Match Reports: Season 2018- 2019

Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 14

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 20th October 2018

PRESTON ATHLETIC  4   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  1

Physical domination was the key to this match at the Pennypit.  This far into the academic year, one might expect the Heriot-Watt squad to be settled and selection to be fairly consistent, but both injury and illness had depleted the party and the players unavailable to Head Coach Banji Koya for this stern test outnumbered those who were available for travel.

Crucially, the squad lacked height, a critical factor when playing a big, aggressive Preston Athletic side on its own pitch.  A selection from Niko Giovanovits, Neil Laurenson, Frewen Hutcheson, Ion Athanassios Diamantopoulos, Chris Rae, Ali Shrive and Adam Woolven would have given valuable inches at the set pieces in defence and attack.  There were also restrictions of choice in the midfield area, where Tyler Huxford and Sean Campbell were again unavailable for selection; and how Mr Koya must have wished he had been able to call on Jackson Barker and Chris Donnelly in best trim for a match like this one.  With Jack Spence also amongst those to call off through illness, another shuffle of the pack was necessary.

Of the starting eleven, only Aidan Quinn and Haydn Jamieson stand six feet tall and several of the others are below average height.  There is no denying the skill provided by players such as Harry Barclay, Chris Lane, Arron Singh, Michael Ward and Matt Graham, but they’ll never intimidate anyone with their size.  The Preston team was taller by several inches in almost every position, making it always likely that Athletic would impose themselves on the game.

Preston kicked off, shooting down the considerable slope, and almost went ahead after five minutes when Dylan Weldon seized on a defensive lapse to surge into the penalty area from the left.  Callum Reid came out quickly towards the ball, forcing Weldon to take the ball wider and narrowing the angle, which provided valuable time for Quinn to cover in behind and clear up when the ball came towards goal.

Six minutes later, however, Weldon came into the penalty area from the left again and this time he had the ball at his feet and was able to fire it hard and low past Reid to give the home side the lead.

Four minutes later, Weldon almost doubled his money, striking a shot which rebounded from the post to Reid’s right, but the Watt survived that alarm and surged to the other end to win a free kick.  Lane played the ball in low to the feet of Singh, who tried a first-time shot on the turn, but sent the ball past the far post.

With half an hour played, Athletic went two goals ahead.  This one was simplicity itself, as Higgins had the unenviable task of trying to mark Jack Jardine at a corner.  Jardine is the better part of a foot taller than the Watt midfielder, so when the ball was put right on his head at the near post, he just had to nod it into the top corner of the net.

Jardine gained his side a free kick, going down in front of Quinn twenty-five metres from goal after the slightest of touches and Scott Walker’s shot struck the same post as Weldon had hit earlier, but again the ball went out to a safer area.  

Weldon was a constant threat and after a run down the right, he cut inside to fire a left-foot shot just wide.  Shortly after this, Preston won another corner on the right, but having seen what had happened with the last one, Reid was ready for another near-post cross and made good ground to make a clean catch.

Just when it looked as if the Watt might make it to half-time without further mishap, Weldon struck again two minutes from the break.  A cross from the right penetrated a knot of players for the striker to poke it home from close range.

Calvin Muttitt came on at half-time to lead the Heriot-Watt attack and was soon involved in the best Watt move so far, exchanging passes with Ward to send in a shot from twenty metres.  The shot didn’t trouble Jack Findlay, but that the opportunity to make it had been fashioned was an encouraging sign.

A throw-in from the right gave the home side another chance, with Steven Campbell heading over, but Preston really should have scored again eleven minutes after the restart when a square pass found Walker in space inside the penalty box.  Justin Hogg did well to get across quickly and make Walker hurry his shot, but as Reid advanced, there was a big space to aim at and the goalkeeper did well to cover it, stretching a leg to divert the ball and help it past the post.

Play was fairly even for a time after this, Findlay saving from Muttitt and Reid from Walker, but with around twenty minutes still to play, Preston scored again.  Walker had threatened on several occasions, cutting in from the left and sending in right-foot efforts, but this time he got it completely right, sending a powerful drive beyond the grasp of Reid and just inside the post to his left.  

Watt responded with the best passing move of the match, the ball going through most of the side before Lane was brought down.  Quinn tried a controlled free kick, but it was too straight and Findlay was easily able to field the ball.

Mr Koya brought on a couple of his talented Under-20s during the last fifteen minutes or so and the Watt had its best spell of the match.  A free kick swung in from the left by Lane reached Ward on the far side and when he did great work to elude his marker and play the ball in hard and low, Lane hurtled in to meet it from close range, bringing a superb save from Findlay.  Three minutes later, however, Lane timed his pass just right to send Muttitt through to slide the ball past the goalkeeper and give the Watt a consolation goal.

The match finished with a moment of farce when Higgins, seeing insufficient movement amongst his team-mates when he was trying to take a throw-in, threw the ball down in frustration and was cautioned by the referee, who obviously associated such an action so firmly with a caution that he forgot to engage brain and recognise that throwing the ball down, however firmly, is not in itself an expression of dissent and not inherently an action which justifies a caution.  Throwing the ball down often brings a booking because it occurs when a player goes to take a throw-in and reacts to the referee indicating that the throw should go to the other side; it is therefore an expression of disagreement with, or dissent from, the referee’s decision.  You cannot be legitimately cautioned for dissent without reference to a decision of the referee, but although there was no dispute about a decision, the throw being manifestly the Watt’s, Higgins was shown the card nevertheless.

Preston Athletic:

Findlay, Cowan, Ndiweni, McCrorie, Campbell, D Pennycuick (L McFarlane 46), M McFarlane (Stokes 69), Turkington, Weldon, Jardine (Grotlin 53), Walker.    Subs. not used:  Carter, Liddle, C Pennycuick.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Jamieson (Muttitt 45), Munro, Barclay, Higgins, Quinn, Hogg, Lane, Singh (Gamble 74), Ward, Graham (Smith  81).   Subs. not used:  As-Chainey, Voy, Peterson.

Referee:  Mr Boise Allan (Edinburgh)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 13

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 13th October 2018

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  1   CRAIGROYSTON  2

The Watt players and management had regarded the defeat by Craigroyston in the opening League game as the most disappointing defeat of the season to date and had viewed this return fixture as an opportunity to set the record straight, so it was doubly frustrating to lose this one as well, going down to a late goal after leading at half-time.

The early signs in the game were promising, with Ryan Higgins running beyond the Craigie defence to lob the ball over Stuart Burnside and into goal, only to be brought back on an offside decision.  We were later assured by those in a position to judge that the call was wrong, but it is desperately difficult for referees to make such judgments accurately when they have to work without Assistants, especially if there is significant distance across the pitch between the attacking and defending players.  Higgins was brought back for another offside shortly afterwards, but this one, we are informed, was the correct decision.  It just shows how hard it is to judge from a distance, as it was easy to believe the first one was offside and the second one was not.

An injury to striker Mark Osborne required him to be replaced by Robbie Ross on the half-hour.  Five minutes later, full-back Stuart Donaldson fired in a shot, but the angle was against him and Callum Reid held comfortably.   The Watt set off forward again and when Chris Lane played the ball in from the right, Calvin Muttitt laid it off for Tyler Huxford to tuck his shot just inside the post to the left of the diving Burnside for the first goal of the game.

Apart from a long-range effort which Reid parried and retrieved, that was about that for the first half, but Reid was brought into action early in the second, rising to push a cross from the left over the bar.

A good exchange of passes put Higgins through to the edge of the Craigroyston penalty area, where Paul Greenhill took his feet away and accepted the caution.  Lane’s free kick came in low to the near post and Burnside bundled it round the post.  The corner was played deep and Aidan Quinn headed it back across goal, just above the head of Muttitt, where it was grabbed by Burnside.

A few minutes after this, Craigie attacked on the right.  The ball was played into the penalty area, where Harry Girdwood kept it in the air before turning and firing it past Reid for an equaliser.

Six minutes later, the Watt came very close to restoring their lead when Quinn stroked a free kick from twenty-five metres against the bar.  The ball bounced high in the air and back into play.

Niko Giovanovits was injured in a challenge twenty minutes from time and had to go off, necessitating a reshuffle in the Watt defence, Quinn dropping in to partner Harry Barclay, with Finn As-Chainey coming on in midfield.  

Heriot-Watt was still doing most of the attacking, but on the break, Girdwood was having an increasing influence, drifting into wide areas and creating problems for the home defence.  There were plenty of free kicks being conceded by the under-pressure Craigroyston defence, although one resulted in a caution for Higgins, who took the kick too far forward and complained when the referee called him back.

With five minutes left on the clock, the visitors brought the ball down the right and played it in towards the near post.  Girdwood had two defenders and the goalkeeper to deal with, but he held off managed to hold off Jack Spence and poke the ball past Reid to give his side the victory.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Spence, Munro, Barclay, Quinn, Giovanovits (As-Chainey 70), Lane (Shrive 62), Higgins, Muttitt, Huxford (Ward 52), Singh.   Subs. not used:  Hogg, McMahon.

