East of Scotland Premier League – Saturday 27th November 2021
Musselburgh Athletic 4 (King 11, 24, 32p, Murrell 86p)
Blackburn United 1 (Browne 13p)
[match report by Derek Hall]
Plenty to play for on a bitterly cold day at Olivebank in the EOS Premier with Musselburgh Athletic aiming to stay in touch with the top three whilst Blackburn United went looking for a result to move them further from the scrap near the bottom. A cagey start saw the first real effort arrive on three minutes as Bradley Whyte fired a low long range left foot drive well wide for the home side and then Danny Campbell worked hard for the visitors on the right flank but his cross into the box drifted behind. After six minutes, Whyte did the spadework before finding Josh Jefferies and his low left foot 25 yard drive had United keeper Gavin King going low to make the save. A minute later, Conor Thomson got to the goal line and Jack Sayers made an excellent block to concede the games first corner which Musselburgh failed to profit from. A long through ball then dropped over the head of United centre half Marcus Miller but Jordan Smith just couldn’t get on the end of it and keeper King gratefully gathered the ball. However with ten minutes on the clock, the keeper could do nothing as the home side hit the front when a lovely ball from the left flank picked out Mathu King on the edge of the United penalty area and he managed to dig the ball out from under his feet before flicking the ball beautifully into the corner of the net with the outside of his right foot from 15 yards, taking the effort early before keeper King could set himself for a really classy finish. That early advantage only lasted for around two minutes with an equaliser which owed much to United’s Campbell who won the ball on the left wing before clipping a lovely pass inside to Richard Hutton and he skipped past one challenge and into the Burgh penalty area where he was upended by home keeper Ross McRae and referee Alastair Grieve was right there to award an obvious spot kick. United captain Michael Browne stepped up to cooly send keeper McRae the wrong way from the penalty and with almost thirteen minutes on the clock, we were back to all square. Jeffries tried an immediate response from distance for the home side but this one was well wide and Blackburn had taken heart from getting themselves level. On eighteen minutes, a free kick into the Athletic box after a foul on Daryl Meikle saw the ball ping around before keeper King scrambled the ball behind with Campbell again right there for the visitors. Callum Heath played the corner short to Dominic Kane and his long, looping back post cross was taken on the volley by Meikle from around nine yards and only a desperate lunging block by Liam Reid preserved parity for the home side. Browne was then in again for the visitors and only a brave block from keeper McRae kept the United skipper at bay although a short passback a few seconds later from Sayers had United keeper King under a little more pressure than he wanted before managing to clear. Not to be outdone, Reid then almost put his keeper McRae in a bit of bother with a back pass and United winger Hutton wasn’t far away from closing the Burgh keeper down. However, after 24 minutes, the home side relieved the pressure in the best possible way as Jordan Smith raced down the right flank and got his head up before stroking a lovely cross towards the near post and the incoming King didn’t have to break stride as he met the ball eight yards out and powered home a thumping header just inside the near post to put the home side back in front. A foul on 28 minutes by John McManus on Hutton saw United put six players into the Burgh penalty area so it must have been very frustrating when Heath’s delivery didn’t manage to clear the first defender. On the half hour, Whyte played a nice pass into the United penalty area wide on the left which tempted Sayers into an ill advised challenge, possibly on Orru, but the upshot was another clear spot kick and nobody was surprised when King stepped up to stroke the ball home low into the corner to claim a 21 minute hat trick and with just over half an hour gone, the home side had given themselves some breathing space and King was now thinking about clearing a space on the mantelpiece for the match ball. After 35 minutes, Lloyd Fiddler found Whyte and he laid the ball into the path of Orru whose 18 yard left foot angled drive was brilliantly tipped over by United keeper King and the keeper was soon involved again dealing with a speculative 35 yard half volley from Greg Page. United were looking to stay solid and ensure things didn’t get any worse before the break, but Heath got forward for the visitors to send a left foot drive from 24 yards over the crossbar. However, at the break, United had a few problems to solve and would be coming out in the second period knowing that the games next goal had to be theirs if they had any ambitions at all of taking something from a home side who had in Mathu King a striker who on this form looked like he could score at will.
