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The sun was warming the air at Fernieside Park creating very agreeable playing conditions as this top of the table clash kicked off against the long shadows of the evening. Fernieside were looking to consolidate a top three finish knowing also that a win here and even their title ambitions would be reignited as North Berwick, sitting top the league, were intent on wrapping it up.
Straight from the kick off, Fernieside burst into life; Liam MacIntosh firing the ball on a long diagonal to Harry Anderson, signalling their intent and more importantly their mind set to win. North Berwick’s defence held tight and got the ball away but Ross Logan was immediately put free and Robbie Gardner had to come across and make a great last ditch tackle to prevent the shot. It bounced away and Logan recovered himself to collect the ball and put a great cross into the box and suddenly Brodie Duncan is there and he controlled his shot and side footed it hard past the keeper to take the lead in the first 90 seconds of the game! What a start that was to a game, both sides getting straight into the action.
It kicked off and, full of energy, Duncan broke free again for Fernieside and almost got a toe to it but Jamie Wallace in goal for North Berwick was out quickly and made a fantastic tackle. This game had a wonderful ebb and flow to it and Sam Watson and Noe Sanchez-Martin were battling hard up front for North Berwick to open up opportunities for their team.
Harry Anderson in the right back area then played it forward to Brodie Hamilton who with his first touch got it inside to MacIntosh who with another first time ball almost sets Kyle Taylor away through the centre. That was an exceptional piece of one touch football and rotational play that any top team in Europe would have been proud of. It’s little wonder North Berwick were made dizzy on account of that play but they got on top of the game and battled to win a few throws, getting the ball up field to safety with some great passing of their own.
After ten minutes has gone, Wallace boots the ball forward and with a first touch out of the air to Duncan, MacIntosh was showing good control. Duncan attempted a ball over the top in behind for Taylor who would nearly have reached it but an offside was called.
Alex Williams in the midfield performed a nice Cruyff turn inside to get away from his man for North Berwick before he was intercepted further up the pitch and a high ball clearance out wide was brought down near the line with a very delicate toe by Hamilton who then proceeded to back heel the ball to Anderson down the line. What a piece of skill that was! It eventually led to a cross out wide left to Logan who shot and everyone thought it was in but it went narrowly passed the post.
North Berwick had a throw-in then level with the opposition box and Sanchez-Martin tried to head it in but Craig Sinclair in goal for Fernieside collected it and kicked it clear but Kris Harley knocked it into Kritsana Dokkhaoram who got it to Lewis Cowan and he went passed 3 players and set up Dokkhaoram who has a fantastic shot saved by Sinclair.
Fernieside Colts were continuing to play excellent passing football and North Berwick were showing why they were top of the league with some smart movement and through balls, a lot of tenacity in midfield and a clear ability to pass and move.
Anderson ran out wide to collect a through ball on the quarter hour mark and delivered a great cross deep into the box, where Taylor shimmied to hold up play before rolling it back to MacIntosh who, running toward goal, dribbled it in between two players and blasted it right footed passed the keeper before he could blink with superb, emphatic finish.
MacIntosh was everywhere then, getting involved in all the play for the next few minutes, at one point putting an inch perfect through ball behind the full back for Anderson to race onto.
Denym Stone was playing well at the back for Fernieside too and stopped a couple of dangerous attacks from North Berwick, one that Sanchez-Martin latched onto but Stone got an important head to. Sanchez-Martin persisted and almost got a toe to a bouncing ball that Sinclair in goal was struggling to get safe but he brought it into his body quickly. The attacker then laid it off to Watson who played a good ball out to Finlay Thain who nearly got away but for an excellent challenge by Ross Logan covering back. From the corner then, North Berwick managed to get a header in and the keeper Sinclair has to pull off a great save.
By now the sun was dipping behind some clouds and the temperature had dropped slightly as another long ball out wide was chased by Watson before Sinclair came out and released the ball. Duncan for Fernieside tried to come inside on the corner of the box with Hamilton waiting in the centre but Kris Harley put in a firm block tackle and cleared it away. From the throw-in upfield, North Berwick got it right into the box to the far post where Anderson who, again, was covering and doing his defensive duties well, got it clear.
Hamilton played in Anderson further up now, and he ran to the touchline, did excellently to avoid challenges coming in and kept the ball in play, he pulled it back with a deft cross into the box where, I believe, it was Taylor who fired in a first time shot that absolutely rattled the bar and flew away from goal.
Seconds later his persistence was rewarded as a shot saved by Wallace deflected upwards and Taylor intelligently headed it up and down and into the bottom right corner of the North Berwick goal. Twenty five minutes were gone in this tumultuous battle at the top and Fernieside had a three goal advantage. North Berwick could not believe it but, for their mammoth efforts, Fernieside had earned their just rewards.
Hamilton then proceeded to make a number of surging runs and North Berwick did superbly to get it back up for a corner of their own before Hamilton did it again, this time ending with a low shot come cross that reached Anderson beyond the far post who pulled it back from a shallow angle with so much force that it could only go in off the despairing defender who had done so well to get back to the goal-line to cover his keeper. An own goal and Fernieside were four goals up!
With half an hour gone, Hamilton collected a lofted ball over the top with his instep onto an opposition player and won a corner which MacIntosh so nearly got his head to. Soon, Duncan controls the ball in midfield and plays it over the defence for Hamilton and Taylor to chase, Taylor almost got to it but Wallace came out to collect.
