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Season 2016-17 review

Season 2016/17 – A review

We had joy (maybe some) and we watched in rain/snow/sun.  So Terry Jacks almost sang in 1973 and if he had, he would have summed up season 2016-17 for me.  (I’ve no idea where I am going with this either.)

Season 2016-17 started for us at Tynecastle, as Hearts faced Infonet Tallin in a Europa League Qualifying 1st Round, 1st leg tie.


That first game of the season came on 30 June when everyone is supposed to be on a beach somewhere.  If you wonder why the debate about summer football seems to have dissipated recently, it’s because it is already happening!

The season saw us take in 119 and a half games and see exactly 400 goals.  The half came about when we had watched Whitehill Welfare v Abbey Vale in the South Challenge Cup, then raced to East Peffermill to see the second half of Edinburgh University against Wigtown and Bladenoch in the same competition.  (The solitary goal was scored in the first half.)

We watched 115 different teams and saw games in many competitions, including the Scottish Premiership, Championship League One and Two, the Lowland League, the East Superleague, West Super League Premier, East Premier League, East Region South League, East of Scotland League. We also attended various play-off matches in many of these competitions.

There were several visits to cup ties in many different competitions, including the Scottish Cup, Scottish Junior Cup, East of Scotland Cup, City Cup, King Cup, Lowland League Cup, East of Scotland Qualifying Cup, East of Scotland Shield, Fife & Lothians Cup, South Challenge Cup and King Cup.  Some of these were semi-finals or finals.


In England, we saw games in the Premier League, Championship and Leagues One and Two, as well as the Northern League Division One.


We also managed a couple of Europa League qualifiers (and of course pre-season games).

We properly engaged with women’s football in Scotland and attended games in the Scottish Women’s Premier Leagues 1&2 as well as the Scottish Cup and Champions League.

There were many highlights.  East Stirlingshire at Civil Service Strollers in August when the visitors won 8-3, a fantastic Women’s Scottish Cup tie between Hearts Ladies and Hutchison Vale Ladies which Hearts won 4-3 after extra time, the sight of Bayern Munich Ladies in full flow at Easter Road in the Champions League, Haddington Athletic winning on penalties against Shotts Bon Accord after a 3-3 draw in which Haddington were 3 down with 13 minutes left, Oxford United’s 3-2 win at Bury in December, Kirkintilloch Rob Roy’s 4-3 win at Penicuik in the Junior Cup 5th Round, Leith Athletic’s incredible 7-2 win over Tynecastle in the semi-final of the King Cup, Brechin’s play-off final win at Alloa Athletic in an incredible topsy-turvy game which was finally settled on penalties. Tranent’s double cup win, etc etc.

It hasn’t all been about the games though.  There have been several memorable incidents.  These included:

The Thorn Athletic players referring to each other as “big man” or “wee man”, apart from the goalkeeper, who was called “Liam” by them all.

The Spartans v Airdrie pre-season friendly where, with three minutes to half time, a woman behind me asked her companion “Are Spartans in blue?”

The Civil Service Strollers player giving a team mate a hard time for not marking anybody, before having it pointed out that the man he had been marking was in the process of going off after being substituted and his replacement hadn’t come on yet.

Members of the Easthouses Lily team sending texts to other team members saying that the manager had told them to turn up dressed smartly.  This led to them cheering every time a squad member turned up in a shirt and tie.  One player had to “go to Tesco” to get some trousers as he didn’t have any and only had £20 left until payday. 


Bonnyrigg Rose manager Robbie Horn on the touchline hit by the ball in a very tender area, with players and fans of both teams expressing their concern by pissing themselves laughing.

The East Stirlingshire fans telling a linesman that an offside decision he made had been a guess.  He replied with “Every one is a guess”.

The club official running the line at Dunbar United being asked by his mate behind the barrier what a free kick had been given for, and him replying “Dunno.  I wasnae watching”.  The same person running the line later in the game with his flag in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.

The tannoy announcer at Ainslie Park for the Leith Athletic v Cumbernauld Colts Scottish Cup game playing music through his phone over the loud speakers at half time, with the crowd suddenly treated to hearing his ringtone for a good 60 seconds as his phone received a call.

Pollok’s Tam Hanlon complaining to the linesman about being given offside.  The flag bearer responded with “You were well off.  You know it and I know it.”  He followed this up by putting his finger to his lips in a ‘shushing’ motion to the Pollok manager on the other side of the pitch who was telling him that was third one he had got wrong.

A Motherwell fan helpfully offered his glasses to the officials in a home game against Celtic.


The parrot sitting on the bar at Linlithgow Rose and Hearts Ladies captain Megan Paterson being told off by her mum for swearing and being told she wouldn’t get any tea.


It wasn’t all good of course.  Some of the games were so toe curlingly bad that writing them up seemed impossible.  There were several occasions where at least another half dozen layers of clothes were required.  There were also some disgraceful scenes when pies ran out.

Haddington Athletic had the best pies.  Edinburgh University had the best cakes.


Some teams have a social media presence and are great at replying.  Others don’t seem to get that interaction is key.  Easthouses Lily Miners Welfare and Penicuik Athletic are two that bend over backwards to help.

Some clubs have started writing up the team names and numbers on a board inside the ground, such as Dunbar United, Whitehill Welfare and Kilwinning Rangers.  The biggest problem I have is trying to get team line-ups and it sometimes proves impossible.


Programmes are good, although for some, it clearly just isn’t cost effective, but Musselburgh Athletic have the right idea, providing team sheets to all.  Edinburgh University include the programme with admission.

Season 2016-17 was the most games I’ve ever seen in a season.  It was hard going at times and keeping up with writing the games up soon afterwards often became undoable.  Having a job and a life gives little time to do them, particularly with the frequency I often go.

Thanks to all who have visited and welcome to anyone new coming across one of my write-ups.  I try to be objective in every game.  You might not agree with my take on things, but I call it as I see it.  I’m usually a neutral regardless of which end I am in.  It might be you that is biased.

Here’s to season 2017-18.

Featured post

What’s it all about?

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You know that moment when in your team’s biggest game of the season, your lazy but occasionally talented star striker has an opportunity to make or break your entire season if he can just finish this chance?  I think everyone who watches football can relate to that.  (Maybe not the “talented” bit).  These pages will be reports on some of these games.  Who knows, it might be your team’s biggest game of the season.

This will be the home of my reports on the games I attend throughout the football seasons.  The vast majority will be in the Midlothian/Edinburgh area, but I am prone to going further afield than that. Particularly when it gets to the business end of the season.

Season 2015/6 saw me take in 106 matches, which included games in all top four divisions in Scotland, in the English Premier League, League One and League Two, Scottish Cup and League Cup, Play offs, Petrofac Cup, East Superleague, West Super League, Lowland League, Scottish Junior Cup, Scottish Women’s Premier League, Scottish Women’s Cup, East of Scotland Cup, Fife and Lothians Cup, East of Scotland League, East of Scotland League Cup, Anderson Cup, East Region South League, King Cup, Swan Cup and Friendlies and a Testimonial. So something for everyone.  Perhaps.

I will always attempt to call it as I see it, and will try to remain unbiased although this will be more challenging at some games more than others.

Although there can be no promises, I’ll be looking and listening out for the unusual and/or amusing.  Last season’s highlights included:

  • A delay of around 10 minutes at Fauldhouse United, when the match ball went out of the ground and there was no spare;
  • Kelty Hearts striker Callum Smith being frustrated with another ball which sailed over his head and remarking “That’s F*cking jobbies by the way”; and my personal favourite;
  • Hearts Ladies striker Ashley Carse responding to a family member on the touchline who had told her “You’ve got to put those away Ash” – “Right mum.  F*ck’s sake.”

Thanks for looking.

Featured post

Livingston v Greenock Morton

Tuesday 13 March 2018, 19.45, Tony Macaroni Arena

Livingston against Greenock Morton in the Scottish Championship.

Our first look at Livingston in competitive action this season, after being at their pre-season game with Sunderland.

After winning League One at a canter last season, the Livi faithful would have begun the season hopeful that their side could retain their status in the Championship.  They have done considerably better than that.

They sat in second spot coming into the game, and although they were 11 points behind leaders St Mirren, they had a game in hand.  Although catching them looked unlikely, a 14-point lead over the side in fifth place meant that a place in the promotion play-offs was looking secure.

Manager David Hopkin was busy in the January transfer window.  Forward Lee Miller signed from Falkirk, right back Jack McMillan from Motherwell and defender Gregor Buchanan from St Mirren.  With several of their loanees returning to their parent clubs, they got a new batch in.  Forwards Steven Boyd from Hamilton Accies and Ryan Hardie from Rangers, and midfielder Jordan Thompson, also from Rangers, have all joined on loan.

Nicky Cadden missed out for Livi through injury.


We last saw Morton at home to Dundee United in December.

Morton were occupying third place, but had lost their last two games, against Livingston at home and Falkirk away.  They were six points clear of fifth place but had played a game more.

In the transfer window manager Jim Duffy made defender Luca Gasparotto’s loan from Dundee a permanent deal.  Goalkeeper Conor Brennan was signed from Ballymena and he made three loan signings.  Namely, forward John Baird from Falkirk, midfielder Frank Ross from Aberdeen and on the day of the game, midfielder Gary Fraser from Partick Thistle.

Morton were missing Lee Kilday, Ross Forbes, Jamie McGowan, Robert Thomson, and Jai Quitongo through injury and Michael Doyle was suspended.

Although it was second against third in the second top league in Scotland, only 862 turned up to watch.


In the opening minute, De Vita put a decent ball into the Morton box, but it was headed clear.

Tiffoney did well on the right for Morton in 4 minutes, but his cross was headed away.

A long throw by Lithgow into the Morton box in 10 minutes was pushed away by Gaston.  Mullin looked to get there first, but it was put behind for a corner.

Tiffoney won Morton a free kick on the right in 18 minutes.  Tidser crossed into the box for Harkins, but he nodded harmlessly wide.

In 19 minutes, a powerful Lithgow shot was blocked.  Mullin picked up the ball on the right and his cross was dropped by Gaston, but he quickly smothered the ball.


Iredale passed to Oliver in 20 minutes and he found some space before striking a well hit shot at the Livi goal.  It was a bit too central and Alexander was able to save.

Livi came forward in 21 minutes and De Vita passed to Thompson who fired a low shot at goal.  Gaston saved well, but Miller knocked the rebound into the net, only to see the flag up for offside.


Murdoch passed to Russell on the right for Morton in 23 minutes and he burst past De Vita and crossed to the front post, but Oliver couldn’t get the ball on target.


A run into the Livi box by Tiffoney in 24 minutes saw him go down under the challenge of Gallagher.  He looked as if he might have been held back, but the referee wasn’t interested in the appeals.


Pittman had a good run forward for Livi in 28 minutes and played the ball to Mullin on the edge of the box, but his effort was narrowly over the bar.

Morton claimed for another penalty in 32 minutes as Oliver clashed with Halkett, but again their pleas were ignored.

Mullin chased a pass through the middle in 33 minutes and had a shot at the Morton goal which came back to him.  A break of the ball put him through on goal, but Gaston saved with his foot.  De Vita went for the follow up, but the keeper saved again.


A Livi corner taken by Mullin in 36 minutes was pushed over the bar by Gaston.  Two further corners saw Morton struggle to clear, but they survived.


A minute later, a Lithgow throw into the Morton box was headed on by Gallagher, but nobody had gambled, and the ball ran wide.

Lithgow collected the game’s first yellow card in 40 minutes for stepping in front of Morton’s Tiffoney as he broke past him.

