Match Reports: Season 2017-2018

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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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)
.

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)
.

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.