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Derek Hall’s report Whitehill Welfare v Newtongrange Star 14th August

todayAugust 14, 2021


Whitehill Welfare 3-1 Newtongrange Star

A bright and breezy day at a pristine looking Ferguson Park, Rosewell and for both Welfare and the Star, it was time to start making a move to reel in the clubs above them, with both sitting far too low in the table for comfort. Three minutes in and a nice head flick on by Wayne McIntosh in the visitors box almost fell for Fynlay Connor but Star keeper Liam McCathie was quickly off his line to grab the ball. However the opening goal was only delayed two minutes as Connor whipped in an inswinging corner to the near post, Blair Tolmie just failed to make contact with his head but the ball dropped behind him to McIntosh who was able to adjust his feet and stab home past McCathie to put Whitehill ahead. Star responded immediately and Liam Peden almost picked out Tom Davies at the back post but the striker just couldn’t stretch to reach the cross before Liam McIntosh then found Andrew Muir whose shot from 30 yards was punched over the bar by Whitehill keeper Ross Coats. With 9 minutes on the clock, the home side suffered a blow as Bryan Wilson had to limp off and was replaced by Stephen Anderson. After 13 minutes, a cross by Star captain Adam Nelson seemed to be caught by the swirling wind forcing Coats to dive low to make the save before another 30 yard effort along the ground from L McIntosh had keeper Coats in action once more. Another precision Nelson cross had Coats scrambling to make a save and Star’s response to going behind had been a positive one but on 19 minutes, Robert McKenzie fed W McIntosh whose shot was blocked but ran to Michael Hornig and he made space before drilling a left foot drive from 16 yards just wide of McCathie’s right hand post when he probably should have doubled the home sides lead. Liall Smith then got into the Welfare penalty area only to be thwarted by a superb block from Sam Gormley who took a knock in the process and required treatment before continuing. After 22 minutes, Coats again kept Welfare level as Smith put L McIntosh in at the edge of the box and the striker took the shot early only to find the Whitehill keeper off his line to make the important block and turn the ball behind. McKenzie was almost in two minutes later but strong defending by Alex Webb saw the Star no2 win the physical challenge and bring the ball away. However with 25 minutes gone, the home side stretched their lead with a wonderful goal as W McIntosh sent a lovely pass wide right to McCormack who raced past Hamilton to the goal line before laying the ball inside and McIntosh had continued his run and showed all his experience to calmly stroke the ball home left footed from 16 yards to make it 2-0. Anderson then got through for the home side with Star looking for offside and it took a good block from Peden to avert the danger although from Connor’s corner, McKenzie couldn’t sort out his feet and miskicked whilst free on the edge of the Star penalty area. With 33 minutes gone, Star decided a tactical double switch was required with Muir and Davies being replaced by Sean Conlon and Callum Bremner and it was Bremner involved first as he went into the Welfare penalty area but Gormley showed great strength and judgement to shield the ball over to safety. Andrew Kidd then earned himself a quiet warning from referee Alex Shepherd for tug on the shirt of Smith in midfield before Smith then played a lovely pass to Conlon whose shot was tipped over by Coats but the flag was up anyway. A minute from the break, Conlon again did well to sidestep his man before firing in a fierce 16 yard left foot drive which was beaten away low to his right by Coats before both Star substitutes then combined to set up Steven Tait, who tried to place the ball with his left foot into the top corner but Coats seemed confident the shot was drifting wide. Three minutes into stoppage time, Daniel McBay then brought out another excellent save from keeper Coats who tipped over up in the top corner but at half time it was the home side who had clear blue water between themselves and their opponents with the clinical finishing of W McIntosh and the excellent goalkeeping from Coats making the difference, and a Star team who had created plenty of chances went inside to try to locate a cutting edge for the second period.