A good period of possession for the visitors ended with Murdoch having a volley at goal in 43 minutes, but it lacked power.


Just before the interval, Mullin lashed wide of the Morton goal from 20 yards.

A disappointing first half with little to get the fans off their seats.

Tiffoney hit a volley at goal in 46 minutes just inside the Livi box from a Tidser flick on, but it was straight at Alexander.

A great touch by Morton’s Murdoch in 52 minutes sent Tiffoney away, but he was halted by a fine Halkett tackle.

Halkett was booked in 55 minutes for taking down Tiffoney from behind as Morton came forward.

A bouncing ball in the Morton box in 57 minutes was well controlled by Hardie to make some space, but his shot was too high.

Pittman stole the ball from Lamie in 58 minutes and burst down the right.  He cut inside to go into the Morton box and knocked the ball past Gaston, but a defender got in the way to send the ball behind.


Byrne was next to go in the referee’s book for a foul on Tiffoney in 59 minutes.

A long kick out by Alexander in 62 minutes was flicked on and Hardie passed to Pittman, but his low shot was saved by Gaston in the Morton goal.

In 66 minutes, Byrne tripped Harkins and received his second yellow card of the night, and the hosts were down to ten men.  It was two quick bookings, none of which were particularly bad fouls, but by the letter of the law, he could have few complaints.


Harkins played a one-two with Oliver in 67 minutes and took the ball into the Livi box.  He showed good control to beat a defender, then went down and was booked for diving.


Tidser smashed a shot at the Livi goal from 25 yards in 71 minutes which Alexander did well to push around the post.


Morton were getting a lot of the ball now and after Harkins went into the area in 78 minutes, the ball broke to Ross, but he smashed the ball over the bar.


Despite the extra man and a lot of possession, the visitors were struggling to create chances against a well drilled defence.

A pass back to Gaston in 85 minutes was a bit short and Pittman chased him down, but the Morton keeper managed to boot clear.

Tiffoney got to the Livi by-line in the box in 88 minutes and when the ball ricocheted to Oliver, he calmly curled a low shot into the net to give Morton the lead.


Four minutes into injury time Longridge picked up a loose ball and took a touch before firing at goal from 22 yards.  Gaston seemed to be deceived by the effort and it went past him and into the net for a last gasp equaliser.


The final whistle went soon after.

Not one to live long in the memory, and it looked like it would be goalless until two minutes to go.  While Morton had been on top after the sending off, it had been an even game until then, and the visitors must have thought they had won it with their late opener.  The home side’s refusal to give up saw them snatch an unexpected point at the death.

It was baffling to see Morton take off a defender and put on a forward with 90 minutes gone when they were a goal in front.

Livi’s three central defenders all played well, and Pittman was a force in midfield.  For Morton, Murdoch had a good game while Tiffoney looked dangerous with his running.  Harkins became public enemy number one for the home fans but looked a talent throughout.

Full Time: Livingston 1 Greenock Morton 1

Admission: £18

Livingston: 1 Neil Alexander, 31 Declan Gallagher, 26 Craig Halkett, 4 Alan Lithgow, 7 Josh Mullin (McMillan 72), 8 Scott Pittman, 6 Shaun Byrne, 24 Jordan Thompson, 23 Raffaele De Vita (Longridge 58), 18 Lee Miller (Jacobs 68), 9 Ryan Hardie. Subs: 20 Gary Maley, 2 Jack McMillan, 3 Jackson Longridge, 5 Gregor Buchanan, 10 Steven Boyd, 14 Keaghan Jacobs, 17 Scott Robinson.

Greenock Morton: 1 Derek Gaston, 3 Andrew Murdoch (Baird 90), 4 Thomas O’Ware, 5 Rickie Lamie, 26 Jack Iredale, 25 Frank Ross (Fraser 79), 14 Gary Harkins, 12 Michael Tidser, 17 Mark Russell, 15 Scott Tiffoney, 7 Gary Oliver. Subs: 20 Conor Brennan, 11 Bob McHugh, 16 Lewis Strapp, 18 John Baird, 19 Luca Gasparotto, 21 Ruaridh Langan, 23 Gary Fraser.

Referee: Greg Aitken

Programme:  None.  Livingston don’t produce a hard copy of programmes these days, but post one online.  That didn’t appear on this occasion.

Spartans Women v Glasgow City

Sunday 11 March 2018, 13.00, Ainslie Park

Spartans Women against Glasgow City in the Scottish Women’s Premier League 1.

It had been a couple of years since we had seen Spartans Women.

They began life in 2008, taking over from Edinburgh Ladies to come under the Spartans umbrella.  Their first season in the Premier League saw them finish as runners-up, reaching the Premier League Cup final and the semi-final of the Scottish Cup.

They have never finished lower than sixth in the top league since their inception and in 2014, lost out in the Scottish Cup Final.  Last season saw them finish in fifth.

Manager Suzy Shepherd stepped down at the end of last season with Paul Greig taking over the reins.  For the new season, he brought in midfielder Kaela McDonald-Nguah following a loan spell at the club and forward Michelle Russell from Stirling University.

The fixture list wasn’t kind to Spartans, with their opening league games against Hibs and Rangers.  They came into the game without a point.  Facing the champions wasn’t making things any easier.  They did win at Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale in the Premier League Cup.


We last saw Glasgow City when they wrapped up their 11th consecutive league title at the same venue when they beat closest challenger’s Hibs Ladies last season.  They lost out in the Scottish Cup Final to Hibs.

Manager Scott Booth added to his squad with the signings of forwards Kirsty Howat from Celtic and Hannah Stewart from Aberdeen, and defenders Donna Paterson, also from Aberdeen, and Maddie Hill from Verona.  They have also signed Jordan McLintock from Rangers.

City have won their opening two league games against Stirling University and Hamilton Accies.  They also knocked Kilmarnock out of the League Cup.

Around 65 came to watch, including Scotland national manager Shelley Kerr.

With 5 minutes gone, Howat laid the ball off to Kerr just inside the Spartans box, but she shot over the bar.

Lauder picked out Grant on the right-hand side in 8 minutes but her cross from the by-line was turned behind by McAlonie for a City corner.  The flag kick bobbled around in the box before breaking for Crichton, but her shot was straight at Cumings.


A cross from the left by Docherty in 10 minutes found Howat in the six-yard box, but a defender managed to get the ball behind.


Howat turned well on the edge of the Spartans box in 13 minutes, but she fired straight at Cumings.

A City through ball in 14 minutes saw Lauder chasing it with McAlonie.  Cumings came out of her goal to boot clear.


Lauder shot at the Spartans goal from the corner of the box on the left in 16 minutes, but her shot was deflected into the side netting.  Ross’ corner was played to Grant on the edge of the box and she struck her shot well, but it was held by Cumings.

Good football by Spartans in 20 minutes took them in the City box, but Stantoyo-Brown was tackled, and the ball was cleared.

Straight up the other end and Grant shot for goal from the edge of the area, but Cumings was there again.

Grant showed good skill in 23 minutes to lift the ball over a defender’s head before shooting for goal, but her effort at goal was stopped by Cumings’ diving save.


City continued to make the running and in 27 minutes, Crichton’s cross from the left found the head of Lauder, but Cumings stopped the ball and quickly smothered it.

In 28 minutes, the ball was running through to Alexander in the City goal at the edge of the box.  She bent down to pick it up but took her eye off it and it ran through her legs.  Luckily for her, the ball wasn’t going at enough pace to cause her a problem and she was able to recover.


Docherty found some space on the left in 29 minutes and curled a ball into the box onto the head of Grant, who expertly nodded the ball right into the corner of the net to give City the lead.


A Ross corner in 33 minutes was headed into the Spartans net by Grant, but the whistle had already gone for a free kick to the hosts.


A great ball into the Spartans box in 36 minutes by Docherty was poked at goal by Kerr but came back off the bar.  Kerr was quick to get to the rebound and knocked the ball across goal to Howat, who knocked the ball into the net from three yards to double the lead.


Howat played the ball into the path of Lauder in 38 minutes who shot at goal from 23 yards, but Cumings saved.

Spartans Dion McMahon required treatment in 39 minutes and had to be replaced.

Douglas played a fine pass across the pitch looking for Marshall in the City box in 42 minutes, but Hill managed to get across to send the ball behind.


Douglas of Spartans and City’s Hill challenged for a header near the half way line and they clashed heads in what looked a particularly sore one.  They both went off to receive treatment.

City two up at the break and they had controlled proceedings from the start.  Spartans were playing some good stuff at times but were struggling to fashion any chances.

Both Douglas and Hill didn’t return for the second half after their head knocks.

The opening minute of the second half saw Lauder threading a ball through the Spartans defence looking for Grant, but Cumings was out of the Spartans goal quickly to smother the ball at her feet.


Love played a good ball up the left for Lauder in 54 minutes and her cross into the Spartans box was miscued by Grant and went out to the right.  Foley retrieved the ball and crossed back into the area and this time Grant acrobatically volleyed powerfully past Cumings to make it 3-0 to City.


City continued to attack and in 56 minutes Crichton played a clever pass to Love on the left of the box.  She cut the ball back for Grant, but Cumings blocked her shot from close range.

Santoyo-Brown picked up the ball in the City half in 60 minutes and found Marshall on the right.  She crossed into the visitors’ box with McDonald-Nguah coming in at the back post, but Foley was there for City, – she got her bearings all wrong and headed past her own keeper to give Spartans a lifeline.


A minute later and City were back on the attack and a great strike by Kerr rattled the Spartans bar.  Lauder was first to the rebound but volleyed wide.

Foley was the next player to succumb to injury after it looked like she twisted her knee, and City had to replace her in 67 minutes.

Spartans Walkingshaw was booked for a late tackle on Docherty in 70 minutes, just 5 minutes after coming on.

Paton played the ball across the face of the Spartans goal in 71 minutes, but it was just out of the reach of Howat.


Howat had another chance in 73 minutes, but her shot was straight at Cumings.

City manager Scott Booth was getting frustrated with his team not keeping the ball and it boiled over when he shouted some colourful language which prompted an “ooooh” from the stand.

A free kick on the right in 82 minutes was taken by Ross who passed to Grant on the edge of the Spartans box.  She flicked it inside the box to Howat who knocked the ball past Cumings for City’s fourth.


Michelle Russell had joined the action by now, but I missed her coming on and didn’t see which Spartans player she replaced.

In the final minute, Howat played a one-two which saw her through on the Spartans goal, but she was flagged offside.

An impressive win for City who look like they will take some stopping this season.  Although they did have a spell towards the end where they misplaced a few passes, they are a very good side.  Spartans never gave up and it won’t be long until they start climbing the table.

Docherty and Grant were excellent for City, but they had quality right through the team, with Ross, Crichton and Howat all impressive.  Santoyo-Brown held the ball up well for Spartans but was too often isolated and McAlonie and Beveridge defended well to prevent City from scoring more, with Cumings doing well in goal.

Full Time: Spartans Women 1 Glasgow City 4

Admission: £5

Spartans Women: 13 Eartha Cumings, 6 Bobbie Beveridge, 7 Michaela McAlonie, 5 Dion McMahon (Clelland 41), 9 Ronaigh Douglas (Johnstone 46), 4 Simone McMahon, 12 Kaela McDonald-Nguah, 11 Alana Marshall, 2 Nicola Mawson, 15 Louise Mason (Walkingshaw 66), 20 Elena Santoyo-Brown. Subs: 23 Rachel Harrison, 3 Sarah Clelland, 10 Michelle Russell, 17 Rachel Walkingshaw, 19 Zoe Johnstone.