Craigroyston:

Burnside, Donaldson, K Ross, Greenhill (Milligan 69), Nisbet, Charles, Girdwood, Mitchell, Osborne (R Ross 29), Tobin, Campbell (Mackintosh 83).    Sub. not used:  Robertson.

Referee:  Mr Colin Whyte (Edinburgh)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 12

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 6th October 2018

BROXBURN ATHLETIC  3   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  1

It is surely evidence of progress that the Watt can come to such a venue as the fabulously-impressive Albyn Park to face the league leaders, lose by only a two-goal margin and be sitting in the dressing-room afterwards severely disappointed.  

What was causing the frustration wasn’t the result, though.  It was the fact that the Watt players knew that they could play much better than they did in this game.  Maybe it’s another sign of progress that a  below-par performance doesn’t produce a heavy defeat against such opponents, but it’s frustrating to know that all three goals which were conceded were preventable.  Watt’s passing was not so good as normal, which was partly due to a lack of movement which will have troubled Head Coach Banji Koya and will no doubt be addressed in training this week.

The modest scale of the margin of defeat was in large part due to an immense defensive performance by Aidan Quinn, who reached the dressing room with a swollen face and a torn strip, but with his spirit unbroken.  When the ball was played into the Heriot-Watt box, Quinn was always in the best place to clear with head or boot; or, if he had time, to control it and spray passes to colleagues in wide positions.

The Watt didn’t look comfortable during the first half, but at least during that period the team steadied the ship after conceding two poor goals within a minute.  Callum Reid, in the Watt goal, had just had a somewhat lucky escape when a forward got in a block as he tried to make a pass.  Fortunately, the ball squirted away to the side rather than into goal, but perhaps the incident unnerved Reid a little.  

Two minutes later, following a corner partially cleared, a shot from the edge of the area rebounded off the ’keeper’s chest and was poked into goal by Gordon Donaldson.  Watt players claimed vehemently that Donaldson, standing right in front of the goalkeeper, was well offside, but Mr Graves, normally one of the League’s most competent referees, seemed to have lost concentration.  He looked as if he was considering the matter but realised too much time had passed for him to disallow the goal, so it was allowed to stand.

This was bad enough, but within a minute the Watt was two behind after another defensive lapse.  When the ball was played back to Reid, Athletic forwards closed in and the goalkeeper played the ball quickly, but instead of reaching his intended target, it found only Ross Nimmo, who had plenty of goal into which to play it.

The loss of two such goals in quick succession early in the game would have caused some Watt sides of the past to crumble, but this one is made of sterner stuff and if the passing still left something to be desired, at least the shape was still intact and the team buckled down and made it to half-time with few fresh alarms, the nearest thing to a threat on the goal coming from a cross by Nimmo which Greg Binnie had to stretch back to reach with his head, resulting in the ball going over the bar.

It wasn’t far into the second half before the Watt was back in trouble.  A quick throw on the right put Conor Kelly into the penalty area just ahead of Quinn.  The big centre-half quickly got back level with the forward, whereupon Kelly veered to his left, made contact with Quinn and fell to the ground.  A penalty was awarded and Quinn was unjustly cautioned, but Reid made up for his earlier error with a splendid penalty save, diving low to his right to block Kelly’s shot, then getting a foot to the ball to kick it out of harm’s way.

With Quinn being the fulcrum of the visitors’ defence, he seemed to be targeted by Kelly after this, as the forward seemed unable to keep his feet when in the vicinity of the big defender.  

Boosted by the penalty save, Watt began to play with greater assurance and their best passing move thus far ended with Harry Barclay’s low centre being met by Chris Lane at the near post, but the Watt man was well policed and his marker deflected the ball behind, leading to a succession of corners from which Watt was unable to profit.

Eventually, with twenty minutes left to play, Kelly got the goal he sought, spinning to his left to get on to a through pass.  Reid ran from his goal and forced Kelly wide, but although Watt defenders were getting back between their goalkeeper and the line, Kelly’s shot deflected off one of them and crept inside the post.

Despite this setback, the Watt side was still improving the attacking side of its game and after a good move, Matt Graham skipped past a couple of challenges and drove in a shot from the edge of the area.  The effort was blocked, but a corner resulted.  When the ball was played to the near post area, it was blocked, and as Niko Giovanovits turned to pursue it, he was brought down from behind by Chris Townsley, resulting in a penalty award.

Quinn, having done much of the good work for his side during the match, was entrusted with taking the kick, and made a fine job of it, sending Connor Wallace the wrong way and smacking the ball securely into the net. 

There was little else of note in the remaining minutes, although Quinn sustained a severe blow in the face whilst heading the ball and required treatment before he could continue.  There was no question of Watt’s captain courageous leaving the fray before the final whistle, however, and Quinn resumed his position at the heart of the defence.

Broxburn Athletic:

Wallace, Gillan, Donaldson, Harrison Townsley, Linton, Nimmo (Richards 78), Kelly, Binnie (Duncan 87), Locke, Jack.    Subs. not used:  Purves, Miller, Donnelly-Kay, Grant.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Spence, Barclay, Giovanovits, Quinn, Higgins, Ward (Hogg 64), Laurenson, Singh (Huxford 78), Lane, Graham (Muttitt 83).   Subs. not used:  Rae, Munro, McMahon.

Referee:  Mr Daniel Graves (Edinburgh)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 11

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 29th September 2018

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  3   EDINBURGH UNITED  0

This was an important result for the Watt: the Club’s first League win over a former Junior side, achieved with a convincing performance which delivered a satisfying margin of victory.

It seems safe to say that Edinburgh United was not at its best and perhaps underestimated Heriot-Watt, being one of the continuing East of Scotland teams, but United fielded a side of some pedigree, featuring experienced and able players such as Eddie Mearns, Darren Walker and Frankie Arthur.  The Watt selection was beginning to look more stable, too, with returning players Jack Spence and Niko Giovanovits settling back in to their roles and Aiden Quinn restored to the line-up.  

From the early stages of the game, Watt created shooting chances and on another day Arron Singh might have scored on three occasions before half-time.  His first opportunity came after a good move in eight minutes, but Walker stretched to tip his shot over the bar.  

Ten minutes later, Singh was the creator as Watt went ahead.  Ryan Higgins’ good work on the left was instrumental in playing in Singh, who took the ball to the by-line and cut it back to the near post area, where Michael Ward bundled it inside the upright.

Skilful play by Matt Graham set up another chance for Singh shortly after this, but although he sped ahead of his marker, he gave his shot too much air in trying to curl it past Walker’s left hand and missed the target. 

A minute later, a shot by Neil Laurenson left Walker a spectator, but came back off the far post and into the hands of the relieved goalkeeper.  

Singh was put through again ten minutes from half-time, but although he broke clear of the pursuit once more, this time he steered his shot just past Walker’s right-hand upright.

Watt survived a close thing two minutes from the interval; a free kick for United had been headed clear by Aidan Quinn, but Arthur’s shot from twenty metres came back into play off the crossbar and the Watt struggled to clear as Edinburgh kept up the pressure over the next minute or so.

It only took two minutes of the second half for the Watt to double its lead.  A clever turn by Higgins drew a foul, giving a free kick chance from just outside the penalty area.  Chris Lane made a perfect job of it, delivering the ball with pace and precision into the postage-stamp corner, leaving Walker with no chance of saving.

Ten minutes later, Watt squandered another fantastic chance to score when Lane intercepted a misdirected pass, drove forward into the penalty box and rounded Walker.  He didn’t get his shot away quickly enough, however, and the goalkeeper did splendidly to recover sufficiently to get some contact on the ball and slow it down enough for a retreating defender to complete the job.

An injudicious throw-in put the Watt in trouble, the ball running nicely into the path of James Flynn, but Callum Reid was able to watch his shot past his right-hand post.

Singh came close yet again when Michael Ward curled a low centre into the area and the striker, under pressure from a defender, threw himself forward and got a foot to the ball.  Unfortunately for Singh, the shot was within range for Walker, who dived to his left to save.

Going into the last quarter of an hour, United increased the pace in search of a way back into the game.  Craig Spalding fired in a decent effort, but the ball passed just over the bar, then an excellent corner from the left reached Sean Guiney just beyond the far post.  When he met the cross with a firm header, Guiney must have thought he’d scored, but Reid had made ground across his line and got his arms up quickly to make a great save, knocking the ball over the bar.  United hadn’t finished, though, and sustained the pressure for a time until finally Spalding headed over.

There was a fine save at the other end when Watt substitutes Calvin Muttitt and Sean Campbell combined, Muttitt laying the ball back for Campbell to drive in a shot which Walker dived to finger-tip round the post, but in the last minute of play, the Watt did manage to add a third goal.  It arrived after a long passing movement involving numerous players, culminating in Tyler Huxford getting round the Edinburgh defence, working his way along the by-line and cutting the ball back.  The cut-back was some way ahead of Lane, but that only encouraged the midfielder to stretch his legs and arrive at pace to drive the ball firmly past the players guarding the line.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Spence, Barclay, Giovanovits, Quinn, Laurenson, Ward (Muttitt 86), Higgins, Singh (Campbell 75), Lane, Graham (Huxford 55).   Subs. not used:  Hogg, Jamieson, Munro.

