2018/19 matchday # 22

Conference B – Millfield – Saturday 1 December 2018 – 2pm

Haddington Athletic 8 (2)
(Hamish Law 10, 27, 56, Grant Rose 65, 73, Andy Jones 67, Ross King 87, Shaun Hill 90)

Eyemouth United 0

We welcomed unfamiliar visitors to Millfield on a drab winter afternoon for the second successive Saturday yesterday, with Conference B’s bottom club Eyemouth United hoping to fare better than Tynecastle, defeated 7-0 seven days earlier. The Fishermen of Eyemouth have though found the going very tough in the revamped East Of Scotland League this season – their previous management team quit after an 11-1 thumping at Tranent, ironically the same venue at which replacement boss Gary Cardle took charge for the first time a fortnight later; a 15-2 annihilation proved a rude awakening, and they’d subsequently lost two home games against Crossgates Primrose (0-8) and Bo’ness United (1-8). Dropping points was then unthinkable for the Hi Hi. Our starting eleven showed two changes – skipper George Cunningham replaced player-manager Joe Hamill in central defence, while Shaun Hill returned in midfield, replacing trialist Gary Nicholson.

We’d our first shot on goal in the second minute, Hill’s effort from the left just inside the box being comfortably held by Eyemouth ‘keeper McBay. Our visitors might’ve taken an early lead but couldn’t capitalise on some none too clever defending in our part, and with ten minutes on the clock we took the lead when Grant Rose’s through ball found Hamish Law just inside the visitors’ penalty area – our number ten advanced a few yards before slotting the ball home to McBay’s right. Most of the play thereafter took place in the oppisition half, but Eyemouth made things as awkward as they possibly could and we added just one more first half goal, on twenty seven minutes. It stemmed from a throw in on the right and Rose was again the provider, spotting Law coming in unmarked from the right and from the eighteen yard line finding his strike partner with a precision pass which allowed him to strike it towards the back of the net, under McBay. The Eyemouth ‘keeper prevented a third goal seven minutes later – Ross King’s crossfield pass found Andy Jones on the left, and the winger cut in towards the eighteen yard line before returning the ball to King, whose strike would’ve made it 3-0 but for McBay’s outstretched leg. Seven minutes before the break the ‘keeper was again involved, when the referee somewhat harshly judged him guilty of fouling Jones and awarded a penalty – Cunningham’s spot kick however hit the crossbar, and the scoreline remained 2-0 in our favour when the half-time whistle blew.

Half-time – Haddington Athletic 2 Eyemouth United 0

It took until the eleventh minute of the second half to break Eyemouth resistance for a third time, with Law completing his first Hi Hi’s hat-trick – this time he was set up by fellow North Berwicker Jones, whose pinpoint pass into the box allowed Law to send the ball across McBay and into the net. His work done for the afternoon, the hat-trick hero made way on sixty four minutes for Jordan Cropley, who helped in double-quick time add another couple of goals. Less than a minute after his introduction, Cropley was gifted a scoring opportunity by an Eyemouth defender’s misplaced pass – he could justifiably gone for goal himself but instead slipped the ball unselfishly into the path of Rose, who won’t often be presented with such a straightforward goal, tapping home from a few yards out. Less than two minutes later Cropley delivered a great cross from the left, near the corner spot, setting up Jones just beyond the near post to powerfully head past the ‘keeper. The substitute was involved again in goal number six on seventy three minutes, part of a great move down the right which saw Jones ride a couple of challenges before sending a great through ball into the path of Rose, who took full advantage. Two more goals late on helped improve our goal difference – King netted perhaps the afternoon’s best goal with three minutes left, finding the net from fifteen yards, before Shaun Hill wrapped things up close to full time, bursting forward from a suspiciously offside position and from the right of the box sending the ball low past McBay – it looked like it would go narrowly wide but instead it crossed the line just inside the post.

Games of this nature aren’t really the kind of contest paying punters like to see, but current circumstances mean playing standards can vary widely in the individual Conferences – the team did what was required of them, and we can have no complaints at eight goals, a second consecutive clean sheet and another three points. Hopefully we’ll have a similar outcome when we meet Eyemouth again in Berwickshire.

Haddington: Dale Cornet, Darren Leslie, (Jamie Chapman S80), Gordon Harris, Ali Simpson, George Cunningham, Andy McNeill, (Diste Camara Sylla S70), Ross King, Shaun Hill, Grant Rose, Hamish Law, (Jordan Cropley S64), Andy Jones. Unused subs: Pinkie Tufail, Jordan Keenan, Aaron Jones (SG).

Eyemouth: Darren McBay, Julian Bolard, John Dougall, Chris Young, Adam Mutch, Ross Aitchison, Prince Djobidja, Lucas Elliott, Jack Burgoyne, Daniel Cranston, Andrew Wilson. Sub: John Cordeiro.

Referee: Evan Cairns

2018/19 matchday # 19

Saturday 10 November 2018 2.30pm

Conference B – at Meggetland Stadium, Edinburgh

Tynecastle 1 (0)
(Shane Costelloe 86)

Haddington Athletic 9 (4)
(Andy Jones 7, 27, Grant Rose 35, 45, 64, 66, Hamish Law 69, 79, Jordan Cropley 73)

Our ninth Conference B fixture saw us at Meggetland Stadium, the home Tynecastle now share with Boroughmuir RFC, and as smart a facility as can be found in the East Of Scotland League. The occasion was our first ever competitive encounter with our hosts, who sat just above us in the table, two points better off having played a game more – on the face of things then it seemed reasonable to expect a close contest. Dale Cornet, newly signed from Musselburgh Athletic, took his place in goal – one other change to the eleven who’d started at Burntisland saw Gavin Brown replace absentee Andy McNeill. On the bench for Tynecastle was Mark Torrance, out of the Millfield picture this season and whose transfer to his new team had been concluded only hours earlier.

Play got under way after a minute’s silence marking the centenary of Armistice Day, and we enjoyed a bright enough start with some crisp passing and a generally positive attitude. It was Tynecastle though who saw the first scoring chance falling their way – trialist left back Gordon Harris, recently freed by Bathgate Thistle, did well getting down the wing before putting in an inviting cross which Burgess headed wide of the back post. Within two minutes we’d taken the lead, following a free kick awarded when Grant Rose was fouled on the right touchline – it was taken quickly, allowing top scorer Andy Jones to try successfully for goal from distance; home ‘keeper Moffat wouldn’t have been too happy to have conceded low at his near post. Our goalscorer did well just a minute later to ride a couple of defensive challenges on his way into the home penalty area before laying the ball off to Brown, whose shot found the side-netting when he looked to have better options available. Our new goalkeeper’s first save came on sixteen minutes, when he pushed Costelloe’s shot from twenty yards over the bar – the way the game was to develop he wasn’t to have a particularly busy afternoon. Another positive move involving Jordan Cropley, Grant Rose and Chris Cairney ended with the latter delivering an inviting low ball across the face of goal, but there were no takers. On twenty one minutes Cropley was dispossessed in a dangerous area not far outside our own box, but Burgess dragged his shot wide of Cornet’s right hand post. This preceded a flurry of Tynecastle bookings which didn’t endear the whistler to the home players – first in the book was centre half Leslie for catching Ross King on the right, not far into the opposition half, and two minutes later right back McIntosh had his name taken for over-vociferous criticism of the referee. Dan Greig was the third home player booked inside four minutes, for a foul on Ali Simpson, and the Tynecastle mood only worsened when they found themselves two goals behind on twenty seven minutes – a move down the right broke down but a home defender in attempting to clear passed the ball straight to the feet of Rose, who prodded it forward for Jones, setting him up to work his way past a couple of defenders before finding himself just inside the penalty area from where he picked his spot for a precise finish. Tynecastle responded with a Greig free kick just wide of the post, though Cornet had it covered. With thirty three minutes played, Ross King became the first Haddington booking after he’d fouled an opponent who’d newly halted his run down the right before dispossessing him. Two minutes on it was 3-0 in our favour – Jones delivered a corner to the near post from the right and Rose tucked it away. With a couple of minutes of the first half remaining, Rose was denied a second goal by a good save from Moffat after shooting from eight yards, King and Jones having made good progress down the left. Play quickly switched to the other end, and we were fortunate not to concede a freak own goal when Cairney’s wild passback just passed the post with Cornet way off his line. As it was, a pleasing first half concluded with a fourth goal gifted our way, Rose capitalising on a needless mistake by MacDonald to give us a comfortable 4-0 cushion going into the second half.

Half-time – Tynecastle 0 Haddington Athletic 4

Our opponents were a shade unfortunate not to pull a goal back in the third minute of the second half, when Euan Greig’s curling effort from the left came back off the face of the crossbar with Cornet beaten. Three minutes later a good Haddington move down the right ended with Jones playing the ball in to the feet of Rose, who found his way through a tight space between two home defenders but couldn’t get a proper connection on his shot, allowing Moffat to gather easily. On fifty three minutes, Tynecastle debutant Torrance replaced Brkic in the home midfield, but it was to be no happy start for our former player. We made our first substitution eight minutes later, Hamish Law replacing the productive Jones, and within a very short time we found ourselves 5-0 up; Cornet’s long ball found Law on the left, and moments later the ball landed in front of Rose the best part of thirty yards from the Tynecastle goal – seeing Moffat well off his line the striker opted to try a lob over the ‘keeper, a trick he executed perfectly to complete his hat-trick. The teenage striker then claimed his fourth and our sixth just two minutes later, with a simple near post finish teed up by Law’s ball in from the right. 6-0 up now, and with the points clearly in the bag, we made a double substitution which saw Declan Quinn and Darren Leslie introduced in place of King and four-goal Rose. They’d been on the park not quite three minutes when we hit our seventh goal – Quinn played the ball in from the left and fellow substitute Law scored his first Haddington goal from close range, getting to it a fraction of a second before the ‘keeper and blasting home. Tynecastle heads were down now, and our final total of five second half goals were all scored within a seventeen minute spell – next in on the act was Jordan Cropley, who coolly tried his luck from twenty yards and saw his shot find the net to Moffat’s right; 8-0 now, with seventeen minutes remaining. On seventy nine minutes we extended our lead to nine goals, Law notching his second of the afternoon – this time he slid the ball past Moffat from the left of the penalty area after Brown’s aerial ability saw him knock the ball down into his team-mate’s path. Given the sequence of events leading up to this it seemed reasonable to think we might cross the double-figures threshold, but as it transpired Law’s second was our final goal of the afternoon. Quinn came closest to our tenth goal with four minutes remaining after Shaun Hill set him up for a shot, but it went just wide of the post. Moments later a defensive slip allowed Costelloe a late consolation goal for Tynecastle, a disappointing development for all keen to see us record a third clean sheet of the season, but it would be more than harsh to be critical considering we’d scored nine goals. Costelloe could’ve had another before the end but our new ‘keeper did excellently to block his fiercely-struck low drive, before repeating the feat a couple of seconds later after the ball had fallen back into the path of the Tynecastle man.