Glasgow City: 29 Lee Alexander, 12 Maddie Hill (Paterson 46), 16 Leanne Ross, 23 Megan Foley (Paton 67), 18 Sam Kerr, 6 Jo Love, 8 Leanne Crichton, 4 Hayley Lauder, 11 Nicola Docherty, 7 Abbi Grant (McLintock 83), 9 Kirsty Howat. Subs: 25 Erin Clachers, 2 Donna Paterson, 19 Joanne Paton, 24 Jordan McLintock.

Referee: Morag Pirie

Programme: £3.

Linlithgow Rose v Dundonald Bluebell

Saturday 10 March 2018, 14.30, Prestonfield Park

Linlithgow Rose against Dundonald Bluebell in the East Super League.

We last saw Linlithgow Rose at the end of January, when they won at Blackburn United in the Junior Cup.  It was our first visit of the season to Prestonfield.

Since then, Rose have won in the league at Carnoustie Panmure and lost at home to Penicuik Athletic.  They also won in the Fife & Lothians Cup at Pumpherston, while their Junior Cup campaign is over for another year after losing 4-3 at Kirkintilloch Rob Roy after being 3-0 up.

Rose went into the game in fifth place, six points behind leaders Bonnyrigg Rose, but with two games in hand.  They had at least three games in hand over the other teams above them.


We hadn’t seen Dundonald Bluebell since they lost to Bo’ness United in the East of Scotland Cup Final in 2016 and the first time since I started doing these reports.

Based in Cardenden in Fife, they began life in 1938 as a Juvenile side and won the Scottish Juvenile Cup twice in succession in the mid ‘40s.  They then turned Junior in 1946.

It didn’t take ‘The Bell’ long to make their mark in the Junior game, winning the Fife League three times in the 1950s and the Fife Cup in the same decade.

The early promise waned somewhat in the next decades with just one lesser cup win in the ‘60s and ‘70s.  The 1980s saw a similar lack of silverware, but the trophy they did win was the Fife Championship again, for the fourth time in 1983.

1991-92 saw a second Fife Cup win and they also picked up the Laidlaw Shield in the same season.  They won the Shield again the following year.

Bluebell won the East Region Central Division in 2007 and then gained promotion to the East Premier Division in 2014.  They were promoted to the Super League for the first time at the end of the 2015-16 season, the same season as they lost out to Bo’ness United in the aforementioned Cup Final.

Last season saw them finish in an impressive sixth place with new manager Stevie Kay and they have continued to do well in the Super league this season, sitting in fourth place as they came into the game, just a point behind the leaders.  They’d played three games more than Linlithgow.

New signings for the season were forwards Callum Smith from Bo’ness United and Archie Campbell from Kelty Hearts, midfielder Adam Moffat from Hill of Beath Hawthorn and defender Colin Wilson, also from Hill of Beath, keeper Jordan Mushet from Kirkcaldy YM and former Clyde right back Scott Durie.  January saw them add left back Aiden Hendry from St Andrews United, and on loan, midfielders Harris Kay from Cowdenbeath, Kyle Bell from Raith Rovers and Jason Penman from Kelty Hearts.

With most of the snow disappearing from Central Scotland, it was the aftermath and heavy rain that put many games off in the East Region.  Linlithgow was one of the few that survived, although it rained throughout.

Around 300 came to watch.


There was a minute’s silence in memory of Robert Williamson, a long time Committee member at Rose.

In the second minute, Hendry crossed into the Rose box from the left and Smith stretched to hit a volley but couldn’t get it on target as the flag was raised for offside.

A poor kick by Bluebell keeper Lennox almost gave the ball to MacLennan in 6 minutes, but he couldn’t get the ball under control.

A clever dummy by Strickland in 8 minutes gave Coyne the ball on the edge of the Bluebell box.  He played it into the path of MacLennan, but his shot was blocked.


Campbell latched onto a loose ball in 14 minutes after a challenge between Smith and Leiper at the half way line.  He played a pass to McKenzie, but he shot narrowly wide from just inside the box.


With 20 minutes gone, Rose’s Sloan and Bluebell’s McKenzie went into a sliding challenge.  McKenzie got there first and got a sore one as he was caught by Sloan.  Advantage was played as Bluebell went forward and Bell had a chance at the edge of the box but couldn’t hit the target.  The referee booked Sloan when the ball went out of play.


Bell put a dangerous looking cross into the Rose box in 30 minutes which nobody could quite get a touch to and it ran through to Hill.


Bluebell attacked again in 32 minutes and Smith threaded a pass through for Campbell.  The ball skidded off the turf, but Campbell got to the ball first on the right of the box as Hill came out of his goal.  He cleverly lifted the ball over the keeper only to see the ball come off the junction of post and bar.  The ball eventually came to Drummond on the edge of the box, but he fired over the bar.


MacLennan looked to play the ball into the path of Smith in 35 minutes, but Hendry got back to clear the danger for Bluebell.

A Sloan free kick to the edge of the Bluebell box in 38 minutes was headed on by Thom but Wilson managed to get a foot in to deny Strickland.  The ball broke to Batchelor and Wilson looked to challenge again, but only succeeded in bringing him down.  Penalty.  Coyne calmly sent the keeper the wrong way to give the hosts the lead.


A minute later a cross into the Rose box was badly sliced by Turnbull who was glad to see the ball go over his own bar.

A narrow lead for Rose at the break and Bluebell could consider themselves unlucky to be behind.  They had looked the better team in the opening 45 minutes.

McKenzie had to go off at the break.  He had never fully recovered after being caught by Sloan in the first half.

Smith was brought down about 22 yards from the Rose goal in 47 minutes.  Hendry’s free kick got past the wall but was straight at Hill.

A high ball into the Bluebell box in 49 minutes saw Lennox unable to gather under pressure from Smith.  There were home appeals for a penalty when the ball appeared to strike the hand of Wilson before he cleared.


MacLennan won Rose a corner in 51 minutes and Sloan swung the ball into the near post where Thom rose unchallenged to head in to make it 2-0.


Straight up the other end after the restart and Campbell was clean through on goal, but Hill managed to block his effort.

Bluebell attacked again in 54 minutes and Bell played the ball to the feet of Campbell in the box.  He quickly fed Smith on the right who returned the ball across the face of goal for Campbell to tap home to put the visitors right back in it.


Thom was caught by a late Campbell tackle in 57 minutes, but the referee made do with just having a word with the Bluebell player.  Thom had lengthy treatment and didn’t reappear.

Another inswinging Sloan corner in 63 minutes saw keeper Lennox put his arm up and looked to punch clear, but it somehow went over it and straight into the net for Rose’s third.


In 64 minutes, Strickland chased a Rose through ball with two Bluebell defenders.  Lennox came out of his goal and booted the ball, but it came off Strickland and bounced clear.  I’m not sure where it hit, but the Rose striker seemed to have got a bit of a dull one.

After a sustained period of possession by Rose in 66 minutes, Batchelor passed to the feet of Strickland who dummied the ball superbly to let the ball run to MacLennan and as Lennox raced from goal, he expertly lifted the ball over him and into the net to make it four one.


Hendry got to the Rose by-line in 67 minutes after a strong run, but the ball across couldn’t pick out a team mate in the middle.

In 68 minutes, Forbes played a fine pass in front of Campbell as he ran into the Rose box and the crowd saw another great finish as he dinked it over the advancing Hill and into the net to make it 4-2.


MacLennan was tripped just outside the ‘D’ in 73 minutes and Coyne and Sloan stood over the free kick.  It was powerfully struck by Coyne but was straight at Lennox and he seemed to have the ball in his hands, but let it slip as he fell backwards and it rolled into the net.  Five for the hosts.


A cross into the Bluebell box by Devine 76 minutes saw Strickland head for goal, but it was comfortably taken by Lennox.

Hendry was shown a yellow card in 82 minutes for catching MacLennan as he brought the ball forward and the Linlithgow man had to be helped from the pitch, putting his team down to ten men.


Bluebell won a corner in 86 minutes and Campbell’s corner was half cleared before Durie showed a great touch to set up Smith, but Hill was out quickly to block.  The ball was worked to Kay, but his shot was too high.

Bluebell’s Walton was booked for a foul before the final whistle.


A game which entertained far more than the conditions should have allowed and there was no sign of the goal avalanche to come at half time.  The roof kind of fell in on Bluebell after showing up well in the first half and Rose scored some fine goals and some strange ones as well.

Rose certainly improved after the break but were gifted two of their goals, although they certainly merited the three points in the end.  They continued to try and play football despite the conditions.  Bluebell looked a good side, particularly going forward and it’s clear to see why they are doing so well this season.

Best on the day for Rose were Leiper, Sloan and Batchelor, while Campbell, Bell and Smith impressed for Bluebell.

Full Time: Linlithgow Rose 5 Dundonald Bluebell 2

Admission: £6

Linlithgow Rose: 1 Darren Hill, 2 Gary Thom (Whelan 61), 4 Jamie McKenzie, 5 Colin Leiper, 3 Kyle Turnbull, 11 Roddy MacLennan, 7 Blair Batchelor, 6 Robert Sloan (Shields 75), 8 Darren Smith (Devine 71), 9 Colin Strickland, 10 Tommy Coyne.  Subs: GK Andy Carlin, 12 Martyn Shields, 14 Luke Whelan, 15 Iain Gray, 16 Stewart Devine.

Dundonald Bluebell: 1 James Lennox, 2 Scott Durie, 4 Craig Wedderburn, 5 Colin Wilson, 3 Aiden Hendry, 7 Kyle Bell, 6 Mark Forbes (Kay 83), 10 Lewis McKenzie (Penman 46), 11 Ross Drummond (Walton 79), 9 Callum Smith, 8 Archie Campbell.  Subs: 12 James Walton, 14 Harris Kay, 15 Lewis Bain, 16 Barry Sibanda, 17 Jason Penman.

Referee: Stewart Luke

Programme: None.

Spartans v East Kilbride

Tuesday 6 March, 19.45, Ainslie Park

The East of Scotland Qualifying Cup semi-final between Spartans and East Kilbride.

The East of Scotland Qualifying Cup is contested by members of the East of Scotland FA who are not members of the Scottish Professional Football League.  In practice, this means most of the Lowland League’s and East of Scotland League’s member clubs.  Played in a knockout format, the finalists play Berwick Rangers and Edinburgh City in the East of Scotland Cup semi-finals.

Our first sight of Spartans since their pre-season game with East Fife and they were in the midst of a four-way battle for the Lowland League title, which would see a possible promotion to Scottish League Two.  Although they sat in third place, winning their games in hand would see them lead the way.

The return of Willie Bremner and Jack Nixon was highlighted in that East Fife report, but Spartans have signed a number of other players.  Also joining the club were midfielders Ian McFarland from Edinburgh City, Dachi Khutsishvili from Musselburgh Athletic, Scott Wilson and Ross Guthrie from Edinburgh City, goalkeeper Andrew Stobie, also from Edinburgh City and striker Jason Stevens from Vale of Leithen.  The January window saw more additions, with defender Nathan Brown signing from St Johnstone and midfielder Gavin Malin, who was another to sign from their tenants, Edinburgh City.

Spartans reached the semi-final with a home win against Kelty Hearts, then away wins at Whitehill Welfare and Gretna 2008.

They were without the injured Ross Guthrie and Jack Nixon, with Ian McFarland missing out through suspension.


We last saw East Kilbride when they lost out on penalties in the play-off final for a place in League Two at the end of last season to Cowdenbeath.  They lead the way at the top of the Lowland League again but are looking over their shoulder at Spartans in particular.

