Match Reports: Season 2018- 2019

Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 32

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  3   CAMELON JUNIORS  3

This was a fine closing match to the season on a seriously-warm day at the John Brydson Arena, as Watt came back from two down after five minutes to wrest a point from illustrious visitors in the form of Camelon Juniors.

Camelon is a side of considerable attacking strength and in the early stages they moved the ball sharply and took advantage of a shaky-looking Watt defence.  Alan Docherty opened the scoring after four minutes, slamming home a rebound after Callum Reid had saved the first shot, and a minute later, Connor McMullan doubled the pain, cutting into the box from the right and firing the ball through the legs of Reid.

To the Watt’s credit, the players managed to settle after these early reverses and Ryan Higgins, pushing forward on the right, had an attempt on goal, though the ball went well wide.

Shortly after this, Harry Barclay’s excellent diagonal ball picked out Higgins, again finding space on the right side, and he forced a corner kick, from which Aidan Quinn got in a header, but couldn’t find the target.

Camelon continued to look dangerous and Reid saved with his feet from Docherty, but the Watt responded with a passage of play on the left in which possession was confidently maintained until Higgins was tripped.  The referee sensibly called a halt to enable the players to take on water.  

A good move on the Camelon right ended with a cross which was carefully watched by Kieran Anderson, whose half-volley was well saved by Reid, who was in action again a minute later, springing to his right to turn the ball round the post after Docherty’s cutback found McMullan in space.  Anderson was the next to test Reid, but his shot, though powerful, was too straight and the goalkeeper made the catch.

A long sequence of passes ended with another shooting chance for Anderson, but this time Reid was not called into action as the ball went wide of the post.

After this period in which Heriot-Watt was pushed back into defence, they responded in the best possible way.  Todd Teviotdale won the ball on the right and switched the play with a pass to Scott Munro, who advanced on the left and played the ball on to Neil Laurenson.  Laurenson’s pass found Dan Potter, who sent in a beautifully-controlled cross with the outside of his right foot, finding Higgins, who scored what was perhaps his first headed goal for the Watt.

Higgins remained a potent force in the game and three minutes later he had the chance to equalise when he picked up possession on the right.  He passed inside to Potter, who returned the ball to him, but as Michael Watson advanced from his line, Higgins sent his shot across goal and past the far post.  By the way he held his head in his hands, Higgins considered the chance to have been one he should have taken.

Lewis Duffy made his entrance at half-time, giving the Watt a greater physical presence on the right side of midfield, but it was Camelon who threatened to extend its lead, Docherty doing good work on the left and finding McMullan, whose shot from a tight angle fizzed across goal and out.

Higgins showed great acceleration shortly after this, tearing through the midfield as Watt broke forward quickly.  Andrew Kay decided he’d gone far enough and clipped his heels, taking the booking, much to the chagrin of the Watt midfielder.  

Two minutes after this, and just five into the second half, Watt found the equaliser.  Teviodale’s storming run took him deep into Camelon territory.  Laurenson was free on the left, but Teviotdale used him as a decoy and slid a pass through to Higgins on the edge of the area.  Higgins’ attempt to link with Potter didn’t reach the striker, but the visitors’ defence deflected the ball into his path.  Potter took one touch, then struck a left-foot shot which took a slight deflection off a defender and eluded the right hand of Watson to nestle in the corner of the net.

Anderson was prominent in Camelon’s response, trying a floated shot from the left, but sending the ball just over the bar, then cutting in from the left to send in a shot which Reid was well positioned to gather.  At the other end, Ali Shrive had an opportunity for a strike from twenty metres and grazed the crossbar with his effort.

After another water break, during which Arron Singh replaced Laurenson for the Watt and Alan Sneddon replaced Docherty for Camelon, Potter pulled up with what looked like a hamstring injury, Ronan Dowds coming on in his stead.  Singh made an excellent tackle to lead a Watt raid, his pass finding Shrive, whose shot from twenty metres was gathered by Watson, going to his right.

Teviodale reacted quickly to block Anderson’s half-volley after a cross had gone over his head as the game remained in the balance.  With the heat taking its toll on the players, space was becoming available for both sides on the big Brydson Arena surface.  

A good crossfield ball by Munro to Teviotdale produced a cross which was just right for Dowds, but Greg Skinner did enough to put the striker off and his shot went wide.  Two minutes later, the home support was plunged into despair as the visitors went ahead again.  Substitute striker Sneddon gathered the ball on the edge of the box in a central area.  Quinn was blocking his way, but the red-haired attacker twisted and turned until he was able to send the ball through the legs of the big defender.  Teviotdale was covering behind, but the ball came off his foot and deflected over the foot of Reid to reach the net.

This was disappointing for the Watt, but they didn’t give up hope and six minutes later the scores were level again.  The inspirational Barclay brought the ball out of defence and sent an inch-perfect pass forward to Dowds, who had pulled off his marker just far enough for an accurate ball to find him.  Dowds needed no instruction on what to do next, taking the ball on the half-volley and lashing it high into the net beyond the grasp of Watson to send the Watt support into raptures.  

Anderson hadn’t given up the battle and in the last minute of stoppage time he cut in menacingly from the left, gaining a free kick in a dangerous position.  He took the kick himself, but whatever he was trying to do, he got it all wrong, sending the ball close to the corner flag.  The referee then sounded the final whistle to bring an end to an entertaining match.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Teviotdale, Munro, Barclay, Quinn, Shrive, Hogg (Duffy 45), Huxford, Potter (Dowds 66), Higgins, Laurenson (Singh 62).   Subs. not used:  Hannigan, McMahon.

Camelon Juniors:

Watson, Deans, McCroary, Donald Morrison, Skinner, Kay, McMullan (Cameron 66), Herron, Docherty (Sneddon 62), Anderson, McKenzie (Kane 73).    Subs. not used:  David Morrison, Batchelor, Frame.

Referee:  Mr Scott Love (Coatbridge)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 31

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

EDINBURGH UNITED  3   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  0

The Watt can be proud of remaining in with a chance of qualifying for next season’s top division right to the end of the current programme, but the chances of that happening ended (all but arithmetically) in this last away game of the campaign as Edinburgh United gained revenge for the Watt’s victory by the same score at Riccarton in late September.

The score looks decisive, but surely even the home side would admit it bears little relationship to the balance of play.  Despite being unable to get the ball in the net, the visitors were generally on top during a goal-less first half, before conceding two goals early in the second through defensive errors and another at the last gasp.

With Ryan Higgins driving on the front line from behind, the Watt created a number of good situations before half-time.  The best of the early chances followed an exchange of passes between Higgins and Arron Singh on the right side.  Higgins played in a low cross which was missed by a defender at the near post, but the attempted intrusion seemed to disturb the judgment of Calvin Muttitt, coming in at the far side, and from close range he lunged forward and sent the ball over the bar.

Watt gained numerous corner kicks and from one of these, the ball came back to Tyler Huxford, just inside the penalty box in a central position.  Huxford made good contact, but his shot crept past the left-hand post.  Aidan Quinn was the next to threaten from a corner kick, but had to take a pace back to get his header in, thus reducing its power and making it easier for the goalkeeper.

Both sides suffered injuries causing players to leave the contest during the first half.  United’s Daniel McKinlay was the first, replaced by Andrew Swinney around the half-hour mark.  Shortly after that, Watt’s Jack Spence, playing in central defence in place of the injured Harry Barclay, damaged his elbow in a fall and gave way to Andy Hannigan.

The second half began in similar style to the first period.  The Watt worked the ball up the right wing with precise passing and although Muttitt’s cross was cut out, the pressure was maintained with a free kick for a foul on Muttitt.  

United’s response, however, changed the course of the game.  From a corner on the right, the ball fell amongst the players and there was a scramble in the goalmouth which resulted in a shot by Craig Spalding striking Callum Reid’s right-hand post.  Sonny Swanson, playing as a triallist for Edinburgh, collected the rebound and was heading away from goal along the by-line when a rash challenge from behind brought him down, resulting in the award of a penalty kick.  From the spot, Gabriele Auriemma fired the ball firmly into the corner of the net to open the scoring.

As if this weren’t bad enough, just a minute later a misplaced pass gave possession to Corey Robertson; he cut inside and from twenty metres struck a right-foot shot with plenty of power into the top corner of goal to put his side two in front.

Mark Larmour and Craig Smith were introduced as the Watt sought a way back into the game, but the half-chances which were created couldn’t be converted into goals.  Huxford’s shot was charged down; then Ali Shrive’s near-post free kick gave a heading chance to Lumbert Kataleza, but as he tried to keep the ball down to prevent it going over the bar, it came off his shoulder.  This took the pace out of it, allowing Shea Dowie to make the catch.  

A big scramble in the United goalmouth with around quarter of an hour to play had the visiting support hoping for a lifeline, but in the end it didn’t result in a clear chance for any Watt player.

Kataleza executed a superb turn on half-way to lose two home defenders, but his pass to Larmour was slightly on the firm side and forced Larmour a little wider than he would have wished.  By the time he was in position to shoot, Dowie was covering the angles and blocked the ball. 

As Watt continued to seek a way back into the game, Aidan Quinn’s free kick was held by Dowie at his near post.  Then, in the final minute, the home side added a third goal.  Cameron Watson made a good run through midfield and laid the ball out to the right, continuing his run into the box.  Huxford spotted the danger and when the ball came across, he ran to intercept, but the ball got trapped between his feet and fell kindly for Watson, who poked the ball past Reid to dribble over the line.  It was a tailpiece which provided a fitting comment on the way the game had gone for the Watt. 

Edinburgh United:

Dowie, Spalding, Guiney, Conlon, McKinlay (Swinney 30), Robertson, Swanson, Murray (Morrison 72), Maughan, Watson, Auriemma.    Subs. not used:  Young, Ritchie, Brockie, Hutchison.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Hogg, Munro, Spence (Hannigan 39), Quinn, Shrive, Higgins (Smith 67), Singh (Larmour 61), Kateleza, Muttitt, Huxford.   Subs. not used:  Gamble, Barclay, Peterson.

Referee:  Mr Andrew Strang (Stirling)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 30

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

INVERKEITHING HILLFIELD SWIFTS  2   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  4

Now this was a strange game.  It was probably influenced by the presence of a sizeable contingent of Groundhoppers, as this match was one of the six encompassed by the tour of Groundhop UK to the East of Scotland League this season, but there were so many unpredictable events during the game that it will provide talking points for a long time to come.

Inverkeithing, anxious no doubt to make a good impression in front of the big crowd, stormed on to the attack in the early stages and had the first shot of the game but Brodie Hamilton’s effort from distance went well wide.  A misplaced pass gave the home side another chance, but Callum Reid came from his goal and drove the ball firmly against the head of the Swifts player leading the charge.  

Watt waited patiently for their opportunities and gradually the early rush from the home side began to wear off.  Lumbert Kateleza, always a source of inventiveness and craft, hooked the ball on for Calvin Muttitt, who took the ball down nicely and sent over a tempting cross, but the home defence got it away.

