Blackburn United 1 Sauchie Juniors 0

East of Scotland Premier League – Saturday 26th March 2022

Blackburn United                    1          (Devine 36)

Sauchie Juniors                      0

West Lothian Courier report

A good crowd took advantage of Blackburn United opening the gates for free to watch as United recorded a 1-0 win over Sauchie to put themselves a point behind 14th placed Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale in the East of Scotland Premier Division.  Laurie Devine’s first half header proved to be the difference between the two sides at the Purdie Worldwide Community Stadium.

From the offset, both teams set a frantic pace in the late March heat, but the early exchanges were devoid of clear-cut chances. On 16 minutes, Sauchie’s Chic Clark would be the first of the goalkeepers to be called into action.  Jack Garrard found himself free in the Sauchie box and was able to get his shot away.  Clark, however, reacted magnificently to deny the Blackburn man. In any case, Garrard would see himself flagged for offside in the build-up.

Both teams continued to take turns to put pressure on each other without really bothering either keeper. In the opening half hour, both Callum Heath and Sam Davidson would each try their luck from distance for Blackburn and Sauchie respectively. But neither effort looked likely to open the scoring.

However, with nine minutes of the first half remaining, Blackburn would find their opening. Right back James Mildren had spent much of the first half producing his typical combative display and it was his determination to keep, what seemed like, a long lost cause in play that led to the goal.  His cross from the byline found the head of Devine who was able to guide it high into the net.

This seemed to give United the impetus to kick on and as the early the second half unfolded, they would push for a second. But not before Sauchie would have a penalty claim turned down. Six minutes into the second half, the Sauchie players felt that Lyall Cameron’s clearance took more of Connor Kelly than the ball but the officials disagreed and allowed play to continue.

Devine in particular seemed spurred on by his goal and would produce two chances in as many minutes. First, on 65 minutes he would pick up Heath’s cross field ball and, cutting inside, force a good save from Clark.  A minute later, Garrard’s skillful spin away in the centre of the park allowed him to play Devine through. He looked certain to have doubled United’s lead but he could only see his effort cleared off the line after navigating a crowded penalty area.

As the game entered its last quarter, Garrard and Danny Campbell would each have chances to see the game off. First, Garrard looked to be clean through on goal but Sauchie’s Will Greenhorn reacted with a last ditch tackle to deny him.  Then, Devine’s good running found him in a position to lay the ball back to Campbell at the edge of the box. Campbell, however, saw his tame shot saved.

In the end, a resounding defensive display saw Blackburn hold on to record a deserved victory.

These two sides will meet again on the 5th of April in Clackmannanshire, with United knowing a second victory over Sauchie will see them leapfrog Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale and into safety.

Blackburn United: Gavin King, James Mildren, Kyle McClung, Fergus Owens, Lyall Cameron, Daryl Meikle, Laurie Devine (Dominic Kane 76), Richie Hutton, Danny Campbell (Fraser Cormack 81), Jack Garrad (David Howe 89), Calum Heath.  Unused subs: Joe Osborne, Chris Ashley.

Sauchie Juniors: Charles Clark, William Greenhorn, Ross Hutchison (Grant Dickie 40), Scott Davidson, Sam Davidson (Ross Kavanagh 64), Jack Docherty (Ross Crawford 64), Sam Collumbine, Darren Carroll (Jon Tully 76), Conor Kelly (Kris Kelly 76), Danny Smith, Brian Morgan.  Unused subs: Iain Syme, Evan Collumbine.

Referee: Keith Maskell            Assistants: Andrew Simmonds, Cameron Doyle.   Att 154.