Manager Martin Lauchlan left the club after the play-off defeat and was replaced by Billy Stark.  He was quick to put his own stamp on the team with a raft of signings.  Joining Kilby were wingers Rico Corrieri from BSC Glasgow and Liam Coogans from Linlithgow Rose, right back Kevin McCann from Albion Rovers, forwards Ross Caldwell from Brechin City and Aidan Ferris from BSC Glasgow and midfielder Craig McLeish from Queens Park.  January saw the additions of forward Bryan Prunty from Arbroath, midfielder Darren Ramsay from Clyde and on loan, forward Craig Malcolm from Alloa Athletic.

East Kilbride got a bye in the first round before winning at Selkirk, then at home to Civil Service Strollers.

Seventeen-year-old Edin Lynch made his East Kilbride debut after David Proctor was injured in the warm-up.

The snow had melted from Spartans’ artificial pitch meaning that the game could go ahead, but it was still a cold night in Edinburgh.  Around 80 turned up to watch.

With two minutes gone, a cross from the right into the Spartans box was spilled by Stobie and it fell to the feet of Prunty, but he fired wide.  The visiting fans thought it was in, but their celebrations were cut short.

It was a fast and furious start, with play raging from end to end and possession changing hands rapidly.

A fine ball by Greenhill in 10 minutes was played through to Stevenson, who got to the edge of the EK box, but his pass was cut out.

Up the other end a minute later there was a bit of a mix-up in the home defence, but they survived.

Stevenson picked out Herd on the right for Spartans in 13 minutes.  He drove forward and shot for goal, but it was wide.

Greenhill took the ball towards the EK box in 17 minutes and was taken out by a Gibbons tackle.  It was somewhat surprising that the referee didn’t show him a card.

In 23 minutes, Prunty latched onto a loose ball about 30 yards out and hit a half volley towards the Spartans goal.  Stobie was off his line but the shot was off target.

There were claims for handball in the EK box in 24 minutes, but the referee waved away appeals.  The ball came out to Stevenson, but he blasted wide.

Brown took out EK’s Stevenson with a later tackle on 26 minutes and the referee again kept his cards in his pocket.  Consistency at least.

With half an hour gone, Strachan took the ball into the Spartans half and had a go for goal from distance, but it was off target.

Bremner crossed into the EK box from the left in 32 minutes and Dishington showed great control and got his shot off quickly, but it was too high.


A clever ball by EK’s Ramsay in 34 minutes released Stevenson on the right.  He got to the by-line and hammered the ball across the face of goal, but there were no takers.


Spartans broke quickly in 37 minutes and Brown played the ball to Dishington on the right.  His cross was blocked behind.  From Maxwell’s corner, Lamarca got a header in, but it flashed wide.

Maxwell squared the ball to Greenhill in 40 minutes and he shot at the EK goal from 25 yards, but McGinley saved down to his right.


EK broke forward in 42 minutes Ramsay found Prunty in a bit of space on the right of the box.  He hammered his shot towards the top corner but Stobie managed to turn the ball around the post.

Just before the break, Stobie managed to push a shot around the post for an EK corner.  The corner was cleared to the edge of the box where Howie’s shot took a deflection and spun over.


A far from inspiring first half with little in the way of good football or chances.

The opening minute of the second half saw Ramsay’s cross into the Spartans box land right on the head of Malcolm, and he tried to nod it into the path of Prunty, but Stobie raced from his goal to gather.

A clever flick from Strachan on the edge of the Spartans box in 48 minutes gave Gibbons a sight at goal, but he didn’t catch it well and it ran harmlessly through to Stobie.

Prunty played a one-two with Strachan in 51 minutes to get some space in the Spartans box, but Stobie read it well and got down to save.

An elaborate EK corner in 54 minutes was eventually played to Anderson on the edge of the area and he lobbed the ball in where Prunty tried an acrobatic effort which was too high.

It was becoming apparent that Stobie in the home goal was shouting “stand up!” to his defenders every time EK came forward.  If I had £1 for every time he shouted it, I could have bought a portable heater that would have stopped me feeling like I was watching the game in my underwear.

EK’s Gibbons went down in 57 minutes after being caught in the face accidentally by Lamarca but was ok to continue.


In 63 minutes, Bremner passed to Stevens on the edge of the EK box and his well struck shot was narrowly wide.

A great ball from Gibbons in 65 minutes gave Winter some space on the right and his cross was met by the head of Malcolm who brought out a great save from Stobie.

Spartans intercepted an EK pass in 68 minutes and Dishington was suddenly through on goal.  He drew the keeper and squared the ball for Lamarca, but somehow Howie managed to block the ball on the line and the visitors survived.


A minute after that escape, EK’s Russell floated a cross into the Spartans box from the left, right onto the head of Malcolm and he wrong-footed Stobie with his clever header into the corner to give the visitors the lead.


Russell had a shot from 25 yards 72 minutes, but it drifted wide of the Spartans goal.

Maxwell crossed into the EK box from the left in 77 minutes and McGinley caught the ball.  However, as he came down, the ball hit off the head of a Spartans player and came loose but it went behind.

EK put together a nice move in 78 minutes which ended with Winter having a shot from the edge of the box which was taken low by Stobie.

There were appeals for a penalty when the ball appeared to strike the hand of EK’s Russell in 79 minutes, but it would have been harsh.

EK’s Winter was shown a yellow card in 80 minutes.

Stevens showed good control in 82 minutes before passing to Hand on the left.  He cut inside, but his shot went wide of the EK goal.

Spartans’ Hand was fouled by Gibbons in 86 minutes, who was booked.  Maxwell took the free kick which ricocheted in the box before going behind.


Russell picked out Malcolm in the Spartans box in 88 minutes, but his glancing header went past the post.

With 90 minutes gone, Hand’s cross was headed at the EK goal and pushed up into the air by McGinley before the rebound was headed over the bar.

Deep into injury time, with EK running down the clock, Dishington was guilty of a wild challenge on Russell as the home player’s frustration threatened to boil over.


An improved second half, but not a game that will live long in the memory.  East Kilbride just about did enough to win, although it was a tight game.  The visitors had some good spells, with Spartans attacks more sporadic and too often Lamarca was isolated up front.

Both sides have their eyes on the league title, so this game was probably seen more as a bonus, although EK will hope to have hit Spartans with a psychological blow for the run in.

East Kilbride would face the winner of Lothian Hutchison Vale and Vale of Leithen in the Qualifying Cup Final.

Greenhill, Tolmie and Maxwell were best for Spartans while Anderson, Stevenson and Russell shone for EK.

Full Time: Spartans 0 East Kilbride 1

Admission: £6

Spartans: 1 Andrew Stobie, 4 Michael Herd (Stevens 46), 5 Blair Tolmie, 6 Adam Corbett, 11 Scott Maxwell, 7 Jamie Dishington, 2 Alan Brown, 8 David Greenhill (Hand 81), 3 Craig Stevenson, 10 Willie Bremner (Grant 73), 9 Guillermo Lamarca.  Subs: 19 Blair Carswell, 12 Gavin Malin, 14 Jason Stevens, 15 Lewis Grant, 17 Murray Hand, 18 Blair Atkinson.

East Kilbride: 1 Matt McGinley, 2 Scott Stevenson, 14 Edin Lynch, 4 Craig Howie, 3 Barry Russell, 7 Darren Ramsay (Winter 57), 8 Michael Anderson, 6 Kieren Gibbons, 11 Adam Strachan (Wallace 85), 9 Bryan Prunty (McNeill 71), 10 Craig Malcolm.  Subs: 12 Conor Bell, 15 Anthony Wallace, 16 Ross McNeill, 17 Liam Craig, 18 Sean Winter, 20 Jacob Kean.

Referee: Duncan Smith

Programme: None.  Free team sheet on entry.

Motherwell v Hearts

Sunday 4 March 2018, 14.15, Fir Park

Motherwell at home to Hearts in the Scottish Cup Quarter Final.

With nearly a compete wipe out of Scottish fixtures on the Saturday, I was pleased to have a ticket to at least take in some football at the weekend.  Whether or not it should have gone ahead is another matter.

While the staff at Motherwell did a fantastic job to get the pitch and the area surrounding the ground match ready, the snow which had brought many parts of Scotland to a standstill was still causing problems in some areas.

With mail not picked up since Wednesday, many Hearts fans had to collect tickets from Tynecastle on the Saturday (or Sunday morning) before the game.  After the vast majority who needed to do this had done so, they then announced tickets could be picked up at Fir Park before the game.  Many people were not happy.  If all Hearts fans lived in Edinburgh and all Well fans in Motherwell, everything would have been fine, but they don’t.

We had last seen Motherwell in the first week of February, when they won 2-0 at home to St Johnstone.  Since that win, they’ve won twice at Dundee (once in the cup) with a 1-0 defeat at home to Kilmarnock sandwiched between.  Their scheduled game at home to Aberdeen in the midweek before the tie with Hearts was postponed due to the snow.

Well had already been runners-up in the League Cup Final and would be hoping to go one better in the Scottish Cup.  As well as the win in Dundee in the last round, they had knocked out Hamilton Accies in the round before.

Peter Hartley, Liam Grimshaw and Deimantas Petravicius were all missing for Well through injury.


Hearts game against Kilmarnock in midweek had gone ahead and had been the last game we had attended.

The Jambos Scottish Cup campaign had seen them knock out Hibs and St Johnstone at home.

Hearts were without on loan Manchester United wing back Demetri Mitchell who was injured against Kilmarnock, as well as long term absentees Arnaud Djoum and Jamie Brandon, but John Souttar returned to the side.  Marcus Godinho debuted at right back with Connor Randall switching the left.

Hearts had sold out the 4,800-seater away stand, although clearly a number of fans had been unable to make it as there were a few empty seats near me.

The attendance was given as 7,564.  A bit of a disappointing turn out in the home end.

With three minutes gone, a Motherwell throw-in near the corner on the left broke to Tanner who swung a cross into the Hearts box.  McLaughlin came out of his goal and didn’t take the ball cleanly.  As he tried to recover the ball, Cadden poked it into the net.  I think everyone in the ground thought it was a goal, but the referee disallowed it, as the Hearts keeper had his hand on the ball.  The rules state that the referee was correct, but it was a lucky escape for Hearts.


Up the other end a minute later Godinho cut in from the right and was taken out by Aldred on the edge of the Well box.  The defender received a yellow card.  Lafferty curled the free kick around the wall, but it went into the side netting.


The home side broke forward in 6 minutes and Ciftci played the ball to Tanner on the right.  His cross to the front post sought out Ciftci, but Souttar got there first to turn the ball behind.

The resultant corner was poorly struck by Tanner and came to the near post where Callachan was all alone.  Inexplicably, he decided to let the ball go and McLaughlin threw a foot at it.  The ball came off the post and ran along the line to Main who managed to tap it over the line to give the hosts the lead.


I can only imagine that Callachan thought that the ball was going to go into the side netting, but it was a bizarre goal.  Almost as odd was the bloke behind us who insisted that McLaughlin had shouted to ‘leave it’, which he said about 12 times.  When he got to the thirteenth time, he changed it to “he must have shouted, quickly followed by a question to his mate, “did he shout?”

Quick passing by Hearts in 10 minutes got the ball to Naismith on the edge of the box and he chipped a pass into the path of Lafferty.  His ball across goal was cleared by Tait.

Both sides put free kicks into the opponent’s box in the next few minutes and each was too near the keeper.


Tait showed good control on the left for Well in 18 minutes and threaded the ball through for Ciftci.  As the striker shot wide the flag went up for offside.

