Saturday 15 July 2017, 13.00, Keirs Park

The friendlies continue with East Super League side Hill of Beath Hawthorn against League One’s Arbroath.

We haven’t seen Hill of Beath since February 2016 and it’s a first ever visit to Keirs Park.

Hill Of Beath Hawthorn were formed in 1975, taking their name from a previous club that had played at Keirs Park during the 1950’s. They began life in the third division of the Kirkcaldy and District Amateur league.

They quickly got to the top of the First Division procuring several cups along the way before joining the Junior ranks in 1982.  It wasn’t long before they had adjusted to their new status and they won the Dryburgh Cup and Laidlaw Shield in 1986. Their first Fife League title came the following year, a feat they have accomplished on a further eight occasions.

Their greatest triumph came in 1990 when they beat Lesmahagow in the final of the Scottish Junior Cup.  The 1990’s saw many trophies come their way, with the Fife League, the Fife & Lothians Cup, the Fife & Tayside Cup and the Fife Cup all making their way to Keirs Park.

‘The Haws’, as they are affectionately known, were runners-up in their first season in the East Super League in season 2002-03, but were relegated the following season.  That lasted only one year and they were runners-up again in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Their first manager, Jock Finlayson was at the helm for 40 years before he retired in 2015.  He was succeeded by Bobby Wilson who left at the end of last season.  New manager Kevin Fotheringham has been quick to reshape the side for the new season.

Adam Moffat, Colin Wilson and Dale Allan have left the club, with Lea Schiavone from St Andrews and the returning Michael Lee from Kennoway Star Hearts joining the ranks.

Last season saw them finish tenth in the sixteen team Super League.

We last saw Arbroath in the Angus derby against Forfar Athletic in April, while they were on their way to winning Scottish League Two.

They pipped their opponents that day to the title by two points, despite Forfar having led the league for most of the season, until the penultimate weekend.  Forfar managed to join them in the end, coming up through the play-offs.

Manager Dick Campbell has overseen a number of changes in personnel in preparation for the new season.

Departing were Martin Scott, Josh Thomson, Eddie Ferns and Ryan Stewart.  Coming in were midfielders Jamie Henry from Aberdeen and Blair Yule from Cove Rangers, defender Thomas O’Brien from Forfar Athletic, winger Danny Denholm, also from Forfar, striker Josh Skelly from Dundee, who had been at the club on loan and Gavin Swankie, another joining from Forfar, who is starting his fourth spell at Arbroath.

Arbroath travelled without Ryan McCord, Gavin Swankie, Danny Denholm, and Mark Whatley.

Keirs Park is a very neat and tidy ground, with standing covered terrace down both sides of the pitch and a pavilion at one end.  There is a very large square hedge behind one goal, just beyond the ground, which I expect is in place to protect the houses behind the pitch.  (At least one ball went past it when the teams were warming up.)  A very smart ground.

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The legendary Rangers and Scotland star Jim Baxter and the (insert your own word here) Scott Brown of Celtic are both from Hill of Beath.  There is a statue to Baxter near the ground.

Kudos to the home side for not charging to get in, but it was a bit of a blow to have no refreshments on sale, particularly coffee.  There were around 140 who turned up, including a decent contingent from Arbroath.

A persistent spray rain throughout the game made us grateful for the covered terracing.

Straight from kick off Henry played the ball through for Heston in the Haws box, but Lee was across quickly to get the ball away.

Skelly got to the Haw by-line in the second minute and his ball to the back post was perfect for Heston, but Lee saved the home side again, managing to flick the ball behind.

The referee played a good advantage in three minutes as Heston ran in on goal for Arbroath.  He put his shot through the legs of Hall, but it hit the keeper’s heel and spun wide.  Kader’s corner was headed downwards by Little, but Hall smothered.

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A great run by Hester in 7 minutes saw him go past a couple of defenders before he was tripped by Haws’ Leishman about 20 yards out.  O’Brien’s low free kick was held by Hall.

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A poor pass in 12 minutes elicited a shout from the crowd of “For fuck’s sake.  I paid nothing for this.”

Henry was picking passes well for Arbroath and in 15 minutes he fed a through ball to Hester who was brought down on the edge of the box.  Prunty’s free kick was pushed away by Hall.

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Skelly dummied the ball cleverly on the wing in 17 minutes, but was held back by Grierson.

In 20 minutes, Hay won the home side a free kick after being pulled back.  Forbes’ curling effort from 22 yards was held by Brodie.

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Hill of Beath won another free kick in 23 minutes when O’Brien had handled.  Hamilton stood in front of the ball to prevent a quick free kick and it looked like Reid went to play it against him but it ended up being a great through ball for Adamson.  His strike to the far corner produced a fine one-handed save by Brodie.

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There was a slight delay in 27 minutes after the linesman broke his flag.

