despondency following this result, but the Watt didn’t play at all badly when in possession during the first half of the game, but their inexplicable tendency to try to close-pass through the centre of a well-organised and compact defence invariably led to moves breaking down. Leith, playing in a less complex style, found it easier to create chances when they gained control of the ball.

As the Watt tried to recover from their early setback, Adam Woolven’s cross-field switch found Anton Dowds on the left, but a smart tackle by Daniel Simpson diverted the ball for a corner kick. Gregor Macdonald’s corner was attacked by Aidan Quinn, but Conor Barclay was alert to head behind on the other side.

Chris Lane was the next to pick out Dowds, still working the left channel. The cross was deflected to Macdonald, who laid the ball back for Lane to shoot. Lane’s effort was a weak one, but the ball came back to him and he drove into the area. He came down under a challenge but optimistic claims for a penalty kick were ignored by the referee.

After another good spell of possession by the Watt, Scott Munro played the ball inside for Dowds to try a shot, but the effort was too close to Campbell McLellan and the goalkeeper was able to make the catch.

In the twentieth minute, Leith went two ahead with the first of three by Mackenzie. The ball was played into the box from the left and Mackenzie easily sidestepped a challenge and drove the ball under Reid into goal. A couple of minutes after the half-hour, it was three and the match was rapidly slipping away from the visitors. The Watt tried to work the ball out of defence and when a miscontrol presented the ball to Leith, the defence was in no shape to prevent Athletic exploiting the opportunity. The ball was quickly moved to Mackenzie in space inside the penalty area and he lifted it over Reid.

The last action of the first half produced an even worse catastrophe for the Watt. Finn Watt could only get the top of his head to a lofted pass down the left and as the ball ran into the box between Woolven and the advancing Reid, Mackenzie stuck his boot into the space and poked the ball past the goalkeeper and unerringly into the far corner of the goal.

After a cantankerous half-time discussion, the Watt came back out with determination to set things right as far as possible, began pressing much more effectively and within five minutes had halved the deficit.
Good work in midfield provided the ball for Dowds on the edge of the area; he still had a couple of defenders to beat, but Dowds made light of that, checking one way, then the other, and firing a left-foot shot between McLellan and his post. Then, three minutes later, Dowds drove into the box again and when Barclay brought him down from behind, a penalty was inevitable. Dowds took the kick himself, but didn’t make a great job of it, sending it to McLellan’s right at a saveable height and velocity. The ’keeper dived to push the ball on to the post, but when it rebounded across goal, Quinn won the race to reach it and steered the rebound into the net.

The Watt had some hope now, but couldn’t quite sustain the intensity of their start to the second half. Dowds ran through on a pass by Macdonald, but when McLellan was quickly off his line to reach the ball first, Dowds made contact with him instead of the ball and was cautioned.

Just eight minutes after the Watt’s second goal, Leith scored again. Midfielder Oban Anderson picked up possession just outside the box on the left side, turned and sent a perfect shot into the postage-stamp corner, giving Reid no hope at all of reaching the ball. It was a strike of superb quality and inevitably caused the Watt players to lose some of the drive with which they had started the half.

The first hour of the match had given us seven goals and all sorts of dramas, but the last half-hour passed with few incidents of significance and very few attempts on goal. Mark McGovern came on and tried to stir things up for the Watt, but his free kicks were not to his usual standard and McLellan was not troubled. The Watt kept trying, but Leith had the game under control and was happy to ensure its defence was solid and to mount the occasional raid.

Leith Athletic:
McLellan, Simpson, Smith, Mein (Shaw 45), Barclay, Mackenzie (Griffin 69), Redpath, Anderson, Hay, Pennel, Beaton (Ritchie 77). Subs. not used: Middleton, Pont, Fairnie.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Spence, Munro (McGovern 63), Watt, Quinn, Woolven, Macdonald (Snoddy 82), Lane, Dowds, Laurenson, Breen (Willassen 77). Subs. not used: Higgins, Diamantopoulos.

Referee: Mr. Alan Hogg

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 17

East of Scotland League

28th October 2017

EYEMOUTH UNITED 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 4

Warner Park’s hilltop location is well-known to be one of the grounds within the East of Scotland League which is most vulnerable to windy conditions. The whole of the east side of southern Scotland suffered strong winds on the day of this match, so in its elevated coastal position, Eyemouth United’s ground was always going to provide difficult conditions for this match

There was a nasty shock for the Watt before kick-off, when it was pointed out that Chris Lane, who was listed to play in the visitors’ midfield, had eligibility issues, being listed on the most recent Suspensions List as having a two-match ban after his sending-off at Coldstream, rather than the one-match suspension which appeared on the SFA Extranet and which had been served when he missed the Kelty game in midweek. It was too late to seek clarification and it was decided to bring in Neil Laurenson instead.

The Watt played with the wind in the first half, but although this meant it was difficult for the home side to make headway, trying to use the conditions effectively was a constant challenge. The visitors played a lot of good football, but might have been better at times to simplify their approach.

Aidan Quinn, playing in midfield in this game, had the first serious effort on goal in the tenth minute, sending in a well-controlled volley on the turn. Eyemouth goalkeeper Dean Avery, who performed splendidly throughout the game, made his first contribution by rising to touch the ball over the bar.

Ronnie Napier, urged on by his family fan club, tried to curl a shot round Avery, but found the custodian again equal to the test. A good move gave Gregor Macdonald an opening on the right, but he tried to beat Avery from a tight angle when perhaps a low centre might have been the better option.

Another two efforts by Napier were dealt with by the speedy and alert goalkeeper and with twenty minutes gone, the home side took the lead. The goal was against both the conditions and the run of play, but with John Crawford in your ranks, there is always the prospect of goals and the ace marksman added yet further to his already considerable tally against Heriot-Watt, cutting in from the left to drive the ball hard and accurately across Callum Reid and into the net.

Just after this, Eyemouth sallied forward again and Aidan Lauder sent in a rasping shot from twenty metres which Reid stretched to touch over the bar, but when Watt recovered the ball an equaliser arrived. Again, Macdonald found space coming off the right wing and when the ball was laid in front of him, he drove it into the far corner of goal with considerable force.

Neil Laurenson, who was using his unexpected opportunity to good effect, sent in a shot which clipped the bar. Just after this, Macdonald cut the ball inside for Dowds, but from almost no distance, the striker hit Avery with his shot.

Quinn was the next to try his luck from distance, but put far too much power into his shot, which rose high over the bar. A few minutes later, however, the Watt took the lead for the first time. Eyemouth had been awarded a highly-dubious free kick, but must have regretted the decision when Reid gathered and sent a kick far downfield. Dowds, outpacing the retreating defenders, judged it nicely as Avery came out and on the half-volley sent the ball over the head of the goalkeeper and into goal.

A single goal lead playing into the wind might have seemed fragile, but from the start of the second half, Heriot-Watt showed that they could harness the conditions and play good football into the teeth of the gale. The first near thing, however, came in the Watt goalmouth, when Crawford, the predator supreme, popped up close to goal as the ball bounced in from the right. Fortunately for the Watt, the bounce was too high for Crawford to control and he could only hook the ball past the post.

Clearly, the Watt needed more goals and Dowds was the man to turn to. Ten minutes into the second half, he ran on to a through pass on the left and fired in a powerful shot. Avery dived to block it, but Macdonald was following in for just such an eventuality and he carefully placed the ball over the goalkeeper into the net.

With a little bit of a cushion now behind them, the Watt played with some freedom. Laurenson and Macdonald combined to supply Dowds on the edge of the area, but the shot went spinning off his boot away behind the goal. Twice in quick succession, Avery showed his awareness by sprinting from his penalty box to sweep behind his defenders, but the Watt really should have beaten him in a move half-way through the second half, when Laurenson found Dowds, who got round the defence and drove in a shot which struck Avery. Various Watt players who were supporting the move had attempts on goal as a frantic scramble developed, but the willingness of the United defenders to keep throwing themselves in the way proved effective and the danger was cleared.

Only for the moment, however, as a minute later Macdonald pounced on a loose ball to find Dowds, who raced through ahead of the pursuing pack to slot past the left hand of Avery to make it 4 – 1.

Eyemouth had by no means given up on the game and Evan Smith struck a well-controlled shot from twenty metres which Reid dived to his right to turn round the post with both hands. A little after this, the goalkeeper went down bravely to block at the feet of a forward coming in from the right.

A good pass by Finn Watt was played on by Dowds to Mark McGovern, but his shot was caught by Avery and two minutes later United reduced the arrears. A cross played into the wind from the left carried over the head of Reid, who leaned back to touch the ball on to the bar; but inevitably, when it came down, there was Crawford on the spot to knock it into goal.

Watt saw out the remaining time without further mishap. Another good effort by Smith went narrowly past the post, but otherwise there were few alarms and the game ended with McGovern’s reverse pass giving Napier a final opportunity, only for his shot to go across goal and past.

Eyemouth United:
Avery, E Smith, Mutch (Adamson 72), J Wilson (Gillen 35), E Wilson, Speirs, Blackie, Lauder, Crawford, Patterson, Strachan. Sub. not used: R Smith.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Hutchison. Munro, Woolven, Watt, Laurenson, Macdonald (McGovern 72), Quinn, Napier, Dowds (Giovanovits 81), Breen. Sub. not used: Higgins.

Referee: Mr. Greig Haynes

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 16

East of Scotland League

24th October 2017

KELTY HEARTS 7 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

The Watt travelled to face the new members of the League on a Tuesday night in October and found out the sort of challenge which is presented by the Junior Superleague champions as the lads suffered their biggest defeat in years.

There was no argument about the gulf between the sides and no excuses are offered, but it is fair to say that the Watt was a little unfortunate to suffer such a heavy defeat. Five minutes from time, the Watt reduced the deficit with a good goal to make the score 5 – 1 and came close to scoring an almost identical goal a minute later, but then conceded twice in the last three minutes to take the score from a decisive defeat to a real hammering.

In fact, the goals in this game mostly arrived in multiples. Watt had spoken about the necessity to avoid being overawed by the surroundings and the size of the crowd, a large one by East of Scotland standards, but there is no doubt that in the early stages the players were jumpy. Kelty had most of the possession, but when the Watt got hold of the ball, the passing was not up to the usual standard and without the presence of the suspended Chris Lane in midfield there seemed a lack of belief.

All the same, we were approaching quarter of an hour without mishap, with a Callum Reid save from Sean O’Neill’s header from a corner kick being the only serious attempt on goal when the roof fell in. The Watt was the author of its own downfall to an extent, with Ronnie Napier giving away a needless foul in a dangerous position, fifteen metres from the corner-flag on the Kelty right. When the ball was played into the box, big Murray Carstairs guided his header into the corner of the goal.

A minute later, it was two. The Watt’s attempt to play the ball out from the back foundered and Finn Watt was unable to keep the ball from going out for a throw-in, following which Conrad Courts sent a cross to the far side of the penalty box. Only Scott Dalziel will know if his header was an attempt to score or if he was trying to direct the ball towards a colleague, but the trajectory was perfect, passing over the outstretched hands of Reid and dipping below the bar.

Only another six minutes elapsed before Kelty scored again. Stephen Husband’s shot from the edge of the area was saved by Reid, but before Liam Hutchison could get in a block, Dalziel had come in from the left to slam home the rebound. Three down after twenty-one minutes – it didn’t bear thinking about.

Husband might have got his name on the scoresheet on the half-hour when he shot over from ten metres and then again ten minutes later when he wandered across the pitch and curled a shot just past Reid’s left-hand post, but Watt had steadied the ship to some extent and was beginning to show greater confidence in possession, as was shown by a move involving Watt, Hutchison, Adam Woolven, Nikola Giovanovits, Neil Laurenson and Ronnie Napier. If only we could last out until half-time without conceding another…

But in the last minute of the first half, the home side did score again. Once more, the creator was Husband, who received the ball at the end of a period of Kelty possession, skipped into the penalty area and fired in a shot. Woolven blocked, but the ball fell nicely for Stuart Cargill, who drove it into goal.

The second half almost got off to a terrible start when a through ball passed through the Watt defence to Cargill, but Reid was out of his goal quickly to narrow the angle and spread himself well to block the shot. Soon it became clear that the Watt had managed to find some confidence from somewhere and that the side was passing the ball better in periods of possession. Twenty minutes of uneventful play passed, with a header by Carstairs which went well wide the only serious effort on goal.

Kelty began to look more threatening after the arrival of Jordyn Sheerin as a substitute and his intervention created a chance which was sent just past by Cargill.

Reid’s flying punch sent a corner-kick from the Kelty right out for a throw-in and Woolven’s astute interception of a ball heading for Scott-Taylor Mackenzie on the left kept the Watt goal from further threat, but with just under quarter of an hour to play and the score still the same as it had been at half-time, the home side did score again. This one had a large slice of fortune about it, as the shot from Sheerin looked like it was going past Reid’s left-hand post until it struck Watt and diverted across goal to cross the line just inside the opposite post.

Watt gained a free kick on the right just after this and when the ball was played in, Anton Dowds stretched to volley a foot over the bar. The Watt’s prospects were also enhanced by the arrival of a substitute who was able to make a difference, namely Adam Breen, and when a good move on the left enabled Dowds to play the ball into the box, Breen’s attempt on goal was blocked and the ball rebounded around for a time before being cleared.

Ronnie Napier shot past at the end of another decent move and then, with five minutes to play, the Watt support had something to celebrate. Aidan Quinn’s accurate free kick enabled Ion Diamantopoulos to find Dowds on the left and he took the ball past Carstairs to cut it back from the line. Nikola Giovanovits, making his debut in the Watt midfield, arrived to put a neat first-time shot across Scott Christie to the far corner of the net. Anton even had the optimism to retrieve the ball from the goal.

A minute later, Watt almost pulled off a repetition of the same move, as Quinn’s fine pass sent Dowds away on the left again. This time he rounded Ross Philp and cut the ball back to Breen, but Christie was ready for the midfielder’s first-time shot and saved diving to his left.

Fair enough – with three minutes left to play, we’d have been prepared to settle for that. But the match had a scorpion sting for the Watt as Kelty scored two late goals to give the final score a punishing appearance for the Watt. A long ball picked out Philp on the right and he squared it for Sheerin to drive home from around the penalty spot, then the same combination brought the same result in the final minute. Napier thought he could cut out the ball from Philp, but it eluded him and Sheerin performed a neat drag-back turn and drove the ball into the corner of the net.

The welcome sound of the final whistle came seconds later.

Kelty Hearts:
Christie, Ford (Nimmo 60). Courts, O’Neill (McCabe 70), Carstairs, Husband, Philp, Greig, Dalziel (Sheerin 63), Cargill, Mackenzie. Subs. not used: Penman, Ritchie, Campbell, Gibb.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Watt, Laurenson (Diamantopoulos 76), Quinn, Woolven, Hutchison, Barker (Breen 70), Giovanovits, McGovern (Macdonald 54), A Dowds, Napier. Sub. not used: R Dowds, Munro.

Referee: Mr. Stephen Gill
Assistant Referees: Mr Andrew McGachan, Mr Jack Martin

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 15

East of Scotland League

21st October 2017

COLDSTREAM 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2

For the second season in a row, Watt left Home Park with a point after grabbing a last-gasp equaliser in a game in which the team played some pretty good football but conceded poor goals.

The Watt might easily have taken the lead in the first minute when Gregor Macdonald checked back on to his left foot and sent in a deep cross which Neil Laurenson headed back across the box in tap-in territory, only to find there were none of his team-mates there.

As play surged energetically from end to end in front of a fair number of supporters, who created a good atmosphere, Laurenson supplied Anton Dowds for a shot from twenty-five metres, but although on target, the effort was directed straight at goalkeeper Jamie Shiel and might be regarded as a sighter.

Chris Lane was the next to come close, after a nice combination between Laurenson and Scott Munro, but his shot passed a foot wide of the far post. Finn Watt made a run into the box to try to connect with a chest lay-off by Dowds, but Shiel was quickly off his line and grabbed the ball. Lane’s good block enabled the Watt to make a quick break forward and Dowds linked with Lane to find Macdonald, but his shot didn’t work out.

After all this Heriot-Watt attacking, Coldstream went ahead after twenty-six minutes. The ball was won in the air in midfield and soared over the head of Munro to Shane Bonnington, who raced away to strike an accurate shot across Callum Reid and just inside the far post.

Ronnie Napier almost created the perfect quick response, picking up the ball in midfield and sending in a powerful shot from forty metres. Despite the distance from which the shot was delivered, Shiel would have had no chance of saving the ball if it had been a foot further to the right.

The equaliser was only delayed by a minute, however. Laurenson closed down Coldstream right-back Callum Chamberlain as he tried to clear the ball near the touchline and blocked the attempted clearance, with the ball running on down the wing. On reaching it, Laurenson immediately sent in a low cross which Dowds carefully guided between Shiel and the near post.

There were further chances for both sides before half-time. For the home team, Kristian Dixon just failed to connect with a ball sent across the face of the Watt goal. For the visitors, Laurenson picked up the ball in the middle of the Coldstream half, advanced and sent a pass of perfect timing, weight and direction to put Dowds in on the left side of the box, but the big striker fired his shot into the side netting. Downs then set up a chance for Macdonald with a pass into the box; running towards the corner, Macdonald swivelled and sent in a good shot, but the ball passed across goal and behind.