In our previous eighteen competitive outings since switching from Junior football our biggest winning margin had been only two goals, so the result at Meggetland creates a record of sorts. The mood afterwards was in stark contrast to that at Burntisland seven days earlier – on this occasion everyone who took the field in Hi Hi’s colours contributed in positive fashion to a great team effort.

Tynecastle: Ian Moffat, Ewen McIntosh, Gordon Harris, Dan Greig, Mark Leslie, Shane Costelloe, Antonio Brkic, Andy MacDonald, Malcolm Burgess, Jordan Smith, Euan Greig. Subs: Craig Sutherland, Bobby Balloch, Jack Ramsay, Niall Kelly, Mark Torrance, Robert Watt (SG).

 

Haddington: Dale Cornet, Ali Simpson, Chris Cairney, Joe Hamill, George Cunningham, Ross King, (Darren Leslie S66), Gavin Brown, Shaun Hill, Grant Rose, (Declan Quinn S66), Jordan Cropley, Andy Jones, (Hamish Law S61).

Referee: Keith Maskell

2018/19 Matchday # 18

Saturday 3 November 2018 2.00pm

Conference B

Burntisland Shipyard 4 (1)
(Robbie Crawford 2, Ross Lennie 64, Jonny Galloway 74, Ryan O’Donnell 89)

Haddington Athletic 4 (1)
(Sandy Strang own goal 45, Jordan Cropley 50, Robert Kinnaird own goal 55, Chris Cairney 68)

Our eighth Conference B fixture saw us up against Burntisland Shipyard for the very first time, and travelling hopeful we’d acquire three points to boost our position in the table. The Shippy had just three points from eight outings, gained from a 1-0 win at Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale just days after we’d enjoyed a similar result at Saughton Enclosure. Our starting eleven showed three enforced changes from the Alex Jack Cup semi final a fortnight earlier – Craig Cockburn started in goal in Sinky Inglis’ absence, Chris Cairney replaced the injured Brad Hainey at right back, and Jordan Cropley came in for suspended Darren Leslie.

Now a look at our statistics for the season so far highlights the fact we’ve conceded far too many goals, and suffer from an alarming tendency to concede very early and very late. Once more we made things difficult for ourselves from the off by conceding needlessly with not much more than a minute played – a slack pass at the back was intercepted and though Cockburn did his best in a difficult situation he couldn’t prevent Crawford capitalising on the gift. On a pitch sloping considerably from one side to the other, and not greatly conducive to good football, we struggled to find our feet and much of the play occurred in the Hi Hi’s half, though scoring chances were lacking at either end. There were sixteen minutes on the clock before we put together our first decent move into the Shipyard penalty area, but there was no end product. Jordan Cropley and Andy Jones linked up well moments later as we finally began to settle, but the assistant referee had his flag up for a dubious offside decision. On twenty minutes Jones was set free one on one with Adamson in the home goal but his shot went straight into the ‘keeper’s arms. Two minutes later a Shaun Hill corner from the left was headed just wide by George Cunningham at the back post, then on twenty six minutes a promising free kick into the box found Hill in a good position but he couldn’t make the connection he’d have wanted. Not long past the half hour mark Ross King hit the side-netting with a shot from the left of the penalty area, a couple of minutes before a decent Burntisland chance saw Ewan Strang head past the near post from an inviting cross from the right. Our best move of the half came on thirty six minutes, on the counter following a Shipyard corner – Cropley’s ball found Grant Rose through the middle and the big striker fed it on to King on the left, but his shot from the edge of the box was stopped by Adamson. With five minutes remaining in the first half Shipyard lost centre half Anderson to an ankle injury incurred with no-one around him in his own penalty area, victim of what he was heard to describe as a ‘pothole’. With a minute of regulation time remaining in the first half Cunningham was shown the game’s first yellow card, on an afternoon on which the match officials weren’t by any means overworked, for halting an opponent’s progress in the centre circle. While the first half hadn’t been a particularly enjoyable watch the Hi Hi had created as much in front of goal as the Shipyard, and in first half injury time an equaliser meant we went in even at the break – Hill’s well-delivered ball into the box from the right was prodded past Adamson by home defender Sandy Strang. There was still time for another chance, from which Jones earned a corner, but nothing came of that.

Half-time – Burntisland Shipyard 1 Haddington Athletic 1

The opening phase of the second half brought an encouraging turn of events from the Hi Hi’s perspective, with Cropley particularly prominent. Good build-up play led to him shooting just wide from fifteen yards on forty nine minutes, and just one minute later his fourth goal of the season gave us the lead. King’s ball forward to Jones on the left touchline allowed our top scorer to cut in at pace towards the penalty area, and though he might well have chosen to go it alone he unselfishly laid the ball to the feet of Cropley, in a good position around eight yards out, from where he finished clinically. Five minutes later, after another positive sequence of play in the build-up, the goalscorer brought a fine one-handed save from Adamson, earning a corner swung in from the left and sliced into his own net by Shipyard number eleven Kinnaird. At 3-1 up ten minutes into the second half things now looked promising, but on sixty four minutes our hosts reduced the deficit. A corner on the left was only part-cleared, allowing a home player to swing the ball back into the box from the right, and the incoming Lennie tucked the chance away at the back post. Declan Quinn replaced Rose shortly afterwards, and he was instrumental in creating our fourth goal within three minutes of his introduction, gliding past several home challenges twenty five yards out before playing the ball into the box – it found its way out to Cairney on the right, just on the edge of the box, and his low angled drive whizzed towards the bottom corner, only his second competitive goal for the club. That should’ve inspired us to look for a fifth goal with a view to killing the game off as a contest, but unfortunately that’s not at all how things were to pan out, with our problems defending set-pieces all too clear to see. The last twenty minutes saw our opponents on top, and after Jonny Galloway headed in Shipyard’s third goal from a corner on the right on seventy four minutes the uncertainty in our ranks was evident. Five minutes from time Cairney required treatment for an injury, before making way for Gavin Brown. When Burntisland won another corner kick on the right in the eighty ninth minute there was trepidation on the sidelines, well-founded as it proved as they again found the net, O’Donnell at the back post this time taking advantage of our brittle defending. With their tails now very much up it would’ve been no great shock had they capitalised on another couple of decent chances before the final whistle, one in particular from which they ought to have done better, but time wasn’t on their side and in the end neither management team would’ve been greatly pleased at picking up just one point.

Obviously it’s deeply disappointing to have thrown away a two goal lead in the fashion we did but the fact Burntisland’s late equaliser was the fiftieth goal we’ve conceded in eighteen competitive outings this season tells its own story – we’ve scored forty six but it’s always going to prove hard to achieve good results on a regular basis while we’re leaking goals at the back.

Burntisland: Ryan Adamson, Ryan O’Donnell, Sam Glancy, Sandy Strang, Dean Anderson, Ross Lennie, Ewan Strang, Jonny Galloway, Robbie Crawford, Callum McAulay, Robert Kinnaird. Subs: Peter Bell, Reece Brown, Reece Bernard, Jordan Galloway, Scott Powrie, MacAulay Jarrett (SG).

Hi Hi: Craig Cockburn, Chris Cairney, (Gavin Brown S85), Ross King, Joe Hamill, George Cunningham, Ali Simpson, Andy McNeill, Shaun Hill, Grant Rose, (Declan Quinn S65), Jordan Cropley, Andy Jones. Unused subs: Hamish Law, Dan Lennie, David Simmonds (SG).

Hi Hi’s 2018/19 matchday # 17

Saturday 20 October 2018 2.30pm

Alex Jack Cup semi final at Millfield

Haddington Athletic 1 (Shaun Hill 55)

Bo’ness United 2 (Nicky Prentice 7, Kieran Sweeney 90)

We’d a good crowd yesterday, on a fine autumn day, to watch our first semi final in seventeen years; a large Bo’ness contingent boosted the gate for what was only our fifth home game of the season, and our first in a month. The BUs were odds on favourites with the bookies, whereas we were 9/4 outsiders to make it through to the final against either Broxburn Athletic or Camelon Juniors. There were two changes to our starting eleven, with Ali Simpson and Shaun Hill both returning after one game banks which saw them miss the Conference B fixture at Dalkeith Thistle – they replaced Lewis Sives and the unavailable Hamish Law. With the sides having fought out a 2-2 draw at Newtown Park just a fortnight earlier another close-fought contest looked a reasonable prediction.

