Lowland League Roundup – Matchday 5

Bonnyrigg maintain their lead at the top and Dalbeattie secure their first points of the campaign


By Craig Edwards

A Ruari Paton tap-in secured all three points for East Kilbride away at the Falkirk Stadium as they consigned East Stirlingshire to a second consecutive league defeat.

Alan Martin in the Kilby goal was slightly the busier of the two keepers as he made good stops low down to deny Matt Flynn and Bobby Barr.

Kilby threatened but failed to truly test Jamie Barclay but in the second half, the reigning champions showed why they are champions as they scored to snatch all three points.

Sean Winter did well to get past Jordan Tapping and drove into the box where he played the ball across the six yard box leaving Paton with a very simple tap-in to score.

Shire pushed bodies forward looking for an equaliser and thought they had one through substitute Sean Brown but his close range header came back off the post.

Victory for Kilby moves them up to sixth while East Stirlingshire drop to ninth in the table.


Cumbernauld Colts 0-2 Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic

By Liam Govey

Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic sent a real statement of intent to the rest of the Lowland League with a dominant away win at Broadwood on Friday night. Prior to the game, the two sides were the only remaining unbeaten teams in the league so far this season.

The away side hit their stride midway through the first half, as Dan Baur headed their first real chance just over the bar. Moments later, George Hunter was unable to prod home a near-perfect cross at the far post, as the away side piled on the pressure.

The pressure eventually told, as that man Hunter found himself at the far post with an open net at his mercy to put the Rose 1-0 up. Soon after, Dean Brett headed in the 2nd of the evening from a cross following some lovely interplay around the penalty area. Stephen O’Neill had Cumbernauld’s best chance, but his speculative effort went over the crossbar.

The Rose were 2-0 up and cruising by half time, and the second half saw more of the same. They could have had a third almost immediately on two occasions early in the second half. Dean Brett’s shot was saved well by Jonathan Grier in the Colts net, with the ‘keeper also equal to Lewis Turner’s effort moments later.

Bonnyrigg continued to pepper the Cumbernauld net, as Jonathan Brown saw his long-range effort sail harmlessly over the bar. Talismanic striker Kieran McGachie almost scored the pick of the goals with an illustrious backheel, but once again Grier was equal to it.

His opposite number Mark Weir never looked troubled in the Bonnyrigg net, as Hunter, Currie and McGachie continued to give the home side problems all evening.

It was a result that flattered Cumbernauld somewhat, who’ll be keen to put this off-night behind them as soon as possible at Gretna on Wednesday night. For Bonnyrigg, they’ll look to maintain their blistering start at home to Caledonian Braves. The Rose sit top, four points clear of Kelty following Saturday’s fixtures. Meanwhile, the Colts sit 4th in the standings.


Dalbeattie Star 1-0 Edinburgh University

By Ronan Alexander

A Lee Wells strike midway through the first half gave Dalbeattie Star a vital victory for their first points of the season.

In a game of few chances where Star had 8 players unavailable for various reasons, it was the visitors who carved out the first chance as Ross Watters almost capitalised on a short back pass.

But it was Wells who notched Ritchie Maxwell’s side’s first goal of the season. And what a crucial one it proved to be. His left footed volley clipped the inside of the post on route to the back of the net to seal the three points.

Aidan Kemp and Finn Daniels-Yeoman went close to equalising for Dorian Ogunro’s side, but it was Star who grabbed the narrow win that moved them up to 13th in the table, one place behind Edinburgh Uni on goal difference.


Civil Service Strollers 2-2 Gala Fairydean Rovers

By Euan Fairley

Both teams had to settle for a point in Saturday’s mid-table clash at Christie Gillies Park in an entertaining game, watched by Hibs legends John Collins and John Hughes. Strollers will feel they should have made more of their first-half performance, in which they created a number of good chances but were ultimately pegged back by a resurgent Gala.

The game kicked off amid a UK-wide heatwave, which made for excellent conditions for football and the game did not disappoint. After 6 minutes a cross from the right found Strollers striker Jack Downie unmarked but he lacked composure in front of goal and shot weakly straight at Gala Goalkeeper Fraser Morton.

It didn’t take long for Downie to get off the mark, however. Some neat passing on the edge of the Gala box found Strollers’ big number 9 Cammy Muirhead, who unselfishly squared the ball to Downie to tap in at the back post. A well worked team goal for a Strollers team who were in the ascendancy.

Strollers continued to put Gala on the back foot and Muirhead was proving a tricky customer. Calmly evading the attentions of the Gala defence, he delivered a dangerous cross which only narrowly evaded two on-rushing Strollers players, while Calum Yeats was unable to turn it in at the back post from an awkward angle.

