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Null and Void

In a statement released today by the East of Scotland League, the 2020-2021 season has been formally concluded

Following a vote among the Full Member Clubs of the East of Scotland Football League it is now confirmed that Season 2020/21 is declared null & void. The Clubs voted for this course of action by a majority of 73% to 27%

Clubs were asked to vote of whether to null and void, or try and conclude the season once football was given the go ahead again. The majority of clubs felt that this was an unrealistic prospect, and voted to end the season.

Therefore, we will retain our place in the Premier Division for season 2021-22. With contact training and adult matches being allowed to commence by the Scottish Government from the 17th May, it’s expected Mark and Jamie will look to start pre-season training not long afterwards with the season start date expected to be 17th July.

We all hope that fans will once again be allowed through the turnstiles when we get underway, and we’ll provide further updates once we have them.

Update

The East of Scotland League updated members on the likliehood of this season re-starting

“Following the announcement by the Scottish Government that adult contact sport cannot commence until 17 May the Board have decided that unless that date is brought forward by a significant margin in the next Scottish Government review on 6 April we will in all likelihood have no other choice than to abandon this season’s league. A final decision will be made by the Board later that week.

So a little longer to wait for clarity. We have already been advised by the Lowland League that the U20 Developement League season, which never actually began, has benn abandoned.

Season Suspended

The statement from the SFA reads;

SCOTTISH FA BOARD CONFIRMS THREE-WEEK SUSPENSION OF PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL BENEATH SPFL PREMIERSHIP AND CHAMPIONSHIP

The Scottish FA Board met last night to discuss the escalating COVID-19 situation across the country and its impact on the national game at all levels.

While the updated Scottish Government guidance permits the continuation of professional sport, the board meeting, which followed a Joint Response Group discussion on the matter last Friday, nevertheless considered the implications of doing so at all tiers of the Scottish football professional pyramid, against a backdrop of increased positive cases across the country.

In particular, the board gave extensive consideration to making a decision in the interests of public health, taking cognisance of the government’s wish to reduce travel and possible contact with others whilst safeguarding commercial broadcasting contracts that sustain the professional game.

Following a meeting between the Scottish FA and the Minister for Public Health Sport and Wellbeing, both parties have agreed to impose a temporary suspension of all football beneath the Scottish Professional Football League Championship, encompassing all predominantly part-time tiers of the Scottish professional pyramid, from midnight tonight.

The impacted leagues are: SPFL League One, SPFL League Two, Scottish Women’s Football Premier Leagues 1 & 2, Highland League, Lowland League, East, West & South of Scotland Leagues, Scottish Junior FA Leagues and the North Caledonian League.

Based on the imperatives of acting in the best interests of public health and participant safety, whilst ensuring professional clubs’ survival, the SPFL Premiership will be exempt from the suspension, provided it continues to adhere to the stringent testing protocols.

The SPFL Championship will also be able to continue provided it commences weekly PCR testing.

The suspension of the game below the SPFL Premiership and Championship will be for three weeks, until 31st January, and will be reviewed on a rolling basis by the Scottish FA Board in partnership with Scottish Government.

The Scottish Cup will also be suspended, with any matches scheduled to be played prior to the 1st February to be rescheduled in due course.

Rod Petrie, Scottish FA President: “The Scottish FA is well aware of the efforts all clubs take to comply with the exacting protocols that were conditional on elite football being given an exemption to continue amid the pandemic.

“None the less the continuation of football at all levels has weighed increasingly heavy on me as President, my colleagues on the board and the Joint Response Group as we have watched the new strain of the virus spread rapidly.

“While the national sport has been afforded the privilege of elite sporting exemption, the risk of mass transportation of untested, largely part-time players is something that cannot be sustained as the cases continue to rise and available hospital beds become increasingly scarce.

“After discussions with the SPFL, the Premiership and Championship will continue on the proviso that both adhere to the existing testing regime. The vast majority of teams in those divisions are full-time professional clubs and so the risk of transmission remains manageably low. The cost implications to lower-division clubs was one factor but so too the realisation that many – with some notable exceptions – consist of part-time players who are either prevented from working due to the virus or have to work.

“In either case, the risk is currently too great amid the developing nationwide spread of the virus.

“Much has been said of football’s relationship with the Scottish Government during the pandemic. As President of the Scottish FA and Chair of the Joint Response Group, I am grateful for the clinical expertise provided by government specifically to football and for the timely award of £30m in grant and loan funding for the game. 

