Saturday 7 January 2017, 13.45, New Murrayfield Park
A return to Junior football after the short festive break and it’s in the East Region South Division as Blackburn United take on Easthouses Lily Miners Welfare.
It’s our first visit to Blackburn United and it’s a very tidy setup. The club moved to a new ground in 2013, adjacent to their former home of Murrayfield Park that is still used by the club’s youth teams. The covered enclosure was moved to the new ground from the old and the newly built pavilion includes a kitchen with a hatch to sell food and drink. A 3G playing surface was added in November 2015 and there are also floodlights. You can’t help being reminded of Dunbar United and Spartans in terms of the look of the place.
The whole facility also boasts two further 11-a-side pitches and two 7-a-side pitches.
The local factory of British Leyland was situated near Blackburn, which is why the Leyland United team formed in 1974 ended up with Murrayfield Park as their home. They took over from New Blackburn Athletic as the town’s team. The Leyland side played in the East of Scotland Welfare League.
Some locally based players left Leyland to form their own side, Blackburn United Welfare. Leyland United folded in 1977 whilst Blackburn United was officially formed in 1978 when the welfare side merged with Blackburn Thistle. After investment in their home, they joined the Junior Football Association in the summer of 1980.
Promotion in the mid eighties saw two seasons in the top flight, but there hasn’t been much in the way of success.
The Club are the main entity within the Blackburn United Community Football Club, a fully accredited SFA Community Club which, in addition to the adult side, also caters for football at all ages from under-9 to under-21 as well as ladies, girls and special needs football. For those of an even younger age there is a soccer school with its own dedicated coaches.
Blackburn sit top of the league and have only lost once.
A third viewing of Easthouses Lily Miners Welfare who sit in mid table.
A trip to the food hatch before kick off revealed that “spicy lentil” was the soup of the day, but it wasn’t ready yet as the woman behind the counter had turned the wrong ring on, on the hob.
There were around 80 at the game.
The home side had the first sight of goal in the fourth minute when Donnelly’s through ball found Andy McQuillan running through on goal. He beat Taylor to the ball but could only hit the side netting from a tight angle.
In 8 minutes, Lawrie was brought down by Barrie as he carried the ball forward on the half way line for Blackburn, but the referee made do with giving the Lily defender a telling off.
Moffat picked up the game’s first yellow card in 13 minutes for bringing down Swan as Blackburn came forward. From the free kick, Young’s cross picked out the head of McQuillan for a free header, but Lily managed to block. The ball came out to Young whose ball back into the middle saw Drummond flash a header just over the bar.
Swan took the ball down the left for United in 16 minutes and his cross from the by-line went over the head of Taylor but there were no takers.
The home side continued to press and in 17 minutes Donnelly laid the ball back to Lawrie on the edge of the box and he rifled a shot just too high.
McQuillan was put through on goal in 19 minutes and finished well for Blackburn, but the flag was up.
With no officials running the line, it was the traditional arrangement where an official from each club acts as linesman and are universally ignored by the man in black. Even so, it was unusual to hear a linesman say “Come on to fuck” as the Lily representative did in the 23rd minute.
In 27 minutes, McQuillan played the ball through for Spence. The Blackburn midfielder ran onto the ball and struck goalwards as he reached the box. Taylor got a hand to it, but couldn’t keep it out and United were in front.
A minute later Shearer showed great feet in the Blackburn box to create space and fire in a shot. Keeper McQuillan stuck a foot out and somehow managed to divert the ball up and against the bar before the defence cleared.
Russell went into the book in 39 minutes for bringing down Swan. The Blackburn winger being the player fouled for both bookings.
Blackburn attacked again in 41 minutes and Marshall played the ball inside to Mildren. He let fly from 20 yards but Taylor made a great save to prevent the ball going in the top corner. Young’s corner found Swan but he glanced his unchallenged header wide.
A minute before half time Lily’s Russell played a one-two with Ferguson and crossed from the right. Ferguson got to the ball first but could only poke wide.
