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Derek Hall’s report from the Musselburgh Athletic v Penicuik Athletic game on 31st August

todaySeptember 2, 2021


Musselburgh Athletic 1-0 Penicuik Athletic

A cool, calm evening at Olivebank and the prospect of a close encounter with this East versus Mid Lothian clash for EOS Premier League points as Penicuik looked to maintain their 100% record whilst a victory for the home side could see them make a significant move towards the top of the table. With two minutes gone, Reece Hope flicked nicely on to Paul Tansey who raced into the Burgh box but his sixteen yard drive found the side netting. Two minutes later, Callum Donaldson got to the goal line and his deep back post cross brought out an excellent clearing header from Penicuik captain Andy Forbes. Forbes and Nicky Reid then combined to put Tansey in again and his shot from the edge of the box was well blocked by Harvey Tanner and the visitors had made a bright start. After nine minutes Greg Page spotted Penicuik keeper Robert Watt off his line and his free kick from half way had the keeper dashing back to ensure the ball was going wide. A minute later, Forbes found Cammy Dawson on the edge of the Burgh box and his chest control killed the ball beautifully but the follow up 20 yard drive lacked conviction and Burgh keeper Ben McGinley had no problems with the shot. Tansey then dispossessed Tanner on the edge of the Burgh box and sent an inviting low cross through the heart of the penalty area but there were no takers. Jordan Orru had Burgh moving forward with a strong run down the left flank but once again good defending by Forbes tidied things up just before a right foot snap shot along the ground from Mathu King from the edge of the box went a yard wide of the Penicuik goals. With 16 minutes on the clock, a slide rule pass from King split the Penicuik defence and Whyte was in on goal but keeper Watt raced off his line and stayed big to make a brilliant block from the strikers low drive. Tansey then broke from defence for the visitors and found Reid who played a nice return pass to Tansey who had continued his run but the final cross into the side net was disappointing. On 22 minutes, Reid turned beautifully after receiving the ball from a throw in before striding forward and curling a lovely placed left foot strike towards the far post and only a slight deflection took the ball past the Burgh goal for a corner. King then almost found Jordan Smith for the home side but Jamie Furness read the situation well for the visitors. Smith worked hard on the goal line to get another cross into the visitors box and once again Forbes was there to clear for Penicuik but Musselburgh were growing into the game now. After 26 minutes, Burgh fashioned a great chance as King found Donaldson and his ball across the face of the Penicuik box saw Conor Thomson arrive and make the space to clip the ball just wide of Watt’s left hand post from around sixteen yards. Two minutes later, Burgh went close again as Declan O’Kane, Donaldson and Josh Jefferies were all involved in setting up the chance for Thomson to put his laces through the ball from about 20 yards and the ball fizzed just over the top of Watt’s crossbar. Furness received a quiet warning from referee Alastair Grieve before the ball came off a Burgh defender and was picked up by keeper McGinley with the visiting fans looking for the ‘passback’ to be penalised but the referee wasn’t interested. After 32 minutes, Tansey of Penicuik was first into referee Grieve’s book as he caught Thomson with a late contact close to the touchline and when the free kick was played in, the ball dropped to King who laid the ball back to Jefferies and his shot was blocked behind by Kieran Watson. Donaldson then robbed Reid in midfield and his ball to the edge of the Penicuik box had keeper Watt out to clear as Smith bore down on him. After 40 minutes, Donaldson was again involved as he found Smith who dropped the ball back to King but the contact on his effort from the edge of the box wasn’t his best. Almost on half time, Reid battled for possession down the right wing and in doing so he fouled Orru, with his frustration at being penalised boiling over and led to the Penicuik striker finding himself in the referees book for his protests. All square at the break and a tight game which from time to time had promised much, had ultimately failed to really catch fire and with so many excellent players on view, we looked forward to someone taking this game by the scruff of the neck in the second half.