The very early stages were promising enough, with five minutes’ play having passed before home ‘keeper Sinky Inglis had his first touch of the ball. Unfortunately our recent propensity for conceding early goals once more saw us fall behind, with the visitors taking the lead in the seventh minute through Nicky Prentice, who headed home from a corner on the right which stemmed from a needlessly conceded throw in moments earlier; an all too similar goal to Dalkeith’s opener seven days previous. Joe Hamill was booked for attempting to keep the ball out of the net with his hand. For a spell afterwards it was Bo’ness who looked more purposeful in possession, but we began to grow into the game from around the quarter hour mark, though the vast majority of play in the first quarter of the game was confined to midfield, with goalmouth action at a premium. After Prentice’s opening goal, the next shot on goal came eighteen minutes in when Chris Donnelly’ shot from twenty yards was easily caught by Inglis. The pace dropped a little as we began to retain meaningful possession, but we found it a real challenge to make inroads into dangerous areas in the final third. With half an hour played the tie hadn’t really ignited, perhaps no surprise given what was at stake, with semi finals rarely memorable affairs. Just past the half hour though things took an unexpected twist when the BUs found themselves down to ten men, right back Josh MacDonald seeing red after an incident was brought to the referee’s attention by his dugout-side assistant. MacDonald had powered down the right but on reaching the corner the ball was nicked away from his feet by Ross King at the expense of a corner – it wasn’t clear to those watching from the other side of the pitch what then occurred, but moments later MacDonald was making his way to the visitors’ dressing room. It seems the offender was guilty of an unpleasant and wholly unnecessary act towards a Hi Hi opponent – we’ll leave it at that. After all that, the corner was cleared.

Another Bo’ness corner in from right on thirty six minutes was headed down towards goal by a visiting player on thirty six minutes, with Inglis stopping it slightly hesitantly, before a minute later Andy Murphy in the visitors’ goal was called into significant action for the first time – Shaun Hill was set clear by a good through ball following encouraging work from Darren Leslie and Grant Rose, and his shot from the right of the penalty area was stopped by Murphy’s outstretched hand, before he gathered the ball at the second time of asking. Two minutes later a shot from King on the other side of the penalty area was also stopped by the ‘keeper before Bo’ness quickly countered and MacKenzie’s menacing ball in from the right was palmed over the crossbar by Inglis. With four minutes of the half remaining Bo’ness had the ball in the net for a second time, Morgan slamming a free kick towards Inglis’ bottom right corner from the eighteen yard line, but the assistant referee had his flag up for offside, and the referee ruled the “goal” out on the grounds a Bo’ness player had not only been stood in an offside position but had been blocking Inglis’ sightline. Just before the interval Darren Leslie became the second Hi Hi’s booking of the afternoon – at that stage this meant he’d miss our next game as this was his sixth yellow card of the season. There would though be a twist in that particular tale before the end of the game.

Half-time – Haddington Athletic 0 Bo’ness United 1

With Bo’ness holding a slender lead at the start of the second half, and Haddington holding the advantage numbers-wise, the tie remained very much in the balance. The BUs were first to show in attack, with a MacKenzie effort from twenty five yards two minutea after the restart bringing a decent save from Inglis. Then on fifty minutes a ball in from the right was caught on the volley by Shirra, who watched as his shot dipped just the wrong side of the bar. Declan Quinn was introduced from the bench at this stage, with Brad Hainey withdrawn. With fifty five minutes on the clock things took a very positive turn from the Hi Hi’s perspective, when Shaun Hill equalised with a terrific goal. The ball was played across the field from right to left, Rose feeding Hill in space twenty five yards or so from goal – after quickly assessing his options the midfielder took aim and sent a brilliant curling effort high towards goal, with Murphy helpless as it dipped over his head at the back post. A goal more than fit to grace any semi final, and it gave us the boost we needed with over half an hour remaining to take the game more and more to the opposition’s ten men.

With the hour mark approaching we could’ve gone 2-1 up, but a corner delivered from the left was headed wide by Rose at the back post, his angle not what he’d wished for. The on-loan Berwick Rangers striker was prominent again when we next threatened at the half’s midway point – Hill played him in and he did well to evade defenders’ attention before putting in what would’ve been a very tempting cross, had it not been for the timely intervention of a visiting defender who headed the ball out for a corner. From said corner Quinn had a chance to head in but he couldn’t make the desired connection and the danger was duly cleared. Not long after this a powerful header forward from George Cunningham in a midfield position set up Jones for a real chance, but a great effort from our top scorer rose inches over the bar.

Jones was the next Haddington man booked, on seventy one minutes, his momentum resulting in his catching Snowdon as the long-serving Bo’ness defender halted his progress down the left. Five minutes later our most flowing move of the game almost yielded that vital second goal, but Murphy stuck out a leg to keep out Quinn’s effort from the right – a pivotal moment in what was now an increasingly tense affair. The Hi Hi were looking the likelier to score at this stage, and in a numbers sense were better prepared for the half hour of extra time which would be required if the teams remained level after ninety minutes. Just a minute later came another key episode, with Murphy excelling in producing a tremendous save to deny Jones his tenth goal of the season – his shot from the right outside the penalty area had looked net-bound before the opposition goalkeeper brought off one of the best saves we’re likely to witness this season. If we’d scored from even one of these opportunities the end story might have proved different – as it was however the BUs’ spell on the back foot was about to come to an end. Down in the same corner at which an hour or so earlier MacDonald’s involvement in the action had come to an end, Leslie was fouled by an opponent but play was allowed to continue – in an ill-advised effort to retrieve possession the midfielder lunged in and left the man with the whistle little choice than to show him his second yellow card, bringing the teams level in numbers once again. The dismissal had an immediately evident effect on Bo’ness, who quickly earned a corner with a low shot which Inglis did well to get down to, from which Campbell headed just over. On eighty six minutes we exerted a little pressure in the BUs’ goalmouth, Hill finding Quinn with a good through ball, but our striker was quickly crowded out before he could make anything of it. Just after this Simpson was replaced by Pinkie Tufail, having been labouring for a while after taking a knock. Extra time was looking ever more likely, more so after Quinn in the eighty ninth minute put the ball over the bar from the right of goal. With ninety minutes showing on the clock, Inglis did well to get down and deal with Wright’s low drive – moments later however our ‘keeper had to retrieve the ball from the back of the net as we conceded decisively in injury time for the second Saturday in succession; a ball in from the left sat up perfectly for Bo’ness substitute Kieran Sweeney, who’d only to direct it into the net with a solid connection from a few yards out.

There was still time for the Hi Hi to earn a corner, which fell for Inglis on the edge of the box, the ‘keeper having come up to help in a last desperate throw of the dice. An opposition player looked to go down in the box rather easily as Inglis tried to get a shot in, and then refused a helping hand up off the ground from Quinn – getting to his feet he then pushed our man away, sparking a bit of a melee which resulted in the ripping of our number fourteen jersey among other things. Many referees would’ve been sure to give their red card another airing but George Calder resisted the temptation, instead booking Quinn for his part in the incident. And that, sad to say, was that. A great opportunity gone. No point dwelling on it now but the game’s sure to come up in conversation in future when the subject of horribly near things crops up. Bo’ness have cause to be thankful to have had Murphy in great form between the sticks, as for twenty five minutes after we’d equalised we looked a better bet than our opponents to be making the final. It wasn’t to be though, and we now look forward to the challenge of improving our Conference B placing – we’ve no fixture next weekend, with our next outing due to take place on 3 November in Fife, where we’ll cross swords for the first time ever with Burntisland Shipyard.

A sore sore one to take yesterday. Congratulations though to Bo’ness United, who we wish the very best in the final against Camelon on 25 November.

Hi Hi: Sinky Inglis, Brad Hainey, (Declan Quinn S51), Ross King, Joe Hamill, George Cunningham, Ali Simpson, (Pinkie Tufail S86), Shaun Hill, Andy McNeill, Grant Rose, Darren Leslie, Andy Jones. Unused subs: Jordan Cropley, Chris Cairney, Craig Cockburn (SG).

Bo’ness: Andy Murphy, Josh MacDonald, Iain Syme, Ross Campbell, Will Snowdon, Andy Shirra, Brian Morgan, Michael Gemmill, Allan MacKenzie, Chris Donnelly, Nicky Prentice. Subs: Ali El-Zubaidi, Kieran Sweeney, Craig Comrie, Marty Wright, James Rintoul, Alexander Marshall (SG).

Referee: George Calder

2018/19 fixture # 16

Saturday 13th October 2018 2.30pm – Conference B

Dalkeith Thistle 3
(Blake Wales 13, Lewis Sives own goal 47, Paul Tansey 90)

Haddington Athletic 2
(Andy Jones 43, Declan Quinn 57)

Our seventh Conference B fixture yesterday saw us at Kings Park in Dalkeith for the first time since last August, when we’d enjoyed a 6-0 victory against opposition we’ve generally had the better of in recent times. This was our third meeting of the season with the Jags, after two August encounters at Millfield – they’d won the first, a League Cup qualifying tie, by three goals to one, but in our first home league game we’d run out 4-2 winners. Two points separated the teams in the league table, with Dalkeith sitting on nine points compared to our seven.

A very wet Saturday morning proved no hindrance to the Kings Park playing surface, in decent condition despite an Under 20s fixture on the Friday evening, and come the afternoon conditions were nowhere near as bad as had been feared. Neither side was at full strength, however we were pleased to welcome back from injury the defensive trio of Ross King, captain George Cunningham and player-manager Joe Hamill, while there was a first start for 17 year old Under 20s midfielder Lewis Sives and latest signing Hamish Law again featured after a promising trialist debut at Bo’ness last week. Shaun Hill and Ali Simpson were both ruled out on account of one match bans. The home line-up included ex-Hi Hi in Michael Fairnie and Craig Wojtowycz, and up front they’d on-loan Penicuik Athletic striker Nico Salazar, the Colombian who netted a second half hat-trick against us at Penicuik Park on 18 August. Playing against us for the first time was 28 year old Irishman Conor Glenholmes, a futsal star not long ago signed by the Jags.