Four minutes into the second half, Heath raced away down the right flank for the visitors but he was closed down by the Burgh defence before he could deliver any sort of cross. At the other end, Burgh defender McManus was almost playing like a right winger at times and a dangerous cross into the United penalty area was headed behind by Lyall Cameron. Jefferies corner found the head of Whyte and the ball then flashed across the United goal area before being cleared. After 52 minutes, the hard working Campbell laid the ball into the path of Hutton and his angled 15 yard drive brought out a good save from home keeper McRae at the second attempt. Two minutes later, Browne headed the ball inside the box to Campbell and his sixteen yard header hit the back of the Burgh net but the offside flag had gone up early and the header didn’t count. At the other end, Sayers misjudged a ball into the United penalty area and Orru dispossessed him before firing his left foot drive into the side netting from a fairly acute angle. After 57 minutes, a Reid clearance saw King break upfield for Burgh and as he went past Miller on the halfway line, the United centre half somewhat cynically took him down and referee Grieve didn’t hesitate in going to his pocket for the first time to look out his yellow card. A minute later, King was probably disappointed as he sent an unchallenged header from a McManus cross well wide of the United goal after a nice move begun in midfield by Fiddler. After 63 minutes, Campbell saw a shot from sixteen yards blocked behind by Page and the United striker was working tirelessly up front for his side whilst basically feeding on scraps and when the corner came over, the same player glanced a header across the Burgh goal area and wide. On 65 minutes, Musselburgh replaced hat trick hero King and also Whyte with Declan O’Kane and Aaron Murrell. Miller then received what had to be a final warning from referee Grieve for complaining about a nothing throw in, daft at any time but bordering on mental when you’re already carrying a yellow card. The game had gone a bit flat, Burgh were content to manage their two goal lead and Blackburn just couldn’t seem to carve out any real killer chances. On 68 minutes, the visitors made their own double switch as Kyle McClung and Heath made way for James Mildren and David Howe. Thomson and Murrell almost worked a nice one two on the edge of the United penalty area but Meikle read the situation and made the interception. Blackburn were frustrated again by a couple of offside flags in quick succession against Campbell and Hutton, both from passes by Sayers but with 15 minutes left they almost got the breakthrough as home keeper McRae somehow kept out a Sayers header, scooping the ball away as he was going down in the opposite direction. Meikle was then replaced by Bailey Ferris as Blackburn went to their bench again just before a Howe effort dropped for Ferris and only a good challenge from Reid stopped another decent chance for the visitors at the expense of a corner. With just over ten minutes remaining, Burgh made another double switch as Fiddler and Smith were replaced by Jackie Myles and Conner Fitzpatrick. On 83 minutes, Thomson sent a 25 yard effort over the top for a home side who hadn’t really fashioned a chance for a good ten minutes, whilst still remaining fairly comfortable. Six minutes from time, Murrell drove forward for Burgh, avoiding a clip from Browne, and his pass to Thomson saw the strikers shot deflected behind for a corner, at which point referee Grieve then went back and cautioned United skipper Browne for his earlier attempted trip on Murrell. The ball into the box saw a clumsy challenge by Cameron on Reid once again correctly penalised by referee Grieve and the game had its third spot kick, with the responsibility this time falling on the shoulders of Murrell, who made a lovely job of sending King the wrong way and tying the game up for the home side at 4-1. Before the game restarted, Burgh made their final switch as Ciaran Young came on for Thomson and he was on just in time to see Blackburn claim for another spot kick when Hutton’s powerful 22 yard right foot drive was blocked inside the box but referee Grieve was unmoved. Jeffries flashed an excellent corner kick right through the heart of the United goal area as we entered the final minute but in the end, it was the home side who took the points with an inspired first half performance being followed by a professionally managed second half which will doubtless give manager Joe Hamill a good deal of satisfaction on a day when Mathu King showed again why he is such a favourite in these parts. Blackburn worked very hard without really convincing anyone during the second half that they could turn things around, but a bit more support for the excellent Danny Campbell might yet yield dividends in future fixtures.
Musselburgh Athletic: Ross McCrae, Jordan Orru, John McManus, Josh Jeffries, Conor Thomson (Ciaran Young 86), Mathu King (Aaron Murrell 65), Bradley Whyte (Declan O’Kane 65), Liam Reid, Lloyd Fiddler (Connor Fitzpatrick 79), Jordan Smith (Jackie Myles 79), Greg Page. Unused subs: Liam Gregory, Harvey Tanner.
Blackburn United: Gavin King, Jack Sayers, Kyle McClung (James Mildren 68), Lyall Cameron, Marcus Millar, Dominic Kane, Calum Heath (David Howe 68), Michael Browen, Danny Campbell, Daryl Meikle (Baley Ferris 77), Richard Hutton. Unused Subs: Craig Saunders, Craig Young.