“We reiterate our commitment to playing our part in the collective effort to eradicate the virus.”

STATEMENT

The club would like to confirm that on Monday, we were informed by Track & Trace that a Musselburgh Athletic player who played in Saturdays match had tested positive for Covid19, all players and coaching staff were therefore advised to self-isolate for a period of 10 days until 4th January.

Subsequently on Wednesday, one of our players also tested positive for Covid19. It is unknown at this stage whether the player concerned contracted the virus on the pitch or elsewhere.

Our primary concern is with the welfare of the players and coaching staff, and all continue to self-isolate.

We have reviewed the events of Saturday and are satisfied that club personnel followed all Covid protocols required by Musselburgh, East of Scotland League and the SFA.

All training has been cancelled and we do not have a match scheduled this coming weekend. This does not effect any other team apart from the Seniors.

Camelon Cancelled

With Camelon’s Scottish Cup match against Brora Rangers re-scheduled for Saturday 2nd January, our match with Camelon on that day has now been cancelled. Our next match will now be 9th January at home to Penicuik Athletic.

Musselburgh Athletic 4 Blackburn United 2

Saturday  26th December 2020  –  East of Scotland Premier League

Musselburgh Athletic                4             Blackburn United                           2

C.Donaldson 44, Thomson 74,  Ballantyne 78, 90+1

Campbell 15, MacLeod 90+3

Storm Bella arrived right on cue before kick-off, and it was Blackburn who won the toss and elected to play with the wind at their backs on a wet by playable Olivebank pitch.

With four minutes on the clock, Laurie Devine won the ball on the left and crossed into Danny Campbell but a defender nipped in before he could strike and knocked it out for a corner. From the corner Marc Smith has his shot blocked and cleared to safety.  The opening goal came on the quarter hour mark when a loose ball from Brad Donaldson saw Danny Campbell nip in a head of John McManus and round keeper Paul Grant and fire the ball into the net.

It was Campbell again who produced the next chance as Blackburn took advantage of the wind, he pounced on another loose ball but this time his shot was gathered by Grant.

The lead should have been doubled on the 27 minute mark when Marty Lawrie slid in Devine on the left, he passed inside to Marley Redfern only eight yards out but he seemed to dither on the ball and Grant blocked his shot with his legs with the goal at Redfern’s mercy.

The first real chance for Burgh came on 35 minutes when Dean Ballantyne headed a Callum Donaldson cross wide, then at the other end, Marc Smith tried a shot from distance which slid past.

As time was running out in the first half, Burgh equalised when a Conor Thomson free-kick was well saved by Gavin King who pushed the low shot away but it was Calum Donaldson who was quickest to react to stab the loose ball into the net.   

The teams swapped round with Blackburn now playing into the wind and rain, but four minutes after a restart there were claims for a penalty when Laurie Devine appeared to be barged over in the box but a corner was awarded, from the corner there were claims for a hand ball which were waved away.

Approaching the half hour mark a Nathan Evans effort flashed wide before Marc Smith again tried form distance, this time Grant easily gathered. Richie Hutton then fired in a cross cum shot from the right which Grant parried back out into the box but there was nobody there to pounce on the loose ball and it was cleared.

A second Burgh goal came out of nothing. A long Grant clearance eventually fell to Conor Thomson on the right edge of the area and he fired a curling shot past King into the far corner. Two quickly became three when after a Blackburn attack broke down the ball was launched upfield, Ballantyne was racing onto it and King appeared unsure whether to gather the ball on the edge of the box or clear it, he done neither and Ballantyne nipped in and rolled the ball into the net.

It was a fatal blow to a Blackburn side who had looked reasonably comfortable at 1-1.  Into injury time and the lead was extended when an Evans angled shot was saved by King but the ball fell to Ballantyne who fired high into the net. Blackburn however hit back and grabbed a consolation when Stuart MacLeod stroked a free kick over the wall and over Grant high into the net, but it was too little too late.

A game which should have produced some much needed points ended in defeat.

Musselburgh Athletic: Paul Grant, Callum Donaldson, Jordan Orru, Jackie Myles (Liam Gregory 68), John McManus, Lloyd Fiddler (Liam Reid 37), Conor Thomson (Ethan Wynne 85), Bradley Whyte, Bradley Donaldson, Dean Ballantyne, Nathan Evans.  Unused subs: Mathu King, Darren Downie, Ryan McGurk.