Two minutes in and a cross to the edge of the Burgh box saw Dawson looping a header into the hands of keeper McGinley. At the other end a cross to the back post saw Smith only just unable to stretch to reach the ball, but the offside flag was already up. A Tansey drive after 49 minutes went behind off Donaldson and when the corner from Furness came over, Darrell Young’s header down found Dawson but he was unable to sort his feet out as the ball dropped just behind him in the box. Another long range drive from Tansey was held by keeper McGinley but a late contact on the Penicuik winger as he got the shot away saw referee Grieve bring the ball back for a free kick which Reid fired about a yard over the junction of post and bar. However the home side were indebted to their keeper after 53 minutes when Page gifted possession to Dawson on the edge of box and his thumping low drive was brilliantly parried aside by McGinley low to his right before getting off the ground to grab the ball at the second attempt, a real let off. On 56 minutes, Smith picked up an injury resulting in Musselburgh being forced into their first change with Dean Ballantyne replacing him. On the hour, Paul Thomson sent a header into the arms of keeper McGinley from a free kick shortly before Penicuik made their first change as Robbie Neave came on for Tansey. Before the game restarted, Orru received a ticking off from the referee for a comment passed and on commencement of play, Neave was soon involved, sliding a pass in to Dawson, but the striker had gone early and the flag was up once more. Thomson and Orru worked a one two with Thomson’s shot being blocked by Ballantyne just before another hurried clearance at the back by Page came off Dawson and very nearly fell for Aiden Walsh but the ball instead ran to home keeper McGinley. After 69 minutes, Young was Penicuik’s third yellow card for a foul on O’Kane just before Penicuik made another switch as Rhys McMurdo replaced Dawson. With the breakthrough still eluding both sides, Furness tried his luck with a speculative 35 yard drive on 71 minutes but the ball swung well wide of the Burgh goal. However after 78 minutes, Jefferies conceded a free kick in midfield which was pumped into the Penicuik penalty area and when the ball was cleared to the edge of the box, Thomson smashed the shot towards goal only for Neave to bat the ball away with his arm and referee Grieve had no hesitation in awarding the penalty, with very little in the way of protest from the visiting players. King was charged with the responsibility for the kick and he drove the ball home off the hand of keeper Watt who went the right way, but just couldn’t keep the ball out and the home side had the lead. Penicuik replaced Walsh with Lumbert Kateleza after 81 minutes as they looked to add some more threat up front along with fresh legs. There were muted claims from the visitors for a spot kick after 83 minutes as McMurdo went down, although none from the player himself before Reid got himself into a decent position on the edge of the home box but was then penalised for pulling his opponent back. Burgh were pressing and Ballantyne forced keeper Watt to clear the ball straight out of play as the home side looked to consolidate their winning position but they were also looking after the clock and three minutes from time, they brought on Lloyd Fiddler for Jefferies. A foul on Kateleza gave Furness the chance to put a free kick into the Musselburgh penalty area but as the ball dropped, Thomson was penalised for controlling the ball with his hand and the pressure was relieved. A minute from time, O’Kane caught the ball perfectly on the half volley from all of 35 yards and the shot had keeper Watt diving across his goals to ensure he had the effort covered. Three minutes into stoppage time, King intelligently fed the ball out to Ballantyne down the inside right channel and as he attempted to go past Young, the Penicuik defender brought the Burgh forward down resulting in a free kick 20 yards out and a second yellow for the Penicuik no4 who was ordered off. Ballantyne picked himself up to drive the free kick over and the final whistle went on what had been a tight, competitive and at times scrappy affair but which had been absorbing throughout the entire 94 minutes played. The unbeaten run for the visitors is now gone but Penicuik are still equal top and will undoubtedly be right in the fight at the top of the league for the entire season, they remain an excellent side. For the home side, this result will be a huge boost to their confidence as they see themselves move up to fourth in the table and they now look for the consistency in their performances which can enable them to stay there and mount a serious challenge to the teams above them.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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