Edinburgh United:

Walker, Swinney, Conlon, Redpath, Spalding, Mearns, Hendry (Auriemma 57), Arthur, Flynn (Guiney 71), McKinlay, Hutchison (Murray 80).    Subs. not used:  Newman, Hendrie, Grieve, Robertson.

Referee:  Mr Craig Charleston (Stenhousemuir)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 10

SFA South Region Challenge Cup – First Round

Saturday 15th September 2018

LINLITHGOW ROSE  5   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  1

In the end, this first-ever meeting of the clubs produced as comfortable a victory for the home side as the Rose faithful imagined it would be, but for all that, there were encouraging signs for the Watt.  

It was a strange game in many ways.  All six of the goals were scored in the course of twenty-four minutes during the latter part of the first half and the first three minutes of the second.  During that time, the Rose had the Heriot-Watt defence chasing shadows and picked off goals with ease; but the first twenty-five minutes prior to the first goal had actually been very even and although it might be said that the Rose eased up during the second half and the Watt rode their luck at times, the visitors again put together some impressive passing moves and might themselves have created a goal on more than one occasion with more clinical finishing.

Tommy Coyne, seeking his three-hundredth goal for the Rose, set up strike partner Kevin Watt for an early effort, but when that had slipped past the post, the Watt responded with a good move involving Chris Lane and Neil Laurenson, the latter’s low cross almost giving Michael Ward a shooting opportunity as he came in from the right.   Ryan Higgins was the next to threaten, going through on a pass in the middle of the park, but as goalkeeper Kyle Marley came to meet him, he couldn’t get enough purchase on the ball.  

Aidan Quinn’s long-distance free kick was struck low into the penalty box and the ball eventually made its way back to the taker, but Quinn’s second attempt to set up a chance resulted in an offside flag.

A corner from the Watt right came in short of the near post and there was a scramble before the Rose defence managed to hack the ball away and the Watt threatened again when Laurenson drove through midfield and sent in a shot which was deflected behind.  Quinn got his head to the corner kick, but was unable to direct the ball under the bar.

Gary Thom was providing good support on the Linlithgow right; his cross was well defended, but the visitors didn’t manage to get the ball back into their opponents’ half and Higgins gave away a free kick a few metres outside the penalty area.  The ball was played diagonally to the left, where Coyne controlled it, eluded a challenge and stroked the ball past Callum Reid to give the Rose the lead and bring up his three hundred.

The goal seemed to change the context of the game completely, with the Watt defence suddenly looking vulnerable to every attack.  Goals began to arrive at very regular intervals, with Thom providing the cross for Watt to head the second, the same player heading home after a quickly-taken free kick for the third and Coyle netting his second and Rose’s fourth, moving into the inside-right channel to collect the ball, turn and fire an accurate shot just inside the near post.

Watt staggered off shell-shocked at half-time, but after a good chat and a bit of reorganisation, the players came back out in determined mood.  Arron Singh had been ploughing a lone furrow up front during the first half and he was replaced by new boy Ali Shrive, with Lane pushed up front, but in the first minute of the second half, things got even worse.  A misplaced pass by Quinn allowed Linlithgow to play in Roddy Maclennan to send a deflected shot past Reid for a fifth goal.  We feared the worst, but two minutes later, the sun came out again as Quinn made up for his error with a driving run on the left to set up Shrive, who neatly stepped inside his marker and sent the ball across Marley to the corner of the net for his first goal in Watt colours.

If not playing at maximum intensity, the Rose was still in the market for goals and Watt sent in a drive which Reid did well to block away.  Sean Campbell, fit at last, made his first appearance in a long time, replacing Laurenson in the Watt midfield and immediately got involved, chasing a ball on the left and taking it past a defender, but his shot was scuffed and failed to trouble Marley.  Campbell was then involved in a neat exchange of passes with Higgins which took him into the right side of the box, but this time his cross was picked out by the goalkeeper.  It was Campbell again a few minutes later, sending in a shot from twenty-five metres, but Marley was well positioned and saved comfortably.

Campbell and Higgins combined well on the right again shortly after this, but again the cross failed to find a forward player and the home side swept forward, a dangerous low cross going past off the knee of substitute Martyn Shields.  

Lane was the next to threaten for Watt, collecting on the left and cutting inside.  He couldn’t be blamed for trying a shot, but his effort went wide of the far post and it might have been better had he been able to pick out the run of Campbell closer to goal.  Lane’s free kick shortly after this reached Niko Giovanovits in the penalty box, but the big defender was unable to control the ball and it ran past the post.

Campbell made a splendid tackle in the right-back position to dispossess Kyle Turnbull, but as he delayed in looking for a suitable pass, the Rose left-back recovered to tackle Campbell in his turn and win the ball back.  His cross was headed by Coyle over the hands of Reid, but the Watt goalkeeper was relieved that as he turned, the ball came back off the crossbar and dropped into his arms.  

The second half had almost ebbed away and if the Watt had been unable to make the scoreline any closer, they hadn’t suffered any further reverses, but with a couple of minutes to go, that might have changed as another low cross from the right reached the far-post area.  This time it was Roddy Maclennan who missed the chance, slicing past when it looked as if a goal was inevitable.

The last chance of the game came to the Watt, a good early ball from Shrive finding Lane, who drove into the box but perhaps ran out of steam a little and went down rather too easily under challenge, failing to get the referee’s verdict.

There were times in this game when the occasion got to the Watt players and at times some of them looked overawed, but there was a lot of good play as well, with some crisp passing movements, especially in the first half before the goals began to go in, but also during spells after the scoring had finished.  This Watt side is just beginning to take shape and will need more time to knit together, but there was plenty in this match to encourage the Watt support.

Linlithgow Rose:

Marley, Thom, Turnbull, McKinlay (Shields 45), Ovenstone, Sloan (Smith 59), Batchelor, Ruari Maclennan, Watt (Ronald 70), Coyne, Roddy Maclennan.    Subs. not used:  Urquhart, Carlin.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Spence, Munro, Barclay, Giovanovits, Quinn, Ward (Hogg 63), Higgins, Singh (Shrive 45), Lane, Laurenson (Campbell 59).    Subs. not used:  Muttitt, Graham, Peterson.

Referee:  Mr Gavin Ross (Edinburgh)

Assistant Referees:  Mr David McAlinden, Mr Nelson da Silva

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 9

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 8th September 2018

STIRLING UNIVERSITY II  0   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  1

There was much to be pleased about for Heriot-Watt players and supporters at the end of this game.  We had seen a battling performance, some fine passing moves, a well-executed goal and an exciting tailpiece from a talented new recruit.  All of that put three more points on the board for the Watt, and if it must be admitted that the second place it currently occupies in the Conference C table will be hard to sustain, it is good to see that the side is taking the opportunities the fixture list has presented to get its points total ticking over in the early part of the season.

The early minutes of the game confirmed the view that this would be a tough match, with a good header from Ross Mackay slipping just past the post and Gregor Monro slicing wide from close range following a corner, but after a difficult ten minutes, the Watt started to get a grip on proceedings and forced a succession of corners.  

There was more bad news on the injury front and with just quarter of an hour played, Tyler Huxford, who had sustained a knock early on, had to be replaced with a recurrence of the injury which had forced him off after half an hour the previous Saturday.  Justin Hogg came on as a replacement.  Tyler surely now faces a longer period of recuperation before returning to the side.

Just before the twenty-minute mark, Keir Whitefield sent in a powerful drive from distance which looked likely to find the top corner of the net, but Callum Reid produced an excellent save, getting both hands behind the ball to turn it over the bar.

Home goalkeeper James Donaldson was forced into action soon after this, Arron Singh’s shot from the edge of the area sending him to his left to push the ball away to safety, but the Watt was on top now and Chris Lane’s cross-field ball over the head of Arron Gunn gave Michael Ward the chance to send in a volley which only just cleared the bar.

Jack Spence had sustained an injury towards the end of the first half, but after a brief absence for treatment he bravely continued and finished the match despite considerable discomfort.

As in the first half, so in the second, as Stirling started strongly, almost benefiting from a fluke as a floated cross from the right drifted on and on and caught the junction of post and bar, rebounding into play, but as the half wore on, the Watt gradually became more dominant.  A quickly-taken free kick began a good move on the left, with Singh, Laurenson and Lane involved to set up a shooting chance for Ward, but in cutting the ball to the side of Donaldson, he lost power on the shot and the goalkeeper saved easily.  

A spell of sustained pressure from the visitors, mainly on the right flank, produced an optimistic shout for a penalty for handling, but no clear chance on goal.  Eventually Stirling broke free and Niko Giovanovits did well to dispossess Gunn at the end of a strong run on the left.  Scott Munro combined with Singh to set up a shooting chance for Lane, but the well-positioned Donaldson caught the ball comfortably.  

