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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.

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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.

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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Spartans v East Stirlingshire

Saturday 14 April 2018, 15.00, Ainslie Park

Spartans versus East Stirlingshire in the Lowland League.

We last saw Spartans in March, when they went down by a single goal to East Kilbride in the Qualifying Cup.

Although Spartans would have been happy to win that cup tie, this was the big one.  Their last league game of the season and a win would guarantee the league title.  With East Kilbride a point behind, matching their result, away to Stirling University, would wrap it up.

It wouldn’t be easy.  When we saw East Stirling beating the University of Stirling 4-2 in January, it was their ninth game unbeaten.  That run continued and they went into the match 19 games undefeated.

They had also drawn with Spartans at home at the end of March.  But for a poor start, they would have been challenging the leaders, rather than sitting in third.

A big crowd turned up to take in proceedings, including former Falkirk, Hibs and Celtic player John Hughes.

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The home side made the early running and Greene did well to head away a Spartans cross in 5 minutes.

Rodgers played a good ball to Ramsay on the left for Shire in 6 minutes and he crossed into the box looking for Sludden, but Carswell came out of his goal to catch.

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There was an amusing moment in 13 minutes when Shire’s White and MacGregor both left the ball for each other and ended up running into each other, but no harm was done.

In 15 minutes, Stevenson passed to the feet of Greenhill on the left hand side of the Shire box.  White quickly tackled him to send the ball behind.  Greenhill’s corner was overhit and over everyone’s head.

Ure put a free kick into the Spartans box in 17 minutes, but it was deflected wide.

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Atkinson raced onto a loose Shire pass in 19 minutes and nipped in front of Tapping, but his attempted pass was blocked.

Some nice passing by the visitors in 24 minutes ended with Sludden setting up Rodgers on the edge of the box, but he shot well wide.

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Shire were starting to have the majority of possession and in 25 minutes Sludden latched onto a mistake by Tolmie but dragged his shot wide.

Greenhill picked out Stevenson on the left for Spartans in 32 minutes and his ball into the box was played back to McFarland, but his effort was blocked.

Some patient approach play by Spartans in 35 minutes led to Brown getting a sight of goal from the edge of the box, but his drive was wide of goal.

The home side were clearly nervous and in 39 minutes when Corbett passed to Tolmie in defence, he took his eye off the ball and missed it.  Rodgers took possession for Shire, but his cut back was cleared.

With three minutes to the break Stevenson played the ball from the left into Greenhill in the box.  The ball was poked away back to Stevenson and he curled a dangerous looking ball into the back post, but nobody could get a touch.

Still goalless at the interval and with the news that East Kilbride were also at 0-0, the second half would be vital.

Spartans started the second half positively and in 47 minutes Tapping did well to block Greenhill’s shot from the edge of the box.  Moments later Dishington fired wide.

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Dishington was shown a yellow card in 50 minutes for catching Shire’s Ramsay.  Spartans were particularly annoyed at this as they thought that Ure had gone into a challenge two-footed seconds before.

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Ure was booked in 55 minutes for bringing down Herd.

In 56 minutes Ure passed to Rodgers on the right as Shire came forward.  Rodgers took a couple of strides then pulled up, looking as if his hamstring had gone.  He was replaced soon after.

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Atkinson took the ball into the Shire box in 59 minutes and went down after he had been challenged by Tapping.  There were penalty claims, but the referee gave a corner, which Barclay punched clear.

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A Spartans fan behind us, who was unhappy with the referee’s performance shouted, ‘where did they get you from, Asda?’  I’ve no idea either.

Stevenson clipped the ball into the Shire box looking for Atkinson in 61 minutes, but Grant did well to shepherd the ball behind.

A minute later Spartans attacked again, with Greenhill passing to Stevenson on the left.  His cross was well met by Atkinson, but his header was just off target.

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Stevenson crossed into the area again in 64 minutes and Atkinson dived to meet it, along with Shire’s Grant and keeper Barclay.  The ball broke loose, but the defence got it away.

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Shire’s MacGregor picked up the ball in his own half in 71 minutes and got all the way to the edge of the box, but his shot was a comfortable save for Carswell.

Ure got to the Spartans by-line in 72 minutes and his cross looked right on the head of Sludden at the back post, but Thomson managed to get a touch on it to take the ball away from him.

News was starting to spread round the ground that East Kilbride had gone a goal down, but the Spartans bench clearly didn’t hear this, as they were looking very worried.

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Shire’s Sludden was cautioned in 76 minutes for not retreating 10 yards at a free kick.

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A long free kick into the Shire box by Maxwell in 78 minutes almost fell for Thomson, but his header was deflected wide.  The corner to the back post saw Tolmie get a header in, but it was wide.  He picked up a knock and had to go off for a blood injury but returned soon after wearing number 14.

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News broke that East Kilbride had gone two goals down and this time the Spartans bench knew all about it as the congratulations began.

Stevenson got to the by-line in 87 minutes, but his cross was right into Barclay’s hands.

In the final minute Sludden got a shot away at the Spartans goal, but it lacked power and didn’t trouble Carswell.

Sludden kicked the ball away in frustration in injury time and the Shire player received his second yellow card and was sent off.

The final whistle blew, and Spartans were champions.

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A nervy afternoon for everyone connected with Spartans, but they would have been delighted with the end result.  East Stirling were always going to be tough, but nobody had expected East Kilbride to lose.

Stevenson and Atkinson were the best performers for Spartans on the day while Tapping and, until he had to go off, Rodgers were top men for Shire.

While the game was disappointing, there was enough at stake to hold the attention and either side could have won it.  East Stirling are sure to be challenging for the title next season.

For Spartans, they now have a two-legged play off against Highland League Champions Cove Rangers to determine who plays Scottish League Two bottom side Cowdenbeath to determine who plays in League Two next season.

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They had to wait for the trophy to arrive, with league president in a car between the two grounds where the champions could be.  It arrived in a Sainsbury’s bag just as we were leaving.

Full Time: Spartans 0 East Stirlingshire 0

Admission: £7

Spartans: 1 Blair Carswell, 2 Alan Brown, 3 Craig Stevenson, 4 Blair Tolmie, 5 Adam Corbett (Thomson 66), 6 David Greenhill (Stevens 81), 7 Blair Atkinson, 8 Michael Herd, 9 Scott Maxwell, 10 Jamie Dishington (Lamarca 67), 11 Ian McFarland.  Subs: 12 Jason Stevens, 14 Gavin Malin, 15 Guillermo Lamarca, 16 Paul Thomson, 18 Jack Nixon, GK Andrew Stobie.

East Stirlingshire: 1 Jamie Barclay, 2 Connor Greene, 3 Adam Murray, 4 Andy Grant, 5 Jordan Tapping, 9 Graeme MacGregor, 8 Derek Ure, 6 Simon White (McLaughlin 89), 11 Drew Ramsay, 10 Paul Sludden, 7 Andy Rodgers (Brisbane 58).  Subs: GK Iain Ure, 12 Steven Brisbane, 14 Chris McLaughlin, 17 Taylor, 18 Liam Allison.

Referee: Steven Reid

Programme: £2.

Whitehill Welfare v East Kilbride

Wednesday 11 April 2018, 18.30, Ferguson Park

Whitehill Welfare against East Kilbride in the Lowland League.

Our first sight Welfare since they played Heaton Stannington in pre-season.

It’s been a tough season for them, which was always on the cards with an almost entirely new squad and a new manager.  They went into the game with East Kilbride on a seven-game losing streak and would have been keen to get a win at the earliest opportunity to ensure they would be still playing their football in the Lowland League the following season.

Whitehill added right winger Stephen Manson from Tynecastle and forward Josh Morris from Cowdenbeath in the transfer window.

We last saw East Kilbride in March when they won 1-0 at Spartans in the Qualifying Cup.

They were still in the hunt for the Lowland League title with the Whitehill game being their penultimate one.  Spartans sat one point in front and were also playing on the same night.  It was looking like the final day would determine who would win the league.

There were around 110 in attendance.

The game started a furious pace, with the ball quickly transferring from one end to the other.

In 6 minutes, a good passing move by the visitors ended with Russell in a bit of space on the left for EK, and his cross into the box was met by Winter, who powerfully headed past Jardine to give his side the lead.

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Stevenson crossed to the back post in 14 minutes where McPartlin headed behind for an EK corner.  Strachan’s ball across was palmed away by Jardine for a corner on the other side which came to nothing.

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Although Whitehill had started strongly, EK were starting to turn the screw since they had gone in front.

Some desperate defending by the home side managed to get the ball behind in 16 minutes for another fruitless EK corner.

Reid got down the right for Whitehill in 17 minutes and his cross was flicked on by Nicholson but was just out of reach of Neto.

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Good battling by Nicholson on the left in 24 minutes got him some room to cross to the back post and McPartlin laid the ball off to Wright, but his shot was wide.

It was very competitive and there were a number of late tackles.  It had been a while since we had attended a Lowland League game and it felt a bit like a new series of The Walking Dead.  You had forgotten how violent it could be.

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The hosts were coming right back into the game and Wright fed Nicholson on the left in 29 minutes, but his cross was cleared by Howie.

In 32 minutes, Nicholson got a touch to the ball in the middle of the park before looking as if he was flattened.  No foul was given and Whitehill were even more annoyed when a free kick was given to EK for a foul seconds later.