For North Berwick, Harley brought it down and laid it off along the left wing. It eventually went out for a goal kick before it was soon up the other end for a corner to Fernieside which was cleared before the referee blew his whistle for an injury. From the free kick that Harley sent long, a goal kick came out to the centre circle which Hamilton picked up and passed for Anderson down the wing but Ren Quantrill intercepted and before there was time for the throw to be taken, the referee again blew his whistle but on this occurrence, it was for half time.
Half Time: Fernieside FC Colts 4-0 North Berwick Colts
The teams swapped ends and the sun’s shadows grew longer and colder but the pitch and the plucky players were warm as the parents were left shivering on the side lines. Immediately Duncan, Hamilton and Taylor combined to surge through the centre straight from kick-off and reached the defence where Harley got it back and took it forward. Taylor recovered the ball off of him and sent it out wide. Then came a period where the game was staged in midfield, North Berwick got it down the left wing on a couple of occasions and Fernieside had surrendered to longer balls in place of their passing. Their coach John Watt soon reminded them of their strengths and they took it on board and got it down and started playing shortly after.
North Berwick sent a throw bouncing into the box and from the clearance out, Fernie’s Kyle Taylor had a rasping shot collected by Wallace the keeper, although it eventually led to a corner for Fernieside. From this, the ball was palmed clear by Wallace again but Hamilton was waiting and shot hard and true back towards goal and Wallace had to react quickly and made another save with his knees, pushing it away from danger.
At this point, Fernie’s Kieran Twist joined the action, looking lively as a throw in bounced in to the North Berwick box and up against a hand. The referee blew the whistle for a penalty to Fernieside!
Duncan was determined to take it and took the ball and placed it down on the spot. He fired in a great strike high and to the right and unbelievably, Wallace, having a superb game, flew to his left and edged it by the post with his fingertips!
With eight minutes gone in the second half, Carl Sandison and John Collins came on for North Berwick Colts, replacing Watson and Dokkhaoram, the latter kindly lending his number 7 shirt to a teammate who’s own had got torn in the battle on the pitch. Then Fernieside responded, bringing on Sean Bonnar and Patryk Nowosadzki.
Fernieside continued pressing around the Berwick area and defending well throughout the team, restricting the game to a series of throw ins and forcing North Berwick to make a lot of headed clearances until the recent addition Nowosadzki charged down the right wing passed three or four players and so nearly broke free. From the throw that followed, Hamilton showed a tremendous piece of skill on the corner of the area, dragging it back and heeling it out from amongst three defenders, coming inside and getting a left footed shot off that Wallace easily collected.
Hamilton on the opposite side, the left side of the area, then flicked the ball over and inside the onrushing defender and tried to cushion the ball into the far right of the goal with the outside of his left boot but it went across the goal and the North Berwick fullback got it clear.
North Berwick made another change bringing William Ladbrooke on for Robbie Gardner and soon they are breaking down the right wing but their attack was arrested before Harley collected the ball and tried to get the attack going again, driving his team forward.
A throw in led to Taylor having a shot for Fernieside that Wallace did well to stop and then the play remained down the Fernieside left wing until the 19th minute of the second half when they made a host of substitutions, after which there were some long balls out from the North Berwick half but Fernieside were still pressing high and competing well, getting a shot in a couple of minutes later.
Then Twist had a great touch collecting the ball and passing it out wide but North Berwick won a free kick and Harley fired it towards goal so fast the keeper Sinclair could only palm it on to the cross bar but it was enough to prevent what would have been a great goal as it belted onto the floor and away. Fernieside counter attacked and North Berwick got back quickly to intercept the ball and work it up field before the Fernie winger was released down the left and had a little tug at the right back to get an advantage and then follow the ball into the box, the ref waved play on and he got his shot away but it went wide.
Then Ladbrooke almost got clear of the Fernieside defence after a great turn passed midfield but the Fernieside defence cleared down the left and MacIntosh tried a long range curler that was well controlled and flew just a foot or so over from about 20 yards out. Then, from the goal kick, he collected the ball and played in Anderson down the left who came in and shot low and hard and it went just past the post.
Twist showed another deft touch then to pull the ball out of the air but North Berwick were back on the attack down the right with Ladbrooke and he almost got in to the box but it was cleared by Fernieside and after some good interplay over on the right wing, MacIntosh found some space coming inside, powered into the box and shot hard and low left footed in the far corner for his second of the game!
After the restart, he was clearly feeling invincible when he attempted a Hollywood style effort from way out which went a fair old distance and meant we didn’t see the keeper who ran off to retrieve it for a good few minutes!
Back to the play and from a throw, Finlay Dixon who had come on, worked it to Alex Johnston, also having joined the action, and his shot was blocked and goes back up field where Noah Poole and Collins for North Berwick go on the attack and Poole was fouled as Fernieside defended. Harley fired it forward and it almost bounced clear for Ladbrooke who was lively since coming on. But Fernie stayed resolute in defence again and got it away through MacIntosh, it reached Wallace in goal and he sent it out wide right for Berwick’s Poole who passed to a teammate who was heavily challenged and once the free kick was taken the referee blew for the final whistle to end this enthralling and all action game at the top of the league.
Full Time: Fernieside FC Colts 5-0 North Berwick Colts