With around fifteen minutes left to play, Banji Koya decided to give an opportunity to seventeen-year-old Alasdair Shrive, newly arrived at the University, who had impressed in training.  With his first touch, the young man set up Lane for another shot from the left side, but this time the attempt was wide of the near post.

With just over ten minutes left to play, the Watt made the breakthrough.  The ball was played in from the left and reached Lane, who brought it across the line of the penalty box, eluding tackles, and slipped a pass to Ward, unmarked on the right side of the box.  Ward took a touch and rifled a shot of great accuracy across Donaldson and just inside the far post.

Shrive was showing good awareness and decision-making and came close to making it a dream debut when he picked up a ball just outside the penalty area, showed some neat footwork to create space and sent a shot just wide of the post.  

Watt had done enough, however, and a few minutes later it was all over with another three points on to the tally for the season.

Stirling University II:

Donaldson, Monro, Gunn, Landles, Rose, Whitefield, Collins (Hodges 72), Lamond (Corrin 58), Mackay, Shields, Heath (Maclean 79).    Sub. not used:  Baird.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Spence, Munro, Barclay, Giovanovits, Higgins, Ward, Huxford (Hogg 15 [Shrive 77]), Lane, Laurenson, Singh (Muttitt 83).    Subs. not used:  Jamieson, Hannigan, Peterson.

Referee:  Mr Alastair Grieve (Stirling)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 8

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 1st September 2018

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  6   ORMISTON  1

The Heriot-Watt points tally for the season moved on to six with what was eventually a comfortable win over Ormiston, but the outcome was a demonstration of the strength in depth within the Club and of the effectiveness with which the Head Coach has suffused the squad with understanding of the shape of the team and the method with which it plays.

With Aidan Quinn, Gavin Malin, Neil Laurenson, Frewen Hutcheson and Adam Beirne all new absentees and most of the continuing students not back on campus until the week after the match, this was about as tight as it’s likely to get until the Christmas holidays, but we were pleased to welcome back full-backs Jack Spence and Scott Munro, plus winger Matt Graham.  Also included in the starting line-up was Tyler Huxford, just signed on a loan deal from Tynecastle, but unfortunately after showing promise in the first half-hour of the game, an injury ended his involvement.

Haydn Jamieson was the man who stepped into Quinn’s boots for this game and he did well alongside Harry Barclay at the heart of the home defence.  

Watt started on the front foot, forcing an early corner; then Huxford’s perceptive pass found Calvin Muttitt, who cut in from the right and shot across goal and past.  

Edginess in the home defence gave Ormiston a chance after ten minutes and Keith Buckley’s volley slipped just past the post to the left of Callum Reid.  Ano Subasic, Ormi’s most potent attacking threat during the match, then cut in from the left and fired in a powerful right-foot shot which Reid had to block before diving on the ball.  

The play switched to the other end, with Chris Lane chasing a through ball as goalkeeper Euan Robertson advanced, but  although Lane got a touch to it first, the ’keeper did well, blocking the ball away into an area from which it could be cleared.  Soon Ormiston was threatening again and after a good move on the right, Buckley seemed to have a good shooting chance from ten metres, but Barclay’s excellent covering tackle snuffed out the opportunity.

This was a vital challenge, because two minutes later the Watt went ahead.  Muttitt brought the ball inside along the by-line and when he cut it back, Lane struck it firmly towards the corner of the goal from close range.  Robertson got a good hand to the ball, but there was just too much power in the shot for him to prevent it finding the net.

The visitors responded vigorously with a sustained spell of attacking which ended with a shot from thirty metres being deflected to the feet of Buckley, but although the striker turned and fired the ball into goal, he was the only player in the penalty area and was offside by a considerable distance.

Robertson dived to his right to get both hands to Lane’s shot and turn it round the post, then Jamieson’s good tackle on Buckley made the ball available for Muttitt to make good ground and find Lane.  His square pass found Ryan Higgins inside the box, but before he could gather the ball, a smart tackle denied him the time and space.

Muttitt’s overanxiety to make a challenge resulted in a free kick to Ormiston some thirty metres or so from goal on the visitors’ left.  The kick was well struck and was diverted to smack the face of the bar with some force.  The ball rebounded towards James Rogers-Jones, who directed a well-judged header back into the danger zone for Subasic to get his head to the ball and send it curling over the outstretched arms of Reid for an equalising goal.

Graham replaced the injured Huxford shortly after this, but it was Ormiston which had the next close effort, Chris Hogg striking the ball sweetly, but just missing the target with Reid at full stretch unable to get close.

A few minutes before the interval, Watt went ahead for the second time.  A free kick close to the Ormiston area was slightly right of centre.  It looked for all the world as though Lane was going to send the ball over the defensive wall and try to get it to dip into goal, but Graham fooled us all by suddenly stepping forward and with a left-foot strike finding a path round the wall into the bottom corner.

Six minutes into the second half came the defining incident of the match.  A ball played firmly towards the Watt right looked as though it would cross the line, but Lane got his foot round it to keep it in play.  Watt kept the move going down the right and when the ball came across, Lane had by this time moved into the centre and sent a well-judged shot with the inside of the foot into the net close to Robertson’s right-hand post.  As no Assistants had been allocated for the game, this was always going to be a controversial moment and some Ormiston partisans found it hard to accept, especially Marc Reid, whose repeated comments led to his dismissal.

This was all highly regrettable and undoubtedly affected the rest of the game.  Ormiston was now two goals behind and a man short, so the task was substantial.  Four minutes later, however, the visitors could hardly have come closer to closing the gap when the ball was pulled back from the by-line on the right to the unmarked Chris Jack, whose first-time shot had Reid beaten but rebounded from the far post into an area where Subasic was unable to force it home.  

After such a very close call had come to nothing, the Ormiston players may well have felt it wasn’t to be their day and five minutes later that was confirmed when Heriot-Watt scored again, the chance being set up fortuitously when a miscontrol of a through ball by a Watt player sent the ball straight to Arran Singh and he ran on to round Robertson and slide the ball into goal.

As the visitors began to lose heart, it was now a question of ‘how many?’, but Robertson was still determined to protect his charge and saved well when Lane played through Graham to shoot from fifteen metres.  Michael Ward took advantage of a defensive slip to gain possession, but pulled his shot wide from the edge of the penalty area.  Singh, who had been injured as he tried to reach a cross, was replaced by Andy Hannigan, with a general reshuffle of the Watt team taking place.

It was again demonstrated that the visitors’ luck was out when the dangerous Subasic cut in from the right and shot across Reid, only for the goalkeeper to get enough arm on the ball to slow it down and enable him to turn and dive on it before it reached the goal.  

Perhaps the best move of the match came when the immaculate Barclay brought the ball out of defence and sent a superb pass forward to Lane.  Collecting half-way inside the Ormiston half, Lane then sent an even better ball over the heads of the defenders to pick out the run of Higgins, but although the red-headed midfielder got the ball down and slid it past the advancing Robertson, he was unable to find the right angle and the ball slipped past the far post.

Graham became the third Watt player to be replaced after taking a knock, with Cammy Burt replacing him, leading to further reorganisation, but another goal wasn’t far away.  Again Lane was the man, completing his hat-trick with the best of the bunch.  After battling to retain possession and working his way across the pitch, Lane had the awareness to choose the exact moment when a space had opened up for him.  He judged the shot perfectly, not trying to hit the ball too hard, but finding the route across his body to pick out the top corner to Robertson’s right.

There was still time for Barclay to show us one of the forward surges which are becoming a trade mark of his:  killing a high ball expertly, he accelerated into space, tricked an opponent and laid the ball off to Higgins on the edge of the Ormiston area.  Alert defending prevented a shooting opportunity.  Another good move, this time involving Jamieson and Muttitt, enabled Lane to take the ball deep into the penalty area, but when he drew the defenders away and squared the ball across goal from the right, Muttitt tried to take the ball with his right foot and scuffed it past the post.

A minute later, a final goal did arrive and it was the industrious Higgins who grabbed his second of the season, pouncing on a defensive error to knock the ball into the box and slide it past Robertson to the far corner of the net.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Spence, Munro, Barclay, Jamieson, Ward, Muttitt, Higgins, Lane, Huxford (Graham 30 [Burt 75]), Singh (Hannigan 67).   Subs. not used:  Hogg, McMahon.

Ormiston:

Robertson, Rowana, Watson, Rogers-Jones, Walker, Hogg, Jack (Pratt 83), Reid, Afedzie-Hayford (Millar 72), Subasic.    Subs. not used:  Manclark, Ward, Small.