Prunty picked up a loose ball in 38 minutes and tried to catch out Jardine with an early strike, but it was off target.

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A free kick into the Welfare box in 40 minutes was cleared as far as Howie whose shot for goal hit Winter and deflected into the net for his and his side’s second.

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Winter was shown the yellow card in 43 minutes for trying to score with his hand inside the Welfare box.

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Just before the break Strachan squared the ball to Anderson who passed to Gibbons.  He tried a curling effort at goal from the edge of the Welfare box which looked very close.

East Kilbride two up at the interval and the early goal seemed to settle any nerves they may have had.  Whitehill were not out of the game but needed to score the next goal to have any chance of mounting a comeback.

Welfare brought forward Kyle Mitchell on at half time and went to three at the back.

With two minutes gone in the second half, Nicholson sent a free kick into the EK box from the left.  Gibbons did well to get the ball behind.  The corner saw team mates McKenzie and Neto both go for the ball and it went over the bar.

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EK’s Gibbons was caught in a particularly tender area in 54 minutes.

McPartlin released Mitchell through on the EK goal in 56 minutes and a defender got back to get a challenge in as McGinley blocked the shot.

A free kick by Welfare’s Nicholson in 61 minutes saw McKenzie slide in at the back post but he was unable to direct the ball on target.

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In 71 minutes Strachan picked out Gibbons on the edge of the Welfare box and he drove for goal, but Watson got his head to it to direct it over the bar.

Watson was caught in possession in 72 minutes and there was a chance for EK’s McNeil, but Jardine saved well.

Malcom was caught by a late tackle from Reid in 74 minutes and the Welfare man received a yellow card.  Although Malcolm had let out a scream when he was caught, he sprung back up quickly.

Welfare forced a couple of corners in the next few minutes, but they didn’t really threaten the goal.

Strachan picked up a headed clearance by Watson in 88 minutes and burst past McPartlin on the left.  He crossed to the back post of the Welfare box where Winter volleyed into the corner for his hat-trick.

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A comfortable win in the end for East Kilbride and with Spartans also winning, it set up a last day showdown to see who would win the league.  Welfare never gave up and showed some promising signs.

McKenzie and Wright impressed for Whitehill while Gibbons, Anderson and Russell stood out for East Kilbride.

It’s worth mentioning that Welfare are producing arty programme covers for their fixtures these days and the one on the night was a cracker.

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Full Time: Whitehill Welfare 0 East Kilbride 3

Admission: £6

Whitehill Welfare: 1 Ross Jardine, 2 Craig Reid, 4 Kerr Dodds (Mitchell 46), 5 Cameron Watson, 3 Ryan McKenzie, 8 James McPartlin, 6 Scott Lucas, 7 Jack Wright, 19 Mark Smith (Carter 76), 10 Fabio Neto, 16 Gary Nicholson (Murray 76).  Subs: 9 Kyle Mitchell, 11 Darren McGrath, 12 Joe Murray, 14 Robbie Dowie, 15 Craig Beattie, 17 Darren McCraw, 18 Robbie Carter.

East Kilbride: 1 Matthew McGinley, 2 Scott Stevenson, 5 David Proctor, 4 Craig Howie, 3 Barry Russell, 7 Sean Winter, 6 Kieran Gibbons, 8 Michael Anderson (Hughes 77), 11 Adam Strachan, 9 Bryan Prunty (McNeil 68), 10 Craig Malcolm (Ramsay 90).  Subs: 12 Edin Lynch, 14 Fabio Capuano, 15 Declan Hughes, 16 Anthony Wallace, 17 Darren Ramsay, 18 Ross McNeil, 25 Jacob Kean.

Referee: Peter Stuart

Programme: £2

Dumbarton v Dundee United

Saturday 7 April 2018, 15.00, The YOUR Radio 103FM Stadium

Dumbarton versus Dundee United in the Scottish Championship.

We last saw Dumbarton in November 2016, when they played at Bonnyrigg Rose in the third round of the Scottish Cup.  A 0-0 draw that day made it look like Dumbarton would finish the job at home, but they were shocked by the East Super League side in the replay.

Now in their sixth season in the second tier of Scottish football, Dumbarton have usually been the bookies favourites for relegation at the start of each campaign.  They have proved them wrong again and again, but this time round, they are in serious trouble of going down.  They have won only two of their last 15 games, both of which were against basement club Brechin City.

While they will certainly not finish bottom, they look as if they are destined for entering the play-offs to try and preserve their Championship status.

This was the second game against Dundee United in four days, having lost 2-0 in Dundee in midweek.  With 6 games left, they were 11 points from safety.

Manager Stephen Aitken presided over wholesale changes at ‘The Sons’ this season, with an almost entirely new squad for the campaign ahead.  Coming in were midfielders Kyle Hutton from St Mirren, Tom Walsh from Limerick, David Wilson from Partick Thistle, Chris Johnston from Raith Rovers and Dimitrios Froxylias from Ermis Aradippou, goalkeeper Scott Gallacher from Hibs, defenders Craig Barr from Raith Rovers, Andy Dowie from Queen of the South and Dougie Hill from Brechin City, left back Chris McLaughlin from Ross County, and forwards Mark Stewart from Raith Rovers and Danny Handling from Hibs.  On loan were right back Sam Wardop from Celtic, midfielders Liam Burt from Rangers and Andy Stirling from Queen of the South, and defender Aidan Wilson from Rangers.

Leaving Dumbarton were Andy Stirling (who as above, has returned on loan), Robert Thomson, Mark Docherty, Gary Fleming, Alan Martin, Gregor Buchanan, Darren Barr, Tom Lang, Amadou Kassarate, Donald McCallum and Ryan Clark.

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It was in December last year when we previously saw Dundee United, winning 2-0 at Morton.

Expectations on United are at the other end of the scale from Dumbarton.  The pre-season favourites for the title have had a disappointing season and the win against Dumbarton during the week had been their first win in six.

That midweek win put them back into 4th place, the final promotion play-off spot, and they sat level on points with Dunfermline with two games in hand over them.

Csaba László took over as manager in November and United were top of the league when we saw them that month.  A play-off place is all they can hope for now.

László took the opportunity to make his first signings in the January transfer window, adding midfielders Grant Gillespie from Hamilton Accies, free agent midfielder Logan Martin and Sam Stanton from Hibs, forward Emil Lyng from KA Akureyri, and former Rangers defender Bilel Moshni.  Joining on loan were right back Anthony Ralston from Celtic, left back Brandon Mason from Watford and former United forward Thomas Mikkelsen from Ross County.

It was our first visit to the Dumbarton Football Stadium, currently known as the catchy ‘Your Radio 103FM Stadium’.  The locals tend to refer to it as ‘The Rock’ as Dumbarton Rock is immediately behind the one stand along the side of the pitch.

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Holding just over 2,000, they have played there since 2000, although under several different names for sponsorship purposes.

Before then, they played at Boghead from 1879 and briefly shared Albion Rovers ground in between the two.

There were 994 in attendance, including former Dundee, Hearts and Celtic left back Tosh McKinlay.  Anyone who saw him play will be surprised to learn that when he was climbing the stairs to his seat, he actually used his right foot.

The first real incident of note came in 5 minutes when United’s Flood was shown a yellow card for a late tackle on Stirling.

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Wilson passed forward to Walsh in 10 minutes and he quickly played the ball into the path of Handling on the left-hand side of the box, but he scuffed his shot wide.

The home side came forward in 11 minutes with Handling playing the ball to Stirling on the left.  He took the ball towards the United goal before chipping it to the back post where Walsh volleyed across the face of goal.  Lewis got a touch to it, which took it away from Scobbie and into the path of Gallagher who fired into the net off the prone United defender to give Dumbarton the lead.

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Dumbarton had started well, and Gallagher controlled a forward pass on his chest in 12 minutes but fired over the bar.

After some good passing play, Dick floated a pass into the feet of Gallagher in the United box in 17 minutes, but Mohsni managed to poke the ball away.

A late tackle by United’s Smith in 19 minutes caught Hutton.  The referee made do with having a word.

Dumbarton won a free kick in 21 minutes after a foul by Mohsni and McLaughlin curled it at goal from 20 yards, but it was held by Lewis.

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In 22 minutes, Stirling anticipated a short Flood pass and intercepted.  He twisted away from a defender in the box, but his low shot was comfortable for Lewis.

Smith had a shot at the Dumbarton goal from 22 yards in the 25th minute after receiving the ball from Stanton.  It went over the bar, but the referee said it had taken a nick.  The defence cleared the corner.

A minute later, McMullan got a sight of goal in the Dumbarton box after a pass from Mohsni, but a defender got across to block.

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McMullan found some space on the right for United in 27 minutes and his cross found Smith, but he couldn’t direct the ball on target.

The visitors were starting to get a grip of the game and won a couple of corners in the next few minutes, but they didn’t trouble the defence.

Gallagher was clean through on the United goal in 32 minutes, but he was halted by the offside flag.

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United broke forward in 36 minutes and McDonald broke through a Dowie tackle and struck a shot well, but Gallacher managed to tip the ball around the post.

