Haws Batter Belters
Hill of Beath Hawthorn 5-1 Tranent Juniors
South Challenge Cup 5th Round
Hill of Beath eased into the next round with a comfortable win over a disheveled looking Tranent at Kier’s Park. The visitors had actually taken the lead through Adam Watson, but Haws hit back with a Joe Kirby double and strikes from Rikky Dair, Russell Grierson and Daniel Watt to sink The Belters.
These two had been due to meet in the league last week, but Kier’s Park was unplayable after the heavy rain. A fine dry week in Fife made this one safe even after a wet start to the day.
Hill of Beath were still without the injured Lyle Kellichan and Lewis Elder, but apart from that, we’re pretty much at full strength.
Tranent haven’t had a game since mid-February and made 3 changes to the side that lost to Penicuik in the Football Nations Cup, Hume, Miller and Aloulou all being handed starting berths.
It was a scruffy sort of first half of football to be perfectly honest, neither side able to retain possession for any length of time and no shortage of sloppy passing. The turf was still pretty soft and there were a few players on both side struggling to keep their feet.
The home side had the chance to take the lead from the penalty spot after Ali Adams gave away a cheap penalty, taking the feet from Callum Adamson in the box, but Shaun Leishman screwed his spot-kick wide of the keeper’s right hand post.
Adam Watson opened the scoring after some slack defensive play from Haws left him with time & space to pick his spot and slot home past Stuart Hall. Haws dragged themselves level on the half hour thanks to some good play from Joe Kirby, the flying winger drawing Adams off his line and skipping away from him before firing into the empty net from the angle of the box.
Rikki Dair almost gave Hill of Beath the lead on 37 minutes from Kirby’s near post corner but headed just wide. The Tranent defence clearly didn’t heed the warning though, and Dair slammed home a bullet header in a carbon copy corner just two minutes later to give the hosts a half-time lead.
The second half was a bit more one sided as the Haws started to get a rhythm going and Tranent began to look more and more disjointed. With park starting to cut up, the niggling fouls were getting more frequently and the ref was getting busy with his yellow card.
Russell Grierson extended Haws lead just eight minutes into the second half with a fine finish from 25 yards out to put clear daylight between the sides and the visitors suddenly looked on the verge of collapse.
Adams was at fault again for number 4 on the hour mark, the keeper getting down well to block Grierson’s free kick, but only pushing it as far as Kirby who slammed home his second with Adams rooted to the spot.
Haws were pretty much in control by now, Tranent restricted to the odd half chance. Barratt almost nipped in at the back post to give his side a lifeline, but could only send his shot wide. Watt put the tie beyond doubt with 15 minutes left on the watch, Adams over-committing himself once again and Watt side-stepping the keeper and rolling the ball into the empty for number 5.
Tranent were still managing the odd half chance, but never really looked like getting themselves back in it. With the game wrapped up, Haws could afford the luxury of giving under 20s graduate Rory Marshall his debut having recently signed his first team contract.
So it’s Hill of Beath who advance to the next round draw, but more importantly with these two still to play each other twice in the league in the coming weeks, it gives John Mitchell’s side the mental edge over their rivals as the title race enters the home stretch. The first of those league fixtures comes next Saturday at Forester Park.
Man of the Match: Rikki Dair and Rory Harrower both had a fine game for the home side, but in a frantic midfield battle when keeping possession was tough and with tackles flying in all over, Joe Kirby was just about the only player on the park capable making something happen. Always ready to take his man on and with two composed finishes to round off a star man performance.
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