Blackburn United 3 Broxburn Athletic 2

East of Scotland Premier League  –  Saturday 7th January 2023

Blackburn United        3          Kyle Sampson 6 (pen), Callum Heath 54, Richard Hutton 66

Broxburn Athletic        2          Mark McConnell 16, Jordan Wright 36

By Liam Campbell

Blackburn took the 3 points today in a vital game in the East of Scotland Premier League, overcoming local rivals Broxburn Athletic in a 5-goal thriller at the Purdie Worldwide Community Stadium.

The 3 points saw Blackburn cut the gap between themselves, in 13th, and Hill of Beath Hawthorn, in 12th, meaning only 7 goals separate the two. Looking downwards, despite Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale picking up an impressive point today at home to 4th place Sauchie, Blackburn have extended the gap between themselves and the relegation zone to 2 points and they also have 2 games in hand on LTHV.

A home win may have taken a few by surprise as Broxburn Athletic currently sit 8th in the league and with the two sides meeting twice earlier this season, the visitors will be disappointed to see their unbeaten record this season against the hosts disappear.

The game began as you would expect most derbies to begin, frantic and aggressive offering little time on the ball for the players.

It was Blackburn who struck first though as inside 5 minutes they were awarded a penalty after a long ball over the top of the Broxburn defence saw Josh Blair in the Broxburn goal completely mistime his attempt at clearing the ball before he clattered into the Blackburn player which left the referee very little choice other than to award a penalty to the hosts.

New boy Kyle Sampson stepped up, and just as he’d slotted his two penalties away last week against Jeanfield Swifts, the striker coolly converted with a power strike right down the middle of the goal.

This was Sampson’s 3rd goal in the last 2 games showing he’s certainly made his mark for his new club.

Around 8 minutes in it was once again Sampson who came close for the hosts with a powerful effort from outside the box just flying north of the top corner.

Sampson found himself involved once again in the opening exchanges as he fired a ball across goal but unfortunately for Blackburn there was no takers on the end of his delivery.

Broxburn however, began to grow into the game and on the 16th minute we seen a real contender for goal of the season when Mark McConnell smashed the ball into the top corner of the goal with aid from the crossbar from the outside of the box.

The early equaliser saw a real shift in momentum and after a positive start from Blackburn they found themselves on the back foot for the rest of the first half.

In the 36th minute Broxburn took the lead when skipper Jordan Wright rose highest at the back post and got his head on the end of a wonderful free kick delivery.

Broxburn were unlucky not to score again before the end of the half as they once again caused concern with a wicked delivery into the box, however on this occasion Jordan Wright couldn’t keep his header down.

Blackburn offered little before the end of the half other than a few half chances that were blazed over the bar.

Blackburn went into the second half trailing and on the back foot, however the team talk at half time looked to have encouraged the hosts who came out the traps flying in the second half.

Blackburn’s forward Jeremiah Otoni proved a handful for the Broxburn defence as drove at the heart of the defence testing Blair in the Broxburn goal inside the first 5 minutes of the second half.

The opening exchanges of the second half remained as fiery and aggressive as the first 45 and within 5 minutes the referee had booked two Blackburn players, David Wilson and Adam Forrest.

After banging on the Broxburn door for the first 10 minutes of the second half Blackburn found themselves level with a wonderful strike from Callum Heath who showed great technique to control his volley from the edge of the area with the outside of his boot placing it in the bottom right corner leaving Blair no chance of stopping it.

The half time substitution from Blackburn was one that proved to change the game. Laurie Devine’s pace was a constant issue that the Broxburn defence seemed to have no answer for.

2 more yellow cards followed just past the hour mark, one for each side.

Blackburn’s number 6, David Howe curled a beauty of an effort towards goal and was immensely unlucky to see it cannon back out of the bar.

Blackburn had started the second half amazingly and the third was always on the cards, but it was a quick drop of the shoulder from Richard Hutton that created the opening for him to smash an effort goalward that proved far too powerful for Blair in the Broxburn goal giving the hosts the lead for the second time in the game.

On 70 minutes Blackburn came close to adding a fourth as David Howe was unlucky to see his diving header attempt fly wide of the target from a great corner delivery.

On 73 minutes Broxburn may have been lucky to keep all 11 players on the pitch when the referee deemed only a booking was necessary when Andrew Gillen lunged recklessly into a tackle causing a minor delay in the restart with the Blackburn players injury.

The final 15 minutes of the game was a very end to end affair as the visitors looked for a crucial equaliser leaving themselves open for counter attacks at the other end which Laurie Devine’s pace really exploited.

The game management was fantastic from Blackburn who limited the visitors to only half chances in added time and the final whistle saw a mighty roar from the players, management staff and fans alike.

A massive victory for the boys in their first game of 2023 and we will hope for a similar outcome next week when we travel away to 6th placed Musselburgh Athletic.

Blackburn United: Jakub Welna, Adam Forrest, James Mildren, David Wilson (Dominic Kane 68), Marcus Millar, David Howe, Calum Heath, Daryl Meikle, Kyle Sampson (Laurie Devine 46), Richie Hutton (Scott Richards 82), Jerry Otonti (Sam Nicolson 86). Unused subs: Joe Osbourne, Luke Meikle, Craig Saunders.

Broxburn Athletic: Josh Blair, Gordon Donaldson, Jordan Wright, Bradley Donaldson, Errol Douglas (Darren Downie 63), Jordan Orru (Steven Clark 72), Gary Brass, Andrew Gillen, David Greenhill, Craig Henderson, Mark McConnell. Unused subs: Aaron Hamilton, Craig Newall, Shaun Harrison, Jack Sayers, Liam Gray.

Referee: Sean Duff      Assistants: Sean Redgrave, Tyler Waddell.