Stanton got to the edge of the Dumbarton box in 40 minutes before being tackled by Dowie.  The ball broke to Smith who saw his shot saved by Gallacher’s foot.

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A clever pass by McDonald in 42 minutes played Smith into the Dumbarton box.  He cut the ball back for McMullan, but Dick got across to block.

Just before the break, Mohsni found McMullan on the edge of the box but he shot well over the Dumbarton goal.

Dumbarton a goal to the good at half time and they started the game very well before United came back into it as the half progressed.

Some good build up play by United in the opening minute of the second period ended with McDonald playing the ball to Smith on the right whose cut back from the by-line looking for Ralston was turned behind by Dick.

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A lengthy period of possession by the visitors in 50 minutes eventually saw the ball played to King on the left.  He got to the by-line before crossing into the box where Ralston met the ball with a downward header which beat Gallacher to find the net for the equaliser.  It had been coming.

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Walsh put a Dumbarton free kick into the box in 54 minutes which saw Lewis punch clear under pressure.

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Dick was shown a yellow card in 55 minutes for pulling back United’s King.

At this point a steward asked us to stop taking photographs, so not much pictorial evidence from here on.

There were home claims for a penalty in 56 minutes when a corner seemed to bounce up and hit Mohsni’s arm.  The referee waved away the appeals.

King ran onto a McDonald pass into the Dumbarton box in 57 minutes but was halted by a fine tackle from Dick.

Dumbarton won a corner in 59 minutes and Wilson’s cross found the head of Barr who headed the ball down and into the net from close range to put his side back in front.

Walsh cut in from the right for Dumbarton in 65 minutes and went past King before striking for goal, but Lewis saved his low shot.

Back up the other end a minute later Stanton passed wide to McMullan whose cross from the by-line looked for the head of Mikkelsen, but Gallacher acrobatically took the ball.

Wilson won possession for the home side in 67 minutes and went forward before passing to Walsh on the right hand side of the box.  He shot from a narrow angle and Lewis was able to push it wide.

With a Gallacher and a Gallagher already on the pitch for Dumbarton, they added another Gallagher when Grant came on as sub.

Persistent play by Ralston on the right for United saw him reach the by-line in 70 minutes and his cut back to the front post was swept into the net by McDonald for a second equaliser.

Another run down the right by Ralston in 72 minutes saw him put the ball across the face of goal, but nobody was there to get a touch.

In 73 minutes McMullan played a one-two with King and his shot hit the net to the delight of the United supporters, until they realised it was the side netting.

United attacked again in 74 minutes and McDonald’s low shot saw Gallacher spill the ball, but he recovered quickly to smother with Mikkelsen closing in.

McMullan passed through the Dumbarton defence for McDonald on the left hand side of the box in 75 minutes and Gallacher got a hand to his shot, but the ball was still heading in until McLaughlin booted it off the line.

United were having their best spell of the game and it looked a certainty that they would take the lead.

Wilson took a corner for Dumbarton in 81 minutes and the ball was headed back to him by Mohsni.  He crossed again and this time found Barr who headed powerfully into the net from close range to put Dumbarton into the lead for the third time with his second of the afternoon.

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King squared the ball to Flood in 86 minutes and he shot from 20 yards but it was wide of the Dumbarton goal.

Dumbarton broke forward in the final minute and Stirling held the ball up before releasing Burt, but his touch was heavy, and Lewis got there first.

In injury time King raced into the box, but his cross was sent behind by a defender.  McMullan’s corner was punched clear by Gallacher.

The final whistle went soon after and Dumbarton had won.

A battling performance by the home side and a glimmer of light in their bid to avoid the play-offs.  Another setback for United who need to find some consistency.

Both sides had good spells in the game with United having more of the ball, but not creating too many clear cut chances.

Stirling and Calum Gallagher played well for the hosts and the defence threw themselves in front of everything.  McMullan and King were United’s most promising attackers and Moshni was solid at the back.

Full Time: Dumbarton 3 Dundee United 2

Admission: £20

Dumbarton: 1 Scott Gallacher, 22 Liam Dick, 4 Andy Dowie, 55 Craig Barr, 3 Chris McLaughlin (Burt 77), 21 Danny Handling (G Gallagher 67), 8 David Wilson, 14 Kyle Hutton, 10 Tom Walsh, 25 Andy Stirling, 7 Calum Gallagher (Stewart 87). Subs: 19 Jamie Ewings, 5 Grant Gallagher, 9 Mark Stewart, 15 Dougie Hill, 20 Dimitrios Froxylias, 24 Kevin Nisbet, 31 Liam Burt.

Dundee United: 25 Harry Lewis, 29 Anthony Ralston, 91 Bilel Mohsni, 3 Tam Scobbie, 28 Matty Smith (Mikkelsen 63), 16 Willo Flood, 12 Sam Stanton, 2 Stewart Murdoch, 8 Scott McDonald, 11 Billy King, 7 Paul McMullan. Subs: 41 Josh Donaldson, 9 Thomas Mikkelsen, 14 William Edjenguele, 15 Craig Slater, 17 Jamie Robson, 24 Grant Gillespie, 32 Brandon Mason.

Referee: Steven McLean.

Programme: £2.50.

Scotland v Italy

Thursday 5 April 2018, 18.00, Oriam

Scotland against Italy in the European Women’s Under 19 Championship.

Scotland had been chosen to host Group 7 of the Elite Round qualification tournament, with the winners going through to the European Championship finals in Switzerland.

As well as Scotland and Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic took part in Group 7, having got through the initial qualifying groups.  With Scotland seeded fourth of the four teams, it was never going to be easy for the hosts to top the group.

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The first round of games had seen Scotland lose by two goals to one to the Czech Republic, while Italy had beaten the Russians by seven goals to one.  Earlier in the day of the Scotland v Italy match, the Czechs had beaten Russia by the score of 7-0.

As has become traditional with the Italian men’s team, the young women really belted out their national anthem before the game started.  They ended the rendition with a head dip, which I’d love to see the men incorporate.

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Leah Eddie and Jamie-Lee Napier appeared to try and replicate the volume during the Scottish anthem, much to the amusement of their team mates.

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Scotland elected to go with one up front, as they did against the Czechs, with Hibs Ladies’ Jamie-Lee Napier in the forward role.  Napier plays as a winger for her club side.

It was good to see a number of players from Scottish women’s club sides in attendance.

Scotland kicked off and the ball was played forward to Hay, who flicked it on for McGregor on the right.  Her cross was pushed out by Lauria, but fell to the feet of Kerr, who knocked the ball into the net to give them the lead.  Just twelve seconds gone.

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Regazzoli brought the ball forward for Italy a minute later and had a shot from the edge of the box which wasn’t too far wide of the post.

In three minutes, a curling shot from Caruso was well taken by Cumings.

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Scotland saw very little of the ball in the following minutes, with the Italians starting to stamp their authority on the game.

The hosts did come forward in 16 minutes, and Doran-Barr fed Napier who did well before laying the ball back to McGregor.  Her fierce shot was parried by Lauria who managed to get to the rebound before Napier.

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Caruso took the ball down the right for Italy in 22 minutes and her cross into the middle was just over the head of Cantore.  The ball was played back to Regazzoli, but her shot lacked power, and Cumings collected.

Good work on the left by Bonfantini in 24 minutes saw her get to the by-line before McGregor managed to slide the ball behind for what was a fruitless corner.

Merlo picked up a Scottish clearance in 27 minutes and fired at goal from 25 yards, but her shot was narrowly wide.

A clever ball into the box by Filangeri in 31 minutes found Cantore beyond the Scottish defence in the box.  She took a touch to control, but Eddie got a foot in to poke the ball away from her.  It only went as far as Bonfantini at the edge of the box and she fired the ball past Cumings for the equaliser.

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Newsham burst past Kuenrath on the left in 33 minutes as she made her way to the by-line, but she was caught by the Italian, who received a yellow card.  Muir took the free kick, but it sailed over everyone in the middle.

With 5 minutes to the break, Notley was caught in possession by Cantore who raced into the Scottish box.  Her shot took a deflection off Newsham and Cumings showed great reactions to get a hand to the ball and push it away from danger.

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Just after the 45 minutes were up, Caruso won the ball from Notely and passed to Kuenrath on the corner of the box on the right.  She took a touch inside then fired into the corner of the net to put the Italians in front.

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The half time whistle blew immediately after the restart.

A sore one for the Scots to go behind so close to the break, but the Italians had certainly merited their lead.  Scotland were defending stoutly and trying to cause problems on the break, but Italy were in control.

A misplaced pass by Notley in 50 minutes gave the ball to Kuenrath who took the ball towards the Scot’s goal.  Kerr got a foot in, but it broke to Catena, who curled narrowly wide from 20 yards.

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Italy continued to probe away at the Scottish defence and in 53 minutes, Merlo’s cross into the box found Bonfantini who expertly flicked a volley over Cumings and into the net for the Italian’s third.

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McGregor made good progress down the right for Scotland in 58 minutes to win a corner.  Muir’s delivery landed on top of the net.

Napier did well on the right for Scotland in 60 minutes, breaking through a tackle before driving for goal from the corner of the box, but it went narrowly wide from the corner of the box.

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With 67 minutes gone, Hay got to the by-line and crossed to the back post where Muir got her head to the ball, but it was a comfortable save for Lauria.