We’d a good early chance which almost resulted in the opening goal, with Grant Rose doing well on the left of the penalty area to set up Hamish Law, whose shot beat Easton in the home goal but went just the wrong side of the post. Dalkeith took the lead in the thirteenth minute when we failed to defend a corner from the right and allowed Blake Wales room to jump and head the ball towards the roof of the net. The first half wasn’t the greatest spectacle Kings Park has witnessed by any means, but five minutes after we’d conceded we were unfortunate not to draw level when Law once more came very close – with Easton well off his line our new man chipped the ball towards goal but again the target was missed by a very narrow margin. A couple of minutes later Brad Hainey set Law free down the right and his low first-time delivery invited Andy Jones to shoot from around fifteen yards, but it was a bit too high and cleared the crossbar. Shortly after this Dalkeith could’ve benefited from a corner on the left which was headed on by McQueenie well in front of the near post, but the ball flew across the face of goal with no home players positioned to make the most of the chance. There weren’t many notable incidents over the remainder of the first half, but with two minutes to go until the break we drew level with a great goal from Andy Jones which saw him overtake Scott Moffat at the top of the scoring charts – he claimed his ninth of the season after Andy McNeill in midfield sent a great ball over the home defence for Jones to run on to, coming in from the left with one thing in mind before sending his angled shot beyond Easton towards the bottom corner at the back post. Overall the scoreline at the interval was a fair reflection of the first forty five minutes’ play, and left all to play for after the break.

Half-time – Dalkeith Thistle 1 Haddington Athletic 1

Having ended the first half on the ascendancy our hopes were high we could go on and take all three points, but with barely two minutes played in the second half those hopes suffered a setback when opportunities to deal with a dangerous situation weren’t taken, and a ball into the box was inadvertently diverted into the net off the head of young Lewis Sives. A couple of minutes later the first change of the afternoon saw Declan Quinn come off the bench to replace Hamish Law, who’d suffered a minor shoulder injury. Then in the fifty first minute the first yellow card of the afternoon went the way of Thistle right back McQueenie – referee Jonathan Gall has taken a little stick in many quarters for his seemingly card-happy ways in recent weeks but credit where it’s due, his handling of this contest was pretty decent. We’d a chance on fifty five minutes when Ross King did well on the right of the penalty area before sending a ball into the six yard box which was parried by Easton, the loose ball just eluding Andy Jones but the assistant referee on the enclosure side had flagged for offside in any case. It took just another two minutes for the equaliser to materialise however, with King and Jones again involved. Jones’ lay off to the overlapping King on the left allowed the latter to deliver a low ball into the box for Rose, who saw his shot blocked before the ball sat up invitingly for substitute Quinn, who from around ten yards out took a moment to compose himself before firing home. Not long after his goal the big striker looked to have hurt himself in a touchline challenge which saw him booked – fears of an injury related to his dislocated hip a couple of months back thankfully proved unfounded.

A good Rose run into the Dalkeith penalty area from the left raised hopes of a third Hi Hi’s goal, but the on-loan Berwick Rangers striker looked indecisive when it came to the crunch and a Thistle defender slid in to clear the ball from his feet just in front of goal. A key moment occurred in the sixty sixth minute when we were awarded a penalty after McQueenie brought down former Thistle team-mate Darren Leslie, and with our second half performance having given encouragement to the Hi Hi’s contingent watching it was hoped this would prove a springboard towards victory; alas Andy Jones’ spot kick, struck well enough to Easton’s left, was saved by the Thistle ‘keeper. With eighteen minutes remaining Dalkeith made a substitution, with Salazar making way for Paul Tansey, briefly a Haddington player during our 2014/15 South Division championship season and always a threat, as evidenced by his four goals against us in the space of eleven August days at Millfield. Tansey had suffered an ankle injury in Thistle’s previous outing, and it was clear on his introduction this continued to hamper him – nonetheless we’d cause to be wary when the ball went his way, and George Cunningham picked up a booking on seventy seven minutes for impeding his progress on the right. We’d a great chance to get in front with ten minutes left to play, but Jones’ cross from the left corner was just a shade too high for Quinn to get his head to. Shortly afterwards Leslie, cramping up a little, made way for Jordan Cropley. As the clock ticked on a draw was looking an increasingly likely outcome, more so when with three minutes left good work by Rose on the left byeline set up Jones for a shot from the edge of the box, but it was a foot or two too high. In the ninetieth minute we could’ve snatched the lead after a neat flowing move forward from midfield involving several players, but the final ball in was hit just a little too hard and eluded Jones at the back post. Then, into the second minute of injury time, we suffered the sickening blow of conceding the winner, the goalscorer inevitably that man Tansey – a cross in from the left found him unmarked in the penalty area, where he’d to stoop slightly to get his head on the ball and direct it goalwards; the ball seemed to trickle in slow motion towards the net, just beyond the near post, with Sinky Inglis powerless to do anything about it. There was no time to bounce back from that blow, and so all three points went the way of our opponents.

The outcome needless to say was a sore on to take, particularly given we’d looked the better team in the second half – it could well have turned out differently had the penalty gone in but it wasn’t to be. Looking at the positives, it was good to see the guys back from injury perform well, and Hamish Law again looked like a very decent acquisition. Lewis Sives did very well in his first ninety minutes at this level and looks sure to progress in the game. Overall there weren’t any poor performances as such but our tendency to concede goals as frequently as we are at present is obviously a concern.

Dalkeith: Connar Easton, Ryan McQueenie, Michael Fairnie, Darren McGlashan, Blake Wales, Stephen Scott, Conor Glenholmes,Darren Smith, Nico Salazar, Craig Wojtowycz, Ross Connell. Subs: Paul Tansey, Cameron McBeth, Dean Apicella, Michael Hunter.

Hi Hi: Sinky Inglis, Brad Hainey, Ross King, Joe Hamill, George Cunningham, Andy McNeill, Darren Leslie, (Jordan Cropley S81), Lewis Sives, Grant Rose, Hamish Law, (Declan Quinn S49), Andy Jones. Unused subs: Owen Millar, Chris Cairney, Pinkie Tufail, David Simmonds (SG).

Referee: Jonathan Gall

 

2018/19 fixture # 15

Saturday 6th October 2018 2.30pm – Conference B

Bo’ness United 2
(Brian Morgan 4, Chris Donnelly 28)

Haddington Athletic 2
(Andy Jones 17, Grant Rose 20)

The odds very much favoured our hosts on Saturday, their 100% record from their first four Conference B fixtures while conceding one solitary goal, compared with our two wins and three defeats, encouraging McBookie to list them at 1/4. On the face of things we were hardly in poor form ourselves – three straight wins followed by a narrow defeat – but we’re not without more than our fair share of personnel concerns at present and, as at Sauchie on Wednesday night, had only fifteen men stripped. The only change to our starting eleven saw 22 year old North Berwick-based trialist Hamish Law in for absentee Declan Quinn.

We arrived at Newtown Park, scene of a famous 4-3 East Of Scotland Cup win last November, to find Bo’ness bathed in warm autumn sunshine – and, a bit later, the standside linesman from Sauchie taking up a similar position; fair to say his midweek efforts hadn’t gone unnoticed, but he was greeted amiably by those keen to know more about why he’d furiously chased a Sauchie player into the dressing room area post-match.

As at Sauchie, proceedings hadn’t lasted quite four minutes when we found ourselves trailing. Sinky Inglis did well to parry a MacKenzie shot from the left just outside the six yard box, but Brian Morgan was on hand to tap the loose ball home from close range. Within two minutes however we might well have been back on level terms – showing good footwork just inside the home penalty area on the left, he made space for a confident strike which beat Murphy in the BUs goal but hit the face of the back post. Very unlucky for the big Jedburgh teenager on loan for Berwick Rangers, but the next phase of the game saw Bo’ness well on top, if unable to capitalise on some erratic Haddington defending. We weathered that spell though, and were level seventeen minutes in thanks to a very fine Andy Jones goal, his eighth of the season – taking possession on the right of the penalty area, he got the ball under control before sending a blistering shot beyond Murphy; some home supporters appeared to feel the ‘keeper could’ve done better but they were probably deluding themselves. An enjoyable Hi Hi moment, and it was followed by another less than three minutes later, stemming from action this time on the left of the penalty area – Jones played a short pass into the feet of Rose, in a position very similar to that from which he’d earlier hit the post, and this time he swept his shot towards the bottom corner, another excellent finish giving him his fourth goal in six Hi Hi’s outings.

No-one watching could say they weren’t being entertained, and they witnessed further drama on twenty eight minutes – it was almost 3-1 to the Hi Hi but another well-struck Rose effort was blocked by Snowdon just in front of the goal-line; Bo’ness countered rapidly, without truly meaningful challenge, and Donnelly’s deft touch on a low ball in from the left took it over the line to make the score 2-2. We were though awfully unfortunate not to edge back in front in the thirty seventh minute – Rose again showed great footwork on the left of the BUs’ penalty area, before sending the ball across the face of goal – debutant Law met it beyond the back post and from an almost impossibly tight angle almost steered it home; had it been big-time football goal-line technology might well have been employed, but as it was a home defender was on hand to clear, when the whole ball hadn’t quite crossed the line. With five minutes of the half remaining skipper Shaun Hill took possession in the centre circle, and after advancing confidently towards the edge of the penalty area hit a decent shot on target, which Murphy held. With little more than a couple of minutes of the first half remaining, Chris Cairney’s cross from the left was headed wide of the back post by Rose – moments later Morgan outpaced Ali Simpson but with only Sinky Inglis to beat, well off his line, he elected to shoot when he’d have been better-advised to try a lob, with the ball clearing the bar by a foot or two; we’d see more in the second half of the wastefulness in front of goal the Bo’ness supporters claimed to be all too familiar with.