After about fifteen minutes’ play, Kateleza worked his way in from the left and won a corner.  The ball came in and was played on through a static Inverkeithing defence.  Todd Teviotdale ran in and fired it into the net from close range, only to be flagged for offside by the Assistant.  There certainly had been a Watt man in an offside position, but it wasn’t Teviotdale, who had run past a defender to make contact.

As the Watt continued to look dangerous, Kateleza’s shot from twenty-five metres was blocked out to Neil Laurenson, whose shot went wide of Ross Wortley’s right-hand post.  Then a good cross into the box found Ryan Higgins leaping to an improbable height but having the ball taken off his head by Wortley.

Aidan Quinn’s fine pass set Muttitt away on the right.  He headed it inside and ran on to the return pass, but when he took the ball into the box, drew the goalkeeper and looked for a cutback, he had to play the ball almost to the edge of the area, where there were defenders to contest possession.

With almost half an hour played, Wortley caught the ball, threw it down in front of him and moved out of his box, looking upfield for his best kicking option, but he was unaware of Kateleza, who had taken a route which kept him out of the goalie’s eye-line until he was close enough to accelerate.  Too late, Wortley saw the danger, but he was unable to prevent Kateleza’s well-judged tackle taking the ball away and the striker then ran on to slip the ball into the unguarded net to give the visitors the lead.

Ryan Cowie took advantage of rare indecisiveness by Harry Barclay to gain a shooting opportunity, but sliced his effort well off target.  Soon after, Watt went two ahead.  A corner from the left was swung in by Tyler Huxford and when it was cleared as far as the edge of the area, Laurenson sent a superb overhead kick inside the post to Wortley’s right.  The goalkeeper and his fellow defenders protested loud and long that there were two Watt players in offside positions, as indeed there were, but they stood like statues and under the rules to which our game is currently played, they were therefore deemed to be inactive and not interfering with play.

Swifts had a chance to get a goal back when Hamilton had a shooting opportunity, but he fired the ball straight at Reid, who saved easily, and soon the Watt was back on the attack, Muttitt breaking through to strike a shot which Wortley saved well and Laurenson putting the rebound just past.

Five minutes into the second half, the Watt really should have had another goal.  A shot from Muttitt struck the post to the goalkeeper’s right; Laurenson advanced on the rebound and caught it too firmly.  The ball went like a rocket off the crossbar and away to safety.  Two minutes later, Huxford made a superb run off the right and penetrated deep into the penalty area before laying the ball off to the left, but Laurenson’s shot was deflected for a corner.  Higgins then sent in a fine shot from twenty metres, but Wortley, diving to his left, got a hand to the ball to deflect it up and over the bar.

Eventually, Watt got the goal they had long been threatening.  Muttitt challenged a defender for a ball through the middle and when the break of the ball gave him a chance, he fired in a shot.  Wortley blocked the effort, but Muttitt prodded the rebound past him and into goal.

Two minutes later, a bad challenge by Euan Miller brought down Kateleza on the left touchline.   Miller then became involved in a squabble with Laurenson, resulting in two cautions for Miller – one for the foul, the other for the pushing – and one for Laurenson.  Miller was therefore sent off, but the longer-term consequences for both players involved in the shoving match are just the same, as it was Laurenson’s sixth caution of the season and he is also suspended for the next game.

Watt continued to look likely to score and Quinn’s overhead kick was well headed away by Chris Reid, with Ali Shrive’s drive from the rebound also being blocked.  

With twenty minutes to go, Swifts, from nowhere, suddenly hit a purple patch.  A throw-in on the right side of the narrow Ballast Bank pitch gave an opportunity for Cowie to roll his marker, step inside, deceive Reid into thinking he was looking to square the ball, and send a shot past him to open his side’s account.  

Two minutes later, the home side gave their supporters hope with a second goal. A good ball down the right sent Ryan O’Connor through and as Reid advanced, he slipped it accurately past him into goal.

Having achieved the unlikely in playing themselves back into the game, Hillfield Swifts quickly found the ‘self-destruct’ button again.  Left-back John Francis expressed himself inappropriately to the officials and was sent off, then goalkeeper Wortley came out to the right side of his area to take out Watt substitute Arron Singh and concede a penalty.  There was yet more drama with the penalty kick, as Singh, having dusted himself down and volunteered to take the kick, sent it to the left of Wortley, where the ’keeper saved, only to find the referee ordering a re-take due to encroachment into the penalty box.  This time, Singh sent the ball to the other corner and scored.

This sequence of events provoked Cowie, Inverkeithing’s first scorer, to be the next to let his remarks go beyond the bounds of acceptability and he, too, was shown the red card, reducing his side to eight men for the remaining ten minutes of the game.  

Up against seriously-depleted opponents, the Watt looked somewhat uncertain about how to proceed.  The ball was passed around a bit to retain possession, but when it was decided to move forward, an ambitious long pass was usually attempted.  It was inevitable that the Watt should create some more chances, but none of the efforts on goal came close and the nearest to another goal was Singh’s run off the right which took him past two defenders before the third, and final, man stopped him with a good tackle.  

The Watt will remember that it was at the Groundhopper game at Riccarton last season that their top scorer lost the plot and was sent off.  It seems certain that the same sort of forces were at work in the case of the Swifts.  For players used to being watched by smaller numbers, these visitors from far-flung parts do bring an extra pressure and it can be no coincidence that this was the match in which the Inverkeithing discipline broke down.  We are sure that when we next come up against the Swifts, it will be an entirely different kind of game.

 

Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts:

Wortley, Miller, Francis, O’Connor, Reid, Griffin, Strang, Hamilton, Russell (Morrison 57), Cowie, Murray (McCann 57).    Subs. not used:  Brough, Kumar, Shaw, Malapira, Wilkinson.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Teviotdale, Munro, Barclay, Quinn (Hogg 86), Shrive, Higgins (Singh 71), Kateleza, Muttitt, Huxford (Duffy 83), Laurenson.   Sub. not used:  Real de Asua de Azua.

Referee:  Mr Barry Reid ()

Assistant Referees:  Mr Robert Bowie, Mr Jack Martin

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 29

King Cup – Third Round

Saturday 26th March 2019

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  1  BO’NESS UNITED  4

A really testing sequence of games climaxed with this visit from another of the former Junior Superleague giants which have moved to the East of Scotland League this season.

The Watt has played three consecutive games against ex-Superleague opposition – home and away against Jeanfield Swifts and this one against Bo’ness – and has not been hammered in any of them.  This match, finishing with a three-goal margin, was the heaviest defeat of the three, but not for the first time this season, late goals gave the final result a worse look than it had worn for most of the game and with ten minutes of normal time left, we were on track for yet another 2 – 1, or perhaps even better.

That situation had come about after the loss of two goals in the first eight minutes of the game, as the Watt started edgily in front of a sizeable crowd.  The first resulted from a corner which the Watt defence failed to clear.  The ball was calmly directed to Fraser Keast, inside the six-yard box, and he prodded it into the net.  

Four minutes later, a long ball was controlled by visiting striker Chris Donnelly (the Bo’ness team also included players by the names of Ross Campbell and Ryan Stevenson), who sent a shot just inside the post to the right of Callum Reid.

Gradually, the Watt began to settle and play with greater confidence, although Bo’ness still carried menace in every attack.  Reid saved with his feet half-way through the first half and Martin Wright should have done better than to head past from good position.  Just after the half-hour, United came close again when Stevenson, whose speciality is cutting inside off the left and firing in right-footed shots, did just that and struck Reid’s right-hand post.

A good spell of attacking from the Watt, with Ali Shrive and Lumbert Kateleza prominent, boosted confidence and a few minutes later, Watt did the unthinkable by pulling a goal back.  The goal came from a good move on the right, at the end of which Calvin Muttitt fired a curving left-foot shot across goalkeeper Andrew Murphy to the far corner.

Donnelly tested Reid again before the interval, cutting in from the right and shooting from the edge of the area, but the Watt custodian was well positioned and gathered the ball securely.

Seven minutes into the second half, the Watt suffered a severe blow when Harry Barclay, after blocking a header close to goal, limped off and had to be replaced, with consequent adjustment to the home defence.  Lewis Duffy was the substitute.

Despite the loss of the influential Barclay, the Watt defence looked less vulnerable than it had in the early stages and was clearing crosses with conviction, Aidan Quinn as always leading the way.  

Good work by Scott Munro set up another Watt attack, Muttitt linking with Kateleza, who was brought down as he turned quickly, giving the Watt a free kick some twenty-five metres from goal.  Bo’ness set up a four-man wall which Quinn’s shot passed, but William Snowdon had retreated further into the penalty box and headed firmly away for a throw-in.

Donnelly showed his know-how with a cute glancing header, taken as he came away from goal, which went over the head of Reid and landed on top of the crossbar, but still the Watt remained in contention at just one goal behind.

There was a close thing when, following a corner on the Bo’ness right, Devon Jacobs played the ball towards goal, but Jack Spence was in the right place to head the ball behind from close to goal.  Watt continued to defend diligently, Ryan Higgins heading a cross well out of harm’s way, then Munro doing the same.

A foul on Kateleza which brought a caution for Craig Comrie gave the Watt a free kick inside the United half, but when the ball was cleared, Bo’ness raced to the other end to extend their lead.  A good through ball reached substitute Brian Morgan and he ran on to slip the ball past the left hand of Reid into the corner of goal.  Three minutes later, a similar goal made the final score 4 – 1, Donnelly this time going through the middle to slide the ball home.

 

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Spence, Munro, Barclay (Duffy 55), Quinn, Shrive, Teviotdale (Muttitt 36), Higgins, Kateleza, Huxford (Singh 74), Laurenson.   Sub. not used:  Peterson.

Bo’ness United:

Murphy, Jacobs, Syme (Macdonald 89), Snowdon, Campbell, Gemmell, Keast (Morgan 62), Comrie, Donnelly, Wright (Prentice 74), Stevenson.

Sub. not used:  Marshall.

Referee:  Mr Peter Stuart (Livingston)

Assistant Referees:  Mr Calum Doyle, Mr Etienne Dick

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 28

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 19th March 2019

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  1  JEANFIELD SWIFTS  2

For the third time in a week, Heriot-Watt lost an important game by two goals to one.  After the previous meeting with Jeanfield at Perth and the BUCS game against Edinburgh University, it was third time unlucky for the Watt at the John Brydson Arena.

Playing towards the pavilion in the first half, Jeanfield attacked with pace and penetration, with Connor McLaren, who had been such a thorn in the side of the Watt in the match at the Riverside Stadium, again causing problems with his running and skill.  Callum Reid had to come to the edge of his box to head clear after six minutes and when the ball was recovered by Swifts and played over the head of the retreating goalkeeper, Aidan Quinn covered behind to head the ball past for a corner.

The Watt was taking every opportunity it could to go forward, with Lumbert Kateleza, in the first game of his period on loan from Penicuik Athletic, leading the line with pace and ingenuity.  A misplaced pass in the visitors’ defence gave a chance to the Watt after quarter of an hour’s play.  The ball was quickly played in to Kateleza, who moved it on to Tyler Huxford, but the midfielder’s shot passed just over the bar.

