Wednesday 13 July 2016, 19.00, Peffermill

Third game in consecutive nights sees us take in Lowland League Edinburgh University against East Superleague side Musselburgh Athletic.

Edinburgh Uni have their own pitch in part of the 27-acre site just a couple of miles away from Edinburgh city centre.  As well as Edinburgh University FC, the site is the home to the National Hockey Academy, several cricket, rugby and football pitches and has been the home to several competitions, including the Lacrosse Home Nations, the Scotland Aussie Rules Football Cup, International rugby training for South Africa, the All Blacks and Australia, etc etc.

The ground was officially opened last season, with the pitch rotated 90 degrees, a new perimeter fence installed and a seated enclosure for 100 put in place.

Musselburgh Athletic flirted with various names before their formation in 1934, including Musselburgh Bruntonians, Musselburgh Juniors and Musselburgh Fern since 1898.

They won the Junior Cup in 1923 and have been runners up in 2011 and in 2014. They are an established side in the East Superleague but have been a victim of their 2014 success with many of their players moving over the last two summers.

New manager Calvin Shand has recruited Kevin McDonald, a former club captain, as his assistant manager.  Shand spent last season as assistant at Linlithgow Rose.  It’s not been an easy start for the new management duo.  The club retained just one player, Jed Davie, from last season’s squad, so a lot of new faces have made their way to Olivebank.

Sean Murphy has signed from Leith Athletic, while John McManus, Alistair Forster, Gary Cherrie and David Dunn have all signed from Newtongrange Star.  Linlithgow Rose’s Chris Gray and, from Dalkeith Thistle, Connor Spowart.  Goalkeeper Kieron Renton, strikers Conor Thomson and Ewan Ralton, and Michael Moffat have all returned to the club.   Sean Murphy has also signed from Leith Athletic, where he was the East of Scotland League player of the year last season.

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The recently developed facilities at Peffermill are impressive, so I am disappointed when we arrive that the game isn’t in their ground, and will be on one of the 3G pitches instead.  This is doubly annoying as it means the café will not be open and the legendary cakes provided there absent.  This also means that we miss the start and as we entered the viewing area, Musselburgh took the lead.

Thomson played the ball into the feet of Spowart.  The ball broke to Murphy who sidestepped a defender before striking the ball early past the keeper into the net.  There was seven minutes gone.

Despite my best efforts, I have been unable to get the Uni team.

Guthrie turned well in the Musselburgh box in the 9th minute and laid the ball off for 4, but his effort was blocked.

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Former Newtongrange Star striker Kris Renton, newly signed for Cowdenbeath, was in the crowd watching his brother in goals for Musselburgh.

Uni’s number 6 played a good ball wide to number 7 in the 28th minute and his through ball found Guthrie, but his shot was well saved by Renton.

A bad mistake by Cherrie in 33 minutes gave Uni a great chance, with Daniels-Yeoman clean through.  With just the keeper to beat, he put his shot wide.

In 37 minutes, Dunn played a great crossfield ball to Spowart, who crossed into the box and found Murphy, who tried a clever flick which came back off the post and wide.

With five minutes to half time, Uni drew level.  Uni’s number 11 passed forward to Guthrie, who sent the ball into the box for Daniels-Yeoman who turned quickly and fired into the bottom corner.

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A minute later and Musselburgh almost went back in front.  Gray’s cross found the head of Murphy who got to the ball before Tait and his header hit the bar and bounced over.

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Seven substitutions for Uni at half time.

Two minutes into the second half, a cross from the right into Uni’s box was deflected across the face of goal and spun past defenders to the far post where King headed in to give the away side the lead once again.

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With 70 minutes gone, Uni’s number 11 played the ball across goal and Evans was inches away from making contact right in front of goal.

There were around 80 watching from the sidelines, but heavy rain meant there was about half that midway through the second half.  Only those with a jacket and or an umbrella were left.  Scottish summer strikes again.

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Moffat chipped up the ball in Uni’s box in 78 minutes for Lynch to strike, but his volley found the side netting.

Musselburgh were looking to finish the game off at this stage and a good move ended with Lynch playing the ball into McCulloch’s feet, who laid it off to Moffat, but his shot was well over the bar.

With three minutes left, Ralton crossed into the Uni box and the ball fell to McCulloch who hit his shot into the ground, which deceived the keeper and found the net to wrap things up for Musselburgh.

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Hard to gauge from this game much about either side for the new season, particularly the University side, with so many changes.  Their number 5 looked good in defence.  A very new Musselburgh side, and I was most impressed with Gray at left back.

Despite the perceived nature of friendlies lacking effort, you couldn’t accuse either side of not giving their all.

Full Time: Edinburgh University 1 Musselburgh Athletic 3

Admission: Free.

Edinburgh University: 1 Mark Tait (21 45), 2 Fraser (5 57), 3 (14 45), 4, 5 (15 45), 6 Finn Daniels-Yeoman (12 45), 7 (16 45), 8 (17 45), 9 Jack Guthrie (18 45) ,10 Nathan Evans (9 76), 11 Mikey. 21 Callum 12, 14 JC, 16, 17, 18.

Musselburgh Athletic: 1 Kieron Renton, 2 John McManus, 3 Matty Lynch, 4 David Dunn, 5 Chris Gray, 15 Conor Thomson, 7 Sean Murphy (Moffat 45), 8 Gary Cherrie, 16 Connor Spowart (Ralton 45), 10 Matti King (McCulloch 58), 11 Jed Davie.  Subs: 21 Steven Fergus, 9 Scott McCulloch, 14 Michael Moffat, 17 Ewan Ralton.

Referee: ?

Programme: None.

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