Blackburn United 4 (Downie 2mins (pen), 5mins & 66mins, Browne 83mins)
Preston Athletic 1 (M.McFarlane 79mins)
With the visitors currently sitting in the box seat for a top 5 finish and a guaranteed position in the Tier 6 EoSFL Premier League next season this was a must win game for United and when Laurie Devine was dumped on the seat of his pants barely a minute in Darren DOWNIE netted from the resultant penalty for the perfect start. Matters were better still when DOWNIE then struck a half volley past the outstretched hands of Findlay in the Preston goal from twenty or more yards to double the Blackburn lead barely three minutes later. In front of a crowd of over 300, boosted considerably by a large contingent of groundhoppers, United came close to going further ahead through first John Drummond and then captain Michael Browne but the advantage remained at two before very nearly becoming one just before the interval when Marty Lawrie somehow managed to anticipate Weldon’s header beating Darren Mitchell in the home goal to get his own head to it and clear the ball off the goal line. Athletic’s Walker then saw his free-kick hit woodwork as the half came to an end.
With the Panners claiming lots of possession in the early stages of the second half, Blackburn continued to look solid at the back and the prolific DOWNIE was able to cause consternation for the Preston defence every time he was on the ball and it was he who was to find the net again, pouncing for his hat-trick when taking advantage of some chaotic defending in the visiting six yard box after a Devine shot to calmly stroke the ball behind Findlay. Substitute Jack hit the left hand upright for Preston as they hunted for a way back into the game but when a Mitchell mistake at a corner-kick presented McFARLANE with just such a way it proved to be no more than a consolation when United sealed an emphatic win four minutes later with an excellent fourth, Richie Hutton getting onto the end of a precise move to lift a cross into the centre of the box where Michael BROWNE was on hand to thump a header past the exposed Findlay. The win means United now need victory at Edinburgh United in the final game of the season while hoping that St Andrews United fail to beat Linlithgow Rose and that Heriot-Watt take no more than three points from their remaining games against Edinburgh United and Camelon. Should this happen Tier 6 football will be secured for another season.
Thank you to Callum Carson at the Daily Record, to Rob at The 66 POW and to Connor’s Football Travels for the excellent match reports on the game at the following links;
Blackburn United line-up: Mitchell, Lawrie, Drummond, Mildren, Browne, McLeod (Campbell 59), Trialist – Murphy, Young, Downie, L.Devine (Herriot 66), Hutton Subs (not used): S.Devine, Bonnar, Gowans, Sinnet, Ure
Preston Athletic line-up: Findlay, Austin, Innes, M.McFarlane, McCrorie, Turkington, Grotlin, Archibald, Weldon, Jardine, Walker Subs: L.McFarlane, Jack, Ndiweni, Reid, Pennycuick
Referee: Mr. Simon MacLean
Assistants: Mr. Nelson Silva & Mr. Francisco Fardiha