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Napier chased a through ball into the Italy box in 71 minutes and went down under a challenge from Filangeri.  There were claims for a penalty, although mainly from the watching Czech players, whose life would have been made easier with a Scotland win.  It looked to me as if the ball had been won in the tackle.

Panzeri played the ball through to Bonfantini in the Scotland box in 72 minutes.  She turned well, but Muir managed to block her shot.

Italy came forward in 74 minutes with Bonfantini feeding Cantore on the left.  She cut inside and had a go, but her shot was wide of the near post.

Bonfantini needed treatment in 77 minutes after going down with what looked like cramp.  She was replaced 5 minutes later.

There was a strange moment on the far side of the pitch in 80 minutes when Cantore was about to take a throw-in for the Italians.  The referee had a word with her and then the Italian disappeared through a set of doors only to return seconds later and come back on.

In 88 minutes, Kerr broke through a tackle and passed to Cairney on the edge of the box.  She shot for goal but Lauria made a good diving save to push the ball away.

In the 91st minute Cantore took the ball down the left and came inside before poking the ball to Soffia on the edge of the Scotland box.  She shot for goal, but it was straight at Cumings who parried the ball and the defence cleared.

Greggi charged up the left in the third minute of injury time and knocked the ball past Eddie who brought her down.  Penalty.  Caruso smashed the spot kick high into the net to make it four.

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McGregor was cautioned just before the end for a foul on Soffia.

A convincing win for the Italians who looked a very good side.  Scotland would be frustrated at losing a goal in injury time at the end of each half and fought hard to the end against superior opponents.

Scotland might have tried to go with another forward to give Napier some support and didn’t bring Davidson on until there was just three minutes left.

There was a lot of talent in the Italian team, with Regazzoli, Bonfantini and Merlo particular stand outs.  McGregor showed some nice touches for Scotland and Napier did more running up front than I have probably done in my entire life.

Full Time: Italy 4 Scotland 1

Admission: Free

Italy: 1 Nicole Lauria, 4 Angelica Soffia, 5 Maria Luisa Filangeri, 2 Vanessa Panzeri, 3 Beatrice Merlo, 18 Melanie Kuenrath (Santoro 66), 7 Arianna Caruso, 8 Alice Regazzoli, 20 Michela Catena (Nichele 54), 11 Sofia Cantore, 10 Agnese Bonfantini (Greggi 82). Subs: 12 Roberta Aprile, 6 Tecia Pettenzuzzo, 9 Angelica Parascandolo, 13 Chiara Cecotti, 14 Bianca Bardin, 15 Elena Nichele, 16 Sara Baldi, 17 Erika Santoro, 19 Giada Greggi.

Scotland: 1 Eartha Cumings, 14 Lauren Doran-Barr (McAlonie 61), 16 Leah Eddie, 4 Ellis Notley, 8 Charlotte Newsham (Cairney 72), 11 Brogan Hay (Davidson 87), 10 Shannon McGregor, 2 Amy Muir, 6 Samantha Kerr, 3 Ellis Dalgliesh, 17 Jamie-Lee Napier. Subs: 12 Erin Clachers, 5 Michaela McAlonie, 7 Nicole Cairney, 9 Caitlin Russell, 13 Rachel Connor, 15 Rachel Brown, 18 Lauren Davidson, 19 Ellie Kane, 20 Chloe Gover.

Referee: Ewa Augustyn (Poland)

Programme: Free with admission.

Dundee v Hearts

Sunday 1 April 2018, 12.30, Dens Park

Dundee against Heart of Midlothian in the Scottish Premiership.

The first time we had seen Dundee since they lost 2-0 in the corresponding fixture in Edinburgh in December.

In the transfer window, Dundee signed defenders Steven Caulker after his release from Queens Park Rangers and Genseric Kusunga from Uniao Madeira, goalkeeper Jeremy Malherbe, who was a free agent and on loan, Hibs striker Simon Murray.

Dundee’s form had not been good, and they lost by a single goal in their last league game at Aberdeen.  They were battling to avoid the bottom two places to maintain their place in the top league.

Manager Neil McCann had been suspended from the touchline after an altercation with the St Johnstone substitute goalkeeper in a previous game, but he was in the dug out having appealed the suspension.

Into the side came Jon Aurtenetxe and Simon Murray, with Kevin Holt and A-Jay Leitch-Smith dropping to the bench.  Craig Wighton was also on the bench, his first appearance of the season after a long-term injury.

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We’d last seen Hearts in March when they went out of the Scottish Cup at Motherwell.  A poor run of form was halted with a 3-0 win against Partick Thistle in their last outing.

A win for Hearts would guarantee them a place in the top six after the split.

Hearts made one change to the team which won against Partick, with Ross Callachan coming in for the injured Michael Smith.  Still injured were Prince Buaben, Arnaud Djoum, Jamie Brandon and Rory Currie.  Anthony McDonald and David Milinkovic were fit enough to take places on the bench.

There was a very late change to the Hearts bench with Chris Hamilton taking the place of Connor Randall, who was unwell.

There were 5,496 at the game.

Hearts put together a long spell of possession from 30 seconds and retained the ball for a good minute and a half before Cowie passed to Godinho on the right.  He played the ball inside to Callachan who turned away from Meekings before curling the ball into the corner of the net for a fabulous opening goal for the visitors.

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With 5 minutes gone, Kamara robbed Adao on the half way line and took the ball towards the Hearts box.  He threaded the ball through for Murray, but McLaughlin came out of his goal quickly to block.

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O’Hara fed Deacon on the right for Dundee in 6 minutes and he cut inside Hughes and made his way into the box.  Deacon touched the ball away from Berra then hit the turf.  While the home fans appealed for a penalty, the referee booked the winger for a dive.  It did look as if he was going down before any contact from where I sat, but there was certainly contact, although Berra looked to have pulled out of the challenge.

The hosts had responded well to the loss of the early goal and in 9 minutes, McGowan played the ball forward to Murray who struck for goal from the edge of the box, but he sliced his effort well wide.

Cowie took a Hearts corner short to Naismith in 14 minutes, and he played it back to him.  Cowie’s shot from a narrow angle was pushed away by Parish.

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Callachan picked up Hearts’ first yellow card in 16 minutes for catching McGowan late.

In 18 minutes, Deacon crossed into the Hearts box and Souttar did well to get his head to the ball to turn it behind for a Dundee corner.  The corner came to nothing, but Berra required treatment after landing awkwardly in challenging for the ball in the air.

Callachan played a one-two with Cowie in 21 minutes and found some space on the right.  He played the ball into the feet of Lafferty in the Dundee box.  Caulker appeared to go into the back of the striker as he took a touch and Lafferty went down.  The referee again decided on a caution for diving.  It looked a penalty.

A good turn by McGowan in 26 minutes sent Dundee on the attack and he passed the ball forward to O’Hara who played it to Moussa.  He passed to Murray in the right who took the ball into the box but was halted by some fine defending from Berra.

McGowan was the next player to go into the referee’s book for a late tackle on Hearts’ Adao.

Hearts came forward in 28 minutes with Godinho on the right, who played the ball to the feet of Naismith on the edge of the box.  He let the ball run through for Lafferty who struck the ball well from the penalty spot, but it was too close to Parish.

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Up the other end a minute later, O’Hara fed Deacon on the right.  He crossed low into the six-yard box where Moussa slid the ball home for the equaliser.

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The cards kept coming with Berra next to earn the referee’s wrath for a body check on Murray as Dundee attacked.

A clever ball by Godinho picked out Cowie on the corner of the six-yard box in 36 minutes, but he could only find the side netting.

In 39 minutes, Dundee’s O’Hara was booked for a high challenge on Naismith.

Amankwaa looked a bit fortunate to escape a yellow card in 43 minutes when he looked to clip the heels of Deacon off the ball as Dundee came forward.

Dundee’s O’Dea required treatment just before half time after looking as though he had tweaked a hamstring, but he was quickly back on.

Level at the break and Hearts had failed to capitalise on their fine early goal.  Dundee had looked the far more dangerous side, although Lafferty had a great chance to make it 2-0 just before Dundee scored.

With just over a minute of the second half gone, O’Hara had a strike at the Hearts goal from 20 yards which wasn’t too far over the bar.

Moussa ran onto a Caulker throw-in with 51 minutes gone and tried a shot from 22 yards which he sliced horribly, and it went out for a throw on the other side.

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Dundee were forced into a change in 54 minutes with O’Dea unable to continue.

Aurtenetxe took a Dundee corner in 60 minutes which was headed goalwards by Caulker and redirected by Murray, but Naismith was there to chest the ball off the line.  Moussa was first to the rebound, but Callachan challenged to send the ball behind.

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Hearts broke quickly from the subsequent corner when Adao won the ball from Deacon and they had a two against one situation for a moment, but Callachan played the ball behind Cowie and the chance was gone.

Naismith took McGowan down cynically in 68 minutes as the Dundee player strode towards the Hearts box.  He was booked.  Deacon sent the free kick well over the bar.

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There was a bit of a scramble in the Dundee box in 74 minutes, but Parish was able to smother.

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A good run into the Hearts box by Deacon in 79 minutes saw him get a shot away, but McLaughlin managed to turn the ball behind.

