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Derek Hall’s report from the Dalkeith Thistle v St Andrews United game on 22nd January 2022

todayJanuary 24, 2022


Dalkeith Thistle 2-1 St. Andrews United
A perfect day for football at Kings Park in Dalkeith as the home side welcomed their visitors from the home of golf but it was points both of these teams were in need of to hopefully start a second half of the season move up their conference. Within 20 seconds Jack Morgan reached the ball on the goal line but his looping cross to the near post was confidently held by visiting keeper Kyle Moran. However the home side had more luck a minute later as Jack Burrows won the jump in midfield and knocked the ball down to Ross Aitchison and he clipped a return pass through to Burrows who had continued his run down the inside right channel and after a touch to control, the Thistle no9 drove a low right foot strike through keeper Moran’s legs from around 12 yards to put the home side ahead. Two minutes later, it could have been two as Darren McTernan’s free kick eluded the United defence but the ball skewed off the foot of Kevin Giese who was only eight yards out and a great chance had come and gone. Aitchison then tried to find McTernan with another cross but a great clearing defensive header from Kyle Sneddon averted the danger for the Fife side. The home side continued to dominate and another cross into the United box saw the ball skim off the head of Burrows and straight to keeper Moran. Lewis Sawers finally made some progress for the visitors down the left flank but calm defending by Aitchison and Giese saw Thistle bring the ball away. Sawers, Callum McAulay and Ross Cunningham then combined nicely down the right flank for the visitors but once again there was no end product and almost immediately on the counter, it took another good clearing header from Sneddon to deny the dangerous Burrows. On the quarter hour, Fraser Anderson gifted cheap possession to Thistle in midfield and Darren Leslie sent Morgan to the goal line but his low near post cross lacked pace and Moran had no problems grabbing the ball. A minute later, United almost levelled when a nice pass released Sawers down the left wing and he fired a superb low teasing driven ball across the six yard line which the incoming Scott Russell only just failed to make contact with, by far the visitors best chance so far. A foul on McTernan by Cunningham saw referee Mark Harris apply advantage and Duncan Muir’s drive was again blocked by Sneddon who was having an excellent game at the back for United. Another foul near the goal line on Morgan by Anderson, who was having a torrid afternoon, gave Clelland the chance to clip another cross into the United box but the back post cross picked out nobody. St. Andrews had got themselves a foothold in the game and after 25 minutes, a nice through ball sliced the Thistle defence wide open and put Matt Hutchison in one on one with Thistle keeper Dowie and it was the goalkeeper who made the vital block with his feet from the United wingers low 18 yard drive to preserve the home sides lead. McTernan then fired a 25 yard drive wide of the United goals before play moved to the other end and Sawers fired a 25 yard drive high over the bar. The same player then beat the Thistle offside trap to get into the box but keeper Dowie was off his line quickly to again block the low shot with his right boot. Six minutes from the break, a coming together near the touchline saw a minor confrontation and when the dust had settled, referee Harris brought Thistle’s Burrows and Tom Milne from United in for a warning. The free kick to the visitors saw the delivery skim off the head of Thistle’s Michael Fairney and slip past the Thistle back post and the same player was then up to head clear from the resultant corner kick. Two minutes from the break, Nick Rendall of United also incurred the wrath of referee Harris for passing a comment but the cards again stayed in the pocket. At the break, a deserved advantage still lay with the home side who totally dominated the first 20 minutes of the game and could have edged further ahead, but United had slowly but surely clawed their way back into the game and it was definitely all to play for in the second period.