The home side were first to show and Anderson cut in from the right flank to test keeper McCathie’s handling with a 20 yard angled drive within the first 30 seconds before a long ball then found W McIntosh on the edge of the Star box in space but the attempted chip over the keeper ended up being little more than a passback. At the other end, Conlon also didn’t get the contact he wanted from the edge of the box and Coats wasn’t troubled before on 49 minutes, Smith skipped past two home defenders before seeing his 10 yard angled drive blocked behind by the excellent Whitehill keeper. From Nelson’s near post corner, the lively Smith managed to lose his marker and his glancing header beat Coats but dropped onto the roof of the net. McBay then found L McIntosh and he showed good strength to get into the Whitehill box but then disappointingly blazed his angled drive high and wide. A Connor shot for the home side was blocked before, on 55 minutes, a pivotal moment seemed to arrive as Whitehill got their third with a totally avoidable goal being gifted to them in bizarre circumstances. Star had an attacking free kick 35 yards out and chose to take a quick short free kick but the aimless ball was cleared upfield and left W McIntosh one on one with Webb and the striker moved in on goal before turning the defender on the edge of the box and then clipping the ball home past the advancing McCathie with a composed finish from seventeen yards to claim his hat trick and surely put the home side out of sight. One minute later, another twist as, with the game stopped for a midfield free kick, referee Alex Shepherd pulled out a red card and sent early substitute Stephen Anderson packing, apparently for passing an unacceptable comment to an opponent, and the home side had over half an hour to survive with a man down. Tait swung a dangerous cross into the Welfare box which keeper Coats handled well under pressure from Nelson before Smith then sent in another back post cross which was well defended by McCormack. McBay and Tait then combined after 66 minutes to set up another shot for Smith who fired over from 19 yards and Star certainly weren’t giving this game up but desperately needed to find a breakthrough and at this point, Whitehill introduced Taylor Rogan for Kidd who had limped off on the far side of the field. A Nelson corner found the head of Webb but the header lacked both power and direction and the next change arrived as Rixon entered the fray for Star. On 72 minutes, the visitors were desperately unlucky as Webb smashed a tremendous 35 yard right foot drive off the crossbar with Coats beaten and as the ball dropped back into the goal area, the keeper was able to recover to somehow scramble the ball away from Bremner. Two minutes later, Bremner lost possession in midfield to Hornig and as the Whitehill player strode away, Nelson didn’t stand on any ceremony in bringing him down and referee Shepherd also wasted no time in pulling out the yellow card. With a quarter of an hour remaining, Star made their final changes with Turner and Gillan coming on just before Peden fired in a fierce drive for the visitors which was well blocked by Gormley. Twelve minutes from time, Whitehill brought on Arran Laidlaw and James Scobie for the excellent Connor and hat trick hero McIntosh. After 80 minutes, Star finally got themselves on the scoresheet with a nice goal as Conlon cut the ball across the face of the penalty area, Rixon played the ball towards goal and it was Smith who appeared to get the final touch to knock it home, some reward for the Star no19 who had been excellent all afternoon. Six minutes from time, Tolmie pumped a high free kick into the Star penalty area which the wind really got hold of and keeper McCathie did well to back pedal and grab the ball right under his crossbar. McBay then picked out Conlon but he sat back on his 20 yard effort which flew well over the home crossbar. In the final minute, Webb rolled a free kick to Gillan and keeper Coats had to watch as the ball bounced right in front of him but his handling was once again rock solid. Two minutes into stoppage time, Webb of Star was the games final yellow card as he took down Laidlaw right in front of the dugouts and as the final whistle was blown, the roar from the home fans suggested they knew exactly how significant a result like this could prove to be. The home side had a number of excellent performers on the day with Connor working tirelessly in midfield and keeper Coats in top form between the sticks but the clinical finishing of McIntosh proved to be the deciding factor. Newtongrange Star will go away from this one shaking their heads, more of the ball and more chances overall and for sure on other days they will play worse and pick up points, but until they can find the net more regularly, results like this might just continue to haunt them.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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