Blackburn United: Gavin King, Richard Hutton, Marty Lawrie, James Mildren, Michael Browne, Marc Smith (Jordan Devine 80), Danny Campbell (Stuart MacLeod 80), Justin Watson, Laurie Devine (Kyle McClung 85), Brian Ross (David Howe 73), Marley Redfern.  Unused Subs: Craig Saunders.

Tranent Juniors 3 Blackburn United 1

Saturday  19th December 2020  –  East of Scotland Premier League

Tranent Juniors                              3             Blackburn United                           1

Lander 33, Paterson 70, Thomson 72      Watson 49

Blackburn travelled to unbeaten league leaders Tranent looking to cause an upset and put some much needed points on the board.  Tranent however, had other ideas and right from the start pushed Blackburn back. Ricky Miller, once a Burnie player a long time ago, headed over in the opening minutes from a corner and then Dean Whitson let fly from distance which was beaten away by Gavin King.

Blackburn found it difficult to get a foot hold in the game and attacks were few and far between. On 24 minutes Adam Watson crossed to Kyle Lander but his header rebounded off the bar. A few minutes later there was a bit of a stramash in the box when a Whitson effort from a corner was cleared off the line, a second attempt was blocked by King and third attempt was deflected wide as Blackburn defended desperately. King then held a Kayne Paterson effort before inevitable to opener came on 33 minutes, when a cross by Adam Watson was knocked goalwards by Rhys Craigie, but took a deflection into the path of Kyle Lander who rolled the ball into the net.

Blackburn started to edge their way into the game but Dominic Kane limped off just before the half time whistle brought an end to a torrid first half.

The second half got underway with Blackburn looking to create more problems for Tranent and they did that with only four minutes gone. Marley Redfern was sent clear on the left, he cut inside into the box where he was brought down by Ricky Miller and the referee quickly pointed to the spot.  Justin Watson stepped up to level the scores.

On the hour mark Blackburn should have taken the lead, a Hutton long ball was flicked on by Brian Ross which sent Laurie Devine clear, however Alasdair Adams done well to block his attempt and also gathered Ross’s follow up. Five minutes later an almost identical chance was again created, Laurie Devine again finding himself free behind the Tranent rear guard after running onto a Redfern through ball however the ball seemed to get caught under his feet after he rounded Adams, he laid the ball back to Watson but his first time shot was beaten away by Adams.

Those missed chances were punished on 70 minutes when a cross into the box seemed to take a slight deflection which deceived Drummond and fell into the path of Paterson who tapped it home from close range with their first real chance of the second half, then two minutes later Steven Thomson on the right combined with Watson inside the box before firing a shot goalwards which Drummond half blocked which sent the ball towards the far corner of King’s net.

Tranent then had time to miss a penalty with nine minutes remaining when Paterson’s spot kick was well saved by King, after Drummond had bundled over Moffat.

Tranent: Alasdair Adams, Ciaran McKenzie (Lewis Hawkins 72), Aaran Ponton, Richard Miller, Dean Whitson, Steven Thomson, Adam Watson, Sean Murphy, Kayne Paterson, Rhys Craigie, Kyle Lander (Owen Renton 80). Unused subs: Jack Chesser, Gary Hamilton, Ben Reilly, Ian Moffat.

Blackburn United: Gavin King, Richard Hutton, Kyle McClung, James Mildren, John Drummond, Michael Browne, Dominic Kane (Brian Ross 44), Justin Watson (Paddy Queen 80), Laurie Devine, Danny Campbell, Marley Redfern. Unused subs: Marc Smith, David Howe, Jordan Devine, Craig Saunders.

Paying the penalty

Saturday 12th December 2020  –  Scottish Cup Second Preliminary Round

Blackburn United                   1             Civil Service Strollers                     1  (AET, CSS won 4-2 pens)

Redfern 44                                                Moffat 53

A piece of history was made at the Purdie Worldwide Community Stadium as it hosted the first ever Scottish Cup tie in Blackburn, with the winners moving into the First Round draw to be played on Boxing Day.   Last seasons debut in the competition away to Hill of Beath resulted in captain Michael Browne being sent off, meaning he was unavailable for todays game.

The first chance of the match came on ten minutes when from a throw in, Dominico Gibson ran onto the ball but John Drummond blocked his effort in the act of shooting and the ball went out for a fruitless corner. The same player again tried his luck a few minutes later but dragged his shot wide.   On twenty minutes Blackburn carved out their first chance when Richie Hutton directed a throw-in on the right to Danny Campbell inside the box, his effort from a tight angle was held by Lewis Budinauckas the young on-loan Rangers keeper.