With twenty-one minutes on the clock, a significant incident occurred.  A through ball sent McLaren beyond the Watt defence again.  Reid, alert to the danger, ran out of his penalty box and dived.  His arm blocked the ball and halted the move, but after some consideration of the circumstances, the referee judged that there had been sufficient defensive cover that it was not the denying of an obvious goalscoring opportunity and contented himself with a caution.  It was a merciful judgment and Reid might consider himself rather fortunate, but it probably saved the game as a contest.  The free kick which resulted was struck forcefully round the defensive wall and Reid showed his worth with a fantastic save – diving to his left to divert the ball against the post.  It was played across goal on the rebound and a Swifts player at the far side knocked it past.  Watt had survived.

The reprieve was only temporary, however, and Jeanfield opened the scoring seven minutes later.  Again the trouble came from the left wing and when the ball was squared across the penalty area, Rhys Davies finished calmly, taking the time to move the ball away from two Watt defenders before sending it firmly past Reid to the corner of the net.

Five minutes later, the Watt was level.  A corner on the left was played into the danger area and cleared only as far as Kateleza.  His overhead bicycle kick was heading for goal until Mark Mitchell reached it and palmed it out, but Ryan Higgins was on hand to drive it crisply across goal into the far corner.

Jeanfield was still looking dangerous in forward thrusts, the pace and accuracy of McLaren often a feature.  Reid just managed to put off Davies, who sent his close-range header just over, but with a minute of the first half to go, the Watt fell behind again.  Once more, it was a left-wing move which caused the trouble.  When McLaren went through looking to make contact with a ball over the top, Reid rushed from his goal.  The ball took a harder bounce than the goalkeeper had expected and went over his head.  Reid turned and dived back into his area to get a hand to the ball, but couldn’t stop it being sent square across the goal.  Retreating defenders did everything humanly possible to get between ball and goal, but Keith Dewar managed to find a space into which to send his shot.

The Watt started the second half with considerable panache.  Kateleza and Huxford combined with great precision on the right, but when Kateleza threaded the ball through, Huxford’s cross was charged down and turned behind for a corner kick.  Higgins executed a superb turn to get away on the right, but his cross, too, was blocked out of play.

Higgins set off down the right again a few minutes later and was taken out of the play by a rather crude challenge for which Aaron Whitehead was cautioned.  The resultant free kick from Huxford was played to the far side of the box, from where Kateleza sent a powerful shot fizzing just over the junction of post and bar.

Lewis Duffy replaced Neil Laurenson shortly after this and his height was a threat at set pieces.  He got his head to a corner from the left, but the referee immediately stopped play for an infringement by a Watt player.

Further substitutions followed, Gary Fergus and Kyle Woolley coming on for Swifts and Arron Singh replacing Huxford for Heriot-Watt.  Duffy again got his head on a corner kick, sending the ball across the area, but a defender turned it behind for another corner.  Scott Munro did some brilliant work to keep the attack alive after intercepting a partial clearance, but the Watt couldn’t fashion a clear shooting chance.

Justin Hogg, who had battled manfully on the right for the Watt, hobbled off with ten minutes to go and was replaced by Calvin Muttitt, but the Swifts had a period of ascendancy in which Fergus headed just over and Reid saved a shot through the crowd by Lewis Mackie.  In a good response, Singh combined well with Kateleza, then Aidan Quinn and Ali Shrive carried the move on, but the attack petered out with a through ball which failed to find a Watt player.

In the last dangerous attack of the game, McLaren, still showing his pace and trickery, held the ball on the left until Scott Smith came forward to strike a shot from the edge of the penalty box, but it was just off target to Reid’s right.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Hogg (Muttitt 79), Munro, Barclay, Quinn, Spence, Laurenson (Duffy 54), Shrive, Kateleza, Huxford (Singh 72), Higgins.   Subs. not used:  Larmour, McMahon.

Jeanfield Swifts:

Mitchell, Kennedy, Whitehead, Deans, F Smith (Mackie 76), Simpson (Woolley 67), Anton, S Smith, McLaren, Davies (Fergus 67), Dewar.

Subs. not used:  Ramsay, Gunnion, Townsley.

Referee:  Mr Craig Wilson (Edinburgh)

Assistant Referees:  Mr Scott Downie, Mr Daniel Silva

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 27

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

JEANFIELD SWIFTS  2   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  1

This was a frustrating game for the Watt.  No-one would claim that they’d outplayed Jeanfield, but the side worked hard and defended well and having scored the opening goal with twenty minutes left to play, it was tough for the boys to concede two late goals, both scrappy affairs, and come away with nothing.

In the first half, Heriot-Watt found it hard to get their passing game going.  The eager Jeanfield players covered the pitch well and there was little time on the ball for the visitors, but it was only from set pieces that they looked in any real danger of conceding and it was no surprise that there was no scoring by half-time.  The Watt’s biggest problem was giving away too many free kicks in areas from which it was possible to play the ball into the penalty box.  The midfield is always a competitive area, but the players in that area must try to be less rash in their challenges when there is little chance of winning the ball.

The other factor that kept the Watt goal secure in the first half was the confident handling of Callum Reid, who was in top form, cutting out crosses and positioning himself well to save whatever the dangerous Connor McLaren could fire towards goal.  Harry Barclay and Aiden Quinn were forming their usual formidable barrier to anything coming through the middle, so much of the threat was coming from wide positions, which was to the goalkeeper’s advantage.

It was a different game right from the start of the second half.  There was a much more open feel to the proceedings and Heriot-Watt began to pass the ball much better and to move forward in numbers.  Nevertheless, in the first few minutes after the restart there were a couple of near things at the end the Watt was defending, but Reid dived to his left to gather a ball which leaked in from the Swifts’ left, then a shot by Rhys Davies from good position was deflected behind.  In between, the Watt had its best attack so far, Quinn tiptoeing through the middle of the park before being tackled right on the edge of the penalty area.

Ali Shrive replaced Todd Teviotdale on the hour and his arrival had an immediate effect on the quality of the Watt’s attacking play.  When Gary Fergus was cautioned for diving when challenged by Neil Laurenson, who had previously been booked, the resultant free kick was headed on by Quinn, but turned away for a throw-in.  The throw was picked up by the Jeanfield defence, but Ryan Higgins was in quickly to recover possession near the by-line.  Higgins cut the ball back, but it was blocked back to him.  When he cut it inside a second time, Craig Smith steered it through a gap in the crowd and past Mark Mitchell into the net.

There was little change to the pattern of play and the Watt support entertained real hopes of a shock win, but with twelve minutes of normal time left, the home side grabbed an equaliser.  The goal followed a fantastic piece of defending by Barclay, who somehow managed to get a foot to the ball and deflect it over the bar when McLaren volleyed a cross into the ground to bounce up towards the goal.  However, it was all in vain; from the resultant corner, Lee Deans fired the ball in the direction of goal and although it was kicked clear, either the referee or his assistant judged that it had crossed the line.

The Watt found it hard to get back on the attack after this, but again the defence seemed to be dealing with the Swifts attacks pretty well and Reid was still alert to whatever came through, saving a shot from substitute Robbie Holden.  There were several corners to face, however, and following one of these, Jeanfield snatched a winner with three minutes to go.  The ball bounced up nicely for Davies, giving him the chance to nod it past Reid.

Watt had a free kick opportunity when Tyler Huxford’s good run was halted by a trip for which Chris Anton was cautioned, but Matt Graham’s kick curled into the hands of Mitchell and the last chance to salvage a point had gone.

Jeanfield Swifts:

Mitchelll, Anton, Kennedy, Whitehead, Deans, Mackie (S Smith 66), McLaren, F Smith, Davies, Simpson, Fergus (Holden 74).    Subs. not used:  Friel, Woolley, Ramsay, Townsley, Dewar.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Michelon, Munro, Barclay, Quinn, Huxford, Teviotdale (Shrive 60), Higgins, Muttitt (Graham 57), Smith (Hogg 80), Laurenson.   Subs. not used:  Larmour, Peterson.

Referee:  Mr Alastair Grieve (Coalsnaughton)

Assistant Referees:  Mr Jordan Bruce, Mr Matthew McConnachie

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 26

King Cup – Second Round

Saturday 2nd March 2019

BURNTISLAND SHIPYARD  0   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  1

Heriot-Watt has always had to work hard for any positive result it has brought away from Recreation Park and this time was no exception.  Despite the Fifers’ lowly league position, they never allowed the Watt players to relax during the ninety minutes.  It must be said, however, that the visitors created the better chances in the game, particularly in the first half, and could have made things a bit easier for themselves if they had converted some of the opportunities that came their way.

Erik Peterson was rewarded for his patient support of Callum Reid by being given the gloves for this cup tie and he justified his selection with a secure display.  Jack Spence felt a muscle twinge in the warm-up and was replaced at right-back by Gio Michelon, who also played well.  Above all, however, Aidan Quinn was the rock on which so many of Shipyard’s attacks foundered and he also came close at the attacking end of the field in an excellent all-round performance.

Heriot-Watt looked lively in the early stages and came close to taking the lead in the fifth minute.  Tyler Huxford’s pass found Neil Laurenson and when he swept the ball low across the Burntisland goalmouth, Calvin Muttitt set it back for Ryan Higgins, but the midfielder, returning to the side after an absence of four months, struck the ball firmly, but past the post and into the netting at the back of the goal.

Next to threaten was Michelon, who got in a strong header from Laurenson’s corner kick, but saw goalkeeper Ryan Adamson react quickly to touch the ball over the bar.  When the resultant corner came into the middle, the ball was played back to Quinn, who drove the ball against the crossbar.  Laurenson recycled the rebound, but Michelon’s shot was off target.

After these narrow escapes, Shippy had a good attempt on goal, Andy Watt’s first-time strike forcing Peterson to save well, diving low to his left to turn the ball round the post.  

A driving run on the left wing by Justin Hogg resulted in a corner kick and when Laurenson played the ball into the goalmouth, it bobbed about without a decisive touch until it was played forward to Muttitt, who swivelled inside the six-yard box and got far too good a contact, sending the ball rising sharply over the bar when a scuff might have taken it into goal.

Just after the half-hour, the Watt eventually made a chance count.  Again a corner kick was involved, played short on the right and sent curling into the penalty box.  Laurenson came in quickly and met the ball with a powerful downward header, which bounced up into the roof of the net.

As Shipyard tried to make a quick response, Sam Glancy found space for a shot, but Quinn immediately put his frame in the way and blocked the drive.  

The Watt had a good opportunity shortly after this, Hogg breaking clear against one defender, with Muttitt in space to his right, but when the pass was made, Muttitt was forced wide, the numerical advantage was lost and the chance petered out.

Two minutes from the interval, Laurenson, battling for the ball just outside the Shipyard penalty area, had his shirt pulled and a free kick was awarded.  Quinn sent in a thunderous shot which rendered the defensive wall irrelevant and looked all the way a scorer, but Adamson nonchalantly stuck out his right hand and deflected the ball up and over the crossbar.  

The last action of the first half was at the other end, Benn Hutchison sending in a powerful shot from distance.  Peterson took no chances, getting down to block the ball, then rising to dive on it.