In 22 minutes, McHugh caught Cochrane late in the middle of the park and received Well’s second booking of the afternoon.

Some nice football from Hearts in 25 minutes involving Callachan, Lafferty and Naismith saw the latter running towards the Well box, but he was halted by a great tackle from Dunne.

Naismith rose well in 28 minutes to flick on a kick out from McLaughlin and Lafferty played it back to him.  Naismith then played an inch perfect ball into Lafferty’s feet, but his first touch took him a little wide and he slipped as he shot, making it an easy save for Carson.

With 35 minutes gone, McHugh played a low ball into the Hearts box looking for Main, but Berra was there first to get the ball away.

A Well free kick in 37 minutes bobbled around the Hearts box before it was deflected into the path of Main, but McLaughlin was quickly out of his goal to smother.


Ciftci played a high ball forward in 37 minutes and Main showed good strength to hold off Souttar as he took the ball down.  The defender managed to get a block as he turned and shot, but it came to Tanner on the edge of the area, although his half volley was too high.

Two fouls given against Lafferty in quick succession suggested he was perhaps lucky to escape a booking.

With a minute to the break, Campbell robbed Cochrane just inside the Well half and McHugh broke forward for the hosts.  With men on either side, he delayed just outside the box and Adao got back to win the ball for Hearts.

Well a goal to the good at the interval and it had been an uncomfortable half for the Hearts defence.  Although there had been little in the way of clear cut chances, the home side were in the ascendancy.

Hearts boss Craig Levein brought on Milinkovic for the second half to try and give his side more attacking impetus.

Five minutes into the second half Hughes picked out Randall on the left for Hearts.  He gave the ball to Naismith who quickly exchange passes again and burst into the box on the left where he touched the ball past Kipre and was then upended.  Penalty.

Lafferty smashed the kick home into the centre of the net for the equaliser.


The restart was delayed slightly after a smoke bomb came onto the pitch from the away end.


In 53 minutes, Milinkovic headed the ball forward to Naismith, who played the ball into the path of Lafferty on the right of the box.  He hit a low first time shot which beat the dive of Carson but came back off the post.


Randall played the ball back from the by-line on the left to Cochrane in 59 minutes and his pinpoint cross found the head of Lafferty.  He placed a header to the bottom corner of the net and Carson made a great save to turn the ball around the post.  The resultant corner was cleared back to Cochrane and Main sliced the ball over his own bar.


A clever backheel by Godinho in 66 minutes put Adao through on the Well goal, but Adao had fouled Aldred before the pass.

Well came forward in 73 minutes and Tanner played the ball to Bowman on the right of the box.  He played the ball across goal looking for Main, but Souttar managed to get a foot to it.  It came to Cadden on the edge of the box and his drive found Souttar again who turned the ball behind.


Milinkovic exchanged passes with Lafferty in 76 minutes before shooting from 20 yards, but it was straight at Carson in the Well goal.

In 77 minutes Campbell’s run created some space for Bowman on the corner of the Hearts box on the left, but his shot had the sting taken out of it by Souttar as it ran towards McLaughlin.

A run down the left from Milinkovic in 80 minutes was halted by a Kipre body check and the Well defender received a caution.

Naismith joined Kipre in the book a minute later after not retreating at a Well free kick.

Well won a corner in 83 minutes and Cadden’s cross was headed partly away by Berra.  The ball fell to McHugh in the box, but his shot was blocked by Lafferty.

Adao was next to have his name taken after catching McHugh high in 85 minutes.  Tanner’s free kick to the back post was headed across goal by Kipre and Dunne’s acrobatic effort was comfortably saved by McLaughlin.

A minute later Frear crossed into the Heart box from the left and Hughes got a touch before Berra headed clear.  The ball came to McHugh who chested it down before hitting a stunning right footed volley into the net to put Well back in front.  Although McLaughlin got a hand to it, he couldn’t keep it out.


Berra required treatment in 88 minutes after picking up a head knock.

In the first minute of injury time Smith hurled a throw-in into the Well box.  Naismith flicked the ball on and it came off the raised arm of Rose.  The ball came to Adao, but his shot lacked power.  Penalty appeals were waved away, and Rose had been very close to Naismith when the ball hit his hand.

Hearts threw Berra up front but were unable to fashion another chance and Well were through to the semi-final.

The visitors had been much better in the second half and were in complete control of the game in the opening 20 or so minutes of the second half but could only score once.  The game looked like heading for a replay until McHugh’s wonder goal.  Ironically, he would miss the semi through suspension, his goal meaning he wouldn’t just miss the replay.

Campbell and McHugh were solid in the home midfield with their all action style and Main’s strength and hold-up play also impressed.  For Hearts Milinkovic changed the game after his arrival with his running at defenders and Lafferty played well up front.  Naismith’s passing created most of the opportunities for them.

Full Time: Motherwell 2 Hearts 1

Admission: £15

Motherwell: 1 Trevor Carson, 21 Cedric Kipre, 19 Tom Aldred, 18 Charles Dunne, 7 Chris Cadden, 22 Alan Cambell, 8 Carl McHugh, 2 Richard Tait (Frear 78), 27 Craig Tanner (Rose 90), 9 Curtis Main, 23 Nadir Ciftci (Bowman 55). Subs: 13 Russell Griffiths, 5 Gael Bigirimana, 11 Elliott Frear, 12 Ryan Bowman, 15 Andy Rose, 24 George Newell, 34 Barry Maguire.

Hearts: 1 Jon McLaughlin, 4 John Souttar, 5 Aaron Hughes (Amankwaa 88), 6 Christophe Berra, 28 Marcus Godinho, 47 Harry Cochrane, 66 Joaquim Adao, 20 Ross Callachan (Milinkovic 46), 16 Connor Randall (Smith 90), 14 Steven Naismith, 9 Kyle Lafferty. Subs: 13 Jack Hamilton, 2 Michael Smith, 7 Danny Amankwaa, 8 Prince Buaben, 11 David Milinkovic, 15 Don Cowie, 43 Euan Henderson.

Referee: Andrew Dallas

Programme: £3

Hearts v Kilmarnock

Tuesday 27 February 2018, 19.45, Tynecastle Park

Heart of Midlothian against Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premiership.

Our first Hearts game since we saw them win 1-0 against Hibs in the Scottish Cup in January.

Hearts long run without conceding a goal went two games after that cup game and while they have progressed to the next round of the Scottish Cup since then, they’ve won two, lost two and drawn two in the league.  Still unbeaten at home since returning to Tynecastle, they were looking to get back on track after a defeat away to Rangers in their previous game.

Since we saw them last, Hearts had signed winger Danny Amankwaa from FC Copenhagen, while midfielder Joaquim Adao had joined on loan from FC Sion.

Ashley Smith Brown had returned to Manchester City after his loan spell was blighted by injury and Krystian Nowak, Cole Stockton and Isma Goncalves had also left the club.

Injuries picked up by Arnaud Djoum and Jamie Brandon mean they will be out for the rest of the season.

Manager Craig Levein made four changes to the side that lost at Ibrox. Returning to the side were Connor Randall, Don Cowie, David Milinkovic and Steven Naismith. John Souttar missed the game through injury.


It was our first look at Kilmarnock this season.

One win in their opening nine games had Killie sitting at the wrong end of the table.  Manager Lee McCulloch left in September.  Steve Clarke became manager in October and began his tenure with a draw away to Rangers.  He has turned the club’s fortunes around in his brief spell in charge and they have already beaten Rangers and Celtic and came into the game on the back of three wins and a draw.  The draw was in their last outing, when they came from two down to draw with Hibs.

Kilmarnock did quite a bit of business in the transfer market in the summer, with several players coming into the team, namely – left back Calum Waters from Alloa Athletic, midfielders Alan Power from Lincoln City, former Houston Dynamo player Brad Spencer and Dom Thomas from Motherwell, defenders Daniel Higgins from Dundee, Kirk Broadfoot from Rotherham United and Gordon Greer from Blackburn Rovers, wingers Alexander Samizadeh from Bolton Wanderers and Chris Burke from Ross County, right back Stephen O’Donnell from Luton Town, forwards Eamonn Brophy from Hamilton Accies and Lee Erwin from Leeds United and goalkeeper Cammy Bell from Dundee United.  Defender Stuart Findlay also joined on loan from Newcastle United.

Leaving the club were Karleigh Osborne, Martin Smith, Jamie Cobain, Dapo Kayode and Miles Addison.

Since Steve Clarke arrived they have added midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu and keeper Leo Fasan who were both free agents.  On loan, midfielder Aaron Tshibola from Aston Villa, right back Aaron Simpson from Wolves and goalkeeper Jasko Keranovic from West Brom have also signed.

Gordon Greer passed a fitness test, but Kris Boyd missed out.

Hearts were two points in front of Kilmarnock in fifth place but had played two games more.

The crowd was given as 15,862, but there was probably nearer 8,000 there.  The inclement weather had clearly made people decide not to attend.

With three minutes gone, Mulumbu picked up on a loose ball midway into his own half and put a high ball into Hearts half.  Berra looked to have won the race with Brophy, but the Kilmarnock striker leaned into him as he attempted to header it back to his keeper and didn’t get the connection he wanted.  Brophy raced onto the ball and as McLaughlin came out, he knocked it through his legs to put the visitors in front.


Kilmarnock had started confidently and were knocking the ball about well, despite the blizzard conditions.

Jones did well on the left for Kilmarnock in 11 minutes when he got to the by-line and checked back as Randall went to challenge.  Rather than getting the ball over, he tried to nutmeg Cochrane and ended up losing possession.

A fine run by Lafferty in 13 minutes saw him go past three Kilmarnock players before being fouled about 22 yards from goal.  Lafferty took the free kick himself, but it was well off target.


Kilmarnock attacked down the left again in 16 minutes and Jones played the ball back to Taylor who crossed first time into the box.  McKenzie got the ball in front of Mitchell but mistimed his run and the ball looked to come off his shoulder before going wide of the goal.

In 17 minutes, Brophy laid the ball off to Tshibola and he ran from his own half before playing the ball into the path of McKenzie, but his first touch was heavy, and Berra cleared.

Power picked up the game’s first booking in 22 minutes for a poor tackle on Adao as the Hearts midfielder burst forward.

There was an interesting decision by the referee in 24 minutes when Lafferty’s attempted cross from the left hit O’Donnell’s raised arm, but the referee allowed play to continue.

A long ball forward by Hearts a minute later was flicked on by Naismith and Lafferty hit a half volley at goal from 23 yards, but MacDonald got across his goal to save.

Hearts were starting to put some pressure on but Tshibola stole the ball from Milinkovic on half way in 26 minutes and McKenzie took the ball on before laying it in front of Brophy.  He struck for goal from the edge of the box, but McLaughlin threw up a hand to divert the ball away from goal.

As the home side got the ball clear after the save, Milinkovic took possession when Tshibola and Power collided in the centre circle.  He drove into the Kilmarnock half and passed to Cochrane.  He tried to play the ball to Naismith, but it was behind him and Kilmarnock had the ball, but Milinkovic immediately won it back.  He played a one-two with Mitchell before crossing into the box from the left.  A defender slipped, and Naismith stooped to divert a clever header past MacDonald for the equaliser.


Berra misplaced a pass to Hughes in 28 minutes and Jones raced onto the ball for Kilmarnock.  He burst into the box, but Berra got back to send the ball behind.

In 32 minutes, Tshibola passed to McKenzie on the right.  He cut inside and took the ball to the edge of the Hearts box before curling narrowly over.

