Jeanfield Swifts 0
Blackburn United 4 (Millar 71mins & 81mins, Devine 73mins, Hutton 84mins)
United played their first competitive match in front of fans since 7th March 2020 at a sweltering Riverside Park in Perth against a Jeanfield Swifts side who were unbeaten and at the top of the league when hostilities were abruptly brought to a Covid imposed stop last season and the home side started the match amongst the favourites for promotion this time out. However, it was Blackburn who nonetheless came closest in the opening exchanges, first when a Marcus Millar diving header from a Danny Campbell corner was cleared off the line and in the moments that followed when Campbell himself had a curling effort held by Mitchell in the home goal. The hosts themselves were not shy in coming forward and when Dodd came in off the right and past Millar his shot too was on target but was clutched to the chest of Craig Saunders. Dodd was also at the heart of the next Swifts move but when he set up Struthers his shot was also saved by Saunders. The best move of the opening twenty five minutes then followed when David Howe won possession for United and found Andy McQuillan who, after a neat twist and turn, slipped in Jack Garrad who, instead of shooting, set-up Calum Heath in a more promising position but his pop at goal was denied by the diving Mitchell. McQuillan then saw a back post header blocked as United began to stretch the opposition. Just before the half hour mark Jeanfied were reduced to ten men when Garrad knocked the ball into the space behind Dolzanski but he himself couldn’t get past the big centre half whose lunging tackle brought the young midfielder crashing earthward and deservedly earned him a red card. Before the interval Howe had the ball in the Swifts net but was correctly ruled offside.
With Lennon Smith on for Heath early in the second half the youngster was quick into the action to set-up McQuillan but his lob over Mitchell from the edge of the area lacked for accuracy and drifted past the left hand upright. With the home side beginning to exert a degree of control in the middle of the park despite their man disadvantage there was perhaps an indication as to why they had been tagged as amongst the early favourites for the title, but very little in the way of clear cut chances came their way. Indeed, with nineteen minutes remaining it was Blackburn who eventually opened the scoring, MILLAR getting on the end of a Campbell corner to head past Mitchell before, ninety seconds later, substitute Laurie DEVINE sent a scintillating, dipping volley on the run past the ‘keeper from distance to double the lead. Inside the last ten minutes MILLAR was again on the end of a corner kick, this time from the right and from the boot of Darren Gribben, to nod past an exposed Mitchell from almost on the line and three minutes later the scoring was complete when HOWE matched Devine’s earlier effort for both accuracy and distance to thrash the ball high into Mitchell’s net.
Blackburn United line-up: Saunders, Sayers, Lawrie (McClung 85), Browne, Millar, Garrad, Hutton (Kane 76), Howe, McQuillan (Devine 68), Campbell (Gribben 76), Heath (L.Smith 50) Subs (not used): Shaw, Clements
Jeanfield Swifts line-up: Mitchell, Dodd, Struthers, Whitehead, Dolzanski, Ramsay, Scott, McLaren, F.Smith, Simpson, Fergus Subs: McLeish, M.Smith, Sweeney, Honeyman, Gunnion
Referee: Mr. Alan Budd
Assistants: Mr. Archibald Finnigan & Mr. Mark Findlay