Just past the half hour, Marley Redfern sent in a cross towards the near post looking for Laurie Devine, however the covering defender just got his head to it to send it out for a corner.  Jordan Hopkinson then tried his luck at the other end but flashed his shot wide.

With time running out in the first half, a moment of brilliance lit-up the game.  Marley Redfern collected the ball inside his own half on the left, before going on a run past several defenders before cutting inside and unleashing an unstoppable shot past Budinauckas into the roof of the net. A moment of brilliance from the on-loan Hamilton Accies youngster to send Blackburn in at the break.

Strollers made a change at half time looking to get back into the game and with eight minutes gone they done just that. A free-kick on the left into the near post was met by Jonathan Moffat to bullet a header past King into the bottom corner of the net to draw the sides level.

After that bright start from the visitors the game became cagey, with neither side wanting to lose what could provide to be a decisive second goal.  On 69 minutes Connor Young flashed a shot wide, then a few minutes later Laurie Devine went down in the Strollers box but was shown the yellow card instead of a penalty by referee MacDonald.

With ten minutes remaining it was Young again who had an effort for the visitors, this time well saved by King, then Marley Redfern slid a ball into Laurie Devine whose curling shot crept past the far post.

The game moved into extra-time, with few incidents of note. A Connor Young effort drifted past and then strong penalty claims from Blackburn were waved away after Jordan Devine appeared to be bundled over in the box.  With time running out a Jordan Devine header from a Redfern cross went over the bar.

The game therefore needed to be settled on the lottery of penalty kicks, Martin Lawrie converted the first, but Brian Ross sent his effort over the bar and then David Howe’s effort was saved. Despite Laurie Devine converting his kick it was left to Dominico Gibson to covert Strollers fourth penalty to win the tie and progress to the first round.

Blackburn United: Gavin King, Richard Hutton, Martin Lawrie, John Drummond, James Mildren ©, Stuart MacLeod (Jordan Devine 101), Danny Campbell (David Howe 85), Marc Smith (Dominic Kane 68), Laurie Devine, Brian Ross, Marley Redfern.  Unused subs: Matthew Kinross, Justin Watson, Paddy Queen, Craig Saunders.

Civil Service Strollers:  Lewis Budinauckas, Kyle Fee, Euan Bauld, Jonathan Moffat (Ross Guthrie 104), Matthew Cunningham (David Churchill 104), Mark McConnell, Alieu Faye, Jordan Hopkinson (Connor Young 62), Matthew Shaw (Andrew Johnston 46), Craig Newall, Dominico Gibson.  Unused subs: Ross Young, Lewis Duffy, Fraser Napier.

Scottish Cup

Saturday sees our historic home debut in the Scottish Cup, against Lowland League Civil Service Strollers, with a 3.00pm kick-off at the Purdie Worldwide Community Stadium. Sadly we are still unable to admit spectators to the stadium, however the SFA will be sending a camera along and highlights should be on the SFA website on Sunday.

Should we win the match, the First Round draw will also take place on Sunday.

A very limited number of programmes will be available for the match, these will be on sale outside the entrance gate. It’s a case of help yourself and deposit your £2 in the “honesty” bucket. This is the safest way to sell these under the current circumstances, please remember socila distancing guidelines.

Comings and goings

A long overdue update on various comings and goings at the Purdie Worldwide Community Stadium.

Reece Boyle who joined at the start of the season from Whitburn Juniors has gone to Bo’ness United Juniors, whilst Lewis Alexander, Darren McIntosh and Kriss Goss have all been released.  The club would like to thank them and wish them all good luck. Meanwhile David Taylor, Darren Dalrymple and Kieran Welsh are all taking time away from the game.

Brian Ross has re-joined the club from Wishaw HSFP whilst the amateur game remains shut down.  We have several loanees from Livingston.  Justin Watson and Marc Smith are familiar faces having been here last season, with Kai Wilson now also joining them.  17 year old Marley Redfern is also on loan, this time from Hamilton Accies.  Finlay Anderson has returned to Livingston from his brief loan spell.

On the injury front, Callum McDowall is facing a lengthy spell on the side-lines after a knee injury suffered at Bo’ness in pre-season, whilst Dominic Kane and Kyle McClung are also recovering from various knocks and should feature again soon.

As for as the U20’s are concerned, we may not see them playing competitively until the central belt is in Level 0 or 1 restrictions and that doesn’t look like happening soon.  Currently they are not even allowed to train.  We remain hopeful that we’ll see some sort of season commence next year, albeit a brief one.