Leith’s home draw with Kirkcaldy last Friday evening – apparently it could have been worse as the Fifers missed a late penalty – afforded Haddington the opportunity to go further ahead in the race for the Conference A championship. The Hi Hi’s had to face a potential ‘banana skin’ with a trip to an improving Arniston side at Newbyres Park but both sides had come through tough midweek encounters that would test their resources.
Manager Scott Bonar was without Ali Simpson as well as his longer term injured players and he brought back Robbie Kneave into his midfield. Haddington have encountered some difficult surfaces in recent weeks and the Newbyres Park pitch wasn’t in great condition which probably handicapped the visitors more than the home side. Once again the Haddington supporters were out in force and they backed their side from the start. The Hi Hi’s dominated the early stages as they chased the important opening goal. Top scorer Guy McGarry missed a couple of opportunities when left with only the goalkeeper to beat, but the Hi Hi’s top scorer broke the deadlock on the half hour mark when he latched onto a fine pass from Shaun Hill and guided the ball into the net. The pressure on the Arniston goal was relentless and soon after Dylan Tait applied a close range finish to double the away side’s lead. The interval break seemed to disrupt Haddington’s momentum and Arniston mounted a couple of dangerous attacks which saw Dale Cornet pull off two excellent saves and maintain Athletic’s clean sheet record. Despite almost constant second half pressure there was only one more goal when Gabri Auriemma bundled in from close range. Another excellent Cornet save kept the three goal lead intact and with the league so tight, goal difference could be an important factor at the end of May.