Blackburn United 1 Heath 68
Penicuik Athletic 2 Somerville 30, Watson 119
Burnie went into the game missing six regulars but also opened the scoring after three minutes when latching onto a Callum Heath through ball Kieran Sweeney hit the post with his shot from 20 yards, with Laurie Devine’s follow up effort from the rebound sliding past.
On the quarter hour mark, Craig Saunders got down well to push a shot away for a Penicuik corner, then at the other end almost the opener when from a Kyle McClung throw in, David Howe had a shot tipped onto the underside of the bar by Liam Robertson and bounced down close to the line, Sweeney followed up with a header which also hit the bar before Heaths resulting shot was blocked.
Daryll Meikle was next to try his luck but Robertson saved comfortably, then Sweeney shot just over. Penicuik moved up the park from the goal kick and won themselves a free kick, the kick was floated to the far post where Forbes headed back across goal and Aaron Somerville was lurking to shoot past Saunders to open the scoring.
Right on half time Penicuik nearly doubled the leade when Andrew Forbes met a long free kick again at the back post but headed wide.
Marcus Millar, who had went over on his ankle ten minutes from the break, didn’t re-appear and the back line was shuffled again with Jack Sayers coming on.
After 15 minutes of the second half a crossfield pass from Heath found Kieran Sweeney but his angled drive was saved by Robertson. However the equaliser wasn’t long in coming when Callum Heath met a Laurie Devine cross and flashed a shot beyond Robertson for 6 yards.
Penicuik upped the pressure in search of an equaliser and both Baptie and Reid passed up good chances before at the other end Forbes almost headed the ball into his own net. Meanwhile Sweeney got on the end of a Meikle cross at the near post and was inches wide.
The visitors looked to have won it with minutes remaining but the goal was flagged offside by the enclosure side linesman. Sweeney then had another half chance but shot wide.
Into extra time and another injury for Burnie when Kieran Sweeney went down heavily after a poor tackle and went off with a dislocated shoulder. With Blackburn tiring after their second bout of extra-time in a week, Penicuik looked to capitalise and Saunders done well to block a shot, and was again on hand just after the restart of the second period of extra time when He got do superbly to push away a Reid shot only for it to deflect off the inrushing Kateleza intio the net, however he was in an offside position and the goal was ruled out.
With time running out and penalties looming, a long throw-in wasn’t cleared and the ball fell to Kieran Watson to shoot through a crowded box into the corner of the net to win the game.
Blackburn United: Craig Saunders, Lyall Cameron, Kyle McClung, Michael Browne, Marcus Millar (Jack Sayers 46), Daryll Meikle, Laurie Devine (Lennon Smith 109), Dominic Kane (Kieran Sweeney (Baley Ferris 98), David Howe, Kieran Sweeney. Unused Subs: Tom Baillie, Gavin King (GK)
Penicuik Athletic: Liam Robertson, Liam Baptie, Darrell Young, Kieran Watson, Cameron Dawson (Gregor Lamb 63), Aaron Somerville (Lumbert Kateleza 85), Jack Furness (Rhys McMurdo 80), Payl Thomson, Reece Hope (Lewis Collins 91), Andrew Forbes, Nicholas Reid. Unused subs: Robbie Neave, Aiden Walsh.
Referee: Simon MacLean Assistants: Michael Dixon, Steve Ross
Blackburn United 4 (Millar 44mins, Heath 65mins, Garrad 80mins & 120mins)
Stoneyburn 3 (Hendry 7mins, Scott 24mins & 87mins)
Stoneyburn got off to a bright start in the seventh minute when a defensive mix-up allowed HENDRY to nip in ahead of his marker and knock the ball out of goalkeeper Craig Saunders’ hand to give the Fulshie the lead. With Stoneyburn continuing to impose themselves on the game, Blackburn pressed forward to try and nab a goal and won a corner-kick despite protestations that they felt a stonewall penalty should have been awarded in the twenty fourth minute. It was the Fulshie who capitalised on the set piece though by breaking forward on the counter from the corner with Robertson drawing Saunders out before squaring to SCOTT for the centre forward to tap into an empty net. In fact, the closest United came to scoring arrived from Stoneyburn’s ex-Blackburn man McConnell when his clearance came too close to the net for Craig’s liking with the goalkeeper forced to parry it over the bar just to be safe. The Burnie eventually reduced the arrears just before half-time when a free-kick was lifted onto the head of Marcus MILLAR who nodded back across the face of goal and home to grant Blackburn the momentum a minute before the break.
