Fixture: Wishaw BC v East End Thistle
Competition: Lanarkshire FDA "B" League
Venue: Daisy Park Community Centre
It was back to league duties today for WBC after their Regional Cup victory a fortnight ago. A hastily rearranged venue allowed the fixture to beat the weather and gave WBC the chance to maintain their place at the top of the league. The opponents were third placed Eastend Thistle, who have proved to be kryptonite to WBC in their previous two fixtures this season, pushing Wishaw all the way to the full time whistle and only losing by a single goal on both occasions.
Wishaw lined up with an unchanged back line, with Dylan Gibson at right back and Iain Hardie at left back, with Conor Smith and Matthew Hillan in the centre and Jamie Anderson in goals. An injury to Cammy Ballantyne brought about a reshuffle in midfield, with Kieran Duffy coming in on the left, joining Chris Bruce and Chris MacNeil in the middle and Ross Park out on the right. Ross Wileman was pushed slightly more forward in support of Nathan Livingstone up front.
WBC started slowly and looked rusty in the opening stages of the game and were lucky they weren't punished after some poor control on the edge of the area allowed an Eastend player a free shot at goal, but thankfully he blazed over and failed to take advantage of the error.
Wishaw started to come back into the game more and were unlucky not to take the lead after 5 minutes following some good work from Nathan who slid a cross in from the right but unfortunately nobody had gambled to meet the cross and the chance went begging. Chris Bruce was soon into his stride in the middle of the park, winning challenges in the air and on the ground and pushing the play forward, however some poor first touches and lack of movement from Wishaw going forward meant that they couldn't penetrate into the Eastend penalty area.
The opening goal of the game came from a fantastic solo effort from the Eastend forward who took advantage of a quick transition of possession on the Wishaw left and then shrugged off a weak challenge to fire in a great 30 yard shot which flew over Jamie's head into the top corner.
The goal sparked a bit more urgency from WBC and soon afterwards some very determined play from Chris MacNeil on the edge of the Eastend penalty area led to his blocked shot falling to the feet of Ross Park on the right, Ross then hit a first time shot which was well saved by the keeper. Nathan hit a deep corner, which was nodded back into the danger area by Ross Wileman and Chris Bruce was at hand to control the ball well before firing into the net with his left foot from close range.
As the half wore on, the game became very scrappy, with Wishaw having more possession, but not able to find and spaces on the flanks, or any penetration through the middle.
The Wishaw defence was looking pretty solid, and coping with the long ball tactics of Eastend. Conor Smith was on top of his game, snuffing out the dangerous Eastend striker, supported by Matthew. With Eastend not playing any wingers, it allowed Dylan and Iain the opportunities to push forward and support Kieran and Ross Park. Jamie was having a relatively quiet game in goals, with the exception of a great punched clearance following a threatening set piece.
On 33 minutes it was to be another free kick that led to the second WBC goal. Chris MacNeil struck a wonderful cross in from the right, and after challenges from Conor and Chris Bruce caused panic in the Eastend area the ball fell kindly to Ross Park who stabbed the ball into the net.
Half Time : Wishaw BC 2-1 East End Thistle
The coaches decided to ring the changes at half time, to freshen up the team in an attempt to bring about a bit more attacking threat. Morgan Jones came on at centre half, with Matthew moving back to left back replacing Iain, and Connor Bohan came on replacing Kieran on the left.
Connor was straight into the action, producing a great diagonal ball for Ross Park to run on to, Ross drove into the penalty area and hit a shot which beat the keeper at his near post but was miraculously cleared off the line by a covering defender. Again, Wishaw were controlling possession in the middle of the park and looking comfortable against the counter attack, but were lacking the spark to break through the resolute Eastend defence. It was Connor who was provide the spark after 10 minutes, hitting a great shot from a tight angle which was well saved by the keeper.
The pressure on the Eastend goal soon brought about a defensive mistake, with their keeper picking up a back pass on the edge of his 6 yard box. With 11 players lined up on the goal line, Ross Park touched the free kick to Nathan who fired a shot into the roof of the net.
Ross Park was starting to cause more of a threat on the right hand side now, and Connor Bohan was a constant menace on the left, with his enthusiasm and skill causing headaches for the Eastend right back.
Within a few minutes of the third goal, Wishaw nearly added a fourth, after a deep cross from Ross on the right found Connor who laid off a pass to Nathan who fired into the side netting.
The Eastend back line was being forced deeper into their own half and were almost camped on the edge of their own area for periods, and after some neat play in midfield, Nathan cushioned a pass to Ross Wileman who hit a good shot which was impressively tipped around the post by the Eastend keeper. The Eastend keeper made an equally good save from Connor Bohan minutes afterwards after he cut in from the left and hit a strong shot on target.
The fourth goal arrived with 15 minutes remaining. A quick, long goal kick from Jamie was controlled excellently by Ross Wileman who then sped down the right wing before hitting a low cross which just evaded Chris MacNeil but found Connor Bohan at the far post, Connor controlled well before firing into the back of the net. A deserved reward for his display.
Nathan was replaced by Ross Paton, with Ross Paton slotting into a defensive midfield position and Ross Wileman pushing further forward. Ross was soon into the action, in his normal manner, crunching into tackles and headers. Douglas Crumley replaced Ross Park on the right, and also was soon showing his skills with a mazy run down the wing.
As the game drew to a close, Eastend managed to score two consolation goals, the first from the penalty spot following a push on a player at a corner, and the second after WBC switched off at the back post following a deep free kick. However, despite Eastend believing they had a chance to snatch an equaliser the final whistle came without them being able to mount another attack.
Full Time : Wishaw BC 4-3 East End Thistle