Lafferty received the ball from a Randall throw in with 36 minutes gone and turned away from his marker before hitting a low shot wide of the post from around 22 yards.

A great ball floated by Adao in 38 minutes was over the head of Broadfoot for Cowie, but it hit the Hearts midfielder on the back as he looked to run onto it in the Kilmarnock box.

With 5 minutes to the break, Milinkovic chased the ball down the left and picked out Adao in the box.  He shot for goal, but a Kilmarnock defender got across to deflect the ball behind.

The resultant corner was cleared, and Jones almost stole the ball from Randall on half way, which would have seen him through on the Hearts goal.

Adao took possession for Hearts in 41 minutes and played a deft lob over the visiting defence for Lafferty who dinked the ball past MacDonald only to see Taylor race back and hook the ball away via the post.


Tshibola was booked a minute later for bringing down Cowie as Hearts looked to attack again.

All square at the interval and Hearts had come back strongly after Kilmarnock’s good start.

Hearts started the second half with lots of possession in the Kilmarnock half, but were unable to fashion a chance as the snow became heavier.  The swirling wind was making conditions very difficult.


The home side put together a good move in 58 minutes which ended with Cochrane playing the ball for Randall on the right.  He got to the ball before it reached the by-line, but his cross was headed clear.  Hearts claimed for a penalty as Randall looked to be pulled back by Taylor, but nothing was given.

Naismith was bundled over by Findlay just at the corner of the box on the right in 59 minutes and Cowie’s delivery found the head of Naismith about 8 yards out, but he headed wide of the Kilmarnock goal.


The hosts had made almost all of the running in the second half up to that point, but Erwin received the ball just outside the Hearts box in 62 minutes and took a good touch before playing the ball into the path of Jones.  He went to hit a first time shot from the edge of the box but got no power in it, and it was an easy save for McLaughlin.

Adao received Hearts first yellow card in 63 minutes when he caught Taylor, midway inside the Hearts half.

Taylor passed to Jones on the corner of the Hearts box on the left in 66 minutes, but his shot could only find the side netting.

Kilmarnock came forward in 67 minutes with Erwin finding O’Donnell on the right.  He burst past Milinkovic and returned the ball to Erwin at the edge of the box, but his low shot was too near McLaughlin.


Taylor let fly at the Hearts goal in 69 minutes from 23 yards.  It was well hit, but high and wide.

Kilmarnock were having a good spell.

In 73 minutes, Lafferty laid the ball inside for Naismith from a Mitchell throw.  As Naismith took the ball into the Kilmarnock box, he looked as if he was caught by Broadfoot, but again the referee had no interest.

Mitchell hobbled off for Hearts with ten minutes left with what looked like a knee injury.

McKenzie got the ball out to O’Donnell on the right for Kilmarnock in 82 minutes and his head found the head of Erwin, but it was straight into the arms of McLaughlin.


With four minutes to go, Amankwaa passed inside to Lafferty and he took the ball forward before striking for goal from 22 yards, but it was off target.

A Kilmarnock corner in 87 minutes was flicked on by Broadfoot and came to Erwin at the back post.  He turned away from Naismith and Randall and hammered a shot at goal.  McLaughlin managed to get his hands to the shot to turn it behind.


An O’Donnell foul on Amankwaa in 88 led to a bit of pushing and shoving and the Kilmarnock defender was booked for the foul.

McKenzie broke down the right for Kilmarnock in the final minute and his cross was met by a Jones downward header.  McLaughlin dived and at full stretch, managed to get his fingertips to it to turn it away.


As the ball was cleared, Naismith stole the ball from Mulumbu and passed to Lafferty on the right.  He made his way into the box and went down as he was challenged by the retreating Mulumbu and the referee awarded a penalty.  It had looked the least likely of the three claims from where I was sitting.

Lafferty stepped up to take the kick himself and his side footed effort lacked power and MacDonald dived to his left to save.


In 93 minutes, Adao lifted the ball into the Kilmarnock box and Lafferty had got away from Taylor but couldn’t make contact with the bouncing ball on the stretch and it ran through to MacDonald.


The final whistle went soon after.

The not proverbial game of four quarters.  Kilmarnock started the match well before Hearts were in the ascendancy for the majority of the first half.  In the second half, the hosts started well before Kilmarnock became the more likely.

Hearts couldn’t have had a better chance to win the game than the penalty at the end, but a draw seemed a fair result.  Both teams tried to play football on a night that really wasn’t conducive to doing so.  I had heard a lot of good things about Kilmarnock but had no idea the weather would be as bad when I bought the tickets.

Milinkovic, particularly in the first half, and Adao impressed me most in maroon, while Jones and Brophy, until his early departure, shone for Killie.

Credit to the large number of away fans who made it through on a pretty horrible evening.

Full Time: Hearts 1 Kilmarnock 1

Admission: £19

Hearts: 1 Jon McLaughlin, 16 Connor Randall, 5 Aaron Hughes, 6 Christophe Berra, 24 Demetri Mitchell (Smith 81), 15 Don Cowie (Callachan 89), 66 Joaquim Adao, 47 Harry Cochrane, 11 David Milinkovic (Amankwaa 75), 14 Steven Naismith, 9 Kyle Lafferty. Subs: 13 Jack Hamilton, 2 Michael Smith, 7 Danny Amankwaa, 20 Ross Callachan, 43 Euan Henderson, 41 Andy Irving, 28 Marcus Godinho.

Kilmarnock: 1 Jamie MacDonald, 2 Stephen O’Donnell, 5 Kirk Broadfoot, 4 Gordon Greer (Findlay 52), 12 Greg Taylor, 6 Alan Power, 24 Youssouf Mulumbu, 7 Rory McKenzie, 27 Aaron Tshibola (Wilson 92), 11 Jordan Jones, 25 Eamonn Brophy (Erwin 57). Subs: 32 Leo Fasan, 8 Gary Dicker, 10 Greg Kiltie, 17 Stuart Findlay, 20 Iain Wilson, 22 Lee Erwin, 26 Aaron Simpson.

Referee: Don Robertson

Programme: £3.50

Hearts Women v Hibs Ladies

Sunday 25 February 2018, 14.00, Kings Park

Hearts Women up against Hibs Ladies in the Scottish Women’s Premier League Cup.

The cup competition for the teams in the top two leagues in women’s football in Scotland saw Hearts of the Women’s Premier League Two paired with Hibs of the league above.

Hearts had opened their league campaign with a draw and a win and came into the game with confidence.  We had seen them win 2-0 against Glasgow Girls the weekend before.  They were missing defender Georgia Hunter who was injured in that game but had added to their squad during the week with the signing of forward Pam Liddle from Motherwell.

Jenny Smith returned to the squad after international duty and left wing back Sharon Hughes took over in central defence from Hunter.


We last saw Hibs Ladies in November, when they lost 3-0 to Glasgow City in the penultimate league game of the season.  That defeat meant that City retained the title with Hibs having to settle for the runner-up spot.

Hibs won the SWPL Cup in 2016 and 2017 and will be looking for a hat-trick of wins this time out.  They also won the Scottish Women’s Cup in those years to make it back-to-back cup doubles.

Hibs added to their squad for the new season with the signings of midfielders Shannon McGregor from Aberdeen Ladies, former Hearts player Kirsten Reilly and Jamielee Napier from Celtic.

They have started the season very well, with a 3-0 win at Spartans followed by a 2-0 win at Forfar Farmington.  Hibs will be challenging on all fronts this season.

Hibs were missing a number of players, including Abi Harrison, Siobhan Hunter, Joelle Murray, Rachael Small and Lizzie Arnott, but still had a team laden with Internationals.

Both teams were in good form going into the game with Hibs overwhelming favourites to prevail.

A crowd of around 160 were there to watch, including Ross Callachan from the Hearts men’s team, Shelley Kerr, the manager of the Scottish women’s team and Berwick Rangers manager Robbie Horn.

McLauchlan received the ball on the right for Hibs in the third minute.  She slightly miscued her cross, which ended up not far away from going in, but it was just a bit too high.

A great ball by Turner in 7 minutes picked out Graham in the Hearts box.  She backheeled the ball into the path of Tweedie whose shot clipped the post on the way past.


Hibs continued to put the pressure on, but good tackles from Paterson then Hughes inside the Hearts box repelled their attacks in the next minutes.

In 10 minutes, Tweedie did well to get to the by-line, but her cross into the area was sent behind by Pagliarulo.

Turner played a fine ball to McLauchlan on the right for Hibs in 16 minutes.  She passed the ball back to Brownlie but she skied her effort, which landed on the top of the net.


Kirsty Smith went down injured near the corner flag in 19 minutes and was limping when she got back to her feet but was able to shake off the injury.

Hearts continued to defend stoutly, with Kidd and Paterson the next to halt the Hibs forwards with good challenges.


McLauchlan crossed from the right again in 22 minutes and Kidd stuck a boot out and managed to deflect the ball straight into the arms of Watson in the Hearts goal.

There was some respite for the home defence in 29 minutes with Jenny Smith playing a one-two with Carse and breaking down the right.  She made it all the way to the by-line but overran the ball.

Kirsty Smith had a shot at the Hearts goal with half an hour gone from around 25 yards which looked very close.

Robertson had a strike from 22 yards in 35 minutes which was well held by Watson in the Hearts goal.

With 38 minutes gone Gallacher found Smith on the left for Hibs.  She crossed into the box where Graham had a chance from around the penalty spot but volleyed over.


Notley played a pass into the Hearts box in 42 minutes which looked harmless, but the ball skidded off the turf and Watson showed great reactions to get down to save.

Hibs won a free kick in 44 minutes after Robertson had picked out McLauchlan on the right and Kidd stepped in front of her as she tried to go past her.  Brownlie found the head of Tweedie with the free kick, but she couldn’t keep it down.


Great skill by Pagliarulo in first half injury time in the middle of the park gave her space to find Gavin on the left for Hearts.  She went past Michie before crossing to the back post, but it was just too high for the Hearts player running in.


Surprisingly, still no score at the break and Hearts had defended resolutely and limited Hibs to very few clear-cut chances, with several long range shots being comfortably dealt with.  There had been lots of balls into the box, but Hearts were defending very well.

Hibs began the second half on the front foot and Michie’s cross from the right in 47 minutes after some good passing found the head of Graham, but she couldn’t steer it at goal.


Smith’s cross into the Hearts box a minute later saw Watson unable to hold the ball and Gallacher looked certain to score but her shot was deflected wide.


Gallacher passed to McLauchlan on the right for Hibs in 52 minutes and she cut across the box.  The ball came to Smith whose shot at goal was well blocked by Hughes.

Hibs claimed for a penalty in 53 minutes when Robertson went down in the box, but it didn’t look like she had been caught from where I was, and the referee ignored the appeals.

There was another long range effort from Hibs in 54 minutes, this time Graham shooting from 22 yards, but it was well over the bar.

Hibs won a corner in 58 minutes and it hit Paterson full in the face.  She was down and looked dazed but was quickly back on.

Gavin took a Hearts corner in 62 minutes which was played back to her.  She crossed into the Hibs box and it looked to hit a hand of a defender.  Hearts pleaded for a penalty, but nothing was given.  It looked like a spot kick would have been harsh.

Paterson was getting frustrated at her Hearts team mates dropping further and further back and told them in no uncertain terms to “get the *** up the park.”

Robertson played the ball to Smith on Hibs left in 65 minutes and her cross into the box was bravely taken by Watson at the feet of Tweedie.


A ball into the Hearts box in 67 minutes fell to McLauchlan whose effort was well saved by Watson and Paterson completed the clearanceIn 68 minutes, Turner broke through a couple of tackles before striking at goal from the edge of the box, but her low shot was comfortably taken by Watson.

