Lowland League Roundup – Matchday 18

All the weekend’s action from around the Lowland League

vale of leithen 1-1 edinburgh university

By Damon Main

After the previous week’s hammering by Kelty Hearts, Vale of Leithen were certainly not on any sort of ‘pre Christmas high’.  With the borders club languishing at the foot of the Lowland League table and struggling for any sort of win the last thing either of these teams wanted was a draw.

However, it turned out that the honours were only shared at Victoria Park in a game that had been billed as a real relegation six pointer.

Edinburgh University had made the short journey south looking to take the ascendency early on against a shell shocked side but the same failings that have let them down all season were evident very early on. A lack of physicality and that confident cutting edge so evident in the stronger Lowland League teams meant that opening exchanges were simply indicative of two struggling teams.

When the opening goal did come it was from the experienced tricky forward player Abdul Yusuf who put the student side ahead in the 26th minute.

That was it really until half time but whatever was said in the away dressing room did not really work with the student side losing a goal just after the restart.

The equalizer came from Vale defender Alex Imlah with the former Spartans player using his physicality to score.

Between these two teams Edinburgh University do look the one with a little more to them but it would be wrong of the student side to get too comfortable about survival.   The aim at the outset of the season for the Peffermill side may well be simply retaining a place in the Lowland League. But with Dalbeattie Star, Gretna 2008 and Vale of Leithen all around them in the table the target has to be to get within reach of Berwick Rangers for the student side to feel any sense of safety.

For Vale of Leithen things do look a little bleak despite this deserved point allowing them to at least catch a breath looking upwards.  The Innerleithen side obviously need to cling onto the club ‘Keep Faith’ motto looking to the start of 2020.

bonnyrigg rose 5-1 cumbernauld colts

By Ronan Alexander

Bonnyrigg Rose continued their excellent run of form after a convincing 5-1 demolition of Cumbernauld Colts in the capital.

A brace from Jonathan Brown was pivotal to sealing the win as he collected another man of the match award as Robbie Horn’s men blew the visitors away in the first half.

The opener came after 18 minutes when a Lee Currie free kick struck the wall, fell to Scott Gray who had his effort saved but Brown was on hand to fire home the rebound. Nine minutes later the lead was doubled when right back Dean Brett continued his excellent form in from of goal from the back.

With 36 minutes on the clock, the tie was put to bed. Richard Kirwan was sent off for Colts for a foul on Kieran McGachie in the box and Currie made no mistake from the spot.

On 64 minutes it was four when Brown turned home a cross to put the game beyond doubt. However, Stephen O’Neil did grab a consolation before Docherty had the final say for the game to end 5-1.

The result keeps Bonnyrigg in second place two points behind Kelty. Meanwhile, Cumbernauld sit in 8th spot.

caledonian braves 0-2 east kilbride

By Euan Fairley

‘A game of two halves’ is the best way to describe this clash as Kilby ultimately gained revenge for their defeat earlier in the season. Braves went into half-time lucky not to be dead and buried and yet will be disappointed not to take anything from the game after a dominant second-half full of spurned chances.

It was a cold but calm Winter afternoon in Lanarkshire as 7th placed Braves faced 9th placed Kilby. The first big chance fell to Kilby as Sean Winter found space in the box and laid it back for captain Craig Malcolm, who was unable to beat the keeper from close range.

Kilby didn’t have to wait long for another big chance and this time they took it, with Winter again finding space on the right and curling in a sweet cross which Anton Brady directed past the keeper from 10 yards.

Only three minutes later it was 2-0 with the danger again coming down the Kilby right. Winter slipped in Graeme Holmes whose low cross was sliced towards his own goal by Braves’ Raffi Krissian. Alan Reid tried in vain to save his team-mate’s blushes but only succeeded in knocking the ball into the net. Whether it was he or Krissian who gets the own goal is down to the dubious goals panel – either way the Braves now found themselves 2-0 down against a Kilby side playing with confidence and freedom.

Kilby had two big chances just before half-time to put the game to bed, both of which they passed up. The first fell to Malcolm whose weak shot almost squirmed through Braves’ Goalkeeper Alex Marshall’s legs, while the second fell to Ruari Paton whose shot was well saved by Marshall.

Braves also had a chance of their own as David Sinclair’s rasping drive from 25 yards was tipped onto the bar by Kilby keeper Matthew McGinley. In truth it would have been well against the run of play at this point and Ricky Waddell’s battered water bottle was offered some respite as the half-time whistle sounded.

Whatever Waddell did or said at half-time worked as the second half was almost all Braves. In particular the introduction of Ben Daily on 59 minutes sparked a deluge of chances for the home side. On 70 minutes an excellent cross from Daily on the right found McNeil unmarked in the box in very similar circumstances to Kilby’s first goal. Agonisingly for Braves their top goalscorer headed wide with the goal at his mercy.

On 77 minutes Braves almost scored what would surely have been the goal of the season as Neil McLaughlin’s shot from 45 yards was so close to finding the top corner. McGinlay got back just in time to tip it over.