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Haws broke forward in 32 minutes and Hay found Adamson on the left.  He got to the by-line, but his cross was too close to Brodie.

Henry hit a fine ball to Skelly on the right in 34 minutes.  He fired the ball across the face of the Haws goal, but nobody could get there.

Adamson crossed from the right in 36 minutes and Hamilton miskicked towards his own goal, which forced Brodie into a good reaction save between the Arbroath posts.

A lovely moment in 37 minutes when Arbroath’s David Gold had to retrieve the ball from the gent’s toilet before he took a throw-in.

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In 42 minutes, Kader seemed to get a bang in the face, but was ok to continue.

All square at the break and Hill of Beath had managed to weather the storm in the opening minutes as Arbroath came on strong.  As the game progressed the hosts were becoming more of a feature, but the visitors still had the edge.

A through ball by Arbroath’s Skelly picked out Heston in 48 minutes, but Hall was out quickly to block.

Reid put a great delivery into the Arbroath box from a Haws free kick in 51 minutes, but Little managed to get the ball over his own bar.

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A long ball forward by Grierson in 53 minutes sent Adamson clean through on the Arbroath goal, but he shot straight at Brodie.

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Arbroath broke in 57 minutes with Skelly playing the ball to Prunty, he took it forward and struck at goal from 22 yards, but it was easy for Hall.  He probably had better options than going for goal himself.

With 67 minutes gone, Linn showed some good skill before releasing Doris who rattled the ball off the Haws post.  The ball was played back out to Linn who fired across the face of goal with two players inches from making contact in the middle.

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A Hill of Beath corner in 69 minutes was cleared by Arbroath to Linn.  He took the ball into the Haws half and released Doris who ran into the box before squaring to Kader who put the ball into the empty net to give Arbroath the lead.

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Almost immediately after the opener Adamson got a sight of the Arbroath goal but fired off target from the edge of the box.

Smith went down in 71 minutes after chasing after Arbroath’s Henry and seeming to get a hand in the face, but there was no lasting damage.

Arbroath were forced to go down to ten men in 72 minutes with Hamilton having to come off and the referee not allowing one of the substituted players back on.

There were claims that Gomes had handled outside the Arbroath box in 73 minutes, just three minutes after he came on, and it looked like he may well have, but nothing was given.

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Arbroath won a corner in 76 minutes after Linn’s cross was blocked by the Haws baws of Annandale, who was struggling afterwards.

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Annandale had recovered sufficiently in 78 minutes to break into the Arbroath box, but Brodie got out to block his effort.

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Doris went down injured in 79 minutes after landing awkwardly on his shoulder.  The Hill of Beath physio went on to treat the Arbroath player as Ian Campbell explained to the Haws’ bench that their physio was “on his holidays”.

Yule set Malin up for a strike at the Haws goal in 80 minutes, but Hall tipped his effort over the bar.

Some controversy in 82 minutes as the linesman seemed to flag for a Haws goal kick, but they were allowed to play on and Smith went on to set up Adamson in the Arbroath box, but Gomes saved well.

With three minutes left Adamson found Smith on the right who shot for goal, but Gomes held.

A battling performance by Hill of Beath who were sharp in the tackle and fought hard.  Some of the tackling wasn’t legal, but they certainly seemed fired up for the contest.  Arbroath had some good spells of possession and started the game very well, but would have been hoping for a bit more penetration than they had.

Haws’ Leishman, Lee and Reid were best for them, while Henry, Skelly and Heston looked bright in the first half for the visitors, with Little and Yule more prominent in the second half.  Certainly a ground I will look to revisit.

Full Time: Hill of Beath Hawthorn 0 Arbroath 1.

Admission: Free.

Hill of Beath Hawthorn: 1 Stuart Hall, 2 Shaun Leishman, 4 Michael Lee, 5 Rikki Dair, 3 Russell Grierson, 10 Calum Adamson, 6 Lee Reid, 8 Stephen Forbes (Gray 62), 7 Lea Schiavonie (Annandale 62), 9 Aaron Hay (Smith 45), 11 Lee Bryce (Muir 45).  Subs: 12 Gray, 14 Greig Smith, 15 Muir, 16 Callum Annandale, 17 Trialist.

Arbroath: 1 Calum Brodie (Gomes 70), 2 David Gold, 4 Ricky Little, 5 Thomas O’Brien (Malin 28), 3 Colin Hamillton, 7 Josh Skelly, 6 Jamie Henry, 8 Blair Yule, 11 Omar Kader, 15 Bryan Prunty (Linn 60), 10 Kane Heston (Doris 60). Subs: 21 Ricky Gomes, 12 Bobby Linn,14 Gavin Malin, 9 Steven Doris.

Referee: Jonathan Bell

Programme: None.

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