Match Reports: Season 2018- 2019

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), 

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