Adao was forced to go off in 77 minutes through injury with Hearts making their final substitution.

Murray passed to the feet of Deacon on the edge of the Hearts box in 83 minutes and he managed to make some space for a shot but fired straight at McLaughlin.

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In 84 minutes, Moore passed to Souttar who came forward and had a strike for goal from 20 yards which took a nick as it went wide.

A minute later Godinho crossed into the Dundee box for Henderson, but he couldn’t keep his header down.

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Holt did well on the left for Dundee in 86 minutes and got to the by-line before pulling the ball back for McGowan, but he curled it wide of the far post.

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In the final minute, Murray broke up the right and cut inside into the Hearts box, but his shot was blocked when he would have been better playing the ball to a team mate.

In injury time, Dundee pressed for the winner with Leitch-Smith having a shot blocked, then Murray seeing his low shot saved by McLaughlin.

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Deep into added time, Dundee’s Murray was booked for a late tackle.

One each at the end and Dundee would have been disappointed not to have taken the three points.  Hearts could certainly claim that they had the stronger of the two penalty claims, but Dundee looked the more likely to win the match.

Kamara, McGowan and Deacon were best for Dundee, while Godinho and Adao were Hearts top performers.

The point took Dundee four points clear of the relegation play-off place, while it would likely mean Hearts would finish in the top half.

Full Time: Dundee 1 Hearts 1

Admission: £26

Dundee: 12 Elliot Parish, 24 Josh Meekings, 4 Steven Caulker, 6 Darren O’Dea (Kusunga 54), 15 Jon Aurtenetxe (Holt 81), 14 Mark O’Hara, 8 Glen Kamara, 18 Paul McGowan, 21 Roarie Deacon, 17 Simon Murray, 9 Sofien Moussa.  Subs: 2 Cammy Kerr, 3 Kevin Holt, 5 Genseric Kusunga, 7 A-Jay Leitch-Smith, 28 Lewis Spence, 22 Craig Wighton, 38 Calum Ferrie.

Hearts: 1 Jon McLaughlin, 28 Marcus Godinho, 4 John Souttar, 6 Christophe Berra, 5 Aaron Hughes, 15 Don Cowie, 66 Joaquim Adao (Cochrane 79), 20 Ross Callachan (Henderson 71), 7 Danny Amankwaa (Moore 71), 9 Kyle Lafferty, 14 Steven Naismith.  Subs: 13 Jack Hamilton, 11 David Milinkovic, 16 Connor Randall, 33 Lewis Moore, 43 Euan Henderson, 46 Anthony McDonald, 47 Harry Cochrane, 48 Chris Hamilton.

Referee: Kevin Clancy

Programme: £3

Lochee United v Broxburn Athletic

Saturday 31 March 2018, 14.30, Thomson Park

Lochee United against Broxburn Athletic in the East Super League.

A first ever visit to Thomson Park in the Lochee area of Dundee.

We last saw Lochee when they won at Penicuik Athletic in October 2017, in the early months of the season.  Although they sat in mid table, they had games in hand on everyone and would be challenging at the top of the league if they won those.

They had won nine of their 17 league games, with two draws.  Despite their good league form, all the talk was of their Junior Cup run, with their most recent game seeing them record a fine 4-1 win at Beith Juniors to put them through to the semi-final.

Since we last saw Lochee, they had added midfielders Jamie Reid from Elgin City and Michael McIlravey from Carnoustie Panmure.

Manager George Shields put Jamie Reid and Logan Davie into the starting line-up, with long term injury victims Bryan Deasley and Paddy Deane on the bench.

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Coincidentally, when we last saw Broxburn Athletic, it was also at Penicuik, when they drew 1-1 there in February.

They came into the game on a 14-match unbeaten run and occupied third spot in the league, six points off the leaders.  Their last game had seen them draw 4-4 with Sauchie Juniors.

Broxburn manager Brian McNaughton added Euan Valentine to his squad in January.  The left back coming on loan from Raith Rovers.

Both teams were missing players on the day and were not at full strength.

Thomson Park has a covered enclosure behind one goal, with the dressing rooms behind it.  There is a raised banking on one side of the pitch and it is an attractive looking ground.

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Around 180 were in attendance.

In 4 minutes, Broxburn’s Anderson fired a free kick at goal which was fisted away by Fotheringham.  From the resultant corner, there were penalty appeals for handball, but the referee waved away the appeals.

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A minute later Murray turned well in the Lochee box and shot towards the top corner, but Fotheringham made a good save.

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Lochee’s Davie had the home side’s first real effort at goal in 7 minutes, which was well saved by Wallace.  The rebound came to Reid, but Wallace was there again.

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Miller put a dangerous ball to the front post in 8 minutes for Murray, but Lochee’s Millar did well to get there first to turn the ball behind.

Lunan received the game’s first booking in 14 minutes for pulling back Broxburn’s Richards.  Anderson struck the free kick well, but it was held by Fotheringham.

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Birse found some space on the left for the hosts in 15 minutes and his ball into the box bounced up for Lawson who cleverly headed past Wallace and into the net to give Lochee the lead.

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The goal was slightly against the run of play as Broxburn had started well.

Lochee looked to capitalise on their early goal and in 18 minutes, Lawson picked out Reid in the Broxburn box.  He turned well but shot straight at Wallace.

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Lawson got to the Broxburn by-line in 19 minutes and cut the ball back for Kirk, but Gavin got across to block his shot.

The home side were having a good spell and Lawson passed to Reid in 22 minutes and he sent a dipping effort at goal which Wallace did very well to get a hand to.

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Broxburn’s Scott brought down Cameron in 23 minutes as he burst down the right and was booked.

Richards found Murray in the Lochee box in 28 minutes, but Millar quickly poked the ball away from danger.

Broxburn’s Richards required treatment in 29 minutes before he could continue.

Davie then required treatment in 36 minutes, with the Lochee player unable to continue.

Lochee won a corner in 37 minutes and Cameron’s cross was headed down by Millar for Lunan, but he fired wide.

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Lawson took the ball down the right for Lochee in 42 minutes and he picked out Cameron on the edge of the box, but his curling shot was well off target.

A mistake by Linton in 43 minutes saw Deasley running in on the Broxburn goal, but Wallace was out quickly to smother at his feet.

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Just before the interval, Miller raced to the Lochee by-line on the right and played the ball across goal for Richards who tapped home from two yards for the equaliser.  Richards was clattered as he scored, and he had only just stopped limping from a previous challenge.

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In injury time, Lawson took the ball forward and played it into the path of Reid on the right hand side of the Broxburn box, but he hammered his shot just over the bar.

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An entertaining half which saw the sides level at the break.  The visitors had started very strongly and Lochee scored against the run of play.  The hosts then started to get a grip of the game and when the equaliser came, it was also against the run of play.

With two minutes of the second half gone, Scott latched onto a loose ball and sent a first time effort just over from 23 yards.

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The visitors were starting the half well again and in 50 minutes Murray got to the by-line on the right and played the ball to Anderson, but he skied his effort.

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Up the other end, Lawson got to the Broxburn by-line in 57 minutes and played a great ball to Birse who saw his shot parried by Wallace, with the ball coming back down into the keeper’s arms.

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In 58 minutes, Lawson’s corner was cleared by the Broxburn defence to the edge of the box where Deasley shot for goal, but it was too high.

Deasley went down off the ball in 59 minutes with Gavin the nearest Broxburn player, but I didn’t see if there had been any contact.

The ball broke to Scott on the edge of the Lochee box in 60 minutes, but he shot straight at Fotheringham.

Lawson played the ball into the Broxburn area in 61 minutes saw Birse lay the ball back to Deasley who rifled a low shot into the net to put Lochee back in front.

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Birse played the ball wide to Cameron on the left in 68 minutes as Lochee came forward.  He crossed into the box looking for Deasley, but Wallace came out of his goal to claim.

Some intricate passing by Lochee in 75 minutes set up Birse, but his low shot was just wide.

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With 78 minutes gone, a good header down by Valentine gave Anderson a sight of the Lochee goal, but he sliced wide.

A minute later, Miller had a go at the Lochee goal from a Murray knock down.  It was a decent hit, but off target.

There was an amusing moment in 81 minutes when Lochee’s McNally headed the ball back to Fotheringham and the ball bounced higher than the keeper was expecting as he went to collect, and it hit him in the face.

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Lawson sent a Lochee free kick into the box from the touchline in 83 minutes which saw Wallace tip the ball over the bar.

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With 5 minutes left, Birse chased a through ball and got there before the advancing Wallace to touch the ball past him, but Townsley got back to clear.

Birse featured again in 88 minutes when he took the ball down the left and sent over a pinpoint cross for Deasley to head in at the back post to wrap up the points for the home side.

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Some good work from Linton in the final minute set up Scott on the edge of the Lochee box and he hit a volley at goal, but it was a comfortable save for Fotheringham.

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A good game between two good teams which kept the attention throughout.  Lochee deserved the win in the end, but Broxburn certainly played their part.

Birse, Lawson and Reid all played well for Lochee and caused problems throughout.  Millar seemed to win everything in defence.  For Broxburn, Scott looked a very good player in midfield, as he always seems to, ably backed up by Linton.  Wallace performed well in goal.