Macdonald had another effort in the first minute of the second half, again from a pass by Dowds, but this time, although he struck the ball with force, it was straight at Shiel. A superb long pass by Adam Woolven then played in Dowds on the left, but once again when the ball was fired across the goalmouth, there was no-one there to finish.

Eleven minutes into the second period came one of the game’s major talking points. A cross from the Coldstream left was caught by Reid close to his near post, but he was immediately struck in the chest by the shoulder of a Coldstream player and dropped the ball, which then bounced over the goal-line. Several Coldstream players and officials were later honest and gracious enough to say that they felt that the challenge had not been legitimate and that a free kick should have been the correct decision, but to general surprise the referee immediately awarded a goal.

It took a little while for the Watt to recover its equilibrium after this setback, with some haphazard attempts on goal during the next twenty minutes. When Mark McGovern came into the Watt attack he brought fresh impetus, but another severe blow for the Watt was soon to follow. Lane was waiting to form part of a two-man wall to face a free kick wide on the Coldstream right when he responded to comments made by a spectator and was sent off, taking him out of the match and also out of Watt’s squad for Tuesday’s visit to Kelty.

As time ebbed away, the Watt attacks began to look a bit desperate. McGovern sent in a shot on the turn which was deflected for a corner off the head of a defender, but there was no sign of an equaliser to save a point for the visitors.

With a minute of regular time left, the numbers were evened up when Michael Allan, who had earlier been cautioned for pulling back Dowds, repeated the offence and was dismissed. McGovern sent the resultant free kick past the defensive wall, but Shiel dived to save and Woolven, attempting to force home the rebound, was well policed and couldn’t get the ball on target.

When Dowds sent in a cross from the left and Aidan Quinn’s header was saved by Shiel, it looked all over for the Watt, but there was still a minute or so of stoppage time left and when Coldstream lost possession near the visitors’ corner flag, the ball was played forward for Dowds to find McGovern on the right. His shot across goal came back off the post and a defender fired it over the wall behind the goal, but enough time was left for the corner to be taken. The cross came in short and Dowds headed from the angle of the six-yard box past Shiel. A defender standing on or just behind the line made a despairing attempt to head the ball away, but only managed to direct it into the roof of the net. The Watt had done it again at Home Park.

Coldstream:
Shiel, Chamberlain, Common, Allan, Beasley, Jackson, Bonnington (Laidlaw 86), Lee, Corfield, K Dixon (Strang 72), Windram. Subs. not used: S Dixon, Trafford, Graham, Bullen.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Spence, Munro (McGovern 73), Woolven, Quinn, Watt, Macdonald (Breen 86), Lane, Dowds, Napier (Snoddy 90), Laurenson. Sub. not used: Higgins.

Referee: Mr. Dale Kerr

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 14

East of Scotland League

14th October 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2 PRESTON ATHLETIC 2

Heriot-Watt welcomed Preston Athletic to Riccarton for the first time in three and a half years, the sides last having met in a King Cup tie on the 30th of April 2014. Preston had won 3 – 2 on that occasion, but this time the spoils were shared after the visitors scored a late equaliser.

The tempo was high from the start of this game and as usual the Watt players responded to the fast pace, matching their league-leading opponents in sharp movement and passing. Anton Dowds appeared particularly energised and was prominent in the early exchanges, bursting out of a knot of players to sweep the ball wide to Gregor Macdonald on the right. Macdonald quickly sent in a low, hard cross, which was turned behind for a corner.

After another good run by Dowds ending in a shot into the side net, Preston defender Steven Campbell resorted to hauling the striker back by the shirt in the next attack and was cautioned. Aidan Quinn sent the resultant free kick past the defensive wall, but it rebounded off a player standing closer to goal and when it eventually fell to Ronnie Napier, he launched the ball into orbit.

Finn Watt got a header from a free kick on target, but Sinclair Inglis was in the right spot to make the catch and shortly after this the visitors opened the scoring. There were plenty of Watt defenders back in position when the ball was carried down the right wing, but when it was cut back from near to the goal line, it found a route through the penalty box which enabled Gavin Stevenson to amble in and score with a shot from around the penalty spot.

The Watt didn’t take long to respond to this setback. Four minutes later, on the half-hour mark, Dowds drove an accurate shot just inside the post to the left of Inglis to restore parity.

Dowds had another effort shortly afterwards, turning to get in a shot when supplied by Scott Munro, but Inglis watched the ball past the post and there was no more scoring in the first half.

Dowds was the Watt’s main danger man and soon after the restart he probed the visitors’ defence again, drawing a free kick from which Adam Woolven dived to direct a header towards the corner of goal, but Inglis got across to save close to the post. Napier then linked with Dowds to present him with another opportunity, but this time his flighted shot went just wide. Napier created another chance with a good challenge in midfield which resulted in Dowds driving in a shot from the edge of the area, but the ball passed just over the top.

Preston responded to these attacks with an Alexander Dimitrov shot which Callum Reid got down to save and shortly afterwards the Watt goalkeeper was again called into action, dealing with an awkward ball into the box from the Preston right.

The next Preston attack was down the left and when the ball was played in towards the middle, it struck Woolven on the arm just outside the penalty area. The ball had been struck hard and Woolven’s arm was by his side, so it was surprising that the referee awarded a free kick. Even more surprising, and more than a little unjust, was that he proceeded to caution Woolven. We have made the point often before, but it makes you wonder what was in the minds of the lawmakers of our game when they legislated for players to be sanctioned for completely unintentional events which are judged to be infringements. Mr Thomson refereed the game well, but this decision was surely wrong.

Macdonald set the Watt on the front foot again with a superb cross-field pass to find Neil Laurenson and the young midfielder then moved inside to meet the cross on the volley, but it was a tricky one to control and Macdonald was unable to generate enough force on his shot to trouble Inglis.

The Watt goal had a close escape when the ball was whipped in from the Preston right and Greg Binnie sent a header flashing across goal; then an even closer one when Stevenson executed a skilful ‘rainbow flick’ over the head of Watt and sent in a cross which Binnie headed against the underside of the bar. Fortunately for the home side, the ball stayed in play and Reid gratefully dived on it. Preston was enjoying a good spell of pressure and it took a superb block by Ryan Higgins to prevent a close-range shot reaching the goal, but soon the picture was to change again.

Jackson Barker had come on as a substitute and had been on the pitch for six minutes when he joined Dowds in a raid on the visitors’ defence. When Dowds returned the ball to him, Barker cut across field behind the Athletic defenders and when he found room for a shot from twenty metres, he sent the ball with deadly accuracy just inside the post to the right of Inglis.

There were twelve minutes of normal time left to play, as it turned out, and Watt saw off most of them without mishap, but just when they thought the time was right to try to run down the clock in the corner, Preston broke out and moved back upfield. The ball was delivered across the Watt defence from the right and left-back Craig Innes popped up at the back post to squeeze it into goal.

Late equalisers are always a disappointment for a team which is leading, but although the win would have been very welcome, a draw was not an unfair result in this contest. It was good to see that the Watt was comfortable with the tempo set by Athletic and it is to be hoped that they can find the spark to impose similar conditions on opponents throughout the season.

This was a good all-round performance by the Watt, but perhaps the other players would excuse special mentions for Jack Spence, who made his debut at right-back and played with calmness and authority; Scott Munro, who had his best game of the season so far at left-back; likewise Gregor Macdonald in midfield; and Anton Dowds, who was a danger to the Preston back-line throughout.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Spence, Munro, Woolven, Quinn, Watt, Macdonald (McGovern 86), Higgins, Dowds, Napier (Hutchison 81), Laurenson (Barker 72). Sub. not used: Snoddy.

Preston Athletic:
S Inglis, Cowan, Innes, Liddle, Campbell, D Pennycuick (Jardine 84), Jack (Cochrane 60), Stevenson, Binnie, Grotlin, Dimitrov (Neto 76). Subs. not used: Woodcock, C Inglis, McCathie, C Pennycuick.

Referee: Mr. Robert Thomson (Motherwell)
Assistant Referees: Mr Ken Boyd, Mr Sean Redgrave

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 13

East of Scotland League

7th October 2017

STIRLING UNIVERSITY II 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

With matches coming up against high-placed teams, Banji Koya would have looked for a bit of inspiration in this match against lower mid-table Stirling, but this was a game which provided much more in the way of earnest effort than quality.

It’s often that way when university sides meet, but this game was one of the less attractive spectacles in the series. The Watt started on the back foot, conceding a lot of possession in the early stages, but after fifteen minutes of robust play and few chances, Anton Dowds, despite his isolated position in the Watt attack, began to exert some influence on the game, winning a free kick and a corner in quick succession.

Gregor Macdonald closed down a defender near the corner flag and gained possession, clipping the ball inside for the run of Dowds, but the angle on the ball was just too steep and Dowds could only stab it past as goalkeeper John Allan challenged.

Half-way through the first half, the home side took the lead. Gussie Dey picked up possession some distance out and decided to try his luck with a shot. His luck was good, as the ball passed between the legs of Adam Woolven as he stretched to block. This may have slightly disrupted Callum Reid’s view of the ball, but the shot wasn’t struck particularly hard and it was disappointing to see it elude the goalkeeper’s grasp close to his right-hand post.

Dowds had an attempt on goal on the half-hour, but had to adjust his position in order to strike the ball with his right foot and the ball rose over the bar.

Four minutes from half-time, Watt were back on terms as a result of the best-quality moment in the match. Adam Breen received a short pass from his right, took one touch and fired the ball as clean as a whistle high into the net to Allan’s right. The goalkeeper was at full stretch, but didn’t get anywhere close to the ball. It wasn’t the forty yards suggested by the ‘Evening News’, but it was certainly around thirty and it was as good a strike as any we’ve seen this season.

And as far as quality was concerned, that was about it. During the second half, the sides largely cancelled each other out, with keeping the opposition at bay accorded a higher priority than scoring another in the minds of the players. Stirling substitute Justicia Bernardo was lively and skilful on the left side of attack, but was unable to create any clear chances. David Collins’ header and David Beaton’s volley were both too high, but the nearest thing we had to a goal was when Arron Gunn bored in from the left and drove the ball against the legs of Reid.

For Watt, Dowds made a run across the box and was found by Mark McGovern’s pass, but he was heading towards the corner-flag by this time and although he swivelled and fired in a shot, it was an unlikely angle from which to try to beat Allan.

The game had a painful ending for two of the Watt players. Both of Stirling’s central defenders, Dale Corrin and Matthew Solomons, received cautions for fouls on Chris Lane – Corrin for a reckless jump which brought his considerable frame down like a ton of bricks on the midfielder; Solomons for a full-blooded kick which the referee decided was an attempt to play the ball, but which resulted in Lane being gingerly helped from the field. This brought the Watt down to eight outfield players for a while, as at the time of the latter incident, Ryan Higgins was having his head bandaged after a clash with another large home player.

Stirling University II:
Allan, Clubb, Gunn, Corrin, Solomons, Whitefield (McGuire 55), Dey (Beaton 63), Collins, Burgess, Shiells, Baber (Bernardo 52). Subs. not used: Siegel, MacDonald.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Snoddy (Hutchison 29), Laurenson, Woolven, Quinn, Watt, Macdonald (McGovern 68), Higgins, Dowds, Lane, Breen (Spence 80). Subs. not used: Munro, Diamantopoulos.

Referee: Mr. Andrew Strang (Stirling)

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 12

East of Scotland League

30th September 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 3 BURNTISLAND SHIPYARD 2

Last time Shippy had visited Riccarton, the Watt had run riot, chalking up their record score to date in the East of Scotland League, but two visits to Recreation Park since then had both ended in defeat. On this visit, Shipyard amply demonstrated that it presents a totally different proposition from the side which capitulated last season.

Most of the early running was made by the Watt. Adam Woolven’s long passing has been a big element recently of turning defence into attack and he was at it again, finding Gregor Macdonald on the right to enable him to send in a cross which asked questions of the home defence. The ball was cleared as far as Chris Lane, whose dipping shot was clutched high to his left by Sean Malpas.

Another cross from Macdonald created danger and when Anton Dowds was unable to connect, Neil Laurenson came in at the far side, but his shot was blocked behind.

A promising break on the right by Dowds resulted in a corner kick and when that was partially cleared, Ronnie Napier drove in a blistering left-footer. Malpas managed to make some sort of contact to divert the ball away.

As Watt continued to probe for the opener, Lane’s fabulous pass enabled Macdonald to send an inviting low cross into the danger area, but as Laurenson closed in, Scott Powrie got in first to stab the ball behind. From the resulting corner, the ball was turned towards goal and struck a post before the Shippy defence scrambled it away.

After all this Watt attacking, Burntisland had a golden chance to go in front. A diagonal ball through the home defence put Brian Breen into the penalty area. The big man looked a yard offside, but was allowed to continue and should have done better than to strike the ball over the bar on the half-volley.

Dowds and Laurenson combined on the left as the Watt pressed forward again. Dowds’ first attempt to get the ball across was played back to him off the defence, but his second effort was better, flying across the six-yard line, but finding no attacker prepared to lunge forward to try to divert it in.

Watt came even closer a few minutes later, as Dowds poked the ball past Malpas as the ‘keeper ran from his goal, but the touch was not hard enough and a defender was able to get back to clear the ball before it could cross the goal-line. Dowds had another chance a couple of minutes later, this time coming in from the right, but shot straight at Malpas, who blocked the ball with his legs and recovered to dive on it as it ran in the direction of Laurenson.

At long last, Watt did make the breakthrough. In the thirtieth minute, a corner from the right cleared the knot of players at the near post and Woolven, lurking beyond, fired it home on the volley.

Watt survived another close call five minutes before half-time when Breen headed over the hands of Callum Reid only to see the ball drop agonisingly past the post, but in stoppage time at the end of the half, the home side was not so lucky. A cross from the Burntisland right drew Reid from his goal to punch away, but the ball was picked up again by Shippy and Sam Glancy fired a shot through the crowd to equalise.

Parity seemed a poor reward for a first half in which the Watt had been the dominant side, but things didn’t take long to get worse. Shippy began the second half with real purpose and seven minutes after the restart, Breen made up for his earlier misses with a strike of quality, turning Finn Watt and driving the ball into the corner of the net from fully twenty-five metres.

Dowds was still prominent in Watt’s attacking moves and he drove in from the left, but sent a shot from the edge of the area straight into the hands of Malpas; then, when he got a foot to an attempted clearance by the goalkeeper to set up a chance for Lane, the result was the same.

Shipyard was still showing menace going forward and Breen had another shooting chance which landed on the roof of the net before Watt did well to head clear after Robert Kinnaird had rounded Scott Munro to send in a dangerous cross. Then, when Alex Snoddy was penalised for a challenge near the by-line, the ball was played through a static home defence; when it reached the far post and was played back inside, defender Craig Anderson back-heeled it into the arms of the grateful Reid.

Watt had a Breen of their own – Adam of that ilk – and he replaced Macdonald as the Watt sought a way back into the game. A few minutes later, Mark McGovern came on in place of Chris Macher.

With twenty minutes left, Watt’s best move of the second half almost created an equaliser. Reid threw the ball out to Watt, who played a good ball to Breen on the right touchline. Breen’s fine pass found McGovern, who surged past the left side of the visitors’ defence and drove a splendid shot across Malpas from a narrow angle, only to see the ball rebound from the far post. Despite the proximity of a defender, Laurenson, coming in at an angle, should have done better than to blaze the rebound over the bar.

It took almost ten minutes more for the Watt to level the scores. A pass through the middle of the park picked out Ronnie Napier’s perceptive run into space, but his first touch was heavy, drawing Malpas off his line. With an extra spurt, Napier reached the ball just before the goalkeeper and stabbed it past him before falling over him. The ball ran free to Laurenson, who drove it low into goal, just eluding a retreating defender on the line.

Callum Smith, making his first appearance in some time, replaced Munro, but his keenness to make a contribution was problematic, as he was all arms and conceded a couple of free kicks in dangerous positions. In the last ten minutes of the game, Burntisland did most of the attacking, with Watt conceding too many fouls and inviting their opponents to play the ball into their penalty box. Brian Breen had another opportunity from a cutback by Powrie, but just missed the target.

With three minutes of normal time left, the Watt grabbed the points with a goal of a quality which was perhaps a little surprising in the circumstances. A thrust down the right ended with Snoddy playing the ball inside for McGovern to strike first-time past Malpas with accuracy and power.

Watt still had anxious moments during the final few minutes. Yet another free kick was played to the back post, testing Reid, who dealt with it well, turning it over the bar and then taking a wallop from centre-back Anderson. The Watt goalkeeper simply picked himself up and caught the resulting corner at his near post. Napier then conceded another free kick, this time on the Shipyard left, and although Watt cleared well, the visitors brought the ball back again and substitute Owen Ferry danced into the box and slammed a shot off the face of the crossbar. Powrie dived forward on to the rebound with the goal at his mercy, but headed past the post.

