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Derek Hall’s report Preston Athletic v Newtongrange Star

todayJuly 12, 2021


Report 2nd July

Preston Athletic 1-1 Newtongrange Star
After a scorching day, a cooler evening thankfully awaited the players of both sides in this East versus Mid Lothian pre season fixture at Pennypitt Park. Within 20 seconds, the home side lost possession from kick off and Rixon was through one on one with keeper Bain and he did well diving low to his right to touch behind the 16 yard drive from the striker. This seemed to encourage the visitors and on two minutes it was Davies testing Bain with another drive which the keeper also did well to parry to safety. Two minutes later Preston responded with a nice pass from Young which found Underhill just straying offside on the edge of the box. On nine minutes, a foul on Underhill allowed Forsyth to load a dangerous free kick into the Star box but keeper Brennan’s handling was sound. With thirteen minutes gone, Austin found Hamilton with a nice ball and his cross was cleared but only to Underhill who returned it into the Star box where it was scrambled clear, but the home side now appeared to have found their feet and were well in the game. The games’ best chance arrived on 17 minutes as Hamilton sprung the Star offside trap and raced through on Brennan before placing a 15 yard left foot drive past the oncoming keeper, only to see it hit the inside of the keepers left hand post and shoot back across the face of goal and away to safety. Star immediately responded as Davies cut in from the right and his left foot drive along the ground was well held by keeper Bain. On 22 minutes, Underhill fed Hamilton and his pass to Austin saw Star’s Tait do brilliantly to somehow turn the cross over his own bar with Somers waiting behind him for a tap in, resulting in a Williams corner which Young headed into the arms of keeper Brennan. Preston continued to press and on 34 minutes, a slide rule pass again picked out Hamilton just inside the Star box and he tried to place a measured shot low past Brennan but the keeper read his intent and flopped down onto the ball. Preston continued to have a little more of the ball but as the half ran down, they carelessly lost possession allowing Davies into the Preston box on the angle for a drive which was brilliantly blocked by Pryor who stayed big and didn’t go to ground, denying the Star striker the space to get the shot away. All square at the break, and the home side would be more than satisfied with their performance so far against their higher tier opponents.
Three minutes into the second half saw a corner drop at the Star back post and Forsyth didn’t miss by too much with his left foot effort. Star responded on 51 minutes when Bremner drove along the ground from around 22 yards but keeper Bain saw the effort all the way. The first of many second half substitutions took place in the 55th minute as Preston brought on Malloy for the hard working Underhill. Three minutes later, the deadlock was broken and it was the visitors who edged ahead when a Peden free kick was allowed to bounce just inside the Preston goal area and confusion reigned as the ball pinged around. Keeper Bain did brilliantly to somehow push the ball off his line from a touch by one of his own defenders, but the ball fell to Webb around six yards out and he wasn’t missing from there as he slammed the ball past the grounded keeper for the opener. Star took some heart from this and a dangerous cross into the home box was well defended by Young who headed behind under pressure, but Rixon was penalised for climbing all over Forsyth from the corner. Star were back on the attack almost immediately as Neto clipped the ball on to Bremner who then found Smith but great tracking back by Austin saw him slide in to concede another corner and at this stage, Star were having a really decent spell of possession. From the corner, goal scorer Webb was up again to power in a low header which home keeper Bain put behind with a good strong right hand. This time the set piece reached the head of Ferguson but he was off balance and headed away from the Preston goal but Smith got to the ball first and headed over the home crossbar as the visitors continued to press. However in the 65th minute, the home side levelled as Hamilton was alert to a sloppy pass inside the centre circle and drove forward to the edge of the Star penalty area. As he moved in, the ball seemed to get stuck under his feet but he somehow dug out a low cross which Malloy hit first time along the ground from 12 yards and the ball smacked off the base of the post before hitting keeper Brennan on the back and ricocheting into the net. Malloy wheeled away claiming the goal although a VAR intervention would surely have signalled an OG from the keeper but the one certainty was we were all square once again. On 67 minutes, Rixon and Forsyth were brought in for a wee word from referee Iain Gallacher just to keep things civil, the referee having hardly been noticed all night. A minute later and a looping bouncing ball into the Preston box was cleared out to Bremner whose 20 yard drive went wide as keeper Bain watched it all the way. After 74 minutes, Rixon did well to get the ball across for Star into the box but Neto at the back post saw the last touch come off him for a goal kick. On 77 minutes Hamilton again did well to get a decent ball towards the Star near post and a combination of keeper and defender scrambled the ball away for Star. After 82 minutes, a throw in found McCole and he dropped his shoulder nicely to dummy his marker before putting a back post cross onto the head of Stokes with the ball then clipping off a defender and going behind for a Preston corner. McCole then rifled an effort from fully 30 yards over the Star crossbar but as time expired, both teams would probably be fairly happy with a very decent workout, utilising most of their available players on the night, enabling everyone to get some more fitness and energy into the legs prior to July 17th’s big kick off.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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