Two minutes into the second half, the dangerous Morgan again skipped down the right flank for Thistle and his excellent low cross saw Burrows miscue his effort from about six yards away from the goals, a big let off for the visitors. After 49 minutes, a surging run into the United box by Leslie saw him stretch to get the ball to Burrows and he managed to round the diving keeper Moran, but the angle beat him and his left foot shot on the turn went into the side netting after just clipping the post. Seven minutes into the second half, Thistle won themselves a corner kick as United claimed somewhat optimistically for offside and Cunningham was on the end of a ticking off from the referee for his complaints. McTernan swung the ball onto the six yard line and Burrows rose highest and completely unchallenged to bullet home the second Dalkeith goal and as in the first half, a bright start had been rewarded with an early goal. Four minutes later, Clelland bounced another inswinging corner off the top of the United crossbar but the whistle had already sounded. After 58 minutes, a slip by Anderson saw Aitchison race down the right wing to the goal line and his cut back picked out Leslie but from around 14 yards, he sat back on the shot and skied it well over the United bar. On the hour, Cunningham floated a free kick into the Thistle penalty area and keeper Dowie made a mess of his punched clearance as his contact saw the ball go down into the ground before being scrambled away. Muir of Thistle and Cunningham of United were then in front of the referee for some nonsense or other before another superb break forward by Morgan saw him cut the ball back again once more and the ball fell for Burrows whose eight yard drive was deflected over the top to deny the big Thistle striker his hat trick. With 63 minutes gone, a Cunningham free kick into the Thistle box was cleared to McAulay but he also couldn’t get over the shot and fired it high over from 20 yards. Two minutes later, United’s Rendall became the games first caution after a Thistle attack had concluded, with the St. Andrews no4 then retrospectively cautioned for a foul spotted by referee Harris in the build up. Some good pressing by Morgan forced United keeper Moran to hammer his clearance straight out and this was indicative of an excellent all round performance from the Dalkeith winger. St. Andrews were not going away and after Russell lashed the ball across the face of the Thistle six yard box, Reece Redpath went even closer with a 23 yard left foot half volley which fizzed past the Thistle far post as keeper Dowie remained rooted to the spot. After 70 minutes, Thistle’s Morgan somewhat blotted his copybook by getting cautioned for a foul on Sneddon in midfield. Fifteen minutes from time, Leslie slipped a pass inside to Muir and his 25 yard drive had plenty power but United keeper Moran was right behind it. Giese then drove forward through midfield for the home side before playing in Morgan and he tried to place his low shot past keeper Moran but the effort lacked power and the keeper flopped down to his right to make the save. Dalkeith were looking to kill the game off and another run and drive from Morgan saw Rendall throw his body in the way to make a superb block before Leslie pulled another 25 yard drive well wide. However with twelve minutes remaining, the opportunity to kill the game arrived for the home side when another driving midfield run from Giese saw him find Morgan and when his cutback arrived at the feet of Giese, he made contact with the ball before then being cleaned out by keeper Moran and as the ball drifted wide, referee Harris pointed to the spot. United weren’t happy with the award but referee Harris remained unmoved and up stepped Burrows to try to claim his hat trick, but the right foot effort along the ground was a tame one and rolled harmlessly wide of Moran’s right post. Nine minutes from time, Dalkeith went to their bench as Connor Dyet replaced Muir and he arrived just in time to see St. Andrews get themselves right back into the match as Cunningham found Sawers and his lovely pass down the inside left channel picked out Scott Russell who showed great composure before smashing a wonderful left foot angled half volley across keeper Dowie into the far corner of the net, and within the space of three minutes, the scoreline was 2-1, rather than the 3-0 which looked likely just minutes earlier, game very definitely on ! Thistle were soon back on the attack and a cracking right foot drive from Morgan brought out a magnificent fingertip save by Moran as he tipped the shot over the top. The corner saw Callaghan win the jump and his header came back off the United crossbar but the home side just couldn’t get a final touch to force home the rebound. With five minutes remaining, Harris Haleef came on for Anderson as United looked to salvage an unlikely point and then Burrows of Dalkeith went into referee Harris’s book for a foul in midfield on 87 minutes. A minute later, Morgan stepped inside his man and stood up a lovely far post cross which looked to be finding Burrows until Rendall popped up with another excellent headed interception and from the corner, the ball dropped to Leslie whose shot on goal was blocked by Redpath. Almost on full time, St Andrews late substitute Haleef tried a right foot effort from 20 yards which home keeper Dowie took confidently just above his head and as play then moved upfield, Hutchison of United somewhat cynically took down Dyet and there were few complaints as the yellow card came out for the Fife no7. Leslie stepped up to hammer the 30 yard drive past the United wall but keeper Moran had his angles spot on and was right behind the effort. At the end, few could deny that the victory for Thistle was well deserved and after excellent contributions from Morgan, Giese and Burrows, it could and probably should have been a more emphatic result. However the men from Fife never gave up and excellent defensive performances from Rendall and Sneddon in particular meant they were always in with the chance of coming away with something from what turned out to be a really decent game for the spectators present.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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