Although well on top in the first half, the Watt players will know they were fortunate to escape with all three points and will also know that this new-look Burntisland team cannot be taken for granted.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Snoddy, Munro (Smith 82), Napier, Woolven, Watt, Macdonald (Breen 63), Macher (McGovern 68), Dowds, Lane, Laurenson. Subs. not used: Quinn, Lloyd.

Burntisland Shipyard:
Malpas, Powrie, Bell, Strang, Anderson, Glancy, Kinnaird (Ferry 68), McAuley, Hamilton (Gibson 68), Graham (Black 45), Breen. Subs. not used: Ford, Saunders, Thomson.

Referee: Mr John Stewart (Dunfermline)

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 11

Alex Jack Cup, Semi-final: Saturday 23rd September 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 0 LEITH ATHLETIC 1

Watt’s attempt to reach its first East of Scotland Final for six years – and, as far as we are aware, what would have been its first-ever Alex Jack Cup Final – was thwarted at Riccarton by a stubborn and well-organised Leith Athletic side.

The visitors took the lead as early as the eighth minute. Watt was caught out trying to short-pass too deep in its own half and when Leith gained possession, neat passing and movement put Gavin Reid in possession just inside the penalty area in a central position to fire a firm, low shot past his namesake Callum in the Watt goal for what turned out to be the only goal of the game.

Athletic came close to increasing its advantage just four minutes later when a cross from the left reached Brodie Mackenzie. He set up a shot on the half-volley and when it cleared the crossbar, his vexation showed what a good chance he had considered it to be.

Watt’s best move in the game so far came when Chris Lane pinched the ball in midfield to find Adam Breen, who played the ball on for Cammie Ross to send in a cross which Anton Dowds headed narrowly past.

Leith was still intent on attacking when possible and Mackenzie drove down the right to send a low cross into the danger area, but Finn Watt had read the situation well and played the ball away.

The Watt moved on to the attack and a smart interchange of passes in midfield allowed Ryan Higgins to go clear, but as he closed in on goal, he seemed to lack the confidence to try a shot and ended up getting entangled with goalkeeper Neil Fairnie, with the result being a free kick to Athletic.

Heriot-Watt came close to the equaliser they sought when a corner from the left was headed on and struck on the volley by Watt, but the ball shot back across goal and past.
Half-time arrived with the Watt side still looking for the key to unlock Leith’s secure defence.

Ten minutes into the second half, Jackson Barker replaced Breen and almost instantly set up a chance for Ross, lofting the ball through to meet the striker’s run, but Fairnie was out of his goal quickly and blocked the ball away. It came to a Leith player who attempted to pass it back to a colleague and sent it straight to the feet of Ross, but to the consternation of the Watt, the referee blew for offside. By the appearance of the conversations between the official and the players, he quickly realised his mistake, but by then it was too late to do anything about it.

Laurenson set up another chance for Ross a minute later as the striker made a good run to the near post, but his header came off his shoulder and lost power, making it easy for Fairnie to gather. The Watt side was building up a head of steam now and Dowds was the next to threaten, coming in from the left and driving the ball fiercely across the goalmouth. Barker, coming in along with a defender, only needed a touch to send the ball into goal, but was unable to make contact.

Mark McGovern came on in place of Alex Snoddy, with some positional adjustment being made, and Ross set up a chance for him with a pass inside from the left. McGovern took a touch, turned and struck a strong, low drive, but it passed the post by a foot.

Time was getting short, but the Watt pressed on and Dowds again cut in from the left side, driving the ball strongly to the near post area, but the angle was virtually impossible and Fairnie blocked the ball away with his forearms.

Leith almost sealed the result with a good attack on the left which produced a cross into the path of Reid, coming in fast on a diagonal run, but he was well tracked by a Watt defender who played the ball behind for a corner kick. Five minutes later, a low centre from the Leith right almost reached Callum Mein, but he was policed by Watt, who ensured the home goal survived.

Heriot-Watt’s last opportunity came when a volleyed clearance was headed on in midfield by Quinn, sending Ross clear, with a short lead over his marker and half the length of the pitch to run. When he reached the penalty box he was still a little ahead, but the crucial touch as he tried to set up a strike was too heavy and pushed the ball almost to the by-line, from where he could only cut it back into the hands of Fairnie.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Snoddy (McGovern 64), Laurenson, Watt, Quinn, Hutchison, Breen (Barker 54), Higgins (Macdonald 89), Ross, Dowds, Lane. Subs. not used: Woolven, Munro.

Leith Athletic:
Fairnie, Pennel, Larner, Simpson, Smith, Barclay, Mein, Anderson, Reid (Hay, 83m), Mackenzie (Ritchie 62), Hogg (Tait 70). Subs. not used: Oliff, Pont, Davies, McLellan.

Referee: Mr. Steven Wilson (Edinburgh)

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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 10

SFA South Region Challenge Cup: Round One

16th September 2017

LEITH ATHLETIC 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

Seldom can the nature of a game have been so different in its two halves as was this cup-tie at Meadowbank 3G. Leith was clearly the better side in the first half and although some have disagreed with the assessment, your correspondent was relieved to get to the interval trailing by just a single goal. After a half-time sort-out in the dressing room, however, Watt totally dominated the second period and left bemused that a goal had not been forthcoming.

Just as in the match the previous week, Watt fell behind early on after starting quite brightly. Cammie Ross, leading the attack, drove a free kick from the edge of the ‘D’ low, aiming for a gap in the wall, but the ball came off a foot and went behind for a corner. Two minutes later, a poor pass on the Watt right gave Athletic possession and when the ball was quickly switched to across the pitch, Aidan Quinn, who was covering, had the misfortune to trip and fall, leaving Brodie Mackenzie with the opportunity to send a smart shot across Callum Reid to open the scoring.

This time, however, the Watt did not fold up as they had done on the previous Saturday. Finn Watt’s through pass almost put in Ronnie Napier, but Leith’s goalkeeper, Campbell McLellan, who played very well throughout the game, was quickly out to claim the ball. With quarter of an hour played, however, McLellan was beaten when the Watt scored a fine equaliser. Excellent work on the right by the returning Ryan Higgins, who turned in a splendid performance, made the ball available for Quinn to send a perfect pass into the stride of Anton Dowds. As McLellan advanced, Dowds cleverly knocked the ball beyond the ’keeper and ran on to slide the ball into the vacant goal.

Play was even during the next period, but before the half-hour, the home side took the lead again. Reid was at fault, taking too long to launch his clearance kick, which was charged down, the ball running loose. Eventually, it came to Mackenzie again and he scored his second of the day.

From this point until half-time, Leith gradually increased its grip on the game and had a couple of chances to extend the lead. Reid made a good save going to his right from a strong shot by Oban Anderson and just before half-time Higgins made what was probably a goal-saving tackle, timing his intervention perfectly around the penalty spot.

The second half started quite differently. From a free kick forty metres from goal on the Watt right, the ball was played into the box and Dowds met it perfectly with his head, only to watch in disbelief as McLellan saved brilliantly, twisting round to his left to get an arm to the ball and keep it out.

Seven minutes later came the miss which was to haunt the visitors. Ross was behind two defenders as he chased a ball into the box, but as the ball ran towards McLellan, the striker persisted and got a foot to the ball as McLellan attempted to play it away. Ross then got the ball under control and cut it back across goal for Chris Lane, coming in around the penalty spot. With the goal gaping in front of him, Lane sent his shot off the underside of the bar and the ball bounced down just in front of the goal line.

A minute later Dowds fired the ball across goal and after McLellan had blocked it out again, the ball was played back to Higgins on the edge of the area, but he shot past.

Around the middle of the half, Leith had two breaks in quick succession, with Mackenzie narrowly missing the target with his shots, but then it was back to Watt dominance, Ross bursting through to release Higgins on the right, but as the midfielder hesitated, McLellan sped from his line to smother the ball.

Dowds then surged into the box from the left and sent a shot across McLellan and off the far post, at which time we began to suspect it just wasn’t going to be our day.

There were various other minor opportunities as the time ebbed away: Dowds went round the right side of the defence to force McLellan to turn the ball behind at his near post; Dowds’ corner from the left curled through the six-yard box, missing everyone and somehow leaking out on the far side; Ross’s free kick into the gap between the goalkeeper and his defence was reached by Dowds but at full-stretch he couldn’t control the ball. The last, and best, chance of the final fifteen minutes fell to Ross, who sped clear of his pursuit, but McLellan saved the day again for his side, getting his leg to Ross’s shot to divert the ball behind.

Although this cup tie escaped them, the Watt players surely took confidence from their second-half performance for the Alex Jack Cup Semi-final to be played at Riccarton on the following Saturday.

Leith Athletic:
McLellan, Pennel, Larner, Simpson, Smith, Middleton, Main, Anderson, Tait (Beaton 74), Mackenzie (Davies 79), Hay (Oliff 81). Subs. not used: Reid, Fairnie.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Atwell (Snoddy 35), Laurenson, Watt, Quinn, Higgins (Woolven 87), Napier, Lane, Ross, Dowds, Macdonald (Breen 71). Subs. not used: McGovern, Munro.

Referee: Mr. Mark Rennie (Edinburgh)
Assistant Referees: Mr Ewan Pow, Mr Rab Thomson
.

Season 2017 – 2018: Match 9

League

9th September 2017

LOTHIAN THISTLE HUTCHISON VALE 6 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

This was a bad day for the Watt side. It’s not often six goals are conceded and we could look back on this game and agree that all six were preventable and most were the product of poor defending.

The Watt started the game quite well, with Mark McGovern sending a good pass off the left wing for Chris Lane to try a curler from the edge of the area, but goalkeeper Kerr Robertson made a comfortable catch high to his left.

Just eight minutes into the game, Watt fell behind. There were claims for a foul on Scott Munro as he was dispossessed on the left, but no award was given and when the ball was moved inside to Jamie Devlin, he had a surprising amount of time and space to find the corner of the net past Callum Reid’s left hand.

Five minutes later, it got worse. Alex Snoddy tracked back with Liam O’Donnell as he drove forward into the Watt area and when he made his challenge it seemed a good one, playing the ball away towards the sideline. However, despite furious protests, referee Mr Tumilty insisted it was a penalty and Devlin’s kick passed under Reid’s hand to double the home advantage.

Only another five minutes had elapsed before the Watt fell even further behind. A throw-in from the right was aimed at the near-post area and Sean Wringe eluded his marker to smuggle the ball over the line.

It was high time for the Watt to get a grip of things and they did manage to steady the ship at this point, creating a chance when Finn Watt found Lane to try another curling shot, this time missing the goal. Watt’s best chance of the first half came when Scott Munro swung in a cross which was met by Robertson and one of his defenders at the same time, with the ball running free to McGovern, but in trying to place the ball carefully, the striker seemed to lose his timing and he mishit the shot.

Liam Hutchison made a good interception of a pass through the visitors’ defence, but Snoddy inadvertently played the ball back towards his own goal. As Reid sped from his line to save, Wringe fell over the goalkeeper’s body, but as Watt supporters waited with bated breath, a goal kick was awarded.

In stoppage time at the end of the half, the home side registered a fourth goal. It was a classic of simplicity, a free kick being lofted into the penalty box and tall centre-back Grant Munro rising to head home.

Head Coach Banji Koya made a tactical switch at half-time, bringing on Adam Woolven, pushing Aidan Quinn into midfield and sending Ronnie Napier into attack. The change seemed to have its desired effect as the Watt pulled a goal back six minutes after the restart. Quinn picked up Jackson Barker’s pass and found Napier on the right. Napier drove into the box and fired the ball towards the near post, where it was blocked by Robertson. The rebound found Neil Laurenson, who was brought down for a penalty kick which he himself stroked into the net.

Cammie Ross replaced Laurenson soon after this, but almost immediately Watt fell further behind. This one resulted from a blunder by Reid, who allowed a ball passing gently across the Watt box to slip through his grasp, leaving Wringe with a tap-in. The coup de grace was supplied fifteen minutes from time by Devlin, who skipped through a static Watt defence to blast the ball past Reid.

Adam Breen had replaced Napier and he gave Ross the opportunity to improve the scoreline, going down the left and curling a pass round a defender to put the ball on the toe of the striker, six yards from goal, but Ross allowed the volley to slide off his foot and past the post.

All in all, not a day on which the Watt players will look back with any pleasure or pride.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:
Robertson, Sherlock, O’Donnell, Crawford, Munro, Muir (Mungall 63), Hare (Nhamburo 76), Brown, Wringe, Devlin (Hutchison 76), Cummings. Subs. not used: Moore, Swanson.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Snoddy, Munro, Hutchison, Quinn, Watt, Barker, Napier (Breen 70), McGovern (Woolven 45), Lane, Laurenson (Ross 59). Sub. not used: Macdonald.

Referee: Mr. Michael Tumilty (Edinburgh)
Assistant Referees: Mr Ken Boyd, Mr Kian Gallacher
.

Season 2017 – 2018: Match 8

League

2nd September 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 4 TWEEDMOUTH RANGERS 1

Although the Watt had won well the previous week at the ground of the same opponenets, there was a feeling of slight unease about this game. Anton Dowds, scorer of three goals at Old Shielfield, was on the injury list and with the Watt’s Amateur team having a cup tie on the indoor surface at Oriam, resources were somewhat stretched.

Mark McGovern did his best to settle nerves with a fine early goal. Cammie Ross made a good run on the right and passed inside to McGovern. The pass was a firm one, but McGovern controlled it well, turned and sent a well-placed shot across goal and in off the far post.

So far so good, but with fifteen minutes on the clock, the visitors, who had shown us that they could pass the ball around well on the open spaces of Riccarton, scored a worryingly simple equaliser. A good ball down the right picked out Connor Cowens and he outpaced Scott Munro to send a low cross into the box for danger man Stuart Briggs to convert from the edge of the six-yard box. Unfortunately for the striker and for his team, in doing so Briggs exacerbated an old injury and was unable to continue.

Jamie Brint came on to replace Briggs, but soon the Watt was creating more chances. Ross was finding space on the left and when a cross-field ball picked him out and he made room for a shot, goalkeeper Stuart Allan saved well, diving to his left to turn the ball round the post. The corner kick was played behind again for another corner and when the second one came in, Adam Woolven made a run to the near post and tried to glance a header into goal, but got slightly too much contact and sent the ball just over.

Jackson Barker was clearly offside when he put the ball into the net just before the half-hour, but he came close to a valid goal a minute later. Neil Laurenson’s accurate pass picked out Ross, who set the ball back for Munro to cross first-time; Barker judged the flight well to send in a spectacular overhead kick which he caught solidly, but Allan brought off a splendid save, flying to his left to turn the ball over the bar.

Gregor Macdonald, a young player who is just beginning his studies at Heriot-Watt, contacted the Club early and had already made two appearances from the bench, but this match gave him his first start. A flowing move on the right provided him with a chance on the cutback, but his shot went across goal and past Allan’s right-hand post. Two minutes later, however, the debut boy made amends for his miss. A quick thrust on the left ended with Barker playing the ball low and hard across the goalmouth and Macdonald came in at the far side to hammer a shot high into the net. The coterie of Watt players who have scored during a first start for the Club is an exclusive one and few can have performed the feat at a younger age.

Shortly after this goal, Head Coach Banji Koya decided to change the shape of the Watt side and Chris Lane was introduced into the midfield for his return after injury, with Cameron Atwell withdrawn. There was only one more near thing before the interval, when the ball was played in from the left and Macdonald made a run across Allan to try to turn the ball in at the near post, but found the goalkeeper alert enough to block the ball away.

Macdonald had another attempt on goal just after the restart, cutting across the box to reach McGovern’s low centre, but his left-foot shot cleared the bar by a foot or so. McGovern then had an attempt on goal when Laurenson was pushed over to give the Watt a free kick on the left, but although his shot was accurate enough, it was at a comfortable height for Allan to turn round the post as he dived to his left.

Another returning player, Adam Breen, replaced Ross just after the hour mark and showed up well in his brief appearance, although his first involvement was not productive. Lane showed good persistence, boring into the penalty box and having two shots blocked. When the second rebounded to Breen, he shot wildly from the edge of the area.

Half-way through the second half, there was still just a single goal in it and although the Watt was having more of the possession, the visitors were showing enough on the break to cause some concern amongst the Riccarton faithful. This changed, however, with two goals within four minutes to make the result secure. The first of these came from a corner on the left. Watt captain Aidan Quinn read the flight of the ball perfectly and timed his move to meet it with a header which brooked no argument. Allan did manage to get a hand to the ball, but the force applied by Quinn was much too great to be resisted and the ball continued into the top corner of the net.

The Watt’s fourth goal – the last of the game as it turned out – came after a good move on the right. Lane found Macdonald, who played the ball down the line for Woolven’s overlapping run and cut inside to accept a slide-rule return pass, step inside a defender and send in a left-foot shot which Allan dived to turn behind. A throw-in followed the corner and when Woolven and Macdonald combined to supply McGovern, lurking just outside the angle of the penalty box, the striker took one touch, then turned and powered a drive through a well-populated area and just inside the far post for his second demonstration in the game of the lethal accuracy of which he is capable.

Harry Barclay replaced Macdonald for the last phase of the match and lost no time in reminding us of his talents, somehow manufacturing a near-post cross from a most unpromising position. McGovern saw it coming, too, and made a perceptive near-post run to send a flick past Allan, but the opportunity was a really difficult one and the ball slipped over the bar.