Full Time: Lochee United 3 Broxburn Athletic 1

Admission: £6

Lochee United: 1 Mark Fotheringham, 12 Stephen McNally, 20 Danny Millar, 4 Paul Lunan, 2 Scott Webster, 5 Douglas Cameron, 3 Greg Kirk, 18 Grant Lawson, 7 Logan Davie (Deasley 40), 14 Connor Birse, 16 Jamie Reid. Subs: 13 Mark Stewart, 9 Scott McComiskie, 11 Bryan Deasley, 6 Cammy McMahon, 19 Paddy Deane.

Broxburn Athletic: 1 Connor Wallace, 2 Andrew Gillen, 3 Gordon Donaldson, 4 Grant Gavin, 5 Chris Townsley, 6 Michael Linton, 7 Alexander Murray, 8 Scott Richards (Valentine 70), 9 Alexander Miller, 10 Craig Scott, 12 Anderson. Subs: Shaun Donaghue, Ross Nimmo, 11 Euan Valentine, Ewan Herriot.

Referee: Jordan Curran

Programme: None.

Hibernian Ladies v Rangers Women

Sunday 25 March 2018, 16.00, Ainslie Park

Hibs Ladies against Rangers Women in the Scottish Women’s Premier League Cup Quarter Final.

We had seen Hibs Ladies win at Hearts Women in the previous round and they have only played once since then.  A 2-1 win away to Rangers in the league.  The weather put paid to their scheduled home game with Hamilton Accies.

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The last time we saw Rangers, they were known as Rangers Ladies, changing it to Rangers Women before the start of the 2018 season.  That game, was against Hibs, who won by two goals to nil in November 2017.

Rangers league campaign began with a 3-0 defeat at Celtic, before they won 2-1 at Spartans.  The defeat to Hibs was their last game, with their game against Glasgow City postponed.

Their first round of the cup had seen them beat Motherwell 1-0.

Gers’ manager Amy McDonald has made several new signings for the new season.  Striker Lisa Swanson and goalkeeper Khym Ramsay rejoined the club from Åland United in Finland, twins Jade Gallon, a midfielder and Lauren a defender from Stirling University, forward Carla Boyce from Glasgow City, defender Leah Eddie from Central Girls Academy and goalkeeper Jade Baillie from Celtic.

Around 120 turned up to watch.  The crowd was boosted by some players and officials from Spartans and Glasgow City, who had played one of the other quarter finals at the same venue earlier.

The visitors started in a positive fashion and in the opening minute, Hay got to the by-line on the right, but she could only find the side netting.

Hibs began to take control of possession, but it was Rangers again, in 10 minutes, when a great ball from the left by Sinclair tried to find Boyce in the box.  The ball broke back to Brown, but her shot was wide.

A long ball forward sought out Harrison in 13 minutes, but Muir was able to get the ball back to Ramsay in the Rangers goal.

In 15 minutes, a mistake by Reid in the Hibs goal almost gave Rangers a chance, but Robertson was able to eliminate the danger.

Hibs went straight up the other end and good play by Napier saw her cross put wide.

Smith had a shot from distance in 23 minutes, but Ramsay held on in the Rangers goal.

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Ramsay required lengthy treatment in 24 minutes before she could continue, and it took a full 5 minutes for the game to resume.

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A Hibs corner taken by Brownlie in 34 minutes was sent goalwards and took a deflection off Lauren Gallon before Ramsay pushed the ball away.  It eventually came to Graham who fired over from just outside the box.

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Brownlie put a free kick into the Rangers box in 35 minutes which Ramsay was unable to take under pressure, but the defence got the ball clear.

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Another free kick by Brownlie in 38 minutes was met by the head of Harrison but was well taken by Ramsay.

Rangers’ Brown had to go off for treatment in 39 minutes.

Smith played the ball through for McLauchlan on the edge of the Rangers box in 42 minutes, but her ball across goal was overhit and the chance was gone.

Deep into the extended first half, Turner found some space on the edge of the box but her shot was comfortably saved by Ramsay to ensure Rangers were still level at the break.

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A disappointing first half which had seen the hosts have the vast majority of possession, but the Rangers defence were performing admirably, ably backed up by keeper Ramsay.

Rangers Brown had to succumb to her injury and didn’t reappear for the second half.

In the opening minute of the second period, Turner was tripped on the edge of the Rangers box.  Brownlie took the free kick but Ramsay was there to save again.

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A dangerous looking cross from the right by Hibs McLauchlan in 48 minutes saw the defence struggle to clear and the ball eventually came to McLauchlan again, but her shot was deflected wide.

A Hibs corner in 51 minutes saw Brownlie’s delivery headed over by Notley.

Rangers won a corner of their own in 54 minutes and Muir’s cross came to Jade Gallon on the other side of the box, but her shot was blocked.

Smith burst past Hay in 55 minutes to get to the Rangers by-line and crossed to the near post, but Turner was unable to divert the ball on target.

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Robertson played a good ball to Harrison on the right for Hibs in 56 minutes.  She cut inside before sending a curling shot at goal which Ramsay did well to push away.  Brownlie took a short corner and had the ball played back to her before she sent a cross into the box where Graham rose well to send a powerful header past Ramsay and into the net for the opening goal.

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Hibs were really stepping up the pace now as they tried to kill off the game and the Rangers defence were having problems getting the ball away when McLauchlan had a shot from the edge of the box in 58 minutes which hit team mate Cornet and spun just wide of the post with Ramsay beaten.

A minute later and Harrison’s cross from the left saw Watson get a vital touch with her head to take the ball away from two Hibs players at the back post.

McLauchlan was next to have a go at the Rangers goal, her shot from the corner of the box in 60 minutes going wide of the far post.

Notley crossed into the visitor’s box in 64 minutes and Harrison controlled the ball well on her chest, but her half volley was too high.

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Hibs came forward again in 67 minutes with Michie finding McLauchlan on the right.  Her cross came to Graham, but she had to stretch and could only divert the ball straight at Ramsay.

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Smith was caught by a late tackle in 69 minutes which wasn’t punished by the referee and she was limping heavily for a few minutes.

There was a chance for Napier in the Rangers box in 72 minutes, but her shot on the turn was over the bar.

Rangers Swanson was very close to intercepting a loose pass from Notley in the Hibs area in 77 minutes, but the home side survived.

With three minutes left, a good turn by Jade Gallon on the Hibs by-line got her away from Smith and she hammered the ball across goal, but nobody could get a touch to tap the ball into the net, with Napier inches away from making contact.

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A free kick for Hibs in the final minute was played to Brownlie who crossed first time into the box where Michie side footed just wide.

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A narrow win for the cup holders who took their place in the semi-final.

Hibs would claim not to have been at their best and could well have lost a late equaliser with their inability to kill Rangers off.  They were the better team, but Rangers defended very well throughout and fought hard to stay in the game.

Best for Hibs were Smith, Napier and Brownlie, while Rangers stand outs were Muir, Watson, Lauren Gallon and Ramsay.

Full Time: Hibs Ladies 1 Rangers Women 0

Admission: £5

Hibernian Ladies: 25 Hannah Reid, 24 Emma Brownlie, 16 Ellis Notley, 11 Kirsty Smith, 12 Rachel McLauchlan, 13 Lucy Graham, 6 Lisa Robertson, 18 Katey Turner (Tweedie 81), 3 Jamie-Lee Napier, 19 Chelsea Cornet, 21 Abi Harrison (Michie 65). Subs: 1 Jenna Fife, 7 Lizzie Arnot, 8 Caitlin Michie, 17 Joelle Murray, 27 L Tweedie, 32 Kirsten Reilly.

Rangers Women: 1 Khym Ramsay, 3 Amy Muir, 5 Chelsea Watson, 4 Lauren Gallon, 23 Leah Eddie, 7 Brogan Hay (Robertson 61), 19 Jade Gallon, 20 Hannah Coakley, 14 Hayley Sinclair (Swanson 71), 11 Chantelle Brown (Napier 46), 18 Carla Boyce (Davidson 71). Subs: 10 Lisa Swanson, 12 Hannah Robertson, 9 Lauren Davidson, 15 Terri Donnelly, 8 Holly Napier, Caitlin O’Hara.

Referee: Emma Hingant

Programme: None.

Wishaw Juniors v Kirkintilloch Rob Roy

Saturday 24 March 2018, 14.30, Beltane Park

Wishaw Juniors against Kirkintilloch Rob Roy in the Scottish Junior Cup Quarter Final.

A third sighting of Wishaw Juniors for us this season and a first visit to The Beltane.

It had already been quite a journey for Wishaw in the Junior Cup.  Hampered by a seemingly endless number of postponed ties due to the weather, they were playing catch up in almost every round.

After a first round bye, they faced Arniston Rangers in the second round and won through after a replay.  The third round saw them drawn away to Downfield, which went ahead at the fifth time of asking, and then saw the sides draw in Dundee.  The replay also took five re-scheduled dates before it was played, with Wishaw winning by five goals to one.

Round four saw them paired with Forth Wanderers and they won by a single goal at home after three postponements.  The bad weather continued to hamper their progress in round five, when they won at Yoker Athletic at the third attempt.  Goalkeeper Sandy Thomson scored and saved a penalty in the 3-1 win.

