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Derek Hall’s report on Penicuik Athletic v Tranent Juniors game on 15th January

todayJanuary 16, 2022


Penicuik Athletic 0-3 Tranent
The EOS Premier match of the day saw third place Tranent head to league leaders Penicuik with the opportunity for things to be either tightened up or for a large lead at the table top, so the big crowd in attendance were hoping for something a bit special. A cagey start saw both teams feeling their way into the game and it was four minutes until a nice passing move from the home side released Nicky Reid down the right flank, but he was penalised for a push on Shaun Rutherford in the corner. At the other end, Sean Murphy tried to feed the ball to Wayne McIntosh but Ryan Baptie was there to hook the ball clear from just inside his own penalty area. After eight minutes, Robbie Neave sliced open the Tranent defence with a great pass which had Cammy Dawson on the hunt on the edge of the Tranent penalty area, but visiting keeper Kelby Mason was alert to the danger and sprinted off his line to hammer clear from just outside his box. The home sides David Edwards was then the first recipient of a warning from referee Danny Graves after a foul in midfield just before Euan Greig got a shot away on the edge of the home box which saw Darrell Young’s clearance land at the feet of Kieran Somerville and the big Penicuik defender breathed a sigh of relief as the follow up effort was blocked behind for a corner. Greig’s corner looked to be a preplanned move as Rutherford came off his marker on the edge of the area but his low left foot drive was again blocked before doing any damage. After eleven minutes, Greig fed the ball through to Murphy on the edge of the Penicuik penalty area and despite momentarily losing his footing, he stepped past his marker before firing in strong low right foot drive from 16 yards which this time was superbly blocked by Young who threw himself in front of his keeper. Three minutes later, a foul by Baptie on Greig saw Jamie Docherty step up to hit the 25 yard angled set piece, but the Penicuik wall did its job. On 17 minutes, Oban Anderson found Docherty on the left flank and his pass down the touchline saw Rutherford fire over a cross from the goal line which home keeper Robert Watt clutched confidently above his head at the near post. A foul on Reid in midfield saw referee Graves play advantage as Robbie Neave took the ball on but his pass was poor and the Penicuik attack fizzled out. After 25 minutes, a foul on Lewis Collins near the halfway line gave Baptie the chance to deliver into the Tranent penalty area but an obvious push by Dawson saw the game stopped once again. Two minutes later, Murphy tried a 20 yard left foot snap shot along the ground but Watt in the Penicuik goal remained untroubled. Reid was finding it difficult to get into the game with service fairly limited and the Penicuik front man was back fighting for the ball on the halfway line before fouling Craig Stevenson. However as we neared the half hour, it was the visitors who broke the deadlock when the busy Greig again got into the Penicuik box and his first effort saw Young once more making the block but the ball came back to Greig and he had the presence of mind to look inside and square the ball past keeper Watt to Somerville who clipped the ball into the roof of the empty net from nine yards for a lead which Tranent certainly merited. On 33 minutes, a decent Baptie free kick into the Tranent box was turned behind but the resultant corner from the same player didn’t clear the first defender. Ten minutes from half time, the home support were baying for a yellow card when Murphy took down Edwards with a robust challenge near halfway but the cards remained in referee Graves pocket as he contented himself with a strong warning. McIntosh then got free inside the home box but his glancing header didn’t bring keeper Watt into action. However two minutes from half time the visitors doubled their advantage with a slick goal from a tight position as Stevenson fed the ball down the right and almost into the corner but McIntosh somehow worked the ball back to Stevenson who then played a quick one two with Murphy on the edge of the Penicuik penalty area before the Tranent full back clipped over a lovely near post cross and there was Somerville to beautifully glance a placed header in at the base of the far post for his own and Tranent’s second of the afternoon. The half ended with a Tranent performance fully deserving of their two goal advantage and despite plenty of effort, a normally free scoring home attack hadn’t managed to force a save from an effort on goal from keeper Mason.