The subtle promptings of Breen and Barclay made for an entertaining end to the game. Both Barker and Breen had shots which went just over, but there were no further goals, although Breen couldn’t have come much closer in the last action of the day; more fine battling by Lane provided Breen with the ball and he sent a delicate chip over the head of Allan, only to see it rebound from the face of the crossbar.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Atwell (Lane 38), Munro, Hutchison, Quinn, Woolven, Ross (Breen 62), Laurenson, McGovern, Barker, Macdonald (Barclay 73). Sub. not used: Lloyd.

Tweedmouth Rangers:
Allan, Strangeways, Murray (Bird 46), Cromarty, Craig (Pilbeam 46), S Cowens, C Cowens, Howard, Briggs (Brint 18), McKenna, Colquhoun. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Michael Addy (Edinburgh)
Assistant Referees: Mr Dale Kerr, Mr Kieran Kennedy
.

Season 2017 – 2018: Match 7

Alex Jack Cup

26th August 2017

TWEEDMOUTH RANGERS 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 7

The Watt players arrived at Old Shielfield determined to improve on the Club’s terrible record in the Alex Jack Cup and lost no time in ensuring that a semi-final tie against Leith Athletic would be secured.

Right from the first whistle, the Watt team showed attacking intent which the Rangers defence was unable to resist. The first goal arrived with just two minutes played, Jackson Barker’s low centre from the left being cushioned into the inside of the side net by Anton Dowds. Returning to the side after a short injury absence, Dowds could have scored again two minutes later when a swift move on the left gave him the chance to surge past the defence into the left side of the area, but his shot went across the face of the goal and past the far post.

A second goal wasn’t far off, though, and when Neil Laurenson curled a corner from the right into the goalmouth, Cameron Atwell rose to flick a header into the net.

These goals had only whetted the appetite of the players and Ronnie Napier’s pass down the right enabled Dowds to link with Mark McGovern, but his cross eluded Barker in the centre of the penalty box. Barker then burst on to the ball in midfield and slipped through a pass for McGovern, but Stuart Allan was out smartly to gather the ball just inside his area.

A good run through the middle of the park took Atwell within shooting range and when his shot was charged down, he sent a delicate lofted pass out to the left, from where Scott Munro played the ball into the box for Napier to clip in a shot which dipped on to the crossbar and rebounded into play.

The visitors’ attacks were almost incessant and when Kyle Murray resorted to pulling McGovern’s shirt to prevent him having a sight of goal, McGovern responded by driving the resultant free kick across Allan into the far corner of the net for a third goal.

McGovern was back in the same area a minute later, showing too much strength for Rudy McLeod, but his cross failed to pick out a colleague. Alex Snoddy chased a pass wide to the right corner and brought the ball inside Kyle Murray, but was then upended by McLeod. It was a clear foul and the referee was quickly on the spot to caution the defender, so Snoddy’s intemperate reaction seemed particularly misplaced. It is hoped that he can keep better control when he meets with real provocation.

His colleagues penalised the foul in a more appropriate way; Laurenson floated in a superb free-kick and Aiden Quinn timed his run forward to power an unstoppable header into the net and put the Watt four ahead.

McGovern marked the re-start in memorable fashion, taking the opportunity to shoot from the half-way line. The ball slammed against the bar, shot straight up into the air and fell into the arms of Allan as he stood almost on the goal line.

The momentum behind the Watt now seemed irresistible and Barker should have added to the tally when Munro’s cutback picked him out unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box, but his shot went across goal and past the post. Dowds sent in an effort from the left which was probably intended as a cross but which compelled Allan to dive to his left to turn the ball round the post.

The resultant corner came down between Atwell and a Tweedmouth defender. Atwell cleverly looped the ball over his opponent’s head and struck a full-blooded drive as it dropped. Allan somehow managed to get enough in the way of the ball to block it out and when Atwell moved forward to play the rebound, he ended up in a heap along with Lee Dodd, who resumed limping heavily.

Another ball played in from the left wing led to the next goal, Dowds taking it down on his chest, turning and driving it fiercely into the net from close range. Tweedmouth striker Michael Robinson had been struggling with an injury for some time and was replaced shortly after by Ross Aitchison.

More good work by Atwell provided the ball for Liam Hutchison, who swept a wonderful pass out to Munro on the left. The ball came inside to Barker, but his shot on the turn again slipped past the post.

There was one more goal to come before the half-time whistle and it resulted from a determined drive through the middle of the park. McGovern shook the ball free and Dowds broke clear on the left to fire a low shot across Allan into the far corner of the goal.

After the break, it was never likely that the same level of intensity would be maintained – and it wasn’t. Tweedmouth, now playing down the slope, came out for the second half determined to prove that they were better than the opening period had shown. Quinn was obliged to head over his own bar and when the corner squirted out of the box, Shane Macgregor sent in a strong shot which struck a defender and went behind for another corner kick.

Ten minutes into the half, the home side put a better gloss on the score by reducing the deficit. The goal came about through a defensive error as the Watt tried to pass out from the back. Reid’s pass to Barker, running back into not very much space in the centre of the park, bounced off the midfielder and ran loose. Tweedmouth had plenty of players forward and got hold of the ball. Reid was able to block the first shot, but the rebound was driven into goal by Stuart Briggs.

In an attempt to regain the initiative, Watt brought on Cammie Ross, but Rangers continued on the front foot for some time, Hutchison having to head away from beside the post when the ball flew across the face of the Watt goal following a corner. Shortly after this, Jake Lloyd replaced Snoddy.

Having let the tempo drop and allowed their opponents to dictate for a spell, the visitors found it hard to recapture their earlier flair, but it all clicked again with quarter of an hour to play. A good passage of pass-and-move football ended with a well-timed pass by Laurenson as Ross pulled off the shoulder of his marker to collect the ball and slip it past the left hand of Allan and into goal. Suddenly, it looked a simple game again.

Barker had a great chance to add to the tally just a minute later. On this occasion the well-timed pass was supplied by Ross and it sent Barker clear on the right side of the box, but it just wasn’t the midfielder’s day in front of goal and again he missed the target with his shot.

Gregor Macdonald replaced McGovern for the last fifteen minutes and soon had an opportunity to get on the scoresheet. After a quick free kick on the right, Barker sent in a cross tailor-made for the run of the youngster, but although Macdonald met the ball well, he sent his header upwards rather than downwards and it cleared the bar by about a foot.

Macdonald was soon involved again, holding up the ball well for Napier to make the outside run, but when the low centre passed through the danger area, Lloyd, hurtling in, just failed to reach it.

Right at the end of the game, Barker almost managed to grab the goal that had consistently eluded him, getting a flick on a free kick played in to the near post area, but the ball came off the post and into the arms of Allen.

It’s fair to say that the Watt lost a bit of impetus in the second half, but that’s hardly surprising, as the game was clearly won by half-time. Credit, too, to Tweedmouth, who came out for the second half with new determination and came down the slope vigorously, supporting each other well and pressing the Watt back for periods. Much of the second half play became bogged down in tight areas, but when the Watt eventually managed to spread the play again and use more width, a fine goal resulted.

There were several excellent Watt performers on the day and perhaps some are worth particular mention: Anton Dowds, on his return to the side, took his three goals with style and generally led the line with pace and power. Cameron Atwell played well on the last visit to Old Shielfield, but exceeded that performance on this occasion with a well-controlled display, defending positively and supporting the attack whenever the opportunity presented itself. He scored once, but might easily have had one or even two more. Liam Hutchison continued his rich vein of form, showing excellent judgment and, when there was a chance to do so, initiating attacks by sending raking passes in front of runners in wide positions. But there were no failures on a day when the Watt clinched a semi-final spot in the Alex Jack Cup for only the third time in this millenium.

Tweedmouth Rangers:
Allan, McLeod (Macaskill 76), Murray, Cromarty, Dodd, McKenna, Briggs, Howard, Robinson (Aitchison 37), Macgregor, Colquhoun. Subs. not used: Macaskill.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Atwell, Hutchison, Barker, Quinn, Napier, Snoddy (Lloyd 68) Laurenson, Dowds (Ross 57), McGovern (Macdonald 76), Munro. Sub. not used: Higgins.

Referee: Mr. Ryan Lee (Musselburgh)
.

Season 2017 – 2018: Match 6

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League

22nd August 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 3 ORMISTON 1

The Watt preserved its 100% record in the early stages of the League programme with this win over Ormiston, but the victory was by no means as comfortable as the home support would have wished; or, perhaps, expected.

Indeed, had Sean Ballard directed his header better on the hour mark to tie the scores at 2 – 2, the outcome of this contest might have been entirely different. Had the visitors gone on to take a share of the spoils or more, it would not have been undeserved after a controlled performance which kept the Watt at bay for much of the ninety minutes. Ormiston passed the ball well when in possession and in Ballard and Nathan Stokes had industrious and constructive players who were not easily subdued.

The early exchanges were even enough, although goalkeeper Jordan Dunsmore dealt well with efforts by Jackson Barker and Neil Laurenson. The Ormiston side was moving the ball well, however, and it was no great surprise when they scored the first goal of the game. Stokes managed to isolate Adam Woolven as the Watt’s last defender. When a lofted ball fell between the two, Woolven got his foot to it, but had the misfortune to play it off his opponent and see it fall into a good striking position. Stokes lost no time in sending in a firm drive from the edge of the penalty area to the corner of the net.

Woolven might have levelled the scores three minutes later, when a deep corner from the right was headed back across goal to find him in good position, but his header found Dunsmore perfectly placed to make the catch. The equaliser was only delayed for another minute, though. Cammie Ross did some excellent work on the right flank and sent in a cross which was well read by Ronnie Napier, who ran in to place a header into the corner of the goal.

Dunsmore saved from Ross a couple of minutes later, but the game fell into a midfield stalemate for most of the rest of the first half, with the Watt seeing a lot of possession but most of the passes going across the pitch and not enough meaningful movement in evidence. The ball did visit the Ormiston net four minutes from half-time, following a corner, but the referee quickly whistled for an infringement.

Four minutes after the interval, the Watt should have taken the lead. Ross got the break of the ball on the edge of the area and reacted instantly to move forward and square the ball to Barker, who was in space around the penalty spot. The goalkeeper and a defender were on or around the goal-line, but it didn’t look difficult to pick a space between them and Barker’s reaction as his shot struck the defender and squirted behind for a corner showed that he subscribed to that view.

Once again, however, a goal followed soon after a missed chance; three minutes later, a corner from the left was headed on at the near post by Barker and Scott Dargo squeezed it in off the far post from a tight position.

On the hour, Ormiston had the chance to equalise mentioned earlier; Ballard somehow stole undetected into a huge space in the middle of the Watt defence and when a cross came in from the right, it was perfect for him, but although he kept his header down well, Ballard sent the ball much too far back in the direction it had come, missing the goal by a yard or more.

This near thing was the prelude to a good spell for Ormi. Mark Law won the ball in midfield and tried a shot from distance, but found Callum Reid in good position. Ballard had another heading opportunity from a right-wing cross, jumping early to get above Alex Snoddy, but although this time his effort was directed towards goal, it was gathered by Reid.

The Watt survived this pressure and responded with some more attacking play. Aidan Quinn was putting in a sterling performance in midfield and his superb pass down the right enabled Snoddy to win a corner from which a Ross shot was deflected behind.

With quarter of an hour left to play, Ormiston had another period of brisk raiding and Dargo had to be alert to turn the ball behind as Scott Walker came in to meet a diagonal ball through the home defence. The corner presented some problems, but Reid was on hand again to dive to his right and save the shot which eventually came in.

Another excellent ball by Quinn sent Napier away on the left and when he played the ball into the middle, it was diverted out to Ross, on the edge of the area. Sizing up his options, Ross decided to try to curl a shot inside the goalkeeper’s left-hand post, but he gave it a little too much air.

There was still only one goal in it as we entered the last ten minutes’ play. Gregor Macdonald replaced Neil Laurenson to make his debut in the East of Scotland League and gave a spirited cameo. His good run on the left was halted by a firm tackle close to the penalty area, but Ross was on hand to pick up the pieces and drive between two defenders towards the danger area. When he was brought down, he took the free kick himself, but it passed harmlessly a foot over the crossbar.

Finally, with five minutes left on the clock, Watt at last secured the points. Ross was again involved, playing a dangerous ball across the face of the goal from the left. With Dargo’s breath hot on his neck, left-back Jack Bathgate had to play the ball, but unfortunately for him, he failed to get it past the post and instead drove it firmly into the net.

An unfortunate tailpiece was a knee injury which meant that Dargo had to be helped off with a couple of minutes to play. It is to be hoped that he has not joined the long-term injury list.

This was a competent performance by the Watt, with Quinn in midfield and Liam Hutchison in defence particularly impressive. With his inventive play and quick feet, Ross was always a threat in attack, while Dargo and Snoddy were willing runners to try to get behind the visitors’ defence. But along with these positives, there was a warning that Ormiston has made some good signings and when its young side bonds together as the season progresses, a visit to Recreation Park will not provide easy pickings.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Snoddy, Munro, Hutchison, Quinn, Woolven, Laurenson (Macdonald 80), Napier, Ross (McGovern 85), Barker, Dargo (Atwell 89). Sub. not used: Lloyd.

Ormiston:
Dunsmore, Fairnie (Gray 75), Bathgate, Rogers-Jones, Ferguson, Ballard, Tulloch, Law, Stokes, Nash (Millar 70), Heron (Walker 65). Subs. not used: Wood, Millard, Malcolm, Thomson.

Referee: Mr. Dale Kerr (Edinburgh)
Assistant Referees: Mr Mark Harris, Mr Sean Redgrave
.

Season 2017 – 2018: Match 5

Football Nation East of Scotland Qualifying Cup – First Round

19th August 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2 TYNECASTLE 3

The sides involved in this game had met the previous Saturday and there were curious parallels between the matches. In both, the away side trailed by a goal at the interval but scored three times in the second half to win. So far this season, Watt has alternated between victory and defeat and the sequence continued as the returning pendulum knocked the team off its podium and out of the Football Nation Qualifying Cup.

Watt began the game in characteristic counterattacking style, with the first good chance arriving six minutes in when Ronnie Napier’s pass sent Cammie Ross scampering down the right to lay the ball inside for Mark McGovern. Perhaps the striker should have used his left foot, as he failed to generate the power he sought in taking the ball from his right with his near foot. Goalkeeper Robert Watt saved low to his right.

Tynecastle exerted good pressure over the next few minutes, but the home defence looked solid, with Liam Hutchison alert and decisive and Scott Munro containing the dangerous Euan Greig with some well-timed tackles,. With thirteen minutes on the clock, the Watt took the lead. We’ve seen Ross do this sort of thing so often that it’s no longer a surprise, but you can’t be blasé about it when your striker picks up the ball just inside the opposition half, leaves the defence trailing in his wake and slips the ball past the left hand of the advancing goalkeeper. Pure Cammie Ross class.

The half went on in much the same way, with Tynecastle seeing plenty of the ball, the Watt protective layers working well and forward thrusts from time to time testing the visitors’ defence. McGovern set the ball back for Ronnie Napier to get in a shot following a left-wing move, but Watt was in the right place to save moving to his right. Then, when McGovern played an instinctive ball out to the right, it seemed unlikely that even Ross would be able to catch it, but he did so, whipping in a low cross from near the corner flag. McGovern shot first time from a tight angle, but found Watt well positioned at his near post to block with his legs. The goalkeeper did even better with the rebound, advancing quickly on McGovern to deny him space for an effective follow-up shot.
A clever dummy by Ross sent Jackson Barker away down the right, with Ross supporting to sweep in a dangerous cross which created another scramble in the visitors’ penalty box.

A Tynecastle corner from the left was contested by Greg Page and Finn Watt as it hung in the air. With both players having their eyes firmly on the ball, their heads met with some force. Page had to leave the field immediately, Niall Kelly substituting; Watt stayed on for another five minutes before he was replaced by Adam Woolven.

The Watt retained its narrow lead at half-time, but the loss of Finn Watt may have been more of a handicap than was realised at the time. Woolven was a natural replacement, but is more of an orthodox defender than Watt, who does a lot of the defensive midfield work which often goes unrecognised, cutting off passing angles and making interceptions. Early in the second half, however, things got even better for the home side with a second goal.

Not for the first time in the game, a ball played behind the visitors’ left back looked to be too strong to be caught, but Ross defied the odds to keep it in play, left two defenders behind him and squared the ball for Barker. The midfielder took a touch and moved the ball on to Laurenson, whose early shot surprised goalkeeper Watt, who was able to get a hand to the ball but couldn’t prevent it finding the net.

The Watt seemed to be cruising now, but received a sharp lesson in the unpredictability of football as Tynecastle restored parity with two goals in the next eleven minutes. For the first of these, a long ball over the top was misjudged by Callum Reid, who ran from his goal but failed to reach the ball. Greig nipped in between Reid and Munro to steer the ball into the vacant goal. The equaliser came from a move on the left, ending with Robbie McIntyre sending a low cross into the danger area, where Kern Hutchison fired a shot on the turn into the far corner.

