Brave ‘Burn Pinch The Points
Penicuik Athletic 1-2 Blackburn United
East of Scotland Football League Premier Division
Blackburn battled back from a goal down to take a surprise win against the title contenders at Penicuik Park. Athletic would have gone top with a win, and Kieran Watson looked to have put his side on the way with a goal immediately after the half-time break. But Liam Allison levelled for Blackburn with a perfect header just after the hour mark, before sub Callum Heath shocked the home crowed with a winner three minutes from time to give his side a valuable three points as they battle to beat the drop.
These two had met just last week at Purdie Worldwide Stadium, with Athletic heading back along the A702 with the points. Both sides obviously knew what to expect after that meeting and pretty much cancelled each other out for most of the first half. It was competitive and watchable with chances at both ends, but neither side was really able to grab the initiative and take control of the game. It wasn’t pretty at times, with plenty of full-blooded tackles from both sides, but ref Jordan Curran did a decent job of keeping things under control.
Blackburn’s best chance of the half came quite early on, after Danny Campbell’s pace took him clear past Jack Collins and gave him a sight of goal from a very tight angle. Robert Watt did well to stop the shot, but only parried it as far as Allison, who struck the rebound well, only to see his shot blocked and spinning behind for a corner.
At the other end, Athletic had a solid shout for a penalty turned down on the stroke of half-time after Nicky Reid was bundled over from behind. There were loud shouts from Penicuik players and fans, but ref Curran didn’t want to know, and the score stayed level at the break.
The second half was no sooner underway, than Penicuik broke the deadlock. Edwards with a diagonal ball played along the deck to the back post where Watson was waiting to slot home from close range to get the hosts off and running. The goal gave Athletic the lift they were needing, and the hosts enjoyed best spell of the game. For the next 15 minutes or so, they began to look like a side battling for a championship, knocking it round with a bit of confidence and winning all the 50/50s.
But despite the pressure they never really looked like killing Blackburn off, and with just the one goal lead, the visitors were still very much in it. United pulled themselves back level on 66 minutes, with a quick counterattack, the ball played front post and flicked to the back where Allison jumped highest and placed his header right into the top corner.
The game was suddenly wide open again, with play swinging from end to end. The midfield was still a bit of a battleground, and the tackles were still flying in. Tansey was lucky not to connect with a wild swipe as Athletic began to look a bit desperate. Athletic finally paid the price for ill-discipline when Dave Edwards got a second yellow card for a late tackle on Allison with ten minutes left on the watch.
Athletic had a couple of opportunities to win it in the final few minutes. First Watson with the chance, then Reid finding himself one-on-one with the keeper, but on both occasions, it was Watt who got enough of a touch to keep the ball out. With time ticking away, it was United who grabbed the winner after anther quick breakaway, Heath picking it up in the Penicuik half and driving forward, before firing home from the angle of the box to take all three points.
So Athletic miss the chance to go back to the top of the table with Linlithgow on cup duty, while United put a bit of daylight between themselves and Newtongrange in the danger zone. Both of these sides now have a break from the league, with Cup Qualifying games next week. Blackburn are at home to Dalkeith in Section J while Penicuik are also at home to Peebles in Section K.
Man of the Match: It was a real captain’s performance from Marcus Miller in the heart of the Blackburn defence: putting his head in where it hurts and organising his side throughout the afternoon.
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