A half when Blackburn had most of the chances but Lily had certainly contributed to the game, playing some good possession football which frustrated their hosts at times. They did lack penetration, but would have been pleased with their first half showing.
Swan opened the second half with a shot from the edge of the box at the Lily goal, but it was a comfortable save from Taylor.
The same player took the ball down the left in 48 minutes and saw his cross turned behind by Hall. Young’s corner was won in the air by Drummond, but it was an easy save for Taylor.
Swan crossed to the back post in 50 minutes and it was met by a fabulous volley by Marshall which flew into the top corner to double the lead.
A Blackburn throw taken by Lawrie in 58 minutes was headed back by Donnelly to Spence whose shot on the volley was tipped onto the bar by Taylor. Another good save.
Mildren played the ball forward to McQuillan in 60 minutes and he laid it off well to Swan. His shot from the edge of the box was saved by Taylor.
A minute later, Swan burst forward and played the ball into the path of McQuillan who ran into the box on the left and fired low beyond Taylor to make it three nil to Blackburn.
McDermott picked up a booking in the aftermath of the goal for dissent.
Spence passed to Marshall in 62 minutes but he could only hit the Lily side netting.
A similar outcome on the other side in 68 minutes when Swan fed Lawrie on the left and he also shot into the side of the net.
With 71 minutes on the clock, Moffat was caught in possession by Swan on halfway and McQuillan ran in on goal before unselfishly playing the ball to Swan who side footed home to make it four.
Lily’s Barrie was yellow carded for dissent in 78 minutes.
Fleming was through on the Lily goal in 81 minutes but was halted by the feet of Taylor. The ball came to Easton but he couldn’t get his shot on target.
Fleming was the first Blackburn player booked in 83 minutes when he fouled Russell.
In 84 minutes, Shearer played a Lily free kick into the Blackburn box. It was headed across goal by Young to the head of Ferguson, but he couldn’t get the ball past McQuillan in goal.
Hamilton held onto McQuillan on the touchline in 85 minutes for another Lily booking.
A good ball in from Lawrie on the left came to Easton in 88 minutes for another Blackburn chance, but his shot was blocked. The ball came to the edge of the box where Fleming hammered over the bar.
In the last minute, Easton came forward for Blackburn and 25 yards from goal, with lots of options, he decided to go for goal and shot wide. His team mates were not happy.
A comfortable win for the home side who wore their opponents down in a way that was reminiscent of the way Bonnyrigg Rose often do in the East Superleague. Lily started well but couldn’t create and you could see the confidence Blackburn played with, which was how you would expect a team top of the league to be. They’ll take some stopping. Lily won’t play teams of the same quality every week and have positives to take from their performance.
Young controlled the game for Blackburn in midfield and Swan showed some great ability on the wing in flashes. On a difficult day for the Lily defence, Hamilton and Young used their considerable size to do what they could and Taylor made some good saves. Shearer tried very hard and showed some good skills.
Full Time: Blackburn United 4 Easthouses Lily Miners Welfare 0
Blackburn United: 1 Gavin McQuillan, 2 Ross Williamson, 3 Martin Lawrie, 4 James Mildren, 5 John Drummond, 6 Fraser Spence (Fleming 66), 7 Chris Marshall, 8 Craig Young, 9 Andy McQuillan, 10 Ross Donnelly (Cormack 72), 11 David Swan (Easton 77). Subs: 12 Gordon Wilson, 14 Craig Easton, 15 Darren Fleming, 16 Aaron Gowans, 17 Fraser Cormack.
Easthouses Lily Miners Welfare: 1 Billy Taylor, 2 Shaun Moffat, 3 Ross Hamilton, 4 Liam Hall, 5 Graeme Young, 6 Lewis Russell, 7 Stephen Barrie, 8 Daniel Watson, 9 Gary Shearer, 10 Paul McDermott, 11 Stephen Ferguson. Subs: 12 David Arthur, 14 Gavin Tainsh, 15 Mark McEwan, 16 Patrick Barnett.
Referee: Steven Wilson