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Derek Hall’s report on 29th January Whitehill Welfare v Jeanfield Swifts game

todayJanuary 31, 2022


Whitehill Welfare 1-5 Jeanfield Swifts
A difficult day for football in the swirling remnants of Storm Malik at Ferguson Park, Rosewell but it was Whitehill Welfare who were well and truly blown away by an excellent first half display from their visitors from Perth. After three minutes, Ricky Millar, who was playing in an advanced role today, tried to thread the ball through in the direction of Liam Ireland, but the pass was just too strong and visiting keeper Mark Mitchell was able to collect. However two minutes later, the visitors were ahead as Jamie Reid controlled the ball on the edge of the Whitehill penalty area before stepping inside his man and curling a beautiful 20 yard left foot placed drive into the postage stamp corner which home keeper Musa Dibaga got his left hand up to but couldn’t prevent the ball from finding the top corner. It was proving difficult for Whitehill to play out into the teeth of the strong wind and it got worse just five minutes later when the normally reliable Blair Tolmie was short with a passback which allowed Shaun Struthers to race into the box and as keeper Dibaga came out to meet him, the Swifts front man squared the ball to Connor McLaren who rolled the ball into the empty net from ten yards and visitors had made a dream start. Someone from the home side had clearly run over a black cat and smashed a mirror as they drove under a ladder because two minutes later, winger Michael Hornig sustained an injury after an innocuous looking challenge near the touchline and after a lengthy stoppage, he was replaced by Jack Stewart. On the quarter hour, we got a clear demonstration of the wind strength when Fin Connor laid the ball back to keeper Dibaga and as McLaren raced in to close him down, Dibaga’s clearance into the air barely left the penalty area before being blown backwards and resulted in the Welfare keeper scrambling his own clearance behind for a Swifts corner. With nineteen minutes played, the visitors went further behind when a high ball to the edge of the penalty area saw Chris McLeish barged over by Andy Kidd as he tried to jump for the ball and referee Simon MacLean had no hesitation in awarding the spot kick. McLaren’s placed penalty along the ground was well blocked to his left by keeper Dibaga but the ball somewhat unluckily squirmed from his grasp and back across goal and as Bryan Wilson took down another Swifts forward, McLaren smacked home the rebound from around a yard for the third goal and Wilson was cautioned for the challenge made after the save. However within sixty seconds, Whitehill threw themselves a lifeline as a ball to the edge of the box was headed down nicely by Millar to Ryan Weir and he played a lovely first time pass into the path of Ireland who didn’t break stride as he rifled a lovely angled strike into the far corner off the hand of keeper Mitchell to reduce the deficit to 3-1 with only 20 minutes gone. However their joy was short lived as with 24 minutes on the clock, Swifts restored their three goal advantage with the goal of the game as a defensive clearance dropped for Reid 25 yards out and he set himself before unleashing an unstoppable right foot half volley which flew into the far top corner of the net past the helpless Dibaga for an absolute screamer of a goal. The home side again responded and Weir raced down the right flank before his cross into the box was blocked by the body of Jake Dolzanski and despite loud claims for handball, neither the near side assistant or the referee concurred. Weir then again fed the ball to Ireland but double scorer Reid was there this time at the back with a good tackle. A quick counter attack from Swifts then saw McLaren release Struthers and his wide pass to Scott Smith was well intercepted by Ireland to break things up just before a half volley from Chris Scott from 22 yards went three or four feet over the Welfare crossbar. Ireland was working hard for the home side and his persistence on 31 minutes allowed him to get a low drive in from the edge of the box, but keeper Mitchell wasn’t troubled as the effort was blocked. After 34 minutes, Weir moved into the Swifts penalty area and went down but he appeared to lose his footing prior to any contact and referee MacLean was again unmoved. A minute later, Chris Dodd stepped inside his man and from the right edge of the Welfare penalty area, his curling angled left foot effort beat keeper Dibaga but came back off the junction of post and crossbar and was scrambled to safety. Hodge of Whitehill also found his way into referee MacLean’s book for a challenge in front of the covered enclosure but with five minutes remaining of an extraordinary first period, Swifts did get their fifth in simple fashion as McLaren got down the left flank and stood a lovely cross up onto the six yard line where McLeish was waiting unchallenged to nod home past the helpless Dibaga who was left completely exposed. Keeper Mitchell almost got himself into bother as he took a poor touch with Weir closing him down but the Swift’s goal remained intact and at halftime, it was the visitors who had themselves a four goal cushion whilst the home side’s dreadful start had left them with the proverbial mountain to climb.
Weir found Stewart as the home side started positively and Reid brought him down and the quickly taken free kick saw Weir deliver into the Swifts penalty area but Aaron Whitehead was there to hook the ball clear. Swifts responded on 50 minutes as McLeish found Smith and his 22 yard low left foot drive slipped past the base of Dibaga’s right hand post. Two minutes later, Ireland slipped a pass inside to Josh Walker who hammered in a tremendous right foot drive from all of 30 yards and keeper Mitchell had to beat the ball down from above his head before diving on the loose ball at the feet of Weir. Struthers tried a shot for the visitors from a similar distance on 54 minutes, but this one was well over. Weir continued to put in a real shift for Whitehill and forced Whitehead back to his keeper before at the other end McLeish again tried to find his full back Reid who was on a hat trick, but the Welfare defence stood firm this time. Walker had another go from the edge of the Swifts box, this time with his left foot, but it drifted well wide across the face of goal. On 63 minutes, Swifts missed a glorious opportunity when an inswinging McLaren corner dropped for Whitehead whose first effort from 5 yards was brilliantly blocked on the line by keeper Dibaga but rebounded straight to Dolzanski who somehow blasted over from around seven yards with the goal at his mercy. A minute later, Swifts made a double switch as Fraser Smith and Dale Robertson replaced Kieran Stewart and Struthers. Ireland cut in from the left flank on 67 minutes and his curling right foot effort from 20 yards certainly had the beating of Swifts keeper Mitchell, but missed the postage stamp corner by inches. Twenty minutes from time, Swifts then made a triple switch and brought on the rest of their outfield substitutes as Gregor Donald, Paul Simpson and Gary Fergus entered the fray with Dodd, Smith and Scott making way. Robertson fired a 20 yarder wide for the visitors before visiting keeper Mitchell had to look lively on the edge of his penalty area to beat Weir to a through ball. With 73 minutes gone, McLaren fired in a powerful drive from around 24 yards but home keeper Dibaga was right behind the ball and held on confidently. Welfare moved to the other end and a ball across the face of the Swifts penalty area saw Weir and Connor get in each other’s road and the chance was gone. Jason Howie replaced Hodge for the home side with a quarter of an hour to go. Eight minutes from time, Swifts sub Fergus was cautioned for a foul on Ireland right in front of the dugouts. Whitehill were still looking for a consolation goal right to the end and Connor showed tenacity to work his way down the inside right channel but when he pulled the ball back, Weir for once was caught on his heels, perhaps expecting Connor to take the shot on himself, and his snatched effort from around eight yards looped up into the air and was cleared. Three minutes from time, Ireland took down a throw in and his twelve yard shot on the turn went into the Swifts side netting but as the full time whistle went, Tolmie’s frustration got the better of him and referee MacLean showed the Whitehill centre half the yellow card for comments passed after the final whistle. The visitors would be delighted with a first half performance which effectively won them the game and they now sit on their own in fourth position in the table behind the three front runners. For the home side, games are now starting to run out as they continue to look for a run of positive results to move them away from the foot of the table, but that run if it’s coming has to start right now.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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