Referee:  Mr Andrew Strang (Stirling)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 7

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 25th August 2018

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  4   INVERKEITHING HILLFIELD SWIFTS  1

With another patched-together squad, Heriot-Watt once again showed amazing cohesion in this game against the League’s mystery side to record its first victory of the season and move up the table.  Inverkeithing was really an unknown quantity, being the only one of the twenty-six new sides in the East of Scotland League not to have come from the Junior ranks.  Heavy defeats by Linlithgow and Bonnyrigg Roses had been interspersed with wins against Stirling University and Hawick Royal Albert, so we weren’t sure what to expect, but despite the loss of an early goal, the Watt was mostly in control in this match, although it was late before the goals arrived to make the points secure.

With six minutes on the clock, Watt played the ball across the back and a heavy touch by Harry Barclay, of all people, allowed Gavin Sullivan to knock the ball beyond him and slip it past Callum Reid into the corner of the net.  Watt recovered quickly from this setback, however, and in the fifteenth minute, following a right-wing corner, the ball was played across the face of the Swifts’ goal for Aidan Quinn to steer it home for an equaliser.

Inverkeithing should have gone ahead again within a minute, a cutback from the line finding Brodie Hamilton in the middle of the goal about eight metres out, but although he struck the ball solidly, he missed the target, the ball going past the post as the goalkeeper Reid dived full-length to his left.

It was a costly miss for the visitors, as the Watt scored again half-way through the first half.  Again it was a right-wing corner which did the damage, Neil Laurenson making good ground to send his header across goal into the corner to the right of Adam Shaw.

The Watt had the upper hand now and almost had another chance to shoot when Chris Lane and Frewen Hutcheson combined on the right, but a defender blocked the ball behind.  

Just before half-time, a free kick from the Swifts’ left was curled in dangerously, but Reid made a safe catch and launched a counter-attack in which Gavin Malin penetrated the penalty area.  After much twisting and turning in search of a shooting opportunity, Malin laid the ball off to Arran Singh on the left.  Singh’s low, hard cross just needed a touch to take it into goal, but there was no Watt player on hand to supply it.

The second half followed the pattern of the latter part of the first, with the Watt looking the more likely side in attack and forming a strong defensive unit when the visitors had the ball.  Just before the hour, Lane brought the ball inside, skipping past a couple of attempted tackles, and played a reverse pass for Singh, who fell under challenge as he tried to shoot but penalty claims got no response from the referee.

Swifts tried something different from a free kick, playing the ball back for Brodie Hamilton to run on to, but his shot from distance cleared the bar by a margin and soon the Watt was back on the attack.  Barclay showed some neat footwork to launch a forward move, finding Malin, who played the ball on for Singh on the left.  As Shaw ran from his goal, Singh just beat him to it and squared the ball across the area, but alert defending prevented Lane reaching the ball and a throw-in was the result.

Haydn Jamieson, up with the Watt attack, combined with Lane and Malin and was tripped just outside the penalty box.  Malin played the free kick low to Lane, whose shot was blocked, as was Quinn’s follow-up effort.

Swifts’ defender Stuart Simpson got up in support shortly after this and after a good move on the right, got away a shot from the edge of the box, but Reid dealt with it comfortably.  

Laurenson’s pass then put Singh in possession in the box, but he couldn’t create space for a shot and played the ball back to Lane, who had been too long waiting for the chance and leaned back on his shot, sending it well over the bar.

The match went into its last ten minutes with still only the one goal separating the teams.  A fine ball by Malin picked out Lane on the right, but he never seemed quite sure what he was going to do and when he sent in a shot with the inside of his right foot, it went tamely past the far post.  A minute later, however, the Watt had the clinching goal at last.  Lane and Laurenson built up the move and when the ball came to Singh just inside the penalty area, he took it on the bounce and hooked a superb shot past Shaw into the net for his first goal for the Club.

Having got this goal, it wasn’t long before the Watt got another.  As the Watt players relaxed and attacked expansively, chances were being created regularly, with Singh and substitute Calvin Muttitt well involved.  Malin shot over after a move involving Muttitt and Lane, but the next attack brought another goal to put the cherry on the top for the Watt.

Barclay began the move, bringing the ball out of defence and seeking Singh on the right.  The ball was a little underplayed, but Singh made the most of it, running back to play a first-time pass over his shoulder into the path of Michael Ward, overlapping on the wing.  Ward sized up the situation in a flash and played a perfectly-weighted first-time lob over the head of Shaw as he advanced.  The ball bounced close to the goal-line and continued into the net to complete the scoring.

This was a good win for the Watt, with the defence continuing to look sound, despite more enforced changes.  With Scott Munro unavailable, Haydn Jamieson and Andy Hannigan made an unlikely-looking full-back pairing, but both played their parts well in a well-organised unit.  Singh is settling in well and scored a fine goal, as well as supplying the pass for Ward to score the last of the four.  All in all, a very satisfactory outcome as at last we get near to the start of the academic year and the concomitant improvement in player availability.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Jamieson (Ward 79), Hannigan, Barclay, Quinn, Higgins, Singh (Hesse 86), Malin, Hutcheson (Muttitt 68), Lane, Laurenson.    Sub. not used:  McMahon.

Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts:

Shaw, Miller, Francis (Bogatu 45), Morris, Simpson, B Hamilton, Griffin (Kumar 67), Russell, Sullivan, R Hamilton (Pierce 76).    Subs. not used:  Boyd, Duffy, Cowie, Mallinson.

Referee:  Mr Alan Hogg (Edinburgh)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 6

Football Nation East of Scotland Qualifying Cup:  First Round

Saturday 18th August 2018

CAMELON JUNIORS  4   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  1

Heriot-Watt Head Coach Banji Koya has every right to be proud of what he and his players are currently achieving.  With an ever-thinner squad, the Watt is taking on bigger and bigger names from the former East Junior firmament and whilst not actually winning games at present, the team is competing well and preventing defeats of substantial proportions.  When we look at some of the other results in the early-season games, this is an achievement in itself.

We don’t want to give a misleading impression, however.  Camelon was never less than comfortable in this game and no doubt had it been imperative to score more goals they could have done so.  Nevertheless, the Watt, playing controlled football whenever they could, deserved to avoid humiliation and when Frewen Hutcheson scored a fine goal to reduce the margin close to the end of the game, we felt it was no more than the lads deserved for the effort they had put into the game and the organisation they had shown.

Camelon is an accomplished side and showed purpose from the early stages of the game.  Indeed, an attack on the right straight from the first whistle gave Erik Peterson in the Watt goal an early save to make.  Camelon showed throughout that they would be quickly on to anything that went loose and the Watt players had to do their best to retain possession and pass accurately under pressure, but there were encouraging signs that the home defence was not impregnable and Haydn Jamieson, making his first start for the Club, headed Chris Lane’s corner just a foot wide of the post in the fourth minute.

Camelon soon began to create opportunities, however, and Ross Cameron forced Peterson to turn his shot round the post.  

With almost quarter of an hour played, the home side went ahead.  Lewis Small gathered possession on the right, cut into the penalty box and fired a low shot past Peterson into the far corner of the goal.

Watt responded well to this setback, Aidan Quinn’s fine pass being laid off by Arran Singh for Lane to try a first-time shot from the right side of the penalty area.  It would be hard to blame Lane for taking the opportunity for an effort on goal, but Dean Shaw was correctly positioned and the ball went straight into his arms.  Two Watt players breaking into the box from the left side might have had better chances had they been spotted and found.

The visitors continued to look for attacking opportunities and good battling by Michael Ward secured the ball on the right.  Getting close to the corner flag, Ward sent in a superb cross which Calvin Muttitt did his best to reach, ending up in the net as he threw himself forward.  The ball continued to the Watt left, where it was played back inside for Singh to try a shot on the turn from fifteen metres, but it was too close to Shaw to prevent the goalkeeper diving to his right to save.

It was a good spell for the Watt and Ryan Higgins won a corner a few minutes later, but Quinn was unable to control his header, which went high into the air, with Shaw catching the ball as it fell.

The Watt had a lucky escape when a misplaced pass let the home side in on the half-hour.  Ryan Lockie crossed from the left and when the ball was headed back across goal, Peterson got a hand to it but only succeeded in putting it on the head of Connor McMullan.  The ball was duly nodded into the net, but McMullan had been offside and the Watt survived on this occasion.

Camelon was tightening the screw again, though, and five minutes later a second goal did arrive.  Again, it was the home team’s greater appetite for securing the ball in midfield which was decisive, but when the ball shot through to Kieran Anderson, somehow he found space in the centre of the Watt defence with only Higgins chasing him.  As Peterson advanced, Anderson poked the ball under him to increase his side’s lead.

The Watt was looking a bit shaky now, but made it through to half-time without further mishap.  The start of the second half was another matter.  Two minutes in, a cross from the Camelon left somehow found its way into the corner of the Watt net.  Small was credited with the goal, so we assume he got some sort of touch.

As the home side kept up the pressure, Peterson saved really well from Anderson.  The left-winger, cutting inside, dummied to shoot and when Peterson went down it looked like a clear opportunity.  Peterson was down but not out, though, and when Anderson did shoot, he got an arm in the way, then pursued the ball and dived on it to make it secure.

