Flying Swifts Extend Their Run
Jeanfield Swifts 3-1 Broxburn Athletic
Riverside Stadium, Perth
EOSFL Premier Division
Jeanfield kept up their impressive start to the season with a fine win against Broxburn at the Riverside. First half strikes from Gary Fergus and Chris McLeish gave Swifts the lead, before Broxburn went down to 10 men when Connor Kelly saw red before the break. Broxburn skipper Gordon Donaldson pulled his side back into it early in the second half, but substitute Connor McLaren made the points safe for the Perth men.
Logan McConachie made couple of changes to the side that won at Hill of a Beath in midweek, and Swifts lined up with Mark Mitchell in goal, captain Aaron Whitehead and Jake Dolzanski in the centre of defence with Chris Scott at left back and Fraser Smith on the right. Scott Smith and Kieran Stewart were the two deep midfielders, Chris Dodd wide left, Paul Simpson right with Fergus through the middle and top scorer McLeish up front.
In the away dugout, Chris Townsley went with a 4-5-1 formation, Connor Wallace in the sticks, Andrew Gillen, Donaldson, Jordan Wright & Andrew Grant at the back. Greg Nicol, Tom Cowley and Craig Turnbull in the centre of midfield, Cameron Ross wide left, Connor Kelly wide right and Gary Brass up top.
Swifts were quickest to settle, pressing on both flanks and winning a couple of early corners. Wallace was the first keeper called into action, racing from his line to clear from the foot of McLeish then diving at full stretch to touch Scott’s cross behind as it looked like it might sneak in at the back post.
The hosts were the better side in the opening period, and it took a good twenty for the visitors to threaten at the other end. When they did get into their stride though, they looked dangerous, Mitchell having to pull out two good saves in quick succession to keep the scores level.
The breakthrough came for Jeanfield after 25 minutes, Chris Dodd’s cross into the crowded box just too deep for McLeish but dropping nicely for Gary Fergus to head home at the back post.
It was no more than Jeanfield deserved and they doubled their lead five minutes later, McLeish jumping above a static looking defence to head home unchallenged.
Things got a whole lot worse immediately after the re-start. Kelly took exception at Chris Scott’s tackle and reacted angrily, shoving him to the ground. It was just a moment of frustration really, but ref Dan McFarlane wasn’t in the mood for any nonsense and showed him the red card.
Athletic suddenly looked a bit disheveled and Swifts could smell blood. Dolzanski almost made it three with a diving header from point blank range that Wallace somehow managed to keep out. Swifts really should have killed the game off on the stroke of half-time after McLeish pressured Wallace into a fumble, which he pounced on and cut back for Fergus, but with two defenders on the line, Broxburn managed to scramble clear.
With restrictions on the use of dressing rooms, both management teams gave their half-time team talks on the park, and when we were back underway, Broxburn seemed to have regained their composure. Captain Gordon Donaldson gave his sides an immediate lifeline, pouncing on a slip in the Jeanfield defence to fire a diagonal shot that snuck inside Mitchell’s far post.
That’s all it took to give the visitors a little bit of belief, and for a ten-minute spell, it looked like it was game on. But Swifts gradually began to get their rhythm going again and with the extra body in midfield, they were soon bossing possession again. Athletic still looked dangerous on the break though and nearly punished some hesitant defending by the home side, with a direct ball that Mitchell had to race from his box to deal with.
The game was finely poised at this stage: Swifts looking good in possession, but with just a single goal lead, Broxburn were never truly out of it. Fergus, Simpson and Dodd were taking it in turns to test the defence, but although the back four looked a bit shaky at times, Wallace was in great form and kept the game alive with two fine saves in as many minutes. First, he got enough of a fingertip to a Dodd shot to touch it onto the post. Dodd then had another go and this time it took a deflection which looked like it was going to beat Wallace, but the keeper managed to adjust his position to flick it out for a corner.
It was substituted Connor McLaren that finally wrapped things up for Jeanfield, rifling home from the edge of the box to finally beat Wallace and make the points safe. It made it a comfortable last 10 minutes to a game that really should have been put to bed a lot sooner.
With this result and the midweek win at Hill of Beath, Swifts have now beaten two of the pre-season favourites in the space of four days to stretch their unbeaten start to the season to 7 matches. Although they currently sit in third spot, they still have two games in hand which would be enough to draw them level with leaders Tranent and it must be said that McConachie’s side do not look out of place.
Broxburn by contrast, have now lost 3 of their first 7 games and remain mired in 10th place. Even allowing for injuries to key players, Athletic are already looking well short of the side that finished in runners up spot last term.
Both of these sides have a break from league business next week with home ties in the Challenge Cup: Broxburn host Irvine Meadow while Caledonian Braves are the visitors to the Riverside.
Man of the Match: This could have gone to any of the Jeanfield front men, Simpson, Fergus and McLeish all having a fine afternoon. But it was Chris Dodd that caught the eye most, taking on the defenders, delivering the telling pass at the critical moments, and but for some first-class goalkeeping, he could have had a couple of goals too.
See all the match photos HERE