Sunday 17 July 2016, Swan Cup

The second day of the Swan Cup hosted by Tranent Juniors. The four teams involved are Preston Athletic, Berwick Rangers Under 20s, Crossgates Primrose, and Tranent.

The Swan Cup is Tranent Juniors’ annual (well I was there last year too) pre-season tournament, where they invite three other clubs for the two-day event.

The first games took place the day before and saw Tranent beat Preston Athletic 5-2, while Berwick Rangers edged out Crossgates 3-2. Today sees yesterday’s beaten teams play for 3rd spot, while the winners play for the Swan Cup.  The early kick off (12.30) therefore sees Crossgates Primrose up against Preston Athletic.

Crossgates Primrose are based in the village of Crossgates, near Dunfermline.  Established in 1926, the club play their home games at Humbug Park.

They are members of the Scottish Junior Football Association and play in the East Region, South Division. “The Rose” was where the career of legendary Scottish International Jim Baxter began his career.  The club folded in 1960, but reformed again in 1983.  They spent November 2015 to April 2016 in abeyance due to a lack of committee members.  They are returning to competitive action this season.

In May, Crossgates announced that Andy Brown had been appointed their new manager.  Andy has coached at Hearts, Motherwell and Edinburgh City.

Preston Athletic were founded in 1945, and were originally a junior club, only entering the senior ranks in 1994, when they joined the East of Scotland Football League.

They took over the pitch vacated by the recently defunct Prestongrange Rovers upon their inception, but moved in 1950 to one vacated by Thorntree United. The club was made up almost entirely by the local mining community and in the early 1960s the nearby Colliery was closed and they were on the move again and this time settled at its present home, Pennypit Park.

The Club turned Senior in 1994 and joined the East of Scotland Football League. A year later they applied for and were accepted as a member of The Scottish Football Association.  They became the first team from East Lothian to play in the Scottish Cup in 2002, when they lost 1-0 to Hamilton Accies and have featured several more times since then.

It’s an ambitious club and they have three times applied to join the Scottish Football League, but have been unsuccessful. They were one of the original members of the Lowland League.

Preston manager Craig Nisbet has had a complete overhaul of his squad during the close season, with very few remaining from last year’s campaign.  Four of the new faces come from Preston’s own Under 20 side, who won the league and cup double last year.  Preston will be hoping the new players can gel quickly and improve on last season’s second bottom finish.

Since my visit to Foresters Park last year, there is a new trailer serving food in the ground.

New Penicuik Athletic manager Johnny Harvey is in attendance.

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In the opening minute, McNeill broke down the right for Primrose and his cross found the head of Forbes in the middle, whose header flew in to the top corner to give his side the lead.

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With 5 minutes gone, Summers played a good ball to send Ritchie through.  He sidestepped a defender and his shot was well saved by Wilson, but the ball fell to Muir who slid it home, despite the efforts of Gray on the line.

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Callan has a poor kick out in 7 minutes straight to Erskine and the Primrose player chests the ball down and strikes for goal, but the keeper redeems himself with a good save.

Glen put a free kick into the Primrose box  in 12 minutes which went right across the face of goal and just needed a touch, but it was past the goal when Ritchie arrived and he could only hit the side netting.

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Although I hadn’t noticed, there were no corner flags in place until a bloke walked round the pitch putting them in after 13 minutes.  A bit early in the match to be flagging (sorry).

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In 22 minutes, McNeil has an opportunity for Primrose after an attempt to clear by a Preston defender came back off the arse of a fellow defender, but Callan managed to block.

Preston’s Park latched onto a loose ball in 28 minutes, but his shot from just outside the box was just too high.

A good ball by Preston’s Park in 32 minutes was headed down by Ritchie, but Wilson was out quickly to get there just before Erskine.

Knight had a go at the Preston goal from 25 yards in 36 minutes and it clipped the bar and went over with Callan well beaten.

With 39 minutes gone, Preston attacked with Barclay playing the ball down the right to Muir who slid to keep the ball in and cross in one movement.  It came to the feet of Ritchie who turned and poked the ball home to give Preston the lead.

