Hill of Beath Hawthorn 3-2 Jeanfield Swifts
East Region Superleague
Kiers Park, Hill of Beath
A late strike Jake Mitchell strike sealed the points for Hill of Beath to give the Haws back-to back wins for the first time this year. It really should have been a lot more comfortable for Beath, who twice took the lead, before being pegged back both times.
All the pre-match talk around Kiers Park was of the club's decision to follow neighbours Kelty into the seniors ranks, with a move to the East of Scotland league next season. No fewer than thirteen clubs from Fife & Lothian have been accepted into the EoS League for next year, doubling the size of the league and making reconstruction virtually inevitable. The shake up of grass roots game will be the subject of a future blog, but for now it's the main topic of speculation amongst the fans.
When the game got underway, the Haws started well, getting forward and forcing a run of corners. One of these brought the first real chance of the game but Lewis Elder's acrobatic attempt went wide. Calum Adamson was next to have a go, his low shot beat the keeper but although it slid narrowly past the fans could sense a goal was coming. It came from the next corner, which again was whipped deep into the box where Callum Rarity headed home through a crowd of bodies to put the home side in front.
The goal should have set the Haws on their way, but bizarrely they actually began to look less comfortable. The game was getting a bit untidy, with some meaty tackles flying in, the worst of them on Shaun Leishman which left the Haws full-back in agony and he was unable to continue. It was a nasty looking challenge, high and late, which could have very easily been a red card, but the ref settled for yellow.
Jeanfield started to claw their way back into the game, with a couple of looking dangerous free-kicks from Anthony Holt which had Hall scrambling to see it past his post. He was less fortunate a couple of minutes later, when the ball fell to Gary Fergus, who had plenty of time to slam home the equaliser via the underside of the bar.
The goal was a real setback for the Haws; they looked like they'd lost their way and were dropping deeper which was giving Swifts the initiative. They seemed to be struggling with the physical game too, being eased off the ball a little too easily, and they would have been relieved to make it to the break still level.
The home side came back from the interval with their tails up again, and were doing all the pressing at the start of the second half. They were getting plenty of joy down both flanks, and the corner count was racking up, although they struggled to make any of them count in the packed penalty box.
There was still a physical edge to the game, with both sides having opportunities to score from free-kicks around the box. But when Haws did take the lead again there was an element of fortune about it. Elder chased down a long forward ball with McDermid for company, the defender looked favourite, but his attempted clearance rebounded of the striker and over Mitchell into the net.
But no sooner had the Fifer's restored their lead, than they threw it away again, failing to deal with a long straight ball forward and when the runner was brought down, the ref had no hesitation awarding the penalty. Holt had looked dangerous from dead balls all day long, and he calmly tucked the spot kick away, down low to the keepers right. They had looked slightly susceptible to the long ball all day, and manager Fotheringham made his feelings clear to his defence.
Haws reacted better to the equaliser this time around though, and went in search of the winner. They were still getting the better of the visitors down the flanks, winning corners from both sides, but the box was packed every time. Swifts were still a threat with the long ball, and Holt was still getting free-kick chances around the edge of the area. But it was no surprise that when the winner came, it came from a corner; substitute Mitchell jumping highest to head home his first goal for the club.
On balance, it was no more than Beath deserved. Although Swifts took advantage of some shakey defending, the home side looked hungrier for the majority of the game and created more chances than the visitors. Schiavone had the chance to make the points safe late on, but was denied by a decent save from keeper Mitchell.
So Haws a valuable three points form the Haws, who climb to tenth in the table. With six games left, if they can find some consistency a comfortable top ten finish is still a possibility before they head off to the senior ranks. Their next opportunity will come on Wednesday when the travel across Fife to face Kennoway, before a tricky home match to Broughty Athletic next Saturday.
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