The hosts were much improved from then on, but Stoneyburn were resolute in their defending, sensing the opportunity to cause a cup shock. However, United deservedly drew level after an unfortunate error from Craig which saw the ball fall at the feet of Calum HEATH who scooped the ball past the despairing goalkeeper in the sixty fifth minute. Inside the final twenty minutes Blackburn had the ball in the net twice more, first when Richie Hutton rounded the ‘keeper to slot home and then when Andy McQuillan lashed into the roof of the net, but were denied by the offside flag on each occasion. With ten minutes to go though, GARRAD believed he had snatched the winner for Blackburn after his low strike from the edge of the box found the bottom left hand corner of Craig’s net to seemingly complete the comeback. However, there was another twist in the eighty seventh minute. Determined play saw Lyall Cameron lose out on the Blackburn right and when a near post ball arrived at the feet of SCOTT he tapped it home to send the game into extra-time.
With the cold weather beginning to bite, the tension was palpable as the clock ticked closer to what seemed to be an inevitable penalty shoot-out but GARRAD flipped the script in the final moments when the ball fell to him from a free-kick and his half-volley was whacked firmly over the line with the aid of a deflection to send Blackburn into the third round of the South Challenge Cup.
Blackburn United line-up: Saunders, Cameron, Millar, Mildren, Drummond, Meikle, Heath (Devine 92), Howe (Browne 66), Sweeney (McQuillan 61), Garrad, Smith (Hutton 56) Subs (not used): McClung, Kane, Kidd
Stoneyburn line-up: Craig, Calvey, Guatella, McConnell, Gallagher, Hendry, Brady, Brown, Scott, Donaldson, Robertson Subs: Hislop, McLay, Mooney, Wilson, Young, Mackie
Referee: Mr. Robert Thomson
Assistants: Mr. Boise Allan & Mr. Jack Leslie
Blackburn United 1 (Garrad 87mins)
Linlithgow Rose 2 (Docherty 4mins, Stowe 83mins)
United continued an unwanted trend of losing early goals when a corner from the right caused a degree of panic in the centre of the six yard box and when the ball couldn’t be adequately cleared and spun towards DOCHERTY he had the simplest of tasks to clip it past an unsighted Craig Saunders. Despite Rose piling on the pressure and moving the ball quickly in search of a second goal it was Blackburn who came closest next, Dominic Kane firing a twenty yarder just past the right hand post before a back post cross picked out Marcus Millar to head down to the feet of Calum Heath but his shot was saved by Shaw at the bottom right hand corner. Linlithgow, though, were clever and lively and Sneddon set-up Docherty for a snap shot the crept narrowly past.
Seven minutes after the resumption a Heath free-kick found the chest of John Drummond but when the ball dropped invitingly for Laurie Devine he could only hook it over the top. At the other end Stowe hit the right hand byeline and cut an inviting ball back into the path of Sneddon but his shot was saved by the feet of Saunders before the same player had a pop from the angle of the box that flew over. With just under twenty minutes remaining a speculative ball over the top found Jack Garrad running onto it at the edge of the Rose area but he was sent flying by an ill-timed thrash at the ball by Shaw, who had rushed from his line, that instead caught the United players ankles and referee Mr. Calder had little option to brandish the red card at the Linlithgow No.1. Blackburn couldn’t make anything from the resultant free-kick though and, despite the mad disadvantage, it was the Prestonfield men who scored again, substitute Tommy Coyne robbing young Jack Sayers of the ball and threading a perfectly weighted pass through to STOWE who made no mistake in picking his spot behind Saunders. However, United were still causing problems and when Saunders long clearance was quickly controlled on the chest of GARRAD the young Hamilton Accies loanee was alert enough to see McMinn had advanced a few yards from his line and brilliantly lobbed him from all of forty yards. Right on time Blackburn had the ball in the net again when Howe’s pin-point cross was expertly thumped home by Richie Hutton but the near side linesman had adjudged him to have strayed marginally offside.
Blackburn United line-up: Saunders, Sayers, Millar, Mildren, Drummond, Kane (Howe 66), Heath (Smith 81), Meikle, Garrad, Devine (Sweeney 75), Hutton subs (not used): Baillie, Ferris, McClung, Clements
Linlithgow Rose line-up: Shaw, Thomson, Thom, Stowe, Docherty, McKenzie, Hare, Ogilvie, McMullan, Bremner, Sneddon Subs: McMinn, Lawrie, Coyne, Dublin-Green, Allan
Referee: Mr. George Calder
Assistants: Mr. Calum Doyle & Mr. Gianluca Marini