Tuesday 18 July 2017, 19.15, Ferguson Park
Midweek friendly action between Whitehill Welfare of the Lowland League and East Super League side Penicuik Athletic.
We last saw Welfare in April when they visited Vale of Leithen in a league game. There’s been a number of changes at the club since then.
Manager David Bingham departed at the season’s end and former Tranent Juniors manager Gary Small has taken charge. On the pitch, midlfielders Jack Wright from Newtongrange Star, Scott Lucas from Arniston Rangers, Sonny Swanson from Tynecastle and Robbie Carter from Dalkeith Thistle, versatile James McPartlin from Hawick Royal Albert, who can fill a number of roles, winger Hamish Hunter, also from Hawick, and completing a trio of signings from the Borders club, right back Ryan Stevenson, defenders Gareth Thom and Ryan McKenzie both return to the club from Penicuik Athletic and another defender, Christopher Gordon from Dunbar United, strikers Kyle Mitchell from Cowdenbeath and Mark Smith from Edinburgh United.
Departing are captain Steven Manson, who retired. Keeper Bryan Young, defenders John Williams and Dale O’Hara, Michael Osborne, Scott Russell, Daryl Healy and Ciaren Chalmers have also left and loanees Jamie Chapman and Charlie Denton have returned to their parent clubs.
Whitehill seem to have started recent seasons with almost an entirely new squad, and Gary Small will be looking to bring some stability to the club.
They finished last season in eighth place in the 16-team league.
So far in pre-season they have played all their games away, beating Peebles Rovers 4-0, drawing 1-1 with Heriot-Watt University and winning 8-0 at Duns.
It was March when we last saw Penicuik, in a home game against Newtongrange Star.
Last season’s fourth place in the East Super League was Penicuik’s best for a long time, but they have lost some big players since the end of the season. Captain and top scorer Ryan McCallum and club legend Ryan Gay have retired, as has Stephen Noble. Midfield maestro Neil Janczyck has gone to Tranent Juniors. These are big shoes to fill, but manager Johnny Harvey has been quick to get some new blood in.
Midfielders Arran Ponton from Haddington Athletic, Sam Jones from Berwick Rangers (who had recently been on loan at the club) and Scott McCrory-Irving from Edinburgh University have all signed up. Defenders John Williams from Whitehill Welfare, Ryan Baptie from Peterhead and Gary Hamilton from Newtongrange Star, forwards Fraser Eddington from Bo’ness United and Lumbert Kateleza of Arniston Rangers have all joined the club.
Penicuik’s pre-season had seen them win 5-2 at Preston Athletic and lose 1-0 at Edinburgh United.
Both sides were still looking to add numbers and had trialists in their squads.
There were around 120 at the game.
With 3 minutes gone, Wright ran into the Penicuik half from half way and reached the edge of the box, but off balance, shot over the bar.
Smith claimed for a free kick in 4 minutes after Penicuik’s Hume appeared to pull his shorts down. (I’ll spare you a picture).
The same player got the better of Hume a minute later and laid the ball off for Dodds, but his shot was weak and was easy for Easton.
Williams played the ball over the top of the Welfare defence in 5 minutes for Penicuik’s number 9 who ran into the box on the left. As he knocked the ball past the keeper, he was upended by the custodian and the referee awarded a penalty.
Kateleza stepped up and sent him the wrong way from the spot.
It was pretty much the first time Penicuik had been in Welfare’s half and they had opened the scoring.
Welfare’s trialist keeper was almost caught out taking too long over a pass back in 7 minutes, with Penicuik’s number 9 getting a foot on his attempted clearance. The ball ended up with Jones, but his shot was off target.
A late tackle on Penicuik’s Baptie in 9 minutes brought a shout from the crowd of “That was so late it didn’t have to pay to get into the game”
In 16 minutes, Kateleza worked the ball to the Penicuik number 9, but his low shot was smothered by the keeper.
Kateleza passed to Connolly on the left a minute later and had the ball played back to him in the box where he appeared to be nudged off the ball, but nothing was given.
Good ball to the back post by Penicuik’s Forbes in 22 minutes came all the way to Baptie on the other side and his ball across was turned behind by Gordon.
The Penicuik substitutes were in danger of tiring themselves out with the intensity of their warm ups.