Jordan Galloway had been injured before half-time and was replaced for the second period by Sandy Strang.  Burntisland was forced into making a second replacement three minutes after the restart, Reece Bernard coming on in place of Hutchison.  Within a short time of joining the contest, Bernard had a shooting chance from a cutback by Glancy, but like Higgins in a similar position earlier, he found only the netting behind the goal.

The second half turned into something of a midfield struggle, with few occasions on which attacking players were able to break through for an effort on goal.  Laurenson had a shot from twenty metres which went over the junction of post and bar, but there weren’t many other attempts of note until late in the game, when two Watt substitutes combined, Matt Graham sliding through a good pass to Arron Singh.  Singh advanced on goal, but his shot, although strong enough, was too straight and Adamson made the save.  

There was a scare for the Watt shortly afterwards, when a Shippy corner fell amongst the feet in the penalty box.  A Shipyard foot sent the ball towards the Heriot-Watt goal, but Harry Barclay managed to halt its progress a metre from the line and the Watt held out to reach the Third Round of the King Cup.

Burntisland Shipyard:

Adamson, Jordan Galloway (Strang 45), Skinner, O’Donnell, Lennie, Hutchison (Bernard 48), Glancy, Johnathan Galloway, Hynd, Watt, Crawford.    Subs. not used:  McAulay, Kinnaird, Simpson.

Heriot-Watt University:

Peterson, Michelon (Larmour 78), Munro, Barclay, Quinn, Huxford, Higgins (Singh 74), Hogg (Graham 60), Muttitt, Smith, Laurenson.   Subs. not used:  Spence, Reid.

Referee:  Mr Stephen Gill (Edinburgh)

Assistant Referees:  Mr William McAleese, Mr Owen Roberts

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 25

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 23rd February 2019

CAMELON JUNIORS  3   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  0

The final result of this match will have gone without particular remark in East of Scotland circles, but it was yet another occasion on which late goals made the margin of defeat for Heriot-Watt greater than it might have been in a match in which the result was in doubt until the last few minutes.

This time, the goals were very late indeed – the second was scored in eighty-eight minutes and the third with what was effectively the last kick of the game, two minutes into stoppage time.  Considering that the Watt had conceded after six minutes, that means that for more than eighty minutes of the game there was only one goal in it.  During that time, there were several opportunities for the visitors to draw level, but perhaps a lack of conviction on the ground of a side of such celebrity was a telling factor.

Camelon began the game at their customary high tempo, moving the ball with pace and precision, but the first chance went to the Watt.  A free kick was played in by Gavin Malin and headed on towards the right wing, where Todd Teviodale came in to meet the ball firmly on the volley.  The angle was tight, though, and the ball went square across the pitch and out for a throw-in.

The Watt defence was a little cumbersome in working the ball away a couple of minutes later and ended by conceding a free kick, following which a cross to the back post was headed over by Greg Skinner, but with six minutes on the clock a flowing move on the Camelon right ended with the ball moved slickly inside to find Conor McKenzie around the penalty spot and he sent a low shot back against the balance of Callum Reid into the corner of the net.

Malin tried to get the Watt back on level terms with an inventive effort from a free kick from around thirty metres, his shot dropping just over the bar, but the defence was coming under a lot of pressure from the quick and eager home side and had to stick to its task with vigilance.  Jordan Herron got a couple of glimpses at goal, but his shots were off target and gradually the diligent work of the visitors began to change the context of the game, with the Camelon forwards having to work hard to create chances.

A foul on Teviotdale gave Malin another chance for a shot on goal, but his free kick went wide.  The Watt defence continued to concentrate well:  Harry Barclay’s good headed clearance dealt with a dangerous cross, Reid was in position at his near post to clutch a shot from Ryan Kane and Ali Shrive charged down a shot from Camelon striker Alan Sneddon.  The fast and tricky Sneddon got on to the end of another thrust by the home side a few minutes later to send in a drive, but Reid was down quickly, getting his left hand to the ball, and Aidan Quinn was first to the ball to tidy up.  

A free kick twenty-five metres from goal gave Alan Docherty a chance to shoot, but Reid seemed to have his effort covered as it went past the right-hand post.

A throw-in on the right gave the Watt the chance to work the ball infield with some precise passing, but when Neil Laurenson laid the ball off for Calvin Muttitt, his shot on the turn lacked the power to trouble Dean Shaw in the home goal.  

Shrive tracked Sneddon again as he made a run through midfield, but the striker still managed to get away a shot which passed just over the crossbar.  The Watt responded with a forward thrust and good pressing which almost enabled Malin to reach a defender close to the Camelon goal-line as he cleared the ball in the last action of the first half.

Rain greeted the players as they came back out to begin the second half, but the enthusiasm of the Watt players was not dampened and within five minutes they had fashioned a great chance for an equaliser, Barclay’s pass being headed on by Malin into the path of Muttitt, who timed his turn to get ahead of  Skinner, but as Muttitt made his way into the penalty box, the big defender recovered well, snaking out a long leg to knock the ball away and deny Muttitt the shooting opportunity.

There was a scare for the Watt a couple of minutes later when a breakout by Camelon following a Watt free kick left Kane unmarked, but Reid judged the situation well, advancing to narrow the angle, blocking Kane’s strong shot, then reacting quickly to get his hands round the ball.

Teviotdale was always a willing runner on the right and an excellent crossfield pass by Laurenson sent him away to win a corner, but the home defence was able to clear.

The first of the substitutions took place, with Kieran Anderson replacing Kane and Justin Hogg on in place of Tyler Huxford.  There was a feeling building that there might be something in the game for the Watt, as the pace at which Camelon was competing had visibly dropped and there was more time and space for the visitors to play their passes.  

With twenty minutes left to play, another chance came along.  A superbly-judged chip pass by Shrive fell between Muttitt, tearing through ahead of the pursuing defenders, and Shaw, rushing from his goal.  The ’keeper got there a fraction before the forward and played the ball against Muttitt.  The rebound carried to Teviotdale, on the right side around twenty-five metres from the now-vacant goal.  He shot first-time, but missed the target to the goalkeeper’s left.

The Watt was creating frequent chances now and at the end of another good move, Muttitt played in a good ball from the left.  A defender swung at the ball in an attempt to clear and had the good fortune to slice it high in the air, giving Shaw time to run out and catch it as it fell.  Laurenson made a good run through midfield but evidently did not judge any of his passing options to be good enough and was tackled before he could release the ball.

Jack Spence sustained a painful blow for the second time in the game and was replaced by Andy Hannigan, Harry Barclay moving into midfield.  

With five minutes of normal time left to play, Heriot-Watt was still well in the game and stringing together some good passing moves, although perhaps not doing enough to penetrate the home defence regularly.  

Camelon substitute Anderson sent in a shot from distance, but it was well wide of the post, then Sneddon’s scooped effort cleared the bar, but with two minutes left, the home side gave itself the cushion it wanted.  Anderson chased a through ball into the left side of the penalty box and although Teviotdale got in a good challenge, Anderson recovered the ball and managed to get it into the goalmouth at the second attempt.  The ball reached Sneddon, giving him a simple finish.  Four minutes later, and two minutes into stoppage time, a virtually identical move with the roles reversed saw Sneddon square for Anderson to score.  As soon as the game restarted, the referee blew for full time.

Heriot-Watt is getting closer to challenging the big sides of the Conference; it no longer goes into such games with apprehension, but perhaps yet greater belief is required when it comes to taking the chances that come along to convert cohesive play into tangible rewards.

Camelon Juniors:

Shaw, Deans, Lochie, David Morrison, Skinner, Kay, Kane (Anderson 60), Herron, Sneddon, Docherty, McKenzie.    Subs. not used:  Small, McCroary, Donald Morrison, Frame, Boyce, Livingstone.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Teviotdale, Munro, Barclay, Quinn, Shrive, Huxford (Hogg 63), Spence (Hannigan 82), Muttitt, Malin (Graham 71), Laurenson.   Subs. not used:  Higgins, Peterson.

Referee:  Mr Alex Shepherd (Edinburgh)

Assistant Referees:  Mr Jason Crocker, Mr Nelson da Silva

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 24

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 16th February 2019

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  1  PRESTON ATHLETIC  2

This was one of the best contests seen this season at Riccarton, but unfortunately for the Watt lads, they were edged out of the points after taking an early lead.

Preston started the game in enterprising fashion and came close through Dylan Weldon’s curling effort and Jonny Grotlin’s rising shot, both of which narrowly cleared the bar, but it was the home side which took the lead after thirteen minutes’ play.  

The goal was entirely down to the determination of Calvin Muttitt to keep pushing for an opportunity in apparently hopeless circumstances.  As a defender held back, anticipating that the ball would be collected by the advancing Craig Pennycuick, Muttitt stretched every sinew to get his foot to the ball before the goalkeeper could get to it and finessed it past him with perfect judgment of the angle to send the ball bouncing gently into goal before any of the retreating defenders could reach it.

Athletic responded vigorously, Weldon sending in a ferocious drive from wide on the left and forcing Callum Reid to move quickly and get strong arms on the ball to divert it past the post.  

Heriot-Watt hoped they had increased their lead when Neil Laurenson’s accurate corner kick was headed powerfully down at the far post by Aidan Quinn, but after the ball was cleared from around the goal-line, the referee made discussions of whether or not it had gone over the line redundant by penalising Quinn for leaning on a non-jumping defender as he sent in his header.

A minute later, Laurenson reprised the corner kick, but this time the ball came off Quinn’s head at the wrong angle and went past the post.

An excellent passing move saw Arron Singh send Todd Teviotdale away on the right to deliver a low cross which was perhaps just too firm for Muttitt to hope to reach it.  Preston replied with a good move of their own, Weldon and Grotlin timing run and pass to break through the Watt defence.  Reid rushed out and Weldon went over his body, but the referee was saved from having to decide who had done what by Grotlin, who followed up to drive the loose ball into goal.

Just before half-time, Heriot-Watt mounted its best move so far.  An astute pass by Harry Barclay started it off; Quinn played the ball wide to Teviotdale on the right and his pass to Muttitt resulted in a low centre to which Singh applied an inventive first-time flick which looked a scorer all the way until Pennycuick dived full-length to his right to touch the ball past the post.  

Watt finished the half with another fine move, at the end of which Tyler Huxford set up Matt Graham for a shot, but he could find only the side netting.

There was a blow for the Watt at half-time when it was learned that Barclay was not fit to continue and during the second half would be absent for the first time in the season.  Triallist Jack Philp came on in place of him, with Quinn dropping back into defence.  

There was an early escape for the Watt defence as it came to terms with the change, Grotlin mistiming his jump slightly at the far post and sending his header across goal and behind, but soon the Watt was back on the attack, Huxford making a good run into the box and playing the ball wide for Singh.  His pass gave a shooting chance to Graham, but he fired the ball over the bar.