Just when it looked like Strollers had the game firmly in their grasp Gala equalised on the counter attack on 40 minutes. Tricky Hibs loanee Yrik Galantes found himself in space on the left, turned the defender inside-out and then delivered a low cross, which Strollers defender Scott Main turned into his own net under pressure.

Gala then almost found themselves with an unlikely lead on the stroke of half-time. With Strollers caught short at the back the ball found its’ way to Galantes in space on the edge of the box. The youngster hesitated but was able to drive a low, accurate shot across goal, which was tipped wide by the toes of Strollers’ Keeper Stuart Burnside.

Gala’s resurgence continued in an end-to-end second-half which could have gone either way. A free-kick from 20 yards was curled just past the angle of the goal by Gala captain Scott Taylor-Mackenzie, while energetic Strollers midfielder Iain Ballantyne was unlucky to fire just over the bar with a sweet half-volley on 51mins.

Strollers found the lead again on 70mins. Substitute Jack Hodge did well to make space for himself and his excellent cross was met by the head of Strollers’ captain Mark McConnell, who rose above the onrushing goalkeeper to send a header into the corner of the net.

Strollers looked likely to see out the game, however on 79 minutes Gala were gifted the simplest of goals to draw them level again. A stray ball into the box should have been easily gathered by Burnside, however the ball slipped through his gloves and fell to Taylor-McKenzie to tap into an empty goal from a few yards.

The game ended in frantic fashion, with Burnside making up for his mistake with a fine fingertip save to deny Gala a headed goal. Strollers then hit the post after a cross from the impressive Yeats was knocked onto the post by Craig Newal. The last chance of the game fell to substitute Johnny Devers, whose curling effort skimmed the roof of the net, just as the final whistle sounded.

In the end a point wasn’t too unjust, although Strollers’ first half-performance meant that they edged the game overall. Both Strollers and Gala showed that they can finish in the top half of the table this season, although anything more is likely to be out of their reach unless they can become more clinical in front of goal.


Vale of Leithen 0-7 Kelty Hearts

By Ben McNicol

After suffering their first defeat of the season last week, Barry Ferguson’s side responded in the perfect manner as they thumped bottom of the table Vale of Leithen 7-0 at Victoria Park.

The Leithen actually started the better side but a mistake in the home defence saw the lethal Nathan Austin score against the run of play.

The goal was a huge turning point as The Hearts went on to add another three first-half goals courtesy of Stephen Husband, Sean McKirdy and another Nathan Austin goal.

The second-half was a similar story for Kelty as Scott Linton got in on the act as well as Austin securing another hat-trick. The final goal came from Danny Ashe as he headered home a corner to round off a comprehensive win for Kelty and got them back to winning ways.

The result leaves Chris Anderson’s side rock bottom with no points on the board after five games with a huge goal difference of minus 22.

Kelty move back up to second, four points behind fast starters Bonnyrigg Rose, but they do have a game in hand.



Caledonian Braves 3-0 University of Stirling

By Lewis Fraser

Caledonian Braves welcomed Stirling University to a very warm Alliance Park on Saturday. Both teams would have been out to impress in front of a healthy home and away support. In the starting eleven for Braves was former University of Stirling player Dom Slattery, who would have been looking to make an impression against his old teammates. Meanwhile the away side would be looking to the attacking threat of Jason Jarvis and Jamie Penker to try and break down the Braves defence.

Indeed, it was Jarvis who thought that he had broken the deadlock for Stirling. After twenty five minutes, his shot from inside the box beat everyone but was stopped only by the woodwork. It would have been a welcome lead as the referee stopped play only a few moments later for a water break, and respite from sweltering conditions.

The break did the home side good as a period of pressure before half time almost seen them take the lead a few times. Kevin Walker was momentarily beaten in the Stirling net by Ben Daily’s shot, but the ‘keeper did well to recover and keep the score level. Daily was once again denied by Walker shortly after, before former Stirling Albion striker Neil McLaughlin had an effort on goal deflected harmlessly into the hands of the Stirling ‘keeper.

The second half got underway with the score still balanced, and once again it was almost Stirling who opened the scoring. A well-rehearsed free kick seen Jamie Penker have a close range effort blocked by Alex Marshall in the Braves goal. Fifteen minutes into the second half Braves were awarded a free kick only a yard outside the box. The initial shot was deflected off the wall and out wide. The ball was played back into the box though, and Uni were thankful to see it evade Ross McNeil, who looked set to score.

