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Derek Hall’s report on 5th December from the Leith Athletic v Dalkeith Thistle game

todayDecember 8, 2020


Here we have another excellent report from Derek Hall from Saturday’s game on 5th Decenber

Leith Athletic 7-0 Dalkeith Thistle
A fixture switch due to this weeks dismal weather saw Dalkeith take the short trip in to Peffermill to take on an as yet unbeaten Leith side on the 4G pitch. Within the first minute, a through ball towards the Thistle penalty area saw Maughan pulled up for offside. A minute later, a push on McKenzie by Fairnie saw a Leith free kick which was cleared out to Sproule and his high hanging cross was handled solidly by Thistle keeper Dowie whilst under a bit of pressure. On five minutes, Sproule sprinted down the left flank and when his cross came over, Kerr was there for the visitors to calmly clear the ball away. Sixty seconds later, Sproule got down the left again but with two to find in the middle, his cross went straight into the hands of Dowie. After seven minutes, Leslie found Johnston who tried to slip Muir in and as the ball was cleared out, Leslie was following up to send a drive from around 28 yards high and wide as he registered Thistle’s first chance of the game. A foul on McFadden out on the left flank saw a chance for Fairnie to deliver a free kick into the Leith box but the set piece dropped short of the penalty area and Leith broke quickly through Maughan who raced into the Dalkeith penalty area and squared the ball for Sproule standing alone at the back post and the tap in nudged the home side ahead. A minute later, Shaw got down the left flank again for Leith and his pull back saw Maughan attempt to open his body up and place the ball home with his right foot but it was a difficult chance and from nine yards the effort was skewed wide. Leith were getting real joy down the left wing in particular breaking at pace and on thirteen minutes, Maughan beat the offside trap after being played on by Fairnie and his pass inside saw Watson’s fifteen yard drive bring out a brilliant save by Dowie who threw himself full length to his left to turn the ball behind. The corner fell to McKenzie whose mis hit shot fell to Allan but he could only guide his effort straight into the arms of Dowie. McFadden went down off the ball in midfield as the ball went out for a throw in but the referee was content to go with the throw and the Dalkeith striker was fine to continue. Fairnie then got the ball forward to Muir as Thistle tried to create something but he couldn’t get the cross past the first defender. However on twenty minutes, the home side doubled their advantage and it was the pace of Maughan which again did the damage as he got away from Kerr and moved into the Thistle box before driving the ball past Dowie from around sixteen yards. Hume of Leith was warned by referee Harris when he and McFadden got involved off the ball as Fairnie was about to put another free kick into the Leith penalty area but again the ball was cleared allowing Leith to race to the other end and win a corner which Redpath put right onto the head of Maughan and he smacked a free header off the Dalkeith crossbar from eight yards. The ball was never properly cleared and was picked up by McKenzie who then showed great feet to glide past a couple of Thistle defenders before very deftly dinking the ball over the advancing keeper Dowie into the far corner of the net from ten yards to make it 3-0.
Worse was to come for Thistle three minutes later when possession was lost cheaply in midfield and Maughan was onto the ball in a flash and drove forward down the inside right channel before firing across the unprotected Dowie all along the ground from around fifteen yards and into the back of the net. In 29 minutes, Aitchison got forward and laid the ball back to Leslie who put an inviting cross into the Leith box but there was nobody there to get on the end of a decent ball in. Maughan in particular was causing the Thistle defence all sorts of problems and he got away from Kerr again but this time his cross was poor and drifted over. After 34 minutes, Redpath raced down the right flank for Leith after beating Clelland but with two team mates waiting for the cut back to roll the ball home, he went for goal himself on the angle from nine yards and simply blazed the ball into the side netting. Two minutes later and Redpath brought down McFadden giving Thistle a set piece 30 yards out and the ball went out wide to Burrows but once again the cross only found a Leith head. After 38 minutes, Maughan once again raced into the Thistle penalty area but for once a final heavy touch let him down and allowed Dowie to get off his line and make a fine block at his feet. However the fifth goal was only delayed sixty seconds as McKenzie picked up the ball from a free kick and showed great composure as he moved past a couple of defenders down the inside right channel before clipping the ball past the helpless Dowie. After another cross only just went over the head of Maughan, Kerr then did well for Thistle as he nipped the ball off the toes of Shaw who was looking to control a bouncing ball on the edge of the visitors penalty area. A minute from half time, Thistle had their best chance of the match when McFadden took a Fairnie pass on the edge of the Leith penalty area and controlled the ball before turning beautifully and from 18 yards he placed a lovely strike up into the top corner only to see the ball smash back off the crossbar with home keeper McLellan rooted to the spot. However the half time whistle finally gave some respite to a very hard pressed Dalkeith defence who had been unfortunate enough to come up against a Leith forward line whose devastating pace and clinical finishing had been an almost perfect combination on the day to take the game away from the visiting side.