Half-time – Bo’ness United 2 Haddington Athletic 2

Not quite five minutes after play resumed we’d a big let-off, when Sinky Inglis committed in vain coming off his line after being left badly exposed – the Bo’ness man however, from the left, sent the ball across an open goal but found no takers. A minute later Sweeney ought to have made more of a great through ball into his feet deep inside the box, but somehow he pulled his shot wide of the back post from the edge of the six yard box. Donnelly then hit a clean strike from fifteen yards which Sinky held comfortably on the line, before on fifty seven minutes Chris Cairney was booked (he’d fated it by commenting pre-match on his five game run without seeing a yellow card) for, in the officials’ eyes, wrestling the much bigger MacKenzie to the ground. Two minutes later the home fans were baying for a penalty after Morgan went down in the box with Ali Simpson in close attendance – the ref though saw nothing amiss. We’d been defending mostly until a Grant Rose shot on sixty two minutes, lacking power or precision – immediately after this a well-worked corner on the right involving Jones and Law saw the former play the ball to Hill twenty yards out, and the captain’s low pass into Rose’s feet resulted in our striker taking a sore one from behind; the referee didn’t see it though, and allowed play to continue before reluctantly allowing treatment to our main goal threat. A crowded goalmouth made it difficult for the referee to see, but if his vision had allowed him to observe the incident then surely a stonewall penalty came our way. George Cunningham made a welcome return to action on sixty six minutes, replacing Cairney, and played a big part in our defence holding out against our opponents. With twenty minutes left Shaun Hill was yellow carded for clipping an opponents’ advancing heels in the centre circle, and he was quickly followed into the referee’s notebook by fellow midfielder Darren Leslie, whose late challenge on Morgan in front of the Bo’ness dugout had excitable home fans calling for a red rather than a yellow. As the clock wound on and we withstood further home pressure, Ali Simpson picked up a booking with ten minutes left, though the BUs’ followers keen to see a second yellow shown to Leslie were left disappointed. With eight minutes left Jordan Cropley and Pinkie Tufail replaced Darren Leslie and Hamish Law – two minutes after another major let-off, after Jamie Chapman lost possession in a crucial area – the Bo’ness man who benefited however put the ball over the bar when he ought to have found the target. Ultimately we withstood all Bo’ness second half pressure, and might have snatched victory deep in injury time but it didn’t quite happen. By then we were down to ten men, Ali Simpson having been booked for a second time in the ninetieth minute for in the ref’s eyes blocking an opponent’s progress in the centre circle – those of us of a nervous disposition didn’t enjoy the questionable five minutes injury time but it was all worthwhile in the end, with a hard-fought point our reward for a resilient performance.

Bo’ness: Andy Murphy, Will Snowdon, Iain Syme, Aldin El-Zubaidi, Ross Campbell, Chris Donnelly, Brian Morgan, Andy Shirra, Allan MacKenzie, Nicky Prentice, Kieran Sweeney. Subs: Alex Marshall, Stuart Hunter, Josh MacDonald, Marty Wright, Joshua Watt.

Hi Hi: Sinky Inglis, Jamie Chapman, Chris Cairney, (George Cunningham S66), Brad Hainey, Ali Simpson, Andy McNeill, Darren Leslie, (Jordan Cropley S82), Shaun Hill, Grant Rose, Hamish Law, (Pinkie Tufail S82), Andy Jones. Unused sub: Craig Cockburn (SG).

Hi Hi’s 2018/19 fixture # 14

Wednesday 3 October 2018 7.30pm – Conference B

Sauchie Juniors 3
(Craig Donaldson 4, 76, Darren Cummings 17)

Haddington Athletic 2
(Brad Hainey 41, Andy Jones pen 66)

Our fifth Conference B fixture last night took us to Clackmannanshire, two years on from our previous visit to the wee county. Both sides went into the game on the six point mark after capital victories on Saturday – while we were eking out the win at Saughton Enclosure against Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale our hosts had come from behind to defeat Tynecastle 2-1 at Meggetland. With most of the clubs in Conference B having their sights on a top five finish the points at stake were prized beforehand, and after three straight wins last week the Hi Hi ought to have been in good spirits going into the game – we were however stretched considerably on the personnel front, to the extent we had only four substitutes available, in the form of goalkeeper Craig Cockburn, the not fully fit Pinkie Tufail, and Under 20s Jack O’Connor and Liam Edmonston. Incidentally we’ve learned Jack is the son of our former boss Paul O’Connor – it was nice to see Paul at Whittingehame Drive last Friday night for the first time in the near fourteen years since we parted company.

Not long after kick off we’d an opening after Grant Rose was fouled twenty two yards out, but skipper Shaun Hill’s free kick was dealt with comfortably by Darren Dolan in the home goal. Then, before four minutes had elapsed, Sauchie took the lead with a goal wholly avoidable from our perspective – an inexplicably wayward pass in midfield fell for Donaldson on Sauchie’s right and he was quickly into our penalty area where, after turning Chris Cairney, he fired clinically home from a tight angle. A few minutes later it might’ve been 2-0 when a Sauchie man lobbed the ball over Sinky Inglis’ head, but fortunately for us it cleared the crossbar. Our ‘keeper then saved a well-placed header, after we’d managed a couple of inconclusive breaks forward, but with seventeen minutes on the clock we found ourselves two goals behind, when veteran Sauchie forward Cummings curled in a shot from out on the left, well outside the penalty area, which dipped in at the back post beyond Inglis’ reach. Fair to say things were looking distinctly unpromising at this stage, and we’d several narrow escapes afterwards – Sauchie had they been clinical could’ve had the game out of sight before half-time. Around about midway through the first half we began to look a little more like the team who’d performed so well at Hill Of Beath a week earlier, and our cause looked to be helped when Sauchie’s Ryan Millar was sent off with ten minutes remaining in the first half – he’d been booked for diving just inside our penalty area seven minutes before he left Cairney hurt on the ground as our left back made good progress in the Sauchie half. From a forty first minute corner delivered by Andy Jones on the right, Grant Rose saw his header tipped over the bar by Dolan – the second corner was a well-worked one, and wound up with Brad Hainey claiming his first Haddington goal with a looping header from out beyond the back post. That, and our advantage numbers-wise, meant things looked a good bit more positive than half an hour earlier.

Half-time – Sauchie Juniors 2 Haddington Athletic 1

Cummings ought to have restored our hosts’ two goal lead four minutes after play resumed when he was given far too much room on the right, but dragged his shot wide of the back post. Three minutes later Andy Jones tried his luck from twenty five yards out on the right, but the ball soared over the bar. With an hour played there was a touch of controversy as Grant Rose and an opponent tussled for possession on the byeline to the left of the home goal – the referee’s decision to award a free kick Sauchie’s way caused some upset, and saw the referee send Craig Yule to the stand after an exchange on the touchline. A low Shaun Hill drive from twenty five yards on sixty four minutes caused Dolan no real problem, but two minutes later the referee pointed to the spot when Rose was pushed in the box – there was then a delay of several minutes as the man in the middle discussed with his standside assistant the issue of Darren Leslie and an opponent’s antics on the edge of the box. Understanding things first time round proved beyond the whistler, but after a second touchline confab Andy Jones was given the go-ahead to fire firmly home from twelve yards. 2-2 then, and twenty four minutes to play against ten men, the odds looked now to be in our favour. Ten minutes later however we conceded for a third time when Donaldson breached our back division and fired home with an angled shot from the left of the penalty area – cue rather OTT celebrations among the Sauchie-minded, though to be fair they probably hadn’t expected positive developments given the sequence of events since they’d gone a man down. We introduced youngsters O’Connor and Edmonston in the closing stages, both of whom gave a good account of themselves, but there was to be no further scoring and so it was Sauchie who crept into the top five.

Sauchie: Darren Dolan, Aidan McKeown, Mark Finlayson, David Cross, Terry Hewitt, Mark Sharp, Ryan Millar, Dylan Taylor, Darren Cummings, Craig Donaldson, Conor Langton. Subs: Willie Wells, Josh Carroll, Steven Dolan, Stuart Houston, Adam Main, Cameron Cairney.

Hi Hi: Sinky Inglis, Andy McNeill, Chris Cairney, Ali Simpson, Brad Hainey, Darren Leslie, (Jack O’Connor S84), Jamie Chapman, (Liam Edmonston S87), Shaun Hill, Grant Rose, Declan Quinn, Andy Jones. Unused subs: Pinkie Tufail, Craig Cockburn (SG).

2018/19 fixture # 11

Saturday 22 September 2018

Alex Jack Cup Second Round

Haddington Athletic 4
(Scott Moffat 5, Andy Jones 36, Gavin Brown 51, Grant Rose 83)

Edinburgh United 3
(Gabi Auriemma 8 (pen), Kern Hutchison 52, Daniel McKinlay 67)

We went into yesterday’s game, the first at Millfield in almost a month, looking to put recent derby disappointments behind us and to get back to winning ways. The occasion was a delayed second round tie in the Alex Jack Cup – the others had all been played on 1 September, but on account of United’s first round tie against Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts having been abandoned first time around we were three weeks behind schedule. Three quarter finals were being contested elsewhere, and the prize for the winner here, logistical challenges and all, was an away tie at Hill Of Beath Hawthorn to be played this coming Wednesday night.

There were four changes to the starting eleven compared with that which started our South Region Challenge Cup tie at Tranent – Sinky Inglis returned in goal, 16 year old Guy McGarry started in the left back role in which he’d performed capably for almost an hour at Foresters Park, Shaun Hill returned in midfield as captain, and Scott Moffat was back too following a foot injury. Still missing from our injury hit squad were Joe Hamill, Pinkie Tufail, George Cunningham and Ross King – Declan Quinn however was named among the substitutes six weeks after suffering a hip injury at Ormiston in the first round of the competition. United, who we’d last encountered at Paties Road in March in what was to prove our final Fife & Lothians Cup outing, lined up mostly as unknowns to Millfield regulars, though it was nice to welcome back their coach Jock McCraw, a Hi Hi’s midfielder thirty odd years ago and also for a few months a decade past assistant manager to George Bowmaker.