Watt passed up a good chance to go back in front when good link-up play on the edge of the area released Napier to advance from the angle of the box. Barker was in space in the middle, but Napier was unable to see him and didn’t risk the pass. Watt turned Napier’s shot behind for an unproductive corner.

There was no change to the score until stoppage time at the end of the game delivered plenty of incident. Firstly, Tynecastle defender William Mitchell was sent off after hauling down Ross on the edge of the penalty box; but this was a controversial moment, as by the time the whistle sounded, Dowds, who had made a run into the penalty box, was one-on-one with the goalkeeper. The free kick from Ross was saved by Watt low to his left and the visitors then multiplied the pain by grabbing a winner. A loose pass in midfield was intercepted to release substitute Alexander Chingwalu, who shot past Reid from just inside the penalty box.

This was another character-forming lesson for the young Watt side, but despite the defeat they can take encouragement from the performances of a number of players. Liam Hutchison is really coming into his own now as a defender of ability, Finn Watt was a major influence on this game until his early departure, Neil Laurenson lost no time in settling back into the side and opened his goal account for the season, Aidan Quinn is playing a captain’s role to the manner born and the combination play of Cammie Ross, Jackson Barker and Mark McGovern showed great understanding of each other’s capabilities. Banji Koya will have been frustrated and disappointed on Saturday evening, but there will be better days for his talented side, which will soon be boosted by the return of players such as Harry Barclay, Adam Breen, Sean Campbell, Andrew Imray, Ross Fraser and Tom Maher; by the recovery from injury of Ryan Higgins, Chris Donnelly and Max Allison; and by the new intake of students to the University.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Dargo, Munro (Warner 75), Hutchison, Quinn, Watt (Woolven 40), Barker, Napier, Ross, McGovern (Dowds 60), Laurenson. Subs. not used: Snoddy, Macdonald.

Tynecastle:
Watt, Grant, McIntyre, Ferguson, Page (Kelly 35), Mitchell, Greig, Robinson (Polson 56), Mason (Chingwalu 71), Mayer, Hutchison. Subs. not used: Roue, Leslie, O’Reilly.

Referee: Mr. Chris Newman (Linlithgow)
Assistant Referees: Mr Lewis McGarry, Mr Jack Van der Ster
.

Season 2017 – 2018: Match 4

East of Scotland League

12th August 2017

TYNECASTLE 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 3

In this early-season period, Watt’s fortunes are swaying from one end of the scale to the other as each game follows the last. After a lifeless display in the opening match against Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale, there was a great performance in a convincing win against Tweedmouth Rangers. This was followed by a defeat by Burntisland Shipyard which eliminated the Watt from the League Cup later in the season, but in this, the first League game of the season, there was a victory at Saughton Enclosure, where Tynecastle twice inflicted defeats on Watt sides last season.

It took the visitors to half-time to believe they could win this game, but having taken control in the second half, they should probably have won more comprehensively, with Tynecastle taking plenty of chances at the back at the stage of the game when they were trying to salvage something. Cammie Ross, who came off the bench to score twice, looked as if he would pounce on any opportunity to add to his tally and his striking partner Mark McGovern was also in fine form, harrying the home defence and working along with Ross to threaten further damage.

The game had begun well enough for the Watt, with a free kick for a foul on Ronnie Napier giving an early chance. The ball was played low to the near post area, but although it was attacked vigorously by both Anton Dowds and Aidan Quinn, it leaked past for a goal kick.

The Watt defence looked solid and united, providing a carapace around the danger zone which Tynecastle was finding it hard to penetrate, but the home side did have a chance after eighteen minutes’ play when Adam Woolven was penalised for a robust challenge on the edge of the ‘D’ in a central position. The defender rightly pointed out that he had played the ball, but as his foot was off the ground at the time, the referee probably considered that there was an element of dangerous play involved. Dean Crabbe fired the free kick over the bar.

Just before the half-hour, one of the game’s main talking-points occurred. Dowds timed his pass perfectly for Napier to run into the penalty area and take the ball round Robert Watt. As he did so, the goalkeeper seemed to catch his foot and make him stumble, but when Napier shot past the empty goal, the referee made no award, seemingly having decided to let play go on rather than award the penalty kick.

Crabbe was the liveliest of the home forwards and shortly after this he made room for a shot from the edge of the box, but Callum Reid watched the ball carefully and saved low to his right. A minute later, however, the goalkeeper had no chance when a cross from the Tynie right was headed out as far as Ryan Mayer and he caught the ball perfectly on the volley to give his side the lead.

As the half wound to a close, the Watt gradually began to dictate the play. Scott Dargo was doing good work on the right and his pass enabled Dowds to set up Jackson Barker for a strike which Watt saved at his near post. Dowds led the next thrust on the right, linking with Dargo to play in Napier, whose run across the defence ended in a shot which was deflected for a corner.

Dargo played in the corner kick and when it was cleared as far as Scott Munro, he controlled it on his chest and played an excellent ball back out to Dargo on the left. Dargo whipped in a cross to the far post, where Quinn rose to head down – too sharply down, as the ball bounced up towards Watt, who blocked it. The ball was played into the path of the onrushing Napier, who tried to pick his spot and for the second time in fifteen minutes managed to shoot past the post when it seemed easier to score.

Having endured these near things, Tynecastle responded well, a cross from the right being headed past by Kern Hutchison before Crabbe laid the ball back for Archie Roue to get in a shot, but a good block by Woolven and a header clear by Napier took us to half-time.

Right from the start of the second half, the Watt players cast off their doubts and their hesitancy and started to close down space more effectively. A free kick for a foul on Harry Warner gave Dargo a chance for a strike, but he gave the ball too much air to bring it back towards goal. Napier then surged into the left side of the box, but played the ball too far ahead of himself and shot across goal and past.

Head Coach Banji Koya turned to his bench to give the attack more impetus and got a superb reaction. McGovern and Ross replaced Dowds and Warner and between them they altered the course of the game. A through ball towards McGovern looked as if it might have just too much on it for the striker to reach, but McGovern stretched to turn the ball inside his marker, giving himself a sight of goal, and as Watt came towards him, he drilled the ball past the goalkeeper into the net for an equaliser.

Five minutes later, Reid launched the ball downfield from hand and McGovern executed a flying backheel into the stride of Ross, making ground to his left. Ross gathered the ball, brought it inside and stroked it past the goalkeeper to put his side ahead.

Watt looked dangerous in every attack now and when McGovern picked out Ross on the right, he got round the home defence and looked for Barker with a ball across the penalty box, but got his angles wrong and Watt gathered. McGovern soon recovered the ball and sent another accurate pass to Ross, this time cutting in from the left, but the angle was a little too tight and his shot crept past the post.

Ross had the final word with eight minutes left to play. When the Tynie defence failed to cut out a through ball, Ross ran clear and picked his spot past the left hand of Watt to complete a great win for Heriot-Watt.

Looking at the game as a whole, the Watt can be well satisfied. Although Tynecastle had more of the ball for spells during the first half, the visitors’ defence looked generally sound and Reid had few direct shots with which to deal. At the other end, as well as scoring three goals, Watt missed a number of good chances and by the end looked likely to add to the tally in any attack.

The next fixture sees a rematch between these two sides, this time at Riccarton in the Football Nation Qualifying Cup. Tynie will doubtless come into the game with redoubled determination and should also benefit from the return of some players who were missing for this fixture. Watt will hope to bring to an end the performance pendulum which has produced alternating heartening wins and abject defeats in the season so far. Two victories in a row would be a welcome novelty.

Tynecastle:
Watt, Grant, McIntyre, Ferguson, Mitchell, Kelly (Mason 83), Crabbe, Roue (Chingwalu 58), Polson, Mayer, Hutchison. Subs. not used: Fital, Leslie, Huxford.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Dargo, Munro, Woolven, Quinn, Hutchison, Barker (Lloyd 88), Dowds (McGovern 63), Napier, Watt, Warner (Ross 70). All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Kevin Lindsay (Edinburgh)
Assistant Referees: Mr Ken Boyd, Mr Michael Harte
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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 3

East of Scotland Qualifying League, Section A

5th August 2017

BURNTISLAND SHIPYARD 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

Recreation Park is fast becoming the Watt’s least-favourite venue, with this being the fourth visit in a row in which the side has suffered a single-goal defeat. As on all three previous occasions, Watt had plenty of the ball, but could not subdue a home side whose record of success in these matches has clearly given them a firm belief that they can succeed against this opposition.

Buoyed up after a good win in midweek, Heriot-Watt started the game in confident fashion, with Anton Dowds heading just past from Jake Lloyd’s cross after two minutes’ play, but as so often before, was caught out by a sucker punch. Watt’s central defenders were forward for a corner and when the Shipyard defence cleared the ball, Brian Breen drove it firmly up the park exactly where Lee Halpin wanted it. The striker controlled it well, moved to his right and played the ball wide of the advancing Callum Reid before sliding it into goal from an angle.

Shippy could well have doubled its advantage four minutes later when a slick move from left to right brought the ball to the unmarked Gordon Bowers, whose shot was well saved by Reid low to his left.

Eventually, the Watt recovered equilibrium and began to press forward again. A good pass from Dowds sent Cammie Ross away on the left and he was slightly ahead of his marker when he reached the penalty box, but Cameron Lambie stood up well to block the shot behind for a corner kick.

Although the Watt players had plenty of possession, they found it difficult to use it constructively against a hard-working Shipyard side which denied them space to work the ball around. Five minutes from the half-time interval, Scott Munro drove into the box and found Ross with his pass, but again Lambie was in position to block the shot and he was able to grasp the ball ahead of Jackson Barker.

In stoppage time at the end of the half, the Watt suffered another blow, conceding a penalty for the second consecutive visit to Recreation Park. Again, the award divided opinions as Munro was penalised for a challenge on Halpin. It appeared to your correspondent that the forward had leaned into the defender and gone down, but to be fair this was not the general view in the visitors’ dugout. Reid went the right way, but couldn’t quite get his hand to Dale Coulter’s kick and it was 2 – 0 to the home side.

Just before the hour, Watt was back in the game. Dowds went down the left and from close to the by-line, played the ball across the face of goal for Barker to slide home from almost on the goal-line.

There was still half an hour left to play, but as further substitutions interrupted play, time began to ebb away and it wasn’t long before the Watt players were showing the anxiety of working against the clock. Shippy still had attacking purpose left, too, and it caused an anxious moment when Coulter drove in a firm shot which struck someone in the box and bounced to safety. Coulter then played a searching ball across the area, almost creating a chance for Ryan O’Donnell.

Ronnie Napier led a break-out and found Dowds on the right, but his cross was too deep and Barker was only able to play the ball in mid-air into the side net.

As the game neared its close, Watt’s attempts on goal became more hopeful than threatening, with Napier slicing past from distance. McGovern sent in two strong shots in the last minute, but couldn’t find the angle to direct the ball away from Lambie.

Burntisland Shipyard:
Lambie, Powrie (McLaren 67), O’Donnell, Black, McAleavey, Galloway, Bowers (Iliopolous 45), Breen, Halpin, Fotheringham (McCarthy-Lee 58), Coulter. Subs. not used: Boyne, Cusick, Malpas.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Hutchison, Munro, Woolven, Quinn, Napier, Lloyd (Dargo 45), Lane, Dowds, Barker, Ross (McGovern 74). Sub. not used: Warner.

Referee: Mr. Steven Wilson (Edinburgh)
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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 2

East of Scotland Qualifying League, Section A

1st August 2017

TWEEDMOUTH RANGERS 0 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 6

As the score suggests, this was the perfect antidote to the limp performance which led to defeat in the Watt’s opening match at Riccarton. This time, the side worked like a well-oiled machine, scoring six good goals and playing authoritative football based on good passing and movement.

Watt kicked off the game shooting down the slope, away from Shielfield, and the early exchanges were fairly even, with the nearest thing to a goal coming from the home side with Craig Walker’s shot from thirty metres which passed close to Callum Reid’s right-hand post. Five minutes later, however, the visitors took the lead. Michael Beveridge was unable to hold an awkward ball into the danger area from Ronnie Napier and Jackson Barker was on to it in a flash to fire home.

Within three minutes, Watt’s lead was extended after a fine move which ended with right-back Cameron Atwell coming up on the right to send in a low centre which Chris Lane, at the far post, calmly stroked into the corner of the goal.

Tweedmouth’s cause wasn’t helped by the forced substitution of Michael Patterson before half an hour had been played, Craig Colquhoun coming on to replace the striker.

Napier was enjoying some space in midfield and he let rip with a shot from all of forty metres which struck the bar on the way over. Not to be outdone, Connor Cowens struck a similar effort for Rangers, with similar results.

Napier almost created another goal for the visitors, doing well to keep his balance in a challenge with Beveridge and squaring the ball for Anton Dowds, but Keiran Cromarty was alert to deny the striker a tap-in, clearing the ball out of play for a throw-in. The goal was not long delayed, however, as from the throw, the ball was headed out to Mark McGovern, who slammed it into the corner of the net.

Jackson Barker came close before half-time, running on to Lane’s clever lofted pass, but although he managed to loft it over the advancing goalkeeper, he couldn’t keep the ball on target and it slipped past the post.

Within seven minutes of the restart, Watt extinguished any hopes of a comeback for the home side with a further two goals, both scored by Dowds. For the first of these, Napier found the striker on the edge of the box, tightly marked and with his back to goal, but in one deft movement, Dowds swivelled, turned his marker and fired a right-foot shot into the corner of the net.

With the Watt well in the ascendancy, another goal seemed likely and it almost came when an incisive move on the right ended with Beveridge parrying a shot from Barker. The ball came to Scott Munro, who was too close to the post to get in a direct shot, so he cut the ball back for Lane, but the midfielder’s sliced effort went past the post.

Dowds was soon in on the act again, however, bringing down a cross from the right, tricking a defender and sending a crisp shot across Beveridge to the far corner of goal.

Cammie Ross replaced Dowds shortly after this, but it was Tweedmouth which next came close to scoring, with Jake Lloyd heading the ball away from close to the line following a corner.

With eighteen minutes left to play, Watt scored a sixth goal. Ross had roamed out to the right and when the ball was played down the touchline, he simply took off and outpaced the home defence, drawing Beveridge from his goal and stroking the ball past him.

Reid was called upon to take action to protect the clean sheet, tipping over a shot from distance by Colquhoun, but he could have done little to prevent a consolation goal for Rangers in the final minute had Jordan Lauder managed to direct his header on goal when Lewis McKenna drove the ball across the goalmouth, but the ball slipped past the post and the full-time whistle sounded soon after.

Tweedmouth Rangers:
Beveridge, Murray, Cromarty, Lauder, Walker (Macgregor 48), C Cowens, Howard, Patterson (Colquhoun 27), McKenna, S Cowens, Strangeways (Gibson 73). Sub. not used: Dodd.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Atwell, Munro, Woolven, Quinn (Laing 70), Lloyd, Barker, Lane (Warner 70), McGovern, Dowds (Ross 55), Napier. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Gary McGregor (Easthouses)
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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 1

East of Scotland Qualifying League, Section A

29th July 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 0 LOTHIAN THISTLE HUTCHISON VALE 3

For the first game of the season, this was a disappointing spectacle. The first half was a decent contest, with Watt matching the League champions in most aspects of the game, but after the visitors took the lead just before half-time, and more especially after a second goal was scored just before the hour, it seemed that some of the home players lost the belief that something could be had from the match. This impression was not altered by the dismissal of Dean Cummings on his return to Thistle-Vale, which did little to alter the pattern of play.

The match started in lively fashion, with Watt’s midfielders competing well against the strong engine-house of the champions. Chris Lane, in particular, was taking every opportunity to get forward and link with Cammie Ross and in ten minutes this produced one of the game’s main talking points. Lane picked the ball up in midfield, found Ross with his pass and drove into the penalty box for the return pass. His first touch took the ball further to the left than he intended, which meant he had to sprint after it as goalkeeper Kevin Swain came from his goal. When Lane went down over the arms of Swain, the referee’s verdict was a caution for the Watt man for simulation. After the match, Swain, who is a genial and honest player, admitted that a penalty “could have been given”, which is perhaps about as close as you’re going to get from a goalkeeper to admitting culpability.

Half-way through the first half, there was an uncannily similar incident, with Lane again chasing a return pass inside the box, this time from Harry Warner on the left. Again, Swain came from his line and again the players met in the area of the ball. Once more, Lane went down after the challenge, but this time rather later than on the first occasion. We waited with bated breath to see what the referee’s decision would be this time, but he simply signalled there was no infringement and allowed the game to continue. It is likely that the previous incident affected Lane; he certainly took a knock, but probably tried harder to stay on his feet this time and therefore came down after another step. This does not mean, of course, that there was any infringement and the referee probably called it correctly in that Swain gathered the ball cleanly, despite some contact between the players.

Liam Hutchison and Adam Woolven were performing well at the heart of the Watt defence, but ten minutes from half-time Hutchison was fortunate when he was caught dallying on the ball by Sean Wringe. As the players jostled for possession, Hutchison fell to the ground, seeming to impede his opponent as he did so, but to the relief of Watt supporters, the referee ruled that the first infringement had been by Wringe and awarded the free kick to the home side.