A number of further chances fell to Braves in the last ten minutes, with the best falling to Raffi Krissian. Ross McNeil was put through on goal and rounded the goalkeeper but his shot was scrambled off the line by frantic Kilby defending. The ball then landed perfectly for Krissian 6 yards out, however Craig Reid somehow managed to get himself in the way and the chance was thwarted.

In the end the difference between the teams was that Kilby took their chances and Braves didn’t. Rickly Waddell expressed his disappointment as he told Braves TV: “I felt to a man they worked so hard and they really deserved something better than what they got out of the game.” Overall there were plenty of positives for both teams to take from the encounter and it will be intriguing to see who finishes higher come the end of the season.

east stirlingshire 0-1 bsc glasgow

By Gregor Mackintosh

BSC Glasgow extended their win streak to 8 games at the weekend after defeating East Stirlingshire 1-0 at the death thanks to a Thomas Collins strike.

BSC opened with the first chance of the game after just a minute, when a long ball made its way behind the Shire defence but Thomas Orr couldn’t fire past Jamie Barclay in the Shire goal.

The next chance of note came the way of Shire, with Sean Brown registering a shot on goal which was saved by BSC keeper Ryan Marshall.

The game became heated with some BSC players actively targeting Shire midfielder Nicky Low with some off the ball challenges being made. BSC manager Stephen Swift was then added to the referee’s book for some overly angry comments to the linesman because a high Jamie Dishington tackle on Declan Hughes went unpunished.

Shire ended the half well as fullback Martin Orr burst into the box before laying the ball to Jamie Dishington but his effort was palmed wide by Ryan Marshall. Shire winger Bobby Barr then expertly turned 2 BSC defenders before firing from 20 yards out but his effort was saved by the in-form BSC keeper.

Shire piled on continued pressure during the second half with Nicky Low having the first attempt as he sidestepped past Jamie Mills before firing his effort just inches wide of the target.

Sean Brown then used his large frame to bully BSC captain Ross McMillan to the ground before breaking away with the ball and done well to get past a BSC defender but he was unable to get a shot away. Both players then stayed down for head knocks but were thankfully okay to continue.

BSC then had their only notable chance of the second half, as substitute Thomas Collins was slipped through from a delightful pass by Jamie Hamilton. Collins then managed to stretch out and just beat Jamie Barclay to it as he nudged the ball into the back of the net which duly sent the BSC players and management wild.

This result takes BSC up to 3rd place while Shire move down to 4th. BSC have a home game against Spartans to look forward to next week while Shire travel to the capital to take on Edinburgh University in their final game of 2019.

Both sides also managed to raise a total of £1255 for the Forth Valley Sands Charity before kickoff.

gretna 2008 1-3 Kelty Hearts

By Ronan Alexander

A professional first half display was enough to keep Kelty Hearts top of the table after they overcame Gretna 2008 at Raydale Park.

Three goals within the first half hour sealed the win and keep Barry Ferguson’s side at the top of the table for Christmas. Nathan Austin grabbed the first and his 28th of the Lowland League season so far.

A Dylan Easton free-kick doubled the visitors advantage before man of the match Sean McKirdy teed up Ross Philp to make it three.

A trialist did pull a goal back for Gretna who remain 14th in the table after the crunch game between Edinburgh Uni and Vale of Leithen ended all square.

the spartans 4-0 gala fairydean rovers

By Damon Main

Spartans took the lead after only 8 minutes when what should have been a routine clearance inside the visiting box was fluffed by the defender 7 yards out when all he had to do was connect.  This left Blair Atkinson with an early Christmas present inside the box and he smacked the ball high home into the net past the goalkeeper.

Exchanges between the two sides were in honesty thin on the ground and even in the early stages it was hard to see how the visitors would take anything from the fixture.   Chances for Spartans came and went from the usual Ainslie Park danger men.

Eventually it was no surprise a second was added on the 35th minute thanks largely to another Smith, Blair Atkinson and Woods triple act.

Indeed, Atkinson could and should have had a hat trick before the break but his effort was saved and held easily down to the goalkeepers left.

If Atkinson has dreamed the night before this game of hitting a treble it was a realistic dream.

On numerous occasions he might have added to his two first half goals against a visiting side who lacked any sort of threat or belief.    Shortly before the hour mark, Spartans put the game as a contest totally out of reach of Rovers and made sure they had no way back.

Jake Davidson had had a chance before Jack Smith, outside of the box, finished past the beaten Fraser Morton.

Chances against came and went as darkness fell in northern Edinburgh and with the substitute goalkeeper on, a Spartans sub, Nicky Reid, capitalised on some dangerous play in the box to finish a few yards out.

It was in all honesty a long day for Gala Fairydean Rovers and things need to improve if they are to get anywhere near the top of the table.

dalbeattie star 0-1 university of stirling

By Ronan Alexander

Chris Geddes’ Stirling Uni side cemented their 10th place spot in the table with a solid away performance at Dalbeattie Star on Saturday.

There were few chances in the first half as both sides went into the break with the deadlock still to be broken.

The second period also didn’t see many goal bound efforts, but the winning goal did come after 72 minutes when Euan Baird was played through and made no mistake.

That now makes it six consecutive home league defeats for Star who will be peering over their shoulder as they head into the New Year.