Millfield was at its best on a day marked mostly by glorious autumn sunshine, and the Hi Hi were first to threaten the opposition goal when in the third minute a corner gained from Hill’s strong run into the penalty area was delivered invitingly by Andy Jones on the right – Ali Simpson made the connection but the angle on his header wasn’t what he wanted and the ball went a few yards wide of the back post. There wasn’t long to wait for the opening goal however – this time Jamie Chapman’s good work earned another corner, Jones again delivered superbly, and Scott Moffat claimed his eighth goal of the season, though his first in a month, meeting the ball centrally with a powerful header past Newman in the United goal. The goal leaves our top scorer just one short of the fifty mark in competitive outings. Unfortunately the lead lasted barely three minutes – we might be forgiven for thinking it’s almost obligatory these days for referees to award contentious penalty kicks against us, for here we were again penalised for what looked a nothing episode; referee Ryan Lee took the view though Gavin Brown had fouled an opponent inside the box as both tussled for possession, and Auriemma converted for the visitors from the spot. Given the goals we’ve conceded in recent weeks this was another hard one to take, but at least we’d more than eighty minutes in which to get back on top. Over the course of the subsequent twenty odd minutes neither side was especially dominant, then just after the half hour mark young Grant Rose hit a decent effort wide of target for the Hi Hi – moments later there was a controversial episode when a United man looked to kick out at Darren Leslie in front of the dugouts, after our man had conceded a free kick, but no action was taken by the match official. With nine minutes remaining in the first half we got our noses in front again, with Chapman on the left of the penalty area finding Jones perfectly positioned to fire home from a little outside the six yard box. At the break then the Hi Hi held a 2-1 advantage, though United had shown enough to have most present think they’d every chance of turning things round.

H-T Haddington Athletic 2 Edinburgh United 1

Things looked more encouraging from the Hi Hi’s perspective when we extended our lead to two goals in the fifty first minute – Leslie was fouled out on the right touchline, and from the free kick flighted deep into the United penalty area Gavin Brown directed a glancing header into the net near the back post. Ideally that ought to have given the team the confidence required to push on, but our defensive frailties reared their head again barely a minute later, allowing Hutchison to bring United right back into the tie. When yet another episode of hesitant defending at the second half’s midway point allowed McKinlay an all too easy equaliser the mood dipped further – was this to be another afternoon of frustration and disappointment? It remained all square when, with ten minutes left, United were awarded their second penalty of the afternoon – Simpson could do little about the ball hitting his hand when it was blasted in his direction from a short distance away, but seemingly it’s an offence deserving punishment by presenting the opposition a great opportunity to score. Fate for once smiled on the Hi Hi’s goal though, with United substitute Taylor Hendry hitting his spot kick off the face of the post to Sinky Inglis’ right, with our ‘keeper having guessed the wrong way. Now it had been only three weeks since we’d last tasted victory, winning 2-0 at Blackburn in the League Cup, but events in between times had left us all feeling a little beleaguered – it was tremendous then to see three minutes after United’s squandered penalty the ball hit the back of the net at the other end. Jones was the provider with an excellent low ball in from the byeline out towards the left corner, met at the near post by Rose who slammed home his first goal for the club from close range. We’d the chance to make certain of our passage to the third round four minutes later when the ref awarded the afternoon’s third penalty in our favour, after sub Quinn was sent flying just inside the United area on the right – up stepped captain Hill with the view of making the score 5-3, but he too struck the post. Shortly after this Liam Edmonston entered the fray for a brief taste of action at this level, the latest of our Under 20s’ players to get a run out replacing Simpson who’d been hurt making a strong challenge moments earlier. There was still time for Hill to spurn another clear-cut scoring opportunity, the ball seeming to get stuck under his feet inside the six yard box when scoring seemed inevitable, but in the end it didn’t matter as we held on to secure a midweek trip to Fife by the odd goal in seven.

Good to get the win obviously, and well done to everyone for sticking to the task when things weren’t going the way we wanted. It goes without saying our top priority at present must be to tighten up at the back, and hopefully that will come sooner rather than later, but let’s just be pleased we got the win against a United outfit who are very clearly no mugs. Prefer not to single out players but only fair to recognise Guy McGarry for another steady performance belying his tender years, and it was good to see Brad Hainey and Declan Quinn back in action after their recent absences.

Next up then is a tough third round task on Wednesday night against Hill Of Beath Hawthorn – the fact the Haws were permanent Superleague residents for the sixteen years between its formation and the mass transition from Junior football in the close season tells its own story. We’ll travel as underdogs, with nothing really to lose – let’s hope we can give a good account of ourselves.

Hi Hi: Sinky Inglis, Chris Cairney, Guy McGarry, Gavin Brown, (Brad Hainey S57), Ali Simpson, (Liam Edmonston S87), Jamie Chapman, (Declan Quinn S79), Darren Leslie, Shaun Hill, Grant Rose, Scott Moffat, Andy Jones. Unused subs: Paul Devlin, Jordan Cropley, Andy McNeill, David Simmonds (SG).

Edinburgh Utd: Jamie Newman, Eddie Mearns, Sean Guiney, Shaun Conlon, Chris Hendrie, James Flynn, Daniel McKinlay, Gabriele Auriemma, Andrew Swanney, Elliot Grieve, Kern Hutchison. Subs: Craig Spalding, Taylor Hendry, Frankie Arthur, Cory Robertson, James Redpath, Liam Ritchie, Cameron Hanratty (SG).

Referee: Ryan Lee

15.09.2018 South Region Challenge Cup 2nd Round

Tranent Juniors 4 (Jamie Devlin 1, 17, Mark McGovern 22, 63)

Haddington Athletic 2 (Andy Jones, 48, Darren Leslie 50)

The Hi Hi made the short trip to Foresters Park for the second time inside a week yesterday, another local derby providing a first taste of the most prestigious cup competition open to them this season – entry is open to all clubs in the Lowland League, the East Of Scotland League and the South Of Scotland League. Given what had occurred seven days earlier there was never any doubt we faced another tough shift against our neighbours, and our cause was hardly helped by another raft of personnel issues – injury ruled out Joe Hamill, Pinkie Tufaill, Declan Quinn, Shaun Hill and Scott Moffat, while George Cunningham had a one match ban to serve for a red card received while playing with Ormiston in 2015/16 and Sinky Inglis, Brad Hainey and Declan Heron were also unavailable. There were five changes to our starting eleven – Craig Cockburn, Chris Cairney, Ross King, Ali Simpson and new man Grant Rose all drafted in. With Cunningham and Hill both missing, Cairney was named as captain for the day. We’d three of our Under 20s on the bench after their 2-1 defeat of Dunipace on Friday night, with Guy McGarry, Lewis Sives and Liam Edmonston all stripped. While we’d majorly reshuffled our pack unavoidably, Tranent made just one change to their team, with captain Ecky Christie replacing Dean Whitson in the centre of defence.

While it was clear we’d be up against it again, it was hoped we’d at least make things difficult for our hosts and avoid the capitulation witnessed in the second half a week earlier. Hi Hi’s supporters could then only react with dismay at our going a goal down with all of thirty seven seconds on the clock – our rejigged back four were caught out by a long ball down the right which Jamie Devlin latched on to on the edge of the box, his shot beating Cockburn low to his left. Quite a sickening blow to all who’d hoped for better than last time, the dreaded possibility that it might even prove worse inevitably coming to the collective mind. We responded as best we could, but an Andy Jones free kick presented no difficulty to Haris Alysandratos in the home goal, going wide of target to the ‘keeper’s left. On thirteen minutes Andy McNeill tried his luck from twenty yards, his shot deflected out for a corner from which a Grant Rose header produced a good save from Alysandratos. More woe however came our way on seventeen minutes as Tranent doubled their lead, aided and abetted by very hesitant defending – again we were caught out by the long ball, and with uncertain communication not in any way helping Tranent front men McGovern and Devlin made the most of things, the latter claiming the credit for the final touch in lobbing the ball over Cockburn and across the line. Yet worse was to follow barely five minutes later, with Cockburn coming from his line in vain to try and deal with danger to the right of goal, leaving Tranent to net an all too easy third goal, McGovern left with the simplest task to prod the ball into an empty net. 3-0 down midway through the first half then, and our prospects looked potentially very grim indeed to say the least. Just after Tranent’s third goal McNeill hit an effort wide from distance, then shortly after the half hour Jamie Chapman went close, again from well outside the home penalty area. Our recent injury woes raised their head again when Ross King had to be substituted due to a recurrence of his hamstring issue, with Guy McGarry coming on to replace him – the sixteen year old had featured in a couple of pre-season friendlies but this was his competitive senior debut. We’d a penalty claim ignored on thirty eight minutes, Jones appearing to have been brought down just inside the box on the right – the ref wasn’t interested though, and the loose ball fell the way of Cairney, whose delivery low towards the back post was skied over the bar by Jordan Cropley. With five minutes of another disastrous half remaining, Darren Leslie had his name taken for persistent infringement. Considering the manner in which we’d conceded three terribly sloppy goals, it seemed some small consolation there hadn’t been more – on the evidence of the opening forty five minutes it seemed a safe bet we’d be heading back along the road nursing our wounds after a second consecutive heavy defeat.