Woolven also had his moment of uncertainty when Kevin Brown lost his footing and presented the ball to the big defender wide on the visitors’ left, but it took Woolven so long to pick his option that Brown got back to his feet and recovered the ball. Woolven had to concede a corner and four more of them followed before the home defence was able finally to clear.

Four minutes from half-time, the champions went ahead. A flowing movement across the pitch kept the ball just out of the reach of a succession of challenging Watt players and when it reached Wringe on the left side of the penalty area, he floated the ball over the head of Callum Reid inside the far post. A cross may have been intended, but if it was an attempt on goal, it was perfectly judged.

Two minutes later, Watt came close to an equaliser with their closest effort of the game. A superb ball down the right by Aidan Quinn gave Cammie Ross the chance to use his pace to outflank the Lothian defence and as he cut inside, he fired in a shot which had enough power to rebound off the post and clear the penalty area. Scott Dargo, coming in to support the move, drove the rebound over the bar.

Ten minutes into the second half, Watt had another chance to get back on level terms, but when Quinn’s centre was laid back to Lane, his curling shot with the inside of his right foot went just past the post.

Three minutes later, the writing was on the wall for Watt when the visitors scored a simple second goal, Jamie Devlin timing his run well to head down into goal by the near post from a corner on the left.

Thistle-Vale were reduced to ten men two minutes later when Cummings received a second booking after a scuffle with Jackson Barker, who was also cautioned, but in truth the home side never looked likely to get back in contention. There was little appetite to work the visitors’ defenders and midfield players, who despite their numerical inferiority seemed to have more time than ever on the ball.

Five minutes from time, the champions applied the coup de grace. Samuel Nhamburo, who had replaced Wringe five minutes earlier and who in his brief appearance looked more than useful, ran on to a pass from the right, easily sidestepped a challenge and drove the ball low past Reid.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Snoddy, Munro, Woolven, Quinn (McGovern 73), Hutchison, Dargo (Lloyd 64), Lane, Barker, Ross, Warner (Laing 81). All subs. used.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:
Swain, Sherlock, O’Donnell, Crawford, Munro, Muir, Moore (Hutchison 63), Cummings, Wringe (Nhamburo 80), Devlin (Watters 85), Brown. Sub. not used: Simpson.

Referee: Mr. Nicky Marshall (Whitburn)
Assistant Referees: Mr Lewis Hogarth, Mr Sean Redgrave.Season 2017 – 2018: Match 10

SFA South Region Challenge Cup: Round One

16th September 2017

LEITH ATHLETIC 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

Seldom can the nature of a game have been so different in its two halves as was this cup-tie at Meadowbank 3G. Leith was clearly the better side in the first half and although some have disagreed with the assessment, your correspondent was relieved to get to the interval trailing by just a single goal. After a half-time sort-out in the dressing room, however, Watt totally dominated the second period and left bemused that a goal had not been forthcoming.

Just as in the match the previous week, Watt fell behind early on after starting quite brightly. Cammie Ross, leading the attack, drove a free kick from the edge of the ‘D’ low, aiming for a gap in the wall, but the ball came off a foot and went behind for a corner. Two minutes later, a poor pass on the Watt right gave Athletic possession and when the ball was quickly switched to across the pitch, Aidan Quinn, who was covering, had the misfortune to trip and fall, leaving Brodie Mackenzie with the opportunity to send a smart shot across Callum Reid to open the scoring.

This time, however, the Watt did not fold up as they had done on the previous Saturday. Finn Watt’s through pass almost put in Ronnie Napier, but Leith’s goalkeeper, Campbell McLellan, who played very well throughout the game, was quickly out to claim the ball. With quarter of an hour played, however, McLellan was beaten when the Watt scored a fine equaliser. Excellent work on the right by the returning Ryan Higgins, who turned in a splendid performance, made the ball available for Quinn to send a perfect pass into the stride of Anton Dowds. As McLellan advanced, Dowds cleverly knocked the ball beyond the ’keeper and ran on to slide the ball into the vacant goal.

Play was even during the next period, but before the half-hour, the home side took the lead again. Reid was at fault, taking too long to launch his clearance kick, which was charged down, the ball running loose. Eventually, it came to Mackenzie again and he scored his second of the day.

From this point until half-time, Leith gradually increased its grip on the game and had a couple of chances to extend the lead. Reid made a good save going to his right from a strong shot by Oban Anderson and just before half-time Higgins made what was probably a goal-saving tackle, timing his intervention perfectly around the penalty spot.

The second half started quite differently. From a free kick forty metres from goal on the Watt right, the ball was played into the box and Dowds met it perfectly with his head, only to watch in disbelief as McLellan saved brilliantly, twisting round to his left to get an arm to the ball and keep it out.

Seven minutes later came the miss which was to haunt the visitors. Ross was behind two defenders as he chased a ball into the box, but as the ball ran towards McLellan, the striker persisted and got a foot to the ball as McLellan attempted to play it away. Ross then got the ball under control and cut it back across goal for Chris Lane, coming in around the penalty spot. With the goal gaping in front of him, Lane sent his shot off the underside of the bar and the ball bounced down just in front of the goal line.

A minute later Dowds fired the ball across goal and after McLellan had blocked it out again, the ball was played back to Higgins on the edge of the area, but he shot past.

Around the middle of the half, Leith had two breaks in quick succession, with Mackenzie narrowly missing the target with his shots, but then it was back to Watt dominance, Ross bursting through to release Higgins on the right, but as the midfielder hesitated, McLellan sped from his line to smother the ball.

Dowds then surged into the box from the left and sent a shot across McLellan and off the far post, at which time we began to suspect it just wasn’t going to be our day.

There were various other minor opportunities as the time ebbed away: Dowds went round the right side of the defence to force McLellan to turn the ball behind at his near post; Dowds’ corner from the left curled through the six-yard box, missing everyone and somehow leaking out on the far side; Ross’s free kick into the gap between the goalkeeper and his defence was reached by Dowds but at full-stretch he couldn’t control the ball. The last, and best, chance of the final fifteen minutes fell to Ross, who sped clear of his pursuit, but McLellan saved the day again for his side, getting his leg to Ross’s shot to divert the ball behind.

Although this cup tie escaped them, the Watt players surely took confidence from their second-half performance for the Alex Jack Cup Semi-final to be played at Riccarton on the following Saturday.

Leith Athletic:
McLellan, Pennel, Larner, Simpson, Smith, Middleton, Main, Anderson, Tait (Beaton 74), Mackenzie (Davies 79), Hay (Oliff 81). Subs. not used: Reid, Fairnie.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Atwell (Snoddy 35), Laurenson, Watt, Quinn, Higgins (Woolven 87), Napier, Lane, Ross, Dowds, Macdonald (Breen 71). Subs. not used: McGovern, Munro.

Referee: Mr. Mark Rennie (Edinburgh)
Assistant Referees: Mr Ewan Pow, Mr Rab Thomson
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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 9

League

9th September 2017

LOTHIAN THISTLE HUTCHISON VALE 6 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

This was a bad day for the Watt side. It’s not often six goals are conceded and we could look back on this game and agree that all six were preventable and most were the product of poor defending.

The Watt started the game quite well, with Mark McGovern sending a good pass off the left wing for Chris Lane to try a curler from the edge of the area, but goalkeeper Kerr Robertson made a comfortable catch high to his left.

Just eight minutes into the game, Watt fell behind. There were claims for a foul on Scott Munro as he was dispossessed on the left, but no award was given and when the ball was moved inside to Jamie Devlin, he had a surprising amount of time and space to find the corner of the net past Callum Reid’s left hand.

Five minutes later, it got worse. Alex Snoddy tracked back with Liam O’Donnell as he drove forward into the Watt area and when he made his challenge it seemed a good one, playing the ball away towards the sideline. However, despite furious protests, referee Mr Tumilty insisted it was a penalty and Devlin’s kick passed under Reid’s hand to double the home advantage.

Only another five minutes had elapsed before the Watt fell even further behind. A throw-in from the right was aimed at the near-post area and Sean Wringe eluded his marker to smuggle the ball over the line.

It was high time for the Watt to get a grip of things and they did manage to steady the ship at this point, creating a chance when Finn Watt found Lane to try another curling shot, this time missing the goal. Watt’s best chance of the first half came when Scott Munro swung in a cross which was met by Robertson and one of his defenders at the same time, with the ball running free to McGovern, but in trying to place the ball carefully, the striker seemed to lose his timing and he mishit the shot.

Liam Hutchison made a good interception of a pass through the visitors’ defence, but Snoddy inadvertently played the ball back towards his own goal. As Reid sped from his line to save, Wringe fell over the goalkeeper’s body, but as Watt supporters waited with bated breath, a goal kick was awarded.

In stoppage time at the end of the half, the home side registered a fourth goal. It was a classic of simplicity, a free kick being lofted into the penalty box and tall centre-back Grant Munro rising to head home.

Head Coach Banji Koya made a tactical switch at half-time, bringing on Adam Woolven, pushing Aidan Quinn into midfield and sending Ronnie Napier into attack. The change seemed to have its desired effect as the Watt pulled a goal back six minutes after the restart. Quinn picked up Jackson Barker’s pass and found Napier on the right. Napier drove into the box and fired the ball towards the near post, where it was blocked by Robertson. The rebound found Neil Laurenson, who was brought down for a penalty kick which he himself stroked into the net.

Cammie Ross replaced Laurenson soon after this, but almost immediately Watt fell further behind. This one resulted from a blunder by Reid, who allowed a ball passing gently across the Watt box to slip through his grasp, leaving Wringe with a tap-in. The coup de grace was supplied fifteen minutes from time by Devlin, who skipped through a static Watt defence to blast the ball past Reid.

Adam Breen had replaced Napier and he gave Ross the opportunity to improve the scoreline, going down the left and curling a pass round a defender to put the ball on the toe of the striker, six yards from goal, but Ross allowed the volley to slide off his foot and past the post.

All in all, not a day on which the Watt players will look back with any pleasure or pride.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:
Robertson, Sherlock, O’Donnell, Crawford, Munro, Muir (Mungall 63), Hare (Nhamburo 76), Brown, Wringe, Devlin (Hutchison 76), Cummings. Subs. not used: Moore, Swanson.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Snoddy, Munro, Hutchison, Quinn, Watt, Barker, Napier (Breen 70), McGovern (Woolven 45), Lane, Laurenson (Ross 59). Sub. not used: Macdonald.

Referee: Mr. Michael Tumilty (Edinburgh)
Assistant Referees: Mr Ken Boyd, Mr Kian Gallacher
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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 8

League

2nd September 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 4 TWEEDMOUTH RANGERS 1

Although the Watt had won well the previous week at the ground of the same opponenets, there was a feeling of slight unease about this game. Anton Dowds, scorer of three goals at Old Shielfield, was on the injury list and with the Watt’s Amateur team having a cup tie on the indoor surface at Oriam, resources were somewhat stretched.

Mark McGovern did his best to settle nerves with a fine early goal. Cammie Ross made a good run on the right and passed inside to McGovern. The pass was a firm one, but McGovern controlled it well, turned and sent a well-placed shot across goal and in off the far post.

So far so good, but with fifteen minutes on the clock, the visitors, who had shown us that they could pass the ball around well on the open spaces of Riccarton, scored a worryingly simple equaliser. A good ball down the right picked out Connor Cowens and he outpaced Scott Munro to send a low cross into the box for danger man Stuart Briggs to convert from the edge of the six-yard box. Unfortunately for the striker and for his team, in doing so Briggs exacerbated an old injury and was unable to continue.

Jamie Brint came on to replace Briggs, but soon the Watt was creating more chances. Ross was finding space on the left and when a cross-field ball picked him out and he made room for a shot, goalkeeper Stuart Allan saved well, diving to his left to turn the ball round the post. The corner kick was played behind again for another corner and when the second one came in, Adam Woolven made a run to the near post and tried to glance a header into goal, but got slightly too much contact and sent the ball just over.

Jackson Barker was clearly offside when he put the ball into the net just before the half-hour, but he came close to a valid goal a minute later. Neil Laurenson’s accurate pass picked out Ross, who set the ball back for Munro to cross first-time; Barker judged the flight well to send in a spectacular overhead kick which he caught solidly, but Allan brought off a splendid save, flying to his left to turn the ball over the bar.

Gregor Macdonald, a young player who is just beginning his studies at Heriot-Watt, contacted the Club early and had already made two appearances from the bench, but this match gave him his first start. A flowing move on the right provided him with a chance on the cutback, but his shot went across goal and past Allan’s right-hand post. Two minutes later, however, the debut boy made amends for his miss. A quick thrust on the left ended with Barker playing the ball low and hard across the goalmouth and Macdonald came in at the far side to hammer a shot high into the net. The coterie of Watt players who have scored during a first start for the Club is an exclusive one and few can have performed the feat at a younger age.

Shortly after this goal, Head Coach Banji Koya decided to change the shape of the Watt side and Chris Lane was introduced into the midfield for his return after injury, with Cameron Atwell withdrawn. There was only one more near thing before the interval, when the ball was played in from the left and Macdonald made a run across Allan to try to turn the ball in at the near post, but found the goalkeeper alert enough to block the ball away.

Macdonald had another attempt on goal just after the restart, cutting across the box to reach McGovern’s low centre, but his left-foot shot cleared the bar by a foot or so. McGovern then had an attempt on goal when Laurenson was pushed over to give the Watt a free kick on the left, but although his shot was accurate enough, it was at a comfortable height for Allan to turn round the post as he dived to his left.

Another returning player, Adam Breen, replaced Ross just after the hour mark and showed up well in his brief appearance, although his first involvement was not productive. Lane showed good persistence, boring into the penalty box and having two shots blocked. When the second rebounded to Breen, he shot wildly from the edge of the area.

Half-way through the second half, there was still just a single goal in it and although the Watt was having more of the possession, the visitors were showing enough on the break to cause some concern amongst the Riccarton faithful. This changed, however, with two goals within four minutes to make the result secure. The first of these came from a corner on the left. Watt captain Aidan Quinn read the flight of the ball perfectly and timed his move to meet it with a header which brooked no argument. Allan did manage to get a hand to the ball, but the force applied by Quinn was much too great to be resisted and the ball continued into the top corner of the net.

The Watt’s fourth goal – the last of the game as it turned out – came after a good move on the right. Lane found Macdonald, who played the ball down the line for Woolven’s overlapping run and cut inside to accept a slide-rule return pass, step inside a defender and send in a left-foot shot which Allan dived to turn behind. A throw-in followed the corner and when Woolven and Macdonald combined to supply McGovern, lurking just outside the angle of the penalty box, the striker took one touch, then turned and powered a drive through a well-populated area and just inside the far post for his second demonstration in the game of the lethal accuracy of which he is capable.

Harry Barclay replaced Macdonald for the last phase of the match and lost no time in reminding us of his talents, somehow manufacturing a near-post cross from a most unpromising position. McGovern saw it coming, too, and made a perceptive near-post run to send a flick past Allan, but the opportunity was a really difficult one and the ball slipped over the bar.

The subtle promptings of Breen and Barclay made for an entertaining end to the game. Both Barker and Breen had shots which went just over, but there were no further goals, although Breen couldn’t have come much closer in the last action of the day; more fine battling by Lane provided Breen with the ball and he sent a delicate chip over the head of Allan, only to see it rebound from the face of the crossbar.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Atwell (Lane 38), Munro, Hutchison, Quinn, Woolven, Ross (Breen 62), Laurenson, McGovern, Barker, Macdonald (Barclay 73). Sub. not used: Lloyd.

Tweedmouth Rangers:
Allan, Strangeways, Murray (Bird 46), Cromarty, Craig (Pilbeam 46), S Cowens, C Cowens, Howard, Briggs (Brint 18), McKenna, Colquhoun. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Michael Addy (Edinburgh)
Assistant Referees: Mr Dale Kerr, Mr Kieran Kennedy
.

Season 2017 – 2018: Match 7

Alex Jack Cup

26th August 2017

TWEEDMOUTH RANGERS 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 7

The Watt players arrived at Old Shielfield determined to improve on the Club’s terrible record in the Alex Jack Cup and lost no time in ensuring that a semi-final tie against Leith Athletic would be secured.

Right from the first whistle, the Watt team showed attacking intent which the Rangers defence was unable to resist. The first goal arrived with just two minutes played, Jackson Barker’s low centre from the left being cushioned into the inside of the side net by Anton Dowds. Returning to the side after a short injury absence, Dowds could have scored again two minutes later when a swift move on the left gave him the chance to surge past the defence into the left side of the area, but his shot went across the face of the goal and past the far post.

A second goal wasn’t far off, though, and when Neil Laurenson curled a corner from the right into the goalmouth, Cameron Atwell rose to flick a header into the net.

These goals had only whetted the appetite of the players and Ronnie Napier’s pass down the right enabled Dowds to link with Mark McGovern, but his cross eluded Barker in the centre of the penalty box. Barker then burst on to the ball in midfield and slipped through a pass for McGovern, but Stuart Allan was out smartly to gather the ball just inside his area.

A good run through the middle of the park took Atwell within shooting range and when his shot was charged down, he sent a delicate lofted pass out to the left, from where Scott Munro played the ball into the box for Napier to clip in a shot which dipped on to the crossbar and rebounded into play.

