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Derek Hall’s report on the Penicuik Athletic v Musselburgh Athletic game on Saturday 24th April

todayApril 24, 2022


Penicuik Athletic 1-0 Musselburgh Athletic

A typical spring day in Penicuik saw bright sunshine and a wind to cut you in half and plenty at stake as the home side looked to continue their title challenge against a Musselburgh side trying to put a home derby defeat last weekend behind them, and this was to prove to be a competitive match with a sting in its tail. A cagey opening saw the best chance fall to the visitors on four minutes when Matthew Knox played Jordan Smith down the inside left channel and he drifted a right foot effort from 22 yards over home keeper Robert Watt but also just over the postage stamp corner. Three minutes later, Paul Thomson of Penicuik went in to referee Ally Grieve’s book for hauling back Smith as he drove through midfield and he could have few complaints about the early caution. Jordan Orru then tried to find Darren Downie with a cross from the left as the visitors continued to press and forced a good defensive clearance from Darrell Young. On ten minutes, Declan O’Kane lost cheap possession in midfield for Burgh and Kieran Watson quickly fed Aaron Somerville but his pass towards Paul Tansey on the edge of the box didn’t find its target. Tansey and Aiden Walsh then forced a corner and from Tansey’s delivery, Young rose to head narrowly past from around eight yards out for what was by far the home sides best chance with eleven minutes played. Knox responded for Burgh and he found Conor Thomson cutting in from the right flank but his twenty yard effort along the ground to Watt’s near post didn’t cause the keeper any problems. McCrory-Irving then found Penicuik captain Somerville and his flick on looking for Walsh was tidied up by Burgh player/manager Joe Hamill. On the quarter hour, Penicuik’s Walsh also found his way into referee Grieve’s book as he raised his boot and exposed his studs very close to Greg Page on the edge of the Burgh box in an action which the referee clearly considered was a danger to his opponent. Two minutes later, Knox fired over the home crossbar from fully 30 yards but it was still the visitors with more possession and also chances. A foul in midfield by Downie on Thomson after 24 minutes saw a free kick awarded to the home side but it was Young of Penicuik who was then warned after passing a comment to the referee. Tansey looked for Walsh on the edge of the Burgh penalty area but the pass was heavy and was soon in the grasp of Burgh keeper Ben McGinley. After 28 minutes, a careless header back by Lloyd Fiddler fell to Somerville and could have proved costly but the striker sent his seventeen yard drive over the Burgh crossbar. A minute later, Thomson of Musselburgh went into the book for dragging back Penicuik’s Reece Hope in a carbon copy of the games’ first caution, so a further yellow card here wasn’t exactly unexpected. On 32 minutes, Lewis Collins got his pass to Walsh on the right flank and he made space to drop a cross to the back post area where Tansey arrived on the stretch but could only find the side netting from an acute angle as Penicuik looked to get their noses in front. However the games’ best chance by far arrived for the visitors after 37 minutes when a foul on Orru saw Knox deliver into the home penalty area and the ball pin balled around with a couple of efforts from Smith and Thomson being saved brilliantly by keeper Watt and another hacked off the line but somehow the Penicuik goal remained intact. Tansey then fouled Fiddler around 28 yards out but Thomsons free kick straight into the Penicuik defensive wall was a disappointment. It was Musselburgh doing the pressing as half time loomed and Thomson and Downie created space down the right before pulling back to Knox whose drive was well blocked by Watson before Nicky Reid then set up Tansey at the other end but his drive was blocked by Fiddler and went straight into the arms of Burgh keeper McGinley. Two minutes from the break, Reid had a chance from an angled free kick on the edge of the Burgh box but he too could only find the defensive wall with his drive. Somerville then played the ball back to Reid and his cross was hit first time by Tansey but Burgh captain John McManus was in the way to clear. At the break, nobody had managed to make the breakthrough but Musselburgh had certainly had more of the ball and the better of the chances from open play, and the home side would feel they had more to offer in the second period.
Prior to kick off, Penicuik made a switch as Liam O’Donnell came on to replace Collins and his first involvement was a push in the back of Downie which saw Knox fire his free kick straight into the two man Penicuik defensive wall, something which had happened all too frequently, and when the ball came back to him, he fired his next effort wide from 25 yards. On 49 minutes, Reid played the ball in towards Somerville in the Burgh box and when the striker went down, the home fans wanted a spot kick but the referee was more interested in the raised flag for offside. A minute later, Orru found Smith on the edge of the Penicuik penalty area and the Burgh striker controlled the ball with his back to goal before swivelling beautifully and cracking in a sweet 18 yard right foot half volley which keeper Watt got himself right behind. On 57 minutes, Page wanted too much time on the edge of the Burgh penalty area and Somerville’s pressure forced the corner for the home side and at the stoppage