H-T Tranent Juniors 3 Haddington Athletic 0

And yet…. memories of the second half comeback against Dundonald Bluebell three weeks previous came to mind as we showed more in the first five minutes of the second half than throughout the opening forty five. With forty eight minutes on the clock Andy Jones on the right took the ball into the home penalty area and with his left foot directed a perfectly-angled shot beyond Alysandratos to make the score 3-1. That was really the first bright moment of the afternoon from a Haddington perspective, but two minutes later the dynamic of the tie changed considerably as we reduced Tranent’s lead to just one goal, Darren Leslie hitting his first Hi Hi’s goal in sensational fashion with a measured strike from around twenty five yards which flew towards the top left corner – if in the end we’d nothing else to take from our two-game residency at Foresters Park there would at least be the memories of two terrific goals, Jordan Cropley’s early equaliser a week earlier and now this. Both goals were well worthy of appreciative praise, just a shame ultimately results would overshadow them. Not very long afterwards we could’ve been level, and who knows how things might’ve developed thereafter? Jamie Chapman found Andy Jones with a great pass, and Jones with space on the right hit an angled effort from eighteen yards which flew just beyond the back post. That would’ve been quite a moment had the ball hit the net – such fine lines. Tranent skipper Black was yellow carded on fifty eight minutes for a foul on Jones, shortly before a double substitution saw Paul Devlin and Andrew Sinclair replace Andy McNeill and Jordan Cropley. With sixty three minutes on the clock Tranent added a fourth, young striker McGovern continuing his goal spree with a confident finish when presented with time and space – it looked to some eyes contentious on the referee’s part to allow play to continue when Chris Cairney looked to have been fouled, others’ comments in the aftermath however put doubt in that theory. Tranent sub Kayne Paterson came close to hitting a fifth home goal with a shot from just outside the box, but it went just wide of the post. The previous week’s refereeing controversies had begun early in the game, this time though it was left until later in proceedings for the man in the middle to infuriate the Haddington contingent – Craig Cockburn raced from his line with the aim of dealing with a dangerous situation, and in attempting to clear from just outside his penalty area he was judged guilty by the ref of a handball offence, which to many looked an absurd decision given our ‘keeper’s arms were by his side and in no way outstretched. The match official looked unduly pleased to be giving his red card an airing, adding to the irritation on the sidelines. With all three substitutes committed, Gavin Brown went between the sticks, and he dealt ably enough with all that came his way in the closing stages. Our stand-in ‘keeper would though have been beaten with six minutes remaining had it not been for the junction of post and crossbar, rattled by a fine effort from Tranent substitute Barrett.

So, that was that then – a bit of a double derby doing no-one will recall fondly. We showed in the first half last week and the second half yesterday we’re not without some quality, but serious damage was done over the course of the other two halves. It’s to be hoped our injury concerns ease up sooner rather than later and there’s some consistency of selection available to the management team – something approaching a settled line-up can only be of benefit, particularly at the back given we’ve been shipping goals at a fairly alarming rate in recent weeks, bar the clean sheet at Blackburn. At least we managed to give Tranent, who’d hardly had to work overly hard for their 3-0 interval lead yesterday, a bit of a scare. To summarise, it can only be said the first half yesterday was painful to watch, but the Hi Hi’s players redeemed themselves with a spirited second half showing. Mention should be made of the performance of Guy McGarry, who doesn’t turn seventeen for three weeks yet in his fifty five minutes on the field looked entirely comfortable playing at this level. Grant Rose did well too on his debut, and will be an asset to the team over the course of his loan spell.

Tranent: Haris Alysandratos, Bob Berry, Chris Inglis, Ecky Christie, Lewis Hawkins, Ben Miller, Chris Robertson, Ian Black, Jamie Devlin, Kenny Fisher, Mark McGovern. Subs: Kayne Paterson, Neil Smeaton, Shaun Rutherford, Bradley Barrett, Robbie Stirling (SG).

Hi Hi: Craig Cockburn, Chris Cairney, Ross King, (Guy McGarry S35), Ali Simpson, Gavin Brown, Andy McNeill, (Paul Devlin S58), Darren Leslie, Jamie Chapman, Grant Rose,
Jordan Cropley, (Andrew Sinclair S58), Andy Jones. Unused subs: Lewis Sives, Liam Edmonston.

 

Saturday 1st September 2018

Blackburn United 0

Haddington Athletic 2
(Jordan Cropley 29, Ali Simpson 55)

Scheduled originally to host an Alex Jack Cup second round tie today, we instead paid a first post-Junior visit to West Lothian today to contest a place in the League Cup’s last sixteen. It’d been eight years (six games) since we’d lost at Blackburn, but the tie looked a hard one to call from the neutral’s perspective on the basis of this season’s results so far – United had lost four of their last five games, while we were aiming to avoid a third straight defeat. Joe Hamill and Declan Quinn were joined on the injured list by Pinkie Tufail, and with Brad Hainey and Darren Leslie both unavailable we’d three of our Under 20s on the bench, fresh from excellent Friday night performances at Bonnyton Thistle in Development League action. Andrew Sinclair was preferred to Scott Moffat up front, with our top scorer on the bench.

Chris Cairney started at right back having not played at all since May, and just five minutes in had his name taken for a rash challenge from behind on former Hi Hi’s team-mate Scott Wright. The first real chance at either end came in the eighth minute when Paul Devlin’s corner from the right was met by a George Cunningham’s firmly-struck header, unfortunately wide of target by a yard or two. An Andy Jones effort from thirty yards flew straight into the home ‘keeper’s arms on the ten minute mark, then we’d a great chance on twelve minutes when Jones closed Kinvig down on the six yard line and the ball fell invitingly for Jordan Cropley with the ‘keeper posted missing – by the time he found space for a shot however Kinvig had time to recover his position and block with his leg before a defender cleared. Sinky Inglis was called into action at the opposite end a couple of minutes later, stretching out a leg to divert Wright’s dangerous ball in from the left of the penalty area, but he hadn’t an awful lot to do otherwise. The Blackburn ‘keeper touched an ambitious long-range shot from Shaun Hill out for a corner on twenty one minutes, then two minutes later a poor throwout from Inglis gave Williamson an opening for the hosts, his shot going not far off target. The same player hit another effort just past the post minutes later, but a quick break forward saw the Hi Hi in front moments later, with twenty nine minutes played – the move concluded with Andy Jones on the byeline to the right of goal playing the ball towards the six yard line, where it sat up nicely for Jordan Cropley to head home. Hutton almost responded immediately when a ball through the middle allowed him a shot, put just wide of Inglis’ right side post. The remainder of the first half lacked much notable incident, other than the significant development on thirty five minutes which saw the unfortunate Chris Cairney depart the scene prematurely after the referee showed him a second yellow card for what he saw as an infringement against the Blackburn man who’d gone by him on the wing – even the locals felt it a harsh booking but the decision was made, leaving the Hi Hi to face fifty five minutes a man short.

H-T Blackburn United 0 Haddington Athletic 1

A big moment five minutes after the break saw Sinky Inglis make an important save before a quick counter let Jones play the ball in from the right, just beyond Andrew Sinclair at the back post. Three minutes later the ref ignored a penalty shout when Hill looked to be fouled just inside the box on the right – instead a corner was given, with Devlin’s dangerous delivery turned out for a second. Another excellent Devlin ball in from the right was met about eight yards out by the incoming Ali Simpson, who rammed home his first goal for the club to double our lead. Over the subsequent thirty five minutes the Hi Hi’s ten men more than held their own with Blackburn’s eleven, with chances at either end pretty scarce. Midway through the second half however Hill was dispossessed in midfield and a Wright shot brought out a fine one-handed save from Inglis. That apart, the only occasion on which Blackburn came close was five minutes from time, when home skipper Young’s twenty yard free kick came back off the crossbar with Inglis beaten. Ultimately, a good professional performance and a deserved win – we now have a first round tie at Bonnyrigg Rose to look forward to. Lots of good hard-working performances today, great to keep a clean sheet for the first time this season, and pleasing to see three of our Under 20s on the field in the later stages, with Lewis Sives, Russell Bowers and Tadgh Flanagan-Woodhead all enjoying game time.

 

Saturday 25th August 2018

Haddington Athletic 3
(Own goal 50, Shaun Hill 58, Andy Jones 76)

Dundonald Bluebell 4
(Derek Wallace 4, Callum Smith 9, Michael Ness 22, Archie Campbell 25)

Difficult to know really just how best to summarise today’s events at Millfield, where rarely if ever before can spectators have witnessed two halves of football quite so disparate in comparison to one another. We were of course very much aware beforehand how much of a challenge would be presented by opponents who finished in fourth spot in last season’s Superleague table, and naturally we were labelled underdogs – the first half though, in particular the opening twenty five minutes, proved extremely depressing from our perspective and, had the game continued in the same vein over ninety minutes, it’s highly doubtful sufficient spirit would’ve remained to see this summary typed. We’d been beyond the Bluebell’s eighteen yard line inside the opening couple of minutes, but once they’d taken the lead we were very much on the back foot for the next half hour. Their opening goal came in the fourth minute, when a corner from the right was punched away from his near post by Craig Cockburn – the ball however sat up perfectly for the visitors’ number six Derek Wallace, who from a few yards to the right of the penalty spot hit a sweet volleyed effort towards the back of the net, aided by a slight deflection. Luck not on our side, it could be said at that point – but developments over the next twenty minutes couldn’t be blamed on fortune. We looked wholly lacking in self-belief, and appeared as boys against men, allowing the ‘Bell to dominate completely to the point they looked like scoring almost every time they pressed forward, as they did repeatedly. Centre forward Callum Smith ought to have done better than shoot straight at Cockburn on eight minutes, when he’d plenty time and space to pick his spot, but barely a minute later he’d the opportunity to redeem himself when a cross from the right fell at his feet, unmarked deep inside the penalty area as he was, and he’d only to steer the ball to our ‘keeper’s left to double his team’s lead. A rare foray forward on twenty minutes brought about our first shot on goal, with a Bluebell defender nicking the ball from Andy Jones’ feet when he threatened to drive towards the penalty area – it fell for Paul Devlin, whose shot from well outside the box wasn’t held by Lennox in the visitors’ goal, but he’d time to gather with no Haddington attacker positioned to take advantage. Two minutes later we were 3-0 down following some calamitous defending, Michael Ness taking full advantage, and when Dundonald scored a fourth barely three minutes later through Archie Campbell, almost entirely untroubled by any defensive challenge, there were widespread concerns the roof was about to cave in on us in horrible fashion – were we potentially looking at a record home defeat? So woefully lacking in every department were we at this stage such a dreadful scenario looked feasible. As we passed the half hour mark we managed finally to string some passes together and spend a little time in the opposition half, though of course already it seemed more than reasonable to reckon it was far too late to come back from 4-0 down. A harmless shot from distance from skipper George Cunningham was only our second attempt on goal, though a couple of minutes before the break we’d a chance of sorts when Jones cross from the left, near the corner spot, was headed clear by a defender who got in a fraction of a second before Scott Moffat could get his head to the ball. If any kind of consolation at all could be taken from the situation as the teams trooped off at half time, we at least hadn’t conceded in twenty minutes – there was though a palpable sense of understandable disgust among the crowd at what they reckoned a spineless forty five minutes.

