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Derek Hall’s report from Haddington Athletic v Herriot Watt University 11th August

todayAugust 13, 2021


Haddington Athletic 6-3 Heriot Watt University
A rain soaked Millfield saw a superb 2nd Round EOS Qualifying Cup tie between two sides both challenging near the top of their respective conferences, and nobody present left disappointed at the end having witnessed a first half in particular which will live long in the memory. The visitors were first to show and Alex Chingwalu fed a nice pass down the left to Gregor MacDonald whose cross was turned behind by the sliding Ali Simpson. MacDonalds corner was turned behind again and this time Todd Teviotdale swung the set piece right onto the six yard line where it was met by Jack Thomson who side footed home with the home defence caught on their heels and the visitors were ahead with little more than two minutes on the clock. However Haddington’s response to this setback was to equalise two minutes later as a driving run down the left wing by Shaun Hill almost from the halfway line saw him slide a lovely pass into the path of Euan Watson who didn’t break stride before clipping a lovely composed finish past HW keeper Alex McMahon from around 16 yards. On 7 minutes Hill was again the provider, this time setting up Guy McGarry who would probably be disappointed as he dragged his shot wide from 17 yards. With the rain teeming down, keeper McMahon had a real escape a minute later when he slipped and fell with the ball at his feet just outside his six yard area and did just enough to scramble the ball away as McGarry got to the ball but was driven wide. However after 11 minutes, the home side did take the lead and HW scorer Thomson will have nightmares as, under no pressure on the edge of his own penalty area, he turned the ball back to his keeper without realising Hill was a few yards behind him and the Haddington no9 simply flicked the ball past McMahon to put the home side ahead. Four minutes later, Hill beat the HW offside trap to skip through but instead of taking the shot from a central position, he tried to find Ross King with a pass which went astray and the chance fizzled out. However the third goal was only delayed sixty seconds as Gabri Auriemma found Hill racing down the left wing and the cross arrived perfectly onto the head of McGarry who bulleted home past McMahon from eight yards and the home side had a two goal cushion. After 21 minutes, McGarry found Auriemma who decided the slippy conditions merited a low drive from 30 yards but HW keeper McMahon got solidly behind the bouncing effort. Just a minute later it was game on again as Chingwalu found Russell Cairns who worked his way into the Haddington penalty area along the goal line before clipping in a cross which struck the hand of Gordon Harris and referee Brent Falconer didn’t hesitate in pointing to the spot. HW captain MacDonald stepped up to hammer the ball low past home keeper Dale Cornet and with just over a quarter of the game gone, it was now 3-2. MacDonald then almost found Cairns with a tidy pass and Cornet was quickly off his line to snuff out the danger, before a nice combination move between Thomson, Chingwalu and Cairns earned the visitors another corner but Teviotdale’s cross was cleared. However after 28 minutes, the sixth goal of a pulsating half arrived as Simpson found Auriemma and he stroked a lovely ball into the path of the arriving King, who drove home low across keeper McMahon and into the far corner from 20 yards for yet another excellent finish. A minute later, Auriemma blotted his copybook when he was cautioned by referee Falconer for going down far too easily in his opponents box and the lack of protest at the yellow card told its own story. Right on the half hour, Corey Robertson received a warning from the referee for a mistimed challenge on HW no 3 Chingwalu who was getting forward at every opportunity for the visitors. On 33 minutes, Alisdair Shrive crossed for Josh Wishart to head almost straight at Haddington keeper Cornet just before a careless crossfield pass by Auriemma was intercepted by MacDonald but his pass to Cairns was slightly delayed and offside ended the move. Three minutes later, the home side had themselves a three goal advantage as Robertson found Auriemma who laid the ball off to McGarry and he sidestepped his man before curling a beautiful 20 yard left foot drive around keeper McMahon high into the far corner of net with a shot which looked a goal from the second the ball was struck, a classy finish. On 38 minutes, McGarry then got himself needlessly cautioned as he flicked out at HW’s Craig Smith after the ball had gone right in front of referee Falconer who had little option but to brandish the yellow card. Cairns then had a snap shot from the edge of the box blocked for a corner which Wishart met at the back post and powered a ten yard header low to the near post and home keeper Cornet took no chances as he beat the slippery ball behind. The resultant corner saw Thomson win the header and this one too was blocked behind by the hard pressed Haddington rearguard. HW were trying hard to cut the deficit before the interval and after 42 minutes, a cutback from Chingwalu picked out MacDonald nine yards out and his right foot effort saw Cairns flick the ball goalwards but once again he was adjudged offside. Teviotdale of HW was then warned for a foul on Auriemma before with a minute of the half left, HW hauled themselves up off the canvas with the eighth goal of a wonderful first half. Justin Hogg raced down the right wing before playing in a pass which Smith controlled before rounding keeper Cornet and then from an almost impossible angle, he drove the ball high into the opposite far corner for a magnificent finish and with the scoreline standing at 5-3, referee Falconer decided you can actually have too much of a good thing and brought a breathless, bonkers first period to a close so those present could get themselves a Bovril and possibly some oxygen !
Within the first minute of the second period, McGarry showed great strength to hold off a couple of challenges before finding Congalton who returned the ball to McGarry and the instant shot from 20 yards was only just wide. On 48 minutes, Thomson did really well to clear an Auriemma cross but three minutes later the Haddington no 10 turned provider once more as he accepted a pass from McGarry before sliding a nice ball through on the edge of the box for Watson to cleverly control the ball and stroke the early shot past keeper McMahon from 14 yards to restore the home sides three goal lead. On 56 minutes, Auriemma set up King whose angled drive saw McMahon make a decent save just before Haddington replaced Watson with Keith Lough. Within a minute Lough was involved as a stinging drive from the dangerous McGarry was beaten out by HW keeper McMahon and Lough drove the rebound wide from the edge of the box. Smith gave away possession cheaply in midfield to Auriemma who tried a one two with Lough but the return pass was slightly overcooked and keeper McMahon was able to gather. On 65 minutes, the visitors made a double switch as Hogg and Kennedy departed to be replaced by Charlie Stewart and Ross McLaren and they were on just in time to see Auriemma feed Hill whose powerful angled drive was tipped over the top by McMahon. With 68 minutes gone, Haddington were forced into a further change as substitute Lough had to leave the field due to injury after barely 10 minutes on the park and Ryan Hutchison took his place. Stewart swivelled on a throw in and tried a snap shot for the visitors which was blocked on 70 minutes before the home side took off Robertson for Subasic. With 13 minutes remaining, Wishart smacked a 30 yard free kick off the home defensive wall but the ball ran to McLaren whose shot from the edge of the box was well handled by keeper Cornet, who then also grabbed a Chingwalu cross confidently on the wet surface. On 80 minutes, Hill did well to keep the ball in on the touchline before feeding Hutchison and his 23 yard drive saw McMahon right behind the shot. With four minutes remaining, Stewart showed good feet to burst between two home defenders just inside the box but his angled drive was straight at keeper Cornet who was covering his near post. In the end, a fairly comfortable win for the home side who took a deserved lead into the break after an amazing first half and then showed good game management in the second half to contain a really hard working and at times enterprising visiting side who pushed forward whenever they could, but a home side tonight prompted by Auriemma and Hill, and excellent finishing from McGarry and Watson now take their place in the next round.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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