Both teams made changes before the start of the second half with Weston replacing Burke for Dalkeith, whilst the home team made a double switch as Tracey and Williamson came on for Redpath and Kneeshaw. Three minutes into the second period and substitute Weston almost played in McFadden as Thistle were first to show in attack. A minute later, a foul on McFadden by Hume saw the ball placed about eight yards outside the Leith penalty area, wide of centre and this allowed Clelland to step up and curl a beautifully struck left footed free kick over the wall, only to see the ball once again crash back off the crossbar with the diving McLellan beaten all ends up before the ball was scrambled clear. A corner into the Leith penalty area then had the Leith defence all over the place before being hacked clear and despite the scoreline, the visitors had started the second half very brightly. On 51 minutes, McFadden of Dalkeith became the first yellow card of the game after clearly trying to clip the heels of McKenzie as he was moving away from him in midfield. A minute later, Allan of Leith got his contact all wrong from a 25 yard free kick and the ball trundled harmlessly wide. On 54 minutes, another driving run from McKenzie tempted Leslie into an unwise challenge and as the Leith play maker went sprawling, Leslie’s name also found its way into referee Harris’s book. Leslie was then injured shortly afterwards but after fairly lengthy treatment both on the pitch and on the sidelines, he was able to resume. A lovely combination move down the right flank involving McFadden, Johnston, Fairnie and finally Aitchison earned Dalkeith a corner on the hour and at this point the visiting team were having by far their best spell in the match. After 64 minutes, McKenzie reminded everyone of his pace as he picked up a loose ball in midfield for the home side before hammering a rising drive over the Thistle crossbar from around 22 yards. With 65 minutes gone, Leith made a further double switch as McKenzie and Allan were replaced by Veitch and Mein and it was no surprise to see McKenzie being withdrawn as he had been one of the home sides top performers on the day and an early rest was reward for an excellent display.
Burrows fed Weston the ball on the edge of the Leith box but he was eventually driven back by force of numbers before McFadden then did well to beat Watson but just couldn’t get a shot away. On 69 minutes, Williamson was the first Leith player cautioned after a late contact right in front of the Leith dugout and he could have no complaints at all about the card before Dalkeith keeper Dowie then made a great save low down to his right from a 15 yard right foot drive from Maughan. With a quarter of an hour remaining, Leith made their final change as Simpson replaced Shaw while Dalkeith went for the double change as C Leslie and Callinan entered the fray for McFadden and Muir. Burrows then sent a dangerous cross into the Leith penalty area and it required Veitch to head behind for the concession of a corner but Leith were soon at the other end and a driving run into the Thistle box by Williamson saw Clelland make an excellent tackle to snuff out the danger. After Veitch had flashed a header wide for Leith, the home side finally added to their tally with seven minutes remaining when Maughan drove into the Thistle penalty area and smashed the ball home via the underside of the crossbar from a tight angle to complete his hat trick. Five minutes from time, C Leslie of Dalkeith found himself through on the edge of the Leith penalty area but keeper McLellan was alert to the danger and raced out to block the shot a couple of yards inside his penalty area. Three minutes from time, Williamson tested Dalkeith keeper Dowie with a stinging right foot drive but the keeper stayed big and beat the ball away with both hands and the keeper was in action soon after beating away a cross. However, the scoring wasn’t done and a nice one two on the edge of the box saw Maughan play in Mein and his return pass across the face of the goal was turned home by Maughan for his fourth of the match and Leith’s seventh, a bit harsh on the visitors who had put plenty into a spirited second half performance. Before the game restarted, Thistle captain Fairnie was cautioned for what looked like passing a comment to the referee and a couple of minutes into stoppage time, Simpson of Leith needlessly got himself cautioned for a totally unnecessary challenge from behind on Johnston at the halfway line. At full time, a comprehensive win for a home side who have pace to burn on a big pitch and used it to perfection and in McKenzie and Maughan, they have two forwards up front who will take goals off any team in the league if they continue in this vein. Dalkeith had a tough afternoon, but manager Jock Landells will undoubtedly take some positives from a second half showing where spirit and character were in evidence as they refused to lie down and made their presence felt with a very decent second half display.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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