Penicuik gaffer Stevie McLeish wasn’t hanging around as he looked to change the game and a triple half time substitution suggested he was far from satisfied with a strangely lack lustre first period as Lumbert Kateleza, Matty Combe and Aiden Walsh came on from the bench for Young, Dawson and Neave. Within two minutes, Combe showed his intent with a trememdous low right foot 28 yard drive that the diving Mason pushed away low to his right and the incoming Kateleza fired the rebound high over although the flag was already up from the follow up effort. However in sprinting for the ball, the unfortunate Kateleza appeared to have pulled a muscle and barely three minutes after making his appearance from the bench, the striker had to depart and was replaced by Rhys McMurdo. With 52 minutes on the clock, the visitors missed a glorious chance to kill the game as the excellent Greig drove forward before finding Docherty and his quick return pass inside saw Greig side step his man and then from 14 yards he put his laces through the ball faced with only keeper Watt, but skied the ball a couple of yards over, when a placed and more composed approach would surely have paid dividends. A disappointing home performance was summed up a minute later when they won a corner but the normally excellent delivery from Baptie this time saw the ball go straight out. Collins went closer a couple of minutes later with a low drive but visiting captain Rutherford got the block in, allowing keeper Mason to flop onto the ball. Referee Graves finally had to go to his pocket after 57 minutes when Combe caught Somerville late and the yellow card made its first appearance of the afternoon for the Penicuik no18. Two minutes later, Greig of Tranent also went into the book for a late challenge on Watson and from the set piece, Baptie sent a lovely free kick to the back post where Walsh rose highest to power his header inches over the top of the Tranent crossbar at the postage stamp corner. Collins then again tried to find McMurdo as Penicuik fought to find a route back into the match but keeper Mason was once more quickly off his line to clear. However after 66 minutes, Tranent missed another more than presentable chance to wrap the game up as a Greig corner saw an unchallenged McIntosh glance his back post header wide when any sort of more solid contact would surely have resulted in a third goal. However just sixty seconds later, the visitors were indeed celebrating their third when Somerville worked his way to the edge of the Penicuik penalty area and his low left foot drive deflected off a defender straight to McIntosh who showed all his experience and composure as he rounded keeper Watt and stroked the ball home from around eight yards to put the game to bed. Penicuik weren’t going away and on 69 minutes, Paul Thomson stepped forward to hammer in an angled right foot drive from around 20 yards which raged across the face of the visitors goals with the diving keeper Mason more than happy to see the ball clear the far post. At the other end, a confident Somerville went looking for his hat trick as he cut in from the left flank and his 25 yard bending drive towards the top corner didn’t miss the target by all that much. Collins then played a decent ball in the direction of Combe but Ciaran McKenzie was there for the visitors with an important defensive header. Fifteen minutes from time, McIntosh gave way to Steven Thomson as Tranent went to their bench for the first time and this was quickly followed by a further Penicuik change as Reece Hope replaced Baptie. The changes continued and at the next stoppage, Tranent rested their other scorer as two goal Somerville departed to make way for Ben Miller. After 80 minutes, Walsh released Reid down the right wing and his excellent driven cross to the back post was only just out of the reach of McMurdo as Penicuik tried at least to get a score on the door. With six minutes left, there was further drama as Hope raced down the left flank for the home side only to be unceremoniously brought down by McKenzie about 30 yards out and with nobody else home, referee Graves had no hesitation in bringing out the straight red card which McKenzies body language and lack of protest suggested he knew was going to be the outcome. Scott McCrory-Irving stepped up to bend his drive past the defensive wall but Mason had his angles spot on and was right behind the effort. On 86 minutes, Tranent manager Calum Elliot reacted to the late red card and made a double switch as Matty Knox and Bradley Donaldson entered the fray for Murphy and Greig. Two minutes from time, a foul by Scott McCrory-Irving sparked a minor confrontation near the touchline but referee Graves was quickly in to scatter the players and calm things down. A minute into stoppage time, Reid finally worked the space on the edge of the Tranent box to get past his defender and fire in a powerful low right foot drive but keeper Mason wasn’t for losing his clean sheet and he went down to his right to make an excellent block and turn the ball behind. The final whistle saw a large travelling support show their appreciation as their fans knew that with real pressure on them, the East Lothian side had delivered when it mattered for the club. The home side will simply move on from a performance which didn’t come close to reaching the heights of many other games this season and will look forward to next weeks mouth watering cup tie at Linlithgow as the ideal fixture to once again show their mettle.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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