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Primrose almost grabbed a quick leveler in the next minute when Devaney took a pass from Forbes on the half volley, but it went just wide.

Park broke forward for Preston in 44 minutes and he had Shave on his right in acres of space and with a clear run to goal.  He decided to go himself from 22 yards and his shot flew into the bottom corner to make it three -one.  Shave was clearly ready to have a go at him for not passing, but made do with “Kenny you lucky f*ck”.

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Right on half time, Shave did get his chance when he ran onto a through ball and lobbed the advancing Wilson to make it four.

It had been a very even game after the lightning start, and the Primrose defence seemed to fall to bits in the last few minutes of the half.  Entertaining, but didn’t really feel like three goals between the sides.

A stramash in the Primrose box in 47 minutes ended with a good save by Wilson, although it was unclear who had struck for goal.

Primrose looked to have got back into the game in 52 minutes when Stark took the ball from Rogers and ran on and finished well past Callan to make it 4-2.

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A bit of a lull in goalmouth action took place after this, with four stops for substitutions in the next eight minutes.  Readers of previous reports will know this is a pet hate of mine in friendlies.  Why not make them at the same time?

Erskine made space for himself in the Primrose box despite the presence of No5 in 65 minutes, but he shot well over the bar.

Forbes beat the Preston offside trap in 66 minutes, but with just Callan to beat, he couldn’t get past the keeper’s knee.

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Some good play by Forbes in 68 minutes and he attempted to curl the ball in, but it went wide.  It looked close from where I was.

Muir mishit a Preston corner in 71 minutes and the ball entered the box at a low trajectory.  Somehow, everyone at the front post missed it and Erskine tapped in at the back post to restore Preston’s three goal lead.

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Muir had to go off after the corner, looking as though he had stubbed his toe.

Wilson made a spectacular save in 74 minutes to prevent a sixth for Preston from Millard’s rifled shot.

A fabulous pass by Stark picked out Hyslop in 77 minutes, but he was thwarted by a magnificent tackle by Preston’s Summers to deny him a chance to score.

In 78 minutes, Rogers tries to play a ball forward, but miscued and kicked the ball into touch.  He was quick to apologise to his team mate saying “You gave us an option, it was just a shite ‘ba”.  You can’t fault his honesty.

A great effort from Stark in 82 minutes goes just wide of the Preston goal and then at the other end in 88 minutes, Ritchie had a decent chance for Preston, but he skied his attempt.

An entertaining game and some good finishing by Preston.  Great effort by Crossgates and they never gave up and were a bit unlucky to lose by three goals.  Both teams played some good stuff.  Summers caused problems for the Primrose defence in the first half on the right wing and the right winger for Primrose, Stark, was very good.

Full Time: Crossgates Primrose 2 Preston Athletic 5

Admission: £4 (which covered both games)

Crossgates Primrose: 1 Robert Wilson (19 Trialist 61), 2 Trialist, 3 Conor Gray (Knight 75), 4 Jordan Clark (McKenzie 54), 5 Trialist, 6 Ayden Knight (Cameron 61), 7 Stephen Stark, 8 Scott Hope (McOmish 45), 9 Scott Devaney (Hyslop 57), 10 Jamie McNeill (17 29), 11 Liam Forbes. Subs: 12 Liam McOmish, 14 Donald Hyslop, 15 Jordan Cameron, 16 Jordan McKenzie, 17 ? 19 Trialist.

Preston Athletic: 1 Bruce Callan (Forsyth 45), 2 Greg Summers, 3 Kieran Glen, 4 Brandon Cameron, 15 Josh Rogers, 12 Kenny Park (Millard 57), 8 Scott Barclay, 7 Lewis Muir (Park 73), 9 Neil Shave (Millard 62), 10 Stuart Ritchie, 11 Kenny Erskine. Subs: 14 Gary Millard, 16 Reece Cochrane, 13 Ryan Forsyth

Referee: Mark Rennie

Programme: None.

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