Kieran Jack cut in from the Preston right, got the benefit of a ricochet and tried his luck, but his shot found only the side netting.  The next effort on the home goal, however, was successful.  A corner on the left came in to the near post area and despite the presence of a number of defenders, Grotlin got in a glancing header which was a sure scorer had it not been for a sensational save by Reid, who reacted with remarkable speed to parry the ball before the line.  Most unfortunately for the ’keeper, his heroics went unrewarded, as the ball came back to Bruce McCrorie, who had been up for the corner and tried a shot from the edge of the area.  It turned into a lob of perfect trajectory to dip under the bar over the head of Reid, who had advanced just a couple of yards from his line.

Trailing for the first time in the match, the Watt tried everything they knew to get back on terms.  Huxford played the ball through a gap for Singh to run on to, but as Pennycuik advanced, Singh’s first touch was slightly heavier than he would have wished and the two met in a collision of very unequal bodies.  Both were hurt in the clash, but it was yet another example of the courage shown by the slightly-built Singh in taking on much larger opponents.

A good pass by Philp gave Muttitt possession in a dangerous area, but although the striker managed to get a shot away, doing so on the turn cost him the power he would have needed to trouble the goalkeeper.

Reid kept his side in the game with another great save after the ball rebounded favourably for Grotlin from a midfield challenge.  Twisting and turning, the striker eluded Quinn for long enough to deliver a shot, but Reid leapt to his left to block the ball.

The Watt continued to pound away at the Preston defence during five minutes of stoppage time, but couldn’t find a way through.  Preston manager Jack Lynch was honest enough to admit that the result had been hard on the home side, who had been on top for most of the first half.  

In all fairness, Preston had looked the more likely side at the start of the second period, but after conceding Preston’s second goal, Heriot-Watt had put everything into trying to force an equaliser.  Looking at the game as a whole, therefore, perhaps it could be summed up by the old platitude that goals win games.  Preston had managed to get an equalising goal close to the end of a half in which it had been under pressure, but when the Watt side fell behind in the second half, it had been unable to get the equalising goal its overall play would have merited.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Teviotdale, Munro, Barclay (Philp 45), Michelon, Huxford, Quinn, Graham (Campbell 69), Muttitt, Singh, Laurenson (Hogg 76).   Subs. not used:  Duffy, Shrive, Hannigan, Real de Azua de Asua.

Preston Athletic:

C Pennycuick, Stokes, Innes, M McFarlane, McCrorie, D Pennycuick, Jack, Turkington (L McFarlane 84), Grotlin (Cowan 93), Weldon (Austin 80), Ndiweni    Subs. not used:  Gordon, Archibald, Reid, Findlay.

Referee:  Mr Calum Doyle (Edinburgh)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 23

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 9th February 2019

ORMISTON  2   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  4

On a wet and windy afternoon, the Watt played for the first time on Ormiston’s new pitch, which is long but narrow.  There were three enforced changes from the team which had played against Blackburn in the previous league match, with Niko Giovanovits and Arron Singh dropping out through injury and Tyler Huxford suspended.

Watt started confidently, passing the ball well, with Ali Shrive dictating play and Todd Teviotdale providing his trademark marauding runs on the right.  An early chance fell to Gavin Malin, who skipped past a challenge to send in a shot which was well saved by Robbie Stirling.  On the counterattack, Ormiston was showing a threat, with Heriot-Watt student Mark Afedzie-Hayford leading the line with craft and determination.

The Watt took the lead after sixteen minutes with a move which started with Harry Barclay and was carried on by Neil Laurenson to provide the chance for Malin to cross from the left.  Calvin Muttitt headed on and Matt Graham sent a controlled shot across the goalkeeper from a position by the far post.

Ormiston remained dangerous on the break, however, and got the equaliser six minutes later, Afedzie-Hayford stabbing the ball in when the Watt defence failed to clear following a set piece.  This gave the home side fresh belief and for a time the Watt struggled.  Brothers Jordan and Daniel Purves were linking well on the right, using pace and guile, and it was no surprise when Ormiston scored again.  Heriot-Watt lost possession in midfield and the home side moved the ball quickly forward for Liam Currie to find the net with a fierce shot from distance.

Despite having fallen behind, Heriot-Watt did not panic, but continued with a patient approach to probe for weaknesses in the Ormiston defence and a drive from Aidan Quinn hit the bar before an equaliser arrived a few minutes before half-time.  This one was straight from the training ground, Malin’s accurate near-post ball finding Muttitt darting in to finish in style.

From the start of the second half, Ormiston sat deeper and kept a good shape, making it difficult for the Watt to find a way through.  Lewis Duffy replaced Malin, bringing new energy to the attack, and the Watt went back in front just before the hour mark.  The goal was a disputed one, with Stirling catching the ball and then dropping it under pressure, but Quinn despatched it into the top corner of the goal and the referee judged the score to be fair.  

Ormi now came forward more, leaving space behind which perhaps the Watt should have exploited more.  Muttitt was unable to convert from Quinn’s pass, then Duffy made a great run through midfield but his shot lacked composure.  Graham’s trickery took him through in front of goal, but again the chance was missed.  Finally, Justin Hogg came on for the closing stages and added drive to the right side.  Gaps began to appear in the Ormiston back line as the homesters chased an equaliser and deep in stoppage time, Hogg converted following Quinn’s free kick, sweeping the ball home from six metres to confirm the victory.

Ormiston’s levels of determination, fitness and organisation belied their lowly league position and the home players would have been disappointed to take nothing from the match.  In the tricky conditions, it wasn’t the Watt’s best performance of the season, but Head Coach Banji Koya will have been satisfied that his side created numerous chances, even if many of them were not taken.  Shrive was coolness personified in the frantic midfield area and his performance was another encouraging facet of the game.

Ormiston:    Stirling, J Purves, Prior, Rogers-Jones, Johnston, Hogg (Jack 72), D Purves, Currie, Subasic, Afedzie-Hayford (Ballard 72), Cochrane.    Subs. not used:  Rowana, Boyne.

Heriot-Watt University:    Reid, Teviotdale, Munro, Barclay, Michelon, Shrive, Quinn, Malin (Duffy 72), Muttitt, Graham (Hogg 78), Laurenson.    Subs. not used:  Hannigan, Spence, Singh, McMahon.

Referee:  Mr Jonathan Gall (Duns)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 22

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 26th January 2019

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  1  BLACKBURN UNITED  1

It was another game full of talking points between these two local rivals, but in the end the result was indecisive, with neither gaining an advantage in the contest for league places.  

United gained an early advantage and it was down to a mistake in the Watt defence.  Callum Reid ran from his box to clear a through ball and tried to play it to Scott Munro, in the left-back position, but didn’t reckon on Darren Downie being close enough to get his boot to the ball.  Downie ran on past Reid and despite the goalie’s best efforts to get back, was able to slide it into goal from a fairly acute angle.

Watt didn’t allow this setback to change their style and soon began to dominate possession, with full-backs Munro and Todd Teviotdale getting forward to help in the supply to Arron Singh and Calvin Muttitt.  Aidan Quinn was also taking the opportunity to support the play when possible and he combined well with Neil Laurenson to deliver the ball to Teviotdale, whose attempted cross was blocked behind.  Singh’s penetrating corner kick just eluded the head of Laurenson.

Blackburn was pressed back for much of the time, but showed good pace on the break when they could gain possession.  It took a good tackle from Harry Barclay to halt United’s progress on the left just before the half-hour.  

Gavin Malin managed to squeeze a pass through to Singh on the edge of the United area, but on the turn he was unable to generate enough power in his shot to trouble Iain Ure in the Blackburn goal.  Two minutes later, the ball bounced towards Quinn following a corner, but his attempted hook shot went just wide.  

Just before half-time, more excellent skill by Munro provided Malin with the chance to play in Singh, who was bundled over near to the by-line, but the referee turned away from the incident.

Watt continued with its calm passing game after half-time, with Teviotdale joining the attack and creating space for a shot, but the youngster snatched at the opportunity and sent the ball high over the bar.  In response to a Blackburn attack which broke down, Quinn stormed upfield and supplied Singh, who was again given rough treatment in the penalty box,  but once more the referee showed no interest.  

Barclay defended diligently to prevent the ball being cut back from the line as United mounted another attack, but soon the Watt was on the offensive again.  Singh got the ball inside to Laurenson, who managed to return the ball to Singh despite being surrounded by defenders.  Singh ran in to strike a fierce first-time shot which Ure dived full-length to his left to turn round the post.

Ali Shrive came on for the Watt and slipped an astute pass through a crowded penalty area to give Muttitt an opportunity, but when the striker tried to flick the ball over Ure’s shoulder, he got too faint a touch and the goalkeeper gratefully grasped the ball.

Watt made another change, Matt Graham entering the fray, and he had only been on the pitch for three minutes when he took the ball into the left side of the box, flicked it past United right-back George Bonnar and was brought down as he tried to go past him.  There were no complaints from the defender and Quinn stepped forward to try to improve Heriot-Watt’s dreadful penalty kick record.  There followed a chain of events which will be well remembered by those who saw it.  Quinn fired the kick wide of Ure’s right-hand post, but referee Mr Newman indicated that he had not blown his whistle to permit the kick to be taken and told Quinn to retake the kick.  When the inevitable protests had settled down, Quinn thundered the ball into the top corner of the net – as perfect a penalty as you could ever wish to see.

Sean Campbell came on before the game restarted and Blackburn made two substitutions soon after, withdrawing the visibly-tired full-backs Bonnar and Martin Lawrie.  

The drama wasn’t finished yet.  The referee played fully six minutes of stoppage time and in the first of these, Tyler Huxford, who had earlier been booked, was sent off.  The earlier booking was the result of one of those incidents one often sees, in which a referee goes back at the end of a move to caution a player who hadn’t really deserved to be cautioned, just to show he had seen a foul and had played advantage.  The second booking was an accident waiting to happen, as Huxford closed in on a ball-carrying player from one side and Laurenson, who had also been booked, closed in from the other side.  Huxford was the one who attempted a challenge, mistimed it and inevitably received the red card.

A man short, and with their opponents itching to restore the advantage they had held for most of the game, the Watt came under some sustained pressure for the first time in the match and another defensive lapse caused concern on the sidelines.  There had been no need to play a pressure ball back to Reid, but from a tight situation, the Watt goalkeeper played the ball to substitute Daniel Campbell.  He sent the ball through to Downie for a tap-in into an empty net, but fortunately for Heriot-Watt, the striker was clearly offside and despite Blackburn’s keenness for a winning goal there were no real complaints.

Watt continued to find it difficult to see out the game and Reid had to go down at his near post to make one more save, but as he rose to his feet, he heard the welcome sound of the final whistle.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Teviotdale, Munro, Barclay, Quinn, Huxford, Giovanovits (Graham 78), Malin (Shrive 67), Muttitt (Campbell 84), Singh, Laurenson.   Subs. not used:  Duffy, Michelon, Peterson.

Blackburn United:

Ure, Bonnar (Herriot 86), Lawrie (Devine 87), Mildren, Drummond, Williamson, McDowall (Campbell 59), Young, Downie, Browne, Hutton.    Subs. not used:  Sinnet, Mitchell.

