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Derek Hall’s report on the Edinburgh South v Livingston United on Saturday 2nd April

todayApril 2, 2022


Edinburgh South 0-2 Livingston United

Two teams sitting mid table in their respective conferences met at sunny Kings Park Dalkeith with an opportunity to try to start building some momentum for the season run in, so an important fixture for both Edinburgh South and Livingston United. With two minutes gone, a great pass down the left wing by Dale O’Hara sent Stuart Martin into the United box and he beat Hassan Nyang but then couldn’t pick out Sean Jamieson with his cut back and United were able to scramble the ball clear. United responded with a ball to the edge of the South penalty area for Jeremiah Otonti to chase, but keeper Aaron Hamilton was smartly out to grab the ball on the edge of his box, and the same United player had a 25 yard drive blocked just a couple of minutes later. Martin then tried to burst through for South but Nyang was there with a good challenge and Bryden Nolan then completed the clearance. A quick United throw in saw Jason Gregory try a snap shot on the turn which was well blocked by South’s Rhys Kerr, before Gregory then tried his luck again from fully 30 yards, but his right foot drive along the ground was a couple of yards wide. On nine minutes, South’s captain James Young showed good composure to shield the ball behind for a goal kick whilst being pressured by United’s Danny Kleinman. Hunter then went down in midfield but his complaints in looking for a foul got little in the way of sympathy from referee Jonathan Gall. After twelve minutes, a foul on Jamieson gave O’Hara the chance to deliver a good set piece into the United area but an important defensive header from Scott McInnes saw the danger averted. On the quarter hour, Otonti looked to be in again for United but keeper Hamilton was out to palm the ball away and the return effort from Kleinman with the outside of his boot sailed wide of goal. Three minutes later, a nice head flick by Jamieson had Martin interested but Kyle Miller took no chances and cleared strongly for the visitors. The throw in again looked for Martin, but Nyang was there to head clear for United. After eighteen minutes, a deflected cross saw South keeper Hamilton lose the ball but Nolan’s cut back for United couldn’t find a team mate and the home side were able to survive an anxious moment. With 21 minutes gone, Jamieson of South received a ticking off from the referee after a foul was awarded and he made his complaints a bit too vigorously. A minute later, United’s Michael Gould went down in the South box and claimed for a spot kick but his only reward was the games first yellow card from the referee who clearly felt he had embellished his fall after pretty minimal contact. However, the United forward had a far better moment on 27 minutes when Kleinman slipped a nice ball wide to Gregory and he got his head up before standing up a beautiful clipped back post cross to pick out the unmarked Gould and he directed his seven yard header down and into the net past the completely exposed keeper Hamilton for the games opening goal. South almost managed to equalise within seconds as a Jamieson through ball saw keeper Greg McGuinness hammer the ball off the onrushing Young who then chased the ball wide into the United penalty area before stretching to get a 17 yard left foot effort along the ground on target, but keeper McGuiness raced back to hammer the ball behind about a yard from the goal line, a real let off for United. The corner saw a Jamieson header easily held by the United keeper before Young then went down with what appeared to be an upper right thigh injury and after some treatment, the South skipper had to leave the field but returned shortly afterwards with the thigh heavily strapped. Jacob Reilly then carelessly lost possession on the edge of his own penalty area and it took a good save from South keeper Hamilton who was out quickly to save at the feet of United’s Nolan before at the other end, O’Hara put a nice cross in from the left which Jamieson took first time and the shot flew past from around fourteen yards. Young finally had to admit defeat after 33 minutes and left the field to be replaced by Taylor Aitchison. Martin worked hard to win South a corner on 37 minutes but O’Hara’s back post delivery saw a fairly blatant push in the back by Kerr on Nolan penalised as he sent his header wide. Two minutes later, Nolan found Gould and he moved past O’Hara who then somewhat cynically pulled the United man down and there were no complaints as the South no3 was cautioned. Chris Kelly delivered the set piece but South keeper Hamilton watched the ball all the way and made it his. Gregory and Gould then combined down the left for United but again Hamilton dived forward to grab the low cross in front of Otonti who also had last effort of the half with a 20 yard rising drive over the bar two minutes into stoppage time. At the break the visitors held a narrow but probably deserved advantage having had more of the ball and being more creative in the final third but South were still right in this cup tie which was nicely poised for the second half.