Jones burst into the right hand side of Welfare’s box in 26 minutes but saw his effort blocked by the keeper. From the resultant corner, Baptie’s ball to the back post was met by the head of Penicuik’s number 9 and the ball came off the top of the bar.
Kateleza played the ball to Jones in 28 minutes and he put the ball across the face of the Welfare goal, but the players in the middle couldn’t get a touch.
Some good possession football by Penicuik in 36 minutes resulted in Hamilton lifting the ball into the box where it was headed away by Gordon. The ball came to the Penicuik number 9 who took a touch before firing into the corner to make it 2-0.
A good piece of skill by Mitchell in 41 minutes saw him nutmeg Forbes and he was brought down by the defender.
On the stroke of half time, Kateleza played the ball to Jones on the right. He played the ball back into the striker in the Welfare box and he quickly despatched it into the corner to make it 3-0 to Penicuik.
Welfare had started well, but the visitors had controlled most of the first half and had pretty much put the game to bed in the opening 45 minutes.
Welfare made wholesale changes at the break. Hume moved further forward for Penicuik after Young came on.
A good ball from the left by Baptie in 52 minutes was well turned behind by Welfare’s Murray.
A mistake by Jones in 56 minutes gave Welfare an opportunity, but Gormley misplaced his pass and the chance was gone.
Baptie showed good control in 59 minutes and he got to the Welfare by-line, but couldn’t pick anyone out in the middle.
A cross into the Welfare box by Montgomery in 61 minutes was headed out by a defender and Jones hit the ball on the volley from the edge of the box and managed to get it out of the ground.
Forbes’ deep corner in 65 minutes was volleyed back into the middle by Montgomery, but number 9’s header was straight at the Welfare keeper.
A strike at goal by Hume from about 23 yards was inches wide of the Welfare goal in 78 minutes, with the keeper rooted to the spot.
A quick break by Penicuik in 79 minutes saw number 9 play the ball to Jones, who set up Somerville on the right of the box, but he fired wide.
A minute later and Carter found Gormley in the Penicuik box, but Easton saved with his feet.
Straight up the other end again and Lough curled wide of the post when under pressure from Gordon.
In 83 minutes, Somerville’s cross was fumbled by the Welfare keeper, but he managed to gather the ball.
Williams passed wide to Somerville in 85 minutes and from the right he hammered at goal, but a magnificent save from the Welfare keeper denied him.
Lough got away from Gordon in 87 minutes, but the Welfare defender got back to get a foot to his shot to steer it wide of goal.
In the 90th minute, Carter strode forward and had a strike from 22 yards that was narrowly wide of the Penicuik goal.
A convincing win for Penicuik, although the second half was a little disappointing. Welfare will take a while to gel with all the new signings and a new manager, so it was difficult to judge how their season will go.
Penicuik looked a good side and it will be interesting to see if they can challenge in the Super League this season.
Wright showed some good touches for Welfare and Dodds put himself about in midfield. For Penicuik, Hume and Hamilton looked very solid at the back and Jones was impressive in midfield.
Full Time: Whitehill Welfare 0 Penicuik Athletic 3
Whitehill Welfare: 1 Trialist, 2 James McPartlin, 3 Reece Cochrane (T), (Trialist 16 46), 4 Ryan McKenzie (Murray 46), 5 Christopher Gordon, 6 Scott Lucas (Kerr 46), 7 Sonny Swanson (Kidd 46), 8 Kerr Dodds (Hunter 46), 9 Mark Smith (Gormley 46), 10 Jack Wright (Carter 46), 11 Kyle Mitchell (Trialist 20 46). Subs: 12 Scott Gormley, 14 Stephane Murray, 15 John-Ross Kerr, 16 Trialist, 17 Hamish Hunter, 18 Willie Kidd, 19 Robbie Carter, 20 Trialist.
Penicuik Athletic: 1 Conar Easton, 2 Andy Forbes (Trialist 17 69), 3 John Williams, 4 Craig Hume, 5 Gary Hamilton, 6 Sam Jones, 7 Trialist (Somerville 60), 8 Callum Connolly (Young 46), 9 Trialist, 10 Lumbert Kateleza (Lough 60), 11 Ryan Baptie (Montgomery 60). Subs: 12 Darrell Young, 14 Ross Montgomery, 15 Keith Lough, 16 Aaron Somerville, 17 Trialist.
Referee: Duncan Smith