Wednesday 10 August 2016, 19.00, Newbyres Park
Midweek in the East of Scotland Premier League and a clash between Arniston Rangers and Haddington Athletic.
Second viewing of the season of Arniston after seeing them play in the Preston Athletic Tournament and their first league match after their opponents on the opening day, Falkirk Juniors, were unable to field a team and have since ceased to exist.
Opponents Haddington Athletic started their league campaign at Forfar West End on the previous Saturday and came back to East Lothian with a point in a 1-1 draw.
Nicknamed the Hi-His, Haddington Athletic were founded in 1939 and in their first two seasons won the Fife and Lothians Cup and the East of Scotland Cup and the Thornton Shield twice. A poor start to the 50s was turned around and they won a league and cup double in 1956-57. A move from their original ground Brewery Park in 1969 saw them settle in at Millfield, right next to their current ground of the same name.
They have spent the majority of their time since the 70s in the second division of the East set up, with just 8 seasons in the top league. Things have been looking up in recent seasons with promotion to the Premier League from the East Region South Division as champions and a fifth place finish in the Premier League last year under the stewardship of manager Johnny Harvey. He left in the summer to join Penicuik Athletic along with several of the players and Brian Johnston and Kevin Twaddle have been appointed co-managers with little time to replace those who departed.
New signings for the season ahead are keeper Sinclair Inglis from Tranent, defenders George Cunningham from Ormiston, Willie Kidd from Dalkeith Thistle, Ross Larner from Leith Athletic and Darren McGrath and Craig Wojtowycz from Tranent. New midfielders are Yusi Bernawi from Gilmerton Amateurs, Chris Cairney, Andy Jones, Alan Morgan and Dean Woods from Ormiston and Kieran Ingram on loan from Berwick Rangers and striker Chris Robertson from Edinburgh United. Nineteen-year-old right back Euan Bauld signed on a month’s loan from Berwick on the day of the game.
There were around 75 in attendance on a filthy night in Gorebridge. Yet another Scottish summer night.
With nine minutes gone, Arniston’s Kataleza was the victim of a late tackle, but the referee played advantage and Jeffrey played the ball down the right to Langdale whose cross into the front post was expertly flicked in by Moffat under pressure from a Haddington defender to put the hosts in front.
Haddington broke quickly after an Arniston corner in 13 minutes and Devlin played a great crossfield ball to Robertson, who shot powerfully for goal, but it was too close to Cornet in goal.
There was a penalty claim by Haddington after 15 minutes when a player from each side went down, but it looked outside the box anyway from where I was.
In 19 minutes, a ball from the right by Haddington’s Hill came back off the bar with Cornet looking worried.
Hill put another cross in two minutes later and Robertson got his head to it, but it was a bit too high for him and he couldn’t get his effort on target.
Nice football by the home side in 25 minutes ended with Langdale crossing to Thomson, who had a free header, but couldn’t direct it away from Amos.
Haddington were breaking at speed and in 26 minutes they did again as Robertson went down the left wing, but Amos managed to smother his low cross.
A snap shot by Kateleza in 33 minutes hit the sidenetting, but must have taken a deflection as a corner was given, which came to nothing.
With three minutes to half time, Kateleza ran on to an Arniston through ball and from the edge of the box, thundered a magnificent shot into the top corner for his side’s second goal of the game.
Just before half time, Arniston came forward again and Deland ran down the left before cutting inside and trying to curl into the far corner, but the ball took a deflection and went wide of the far post.
Arniston created the first chance of the second half with Langdale passing to Kateleza who fed Thomson. His powerful shot was just too high with Amos a spectator.
In 57 minutes, Moffat’s strike from the edge of the box was pushed away by Amos. Kateleza was first to the ball and crossed back into the Haddington box where Cunningham nearly put through his own goal.
Haddington were well on top at this point, but the home defence was holding up well.
With Haddington committing more players forward, it was inevitable that Arniston would have a chance on the break, and it came in 71 minutes. Moffat, Kateleza and Jeffrey found themselves against two Haddington defenders, but Jeffrey misplaced his pass and the chance was gone.
Fairnie had a strike from distance in 72 minutes as Haddington continued to put the pressure on, but it was a comfortable save for Cornet.
Nice play by Haddington in 87 minutes and Robertson found Fairnie in the box, but he shot straight at Cornet.
With a minute left, Haddington finally got some reward with Larner running into the box and the ball breaking to Woods, who struck the ball high into the net.
Deep into injury time, Woods cut in from the left and as the home defence charged across to him, he hammered it into the net for an incredible equaliser right at the death.
A great game in terrible conditions and great credit goes to Haddington for never giving up and getting the point they deserved in the end. Arniston must be kicking themselves that they were two up with a minute left and didn’t get the three points.
Arniston were impressive in the first half, but rested on their laurels too much in the second half and were punished for it. Haddington were never out of the game and controlled the second half. Once all the new signings settle in they can only get better and both teams will be hoping for a successful season.
One booking each, for Arniston’s Moffat and Haddington’s Fairnie, which wasn’t bad given the conditions.
Berry was impressive for Haddington in the middle of the park and Thomson was equally impressive in Arniston’s midfield.
Full Time: Arniston Rangers 2 Haddington Athletic 2
Arniston Rangers: 1 Dale Cornet, 2 David Jeffrey, 3 Michael Deland, 4 Declan Brady, 5 Nicky Faulds, 6 Darren McTernan, 7 Michael Langdale, 8 Danny Thomson (? 84), 9 Kevin Moffat, 10 Lumbert Kateleza, 11 Porteous. Subs: 12 Scott Lucas, 14 Greig Callaghan, 15 Meaney, 16 Richie McCaul, 17 Andy Ritchie.
Haddington Athletic: 1 Liam Amos, 2 Euan Bauld, 3 Craig Wojtowycz, 4 George Cunningham, 5 Willie Kidd, 6 Kieran Ingram, 7 Bob Berry, 8 Shaun Hill (Fairnie 55), 9 Chris Robertson, 10 Paul Devlin (Larner 80), 11 Scott Wright (Woods 66). Subs: 12 Michael Fairnie, 14 Alan Morgan, 15 Ross Larner, 16 Dean Woods, 17 Darren McGrath.
Referee: Ryan Lee