Saturday 2 July 2016, 15.00, Yarrow Park

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A first friendly of the new season with Lowland League Selkirk up against Caledonian League side Thorn Athletic. Selkirk player-manager and former Scotland International signed a contract extension to stay at Selkirk for another year. He’s been busy in the close season, although he has several players missing today due to holidays.

Lowland League side Selkirk are the oldest club in the Borders, having been established in 1880 and have certainly had their ups and downs since then. They have had many years taking part in the Scottish Cup, including famously losing 20-0 to Stirling Albion in 1984.

The Souters had many different grounds in their early years before settling on Ettrick Park in 1906 where they stayed until 2000, when they moved to their present home.  A founder member of the Lowland League in season 2013/14, they finished a disappointing twelfth out of 14 last season.  At the start of the 2015–2016 season, they announced Scottish football’s first ever poet in residence, Thomas Clark.

Thorn Athletic are an amateur team based in Johnstone who ended a six year wait last season when they were crowned Caledonian League First Division 1B champions. The club lost one of their 18 league games in taking the title.

I have been unable to get complete names and numbers for the teams, so let me know if anyone can help!

There are around 35 in attendance.

The traditional Scottish summer weather makes an appearance five minutes in as the heavens open.

Both sides tried long range efforts in the opening exchanges, but nothing to trouble the keepers.

Addison had a good run for Selkirk in the 25th minute and cut inside before he drew a decent save from McWilliams in the Thorn goal at full stretch.

A minute later, Selkirk took the lead.  A ball across goal caught out the defence and found Addison and Nicholson at the back post.  The former got the ball stuck between his legs and it fell for Nicholson who slammed the ball into the empty net for a debut goal.

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Both teams made early substitutions in the 27th minute, with McMahon limping off for Thorn.

It sounds as if Father Ted’s Mrs Doyle was on the bench for Thorn as there were lots of shouts of “go on” throughout the match.

With three minutes to half time, Devine was through for Thorn and his shot was half blocked by the keeper.  The ball came back to the striker, but Pyper managed to deflect the ball behind.

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To add to the earlier rain, there was a very strong wind.  I’m not sure how long it took to get there, but it was July when we left.

McMahon returned to the fray for Thorn after his earlier substitution.

Thorn started the second half strongly and a header by McGowan from McMahon’s cross went narrowly over in 49 minutes.

At the other end, a cross by Nicholson found sub Fleming at the back post, but his header was cleared off the line in 55 minutes.

Terry made a mess of a clearance in 57 minutes and Thorn’s number 18 would have scored, but lost his footing at the crucial moment.

Selkirk’s number 3 found Scott in 58 minutes, but McWilliams saved his shot.

Thorn grabbed a deserved equaliser in 61 minutes.  A quick throw-in caught out the home side and McMahon’s back header beat Terry to level up the score.

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The side from Johnstone looked the more likely at this point and their number 18 had a shot deflected wide in 74 minutes before the same player put another effort wide three minutes later.

The stand side linesman told a player from each side who were holding each other to “cut it out the pair of you” in 83 minutes.  So that was them told.

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

A nice turn by Nicholson in 87 minutes gave him a chance, but he shot too high at the Thorn goal.

With 2 minutes to go, Addison played the ball wide to Neave on the left, who found Addison at the front post and he turned the ball into the net to give the home side a late winner.

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Harsh on Thorn who had more than matched their opponents, particularly in the second half.  A competitive game and one which I was impressed with the away team.  Selkirk have several players to come into the side, but Addison was a standout, his footwork and trickery being a constant thorn in Thorn’s side.

Full Time: Selkirk 2 Thorn Athletic 1.

Admission £5

Selkirk. 1 Dan Terry, 2 Jamie Pyper, Jack Moyes, C McDiarmid, James Harley, 5 B Fairgrieve (Stuart Fleming 27), 9 Fraser Neave, 7 Gary Nicholson, 8 Ryan Scott (S Flowden 86), 10 Ross King (16 G McCormack 75), 13 Phil Addison.

Thorn Athletic: 1 Liam McWilliams, 2 Kyle Anderson, 3 Darren Lamont, 4 Stuart McCann (15 50), 5 Donny Morrison, 6 John McLister (14 45), 7 Liam Allen (18 45), 8 Connor McGowan (Allen 76), 9 Jordan Devine, 10 John Hay, 11 Craig McMahon (16 68). Subs: 12, 14, 15, 16, 18

Referee: George Calder.

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