Robertson headed the ball to Brownlie in 70 minutes but her volley from inside the Hearts box was too high.

A through ball in 71 minutes saw Turner chasing the ball with two Hearts defenders.  As the ball reached the box, Watson came out of her goal and the ball broke loose for a moment, but Hearts cleared the danger.


Up the other end seconds later, Gavin found Hutchison in the Hibs box, but a defender got a foot in to take the ball away.

Tweedie had a sight of goal in the Hearts box in 73 minutes but was met by a fine tackle from Hughes to turn the ball behind.  Brownlie’s corner was flicked on at the front post and Hutchison got her head to it to turn it away from goal.  It fell to McGregor, whose bouncing shot went in at the post despite the best efforts of Kidd on the line and Hibs were in front.


Two minutes later, McGregor put a ball into the Hearts box which bobbled as Kidd went to clear.  Tweedie was onto it in a flash and took a great touch to make some space for herself before hitting a half volley into the corner of the net to double the lead.


Hibs really had their tails up and in 77 minutes Turner turned and shot for goal, but Watson saved well and held onto the shot.

A great ball by Turner in 78 minutes was played in behind Kidd for McLauchlan and she crossed for Tweedie, but she couldn’t direct her header on goal.

Michie played a one-two in 79 minutes before curling an effort from the edge of the Hearts area which clipped the bar on the way over.

Hearts came forward in 84 minutes and Gavin looked for Stewart in the box, but she was halted by a good challenge from Notley.


A corner into the Hibs box in 85 minutes fell to Gavin and Reid got her hands to the shot and the ball rolled just past the post.


With a minute left, Turner passed to Smith on the left.  She cut the ball back to Turner whose shot came off Paterson and went into the corner giving Watson no chance and Hibs had their third.


Straight from kick off, Hibs won the ball back and McGregor fed Smith on the left.  She cut inside her namesake and from the corner of the box, curled a great effort over Watson and into the net to make it four.


The final whistle blew shortly after and Hibs were safely through to the next round.

While Hibs had complete control of the game, Hearts had defended fantastically and with 17 minutes left, people were starting to think that we may have seen extra time.  To concede four in those final minutes was very harsh on Hearts with their solid defence not getting the break of the ball for at least two of the goals.  While they had perhaps ridden their luck at times, their willingness to put their bodies on the line was very impressive.

There wasn’t really a failing in the home side, with the effort from all to chase and harry throughout commendable.  Kidd, Hughes and Paterson in particular all tackled like dervishes and Watson impressed in goal.

Hibs have a lot of talented players in their team and were relentless in their pursuit of goals.  The fact that they scored another three after finally breaking the deadlock showed their desire.  Smith had an excellent game on the left while Michie and McGregor didn’t put a foot wrong.  Robertson was involved all the way through from midfield.

Full Time: Hearts Women 0 Hibs Ladies 4

Admission: £3

Hearts Women: 1 Ashley Watson, 14 Lynsay Anderson, 6 Megan Paterson, 3 Sharon Hughes, 9 Kara Kidd, 11 Jenny Smith, 17 Stacey Hutchinson, 16 Danni Pagliarulo, 7 Courtney McAvoy, 19 Laura Gavin, 10 Ashley Carse (Liddle 53).  Subs: 8 Michelle Stewart, 12 Jennifer Dodds, 18 Pam Liddle.

Hibs Ladies: 25 Hannah Reid, 8 Caitlin Michie, 16 Ellis Notley, 24 Emma Brownlie, 11 Kirsty Smith, 6 Lisa Robertson, 13 Lucy Graham (Cornet 80), 15 Amy Gallacher (McGregor 60), 12 Rachel McLauchlan (Napier 80), 18 Katey Turner, 27 Lia Tweedie. Subs: 1 Jenna Fife, 3 Jamielee Napier, 10 Shannon McGregor, 19 Chelsea Cornet.

Programme: None.

Musselburgh Athletic v Haddington Athletic

Saturday 24 February 2018, 14.30, Olivebank

Musselburgh Athletic against Haddington Athletic in the East Premier League.

First against second in the East Lothian derby.

Our first visit of the season to Olivebank and a first sight of Musselburgh since we saw them draw 1-1 at Fauldhouse in November.

Musselburgh’s quest to go straight back up to the Super League was looking good.  In the eighteen games they had played they had only lost once and led the league by twelve points.

They had supplemented their squad since we last saw them by picking up free agents Kai Wilson, a central defender who had last played for Spartans, and former favourite Jackie Myles, a midfielder who had left the club for Linlithgow Rose but had a terrible time with injuries.  They also signed midfielder Ryan Gay from Tranent Juniors and convinced goalkeeper Ryan McGurk and midfielder Kevin McDonald to come out of retirement to sign for the club.


We last saw Haddington in August when they won another of the Premier League East Lothian derbies by five goals to three at home to Dunbar United.

Although coming into the game 12 points behind Burgh, Haddington had a game in hand, and had already taken their scalp in the Fife and Lothians Cup when they won on penalties after a goalless draw.  They had lost three of their seventeen games and a win would have put them almost within touching distance of the leaders.

Haddington recently signed midfielder Michael Osbourne after his release from Newtongrange Star and forward Stephen Scott on loan from the same club.  They also signed left back Ryan Baptie on loan from Penicuik on the eve of the game.

While there were a number of teams bunched up behind Haddington, most concerning for them would be Fauldhouse, who although five points behind, had three games in hand.

There was a minute’s silence for Olivebank regular Johnnie Gillespie who had recently passed away, before the game.


It was a bright sunny day but still a cold one and around 250 turned up to watch.

With two minutes gone, a good ball by Haddington’s Inglis found Jones on the left.  His cross was headed away to the edge of the box where Inglis tried to volley goalwards but the ball was behind him and he didn’t catch it right.

Davie had a strike at the Haddington goal in 4 minutes from 25 yards, but it went over the bar.

A minute later, McManus was a bit short with a passback and Quinn had a chance for the visitors.  Although he got to the ball first, Adams got a hand to it.  It came out to a Haddington player, but he couldn’t react quickly enough.

Moffat received the ball on the right for Burgh in 6 minutes and made his way to the by-line before crossing to the front post.  MacDonald got there in front of a defender and headed the ball into the opposite corner to give the home side the lead.


In 10 minutes, McManus played the ball down the right for Moffat.  He did very well to get the ball across from the by-line, but it was over everyone in the middle.

Devlin was running in on the Burgh goal in 11 minutes under pressure from Donaldson.  The defender went down, but Adams was quickly out of his goal to boot clear.


Quinn played a great ball to find Jones on the left for Haddington in 13 minutes.  He laid it back to Baptie who crossed into the box but Adams came out to claim it.

Burgh came forward in 17 minutes with Lynch finding Moffat on the right.  He went for goal but Alysandratos got across to save at the near post.


With 19 minutes gone, Brown threaded a pass through the home defence for Quinn who just had Adams to beat.  The keeper managed to get something on the shot to turn the ball over the bar.  Baptie’s corner was won by Paterson in the air, but he couldn’t keep his header down.

Thomson passed to King in 21 minutes who cut the ball back but it was intercepted.  A quick challenge saw the ball deflected for a Burgh corner.  Thomson swung the corner over and McManus dived in to head home from close range to double the lead.


A fine run down the left by Haddington’s Jones in 23 minutes saw him hammer the ball across the face of goal and Quinn was inches away from tapping in at the far post.


Burgh put a free kick into the box in 24 minutes and it dropped at the feet of MacDonald but Alysandratos made a good save to keep the shot out.


Alysandratos showed his skills with his feet when beating King in his own box in 25 minutes.  He passed to a team mate who promptly gave the ball away, but MacDonald missed his kick when he had the chance to score.

A Baptie corner in 28 minutes cause a scramble in the Burgh box.  Cunningham hammered a shot at goal, but it was blocked, and the defence got the ball away.


Haddington’s Inglis was shown a yellow card in 30 minutes as Burgh won a free kick on the edge of the box.  Thomson curled the ball over the bar.


The bookings were evened up in 41 minutes when Cherrie brought down Devlin.  Baptie took the free kick about 25 yards from goal and sent it just over the bar.

Baptie put a great ball into the Burgh box in 44 minutes but Davie got there before Devlin to head the ball behind.  Baptie took the corner and Paterson headed down for Devlin, but Adams dived on the ball.


Haddington’s Quinn and Burgh’s Davie had a bit of a coming together just before the interval after the former tackled the latter, but it soon calmed down.

The hosts two goals to the good at the break and they had been clinical in front of goal.  Haddington had played the better football in the first half but couldn’t get the ball in the net.

With six minutes of the second half gone, MacDonald fed Moffat in the Haddington box, but Alysandratos sprung from his goal to smother the ball at his feet.


The ball was played through to Moffat in the box again in 53 minutes and again Alysandratos was out to save at his feet.  The keeper was angry in the aftermath, claiming Moffat had caught him and he was pointing and shouting at the Burgh player.  The referee had words with him.


In 58 minutes, Burgh won a contested free kick about 22 yards out.  They tried a clever free kick with Cherrie squaring the ball to King who picked out Thomson, but Paterson blocked his shot.

Quinn played a clever ball to Brown in 62 minutes but his cut back into the Burgh box was cleared from in front of goal.

A Haddington free kick was nodded down in the box for Devlin in 67 minutes, but he couldn’t get enough power in his shot to trouble Adams.

Murphy was brought down by Cunningham in 71 minutes and the Haddington defender was shown the yellow card.

Burgh had a sustained period of possession in the Haddington half which ended with Murphy having a shot from the edge of the box in 74 minutes which was taken low by Alysandratos.

Baptie’s cross into the Burgh box in 76 minutes was knocked on by Paterson, but Devlin headed wide.


In 79 minutes Hill found Jones on the left and he cut inside before having a go at the Burgh goal, but it was well off target.

Davie was caught in possession on the edge of his own box in 81 minutes, but the ball ran through to Adams in the Burgh goal.

Paterson was booked in 87 minutes for a foul 20 yards from goal.  Thomson stepped up to take the free kick and curled the ball over the Haddington wall into the corner of the net past a static Alysandratos to make it three for the home side.


A comfortable win for Burgh and they never looked in trouble in the second half and killed the game off well.  Haddington never hit the heights of the first half and were well beaten in the end.

Burgh were well served by Cherrie, Thomson and MacDonald, while Quinn and Jones were impressive for Haddington in the first half, with Jones in particular a real threat on the left wing.

A 15-point lead at the top for Burgh, but Haddington will certainly be challenging for promotion.

Full Time: Musselburgh Athletic 3 Haddington Athletic 0

Admission: £6

Musselburgh Athletic: 1 Ally Adams, 3 Matty Lynch, 2 Jono McManus, 12 Bradley Donaldson, 11 Jed Davie, 14 Michael Moffat, 7 Sean Murphy (Whyte 83), 8 Gary Cherrie (Myles 75), 15 Conor Thomson, 20 Stephen MacDonald, 10 Mathu King. Subs:  SG Asher Tufail, 6 Jackie Myles, 16 Kai Wilson, 17 Ewan Ralton, 18 Brad Whyte.

Haddington Athletic: 1 Haris Alysandratos, 2 Bob Berry, 4 Frazer Paterson, 5 George Cunningham, 3 Ryan Baptie, 10 Declan Quinn (Cropley 67), 7 Gavin Brown (Hill 77), 6 Chris Inglis, 8 Mark Torrance (Cairney 67), 11 Andy Jones, 9 Paul Devlin.  Subs: SG Craig Cockburn, 12 Jordan Cropley, 14 Shaun Hill, 15 Chris Cairney, 16 Stephen Scott.

