Hill of Beath Hawthorn 2-0 Whitehill Welfare
EOSFL Premier League
Kier’s Park, Hill of Beath
Hill of Beath battled storm Ciara to take the points against Whitehill at Kier’s Park. A second half double from Daniel Watt was enough to give Haws the points and keep them in the hunt at the top of the league, while another defeat for Welfare keeps them in the danger zone at the foot of the table.
Haws were without three first team regulars, the injured Lewis Elder and Lyle Kellighan and suspended Shaun Leishman all missing.
Welfare made three changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Broxburn last week, James McQueen, Scott Wright and Keith Lough all coming back into the starting 11.
As expected, the weather played a massive part in the game and although the rain stayed away, the strong westerly wind made this one the proverbial game of two halves.
With the wind at their back in the first half, the visitors enjoyed the majority of the early pressure, a couple of Swanson free-kicks troubling the Haws defence in the opening few minutes. Haws struggled to create much in the first quarter of an hour, the weather playing its part, but a determined looking Welfare defence doing a decent job of keeping Watt, Adamson and Kinninmonth quiet.
In fact for most of the first forty-five, you’d have been forgiven for thinking it was the team in blue that was involved in a title race rather than a relegation battle. The visitors were scrapping for everything and winning every fifty-fifty ball. It took the Haws a while to get a rhythm going as they struggled with the combination of the conditions and Welfare’s work rate. The hosts looked best when they got into wide areas, but just couldn’t find the delivery to make the breakthrough.
They had a golden opportunity on the verge of half-time when Russell Grierson was tripped inside the box. Callum Adamson took the spot-kick but McQueen saved well and Adamson sent the rebound over the bar, so it stayed goalless at the interval.
Haws looked like a different side in the second-half, with the wind to their advantage they were finally able to get the ball forward that little bit quicker and fully utilise the pace of their front men. It took just ten minutes into the half for the Fifers to take the lead. Daniel Watt head-flicked Ricky Patrick’s free-kick goalwards and the wind did the rest, looping the ball into the top corner with McQueen helpless.
Watt grabbed a second ten minutes later, somehow finding a yard of space in an overcrowded penalty box and firing home through a sea of bodies. Haws were pretty much in control from that point onward and although Welfare continued to compete all over the park, they had lost the advantage of the wind and they struggled to breakdown Hill of Beath.
Joe Kirby came off the bench for the last 20 minutes and gave the Haws another dimension in attack but although he caused a few headaches for the Whitehill defence, he couldn’t find the third goal and it finished 2-nil.
Considering the conditions, it was a decent enough game, but it was one of those that you’d file it under “competitive” rather than “entertaining”. There’s plenty still at stake for both of these sides and it showed at times. Although it wasn’t a dirty game as such, there were plenty of physical battles for referee Kyle Hall to keep on top of, which he mostly did without too much fuss.
The result leaves Welfare second from bottom, just a point above Newtongrange and still in danger of a relegation for the second consecutive season. Despite the result though, there were plenty of positives for Craig Meikle’s side. He can be pleased with the work rate and effort from his team. At the back, Kieran Somerville played a captain's role, breaking up Haws attack time after time, while up top, recent signings Louis Swanson and Keith Lough give him that extra bit of quality that might just be enough to keep them up.
At the top end of the table, Hill of Beath keep up the pressure on leaders Bo’ness in a title race that looks like going all the way. Without being totally dominant, John Mitchell’s side were able to batten down the hatches in a difficult first-half and once they got their noses in front, they never looked like letting it slip. Even with both regular full-backs missing, they looked solid at the back, while in Daniel Watt, they have a striker who always seems to come up with crucial goals at the right moment.
Haws are on the road next week, with a trip over the river to Musselburgh, while Whitehill are at home to Crossgates.
Man of the Match:
Once again, Daniel Watt showed his ability to score game winning goals. He had to feed off scraps in the first-half, but stayed patient and took his chances when they came along, with a percentage play for his first and popping up in exactly the right spot for his second.
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