Half-time – Haddington Athletic 0 Dundonald Bluebell 4

Seven days earlier the Fifers had found themselves trailing 3-0 at Bonnyrigg Rose early in the second half, only to rescue an unlikely point with an excellent comeback. They could scarcely be blamed at the start of the second half here for wholly discounting anything remotely like that occurring again, such had been their first half superiority. It’s been said many times though that football can be a strange game… With five minutes played in the second half we got a goal back when the Bluebell defence failed to clear their lines, and eventually under pressure their centre half Sean O’Neil knocked the ball over the goal line. Barely a peep from players or spectators in acknowledgement of the goal, given we remained 4-1 in arrears and nothing had happened that felt worthy of applause. Eight minutes later however we’d further reduced the deficit, with Shaun Hill claiming his second goal inside seven days, a neat finish to the ‘keeper’s right after he’d advanced from the left of the penalty area after taking a Jones pass. Sensing things had now radically changed from the first half horror show, the Hi Hi-minded in the crowd applauded the goal and the apparent change in mindset, and with half an hour still to play began to consider scenarios completely unthinkable half an hour earlier. A double substitution saw Jordan Cropley and Scott Moffat replaced by Andrew Sinclair and sixteen year old Tadgh Flanagan-Woodhead of our Under 20s team, and the injection of their energy aided our cause considerably. It seemed scarcely credible we were watching the same teams on the field, such was the turnaround, and when Andy Jones made it 4-3 with fourteen minutes remaining there was a real sense the Hi Hi could actually end the afternoon with a point if not more. Dundonald were only occasionally seen in attack now, though a horribly short passback from Pinkie Tufail could’ve gifted them the fifth goal that would surely wrap things up – his blushes were spared though as the situation came to nothing. When called upon to defend we did so effectively, a far cry from earlier in the afternoon, and it was encouraging to see the spirit that’d seemed so sadly lacking previously. In the eighty ninth minute it looked as though our second half endeavour would be rewarded when Andrew Sinclair found himself deep inside the penalty area, to the right of goal, with only Lennox between him and an unlikely equaliser, but with everyone not from Fife ready to acclaim a glorious Hi Hi moment our man hit his shot too close to the ‘keeper, who would’ve been mightily relieved to block with his legs. Whether we’d have had another chance to snatch a point in injury time we’ll never know, as the otherwise efficient referee Brian Colvin elected to play just one minute over the ninety, which seemed odd given there had been a stoppage for treatment to Bluebell’s McKenzie in the first half, not to mention a few substitutions. So in the end it wasn’t to be – those looking at the scoreline without any knowledge of the sequence of events might have thought us unlucky, and to a degree it could be said that was the case, but it need hardly be pointed out a first half performance such as ours today isn’t the platform on which to build a positive result.

The referee, on his first visit to Millfield in well over a decade after a good career which saw him officiate in the Premiership and in European ties, commented afterwards he’d never experienced a game quite like this, with the team so far in front in the first half dominated after the break by opposition who’d looked utterly down and out beforehand. While it’s pleasing, though not quite sure that’s the right word, to have witnessed such a massive turnaround in the second half, questions inevitably have to be asked as to why we were so dreadful in the opening forty five minutes. Let’s just hope we don’t have to ponder that same question again in the coming months – we clearly have a decent squad of players at our disposal, and they’re not without spirit as was shown against Dalkeith Thistle ten days ago and again in the second half this afternoon. Of course there are a few young and inexperienced guys in our team but they’ll only learn from playing regularly at this level, and improvement in their individual performances, and consistency, will undoubtedly come.

At 3 o’clock this afternoon there were a good few of us fearing the sort of doubt and depression that follows an absolute hiding – the fact things proved otherwise is credit to everyone in a Haddington jersey in the second half. We’ve a run now of at least three consecutive away games, at Blackburn next week before a fortnight’s residency at Tranent’s Foresters Park – it’s been proven we can play the game, let’s show our forthcoming opposition that’s the case.

Haddington: Craig Cockburn, Ross King, Pinkie Tufail, Ali Simpson, George Cunningham, Andy McNeill, Jordan Cropley, (Tadgh Flanagan-Woodhead S60), Shaun Hill, Scott Moffat, (Andrew Sinclair S60), Paul Devlin, Andy Jones. Unused subs: Chris Cairney, Declan Heron, Brad Hainey, Sinky Inglis (SG).

Dundonald: James Lennox, Stuart Walton, Ross Drummond, Scott Durie, Sean O’Neil, Derek Wallace, Jason Penman, Lewis McKenzie, Calum Smith, Archie Campbell, Michael Ness. Subs: Mark Forbes, Billy Rogerson, Michael Dunlop, Lee Dair.

Saturday 18th August 2018

Penicuik Athletic 5

Haddington Athletic 1

(Shaun Hill)

After a good first half, Haddington shipped four second half goals to exit the Football Nation Cup at Penicuik last Saturday. Injuries, suspension and holidays limited manager Joe Hamill’s options with Hamill himself confined to the sidelines after picking up an injury in the midweek victory over Dalkeith. The Hi Hi’s took the lead in the 20th minute thanks to the quick thinking Shaun Hill who, when lining up a 30 yard free kick, spotted the goalkeeper off his line and promptly sent the ball over his head and into the net. Penicuik picked up the the pace and Barr equalised six minutes later. A good run from Andy Jones left Tufail with a good chance on front of goal but he fluffed his lines when a goal looked certain. Penicuik were the stronger side in the second half and they moved ahead in the 57th minute. Jones looked set to equalise when he was sent through but the goalkeeper managed to block his shot. Midway through the half former Hi Hi Andy Forbes was presented with an easy chance and put his side 3 1 up. Cropley hit the bar for the visitors but Penicuik fully exploited gaps in the Haddington defence as they pushed forward and ran out comfortable winners by five goals to one.

Wednesday 15th August 2018

Haddington Athletic 4
(Scott Moffat 20, 88, Andy Jones 35, Ross King 86)

Dalkeith Thistle 2
(Paul Tansey, 4 pen, 30)

A great start tonight to our Conference B campaign as we twice came from behind against our recent League Cup conquerors before sealing a more than deserved three points thanks to two late goals, from Ross King, his first for the club, and Scott Moffat with his seventh in five games.

We suffered an early setback when in the fourth minute referee Whyte took the view the ball hitting Brad Hainey’s hand unavoidably warranted a penalty to the visitors, allowing Paul Tansey to net his third goal against us inside eleven days from the spot. Undeterred, we went on to play a lot of good possession football in the Dalkeith half, and scored a deserved equaliser twenty minutes in when Jordan Cropley’s pass found Moffat on the right of the penalty area, from where he lashed a shot beyond Easton in the Jags’ goal from a fairly tight angle. For all we performed well in most areas in the opening half hour, Dalkeith again went in front when the ball fell at the feet of Tansey, who some reckoned marginally offside though not, crucially, the enclosure side assistant ref. The former Junior internationalist and one-time Millfield loanee yet again proved a thorn in our side, planting a low drive powerfully towards the bottom corner. This time though the lead lasted only five minutes, Andy Jones levelling with a lovely finish coming in from the right, again at a tricky angle. It remained all square at the break but there had been much to be pleased about from a Haddington perspective.

Proceedings seemed to take a turn for the worse just nine minutes into the second half when the ever dangerous Tansey broke forward threateningly and went tumbling just outside the box when Ali Simpson in hot pursuit looked to fall into him. The ref felt a goalscoring opportunity had been denied and brought out his red card, leaving us a man short. Craig Wojtowycz’s free kick came back off the crossbar with Craig Cockburn beaten, but thereafter our ‘keeper, recalled early from his Arniston Rangers loan due to Sinky Inglis’ suspension, hadn’t too much to do, though he was responsible notably for touching Craig Meikle’s goalbound header over the bar. Veteran centre half Meikle also headed against the outside of the back post following a corner – by then we’d lost the steadying figure of player-manager Joe Hamill after he pulled up injured. Despite Dalkeith’s superior numbers the Hi Hi always played with conviction and stuck to the task in hand. Under darkening skies and continuing heavy rain, patient build-up play, along the eighteen yard line latterly, gave Ross King a shooting opportunity which from fifteen yards he took confidently – a fine first goal for the nineteen year old who’s impressed early in his Millfield career with energetic displays. Any lingering doubts the three points weren’t secure were removed just two minutes later, more incisive attacking around the Dalkeith box ending with a Jones shot seemingly set to go out of play at the back post delicately guided the right side of the post by Moffat, as much a goalscoring nuisance to the Jags in recent times as Tansey to us. The referee was enjoying things so much he added on quite a good few minutes’ injury time, during which 16 year old substitute Tadgh Flanagan-Woodhead came on and almost added a fifth.

All in all, barring red cards and injury a very good night for the Hi Hi – by a distance our best showing so far at this very early stage of the season.