Andrew Kay, a dangerous attacking midfielder, headed just past after a corner was quickly taken short and crossed to the far post, but five minutes later, Kay was on target.  He found space in the Watt penalty box and executed an overhead kick on a cross from the right.  Peterson managed to get his left hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it out of goal.  

With close to half an hour to play, the Watt was four down and we worried about how this would end, but with Frewen Hutcheson, Neil Laurenson and Adam Beirne coming into the action, new resolution was found.  A free-kick half-way inside the Camelon half was played into the box by Gavin Malin and when the ball dropped, Beirne struck a shot on the turn which might well have found the net had it not been blocked.  Watt recovered the ball and a better first touch by Singh would have put him through one-on-one with the goalkeeper.  

Singh had found a new lease of life, however, and was combining well with Laurenson and Beirne.  A good exchange of passes with Laurenson enabled Singh to play in Hutcheson to win a corner on the right.  The ball dropped amongst the players again and Singh tried to emulate Kay’s overhead kick, but didn’t catch it properly.  Camelon broke upfield quickly and Peterson saved well from Lockie, stretching out his left foot to divert the ball to safety.

With three minutes left to play, the visiting supporters had a moment of joy when a good pass picked out Hutcheson on the right touchline.  In a move highly reminiscent of the first Camelon goal, Hutcheson sped down the wing, cut into the penalty box and drove a firm, low shot past Shaw into the corner of goal.

We won’t kid ourselves – the Watt was never really in contention to win this game.  But it is only fair to point out the scale of the challenge.  At this time of year the Watt Head Coach has to be an expert juggler with personnel whilst keeping the system stable.  Precisely four of the players who started the last game of last season were in the squad yesterday and in the six games played so far this season, Mr Koya has had to give starts to twenty-two players and use two more as substitutes.  In this game, Jamieson and Singh were the latest to make their first starts in a Watt jersey.  

In circumstances like these, it is taxing to take on sides of the capabilities of Camelon Juniors and the Watt players who played for the jerseys in this game can feel satisfied with their achievements.  The next game, against Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts, will be a different sort of challenge, however.   After the narrow defeat by Craigroyston in midweek, it is essential for the Watt to get their league points total moving next Saturday.  We are still some weeks away from the start of the academic year and the return of our overseas players.

Camelon Juniors:

Shaw, McCroary, Lockie, Morrison, Skinner, Kay, Cameron, Herron, Small (Deans 84), McMullan (Crawford 84), Anderson (Dochery 64).    Subs. not used:  McKenzie, Batchelor.

Heriot-Watt University:

Peterson, Jamieson, Munro, Barclay, Quinn, Higgins, Ward (Laurenson 66), Malin, Singh, Lane (Beirne 71), Muttitt (Hutcheson 49).    Subs. not used:  Donnelly, McMahon.

Referee:  Mr Michael MacDermid (Motherwell)

Assistant Referees:  Mr Jack van der Ster, Mr Rhys Struthers

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 5

League – Conference C

Wednesday 15th August 2018

CRAIGROYSTON  1   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  0

Head Coach Banji Koya introduced Erik Peterson in goal and Matt Graham on the wing as Watt sought to get off to a winning start in this season’s league championship, but a single goal from former Edinburgh City star Robbie Ross was enough to keep the points at St Mark’s Park.

The problem right-back position was filled by Adam Woolven, returning after an injury absence, and he started impressively, making a number of well-timed tackles and perceptive passes in the early stages.  

There wasn’t a great deal of goalmouth action as play was concentrated mainly in midfield, but just before the half-hour, Craigie winger Stuart Donaldson got through on Peterson, but blazed his shot high over the bar.  A minute later, it was Watt’s nearest thing thus far, when Chris Lane’s well-struck shot from the left brought a fine save from Stuart Burnside, who dived to his left and got both hands to the ball to turn it behind.

A free kick to the home side brought the next effort on goal, Mark Hendrie’s kick watched carefully by Peterson, who turned the ball round the post.  

Three minutes from the interval, Lane reprised his earlier shot, this time from a free kick in a similar position, and Burnside made an even better save, diving low to his left to stretch out a hand and divert the ball round the post.  Aidan Quinn timed his run well to meet the corner kick, but his powerful header was a foot too high.

Play had a similar pattern in the second half, with the midfield congested and chances coming mainly from set pieces.  A fine pass by Harry Barclay gave Graham a chance to cut inside and send in a fierce shot, but once more Burnside was alert and got down quickly to his right to protect his goal.  

Watt pressed earnestly, but too often the shots which came in failed to test Burnside and half-way through the second period they were undone when the home side took the lead.  Almost inevitably, the goal came from a set piece, Ross timing his run perfectly to meet a corner from the right close to the near post and bullet a header into the top corner of the goal.

Another precision pass from Barclay gave Lane the chance to cut in from the left, but in bursting between two defenders and carrying the ball to a shooting position, he seemed to have consumed his momentum and once more the shot lacked the force to trouble Burnside.

Arran Singh had replaced Graham just after the hour and Mr Koya tried to give the Watt attack further impetus by bringing on yet another player for his debut, Haydn Jamieson replacing Gavin Malin and allowing Quinn to move forward into midfield, but it was to no avail and Craigroyston hung on quite comfortably to take the points.

 

Craigroyston:

Burnside, Spence, K Ross, Boyd, Charles, Jeffrey, Hendrie (Nicolson 60), Mitchell, Osborne (McFadden 65), R Ross (Greenhill 77), Donaldson.    Subs. not used:  (Siegel, Nisbet)

Heriot-Watt University:

Peterson, Woolven, Munro, Barclay, Quinn, Higgins, Muttitt (Singh 62), Malin (Jamieson 83), Hutcheson, Lane, Graham (Ward 75).    Subs. not used:  Burt, Hannigan, McMahon.

Referee:  Mr Iain Snedden (Edinburgh)

Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 4

Alex Jack Cup, First Round

Saturday 11th August 2018

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  1   JEANFIELD SWIFTS  3

Despite ultimately losing this game, Heriot-Watt showed once again that even with the current incomplete squad it has nothing to fear in playing against the highly-rated former Junior sides which have arrived in the East of Scotland League this season.  The Watt played almost an hour of this cup tie a man short, but never at any time looked out of place against their ex-Superleague opponents and could easily have won the game had a couple of incidents in the second half turned out otherwise.

It is difficult to know how to feel about this match.  Had the Watt won through to the Second Round of the Alex Jack Cup, it would have found itself, on the week before most of the returning students arrive, hosting a tie against one of the top Junior sides, Broxburn Athletic, which has started the season in fine form.  On the other hand, all Watt supporters who witnessed this game would have come away frustrated to lose a game that was tantalisingly within the grasp of the team.

Not that it had started well.  The kick-off had been delayed by around three-quarters of an hour due to an accident on the M90 which imprisoned the Jeanfield team coach for more than an hour.  When the game did get under way, Watt started slowly and with only eight minutes played, a period of pressure by the visitors produced a cross from the left.  There were enough defenders around to deal with it, but the only player to attack the ball was Swifts’ forward Connor McLaren, who threw himself forward to apply a firm header from the edge of the six-yard box, sending the ball low past Callum Reid to open the scoring.

The Watt players were not disheartened by this setback and soon moved on to the attack.  Cameron Atwell got his head to a corner from the left, but couldn’t generate enough power to trouble Jeanfield goalkeeper Mark Mitchell.

An equaliser did arrive, however, in the twentieth minute.  It was a scrambled affair, created by Ryan Higgins’ good header back across goal from another left-wing corner.  Mitchell blocked the ball out, but eventually Calvin Muttitt managed to hook it towards goal with just enough impetus to carry it over the line.

Another Jeanfield attack just after the half-hour was halted around the edge of the ‘D’, with a free kick awarded to the attacking side, but of more serious concern to the Watt was an injury during the melee to key midfielder Chris Lane.  After treatment, Lane continued until half-time, but did not reappear on the restart, Michael Ward taking over.

Eight minutes from half-time came a moment of significance in the match.  A long ball out of defence found two Watt defenders marking striker Robbie Holden around half-way.  As Holden ran towards the ball, Atwell was unwise enough to put his hand on the upper arm of the striker.  Holden was slightly impeded and, perhaps reflecting on what a long way he still had to go to have a chance to score, turned completely round and fell to the ground, ensuring that Atwell would be sent off for “denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity” five metres or so inside his own half.

Ten-man Watt reached half-time without further mishap, the first half ending on a good piece of defending to deny Holden a clear shot from close to goal after a good intrusion on the right by Chris Scott took him to the by-line for a cutback.

The defence adjusted to cope with the loss of Atwell, Watt began the second half positively and had a great chance to go ahead five minutes in, when a superb pass by Neil Laurenson sent Frewen Hutcheson away on the left.  Goalkeeper Mitchell decided to run from his goal to try to kick clear, but Hutcheson was able to knock the ball past him down the wing and it looked as if he was going to get the chance to send an angled shot towards the vacant goal, but the big man couldn’t quite reach the ball before a retreating defender sent it behind for a corner.