Penicuik brought on Jack Furness for Young who had possibly taken a knock. Tansey’s corner picked out Somerville but Page was there to redeem himself as he made the defensive clearance. Penicuik were showing a little more now in open play and Tansey sprayed a pass wide to Reid who tried to sprint into the Burgh penalty area but visiting keeper McGinley was sharply out to dive on the ball at the edge of his box. On 61 minutes, Penicuik had another free kick around 27 yards out and this time Tansey not only got the ball past the defensive wall, but his effort fizzed just past the postage stamp corner with Burgh keeper McGinley nowhere. At the other end, Burgh worked the ball nicely down the right wing and when the near post ball was delivered along the ground, Downie managed to toe end the ball past keeper Watt on the angle from around eight yards but the ball slipped wide into the side netting. Orru and Smith then worked the opening down the left flank for Burgh and keeper Watt had to be alert to smother Orru’s cross inside his own goal area. The home sides frustration was again on display after 65 minutes when they were awarded a foul in midfield after a foul by Fiddler, but another unwanted comment meant it was McCrory-Irving who went into the referees book. A minute later, Penicuik went for some fresh legs up front as Lumbert Kateleza came on for Somerville, just before Tansey found Reid but he caught his 25 yard shot all wrong and it skewed a dozen yards wide. Burgh’s Fiddler was the next totally avoidable caution on 67 minutes as he saw referee Grieve go to his pocket when the midfielder delayed the restart of play in midfield, just plain daft ! O’Kane drove strongly forward for the visitors on 70 minutes and his attempted one two with Downie on the edge of the home penalty area almost came off. This was Downie’s last contribution as after 71 minutes, he was replaced by Mathu King. A minute later, Penicuik went very close when McCrory-Irving found Reid and his cross into the area saw Tansey with a superb diving header from around twelve yards which flashed over the outstretched arms of keeper McGinley and narrowly over the top. After 74 minutes, O‘Donnell found himself in the referees book when he tried to hold off Knox near the touchline but his arm came back and caught the Burgh player across the face and the yellow card was out again. It got worse for both Penicuik and O’Donnell just two minutes later as Orru drove strongly down the left flank and when he knocked the ball past the Penicuik no 2, the lunging challenge which sent the Burgh full back sprawling saw referee Grieve pull out the yellow again, followed by the inevitable red, and the home side were reduced to ten men. The free kick from King took a nick on the way over before being knocked home by McManus but the flag was already up for offside. Eleven minutes from time, Burgh’s Page was the games next caution for a foul on Tansey which saw him sent spinning to the ground as he tried to get down the right flank and the temperature of the game had certainly gone up a few degrees at this point. Tansey delivered the set piece himself but the high ball was confidently held by McGinley. Nine minutes from time, Knox sent a 25 yard free kick just wide of the base of the diving Watt’s left hand post and the home keeper was relieved to see it slip past. Four minutes from time, Penicuik made a late double switch as Ben Weekes and Cammy Dawson replaced Walsh and Reid. Knox and Smith then combined well before Knox fired in a shot which didn’t have either the power or the accuracy to trouble keeper Watt. A minute from time, Page fouled Kateleza on the edge of the Burgh box and Weekes free kick wasn’t far away as it smacked off the net stanchion at the near post. Right on 90 minutes, Musselburgh made a change as Liam Gregory took the place of Smith. Knox had shown a real shoot on sight mentality for the visitors all day and another snap shot from him a minute into stoppage time missed the target and the same player sent another drive wide from 23 yards as we hit the 92 minute mark. However with 94 minutes on the clock, McCrory-Irving sent a long ball deep into the corner and the ever willing Tansey chased the lost cause and managed to play the ball off Page and behind for a corner to Penicuik. Tansey himself delivered a magnificent cross to the far post and there was Watson getting up above everyone else to power home a header from six yards and the home fans in the ground erupted as Watson wheeled away to the touchline, peeling off his shirt in celebration as he was mobbed by his team mates. The yellow card for the scorer hardly seemed to register and as soon as the visitors restarted the game, referee Grieve brought the game to its conclusion. At the end, these three points won at the death by the ten men could yet prove to be pivotal as regards the destination of the title and this Penicuik side showed real character to go long into the game and guts out the victory whilst not at their best on the day. Musselburgh will feel cruelly hard done by, they had more possession, more chances and on the day were the better side but that clinical edge deserted them and they paid price in the last minute, but this was by some distance a much better all round performance than last weeks defeat to Dunbar and once the initial disappointment has subsided, there will be positives to take from the way they took the game to one of the leagues top sides.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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