Referee:  Mr Chris Newman (Linlithgow)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 21

East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 19th January 2019

LINLITHGOW ROSE  3   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  0

If the Watt side can work as hard as it did in this game in every match between now and the end of the season, Head Coach Banji Koya will have few complaints, however the results turn out.  This was a performance of immense courage and stamina against a team which is one of the foremost semi-professional outfits in the East of Scotland.

No-one exemplified the achievement more than Todd Teviotdale.  Todd turned eighteen at the end of November, but after playing ninety minutes the previous evening for the Watt’s Under-20 side, here he was at Prestonfield, playing just his second game for the First Team in front of a Linlithgow Rose crowd, playing in direct opposition to Roddy Maclennan and Tommy Coyne.  And he did his job superbly well, defending with judgment and resolution, then taking the chance to bring the ball forward whenever the opportunity arose.  Todd played for eighty minutes in this environment before his legs eventually gave out and he was replaced by Niko Giovanovits.

The Watt players knew they would spend much of the game on the defensive, but they were determined to try to attack whenever they could and there were a number of half-chances for them scattered throughout the game.  Arron Singh had the first, early in the game, from Gavin Malin’s through ball, but although he carried the ball to the edge of the penalty area, he couldn’t get enough purchase on his shot.

With Aidan Quinn and Harry Barclay at the heart of the defence, the Watt was always going to make it a challenge for even such illustrious opponents to fashion chances and they combined in the tenth minute, Barclay getting in quickly to block Owen Ronald’s attempt, taking the ball out for a corner which Quinn headed strongly away.  

The Heriot-Watt defence continued to provide stout resistance and the players further forward were quick to close down space and pressurise opponents, so gradually the visitors began to play themselves into the game and to string together some passing moves.  

With twenty-five minutes played, there was an incident that might have had an influence on the game had the referee decided differently.  Singh harrassed Rose right-back Ian Gray, who played the ball back towards his goalkeeper, Kyle Marley.  Calvin Muttitt had been advancing into the box and as Marley advanced he nipped in ahead of him and played the ball past his arms towards the by-line.  

When there was contact between striker and goalkeeper and Muttitt came down, former Grade 1 referee Mr Charleston, in his last game in the middle, decided that Muttitt had gone to ground too easily and cautioned him for “simulation”.  It was a tough call for the referee, but it might have been possible for Muttitt to stay on his feet.  We were left wondering, however, what the outcome would have been had the incident been between Callum Reid and Tommy Coyne. 

Watt continued in its well-organised way and seemed comfortable enough, but ten minutes from half-time the Rose opened the scoring with a fabulous goal, which arrived like a bolt from the blue.  There didn’t seem to be too much danger as Linlithgow attacked on the left around the edge of the penalty box, but when the ball broke inside to Ronald, he acted with speed and precision, shifting the ball on to his left foot and sending an unstoppable shot into the postage-stamp corner.  Had the ball been a few centimetres higher it would have struck the bar; slightly to the right, it would have hit the post.  In other words, the positioning could not have been more perfect.  You can’t argue with finishing like that.

Watt saw out the remainder of the first half and resisted the early surge from the home side at the start of the second.  Reid was alert to take a dangerous cross off the head of a forward and collect the ball on the bounce, Barclay continued to be the first man to anything loose in the goalmouth and Quinn got in a great block to keep a fierce shot away from goal.

Eventually, the Watt eluded the clutches of the Rose midfield and mounted an attack on the right.  The ball was worked inside to Neil Laurenson, but he was too anxious and made contact slightly too soon, taking the ball towards the corner flag rather than the goal.  Fellow midfielder Tyler Huxford sent in an effort a few minutes later, but it was as high as Laurenson’s shot was wide.  Watt was having a good spell, though, and when a free kick was played into the Linlithgow penalty area, Lewis Duffy headed the ball down into the danger area, but it didn’t find the foot of a team-mate.  

For the second time in the game, Barclay covered in behind Reid to intercept a ball played past the goalkeeper and soon the Watt was pushing forward again in a good move involving Singh and Muttitt along with Gavin Malin, whose shot on the turn cleared the bar, but not by much.

We reached the last quarter of an hour with the Watt still trailing by just a single goal, but we were soon reminded of the game at Riccarton, in which the Rose scored a second with seventeen minutes left, then added another four before the final whistle.  It was only two minutes later when the second goal went in this time, but somehow we knew that the score wouldn’t reach the same proportions this time.  

A corner from the right was headed strongly towards the top corner by Rose substitute Colin Strickland, but Reid drew applause all round the ground for a sensational save, rising to block the ball with sufficient force to take it over the bar.  Unfortunately for Reid, this meant a repetition of the corner and again Strickland moved to get his head on the ball.  This time, however, he directed it towards the centre of the goal, where the ball hit Coyne and dropped at his feet a metre or so from goal.  No need to describe in detail what happened next.

Watt continued to play confidently and work hard and although a volley from Coyne skimmed the bar at one point, there were no other close things at the visitors’ end until the last minute.  In the meantime, a centre from Gio Michelon was gathered by Marley as Duffy and Matt Graham closed in.

Once again, however, Linlithgow Rose finished the game with a last-minute goal.  The Watt defenders were simply outnumbered as the ball was worked across from the right wing.  There was a spare man at the end of the line and that man was Coyne.  Enough said.

None of the Watt players could have given more.  How hard the defenders worked has already been noted, but all the other players ran themselves into the ground too, showing complete determination to close down the space for the home midfielders and deny them the opportunity to thread telling passes into the danger area.  Laurenson and Huxford can surely never have run further in a match and Duffy and Malin must also have felt their legs heavy the following day.  Up front, the ever-busy Singh and Muttitt tried so hard to stretch the Rose defence.  

Linlithgow Rose:

Marley, Gray (Strickland 54), Turnbull, Thom, Mackenzie, Barbour, Ronald, Ruari Maclennan, Smith, Coyne, Roddy Maclennan.    Subs. not used:  Mackinnon, Sloan, Shields, Ovenstone, McKinven.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Teviotdale (Giovanovits 80), Michelon, Barclay, Quinn, Huxford, Duffy, Malin (Hogg 82), Muttitt, Singh (Graham 85), Laurenson.    Subs. not used:  As-Chainey, Munro, Hannigan, McMahon.

Referee:  Mr Craig Charleston (Stenhousemuir)

Assistant Referees:  Mr Andrew Strang, Mr Jack van der Ster

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 20

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 5th January 2019

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  2   STIRLING UNIVERSITY  0

This was a life-affirming occasion for Watt supporters as a team with even less experience than the one which had battled out a draw at St Andrews the previous weekend played with a cohesion that would have seemed like witchcraft if we hadn’t known the methods of Head Coach Banji Koya.

Mr Koya has instilled his playing philosophy into Watt players at all levels, developing a consistent understanding of the Club playing style, with the enormous benefit that a group of players like this one, which had never come close to playing as a team before, could pass and move as though they had rehearsed for weeks especially for this occasion.  

The only player over 23 who had played the previous week, Assistant Coach Gavin Malin, was unavailable through injury and we were missing key defender Harry Barclay and influential midfielder Alasdair Shrive due to a ski trip.  Mr Koya brought in another of his Under-20 squad, 18-year-old Todd Teviotdale, to play at right back and gave another  18-year-old, triallist Ethan Stevens, the left-wing berth.  Andy Hannigan partnered Aidan Quinn in central defence and Ross Clarke, who had made his debut as a substitute at St Andrews, started in midfield alongside Tyler Huxford and Craig Smith.  At 23 years and three months, Calvin Muttitt was still the oldest man in the starting line-up.

The new line-up took no time at all to gel.  Watt came close as early at the fifth minute, when Arron Singh’s fine corner kick was headed down at the far post by Quinn, bringing a superb save from Owen Klijsen in the Stirling goal.  Another Singh corner created problems for the visitors’ defence a few minutes later, but Klijsen was quickly in amongst the bodies to grasp the ball.

With twenty minutes played, Quinn stepped in to break up a move on the Stirling left and strode forward to send a raking crossfield pass ahead of Stevens.  The young winger outpaced two defenders as he cut in from the wing and when Murray Rose made contact with him just outside the penalty area, the referee ruled that it was a foul which denied an obvious goalscoring opportunity and sent the big defender off.  Quinn drove the free kick under the wall as its members jumped, but Klijsen dived to his right to make a good save.  It all had to be done again, however, as the referee saw something he didn’t like and spoke to the goalkeeper before giving Quinn a second chance.  He got his shot on target again, this time curling the ball round the wall, but this time the goalkeeper dived to his left to hold the ball.

The reduction in numbers made little difference to the pattern of play, with the Watt continuing to look the more likely side but seldom fashioning shooting chances in the remainder of the first half, the best effort being when Huxford cut in from the left to send a drive half a metre past the left-hand post of Klijsen.

Early in the second half, Watt had two penalty claims in quick succession.  The first came after Clarke’s run into the box.  His pass found Smith, who was caught by a defender and made to stumble slightly, but he kept his feet and play went on.  A minute later, Muttitt cut in from the right and seemed to be brought down in full flight.  There had been contact on Smith, but very little, and it wasn’t surprising that nothing was awarded, but it was hard to see why no penalty was given when Muttitt came down.  It was absolutely clear that he had been unable to stay on his feet and it didn’t look like a ball-winning challenge. 

Four minutes later, no help from the referee was needed when the Watt took the lead with an excellent goal.  Stevens, who had received half-time instructions to hug the touchline, was giving the right side of the Stirling defence a torrid time and his run and cutback found Smith in good position.  Smith adjusted his feet and met the ball with a first-time shot which soared past Klijsen into the corner of the net.

Stevens was flying now and two minutes later he was at it again, reaching the line and firing a ball in towards the near post area.  Muttitt was by no means favourite to win the ball, but he made up ground quickly and blocked the attempt to clear.  As the ball ran loose, Muttitt was on to it in a flash to drive back into the same corner from which it had been removed two minutes earlier.

This was an amazing situation for the young side in the Watt colours, but not one which was any more than they deserved.  The Stirling players weren’t for accepting the position, however, and stepped up their efforts, Michael Baber cutting inside to send in a good shot which worried Callum Reid a little before passing just over the bar.  Substitute Jamie Penker was the next to come close, heading a free kick just past Reid’s left-hand post.  Watt were conceding a few careless fouls to allow Stirling to play balls into the penalty box and it took a superb clearing header from Clarke to nullify a dangerous cross from the Stirling right.  

Watt survived the spell of Stirling pressure and came out passing.  Hannigan and Quinn played a succession of guided missiles to set Stevens away again to torment the visitors’ defence some more before Watt began to bring on fresh legs.  Matt Graham worked hard to carry the game back to the visitors’ end, doing well to secure the ball and send Teviotdale speeding down the wing to win a corner.

As the game reached stoppage time, Callum Heath tried a long-range shot, but when it passed over the bar, Stirling’s last chance of getting on to the score sheet had gone.  An excellent turn by Muttitt on the left gave Watt one last chance to threaten the visitors’ goal, but Euan Scott’s shot went into the side netting.