When the corner came in and was headed out to the edge of the area, Gavin Malin caught the ball on the volley with tremendous force, felling his team-mate Aidan Quinn around the penalty spot.  Seeing Quinn prostrate and motionless, the referee brought play to a stop, much to the displeasure of the visitors, who were trying to mount a counter-attack.

McLaren threatened for the visitors a few minutes later, cutting inside and releasing a right-foot drive from twenty metres, but the ball carried over the bar.  This was the start of a period of ascendancy for the Swifts, with McLaren putting his next effort wide after taking on Quinn.

Just after this, an excellent pass by the Watt captain picked out Scott Munro on the left touchline and he played a wall pass and ran on to gain a corner.  Ward played the ball in and there were handling claims as the ball struck an arm, but the distance involved was much too little and the referee rightly played on.

Hutcheson was seeing more of the ball this half and was showing some neat footwork as he skipped past challenges coming inside off the left.  One such move enabled him to find Ward, but in taking on the last defender he was tackled and dispossessed.

With twenty minutes left to play, the dangerous McLaren went on another run, cutting inside and eluding a number of attempted challenges before Laurenson slid in as he approached the penalty area.  Laurenson appeared to win the ball, but the referee had shown throughout the game that whether or not the ball was played, he would not accept challenges which involved such physical contact as this tackle did, so it was no surprise to hear the whistle blown.

The position was a very dangerous one, on the edge of the ‘D’ in the centre of the pitch.  Chris Dodd made the best of the opportunity with an immaculate free kick which found the top corner of the goal to the right of Reid, with the goalkeeper, at full stretch, still some distance away from the ball.

Four minutes later came the most controversial minute of the game and one which firmly settled its outcome.  It began with Hutcheson pressurising Chris Anton into conceding a corner on the Watt left.  Before the kick was taken, the referee warned Ryan Higgins and his marker not to interfere with each other;  so when, in moving towards where he anticipated the ball would land, Higgins was pulled to his knees in full view of everyone, we knew that the next thing we’d hear was the whistle for a penalty kick.  

Except that it wasn’t.  To the astonishment of everyone watching, the game was not halted.  To add to the Watt’s sense of injustice, Jeanfield broke upfield and as defenders tried desperately to cover the loose players, McLaren got a glimpse of goal from twenty metres and fairly slammed the ball right down the middle over the head of Reid into the top of the net.

Some cynics suggested that having already been delayed by the enforced late arrival of the Perth coach, the referee did not want to risk extra time by giving the Watt the opportunity to equalise, but there are no grounds for such a suggestion.  It must simply have been the case that the referee’s position did not afford him as clear a view of the incident as was had by most people in the ground.  He was standing close to the by-line, on the opposite side of the players involved to almost everyone else, so although everyone on the ‘open’ side saw the two hands come round Higgins and pull him down, the referee would not have had that perspective and it may have looked as if Higgins had simply stumbled.

Whatever the reason, that minute certainly determined the outcome of the game.  There was no way back for the Watt now.  Hutcheson was still doing his best and another run off the wing enabled him to slip a pass through to Muttitt, but a first-time shot was required and when Muttitt took a touch, the best he could do was to win a corner.  

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Atwell, Munro, Barclay, Quinn, Malin, Muttitt, Lane (Ward 45), Hutcheson (Dowds 83), Higgins, Laurenson (Hannigan 73).    Subs. not used:  Woolven, McMahon.

Jeanfield Swifts:

Mitchell, Reid, Whitehead, Mackie, Simpson, Fergus, Anton, Mollison (Dodd 62), Scott (Davies 62),  Holden (Donavan 77), McLaren.   Subs. not used: Mackenzie, Dewar, Wilson, Gunnion.

Referee:  Mr Alex Shepherd (Edinburgh)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 3

Qualifying League Section D

Saturday 4th August 2018

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  2   COLDSTREAM  2

The Watt and the Streamers played out their fourth consecutive 2 – 2 draw, but this time it was the Borders side which grabbed the last-gasp equaliser.  Watt can’t really complain – they’d done the same thing in the previous three.

The home side had the better of the play in a rather uneventful first half, but seldom troubled Mark Walters in the Coldstream goal.  Neil Laurenson made good ground across the box to meet a cross from the right after five minutes, but when Walters knocked the ball into the air and caught it as it fell, we’d seen the closest thing to a goal before half-time.

Other attacking efforts lacked penetration.  A cross from Justin Hogg fell between Laurenson and Gavin Malin; Calvin Muttitt’s run and pass sent Chris Lane away on the left, but his cross had the same result.

For Coldstream, a free kick on the left gave an opportunity, but when Aiden Quinn headed out, Tommy Malcolm drove the ball high over the bar.

Hogg had the next chance for the Watt, but after combining with Lane to bring the ball in from the right, he had to dig out his shot from behind his body and sent it much too high.  Malin’s shot from a ball that broke to him in a central area had the same result.

Five minutes from half-time, the collapse of the latest forward move by the home side gave Coldstream a chance to break, but Harry Barclay’s superbly-timed tackle on Kris Dixon secured the ball.  The referee’s whistle put an end to a half in which Watt’s decision-making in the final third had not been good enough to create genuine chances.

Coldstream resumed with Elliot Turnbull in goal and Kieran Lee replacing Jason McIntosh in midfield, but still it was the Watt which had most of the forward momentum.  Laurenson brought the ball inside and found Chris Macher square of him on the edge of the area.  Macher’s shot was charged down and Lane sent his header from the dropping ball just wide.

Turnbull blocked a shot by Malin low by his left-hand post before Lane tried a shot through a space which wasn’t really there.  Something had to change and Watt’s Head Coach, Banji Koya, turned to Frewen Hutcheson, replacing the tiring Hogg, but two minutes later, he had the change he didn’t want, as the visitors grabbed the opening goal.  Bailey Paterson cut inside between two Watt players and was tripped by Laurenson, resulting in the award of a free kick.  When Dixon sent the ball beyond the far post, Kieran Bullen rose to direct a great header over the arms of Callum Reid to the far corner of the goal.

It took the Watt some time to recover from this blow and Reid had to save from Shane Bonnington to prevent his side falling further behind.  Eventually Laurenson made another run into the Coldstream box, but his cross-shot was not within reach of any team-mate and went well wide of the far post.

With fifteen minutes left to play, the Watt got back on level terms.  Muttitt made a good run from the right into space in the middle of the Streamers’ defence and was well found by Malin’s pass.  The shot was blocked by the advancing Turnbull, but fortunately for Muttitt and his side, the rebound fell into a position from which he could knock the ball into the vacant goal.

The strong running of Hutcheson was posing a different sort of problem for the visitors’ defence.  With the big striker always looking to run beyond the defensive line, Coldstream tried to catch him offside, but Hutcheson’s timing was pretty good and he seldom went past the last man before the ball was played.  Good battling by him on the left enabled him to play the ball across the line of the penalty box to set up a chance for Adam Beirne, who nipped in quickly ahead of his marker and got away a snap shot on his left foot, just missing the target to the left of Turnbull.

The next attack was successful, however, Hutcheson timing his run perfectly to beat the offside trap and run clear of the defence to slide the ball past the advancing Turnbull and give the Watt the lead for the first time.  There were the inevitable complaints which referees always suffer when they are not supported by assistants, but the ref seemed to have got this one right.

Two minutes later, Hutcheson was at it again, with another barnstorming run off the left wing, but there were no takers from his tempting low centre.  

If the Watt players felt they had done enough by eventually getting ahead, there was a sting in the tail awaiting them.  After falling behind, Coldstream poured men forward and in the last minute of the game gained a corner on the left.  The cross came over the group at the near post and was allowed to fall in the centre of goal, where Bullen dived forward to bullet in a header from just off the deck.  The ball shot past the startled Reid to give the visitors a share of the points.  

The home players were frustrated by the loss of a late goal, but having done the same to Coldstream at each of the last three meetings between the sides, they had no valid complaint.  The Watt simply hadn’t done enough to justify taking all three points.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Muttitt, Munro, Barclay, Quinn, Higgins (Ward 78), Hogg (Hutcheson 58), Malin, Lane, Macher (Beirne 67), Laurenson.    Subs. not used:  Dowds, McMahon.

Coldstream:

Walters (Turnbull 45), Gay, Logan, Bullen, Fairbairn (Trafford 58), Malcolm, Dixon, Paterson, Bonnington, McIntosh (Lee 45), Hutchison.   Sub. not used: Glen.

Referee:  Mr Craig Charleston (Stenhousemuir)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 2

Qualifying League Section D

Tuesday 31st July 2018

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  2   HADDINGTON ATHLETIC  4

Another game, another source of frustration for the Watt players, who contributed greatly to this game after a disastrous start and came close to snatching a point before a contentious last-minute goal took it out of their reach.

The Watt line-up for the start of this game caused a few eyes to widen.  Michael Ward at right back, Harry Barclay in central defence and Chris Lane as a striker had an unfamiliar look about it.  Alex McMahon came in to replace the injured Callum Reid – but found himself picking the ball out of his net twice in the first two minutes as the Watt got off to the worst possible start.