South made a couple of half time changes as William Scott and Jamie Innes replaced Hunter and Jordan Cropley. However, South found themselves two behind within a minute of the restart as David Stewart wanted a bit too much time on the edge of his penalty area and allowed himself to be dispossessed by Gould whose initial shot from the edge of the box was well blocked by keeper Hamilton but first to react to the loose ball was Gregory and he forced the ball home from around five yards to give the visitors a two goal cushion. Three minutes later, a Kelly free kick into the South box was cleared to Otonti but he couldn’t get his strike away cleanly and the 20 yard bobbling effort rolled wide of goal. However, the game took a sensational turn after 52 minutes when South’s O’Hara received his second yellow card for flicking out at Gregory and referee Gall sent the South full back packing. His team mate Martin then stepped forward to speak to the referee and the result was a straight red card shown to the South striker and within the space of 30 seconds, the home side had been reduced from eleven to nine men. However, the drama was far from over and on 55 minutes, the home side threw themselves a lifeline as Stewart worked his way into the United penalty area and Nolan’s clumsy mistimed challenge saw referee Gall point to the spot for a South penalty kick. Livingston immediately replaced Nolan with Euan Wilson before the normally reliable Jamieson stepped up to hit a poor left foot penalty which United keeper McGuinness was able to comfortably palm away down to his left and a glorious opportunity to reduce the deficit had been missed. South were giving it a real go now and Scott controlled a long ball beautifully on the edge of the United box before then turning and curling a lovely low left foot drive towards the far post which brought out an excellent full length diving save from United keeper McGuinness at the base of his post to turn the ball behind. With 62 minutes gone, Livingston went to their bench again as Gould was replaced by Anton Dunlop. Kleinman then sent Otonti racing down the left flank and into the South box and keeper Hamilton again did well to stay big and make the important block. Kleinman was again involved in 66 minutes as he dispossessed Kerr before putting a lovely cross come shot towards the back post which the home side were delighted to scramble clear. Twenty minutes from time, Gregory went down injured and United were forced to make their final switch as Adam Main entered the field. With 73 minutes on the clock, a lovely pass from Kelly again breached the short handed home defence and Otonti was again in on keeper Hamilton and his angled curling right foot drive looked goal bound until the keeper threw himself to his left and somehow managed to tip the ball over the top at full stretch, an outstanding save. The corner kick was cleared out to Cameron Shaw but his 30 yard drive bounced a yard wide of the keepers right hand post. Fourteen minutes from time, Wilson got onto a loose ball and tried a first time effort from around 27 yards which South keeper Hamilton parried away low to his right before getting up be first to the loose ball, with the South keeper having definitely been one of this games star performers, and he deserved his luck after 78 minutes when his poor clearance went straight to Main who quickly fed Otonti but he dragged his left foot drive well wide of goal. Ten minutes from time, South’s Scott managed to get himself needlessly cautioned for complaining about the award of a throw in. Dunlop and Main then combined to set up another shooting opportunity for Otonti but this one never looked like troubling the South keeper as it went well wide. Six minutes from time, Otonti completely fluffed another shot from the edge of the South box, but the ball ran on to Dunlop who took a touch before driving low and hard along the ground from fourteen yards but Hamilton was again down to make another brilliant block. Three minutes from time, Aitchison of South and United’s Kelly were both yellow carded by referee Gall for an off the ball altercation and a minute from time, South’s Jamieson joined them in the book for another comment directed at the referee. A minute into stoppage time, Otonti again looked to be on his way down the inside left channel but South full back Stewart decided that wasn’t happening and held the United winger back resulting in yet another yellow card for the home side and Kelly then sent the resulting 30 yard free kick a couple of yards wide. On the final whistle, referee Gall was approached by a player and a coach from the Edinburgh South team and they were asked to remove themselves a number of times before the referee once again brought out his red card and showed it to the coach from the South team for a somewhat ignominious end to the afternoon for the home side. Livingston would be delighted with their afternoons work and will be hoping they can now put together a decent run of results as the season gets to the sharp end, but if South want to get some momentum going in their remaining fixtures, then keeping 11 players on the park will be a good starting point, in order to give more protection to their goalkeeper Hamilton, who was absolutely outstanding on the day.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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