With less than half an hour of the game to play, the deadlock was finally broken. A ball into the Uni box was played back out into the path of Neil McLaughlin. The striker’s first touch excellently took the ball away from the defender and directly in front of goal, about 20 yards out. McLaughlin’s movement had created the space for a shot, which he converted into the bottom right corner of the net.

After waiting most of the game for one goal, the second one came almost immediately after. A quick counter attacking move was started by Braves winger Blair Docherty, whose cross field ball was perfectly placed into the feet of Ross McNeil. McNeil’s run into the box was matched by McLaughlin, and McNeil set the striker up for his second goal of the afternoon. McLaughlin’s strike was into the same corner as his first, and completed a clinical move from the home side.

With a two goal advantage, Braves had their tails up and were hungry for more goals, and the result was put beyond doubt in the dying moments of the game. A strong run from the fresh legs of substitute Grant Dickie seen the winger through on goal, but his shot was well stopped by Kevin Walker. Unfortunately for Walker he only palmed the shot as far as Ross McNeil, who was on hand to slot the ball into the net from only a few yards out, adding gloss to the score line for the Braves.

The game finished with Caledonian Braves three goals to the good, all of which came towards the end of the second half. Although the score may look comfortable, Braves certainly had to work hard for their victory against a Uni side who posed a threat throughout the match. Nevertheless, the home side will feel that their ruthlessness in front of goal made them worthy winners. The victory takes Caledonian Braves up to third in the table, four points behind leaders Bonnyrigg Rose.


Spartans 1-0 Gretna 2008

By Damon Main

Late August in Edinburgh and it’s the final weekend of Edinburgh Fringe before the fireworks. With international Rugby being played at the nearby Murrayfield Stadium and Hibernian playing at Easter Road in the top flight, Spartans had some competition as to getting people through the front gate at Ainslie Park.

Still while this game proved not to be explosive the head to head between these two would have given any home fan cause for optimism of a banging home win.  Spartans have won the last six clashes going back to 10th September 2016 with some of the full time scorelines speaking for themselves – 4-1, 3-0, 3-0, 4-1.  Indeed the parallel last fixture between the two last season ended in a 2-1 win for the Ainslie Park side.

It was a very warm and sunny day in Northern Edinburgh more reminiscent of Cyprus or Southern Spain than a chilly Edinburgh.  With all the rain that has fallen in Scotland during August the home fans were delighted to welcome the players onto the field with barely a cloud in the sky although the warm temperatures would prove to be a challenge for the players and officials alike.

With Spartans seeking a quick recovery from the previous week’s setback in Berwick Upon Tweed, Dougie Samuel’s men were on the look out for a much needed win to bolster their respectable league position towards keeping up with the early pace setters Bonnyrigg Rose.

Like many teams Spartans have had a number of key players missing during the month of August thanks to player personal holidays, suspensions and injuries.   As a result, manager Dougie Samuel has acknowledged that his side have struggled a little due to having to chop and change the side in defence.

Spartans again gave some players from its under 20 side a run out with a new loan player from Hearts, the youngster Leeroy Makovora, joining Spartans on loan until January 2020.

The game started in heat quite positively with a set pattern of play followed for much of the match.

New signing Mokovora looked enthusiastic and positive making an immediate impact for the fans who had gathered. But his effort was too much for referee Gavin Ross with the Hearts loan player being shown an early yellow in the 11th minute.

After the interval the heat within Ainslie Park showed no let up and Gregor Woods had one glaring opportunity which he could only drag wide of the goal when really he should have scored.

The key moment of the game came on 69 minutes when Samuel decided to replaced Michael Bolochoweckyj with Cameron Dawson.  Making an immediate impact with minutes Dawson took a timely cross from Woods and deftly placed the ball across the goalkeeper into the opposite top corner of the net for what would be the winning goal.

However, the match ended on a sour note for the home side on 80 minutes.   That early enthusiasm from Leeroy Mokovora came back to haunt him and his new team when the youngster was in receipt of a red card for simulation.  Going on an attacking run into the Gretna box the loan player was sent sprawling just inside the penalty area under a challenge.  Referee Gavin Ross though saw it as a dive rather than a penalty with the official brandishing a second yellow to the player and then the red card.

With this win Dougie Samuel’s men jumped to joint 6th in the table with 9 points out of a possible 12 being a health start to the campaign.  The players need to be congratulated for performing in warm conditions with the game having pace and effort throughout although Gretna manager Humphrey will be disappointed that his sides stuffy performance was not rewarded with a much needed point.