Haddington started with a surge on the left from Andy Jones, a strong, pacy winger.  Jones sent in a powerful shot form wide on the left, but the angle was tight and McMahon was able to clutch the ball at his near post.  In moving forward to distribute it, however, he somehow lost control of it and it landed at the feet of striker Scott Moffat, who promptly despatched it into goal.  More defensive frailty allowed Andrew Sinclair to make it two a minute later and the the home side already had a mountain to climb.  

The Watt steadied the ship after these early reverses and began to knock the ball about with more confidence, but it took some wayward finishing by the visitors to avoid further goals before half-time.  

As Haddington continued to look dangerous, Jones played the ball over the head of McMahon from the left side, but Harry Barclay did great work to prevent Moffat from controlling the ball close to goal.  Another good run by Jones ended in a low centre which McMahon dived to turn behind.

Watt was slowly establishing a presence in attack, with Lane combining to good effect with Justin Hogg and Gavin Malin, but after Malin sent a long-distance free kick well over the bar, it was Athletic who had a golden chance to score again.  A run to the by-line by Declan Quinn ended in a cutback which reached Moffat around the edge of the six-yard box, but with the goal at his mercy, the striker leaned back and sent the ball over the bar.

Shortly after this, as the visitors continued to press forward, a cutback by Jones from the other side was driven too high by Shaun Hill from the edge of the penalty area, but the last chance of the half fell to the home side.  Chris Macher drove forward on to a loose ball and sent in a shot from around twenty-five metres, but dragged the ball wide of Sinclair Inglis’ right-hand post.

Five minutes into the second period, Ryan Higgins headed clear from a corner, but the ball was picked up on the edge of the area by Quinn, who sent in a fierce shot which McMahon saved well, turning the ball over the bar.  

The Watt, having stabilised in midfield, was showing greater attacking intent since the interval and Malin’s twenty-metre grounder was turned round the post by the diving Inglis.  Calvin Muttitt moved towards Barclay’s near-post corner, but a nudge from behind took him past the ball, which continued across goal, bouncing up nicely at the far post for the head of Lane, but to the anguish of the Watt support, he sent the ball past.

This miss was made the more frustrating soon after when Athletic went three ahead, Jones driving in from the left and releasing a shot that McMahon could only parry across goal to where Quinn was waiting to poke the ball home.

Sinclair had the chance to clinch the points when a good crossfield ball reached him on the left side.  After his initial shot was blocked, the ball came back to Sinclair in a central position, but he probably struck it too hard and it rose just over the crossbar.

Adam Beirne came into the action for the last half-hour and was soon involved, exchanging passes with Michael Ward and trying a curling shot from thirty metres, but giving it a little too much air.  Hogg then drove into the box between two defenders, but was buffeted and lost control of the ball.  

The Watt was building momentum and it took a cynical foul by Athletic captain George Cunningham, for which he received the game’s first caution, to prevent Lane breaking through in a central area.  The free kick produced a goal, however, as it found Aidan Quinn on the left side of the penalty area and he sent a good header across goal for the head of Higgins to divert the ball into the corner of the net to the left of Inglis.

There were twenty minutes left to play and the Watt began to press forward against a Haddington side which suddenly began to look a little weary.  A fine passing movement involving most of the home outfield players ended with a shot by Neil Laurenson which Inglis saved low to his right.  Ward then broke through and sent in a strong shot which Inglis blocked away for a corner kick.  Barclay again sent in a good ball from the corner and Laurenson’s header from fifteen metres slipped just past.

Sinclair tested McMahon again with a powerful drive which the Watt ’keeper dived to his left to save, but soon the Watt was surging forward again.  A strong run out of defence by Quinn started a move on the left and when the ball came inside to Lane, he sent a superb shot from twenty-two metres ripping past Inglis into the top corner of the net to reduce the deficit to one.

Ronan Dowds came on to provide further firepower as the Watt went all-out for an equaliser, but the minutes ebbed away quickly.  Barclay showed great persistence to drag the ball through a challenge and surged forward to set up another attack, but Lane’s shot lacked the pace to beat Inglis, who dived to save.  Eventually, in the last minute of stoppage time, came an ending which the Watt’s sterling efforts did not deserve, as Haddington scored a hotly-disputed clincher through substitute Declan Heron.  Again, the attack was on the left, but when the ball came across goal for Heron to slide forward and divert it past McMahon, there were appeals both for offside and for going in on the goalkeeper with the sole of the boot.  The referee judged the effort to be legitimate, however, and seconds later the game was over.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

McMahon, Ward (Dowds 82), Munro, Barclay, Quinn, Macher (Beirne 63), Muttitt (Laurenson 55), Higgins, Lane, Malin, Hogg.    Subs. not used:  Hannigan, Peterson.

Haddington Athletic:

Inglis, King, Tufail, Hamill, Hainey, Cunningham (McNeill 71), Quinn (Heron 76), Hill, Moffat (Devlin 69), Sinclair, Jones.    Subs. not used:  Miller, Simpson, Brown, Cockburn.

Referee:  Mr Brent Falconer (Edinburgh)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 1

Qualifying League Section D

Saturday 28th July 2018

DALKEITH THISTLE  1   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  0

Watt started the season with a frustrating defeat.  At the start of this match, there may have been some apprehension based on the knowledge that many of those who finished the previous season were not available for Banji Koya’s selection, but it soon became clear that the Head Coach has worked very effectively with what he has at his disposal.  

Such was the standard of organisation and hard work within the visitors’ ranks during this game that in the entire ninety minutes, Watt goalkeeper Callum Reid did not have a shot to save, with the only goal of the game coming from an accident which left him helpless.

The first half was rather uneventful, which suited the Watt well enough.  Most of the play was in midfield, with the well-rehearsed visitors keeping a compact, secure shape when out of possession, but Justin Hogg was in fine form on the Watt right and gave the Thistle defence some anxious moments.  The closest thing to come from Hogg’s influence came around the half-hour mark, when Cammy Atwell got up in support and played a good return pass into the area for Hogg to collect.  If his square pass had reached Ronan Dowds, he would surely have scored, but the ball took a deflection off a defender’s foot and enabled Connar Easton to drop on top of it.

Having established a firm bridgehead in the game in the first half, Watt became more adventurous after half-time and the game began to loosen up.  Chances were still in short supply, but the introduction of Frewen Hutcheson and Chris Lane posed fresh problems for the home defence.  Gavin Malin’s through ball sent Lane away on the left and only alert defending prevented Hogg from connecting with the low cross.  Neil Laurenson collected the clearance, but his shot from twenty-five metres was charged down.  

Another forward thrust sent Hogg into the area to link with Lane, but when the Watt man went down under challenge, the referee turned away from the incident.

As the Watt continued to look dangerous, a fine move on the right produced the best chance of all.  Ryan Higgins sent Hutcheson down the line to send in a penetrating cross.  It was headed on in the middle of the box and reached Laurenson beyond the far post.  He chested the ball down, but it was perhaps too straight on for him to strike it cleanly and he pulled his shot across goal and past.

After all these promising moves, disaster struck the visiting side with a nightmare minute for captain Aidan Quinn.  A yard from the touchline on the Dalkeith left, an innocuous challenge brought Quinn a caution for “stopping a promising move” and when the free kick was played in dangerously towards the Watt goal, the big defender got his head to the ball, only to see it find the top corner of the goal.  Had it been at the other end, it would have been considered a perfect finish.

The Watt players did everything they could to get back into the game, pressing forward at every opportunity.  Calvin Muttitt joined the effort, replacing Scott Munro, and a number of corner kicks were won and played into a good area by Harry Barclay, but the finishing touch eluded the visitors and Dalkeith held on to the winning advantage.

Despite the disappointment of losing a game from which the Watt felt they deserved at least a share of the points, this was a day which gave hope and encouragement.  The team shape was excellent and the defence provided a solid platform from which to seek success further forward.  The untried defensive pairing of Quinn and Barclay worked well, with Atwell and Munro providing good support.  Further forward, the midfield gelled well, with Malin’s subtle promptings aided by the willing running of Higgins and Michael Ward.  Hogg and Laurenson did their best to provide the ammunition for Ronan Dowds, who had a hard task against the experienced Darren Smith and Craig Meikle, but never stopped looking for an avenue to goal.

 

Dalkeith Thistle:

Easton, McQueenie, Fairnie, Smith, Meikle, McBeth (Whyte 76), Muir, Connell, Apicella, Wales, Murray (Wojtowycz 75).    Subs. not used:  Carbery, McQueen, Hunter, Wylie.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Atwell, Munro (Muttitt 78), Barclay, Quinn, Higgins, Hogg, Malin, Dowds (Lane 60), Ward (Hutcheson 66), Laurenson.    Subs. not used:  Macher, Hannigan, Beirne.

Referee:  Mr Jonathan Gall (Duns)

Assistant Referees:  Mr Kian Gallacher, Ms Niamh Westwood