Jeanfield Swifts 6-1 Preston Athletic
East of Scotland League, Conference C
Riverside Stadium, Perth
Jeanfield Swifts fired an early warning that they will be a force to be reckoned with in Conference C this season, with an emphatic win over early leaders Preston Athletic. Goals from Simpson, Scott & Davies, plus a Holden hat-trick, helped them to a comfortable win in their first home league match of the season. This looks like the most competitive of the three East of Scotland conferences, and the hardest to call. While the Perth side might not be automatic favourites for most punters, on this kind of form, they have to be considered as a dark horse.
Swifts were on it from the first whistle, Dodd bombing forward on the left and firing in some inviting looking crosses. The visitors were pinned back and conceded three quick fire corners as the hosts piled on the pressure. It paid off on 12 minutes, when Simpson cut in from the left and curled his shot inside the far post to give the home side the lead.
Preston topped the Conference C table coming into the game, and dragged themselves back into it in the 18th minute, when Innes picked up the pieces after mix up in the home defence. The goal knocked Swifts out of their stride for a few minutes, and Athletic went looking for the lead. It was a fairly even contest at this point, but Swifts passing looked that little bit crisper and they seemed to have that extra half-yard of pace
The hosts took the lead again just after the half-hour, when keeper Findlay failed to deal with a speculative shot. He was well of his line, and could only tip Holden's effort onto the post, but the striker was quickest to react and tapped the loose ball into the empty net for his first of the game.
Preston almost drew level immediately with a quick break away but Cochrane squandered the chance. Holden made them pay two minutes later, getting on the end of a lovely through ball from Dodd, skinning Campbell and tucking his left foot shot beyond the keeper to make it 3-1.
Holden was looking sharp, his off the ball running was pulling the visitors out of shape and Dodd almost set him up for his hat-trick with another slick passing move, but Campbell deflected wide for a corner. Swift finished the half strongly, and Preston would have been glad to hear the whistle and get in for the oranges.
Preston need to change something, and made a double substitution at the start of the second half, Innes & Jardine making way for Ndiweni & Grotlin. The half-time team talk had clearly fired the visitors up, with Liddle & Pennycuick each picking a yellow card in double quick time.
Two early second half penalties swung the match in Swifts favour. The first went to the home side, when Holden was fouled in the box, and the hitman stepped up to take the kick himself and claim his hat-trick. The visitors then had the chance to get back into it from the spot 10 minutes later, but Mitchell got down well to save well from Archibald and the score stayed 4-1.
The penalty miss knocked the stuffing out of Preston, and gave Swifts a shot of confidence. The hosts were playing with good tempo, pressing high and denying the defence time on the ball. Swifts introduced Dewar, Davies & Scott from the bench, and went looking number five. It came fifteen minutes from time, when McLaren went on a mazey run and clipped the ball past the keeper. It came back off the post, but the defence failed to clear their lines and substitute Scott was on hand to slam it into the top corner.
The game was in the bag by now, and Jeanfield understandably took their foot off the gas slightly. Davies was trying hard to get his name on the scoresheet, and was only kept at bay by some desperate defending. It took until stoppage time for the sub to get his goal, sliding in to beat the keeper and round off a great afternoon for the Perth boys.
Two wins out of two for Swifts sees them joint top of the early season table, level with four other sides. Of course, it's far too early in the season to get carried away, but with five cup-tie wins already under their belts, beating an established East of Scotland side in such a convincing manner will give Swifts plenty of belief. Swifts next match is another home game against Broxburn in the Alex Jack Cup next Saturday at 2:30.
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