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Derek Hall’s report from Musselburgh Athletic v Jeanfield Swifts August 8th

todayAugust 13, 2021


Musselburgh Athletic 3-2 Jeanfield Swifts
A cracking looking EOS Premier Division fixture at Olivebank and for both Musselburgh and Jeanfield, the opportunity to claim third spot in the league was on offer, and for the home fans, a chance to see new player manager Joe Hamill in action in blue for the first time. After two minutes, new Musselburgh keeper Ross McRae allowed himself to be closed down by Jeanfield centre forward Chris McLeish and was relieved to see the ball go behind for a goal kick. Almost immediately at the other end, a short pass back saw Jeanfield keeper Mark Mitchell hurriedly hook the ball out of play under pressure from Nathan Evans and it had been a somewhat inauspicious start from both keepers. After seven minutes, Callum Donaldson robbed Connor McLaren in midfield but his pass to try to find Evans was overhit. However a crazy 90 second spell began in the ninth minute when Musselburgh captain John McManus pushed over McLeish on the edge of the penalty area and McLaren stepped up to bend his free kick round the defensive wall and straight at keeper McRae who inexplicably allowed the ball to squirm from his grasp and McLeish gleefully knocked home a gift from six yards for the visitors. A poor start for the home side was then compounded straight from kick off as McManus was far too casual on the edge of his own penalty area and McLaren nipped the ball off his toes before burying the ball low past the helpless McRae from 18 yards to double the visitors advantage, entirely due to two comical pieces of defending, although nobody of a Musselburgh persuasion was laughing. Musselburgh responded positively and an inswinging corner from Bradley Whyte saw Greg Page miss his kick at the back post, but Darren Downie turned the loose ball back across goal and from 7 yards, McManus screwed his effort just wide. On 17 minutes, McRae’s goal kick saw Evans outpace the Jeanfield defence and get into the box but he took a fresh air swipe which fooled keeper Mitchell but the strikers second effort from a tight angle didn’t hit the target. After 21 minutes, Jake Dolzanski took exception to being pulled back by Evans and referee Brent Falconer was quickly in to settle the two players down. With 24 minutes gone, it was almost three for the visitors as Paul Simpson put a lovely cross right onto the head of Gary Fergus and he was clearly frustrated that his eight yard header failed to find the target. That miss proved significant a minute later as Donaldson slipped the ball to Evans who out manouvered Dolzanski before drawing keeper Mitchell and then slotted the ball past him with a composed angled finish from around 10 yards. After 31 minutes, McLaren of Jeanfield got himself the first needless yellow card of the game for not retreating at a free kick shortly before McRae then made an excellent save low to his right from another McLaren set piece which somehow managed to squeeze under the defensive wall. Two minutes later, the Musselburgh keeper distinguished himself as McLeish dropped a lovely cross to the back post and Fergus’s half volley from 10 yards looked in till McRae stuck out a strong right leg to deflect the ball behind, an excellent instinctive save. Evans again got himself into the opposing box but Mitchell was quickly off his line to make a great block at the feet of the striker, before the keeper was again called into action to parry away a 20 yard Jordan Orru effort low to his left as Musselburgh looked to get on terms before the break. Jeanfield went close again as a deflected McLaren effort from the edge of the box brought out another fine save from McRae before at the other end, a header from Downie didn’t trouble keeper Mitchell. However the real drama was about to unfold in the final minute of the half as first Whyte went down in the Jeanfield box but the referee didnt want to know. The ball was only half cleared and as Orru then tried to round Reid, he was barged to the ground and this time referee Falconer had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Chris Scott of Jeanfield was cautioned for taking his protests too far before Downie stepped forward and drove the ball low to Mitchell’s right but the keeper guessed correctly and not only saved the shot but held on to it to bring a breathless first half to a close and maintain an advantage for the visitors which had been in no small part due to some dreadful defending from a home side who had then shown the determination to get themselves back into contention.
McLaren had the first effort of the second period for the visitors with a 20 yard half volley which was blocked before at the other end, Whyte sent a dangerous driven cross right through the Jeanfield penalty area with nobody able to get a touch. On 52 minutes, the lively Evans tested Mitchell again with a low fourteen yard drive just before the home side replaced Fiddler with Josh Jefferies. After 57 minutes, a wayward Dolzanski header missed keeper Mitchell but he was able to race back and grab the ball before it crossed the line, only for Evans to being us memories of football in the 1950’s as he bundled both the keeper and the ball into the net, which unsurprisingly resulted in a free kick to the visitors. Two minutes later, an Evans cross saw Downie block keeper Mitchell’s view and as the ball bounced from his body, McManus smashed the ball wide. Simpson then curled a 20 yard effort into the hands of McRae before Jeanfield made a double switch as McLeish and Simpson made way for Mark Smith and Scott Smith and right afterwards, Musselburgh replaced Orru with Liam Gregory. The Musselburgh substitute was immediately involved as Donaldson found him on the edge of the box and his right foot effort from 18 yards brought out a brilliant save from Mitchell high to his left, with the ball dropping to Evans in an offside position. However with 74 minutes played, we were all square as a ball up the right flank saw Evans race into the box and from a tight angle, he thundered an unstoppable sixteen yard drive low into the far corner of the net for a truly sensational strike which left keeper Mitchell helpless and had the home fans noisily showing their appreciation all round Olivebank. Three minutes later, Page of Musselburgh was cautioned for a foul on Fergus before Gregory swung a dangerous cross into the visitors box but Mitchell showed good hands as Evans waited to pounce. After 79 minutes, Hamill was replaced by Jackie Myles and the visitors made another double change as Fergus and Scott gave way to Gregor Donald and Chris Dodd. McManus was next into referee Falconers book after 83 minutes and he could have no complaints as he cleaned out Donald in front of the dugouts. Jeanfield made their final switch with five minutes remaining as Shaun Struthers replaced McLaren just before Reid of Jeanfield added to the yellow cards after fouling Whyte. With two minutes remaining, a long throw into the visitors box was allowed to bounce and reach McManus at the back post but keeper Mitchell was alert and managed to hammer the ball clear. However, the resultant long throw went straight onto the head of Liam Reid who cleverly looped his back header over keeper Mitchell and into the net from around seven yards to put the home side ahead for the first time in the match with the visiting defence caught flat footed. Two minutes into stoppage time, Whyte joined the five others already in the referees book for a foul on Dodd and then with 93 minutes on the clock, home keeper McRae superbly tipped a low 22 yard drive from M Smith round the post to ultimately preserve the victory for the home side after what had been a tremendous game of football. Both teams deserve great credit for providing the very healthy crowd with fantastic entertainment throughout, and with the defending at times somewhat erratic to say the least, the chances came thick and fast in a very open contest. Jeanfield will feel their efforts on the day were worthy of at least a point and many in attendance would find it hard to argue against that, but the character shown by Musselburgh to come back from two goals down to win and go third in the table will really please the new management team who will now look to push on and attack the two currently unbeaten teams above them.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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