All in all, this was a triumph for Heriot-Watt and in particular for their hardworking coach, who has created an enormous pool of players capable of understanding what is required of them in any given circumstance.  This provides a situation of tremendous flexibility, enabling very different player pools to be utilised without destroying the structure and cohesion of the side.  Every player to wear a Watt jersey in this game did himself proud and if it is tempting to name individuals, that would mean mentioning the name of each player who took the field.  It was a joy to see the movement which created the opportunity for the team to pass the ball confidently and proficiently all over the pitch.

Now Mr Koya has the interesting problem of the return to Riccarton in the near future of seven or eight regular members of his squad.  In addition, some of the players recovering from injury are getting near to the point of return and numbers of the Under-20s are staking claims for regular involvement with the First Team.  There are easily enough players there to make another good team, but we’ve just seen a superb winning performance from the lads who were given the jerseys on Saturday.  Who’d be a coach?

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Teviotdale, Munro, Hannigan, Quinn, Huxford, Smith (Duffy 67), Clarke, Muttitt, Singh (Graham 74), Stevens (Scott 82).   Subs. not used:  Laurenson, McMahon.

Stirling University:

Klijsen, Lee, Gunn, Rose, Landles, Whitefield, Baber, Shiells (Bremner 76), Mackay (Brown 76), Baird (Penker 61), Heath.    Sub. not used:  Donaldson.

Referee:  Mr John Stewart (Edinburgh)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 19

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 29th December 2018

ST ANDREWS UNITED  2   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  2

With four Under-20 players included and an average age of 21, the Watt line-up for this game was amongst the youngest ever to represent the Club in the East of Scotland League, but the side battled away to earn another League point in an enjoyable match.

The degree of confidence which Head Coach Banji Koya has in his Development League squad is demonstrated by the fact that he had no hesitation in giving starting positions to Euan Scott, partnering Calvin Muttitt in attack; Ali Shrive and Lewis Duffy in the midfield engine-room; and Craig Smith in the key right-back position, in opposition to the home side’s pacy and skilful duo of Ross Cunningham and Jason Penman.  

Right from the start, Watt strikers Scott and Muttitt showed inventiveness and determination, making runs which troubled a shaky-looking home defence and it was no surprise when the visitors took the lead after eight minutes’ play.  Muttitt secured the ball on the left and sent it inside; when the United defence failed to clear, Tyler Huxford strode forward to send a crisp drive into the corner of the net.

St Andrews came back strongly and Stephen Stark headed just past from a free kick delivered into the box, but Watt should have gone further in front in the next few minutes.  Scott’s shot from good position struck a defender; then when Scott’s turn left his marker standing a minute later, the resulting low cross was turned just past by Muttitt.

Cunningham was a threat for United and his cutback was turned past the post, but an equaliser was not long delayed.  Harry Barclay got his head to a cross from the left, but when Aidan Quinn then headed the ball out of the penalty area, it reached Michael Fleming, who controlled the ball and sent a well-judged half-volley dipping under the bar, giving Callum Reid no chance.

Fleming almost scored again two minutes later, sending a powerful shot from distance off Reid’s right-hand post, and just after this, the Watt had another let-off.  With the low sun in his eyes (someone buy him a cap for the New Year!), Reid got too far under a cross and pushed the ball up and over his head.  There was a home player lurking and he went for the ball along with Quinn.  The ball leaked just past the post and the referee rejected United’s claims for a penalty for interference by Quinn.

Soon the Watt was threatening the home goal again, a good effort by Scott flashing just off target.  Just after this, Scott was sent through by Gavin Malin’s astute pass, but seemed in two minds about whether to shoot or to try to go round advancing goalkeeper Lee Wilson.  By the time he got his shot away, he was too close to the custodian, who got an arm to the ball and gathered it in.

A final chance before half-time came the way of the Watt when, following a corner on the left, the ball came to Shrive, who sent a cross to the far post for the head of Quinn, but unfortunately the big man had to step back a couple of paces to take the header and lost his momentum, making the save easy for Wilson.

St Andrews came out for the second half reinvigorated and showed attacking intent, but after absorbing a spell of pressure, Watt responded with a run by Muttitt, who went down the right and rounded a defender near the line, but his cutback was swept out for a throw-in by a recovering home player.  Watt stayed on the attack, however, and young full-back Smith joined in, picking up a ball and driving into the penalty area, where he was brought down for a clear penalty kick.

Watt’s record from the spot this season is dreadful, so there was some anxiety as Quinn stepped forward to take the kick.  The concern was justified as Quinn once again failed to use his considerable power and sent in a weak effort.  Fortunately for him, Wilson had dived in the other direction and was only able to block the ball out with his legs, leaving Quinn the opportunity to fire in the rebound to put the Watt back in front.

This time, the lead didn’t last long.  Four minutes later, a free kick was played to the United left and when the ball was sent into the goalmouth, centre-back Oliver Fleming, who was still in the box, turned it past Reid.

The home side now went for the win and had the ball in the net again eight minutes later, the Watt being saved by an offside flag.  A few minutes later, Daryl Falconer cut in from the right and brought a superb save from Reid, who had come off his line quickly and somehow managed to get a hand to the ball.

Fine work on the left involving Scott Munro and substitutes Arron Singh and Ross Clarke enabled Heriot-Watt to get the ball into the danger area, but the home defence was looking more solid now and managed to clear for a throw-in.  

Anesu Tabengwa “Tabs” Sweeney, who had replaced Stark in the home attack, was a lively presence and got in a shot on the turn from the edge of the area, but although there was power in the effort, it was much too high.

Muttitt pressurised a defender into conceding a corner as Watt tried to snatch a late winner, but Wilson saved the resulting header.  The last effort on goal came from Duffy, who connected well from around twenty-three metres, but sent the ball half a metre over the bar.

St Andrews United:

Wilson, A Fleming, Blainey (Page 45), O Fleming, McInnes, Falconer (Davidson 82), M Fleming, Stark (Tabengwa 67), King, Penman, Cunningham.    Subs. not used:  Ritchie, Moran.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Smith, Munro, Barclay, Quinn, Shrive, Duffy, Scott (Clarke 67), Muttitt, Huxford, Malin (Singh 64).   Subs. not used:  Hannigan, McMahon.

Referee:  Mr Barry Dickson (Glenrothes)

Assistant Referees:  Mr Elliott Husband Powton, Mr Gordon Binnie

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 18

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 24th November 2018

BLACKBURN UNITED  3   HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  4

What to say about this game?  The Watt delighted their followers by taking a four-goal lead by two minutes after half-time – and spent the remainder of the match trying, often desperately, to keep out the eager home side which in the end would have counted themselves unlucky not to have taken something from the match.

Banji Koya was brave once more in his selection, choosing Jack Spence to partner Aidan Quinn and Neil Laurenson in the midfield area in the absence of Chris Lane, Ryan Higgins and Gavin Malin; and bringing in Gio Michelon and Andy Hannigan as his full-back pairing around Harry Barclay and Niko Giovanovits in central defence.  Calvin Muttitt again led the attack, supported by Justin Hogg and Arron Singh.  

Watt showed attacking intent from the start, Laurenson’s shot being deflected for an early corner, and took the lead after eight minutes’ play.  Giovanovits sent the ball downfield and Muttitt chased it with determination, staying strong under challenge and reaching the penalty area with the ball still contested.  Muttitt managed to poke the ball past the advancing Darren Mitchell and when it hit the post, it was he who was first on the spot to turn it home.  The second goal, after twenty-four minutes, came from an even messier situation, following a corner on the Watt right.  When the ball went loose in a congested goalmouth, Giovanovits was on hand to turn it over the line.

This was excellent stuff, but four minutes from the interval, Watt supporters were in ecstasy as a third goal arrived.  Muttitt’s diagonal run took him clear of the home defence and he coolly lobbed the ball over Mitchell and collected it again to slip it into the unguarded net.

We expected Blackburn to come out for the second half with all guns blazing, but it was the Watt who mounted the first attack, winning a left-wing corner.  Singh delivered the perfect ball for Giovanovits, lurking at the far post, and he carefully headed it into the top corner of the net to put the visitors an unbelievable four goals ahead.

What happened next will surely act as a lesson for the rest of the season.  The Watt players seemed to think their task was complete and that having conceded another goal after half-time, United would be so deflated that vigilance had become unnecessary.  How soon that theory was disproved!  A minute after restarting the game, Blackburn created a good chance which Richard Hutton blazed over the bar, but Heriot-Watt did not heed the warning and after just one more minute of play, Danny Campbell pulled a goal back.  

The goal came at the end of another goalmouth scramble of the sort from which Watt had profited earlier, but it changed the psychological balance completely.  Blackburn started pouring forward in waves and were now playing with an assurance they had previously lacked.  Suddenly, United’s passing and movement were altogether better than before and the Watt players were chasing shadows and looking increasingly harrassed.  Crawford hammered the ball off the underside of the bar and was unfortunate to see it come back into play.

For a time, it looked as if the Watt had stemmed the tide, but the introduction of substitute David Murphy gave the home side the impetus it needed to draw closer.  Murphy headed a corner back across goal and when it came within the playing distance of top scorer Darren Downie, he turned to curl an accurate shot into the only space available to him, just inside Callum Reid’s left-hand post.

It was all on now, as United saw the chance of a dramatic come-back.  Quinn did superbly well to get back and make a goal-saving challenge on Craig Young after the midfielder weaved his way through the defence, then Campbell’s shot came back off the post and Reid managed to grab the ball as he lay on the ground.

Two good blocks in quick succession by Hannigan stopped a cross coming in from the right, but with Jordan Bain on in place of Hutton, United pulled another goal back shortly afterwards, sheer force of numbers seeming to carry the ball across the line, although Downie got the credit for the final touch.

With quarter of an hour of normal time left to play, it seemed doubtful that the Watt could hang on to its lead and the question in some minds might have been if a point could be preserved, but the visitors kept battling away and gradually time began to work for them, Blackburn becoming increasingly desperate as the minutes ticked by.  Bain’s fizzing low cross passed right across the face of goal and out for a throw on the far side, but as we entered stoppage time, it was the Watt which had a chance to end any doubt, Muttitt battling away to try to get a touch between defender and goalkeeper and almost forcing an own-goal, but gaining a valuable time-eroding corner kick.  After four minutes of added time, however, at last the final whistle was heard and the Heriot-Watt players could relax at last.

Blackburn United:

Mitchell, Herriot, Devine (Murphy 66), Williamson, Browne, McInnes, Hutton (Bain 75), Young, Downie, Campbell, McDowall.    Subs. not used:  Harrison, Donnelly-Kay, Grant.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Michelon, Hannigan, Barclay, Giovanovits, Quinn, Hogg (Duffy 72), Spence, Muttitt, Laurenson, Singh (Ward 78).   Subs. not used:  Huxford, Shrive, Munro, Peterson.

Referee:  Mr George MacDonald (Kirkcaldy)

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 17

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 10th November 2018

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  0   BROXBURN ATHLETIC  7

It was a black day for the Watt as for the second week in a row five goals were conceded in the second half.  Chris Lane, Niko Giovanovits and Ryan Higgins were added to the list of players unavailable for this game and this additional burden was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  

Fortunately, we had both Neil Laurenson and Gavin Malin back in midfield, but Laurenson had missed the previous two games and Malin is just coming back towards fitness after a nine-match lay-off, so although both made significant contributions to Watt’s passing fluency in the first half, it was a lot to ask to pitch them into the engine-room against a team of Broxburn’s calibre.

