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Derek Hall’s report on the Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale v Crossgates Primrose gameon 8th September 2921

todaySeptember 25, 2021


Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale 2-2 Crossgates Primrose
Today’s scorching temperatures in Edinburgh had subsided and it was a perfect night for football in the capital as Vale welcomed Primrose to Ainslie Park in the EOS Premier League. The visitors started brightly and were almost ahead on two minutes when Lewis Sawers slid a lovely ball in to Cameron Muirhead who moved into the Vale penalty area at pace and rounded keeper Jack Stewart, only to see his goal bound effort from a tight angle cleared off the line and behind by Michael Deland. When the corner came across from Finn Graham, the ball almost dropped again for Muirhead and once again it was Deland there to make the clearance. Vale responded two minutes later as skipper Sandy Cunningham fired in a drive from fully 30 yards which wasn’t all that far over the top. Lewis Foster and Joe Murray then worked a nice move for the home side on the edge of the Primrose box and it took a calm defensive header from Neil Lawrie to find his keeper Shaun Hunter to relieve the pressure. After ten minutes, Graham was then clipped by Paul Crawford on the edge of the Vale box in a fairly central position and Primrose captain Scott Lawrie stepped up to slam the 21 yard free kick low past keeper Stewart with the aid of a slight deflection to put the visitors ahead. Vale responded as Cunningham clipped a cross into the Primrose box which came back out to him and his quick left foot half volley from 19 yards was confidently taken above his head by keeper Hunter. On the quarter hour, Louis Signorini found Murray but he pulled his low 23 yard right foot drive across the Primrose goals and well wide. On 19 minutes, slack play from Andrew McDonald at the back for Primrose gifted possession to Niall Doherty but McDonald then got himself back to put the striker off and his drive from the edge of the box sailed over. Brian Ritchie then fed Sawers but his drive was well blocked by an excellent challenge by Dylan Moore on the edge of the Vale penalty area. Primrose forced two quick corners around the 25 minute mark which Graham swung to the back post, with the second one just dropping wide. Three minutes later, Neil Lawrie fired a lovely cross into the Vale box and Ritchie rose to loop a header narrowly wide before at the other end, a left foot drive from the edge of the Primrose box by Signorini was taken behind by a slight touch for a corner, and this one saw a header from Foster again deflected behind. This second corner was allowed to drop in the six yard box by some hesitant Primrose defending and Murray was on hand to crack the ball home from five yards and bring the home side level after 32 minutes. Primrose were soon on the front foot again and a long free kick into the Vale box saw keeper Stewart react late and only just beat Colin Paterson to the ball with his defenders clearly expecting him to take the ball above his head rather than on the first bounce. Ten minutes from the break, Foster found Errol Douglas inside the Primrose penalty area and he stepped nicely inside his man only to drag his 15 yard drive into the side net. A minute later, Murray of Vale had to leave the field briefly to get some blood cleaned from his face, but he was able to return in time to see Foster set up another chance for Douglas but this time McDonald was there to take the pace off the effort allowing keeper Hunter to grab the ball. Five minutes from the break, Primrose were inches from regaining the lead when Muirhead chased what looked like a lost cause to the goal line, but he managed to hook the ball back onto the six yard line where the arriving Scott Lawrie saw his six yard header crash back off the face of the Vale crossbar before being cleared. A minute later, Vale’s Signorini also had to leave the field to have some blood cleaned up before he too was able to continue. With 43 minutes gone, Murray of Vale was fouled by Douglas Swan but the resulting 21 yard free kick taken by the scorer of the equalising goal this time failed to get past the Primrose defensive wall. So all square at the end of a somewhat disjointed first half which saw Primrose on top for around 25 minutes before Vale then gradually got to grips with things and parity was probably just about right at the break.
Three minutes in and a back post cross in the direction of Muirhead was well turned behind by Sam Daniel for a Primrose corner which keeper Stewart then held confidently. A minute later, some nice inter passing from the visitors saw Muirhead clip a pass towards Sawers on the edge of the Vale box but it was just overhit and Stewart again made the save. On 50 minutes, the yellow card from referee Iain Snedden was out for the first time as Douglas of Vale was cautioned for a bit of off the ball nonsense as play was moving away. Two minutes later, he was joined in the referees book by a member of the Primrose coaching staff who clearly passed a comment which referee Snedden took exception to. Cunningham then played Foster in at the edge of the Primrose box and he showed good feet to get past his first opponent but then pulled down Swan to end the attack. A long range snap shot by Murray didn’t trouble Primrose keeper Hunter and truth be told, the opening phase of play in the second half had become pretty scrappy. After 57 minutes, Darren Aitken found Neil Lawrie for the visitors but his somewhat speculative 35 yard low drive was well wide. Primrose brought Mark McKenzie and James McAteer into the game on the hour and a minute later, a deft head flick from Foster found Douglas whose drive from the edge of the Primrose penalty area flashed just past the base of keeper Stewart’s right hand post. After 63 minutes, Cunningham raced strongly down the Vale right flank but a superb tackle by McDonald robbed him of the ball. Vale were having a decent spell and Doherty slid a nice ball through for Foster who got past keeper Stewart but once again McDonald was there to turn the ball behind and when the corner was swung over, a Moore header was again scrambled away from in front of goal. A Cunningham corner found Deland inside the Primrose goal area and he got to the ball before keeper Stewart but the effort was well off target before Moore then gave Cunningham another shooting opportunity but the shot was poor. Referee Snedden then had a quiet word with Primroses Graham for attempting to clip Signorini as the Vale player moved through midfield. Fifteen minutes from time, Primrose replaced Muirhead with Kyle Brand, just before Ritchie hammered in an excellent 30 yard strike for the visitors which certainly had the attention of home keeper Stewart as it fizzed wide. Twelve minutes from time, Vale replaced the hard working Forster with Iain Laver. On 80 minutes, another shot from Cunningham was again blocked by the excellent McDonald who, barring one lapse, had been a top performer at the back for the visitors. However, eight minutes from time the visitors regained the lead when a needless foul on McKenzie just outside the Vale box wide left saw a lovely chipped cross find the head of Ritchie and his glancing header from around nine yards gave keeper Stewart no chance. On 84 minutes, McKenzie showed good strength to stay on his feet for the visitors and his shot from the edge of the box was deflected past for a corner which Graham placed onto the head of McAteer but Stewart dived low to his right to make the save. With five minutes remaining, Vale threw on Ross Watson and Thomas Penker for Murray and Signorini as they looked for something late on from the game and shortly afterwards Primrose replaced Neil Lawrie with Ross Graham. McAteer managed to get past Penker and into the Vale box but a poor touch at the vital moment allowed keeper Stewart to smother the ball. With a minute remaining, Primroses Swan fell awkwardly and there was a lengthy stoppage as the full back was treated and then very gingerly made his way off with what appeared to be a very painful back injury, leaving the visitors a man light. When the game restarted, the throw in found Deland who got to the edge of the Primrose penalty area and his right foot drive saw Paterson raise his arm and block the ball, leaving referee Snedden little option other than to award a pretty obvious spot kick. There were a few muted protests but the outcome seemed clear cut and Douglas kept cool before stepping up to send keeper Hunter the wrong way from the pressure penalty and salvage a late point for the home side. After the final whistle, the protests from the visitors towards the referee were a bit more vocal, resulting in two unlisted players both being the subject of disciplinary reports for their comments. Once the dust had settled, a share of the spoils on the evening didn’t seem to be an unfair outcome with Vale delighted with a late point to move them another place up in the table to 13th and a very decent Crossgates side also moving up to 7th on their own, a positive night then for both sides.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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