So a quarter final place for the Central District Division One side and our visits had seen us take in their replay at Arniston and the first game against Downfield.  The draw saw them with by far their hardest tie so far on paper, with West Super Premier Division side Kirkintilloch Rob Roy heading to Wishaw.

Manager John Brogan unexpectedly resigned in February with former Hearts striker Derek Holmes taking the reins later that month.

While Wishaw sat in mid table in the league, they had up to ten games in hand on the teams above them and had a great opportunity to challenge for promotion if their form was good.  They also would likely have to play several times a week to catch up on their fixtures.

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It was our first look at Rob Roy this season.  We last saw them in Junior Cup 5th Round action last season, when they won a fantastic game at Penicuik Athletic by four goals to three.

Last season saw them challenging on many fronts and they just missed out on the Premier title, finishing runners-up to Glenafton Athletic.  They fell in the quarter final of the Junior Cup to Bonnyrigg Rose and in the end, only had the Sectional League Cup to show for their efforts.

Their Junior Cup journey this season saw them beat Glenrothes at home in round one, then Carluke Rovers in round two.  The third round saw two postponements before they knocked out holders Glenafton Athletic and there was another postponement before they got past Kennoway Star Hearts.  The fifth round saw them 3-0 down to Linlithgow Rose after half an hour before winning 4-3.

The quarter final was the first time they were drawn away from home.

While Rob Roy have games in hand on all the teams above them as they sit in mid table in the league, they were well behind leaders Kilwinning Rangers.

For the season, Rob Roy made a number of new signings, namely – defenders Michael Moeeis from Kilwinning Rangers and Michael Oliver from Clyde, midfielder Gary McCulloch from Sauchie, attacking midfielder Gary Carroll from Arthurlie and left back Ross Gallacher from Renfrew.

The Beltane became Wishaw’s home in 2010 and has since had a fence erected around the pitch with portacabins housing the dressing rooms, toilets, snack bar and hospitality area.

A big crowd turned out on a bright, sunny day in North Lanarkshire.

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With three minutes gone, a long throw from Coffey into the Rob Roy box saw Dan Kindlan fail to connect with an overhead kick, but it came to McCafferty at the back post, who lashed wide.

Watt found some space on the right for Rob Roy in 4 minutes, but his ball across the face of goal saw none of his team mates there.

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Coffey rose well to flick on a high ball to Smillie in 7 minutes, but Walker quickly challenged to send the ball behind for a corner to the home side which the defence cleared.

The ball dropped to Watt in the Wishaw box in 11 minutes, but he didn’t catch his shot well and Duffy was able to head behind for a fruitless corner.

McCulloch played a ball into the Wishaw box in 12 minutes which found Fraser running in.  He got a foot to it, but the ball went high in the air.  Thomson came out of his goal to challenge but was fouled as he went for it and the whistle blew as Dean Kindlan booted clear.

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Rob Roy broke quickly following a Wishaw corner in 16 minutes and Slattery had a shot at goal from 23 yards which took two deflections before Thomson made a diving save.

Immediately after Rob Roy’s McCulloch didn’t connect well with a clearing header and Coffey latched onto it quickly but was halted by McKenzie.

A minute later Mackie put a dangerous looking cross into the Wishaw box which O’Kane managed to head behind at the back post.

Good defending by Rob Roy’s McKenzie in 22 minutes saw him use his pace to clear the danger after Coffey had played the ball to Smillie on the left of the box.

Dan Kindlan got the break of the ball on half way in 23 minutes and took the ball into the left side of the Rob Roy box.  After several step overs, he curled just wide of the far post with two defenders in front of him.

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The same player featured again in 24 minutes, when his shot from the edge of the box was deflected behind.

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Rob Roy won a corner in 26 minutes and Gallacher’s corner was headed over by Boyle.

Carroll passed wide to Gallacher on the right in 28 minutes and he cut inside before seeing his shot well blocked by McGeough.

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Wishaw’s Dean Kindlan was shown the game’s first yellow card in 30 minutes for a foul on Mackie in the centre circle.

Boyle got his head to another Gallacher corner in 31 minutes but again headed over.

In 32 minutes, Watt played a one-two with Slattery before seeing his drive well stopped by Thomson.  The rebound came out to Slattery whose volley at goal wasn’t too far wide.

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Rob Roy’s Fraser was spoken to by the referee in 34 minutes for dissent but didn’t receive a card.

A loose ball on the edge of the Wishaw box was picked up by Gallacher in 36 minutes, but his shot was too high.

Mackie crossed into the Wishaw area in 42 minutes and Thomson punched clear.

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Dan Kindlan got to the Rob Roy by-line in 43 minutes and his cut back looked perfect for Coffey, but McGeough stretched to get the ball, which was slightly behind him, and shot wide.

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Just before the break Dan Kindlan cut in from the right and shot for goal and the ball struck the hand of a defender.  There were vociferous appeals for a penalty, but it would have been harsh.

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Still goalless at the break and the underdogs had more than matched their more illustrious opponents.  The home side had started particularly well and were causing problems with corners and Coffey’s long throws.  Rob Roy had come more and more into the game as the half progressed but hadn’t been able to get the breakthrough.

The first minute of the second half saw Mackie play a clever ball to McKenzie whose cut back to Gallacher was well saved by Thomson.  The ball came to Fraser, but his shot was headed over by Dean Kindlan.

Burns became the second Wishaw player booked for a foul on half way in 47 minutes.

Dan Kindlan managed to nip in front of Rob Roy’s McKenzie in 49 minutes and took the ball across the edge of the box before entering it on the left-hand side.  He shot for goal although didn’t strike the ball well, but it wrong footed McNeil, who could only watch in horror as the ball rolled into the corner to put the home side in front.

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Big celebrations for the home side which even saw keeper Thomson all the way up the pitch to join in.

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Two minutes after the opener, Rob Roy’s Carroll had the ball in the Wishaw box and went down on the by-line.  With penalty claims from the visitors, and the home side with hearts in mouths, the referee booked him for diving.  Watt was also yellow carded for complaining.  It was hard to see the merits of the decision as there were a lot of bodies in the way from where I was standing.

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A cross into the Rob Roy box in 56 minutes was cleared as far as O’Kane who went for goal from distance, but it was off target.

Wishaw’s McCafferty then had to leave the pitch for treatment with blood pouring from his mouth.

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Gallacher was brought down by a poor Smillie challenge on the right, level with the penalty spot in 57 minutes. The Wishaw player was cautioned.  Gallacher took the free kick himself and found Boyle at the back post, but he was unable to get the ball on target under pressure.

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A patched up McCafferty returned to the fray in 60 minutes wearing the number 22 shirt.

Gallacher passed inside to Fraser in 61 minutes and he showed good feet but his shot from the edge of the box lacked power and was caught by Thomson.

With substitutions punctuating play over the next few minutes, nobody was able to fashion a chance.

Rob Roy won a corner in 74 minutes and for the third time in the match, Boyle headed over from Gallacher’s corner.

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Dan Kindlan passed through the Rob Roy defence for McGeouch on the right in 77 minutes and he fired right across goal, but nobody was able to get a touch.

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A mix-up in the Wishaw box in 81 minutes nearly let Watt in, but Thomson was out quickly to smother.

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Dean Kindlan had an audacious attempt at goal from well inside his own half in 82 minutes when he spotted the Rob Roy keeper off his line, but McNeil had plenty of time to get back and collect.

A through ball from Dean Kindlan in 83 minutes saw Coffey knock the ball past Boyle who unceremoniously brought him down.  The defender was booked.  Although it was well outside the box, he may have been lucky it was just a yellow.

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Gallacher played a free kick into the the Wishaw box in 84 minutes which was touched away by Thomson.  The keeper was limping as he got back to his feet.

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It was nonstop action now and in 85 minutes, a great ball to the back post by McCulloch looked to be right on the head of Fraser for a sure-fire equaliser, but Coffey appeared from nowhere to head over his own bar.

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The resultant corner saw an almighty stramash in the Wishaw box as player after player had a shot at goal only to see a Wishaw player throw themselves at the ball to block.

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With three minutes left, Wishaw broke forward and Collinder fed McCafferty on the left. He played the ball through for McGuire who showed great composure to go around keeper McNeil before lifting the ball over two defenders and into the net to make it two nil.

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Everyone connected with the home team celebrated with abandon.

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In the final minute, McMenamin had a shot at the Wishaw goal from 23 yards, but it was off target.

There were great scenes at the final whistle as Wishaw reached the Junior Cup semi final for the first time since 1935.

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Although Rob Roy had some sustained periods of pressure, it would be hard to grudge Wishaw their win.  They defended like dervishes and threw bodies on the line for the entire game.  It didn’t seem like they would be able to continue that work-rate for the duration, but they did.

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A bad day for Rob Roy who would have been eyeing the trophy as a realistic proposition.

Not easy to single out particular players for the hosts with everyone performing admirably, but Thomson, Burns, Schonville, McGeough, the two Kindlans and Coffey were all outstanding.

On a day when little went right for Rob Roy, their best were Gallacher and McCulloch.

