Athletic Survive Late Bluebell Comeback
Dundonald Bluebell 2-3 Penicuik Athletic
Moorside Park, Dundonald
EOSFL Premier Division
Penicuik survived a late Dundonald fight back to take all three points at Moorside Park. It looked like the Midlothian side had the game in the bag after strikes from Sam Jones, Sean Stewart and Arran Ponton gave the visitors a three goal lead. But Ross Drummond and Micheal Ness hit back in rapid succession to set up a tense last fifteen minutes for Athletic.
The match started out fairly evenly, with both sides having chances to take the lead. It was Cuikie that drew first blood though, Jones with the breakthrough for the visitors after twelve minutes. From that point on it was pretty much all Penicuik as the hosts struggled to get any kind of rhythm going.
Athletic were winning the midfield battle, stronger in the tackle and simply out muscling ‘Bell in the middle of the park. Gaffer Lee Dair was forced into a double change: Matty Gay and J Smith being replaced by Michael Ness and Billy Rogerson after only 35 minutes.
‘Bell huffed & puffed but failed to make any impact on the away defence. Space was tight and their only real option seemed to be the long ball looking for Cal Smith to knock down for Stuart Cargill. Cuikie always looked more dangerous going forward, making better use of the ball, finding more space in the final third and forcing a string of good saves from Lennox.
Athletic had a big shout for a penalty late in the first half, but ref Lorraine Watson didn’t want to know. They could have doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time, Darrell Young smacking the post from Baptie’s corner.
Athletic came flying out the traps after the interval, looking to kill the game off while they were on top. The visitors were closing the home side down quickly, denying them space and not allowing any time on the ball. They doubled their lead just eight minutes after the break, Stewart heading home Ryan Baptie’s free-kick from wide on the right.
Cuikie were good value for their lead and made it three-nil ten minutes later, Stewart the provider this time, beating his man and setting up Ponter to pick his spot through a crowded penalty area. Athletic looked home & hosed at this point: controlling the midfield and with Paul Tansey keeping the home side on their toes, always looking capable of adding to their lead.
‘Bell by contrast were beginning to look like a beaten side: unable to get any passing game going and squandering possession time & time again. They lacked any real width, so there was no delivery into the box and anything through the middle simply wasn’t sharp enough. The long ball into Smith just wasn’t working, the big striker with more fouls conceded than headers won, leaving Cargill nothing to work with.
It was hard to see a way back into the game for the home side, but it came on 74 minutes when Drummond finally found some space in the box and fired home a lifeline for the Fifers. Ness added a second just two minutes later and it suddenly looked like Dundonald might pull off an unlikely comeback.
Having been in control for most of the match, Penicuik must have been shocked to find themselves pegged back and could have been forgiven for losing their composure. But to their credit, the visitors kept the head, slowed the game down and didn’t allow ‘Bell the chance to build any momentum. ‘Bell really should have been throwing the kitchen sink at them, but even with the chance to pinch a point, the home side were still second to every challenge. If they had nicked the draw, it would have been a bit of an injustice and in the end, Penicuik held on for the win they deserved.
Ref Watch: Despite the warm sunshine, the game was played at a decent pace and ref Wilson was happy to let the game flow, although occasionally a bit fussy at free-kicks. There were one or two tasty challenges, but she handled them well, resisting the temptation to get too busy with the yellow card. The far side linesman seemed keen to get involved, pointing out some verbals from the home bench and chasing the physio back into his technical area. There were a couple of ugly shouts between the benches towards the end of the game but they didn’t come to anything. All in all, the officials handled the game well.
Man of the Match:
Without too many candidates on the home side, it was always more likely to be somebody in a red shirt who got the nod. Baptie’s dead-ball delivery set up two goals, but for me it was the industry and trickery of Paul Tansey that swung it for Athletic.
See all the match pictures HERE