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Tuesday’s sport, Derek Hall’s report from the Musselburgh Athletic v Newtongrange Star game 19th July

todayJuly 20, 2022


Musselburgh Athletic 3-3 Newtongrange Star

The hottest night of the year saw an interesting friendly at Olivebank between Musselburgh Athletic and Newtongrange Star with the only guarantee being everyone’s fitness was going to be well tested. In the first minute, Tyler Bolochoweckyj was released down the left flank and his cut back saw Dean Ballantyne bring an excellent save out of Burgh keeper Ross McRae low down to his left to concede the corner which Ballantyne then flicked over the top from Ryan Turner’s set piece. Declan O’Kane fired over for Burgh after a corner had been cleared and then Matty Knox required some treatment before being able to continue for the home side. He was soon back in action and on seven minutes, he sent a 25 yarder over the Star crossbar. They came closer a minute later when Jordan Smith got down the right and found Burgh skipper Mathu King who laid the ball off to Conor Thomson and his placed effort from 16 yards was deflected behind. Thomson took the corner himself and Star keeper Liam McCathie punched clear under pressure and King was there to crack in another drive which was also blocked behind and when this set piece was delivered, Gordon Harris volleyed three yards wide. Knox fired another 18 yard low drive a yard past the base of the Star post with keeper McCathie definitely interested and at this stage, the home side were in the ascendancy, and another O’Kane effort saw Turner take the pace off it, allowing McCathie to dive low to his left to grab the ball. Harris then sent a long hanging cross to the back post and Liam Reid did well to turn the ball back into the Star box but nobody had gambled on the cut back and the ball was cleared. Burgh continued to press and a King cross was cleared out to Harris whose 22 yard angled half volley was once again deflected behind and didn’t miss by much. Knox took the corner and Harris was there again, this time with a header, but Brad Haines made the intervention for the visitors. With 25 minutes gone, another King cross saw Reid head over the top from around nine yards before Burgh went close again after a short corner routine which saw Knox fire in another angled drive and Star keeper McCathie was a spectator as the ball flashed through the goal area and just wide. However with 28 minutes gone, the home side made what was a deserved breakthrough when O’Kane fed the ball wide left and Knox’s pinpoint cross picked out Smith, who cushioned his volley home from close range to put Burgh one up. However, Star should have been level on the half hour after winning a corner as Liam McIntosh swung over an excellent back post cross and Scott Hay arrived at pace to send in an unchallenged seven yard header which somehow slipped past the far post, much to the relief of a static home defence. At the other end, a quickly taken midfield free kick by O’Kane caught the Star defence napping and Thomson stepped inside his man to send a rising 18 yard drive just over. Jackson Barker then tried to find King but excellent covering by Peden averted the danger for the visitors and Turners header from the Knox corner was glanced behind. Another 25 yard drive from Knox sailed over after he had been fed in by Matthew O’Connor, but Star then had a great chance to equalise after 36 minutes when Peden clipped the ball to the edge of the Burgh box and as Ballantyne tried to control the ball, Harris intercepted and knocked the ball back to his keeper McRae who was immediately penalised by referee Lewis Hogarth for handling the pass back. A wall of Burgh defenders lined up on the goal line and it probably wasn’t a surprise to see Ballantyne’s low 13 yard drive from McIntosh’s touch deflected wide. Knox sent another angled 14 yard drive wide for the home side after 41 minutes when he had options to pick out inside and a minute later, Star raced to the other end and won themselves a spot kick when a ball into the box saw Ballantyne impeded but the ball ran on to McIntosh who was then also brought down and referee Hogarth, who was no more than 6 yards from play, pointed to the spot, with little or no protest from anyone in the Burgh camp. Ballantyne sent the ball low and right and despite keeper McRae getting a big hand on the ball, he could only push it up into the roof of the net. So all square at the break and after the majority of both possession and chances, Burgh would probably be wondering how exactly that had come about, but Star had shown the resilience to weather the storm and when their chance presented itself, they took it, and this game was now nicely balanced.
The usual raft of half time personnel changes took place and amongst them, McRae was replaced between the sticks by Diego Sanchez for the home side. Within 30 seconds of the restart, Russell Cairns did well to escape the attentions of a couple of opponents and drove strongly forward to fire in a low 18 yard drive which McCathie did superbly to turn behind. The visiting keeper was involved again minutes later as a nice passing move saw Cairns set up Smith who side stepped his man to fire in a low left foot drive which McCathie brilliantly tipped round the post. However when the corner from Thomson came over, Reid rose unchallenged to power his header home from six yards and Burgh were back in front after 50 minutes. Hay was then warned by referee Hogarth for bringing down the lively Cairns some 27 yards out but Thomson sent the free kick well over the Newtongrange crossbar. However ten minutes into the second period, Star equalised with a great team goal as a sweeping move begun by Bolochoweckyj and then David Malloy gave Logan Imrie the chance to deliver a brilliant early cross into the Burgh box and found McIntosh arriving at the far post to stroke home a superb equaliser for the second time on the night. Three minutes later, the visitors could have been ahead when Harris was well short with a back pass and Bolochoweckyj was onto the ball but keeper Sanchez stayed big and made the block on the angle to bail his full back out of trouble. Burgh responded as Thomson and Smith exchanged passes on the edge of the Star box but Thomson’s shot was blocked. McCathie then got right behind a 25 yard drive from Burgh’s Andy Jones and at the other end, McIntosh sent a lob from the edge of the Burgh box over the top. On 68 minutes, Star keeper McCathie brought off a fantastic save high up in the top corner from a 20 yard curling effort from Harris and as Jones tried to head home the loose ball, the whistle went for offside. Burgh were pressing again and Jones moved into the Star box before finding O’Kane who fed Fiddler but he sat back and his 30 yard drive was well over. After 74 minutes, Ballantyne made a nuisance of himself on the edge of the Burgh box and worked hard to get the ball to Ally Elliot who then played the return pass to Ballantyne and his 10 yard drive was again well blocked by Sanchez. With 15 minutes to go, a midfield collision between Star’s Ryan Porteous and Jack Gillan saw referee Hogarth quickly halt the game but fortunately both players were able to resume without treatment. With eleven minutes remaining, Burgh took the lead for the third time as Thomson and Smith combined twice on the edge of the Star box and after the ball broke back to Smith, he managed to force a right foot drive from 17 yards past McCathie who got hands to the ball but couldn’t prevent the shot along the ground from going in. Young keeper Tom Angus then came on for McCathie for a final ten minute run out. Ballantyne found Imrie for the visitors and when he picked out Elliot, Sanchez was right behind his 12 yard drive to turn it behind. The corner kick was touched on by Ballantyne and when it was knocked down by Hainey, Hay turned the ball up and over the Burgh crossbar from no more than eight yards. However, five minutes from time a Ballantyne flick saw Elliot pulled down in a central position just outside the Burgh penalty area. The Musselburgh wall was pulled back into position by the referee and had the best view in the house as Ballantyne stepped up to fire a 19 yard right foot drive along the ground and just inside the base of the keepers right hand post to get the Midlothian side back on level terms for a third time. Max Dowling curled an effort from just outside the Burgh box over the bar and at the other end, a fairly speculative O’Kane volley didn’t trouble the Star defence. In the end it was honours even after a really enjoyable second half in particular and both teams would take plenty out of a very decent contest, not least some fitness into the legs of both squads on a night where everyone was tested in the heat of sub tropical East Lothian by the sea.

Written by: Russell Aitken

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