Crossgates Primrose 4-1 Hill of Beath Hawthorn
Humbug Park, Crossgates
EOSFL Premier Division
Crossgates took bragging rights in the Fife derby with a stunning second half comeback at Humbug Park. Visitors Hill of Beath had taken the first half lead through Ryan Connelly before the hosts went down to 10 men when Craig McGuire was shown a straight red. But second half goals from Archie Campbell, Darren Aitken and Cammy Muirhead, plus an own goal from Haws keeper Greig Wilson turned the game on its head and gave all 3 points to Crossgates.
Crossgates gaffer Alan Campbell was able to name a near full strength squad with Shaun Hunter in goal, a back four of Dougie Swan, Neil Lawrie, Stewart McDonald and Colin Paterson. Darren Aitken, Finn Graham, Briand Ritchie and Craig McGuire in midfield, with skipper Scott Lawrie and Archie Campbell up top. Hill of Beath have had plenty of selection problems this season, but they too were back to something like full strength and gaffer John Mitchell went with Grieg Wilson on goal, Lyle Kellichan, Russell Grierson, Jake Mitchell and Michael Fleming in defence. Skipper Shaun Leishman was pushed forward into midfield, alongside Paul Quinn with Lewis Elder on the left and Calum Adamson on the right and the strike partnership of Daniel Watt and Ryan Connelly.
The first half a fairly even and open affair, with chances at both ends. It had pretty tame stuff for a derby match, but the game came to life just as the half hour approached, with a burst of action in the in the space of 2 or 3 minutes. First of all McGuire & Leishman got involved in a wee bit of a shoving match in the middle of the park after the Haws skipper reacted to a challenge. It was handbags really and both players received a yellow card, but it lit a bit of a fire under the match. A minute later and Ryan Connelly opened the scoring for the visitors with a nice strike, through a crowd of bodies in the box after some good work on the right hand side.
Things got even worse for Crossgates just a minute later when McGuire got his marching orders for a tackle on that left Lewis Elder in a bit of pain. Elder is just back from a long injury lay-off and there was a fair bit of concern amongst his teammates, but he was fine to continue after a bit of treatment. The goal and the red card in quick succession threw Crossgates and they looked a wee bit shakey for the remainder of the half. Hill of Beath created a few more chances before the break and could have increased their lead but for some slack finishing and so the lead stayed 1-nil at the interval.
Campbell’s half-time team talk must have been a belter, because Crossgates looked like a different side after the interval. Archie Campbell got them back into the game immediately after the break after a quick ball forward to feet that split the Haws defence and the wee striker made no mistake, slotting home past Greg Wilson.
Crossgates took the lead on the hour after another good move down the right hand side, the ball cut inside to Aitken, who rode a couple of tackles on the edge of the box, and fired past the keeper 2-1.
The turnaround in the second half was quite unbelievable at times. Crossgates were full of confidence, spraying the ball around well and winning every 50/50 ball. Haws on the other hand suddenly looked nervous at the back and out of ideas up top.
Crossgates’ third came on 73 minutes and it’s one that Haws keeper Greif Wilson won’t want to see again in a hurry. Brian Ritchie and Archie Campbell combined down the right and when Campbell fired in the cross, it looked pretty routine for the keeper. But with nobody near him, Wilson a complete mess of collecting the ball and somehow managed to deflect it into his own net to make it 3-1 Crossgates.
Crossgates immediately made a treble substitution, and it was one of the subs, Cammy Muirhead, who marked his debut by scoring within 10 minutes of coming on, the Hill of Beath defence once again at sixes & sevens. It capped off a remarkable turnaround for Primrose, who would have feared the worst at being a goal down and a player down at half time. Haws on the other hand, went from looking comfortable at the break to ending up well beaten. Such are the COVID regulations at the moment, that that post match team talk has to take place on the pitch rather than in the privacy of the dressing room. Maybe a little too public for a post-mortem that follows a collapse like that.
The win lifts Crossgates up to 10th in the Premier League table on 14 points, while Haws remain in 15th on 10. So tight is the league table though, just 6 points separate 4th and 15th places, so anybody that can put a bit of a run together, will climb the table rapidly. Crossgates host Jeanfield Swift next Saturday in the league, with Haws will be on Challenge Cup duty when Sauchie are the visitors.
Man of the Match: Finn Graham provided much of the energy in the Crossgates midfield, buzzing around the park, winning tackles but always with the composure and vision to pick out a pass.
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