The visitors’ attacks were almost incessant and when Kyle Murray resorted to pulling McGovern’s shirt to prevent him having a sight of goal, McGovern responded by driving the resultant free kick across Allan into the far corner of the net for a third goal.

McGovern was back in the same area a minute later, showing too much strength for Rudy McLeod, but his cross failed to pick out a colleague. Alex Snoddy chased a pass wide to the right corner and brought the ball inside Kyle Murray, but was then upended by McLeod. It was a clear foul and the referee was quickly on the spot to caution the defender, so Snoddy’s intemperate reaction seemed particularly misplaced. It is hoped that he can keep better control when he meets with real provocation.

His colleagues penalised the foul in a more appropriate way; Laurenson floated in a superb free-kick and Aiden Quinn timed his run forward to power an unstoppable header into the net and put the Watt four ahead.

McGovern marked the re-start in memorable fashion, taking the opportunity to shoot from the half-way line. The ball slammed against the bar, shot straight up into the air and fell into the arms of Allan as he stood almost on the goal line.

The momentum behind the Watt now seemed irresistible and Barker should have added to the tally when Munro’s cutback picked him out unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box, but his shot went across goal and past the post. Dowds sent in an effort from the left which was probably intended as a cross but which compelled Allan to dive to his left to turn the ball round the post.

The resultant corner came down between Atwell and a Tweedmouth defender. Atwell cleverly looped the ball over his opponent’s head and struck a full-blooded drive as it dropped. Allan somehow managed to get enough in the way of the ball to block it out and when Atwell moved forward to play the rebound, he ended up in a heap along with Lee Dodd, who resumed limping heavily.

Another ball played in from the left wing led to the next goal, Dowds taking it down on his chest, turning and driving it fiercely into the net from close range. Tweedmouth striker Michael Robinson had been struggling with an injury for some time and was replaced shortly after by Ross Aitchison.

More good work by Atwell provided the ball for Liam Hutchison, who swept a wonderful pass out to Munro on the left. The ball came inside to Barker, but his shot on the turn again slipped past the post.

There was one more goal to come before the half-time whistle and it resulted from a determined drive through the middle of the park. McGovern shook the ball free and Dowds broke clear on the left to fire a low shot across Allan into the far corner of the goal.

After the break, it was never likely that the same level of intensity would be maintained – and it wasn’t. Tweedmouth, now playing down the slope, came out for the second half determined to prove that they were better than the opening period had shown. Quinn was obliged to head over his own bar and when the corner squirted out of the box, Shane Macgregor sent in a strong shot which struck a defender and went behind for another corner kick.

Ten minutes into the half, the home side put a better gloss on the score by reducing the deficit. The goal came about through a defensive error as the Watt tried to pass out from the back. Reid’s pass to Barker, running back into not very much space in the centre of the park, bounced off the midfielder and ran loose. Tweedmouth had plenty of players forward and got hold of the ball. Reid was able to block the first shot, but the rebound was driven into goal by Stuart Briggs.

In an attempt to regain the initiative, Watt brought on Cammie Ross, but Rangers continued on the front foot for some time, Hutchison having to head away from beside the post when the ball flew across the face of the Watt goal following a corner. Shortly after this, Jake Lloyd replaced Snoddy.

Having let the tempo drop and allowed their opponents to dictate for a spell, the visitors found it hard to recapture their earlier flair, but it all clicked again with quarter of an hour to play. A good passage of pass-and-move football ended with a well-timed pass by Laurenson as Ross pulled off the shoulder of his marker to collect the ball and slip it past the left hand of Allan and into goal. Suddenly, it looked a simple game again.

Barker had a great chance to add to the tally just a minute later. On this occasion the well-timed pass was supplied by Ross and it sent Barker clear on the right side of the box, but it just wasn’t the midfielder’s day in front of goal and again he missed the target with his shot.

Gregor Macdonald replaced McGovern for the last fifteen minutes and soon had an opportunity to get on the scoresheet. After a quick free kick on the right, Barker sent in a cross tailor-made for the run of the youngster, but although Macdonald met the ball well, he sent his header upwards rather than downwards and it cleared the bar by about a foot.

Macdonald was soon involved again, holding up the ball well for Napier to make the outside run, but when the low centre passed through the danger area, Lloyd, hurtling in, just failed to reach it.

Right at the end of the game, Barker almost managed to grab the goal that had consistently eluded him, getting a flick on a free kick played in to the near post area, but the ball came off the post and into the arms of Allen.

It’s fair to say that the Watt lost a bit of impetus in the second half, but that’s hardly surprising, as the game was clearly won by half-time. Credit, too, to Tweedmouth, who came out for the second half with new determination and came down the slope vigorously, supporting each other well and pressing the Watt back for periods. Much of the second half play became bogged down in tight areas, but when the Watt eventually managed to spread the play again and use more width, a fine goal resulted.

There were several excellent Watt performers on the day and perhaps some are worth particular mention: Anton Dowds, on his return to the side, took his three goals with style and generally led the line with pace and power. Cameron Atwell played well on the last visit to Old Shielfield, but exceeded that performance on this occasion with a well-controlled display, defending positively and supporting the attack whenever the opportunity presented itself. He scored once, but might easily have had one or even two more. Liam Hutchison continued his rich vein of form, showing excellent judgment and, when there was a chance to do so, initiating attacks by sending raking passes in front of runners in wide positions. But there were no failures on a day when the Watt clinched a semi-final spot in the Alex Jack Cup for only the third time in this millenium.

Tweedmouth Rangers:
Allan, McLeod (Macaskill 76), Murray, Cromarty, Dodd, McKenna, Briggs, Howard, Robinson (Aitchison 37), Macgregor, Colquhoun. Subs. not used: Macaskill.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Atwell, Hutchison, Barker, Quinn, Napier, Snoddy (Lloyd 68) Laurenson, Dowds (Ross 57), McGovern (Macdonald 76), Munro. Sub. not used: Higgins.

Referee: Mr. Ryan Lee (Musselburgh)
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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 6

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League

22nd August 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 3 ORMISTON 1

The Watt preserved its 100% record in the early stages of the League programme with this win over Ormiston, but the victory was by no means as comfortable as the home support would have wished; or, perhaps, expected.

Indeed, had Sean Ballard directed his header better on the hour mark to tie the scores at 2 – 2, the outcome of this contest might have been entirely different. Had the visitors gone on to take a share of the spoils or more, it would not have been undeserved after a controlled performance which kept the Watt at bay for much of the ninety minutes. Ormiston passed the ball well when in possession and in Ballard and Nathan Stokes had industrious and constructive players who were not easily subdued.

The early exchanges were even enough, although goalkeeper Jordan Dunsmore dealt well with efforts by Jackson Barker and Neil Laurenson. The Ormiston side was moving the ball well, however, and it was no great surprise when they scored the first goal of the game. Stokes managed to isolate Adam Woolven as the Watt’s last defender. When a lofted ball fell between the two, Woolven got his foot to it, but had the misfortune to play it off his opponent and see it fall into a good striking position. Stokes lost no time in sending in a firm drive from the edge of the penalty area to the corner of the net.

Woolven might have levelled the scores three minutes later, when a deep corner from the right was headed back across goal to find him in good position, but his header found Dunsmore perfectly placed to make the catch. The equaliser was only delayed for another minute, though. Cammie Ross did some excellent work on the right flank and sent in a cross which was well read by Ronnie Napier, who ran in to place a header into the corner of the goal.

Dunsmore saved from Ross a couple of minutes later, but the game fell into a midfield stalemate for most of the rest of the first half, with the Watt seeing a lot of possession but most of the passes going across the pitch and not enough meaningful movement in evidence. The ball did visit the Ormiston net four minutes from half-time, following a corner, but the referee quickly whistled for an infringement.

Four minutes after the interval, the Watt should have taken the lead. Ross got the break of the ball on the edge of the area and reacted instantly to move forward and square the ball to Barker, who was in space around the penalty spot. The goalkeeper and a defender were on or around the goal-line, but it didn’t look difficult to pick a space between them and Barker’s reaction as his shot struck the defender and squirted behind for a corner showed that he subscribed to that view.

Once again, however, a goal followed soon after a missed chance; three minutes later, a corner from the left was headed on at the near post by Barker and Scott Dargo squeezed it in off the far post from a tight position.

On the hour, Ormiston had the chance to equalise mentioned earlier; Ballard somehow stole undetected into a huge space in the middle of the Watt defence and when a cross came in from the right, it was perfect for him, but although he kept his header down well, Ballard sent the ball much too far back in the direction it had come, missing the goal by a yard or more.

This near thing was the prelude to a good spell for Ormi. Mark Law won the ball in midfield and tried a shot from distance, but found Callum Reid in good position. Ballard had another heading opportunity from a right-wing cross, jumping early to get above Alex Snoddy, but although this time his effort was directed towards goal, it was gathered by Reid.

The Watt survived this pressure and responded with some more attacking play. Aidan Quinn was putting in a sterling performance in midfield and his superb pass down the right enabled Snoddy to win a corner from which a Ross shot was deflected behind.

With quarter of an hour left to play, Ormiston had another period of brisk raiding and Dargo had to be alert to turn the ball behind as Scott Walker came in to meet a diagonal ball through the home defence. The corner presented some problems, but Reid was on hand again to dive to his right and save the shot which eventually came in.

Another excellent ball by Quinn sent Napier away on the left and when he played the ball into the middle, it was diverted out to Ross, on the edge of the area. Sizing up his options, Ross decided to try to curl a shot inside the goalkeeper’s left-hand post, but he gave it a little too much air.

There was still only one goal in it as we entered the last ten minutes’ play. Gregor Macdonald replaced Neil Laurenson to make his debut in the East of Scotland League and gave a spirited cameo. His good run on the left was halted by a firm tackle close to the penalty area, but Ross was on hand to pick up the pieces and drive between two defenders towards the danger area. When he was brought down, he took the free kick himself, but it passed harmlessly a foot over the crossbar.

Finally, with five minutes left on the clock, Watt at last secured the points. Ross was again involved, playing a dangerous ball across the face of the goal from the left. With Dargo’s breath hot on his neck, left-back Jack Bathgate had to play the ball, but unfortunately for him, he failed to get it past the post and instead drove it firmly into the net.

An unfortunate tailpiece was a knee injury which meant that Dargo had to be helped off with a couple of minutes to play. It is to be hoped that he has not joined the long-term injury list.

This was a competent performance by the Watt, with Quinn in midfield and Liam Hutchison in defence particularly impressive. With his inventive play and quick feet, Ross was always a threat in attack, while Dargo and Snoddy were willing runners to try to get behind the visitors’ defence. But along with these positives, there was a warning that Ormiston has made some good signings and when its young side bonds together as the season progresses, a visit to Recreation Park will not provide easy pickings.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Snoddy, Munro, Hutchison, Quinn, Woolven, Laurenson (Macdonald 80), Napier, Ross (McGovern 85), Barker, Dargo (Atwell 89). Sub. not used: Lloyd.

Ormiston:
Dunsmore, Fairnie (Gray 75), Bathgate, Rogers-Jones, Ferguson, Ballard, Tulloch, Law, Stokes, Nash (Millar 70), Heron (Walker 65). Subs. not used: Wood, Millard, Malcolm, Thomson.

Referee: Mr. Dale Kerr (Edinburgh)
Assistant Referees: Mr Mark Harris, Mr Sean Redgrave
.

Season 2017 – 2018: Match 5

Football Nation East of Scotland Qualifying Cup – First Round

19th August 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 2 TYNECASTLE 3

The sides involved in this game had met the previous Saturday and there were curious parallels between the matches. In both, the away side trailed by a goal at the interval but scored three times in the second half to win. So far this season, Watt has alternated between victory and defeat and the sequence continued as the returning pendulum knocked the team off its podium and out of the Football Nation Qualifying Cup.

Watt began the game in characteristic counterattacking style, with the first good chance arriving six minutes in when Ronnie Napier’s pass sent Cammie Ross scampering down the right to lay the ball inside for Mark McGovern. Perhaps the striker should have used his left foot, as he failed to generate the power he sought in taking the ball from his right with his near foot. Goalkeeper Robert Watt saved low to his right.

Tynecastle exerted good pressure over the next few minutes, but the home defence looked solid, with Liam Hutchison alert and decisive and Scott Munro containing the dangerous Euan Greig with some well-timed tackles,. With thirteen minutes on the clock, the Watt took the lead. We’ve seen Ross do this sort of thing so often that it’s no longer a surprise, but you can’t be blasé about it when your striker picks up the ball just inside the opposition half, leaves the defence trailing in his wake and slips the ball past the left hand of the advancing goalkeeper. Pure Cammie Ross class.

The half went on in much the same way, with Tynecastle seeing plenty of the ball, the Watt protective layers working well and forward thrusts from time to time testing the visitors’ defence. McGovern set the ball back for Ronnie Napier to get in a shot following a left-wing move, but Watt was in the right place to save moving to his right. Then, when McGovern played an instinctive ball out to the right, it seemed unlikely that even Ross would be able to catch it, but he did so, whipping in a low cross from near the corner flag. McGovern shot first time from a tight angle, but found Watt well positioned at his near post to block with his legs. The goalkeeper did even better with the rebound, advancing quickly on McGovern to deny him space for an effective follow-up shot.
A clever dummy by Ross sent Jackson Barker away down the right, with Ross supporting to sweep in a dangerous cross which created another scramble in the visitors’ penalty box.

A Tynecastle corner from the left was contested by Greg Page and Finn Watt as it hung in the air. With both players having their eyes firmly on the ball, their heads met with some force. Page had to leave the field immediately, Niall Kelly substituting; Watt stayed on for another five minutes before he was replaced by Adam Woolven.

The Watt retained its narrow lead at half-time, but the loss of Finn Watt may have been more of a handicap than was realised at the time. Woolven was a natural replacement, but is more of an orthodox defender than Watt, who does a lot of the defensive midfield work which often goes unrecognised, cutting off passing angles and making interceptions. Early in the second half, however, things got even better for the home side with a second goal.

Not for the first time in the game, a ball played behind the visitors’ left back looked to be too strong to be caught, but Ross defied the odds to keep it in play, left two defenders behind him and squared the ball for Barker. The midfielder took a touch and moved the ball on to Laurenson, whose early shot surprised goalkeeper Watt, who was able to get a hand to the ball but couldn’t prevent it finding the net.

The Watt seemed to be cruising now, but received a sharp lesson in the unpredictability of football as Tynecastle restored parity with two goals in the next eleven minutes. For the first of these, a long ball over the top was misjudged by Callum Reid, who ran from his goal but failed to reach the ball. Greig nipped in between Reid and Munro to steer the ball into the vacant goal. The equaliser came from a move on the left, ending with Robbie McIntyre sending a low cross into the danger area, where Kern Hutchison fired a shot on the turn into the far corner.

Watt passed up a good chance to go back in front when good link-up play on the edge of the area released Napier to advance from the angle of the box. Barker was in space in the middle, but Napier was unable to see him and didn’t risk the pass. Watt turned Napier’s shot behind for an unproductive corner.

There was no change to the score until stoppage time at the end of the game delivered plenty of incident. Firstly, Tynecastle defender William Mitchell was sent off after hauling down Ross on the edge of the penalty box; but this was a controversial moment, as by the time the whistle sounded, Dowds, who had made a run into the penalty box, was one-on-one with the goalkeeper. The free kick from Ross was saved by Watt low to his left and the visitors then multiplied the pain by grabbing a winner. A loose pass in midfield was intercepted to release substitute Alexander Chingwalu, who shot past Reid from just inside the penalty box.

This was another character-forming lesson for the young Watt side, but despite the defeat they can take encouragement from the performances of a number of players. Liam Hutchison is really coming into his own now as a defender of ability, Finn Watt was a major influence on this game until his early departure, Neil Laurenson lost no time in settling back into the side and opened his goal account for the season, Aidan Quinn is playing a captain’s role to the manner born and the combination play of Cammie Ross, Jackson Barker and Mark McGovern showed great understanding of each other’s capabilities. Banji Koya will have been frustrated and disappointed on Saturday evening, but there will be better days for his talented side, which will soon be boosted by the return of players such as Harry Barclay, Adam Breen, Sean Campbell, Andrew Imray, Ross Fraser and Tom Maher; by the recovery from injury of Ryan Higgins, Chris Donnelly and Max Allison; and by the new intake of students to the University.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Dargo, Munro (Warner 75), Hutchison, Quinn, Watt (Woolven 40), Barker, Napier, Ross, McGovern (Dowds 60), Laurenson. Subs. not used: Snoddy, Macdonald.

Tynecastle:
Watt, Grant, McIntyre, Ferguson, Page (Kelly 35), Mitchell, Greig, Robinson (Polson 56), Mason (Chingwalu 71), Mayer, Hutchison. Subs. not used: Roue, Leslie, O’Reilly.

Referee: Mr. Chris Newman (Linlithgow)
Assistant Referees: Mr Lewis McGarry, Mr Jack Van der Ster
.

Season 2017 – 2018: Match 4

East of Scotland League

12th August 2017

TYNECASTLE 1 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 3

In this early-season period, Watt’s fortunes are swaying from one end of the scale to the other as each game follows the last. After a lifeless display in the opening match against Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale, there was a great performance in a convincing win against Tweedmouth Rangers. This was followed by a defeat by Burntisland Shipyard which eliminated the Watt from the League Cup later in the season, but in this, the first League game of the season, there was a victory at Saughton Enclosure, where Tynecastle twice inflicted defeats on Watt sides last season.