Wishaw Juniors 2 Kirkintilloch Rob Roy 0

Admission: £7

Wishaw Juniors: 1 Sandy Thomson, 2 Andrew Duffy, 5 Neil Schonville, 4 Paul Burns, 3 Liam O’Kane, 7 Dan Kindlan (Collinder 78), 8 Paul McGeough, 6 Dean Kindlan, 10 Joseph McCafferty, 11 James Coffey (Grant 88), 9 Ryan Smillie (McGuire 65).  Subs: 12 Vincent McGuire, 14 Kevin Barry Grant, 15 Michael Collinder, 16 Christopher Martin, 17 Chris MacIntyre.

Kirkintilloch Rob Roy: 1 Steven McNeil, 2 Scott Walker, 4 Gary McCulloch, 5 Daniel Boyle, 3 Daniel McKenzie, 7 Lee Gallacher, 8 Joe Slattery (McMenamin 64), 6 Shaun Fraser, 11 Gavin Mackie (Hughes 72), 12 Gary Carroll (Sawyers 53), 10 Kevin Watt.  Subs: 9 William Sawyers, 14 Michael Morris, 15 Connor Hughes, 16 Stefan Law, 17 Gary McMenamin.

Referee: Lloyd Wilson

Programme: £1

Lothian Hutchison Vale v Vale of Leithen

Wednesday 21 March 2018, 19.30, Saughton Enclosure

Lothian Hutchison Vale against Vale of Leithen in the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup semi-final.

Incredibly, it’s Hutchie’s first home game since we were last there to see them beat Kelty Hearts in the League Cup Semi Final on 14 February.  Their pitch has taken a real beating with the inclement weather and their groundshare with Tynecastle has meant that the pitch hasn’t had much of an opportunity to recover.

This hit particularly hard at the weekend, when the scheduled visit of the Groundhoppers for their evening game with tenants Tynecastle was postponed, and the benefits of a larger than usual crowd was scuppered.

They last had a game on 10 March when they won an East of Scotland League game at Leith Athletic.  Still unbeaten in the league, they are vying with the also unbeaten Kelty Hearts for the title.

Hutchie’s route to the semi-final had seen them win 7-5 after extra time at Gala Fairydean Rovers before beating University of Stirling and Hawick Royal Albert.  All teams from the Lowland League, the one above them in the pyramid.

It was the first time we had seen Vale of Leithen since their Lowland League game in August against Edinburgh University.  The win that day had been one of only 6 in the league in the 23 games they had played, losing 15, and they sat in second bottom place.  Fourteen points clear of the seemingly doomed Hawick Royal Albert, they looked safe from relegation, but would be looking to improve their position over the weeks ahead.

Their last game had seen the team lose narrowly at East Stirlingshire.

Vale’s run to the semi-final had seen them knock out Preston Athletic and Tynecastle, both from the East of Scotland League, after a first round bye.  While Hutchie were also from that league, they would be a much more difficult proposition.

Since our last visit, a small covered enclosure has been built on one side of the pitch.  A much needed protection from the always windy ground.

We had attended the other semi-final, which saw East Kilbride triumph at Spartans.

It was amusing to see a couple of the Hutchie subs take part of the Vale bench before the game and move it to their bench, so they all had a seat.

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Around 75 turned up on a very blowy evening.

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With 6 minutes gone, Brown passed to O’Donnell, who returned the ball.  He crossed to the back post for Swanson who headed across goal, but the Vale defence cleared.

Vale’s Dawson burst into the Hutchie box on the left in 7 minutes, but the flag went up for offside.

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Back up the other end a minute later and O’Donnell played the ball through for Murray, but McBride did well to take the ball away from the striker.

Patterson put a dangerous looking cross into the Hutchie box in 11 minutes which was well taken low down by Swain with Dawson lurking.

A Vale free kick from half way in 13 minutes was played into the box by Allan and Swain failed to gather under challenge, but Munro headed clear.

Liall Smith crossed from the left in 14 minutes which saw Swain get a hand to it, only to see the ball come off the post, but the home defence cleared.

Good link up play on the right for Hutchie in 15 minutes involving Hare and Swanson saw the ball played back to Moore and his cross was fired goalwards by Murray, but Gilpin was able to parry.

Vale’s Brady was down injured in 16 minutes but resumed after treatment.

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In 20 minutes Murray played a good ball to Swanson on the right and he showed some fine skill before dinking the ball into the Vale box for Muir.  He didn’t get the run of the ball though and the defence cleared.

Brady had to succumb to his injury and his replacement moved into the centre of defence with Alasdair Smith moving to left back.

A Vale corner taken by Liall Smith in 21 minutes was punched clear by Swain.

O’Donnell was caught by Vale’s Lynch in 24 minutes, who was shown a yellow card.  Brown curled the free kick into the box where it was met by the head of McGregor, but he nodded just wide.

Murray managed to get to the Vale by-line in 26 minutes, but his low cross was taken low by Gilpin.

Hutchie came forward again in 27 minutes and O’Donnell cut in from the left before showing good close control to create some space.  He then smashed a shot past Gilpin and into the net to give the hosts the lead.

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A Hutchie corner in 29 minutes saw Swanson’s cross met with a downward header from Munro, but it was straight at Gilpin.

Liall Smith managed to get a shot away at the edge of the Hutchie box in 30 minutes, but it was deflected wide.

O’Donnell was booked for Hutchie in 31 minutes for what appeared to be dissent.

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Hutchie’s Brown picked out Hare on the right in 32 minutes and he took the ball into the box before slicing his shot wide.

With 35 minutes gone, Muir crossed to the back post where McGregor headed the ball across goal for Murray, who challenged for the ball, but it squirmed wide of the Vale goal.

Muir had to get treatment for a knock in 41 minutes, but the Hutchie player was quickly back on.

Murray ran onto a through ball in 42 minutes and passed inside for Swanson.  With two defenders close by, he couldn’t get a decent shot away and it ran through to Gilpin.

The home side a goal in front at the interval and they just about deserved the lead.

Three minutes into the second half Vale’s Dawson was cautioned for catching Munro with a raised elbow in an aerial challenge.

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Liall Smith crossed into the Hutchie box in 51 minutes, but it was just too high for Patterson.

Vale’s Allan was the next to go in the referee’s book after taking out Hare as he burst down the wing in 53 minutes.

Swanson’s free kick into the Vale box in 55 minutes was headed away to the edge of the box where Brown fired the ball back at goal only to see it go narrowly past the post.

Hutchie’s Muir went off in 56 minutes looking like he had hurt his knee.

Lynch set up Hunter just outside the Hutchie box in 56 minutes but his shot was too high.

A free kick for the home side in 57 minutes was taken by Brown and the curling ball picked out Munro whose downward header from close range found the net to make it 2-0.

Vale tried to strike back with their own set piece opportunity in 62 minutes when Patterson’s free kick was headed at goal by McBride, but Munro cleared the ball off the line.  The rebound was fired over.

Another free kick for the visitors in 64 minutes saw Allan’s cross headed at goal by Dawson, but Swain did well to turn the ball around the post.

Wringe was sent through on the Vale goal in 67 minutes. But he shot over the bar.

In 70 minutes, McGregor shot at the Vale goal from distance.  It was a decent strike and couldn’t have been too far away.

A shot from Vale’s Patterson in 71 minutes took a slight nick and almost sneaked in at the post.

Hare received the ball in a bit of space on the corner of the Vale box in 72 minutes, but his shot at goal was high and wide.

The same player was booked a minute later after giving a foul away as he raised his hands to block a cross.  He may have complained about the award to get his card.

Dawson caught Hutchie’s McGregor in 80 minutes and was shown his second yellow card before the red.  He wasn’t happy with the decision and was shouting at McGregor to “get up”, but he had to go.

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Just 60 seconds after the sending off, Swanson took the ball into the Vale box and was tripped by Lewis.  Penalty.  Swanson took it himself and sent Gilpin the wrong way to make it three.

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Hutchie’s number 14 put Wringe through on goal in 85 minutes, but he was given offside.

With three minutes to go, McGregor intercepted a pass from Stewart and passed wide to Hare.  His ball into the box came to McGregor, but his shot was blocked.

A comfortable win for Hutchie who were the better side and deserved their win.  With them likely to be playing three games a week for the foreseeable future due to postponements, the win meant another game, but it would be a final.

Vale huffed and puffed but were unable to get a foothold in the game.

Muir, Brown, Munro and Crawford stood out for the home side while Stewart and Liall Smith were Vale’s best performers on the night.

Full Time: Lothian Hutchison Vale 3 Vale of Leithen 0

Admission: £5

Lothian Hutchison Vale: 1 Kenny Swain, 2 Dylan Moore, 4 Paul Crawford, 5 Grant Munro, 3 Liam O’Donnell, 7 Willis Hare, 10 Connor McGregor, 6 Tony Muir (Wringe 56), 8 Kevin Brown, 11 Louis Swanson (12 83), 9 Keith Murray (14 82).  Subs: 12 ? 14 ?, 15 Sean Wringe

Vale of Leithen: 1 Ross Gilpin, 2 Aaron Lewis, 4 Alasdair Smith, 5 Craig McBride, 3 Ross Brady (Lynch 20), 7 Thomas Patterson, 8 Kerr Allan, 6 Ainslie Hunter, 11 Liall Smith (Raiker 63), 10 Cameron Dawson, 14 Sean Stewart.  Subs: 12 Brad Raiker, 15 Steven Lynch.

Referee: Stewart Luke

Programme: None.

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