Referee: Colin Whyte

Programme: Free four-page leaflet.

Follow me on Twitter @blowyfootball

Royal Albert v Bellshill Athletic

Friday 23 February 2018, 19.45, John Cummings Stadium

Royal Albert against Bellshill Athletic in the West Central District Second Division.

The Central District Second Division sits at the fourth tier of the Junior football structure in the West Region, immediately below the Central District First Division.

It is currently comprised of 12 clubs who each play each other home and away.

While we were at the Carluke Rovers v Gartcairn Juniors replay in the Junior Cup last season, it was our first look at the Central District Second Division.  We had also been at Lanark United in October for their Junior Cup game with Dalkeith Thistle.

Not to be confused with Hawick Royal Albert, Royal Albert were formed in 1878 when two pit sides from Larkhall joined together.  The name came from the pit owner’s boat.

Albert competed in various leagues before becoming a founder member of Scottish League Division Three in 1923.  When the league was wound up three years later they returned to the Scottish Football Alliance and Provincial League before being wound up in 1927 and reforming as a Junior side a year later.

Their time in the seniors saw some success.  They won the Scottish Football Federation in 1893 and the Scottish Football Alliance the following season.  They were champions of the Scottish Football Combination in 1904 and won the Lanarkshire Cup four times at the end of the 1800s.

Most notably they qualified for the Scottish Cup twenty times and reached the fifth round in season 1890-91 when they lost out to Celtic.  Also in 1891, they became the first ever team to score a penalty in Scottish senior football.

Albert achieved early success in the Junior ranks, continuing to play in the Scottish Qualifying Cup and making the Scottish Cup proper twice more, lastly in 1930-31.  They won the Lanarkshire Junior Football League in 1934, 1936 and 1937 and made the semi-final of the Junior Cup in 1930 and a decade later, in 1940.

Recent times have seen little in the way of success and they have played in the bottom tier since 1972.  After finishing second bottom in 2014/15 they were rock bottom a year later.  Last season saw them third bottom.

Royal Albert’s first ground was Raploch Park where they stayed until the 1960s.  From there they went to the Robert Smillie Memorial Park in 1964 but were forced to move at the end of the 2006-07 season due to the development of Larkhall Academy.  A groundshare with Larkhall Thistle was next, where they played until 2013.  They then moved away from Larkhall into their current home, Tileworks Park, which had previously been the ground of Stonehouse Violet.

Damage to the drainage at their home has meant they have had a nomadic existence this season.  They’ve played many of their home games at Lesmahagow and some at Carluke’s John Cumming Stadium.  With both of those teams having a home fixture on the Saturday, arrangements were made to play on Carluke’s artificial pitch on the Friday night.

Signings for this season were Chris Dolan as player coach from Rossvale, Ryan Mackey from Cambuslang Rangers, John Murray, Stuart MacFarlane, Fraser Scott, Scott McLachlan and Gary McGrath on loan from Rossvale.  Wishaw striker Ross McGeachie also joined on loan in December but has since returned to his parent club.  John Renwick signed just before the game.

The signings have worked well and Albert had only lost twice in the 13 league games played.  With eight wins they sat in fourth, four points behind leaders St Anthony’s with two games in hand.  Third placed Ashfield were just a point ahead in third but had played four games more than Albert, while second placed Gartcairn were also a point ahead after their 13 games.

Albert had won 6-3 at Newmains United in their last game.


Bellshill Athletic began life as a Juvenile club in 1897 before transferring to the Junior level in 1899.  They have spent their time since then in the Juniors apart from a five year period which began in 1927 when they played in the Intermediate League.

Bellshill were promoted from the Central District First Division up to the Super League First Division in 2014-15, but it was to be just a one season stay as relegation came at the end of 2015-16.  Last season saw a second consecutive relegation as they dropped into the Second Division.

They will undoubtedly be looking for a quick return to the First Division and in their 13 games played they had won nine and lost four.  They were level on points with Albert coming into the game, but in fifth on goal difference.

Since Bellshill lost to Gartcairn they had won five league games in a row.

There had been a number of changes for Bellshill for this season.  Coming in were midfielders Andrew Gilchrist from Fauldhouse United, Dylan Hendry from Cambuslang Rangers, Euan Conroy from Rutherglen Glencairn, Connor Branningan, Dominic Febers and Robert O’Donnell from BSC Glasgow AFC, forwards Jamie Stewart from St Silas, Paul Brennan from Rutherglen Glencairn and Jonathan Reynolds from West Park United and goalkeeper Jordan Brand from Cambuslang Rangers.

With three teams being promoted both sides were well placed to challenge, and this would be a big game in both their seasons.

An absolutely freezing night in South Lanarkshire, but still over 100 turned up to watch.


In the opening minute Campbell crossed into the Bellshill box with Stewart heading the ball behind for a fruitless corner.

Albert’s Dolan picked up a loose ball in 2 minutes and had a go at goal from around 22 yards, but it was wide of the target.

Reynolds was pulled down by McFarlane in 5 minutes on the right and Kane’s cross into the Albert box was unconvincingly pushed behind by Smith.  Kane took the corner and Smith palmed it out from under the bar.  It came to Brannigan, but his shot was blocked.

Scott won a free kick for Albert to the left of the box in 9 minutes after a coming together with Branningan.  Dolan took the kick and found the head of Stobie whose powerful header went into the net off the underside of the bar to give the home side the lead.


A dangerous looking inswinging corner by Bellshill’s Nichol in 13 minutes dropped just wide of the far post with nobody able to get a touch.

The game was fast and furious and despite the early goal, neither side was really dictating the play.

Nichol made a good run into the Albert box in 23 minutes and the ball came to Kane, but his shot was well blocked by Renwick.

Bellshill’s Jeffrey picked up the game’s first booking in 24 minutes, although I’m not sure what for.

A minute after his booking, Jeffrey brought down McLachlan on the edge of the box in a central position.  Dolan took the free kick but didn’t clear the wall.


O’Donnell was booked in 28 minutes following an aerial challenge with an Albert player.

An Albert corner in 29 minutes was taken by Forrest and McFarlane got his head to it but couldn’t direct it on target under pressure.

Forrest had a go at goal from distance in 31 minutes, but his shot was well taken by Brand in the Bellshill goal.

In 32 minutes, Albert’s Campbell needed treatment after being caught by O’Donnell.  Forrest’s free kick picked out McFarlane and his header was pushed around the post by Brand.

A nice flowing move by Albert in 35 minutes saw Scott receive the ball just inside the Bellshill box, but he didn’t get the break of the ball and the defence cleared.

Dolan received a yellow card for a late tackle on a Bellshill player in 36 minutes.

Stewart was brought down by Albert’s Murdoch as he came forward in 39 minutes.  Murdoch was yellow carded.  Nichol played the free kick into the feet of Stewart in the box and he turned quickly and struck for goal, but Stobie slid across to block.


With two minutes to the break, Scott was brought down by Jeffrey near the corner of the box.  Dolan’s delivery into the Bellshill box caused panic in the visiting defence but they eventually got the ball away.  Bellshill’s Febers was booked for dissent in the aftermath.


The hosts still led at half time in what had been a pretty even first half.  Crosses into the box for both sides had looked the most likely way to score, with corners in particular causing a few near things.

Albert were made to wait on the pitch as Bellshill seemed reluctant to take to the field for the second half (I’m not surprised given the cold).  The referee eventually went to get them.


In 50 minutes, Stewart fed the ball to Reynolds on the edge of the Albert box and he turned and thundered a shot at goal which couldn’t have been far away from finding the net.

Nichol’s corner in 52 minutes went through the hands of Albert keeper Smith but went behind.  The corner from the other side was cleared to the edge of the box where Nichol fired it back at goal, but the ball hit Murdoch and went to safety.

A minute later O’Donnell played the ball through for Reynolds but Smith was quickly out of the Albert goal to dive on the ball.

Bellshill’s Febers was down in his own box in 62 minutes and was limping when he got back up but was ok to continue.


O’Donnell went to left back for Bellshill in 65 minutes after they made a substitution.

An Albert free kick into the box in 68 minutes dropped at the feet of McLachlan who smashed the ball into the net, but his celebrations were cut short as the referee had spotted a hand ball.

Dolan brought the ball forward for Albert in 69 minutes and had a go from 25 yards and it looked like his shot clipped the post on its way past.

Up the other end a minute later Nichol played the ball to Branningan on the right.  His cross into the box was missed by Reynolds and the Albert defence cleared.

O’Donnell’s cross in 74 minutes came all the way to Branningan on the other side.  He played the ball to Nichol who shot for goal, but it was too high.

Kane crossed into the Albert box in 77 minutes and when the ball was played back across goal, Stewart stooped to head home from close range and Bellshill had the equaliser.


Albert looked to regain their lead and in 79 minutes McLachlan found some space on the right and put a fine ball into the front post where Campbell seemed to have got in front of a defender, but he didn’t make contact and Febers cleared.

A good run by Brannigan in 81 minutes saw him go past two Albert players, but he blasted wide of goal.

Kane took a heavy touch as he broke into the Albert half in 83 minutes and went in late on Hamilton to become the next player to enter the referee’s book.

In 85 minutes Dolan’s ball to the feet of Campbell saw the forward brought down by O’Donnell.  Dolan’s free kick found Campbell again, but his diving header was saved by Brand in the Bellshill goal.

Stewart chipped the ball into the Albert box in 86 minutes and Brennan went down under challenge, but nothing was given.

Brennan was to the fore again in 87 minutes when he latched onto a through ball and only had Smith to beat, but the keeper got something on his effort to send the ball behind.

Another Albert player was booked in the final minute, but I didn’t see who the referee showed the card to.

In injury time Kane showed some good skill on the ball for Bellshill and his cross was volleyed at goal by Branningan, but Smith held on.


All square at the final whistle in a game which never really seemed to settle down and was played at a very quick pace but littered with fouls.  Both sides had brief periods on top, but a draw seemed a fair result in the end.

Best players on the night were Albert’s McFarlane, Stobie and Scott, while Bellshill’s Stewart and Nichol were their top performers.

While neither team would have been happy with a solitary point, they were both still very much on for a promotion challenge.

Thanks to Bellshill’s Twitter account @BellshillA1903  and a gentleman by the name of Davie Bell in the ground for help with the teams.

Full Time: Royal Albert 1 Bellshill Athletic 1

Admission: £5

Royal Albert: 1 Craig Smith, 2 John Renwick, 3 Stuart McFarlane (Rennie 83), 4 Barry Murdoch, 5 Frazer Stobie, 6 Chris Dolan, 7 David Hamilton, 8 Tom Forrest, 9 Alan Campbell, 10 Scott McLachlan (Murray 83), 11 Fraser Scott. Subs: 12 Jack Baptie, 14 Jordan Rennie, 15 Michael Neill, 16 Scott Ballantyne, 18 John Murray.

Bellshill Athletic: 1 Jordan Brand, 2 Scott Simon, 4 Robert O’Donnell, 5 David Shaw, 3 Jordan Jeffrey (Gilchrist 65), 7 Connor Brannigan, 10 Lee Nichol, 6 Dom Febers, 11 Richard Kane, 8 Jamie Stewart, 9 Johnny Reynolds (Brennan 79).  Subs: 14 Andrew Gilchrist, 15 Paul Brennan, 16 Dylan Hendry, 18 Christopher Fitzpatrick.

Referee: Michael MacDermid

Programme: None.

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