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Saturday Sport 23rd July, Derek Hall’s report Tranent v East Kilbride

todayJuly 26, 2022


Tranent Juniors 2-3 East Kilbride

History in the making at Foresters Park as Tranent Juniors began their Lowland League journey by hosting seasoned campaigners East Kilbride so one to look forward to for sure. Within a minute, Ronan Hughes was onto a loose ball for the visitors but he was tracked all the way by Craig Barr who turned the ball behind. Three minutes later, Martin Maughan found Nathan Evans inside the EK box but Bernard Coll was quickly across to clear. On eight minutes, a quick break saw EK with a two on one chance as Hughes tried to find Bob McHugh but Callum Donaldson timed his interception to perfection and the chance was gone. Coll then crossed from the left flank and only just failed to pick out Gary Miller at the back post but it was the visitors who were making the early running. It was therefore no surprise when a ball down the inside right channel after eleven minutes released McHugh and he moved into the Tranent penalty area only to be felled by keeper Tom Carter as he dived at his feet and referee George Calder correctly pointed to the spot. McHugh picked himself up and drove the spot kick low to the keepers right, but Carter got down with a superb strong right hand and beat the ball behind for a corner. EK still had the initiative and after Barr pulled down Hughes in midfield, referee Calder brought in EK no4 Jonathan Page for a warning after a comment had clearly been made before Neil McLaughlin slammed the 25 yard free kick off the Tranent wall. On the quarter hour, Evans got to the goal line but his near post cut back was grabbed by EK keeper Curtis Lyle. Donaldson then fired a drive wide from fifteen yards as Tranent slowly but surely began to get a foothold in the match. On eighteen minutes, Jamie Docherty flashed an inviting corner kick right through the EK goal area when any type of touch might have reaped some dividend. The first yellow card of the game arrived after 20 minutes and there were few complaints with EK’s Coll being the recipient after taking down Evans who was moving forward at pace. A quick free kick by the home side almost found Maughan but Coll was in with the well timed challenge. EK responded with McLaughlin being brought down by Sean Murphy 27 yards out and this time Coll’s central free kick beat the wall but slipped narrowly over the top. A foul by McLaughlin on Murphy had the Tranent dug out on their feet but referee Calder contented himself with a warning. Coll was certainly busy for the visitors down the left and another angled low 18 yard drive from the EK left full back was deflected behind by Oban Anderson and from the corner, Bronsky headed wide. After 33 minutes, EK captain Miller and Tranent’s Evans were pulled in by referee Calder and told in no uncertain terms to calm down a bit as the game temperature just began to pick up. On 36 minutes, Docherty tried to make space on the edge of the EK box for a shot but force of numbers saw the move break down and shortly after this, EK’s McLaughlin was the games second yellow card for what was clearly persistent infringing. Paul Simpson had a drive blocked on the edge of the EK box but as we neared the break, it was fair to say neither keeper had been overworked. Three minutes from the interval, McLaughlin sent over an excellent inswinging corner for the visitors which evaded the attempted punch from keeper Carter but Maughan was back to head the ball over from almost under his own crossbar. Anderson had a shot blocked on 44 minutes and then Cameron Elliott worked his way into the Tranent box but his angled low drive only found the side netting. At the end of a tense first period it was still all to play for and whilst EK will look back to the missed penalty whilst they were on top, Tranent would be pleased with the way they worked themselves back into the game after a slow start.
The second half began in same fractured fashion as the first had ended with play a bit scrappy and mainly in midfield and the first half chance arrived on 49 minutes as Hughes sent a shot on the turn wide for the visitors. A nice combination move for the visitors involving Dylan MacDonald, Andrew Black and Miller looked promising until McLaughlin sent a tame cross into the hands of keeper Carter. At the other end, Maughan’s pace once more took him into the EK box but Coll read the situation and snuffed out the danger. On 52 minutes, there were a few muted claims for another EK spot kick as McLaughlin went down in the box but nobody seemed all that convinced and certainly not referee Calder who clearly wasn’t interested. A short corner routine from EK