Malin had a shot from distance in the fourth minute which didn’t miss the right-hand post by much, but with seven minutes played, the visitors went ahead.  A quick thrust forward ended with a fine shot by Ross Nimmo, which curved over Callum Reid and dipped just under the bar.

Watt had a chance to respond when Malin’s superb diagonal ball split the Athletic defence and sent Arron Singh away on the left, but when he squared the ball across goal, Matt Graham wasn’t quite far enough in to take the tap-in he might have had.  

Another good move was primed by Harry Barclay, driving forward and finding Singh on the left.  He passed inside to Laurenson for a shot on the turn, but as Connor Wallace scrambled across his goal, the ball slipped just past.

Having had a decent share of play during most of the first half, the Watt conceded again three minutes from the interval.  Scott Munro did well to play the ball down the touchline, but had the misfortune to watch it coming back over his head a moment later, as a Broxburn defender played it just as accurately back again.  It fell perfectly into the stride of Conor Kelly, whose chip across goal was headed in by Alexander Miller.

Another header ten minutes after the interval gave Miller a second goal and he completed his hat-trick after 63 minutes, a back-heel pass setting him up for a shot which Reid partially blocked but could not prevent trickling into the corner of goal.  Two minutes later, it was five for the visitors, with twenty-five minutes left to play, Kelly running through to drive the ball home.  

Watt settled a bit after this, but with former Watt favourite Cammie Ross making his debut for the visitors, it was perhaps inevitable that he would get on the scoresheet at some stage and when with ten minutes left to play Ross was brought down near the by-line, he took the penalty kick himself and scored.  There was more suffering to come for the Watt and three minutes later a free kick was touched to Euan McGill, who curled the ball into the danger area for Craig Scott to slide in and nudge it into the net.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Hogg, Munro, Barclay, Quinn, Malin (Duffy 67), Graham, Laurenson, Muttitt, Spence, Singh (Ward 62).   Subs. not used:  Shrive, McMahon.

Broxburn Athletic:

Wallace, Beesley (McGill 22), Binnie, Purves, Townsley, Scott, Nimmo (Howe 87), Locke, Miller (Duffy 86), Kelly, Ross.    Subs. not used:  Harrison, Donnelly-Kay, Grant.

Referee:  Mr Craig Charleston (Stenhousemuir)

Assistant Referees:  Mr Gary McGregor, Ms Niamh Westwood

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 16

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 3rd November 2018

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  0   LINLITHGOW ROSE  6

Few watchers of East of Scotland football matters would have been surprised to see the final result of this game, in the aftermath of which the Rose manager gave some distinctly ungenerous comments to the press, but what may not be apparent to many is that five of the six goals came in the last seventeen minutes and before the second went in the Rose bench was anything but relaxed about the state of the match.

The first shot in the game came from Watt’s Matt Graham, who linked with Arron Singh to send in a shot from the edge of the area, but Kyle Marley, in the Linlithgow goal, had no difficulty in making the catch. 

Rose took the lead after fourteen minutes’ play when Ruari Maclennan’s clever ball inside Scott Munro enabled his brother Roddy to draw out Callum Reid and send the ball across the area to give a tap-in to Kevin Watt.  

As though the Watt’s injury list weren’t bad enough already, Ryan Higgins had to be helped from the field a few minutes later after committing to a shot from the edge of the box, only to find the ball blocked as he tried to strike it.  Neil Laurenson came on to replace him.  

Tommy Coyne sent a header just wide a minute later, but there were few further chances for the visitors during the first half.  Aidan Quinn’s pass to Graham set the winger away on a mazy run on the left, ending with a pass to Singh, who tried an imaginative spin turn, but the Rose defender marking him read the move.

Eight minutes from half-time, the Watt gained a corner on the right and when the ball was delivered to the near post area, Niko Giovanovits volleyed for the corner of goal, but Marley was quickly across to save.

Giovanovits had been a fitness doubt for the match and was replaced by Lewis Duffy before the start of the second half, necessitating a reshuffle in the Watt line-up.  

Just on the hour, a poor pass in the Rose defence presented Graham  with a shooting opportunity just outside the area.  His curling shot had Marley at full stretch to turn the ball round the post and prevent a shock equaliser.  The corner fell amongst the feet within the area, but the Watt players weren’t able to reach it.

Darren Smith had to stretch back to connect with a cross and sent his header just over, but after nearly half an hour of the second half had gone, the visitors did score again.  The goal was a simple one, Roddy Maclennan cutting in from the left and curling a right-foot shot just inside the post to the left of Callum Reid.

Five minutes later it was three.  A free kick was awarded on the right and when Robert Sloan struck the kick, Reid soared high to his left to get strong arms to the ball, but he was unable to control its direction much and it shot up into the air.  As the goalkeeper returned to earth and the ball followed him, the referee ruled that at some point the ball had crossed the line.

Three further goals in the last six minutes of the game left the Watt with a bitter taste after an afternoon of intense commitment and effort.  The fourth goal came from a straightforward cross from the left, which found the head of Coyne, the fifth resulted from a pinball session in the Watt area which ended with the ball going in off Michelon and the final goal, in the last minute, came when a cross from the right was deflected high in the air and fell on top of Smith, at the far post, who simply chested it into goal.

We’ve noticed before that when the score mounts close to the end of a game, it often obliterates from the minds of the victors all recollection of the struggles they’ve endured during the game and that seems to have happened here.  Not that we’re suggesting that the Watt had their visitors on the back foot for any significant part of this game – though it would have been interesting to see what might have happened had Marley failed to keep out Graham’s attempt at an equaliser – but for most of the game the home team kept its shape well and defended with determination and alertness.  Harry Barclay must be singled out for mention here – as well as his usual impeccable judgment in defence, his interceptions and forward charges were a joyous feature of the game for Watt supporters.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Michelon, Munro, Barclay, Quinn, Giovanovits, Hogg, Higgins, Singh, Spence, Graham.   Subs. not used:  Ward, Muttitt, McMahon.

Linlithgow Rose:

Marley, Gray, Mackinnon (Urquhart 80), Barbour, Mackenzie, Sloan, Ronald, Ruari Maclennan, Watt, Coyne, Roddy Maclennan.    Subs. not used:  Turnbull, McKinven.

Referee:  Mr Craig Wilson (Edinburgh)

Assistant Referees:  Mr Kieran Kennedy, Mr Blair White

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Season 2018 – 2019:  Match 15

Central Taxis’ East of Scotland League (Conference C)

Saturday 27th October 2018

HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY  2   St. ANDREWS UNITED  0

With some really tough fixtures impending, it was important for Heriot-Watt to get a confidence boost by ending the recent losing sequence.  This was achieved by a Watt side playing some really good, cohesive football and remaining calm and decisive in the defensive side of the game.

With Jack Spence still not fit to play, Giovanni Michelon, after performing well at Glasgow in Wednesday’s BUCS match, came in at right-back for this game.  Justin Hogg was another who had succumbed to illness and with Ali Shrive also unavailable, Neil Laurenson still away and neither Sean Campbell nor Gavin Malin yet ready to return, Banji Koya’s resources were again stretched, with three of the Under-20 side which had played the previous evening amongst those on the bench.  Tyler Huxford was on the injury list again, but regular midfielders Chris Lane, Michael Ward and Ryan Higgins were all in their usual places and the side looked well-balanced.

Heriot-Watt started well and came close in the tenth minute, Lane controlling the ball with his back to goal and laying it back to be threaded through for the run of Aaron Singh, coming in at pace from the right, but the shot found only the side netting.

The opening goal was not long delayed, however, and it was Singh who scored it.  The referee explained later that Singh had been in an offside position, but under the current offside law, was made active again by a defender playing the ball.  Benefiting from this advantage, Singh picked his spot to the left of goalkeeper Brandon Connor.  

Heriot-Watt continued to take the game to the visitors and Lane’s free kick was headed narrowly over by Aidan Quinn.

Around the half-hour mark, Saints had a good spell, but the Watt defence was working diligently to prevent crosses coming into the box.  Scott Munro blocked an intended cross, then headed away the resultant corner.  The ball was played back in, finding two forwards behind the Watt defence, but there was no offside call and Gary Graham headed towards goal.  Callum Reid was alert to the danger, however, and dived to his right to block the ball and retrieve it.

St. Andrews brought on two substitutes at the start of the second half, Paul Quinn and Stephen Stark replacing Neil Ritchie and Daryl Falconer, and the visitors pushed forward, Graham sending in a header that was grasped by Reid.  Saints’ substitute Quinn then got his boot to a ball inside the penalty area but sent it well over the bar.

The injured Lane was replaced by Lewis Duffy in the tenth minute of the second half and when play restarted, Harry Barclay’s excellent pass found Ryan Higgins in a forward position.  From his lay-off, Matt Graham won a corner.  When Singh delivered the kick on to the head of Quinn, he sent the ball accurately towards the far corner of goal, but the man on the post for Saints cleared off the line.

A ricochet gave Matt Graham a chance just after this.  He was well covered by a defender, but twisted and turned to create a yard of space for a shot which was half a metre wide of the target.

A rare mistake in the Watt defence gave Gary Graham a chance to threaten, but Barclay quickly closed down the space and the hurried shot was saved by Reid.

As the game neared its conclusion, St. Andrews stepped up the pressure in an attempt to gain an equaliser, but the Watt defensive structure was sound and held firm.  Aaron Gamble replaced Singh and a little later Calvin Muttitt came on in place of Ward.  Muttitt soon had a great chance to wrap up the points when Gamble created a chance for him on the left, but somehow the ball was blocked on its way to goal.  

A minute later, though, Muttitt was involved in a decisive passage of play.  His run was perfectly timed to connect with a diagonal through ball and take him beyond the visitors’ defence.  His first touch was a little heavy, but he was still in good position when goalkeeper Connor, running from his area, tripped him.  It was inevitable that the ’keeper would be sent off, but with an outfield player in goal, it was unfortunate that Aidan Quinn failed to test him, putting his free kick over the bar.  

In the end it didn’t matter, though, as there was another bizarre goal to come before the end of the game.  The ball was passed back to the replacement goalkeeper and he miscontrolled it as Muttitt closed in.  Muttitt was able to get in a tackle, the momentum of which took the ball over the goal-line to confirm that the points were secure.

Heriot-Watt University:

Reid, Michelon, Munro, Barclay, Quinn, Giovanovits, Ward (Muttitt 84), Higgins, Lane (Duffy 54), Singh (Gamble 76), Graham.   Subs. not used:  Smith, Hannigan, Peterson.

St. Andrews United:

Connor, Ritchie (Quinn 45), Randall, A McDonald, Fleming, McInnes, S McDonald, Falconer (Stark 45), Wilson, Graham, R Cunningham.    Subs. not used:  Davidson, S Cunningham, Tabengwa, Coffley.

Referee:  Mr Laurie MacKinnon (Bathgate)

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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