Hill of Beath Hawthorn 3-1 Dunbar United
Alex Jack Cup 1st Round
Kiers Park, Hill of Beath
Hill of Beath kept up their fine start to the season, to see off a spirited Dunbar side and advance to the second round of the Alex Jack Cup. United gave the Fifers plenty to think about though, and it took two second half goals to kill them off and make the tie safe.
Haws gaffer Kevin Fotheringham made two changes to the side that demolished Stirling Uni last week, with Rikki Dair making way for Lyle Kellichan in defence, and last week's hat-trick hero Joe Kirby given the nod up front ahead of Lewis Elder.
Haws were a little bit slow off the mark, and the visitors made the brighter start, captain Steven Tait creating an opening that should have given United the lead within the first five minutes. It took until the tenth minute for Haws threaten, when a probing run from Calum Adamson had the defence back peddling. Two Haws corners in quick succession kept the pressure on the United defence, and the hosts started to grow in confidence. Adamson was having plenty of joy down the right, and it was another of his runs down the wing that finally unlocked the Dunbar defence, squaring for Daniel Watt to tap home from point blank.
Haws looked dangerous every time Adamson got on the ball. He was giving left-back Peden a bit of roasting, and he nearly set up a second with a whipped cross which keeper McCathie dropped, but Denton couldn't capitalise and the defence managed to clear the danger.
There wasn't much between the sides in the first-half; the game was finely balanced with chances at both ends. It had the competitive edge you'd expect from a cup-tie and the United physio was earning his corn. Keith and Steven Tait both needed a dab with the magic sponge, as did Thomson, but referee Chris Newman only pulled his yellow card out once, waving it in the direction of Haws skipper Grierson. United should have got themselves level on the stroke of half-time when they sprung the offside trap, but a poor cross from Peden let Haws of the hook, and they headed for the interval at 1-nil.
It was more of the same after the break: both teams giving it a good go and playing some decent stuff. United manager Jones swapped Tait & Peden around, and the tactical switch made them look a little more secure at the back, with Tait doing a better job of controlling Adamson. Haws were still carrying a threat, but United looked more able to cope. Ten minutes into the second half, Hill of Beath made a double substitution, Elder & Harrower replacing Denton & Kellichan. Elder's first taste of the action was to be clattered by United keeper McCathie, but the ref saw nothing wrong with the challenge, despite protests from the home bench which earned Fotheringham a ticking off from Newman. Elder wasn't able to continue and it turned out to be the briefest of involvements in the match, when he limped off with what looked like a knee injury, to be replaced by Smith.
The game remained finely poised and although Dunbar were taking it to their hosts, with Adamson supplying the ammo and Watt & Kirby looking lively up top, Haws always looked the more likely. With ten to go, Haws doubled their lead, Kirby doing the damage with a tidy spin & shot. The shot was blocked, but he was quickest to the rebound, beating two defenders and keeping his cool to tuck it away at the second attempt.
That really should have been enough for Haws, but United's response was instant, centre half Grant Thomson getting on the end of a floated cross to knock it home at the back post giving the visitors a lifeline that, with 5 minutes to go, they probably deserved.
Haws have enough about them though, and were using all their experience to see the game out, taking every chance to carry the ball into the corners and run down the clock. Calum Adamson had different ideas however, and when Watt got to the bye-line and picked him out, he wrong footed the defence and calmly stoked it beyond McCathie to wrap the tie up and round off a fine individual performance.
So Haws advance to the second round, where they'll face a tricky away trip to Penicuik at the beginning of September. Ahead of that though, they have two more home matches: first a Football Nations Cup tie against Spartans, before getting their East of Scotland League campaign underway against Tweedmouth on 25th August.
See the full match photo gallery HERE