ended with a 24 yard drive from Black straight into the hands of home keeper Carter. However on 55 minutes, the deadlock was finally broken by the home side when Anderson played a ball through to Maughan and he was blocked by Coll 20 yards out for a clear free kick. Simpson looked interested but it was Docherty who stepped up to smash a brilliant right foot free kick past the wall and high into the roof of the net past the despairing fingertips of keeper Lyle for a sensational strike to put the home side ahead. Black went down with an injury shortly afterwards but after treatment, the EK no6 was able to continue. However, the Tranent lead only lasted three minutes as a McLaughlin corner was touched on and McHugh was lurking unmarked at the back post and had the simplest of tasks to turn the ball home from around four yards out. Black of EK was cautioned for a foul in midfield and then on the hour, EK made a double change as Coll and McHugh were replaced by Kyle Munro and Joao Victoria. Donaldson and Docherty then combined to send Simpson to the EK goal line and his cross was turned behind by Bronsky’s good defensive header but Simpson could only find the first defender with the corner. With 66 minutes gone, Tranent went to their bench for the first time when Simpson was replaced by Ben Miller. A driven cross into the Tranent box skewed off the foot of Euan Bauld and pretty much grazed the post as it went just wide, much to the relief of the home no12. However the relief was short lived as McLaughlin’s long corner was met at the back post by Hughes who bulleted a six yard header past keeper Carter to turn the game on its head with 68 minutes gone. The home side responded by bringing on Rory Currie for Evans and shortly afterwards EK took off Black for Daniel McManus. Docherty swung another decent free kick into the EK box and Bronsky was there once again for the visitors with another no nonsense defensive header. Docherty took the corner himself but Miller just couldn’t get his head to the ball at the back post. With a quarter of an hour remaining, the home side replaced Anderson with Kris Renton and the substitute almost made an instant impact when he was only inches away from getting on the end of another superb delivery from Docherty. With eleven minutes left, Murphy picked up an injury in a 50/50 challenge which didn’t impress Maughan and the Tranent man received a stern warning from the referee about his reaction. Miller picked up a caution on 80 minutes for a fairly blatant heel clip on EK’s McManus inside the centre circle. However with eight minutes remaining, the visitors looked to have wrapped things up when McLaughlin delivered another inswinging corner to the heart of the Tranent goal area and Jonathan Page was once again unchallenged as he nodded home from close range. Back came the home side and with six minutes remaining it was hesitant defending this time from the visitors as they allowed the ball to drop on the angle of their goal area and Craig Barr didn’t need to be asked twice as he smashed the ball right footed past keeper Lyle from seven yards. However within 60 seconds, the visitors almost restored their two goal advantage and would have done had it not been for a world class save from keeper Carter who threw himself full length to his left to somehow fingertip away a glancing header from Elliott with the striker holding his head in disbelief that he hadn’t scored. The game finally boiled over with four minutes remaining when a touchline clash which was completely obscured from my view by the occupants of both dugouts resulted in the EK skipper Gary Miller receiving a straight red card from referee Calder and further yellow cards were also issued to EK’s Hughes and Tranent’s Barr for their involvement. Before the game finally restarted, EK brought on Conor Morgan for McLaughlin. A minute from time, a long bouncing ball into the EK penalty area saw keeper Lyle grab the ball with most of his body behind the line but the ball clearly wasn’t although it was enough to get a number of home fans pretty excited. A minute into stoppage time, Murphy worked his way across the face of the EK penalty area but could only drag his low left foot shot a yard wide. In the end, a hard fought victory for an East Kilbride side who would be delighted to get their campaign off to a winning start at a difficult venue. Tranent will look to go again in their next game knowing they matched up well against one of the Lowland Leagues top sides, but they will have to tighten up at the back and will look at all three goals conceded from cross balls today as eminently avoidable.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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