It took the visitors to half-time to believe they could win this game, but having taken control in the second half, they should probably have won more comprehensively, with Tynecastle taking plenty of chances at the back at the stage of the game when they were trying to salvage something. Cammie Ross, who came off the bench to score twice, looked as if he would pounce on any opportunity to add to his tally and his striking partner Mark McGovern was also in fine form, harrying the home defence and working along with Ross to threaten further damage.

The game had begun well enough for the Watt, with a free kick for a foul on Ronnie Napier giving an early chance. The ball was played low to the near post area, but although it was attacked vigorously by both Anton Dowds and Aidan Quinn, it leaked past for a goal kick.

The Watt defence looked solid and united, providing a carapace around the danger zone which Tynecastle was finding it hard to penetrate, but the home side did have a chance after eighteen minutes’ play when Adam Woolven was penalised for a robust challenge on the edge of the ‘D’ in a central position. The defender rightly pointed out that he had played the ball, but as his foot was off the ground at the time, the referee probably considered that there was an element of dangerous play involved. Dean Crabbe fired the free kick over the bar.

Just before the half-hour, one of the game’s main talking-points occurred. Dowds timed his pass perfectly for Napier to run into the penalty area and take the ball round Robert Watt. As he did so, the goalkeeper seemed to catch his foot and make him stumble, but when Napier shot past the empty goal, the referee made no award, seemingly having decided to let play go on rather than award the penalty kick.

Crabbe was the liveliest of the home forwards and shortly after this he made room for a shot from the edge of the box, but Callum Reid watched the ball carefully and saved low to his right. A minute later, however, the goalkeeper had no chance when a cross from the Tynie right was headed out as far as Ryan Mayer and he caught the ball perfectly on the volley to give his side the lead.

As the half wound to a close, the Watt gradually began to dictate the play. Scott Dargo was doing good work on the right and his pass enabled Dowds to set up Jackson Barker for a strike which Watt saved at his near post. Dowds led the next thrust on the right, linking with Dargo to play in Napier, whose run across the defence ended in a shot which was deflected for a corner.

Dargo played in the corner kick and when it was cleared as far as Scott Munro, he controlled it on his chest and played an excellent ball back out to Dargo on the left. Dargo whipped in a cross to the far post, where Quinn rose to head down – too sharply down, as the ball bounced up towards Watt, who blocked it. The ball was played into the path of the onrushing Napier, who tried to pick his spot and for the second time in fifteen minutes managed to shoot past the post when it seemed easier to score.

Having endured these near things, Tynecastle responded well, a cross from the right being headed past by Kern Hutchison before Crabbe laid the ball back for Archie Roue to get in a shot, but a good block by Woolven and a header clear by Napier took us to half-time.

Right from the start of the second half, the Watt players cast off their doubts and their hesitancy and started to close down space more effectively. A free kick for a foul on Harry Warner gave Dargo a chance for a strike, but he gave the ball too much air to bring it back towards goal. Napier then surged into the left side of the box, but played the ball too far ahead of himself and shot across goal and past.

Head Coach Banji Koya turned to his bench to give the attack more impetus and got a superb reaction. McGovern and Ross replaced Dowds and Warner and between them they altered the course of the game. A through ball towards McGovern looked as if it might have just too much on it for the striker to reach, but McGovern stretched to turn the ball inside his marker, giving himself a sight of goal, and as Watt came towards him, he drilled the ball past the goalkeeper into the net for an equaliser.

Five minutes later, Reid launched the ball downfield from hand and McGovern executed a flying backheel into the stride of Ross, making ground to his left. Ross gathered the ball, brought it inside and stroked it past the goalkeeper to put his side ahead.

Watt looked dangerous in every attack now and when McGovern picked out Ross on the right, he got round the home defence and looked for Barker with a ball across the penalty box, but got his angles wrong and Watt gathered. McGovern soon recovered the ball and sent another accurate pass to Ross, this time cutting in from the left, but the angle was a little too tight and his shot crept past the post.

Ross had the final word with eight minutes left to play. When the Tynie defence failed to cut out a through ball, Ross ran clear and picked his spot past the left hand of Watt to complete a great win for Heriot-Watt.

Looking at the game as a whole, the Watt can be well satisfied. Although Tynecastle had more of the ball for spells during the first half, the visitors’ defence looked generally sound and Reid had few direct shots with which to deal. At the other end, as well as scoring three goals, Watt missed a number of good chances and by the end looked likely to add to the tally in any attack.

The next fixture sees a rematch between these two sides, this time at Riccarton in the Football Nation Qualifying Cup. Tynie will doubtless come into the game with redoubled determination and should also benefit from the return of some players who were missing for this fixture. Watt will hope to bring to an end the performance pendulum which has produced alternating heartening wins and abject defeats in the season so far. Two victories in a row would be a welcome novelty.

Tynecastle:
Watt, Grant, McIntyre, Ferguson, Mitchell, Kelly (Mason 83), Crabbe, Roue (Chingwalu 58), Polson, Mayer, Hutchison. Subs. not used: Fital, Leslie, Huxford.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Dargo, Munro, Woolven, Quinn, Hutchison, Barker (Lloyd 88), Dowds (McGovern 63), Napier, Watt, Warner (Ross 70). All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Kevin Lindsay (Edinburgh)
Assistant Referees: Mr Ken Boyd, Mr Michael Harte
.

Season 2017 – 2018: Match 3

East of Scotland Qualifying League, Section A

5th August 2017

BURNTISLAND SHIPYARD 2 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 1

Recreation Park is fast becoming the Watt’s least-favourite venue, with this being the fourth visit in a row in which the side has suffered a single-goal defeat. As on all three previous occasions, Watt had plenty of the ball, but could not subdue a home side whose record of success in these matches has clearly given them a firm belief that they can succeed against this opposition.

Buoyed up after a good win in midweek, Heriot-Watt started the game in confident fashion, with Anton Dowds heading just past from Jake Lloyd’s cross after two minutes’ play, but as so often before, was caught out by a sucker punch. Watt’s central defenders were forward for a corner and when the Shipyard defence cleared the ball, Brian Breen drove it firmly up the park exactly where Lee Halpin wanted it. The striker controlled it well, moved to his right and played the ball wide of the advancing Callum Reid before sliding it into goal from an angle.

Shippy could well have doubled its advantage four minutes later when a slick move from left to right brought the ball to the unmarked Gordon Bowers, whose shot was well saved by Reid low to his left.

Eventually, the Watt recovered equilibrium and began to press forward again. A good pass from Dowds sent Cammie Ross away on the left and he was slightly ahead of his marker when he reached the penalty box, but Cameron Lambie stood up well to block the shot behind for a corner kick.

Although the Watt players had plenty of possession, they found it difficult to use it constructively against a hard-working Shipyard side which denied them space to work the ball around. Five minutes from the half-time interval, Scott Munro drove into the box and found Ross with his pass, but again Lambie was in position to block the shot and he was able to grasp the ball ahead of Jackson Barker.

In stoppage time at the end of the half, the Watt suffered another blow, conceding a penalty for the second consecutive visit to Recreation Park. Again, the award divided opinions as Munro was penalised for a challenge on Halpin. It appeared to your correspondent that the forward had leaned into the defender and gone down, but to be fair this was not the general view in the visitors’ dugout. Reid went the right way, but couldn’t quite get his hand to Dale Coulter’s kick and it was 2 – 0 to the home side.

Just before the hour, Watt was back in the game. Dowds went down the left and from close to the by-line, played the ball across the face of goal for Barker to slide home from almost on the goal-line.

There was still half an hour left to play, but as further substitutions interrupted play, time began to ebb away and it wasn’t long before the Watt players were showing the anxiety of working against the clock. Shippy still had attacking purpose left, too, and it caused an anxious moment when Coulter drove in a firm shot which struck someone in the box and bounced to safety. Coulter then played a searching ball across the area, almost creating a chance for Ryan O’Donnell.

Ronnie Napier led a break-out and found Dowds on the right, but his cross was too deep and Barker was only able to play the ball in mid-air into the side net.

As the game neared its close, Watt’s attempts on goal became more hopeful than threatening, with Napier slicing past from distance. McGovern sent in two strong shots in the last minute, but couldn’t find the angle to direct the ball away from Lambie.

Burntisland Shipyard:
Lambie, Powrie (McLaren 67), O’Donnell, Black, McAleavey, Galloway, Bowers (Iliopolous 45), Breen, Halpin, Fotheringham (McCarthy-Lee 58), Coulter. Subs. not used: Boyne, Cusick, Malpas.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Hutchison, Munro, Woolven, Quinn, Napier, Lloyd (Dargo 45), Lane, Dowds, Barker, Ross (McGovern 74). Sub. not used: Warner.

Referee: Mr. Steven Wilson (Edinburgh)
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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 2

East of Scotland Qualifying League, Section A

1st August 2017

TWEEDMOUTH RANGERS 0 HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 6

As the score suggests, this was the perfect antidote to the limp performance which led to defeat in the Watt’s opening match at Riccarton. This time, the side worked like a well-oiled machine, scoring six good goals and playing authoritative football based on good passing and movement.

Watt kicked off the game shooting down the slope, away from Shielfield, and the early exchanges were fairly even, with the nearest thing to a goal coming from the home side with Craig Walker’s shot from thirty metres which passed close to Callum Reid’s right-hand post. Five minutes later, however, the visitors took the lead. Michael Beveridge was unable to hold an awkward ball into the danger area from Ronnie Napier and Jackson Barker was on to it in a flash to fire home.

Within three minutes, Watt’s lead was extended after a fine move which ended with right-back Cameron Atwell coming up on the right to send in a low centre which Chris Lane, at the far post, calmly stroked into the corner of the goal.

Tweedmouth’s cause wasn’t helped by the forced substitution of Michael Patterson before half an hour had been played, Craig Colquhoun coming on to replace the striker.

Napier was enjoying some space in midfield and he let rip with a shot from all of forty metres which struck the bar on the way over. Not to be outdone, Connor Cowens struck a similar effort for Rangers, with similar results.

Napier almost created another goal for the visitors, doing well to keep his balance in a challenge with Beveridge and squaring the ball for Anton Dowds, but Keiran Cromarty was alert to deny the striker a tap-in, clearing the ball out of play for a throw-in. The goal was not long delayed, however, as from the throw, the ball was headed out to Mark McGovern, who slammed it into the corner of the net.

Jackson Barker came close before half-time, running on to Lane’s clever lofted pass, but although he managed to loft it over the advancing goalkeeper, he couldn’t keep the ball on target and it slipped past the post.

Within seven minutes of the restart, Watt extinguished any hopes of a comeback for the home side with a further two goals, both scored by Dowds. For the first of these, Napier found the striker on the edge of the box, tightly marked and with his back to goal, but in one deft movement, Dowds swivelled, turned his marker and fired a right-foot shot into the corner of the net.

With the Watt well in the ascendancy, another goal seemed likely and it almost came when an incisive move on the right ended with Beveridge parrying a shot from Barker. The ball came to Scott Munro, who was too close to the post to get in a direct shot, so he cut the ball back for Lane, but the midfielder’s sliced effort went past the post.

Dowds was soon in on the act again, however, bringing down a cross from the right, tricking a defender and sending a crisp shot across Beveridge to the far corner of goal.

Cammie Ross replaced Dowds shortly after this, but it was Tweedmouth which next came close to scoring, with Jake Lloyd heading the ball away from close to the line following a corner.

With eighteen minutes left to play, Watt scored a sixth goal. Ross had roamed out to the right and when the ball was played down the touchline, he simply took off and outpaced the home defence, drawing Beveridge from his goal and stroking the ball past him.

Reid was called upon to take action to protect the clean sheet, tipping over a shot from distance by Colquhoun, but he could have done little to prevent a consolation goal for Rangers in the final minute had Jordan Lauder managed to direct his header on goal when Lewis McKenna drove the ball across the goalmouth, but the ball slipped past the post and the full-time whistle sounded soon after.

Tweedmouth Rangers:
Beveridge, Murray, Cromarty, Lauder, Walker (Macgregor 48), C Cowens, Howard, Patterson (Colquhoun 27), McKenna, S Cowens, Strangeways (Gibson 73). Sub. not used: Dodd.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Atwell, Munro, Woolven, Quinn (Laing 70), Lloyd, Barker, Lane (Warner 70), McGovern, Dowds (Ross 55), Napier. All subs. used.

Referee: Mr. Gary McGregor (Easthouses)
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Season 2017 – 2018: Match 1

East of Scotland Qualifying League, Section A

29th July 2017

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY 0 LOTHIAN THISTLE HUTCHISON VALE 3

For the first game of the season, this was a disappointing spectacle. The first half was a decent contest, with Watt matching the League champions in most aspects of the game, but after the visitors took the lead just before half-time, and more especially after a second goal was scored just before the hour, it seemed that some of the home players lost the belief that something could be had from the match. This impression was not altered by the dismissal of Dean Cummings on his return to Thistle-Vale, which did little to alter the pattern of play.

The match started in lively fashion, with Watt’s midfielders competing well against the strong engine-house of the champions. Chris Lane, in particular, was taking every opportunity to get forward and link with Cammie Ross and in ten minutes this produced one of the game’s main talking points. Lane picked the ball up in midfield, found Ross with his pass and drove into the penalty box for the return pass. His first touch took the ball further to the left than he intended, which meant he had to sprint after it as goalkeeper Kevin Swain came from his goal. When Lane went down over the arms of Swain, the referee’s verdict was a caution for the Watt man for simulation. After the match, Swain, who is a genial and honest player, admitted that a penalty “could have been given”, which is perhaps about as close as you’re going to get from a goalkeeper to admitting culpability.

Half-way through the first half, there was an uncannily similar incident, with Lane again chasing a return pass inside the box, this time from Harry Warner on the left. Again, Swain came from his line and again the players met in the area of the ball. Once more, Lane went down after the challenge, but this time rather later than on the first occasion. We waited with bated breath to see what the referee’s decision would be this time, but he simply signalled there was no infringement and allowed the game to continue. It is likely that the previous incident affected Lane; he certainly took a knock, but probably tried harder to stay on his feet this time and therefore came down after another step. This does not mean, of course, that there was any infringement and the referee probably called it correctly in that Swain gathered the ball cleanly, despite some contact between the players.

Liam Hutchison and Adam Woolven were performing well at the heart of the Watt defence, but ten minutes from half-time Hutchison was fortunate when he was caught dallying on the ball by Sean Wringe. As the players jostled for possession, Hutchison fell to the ground, seeming to impede his opponent as he did so, but to the relief of Watt supporters, the referee ruled that the first infringement had been by Wringe and awarded the free kick to the home side.

Woolven also had his moment of uncertainty when Kevin Brown lost his footing and presented the ball to the big defender wide on the visitors’ left, but it took Woolven so long to pick his option that Brown got back to his feet and recovered the ball. Woolven had to concede a corner and four more of them followed before the home defence was able finally to clear.

Four minutes from half-time, the champions went ahead. A flowing movement across the pitch kept the ball just out of the reach of a succession of challenging Watt players and when it reached Wringe on the left side of the penalty area, he floated the ball over the head of Callum Reid inside the far post. A cross may have been intended, but if it was an attempt on goal, it was perfectly judged.

Two minutes later, Watt came close to an equaliser with their closest effort of the game. A superb ball down the right by Aidan Quinn gave Cammie Ross the chance to use his pace to outflank the Lothian defence and as he cut inside, he fired in a shot which had enough power to rebound off the post and clear the penalty area. Scott Dargo, coming in to support the move, drove the rebound over the bar.

Ten minutes into the second half, Watt had another chance to get back on level terms, but when Quinn’s centre was laid back to Lane, his curling shot with the inside of his right foot went just past the post.

Three minutes later, the writing was on the wall for Watt when the visitors scored a simple second goal, Jamie Devlin timing his run well to head down into goal by the near post from a corner on the left.

Thistle-Vale were reduced to ten men two minutes later when Cummings received a second booking after a scuffle with Jackson Barker, who was also cautioned, but in truth the home side never looked likely to get back in contention. There was little appetite to work the visitors’ defenders and midfield players, who despite their numerical inferiority seemed to have more time than ever on the ball.

Five minutes from time, the champions applied the coup de grace. Samuel Nhamburo, who had replaced Wringe five minutes earlier and who in his brief appearance looked more than useful, ran on to a pass from the right, easily sidestepped a challenge and drove the ball low past Reid.

Heriot-Watt University:
Reid, Snoddy, Munro, Woolven, Quinn (McGovern 73), Hutchison, Dargo (Lloyd 64), Lane, Barker, Ross, Warner (Laing 81). All subs. used.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale:
Swain, Sherlock, O’Donnell, Crawford, Munro, Muir, Moore (Hutchison 63), Cummings, Wringe (Nhamburo 80), Devlin (Watters 85), Brown. Sub. not used: Simpson.

Referee: Mr. Nicky Marshall (Whitburn)
Assistant Referees: Mr Lewis Hogarth, Mr Sean Redgrave.