Fixture: Dunipace Juniors v Linlithgow Rose
Competition: U19's Ace Exhausts and Tyres Cup
A dry and crisp afternoon for the young Pace as they moved operations to their new alternate at Castle Park for the second time, following the previous days First team game at Westfield rendering the surface unplayable. The visitors were Linlithgow Rose, making the relatively short trip down the M9 to complete this Ace Exhausts and Tyres cup quarter final.
With Taylor and Hepburn still missing through longer term injuries Dunipace elected to leave out influential trio Maclaren, ever present McIntyre and Swords, the former pair nursing their own minor injuries and the latter very close to recovery from his own long term knock. In the reshuffle 30 goal striker Brown was rested along with the midfield creativity of Steven.
It meant a first start at left back for Cherrie alongside Black, Walker and skipper Balmer in defence. Comrie, predominantly a second striker, moved into the centre of midfield beside Meade with King and Mitusch in the wide areas and up top it was a return for Weir alongside Paterson making his first start for the club.
Such is the quality in this young squad that anyone unfamiliar and looking on wouldn't have noticed the shuffle as the Westfield men picked up the baton from the off, moving the ball well and finding their tempo early, making their visitors work to see any of the ball in the opening exchanges. With only one up front Linlithgow were struggling to put any pressure on the home defence who, filled with good footballers as well as defenders, had time and space to move the ball around themselves before picking passes into the midfield area.
In midfield Meade and Comrie were finding pockets of space between their opponents line of 5, with King and Mitusch occupying both wide midfielder and fullback with their pace and trickery. Comrie in particular was getting himself on the ball and dictating the early tempo of the game and nearly set up Weir to open the scoring, the defender getting across to block the strikers effort.
Weir had another shot which flashed just wide before Mitusch, who had scored a worldy the week before, tried his luck again from distance but this time only found the keepers gloves. King, Paterson and Comrie all had efforts on goal fielded by the the visitors keeper before Jackson in the home goal, a virtual spectator, touched the ball for the first time from a Walker pass back.
With Comrie and Meade adapting to playing together for the first time in the initial stages, Meade started to get himself forward more and fired a warning shot across the bows of the keeper, forcing a save low to his right from a right foot drive before Mitusch showed great feet in the wide area to cross for Paterson who headed narrowly wide.
The Westfield men were playing some fine football, the only thing missing a goal. It didn't take too long though and when it came it was the man who had given warning only moments before who got it.
Following good football at the back between Black, Balmer and Walker, Comrie picked out King in the wide area. King exchanged passes with Paterson before playing in Weir who rolled his marker superbly, getting to the byeline and drilling in a low cross with his right. Arriving perfectly to meet it was Meade, firing first time with his right through the keepers legs from 8 yards, the ball in the net before the stopper could react.
The home side had their tails up and from the kickoff won the ball back and were immediately on the attack, Mitusch skipping beyond his man on the left before finding Comrie who played in Weir. Weir found Meade again who pulled a fine save from the keeper to his right before Paterson latched onto the rebound and fizzed across goal with his left, no Dunipace takers to turn it home.
The strike partnership were causing problems with their movement and quality on the ball and when the second goal came it was no surprise that again one of the duo was involved. This time it was Paterson, linking with Mitusch on the left from a throw in from Cherrie. Paterson turned inside to find Comrie: What followed was spectacular. Comrie dropped his shoulder, skipped inside his man and fired a thunderous drive with his right into the postage stamp corner from 20 yards, the keeper helpless. Had he been standing that side of the goal he would have struggled to keep it out such was the power and accuracy on the strike, a contender to rival Mitusch from the week before!
Cherrie tried his luck from distance but dragged the shot wide before Weir nearly got through but for a heavy touch, Dunipace were well in control of the tie, playing some fine possession football as the half time whistle went.
Into the second half and the home side started where they had left off, passing the ball with purpose and tempo and under little pressure defensively. It didn't take them long to add a third. Comrie linked with Meade and Weir before finding King on the right. King played into the path of an excellent run into the channel by Paterson who looked up and delivered a perfect cross between defence and keeper, narrowly missing the inrushing Weir but finding the late run of Mitusch at the back post who finished confidently first time with his left for 3-0.
Having not had to field an effort on goal, Jackson found himself facing up to a penalty for the second time in two games and for the second time no-one was really sure what it was for. Meade took the ball from an opposing attacker inside the area and burst forward, no claim for a foul from anyone (including the attacker) but the official apparently spotted a shirt pull. You can generally tell from the reaction of the players and Meade, as laid back as they come, was clearly upset!
So, for the second time in two games the opponents, well out of the tie, were given a route back in via a bizarre penalty decision. Jackson dived to his right but couldn't keep out the well struck penalty, which turned out to be the only shot on target against him in the 90.
Following the penalty Dunipace withdrew the impressive strike duo of Weir and Paterson to give Brown and Steven an outing up top, but it wasn't a great period for the pair to enter the game as Dunipace crossed the line that divides tempo and frantic. Where before they had played quick passing football, fully in controll of their own game and more often than not chosing the simple option, into a period where the difficult ball and holding onto it for too long became the choice.
Thankfully, they defended resolutely through the period, never really in danger of losing a goal until Jackson was penalised for taking longer than 6 seconds to release, bringing a free kick. This brought more confusion to the home team, no question that it was more than 6 seconds, but because when they have been claiming the same in games this season as opposing keepers have held on for too long the match officials (on 3 separate occasions) have advised that there is no longer a 6 second rule.
As it turns out, the match official today was bang on and its actually his colleagues who have been giving some questionable information! One to remember going forward. In any case, the free kick was shifted and fired well wide, so no harm came of it.
It did, at least, awaken the home side who from then could have added 3 or 4, Steven first up to drill low to the keepers right forcing a fine save after some good footwork. King forced another superb fingertips save with a drive from distance that looked all the way in the top corner before Steven fired narrowly wide via a deflection. Brown, eager to find the net as always fired a warning shot across the bows dragging wide with his left before Meade played in Mitusch who found the side netting.
There was a fourth coming and when it did it was another fine move. Black and Meade linked on the right to find Balmer at centre back. Under pressure he moved the ball on to his partner Walker who dropped a fine ball into Comrie in Midfield. Comrie in space got his head up and played defence splitting through ball to Brown who did what Brown does. The striker drove toward goal, shrugging of a last ditch challenge, before sliding the ball beyond the keeper with his left for 4. It may only have been a 30 minute cameo for the big striker as Dunipace rotated, but his desire to score was clear for all to see and in the end it still brings his goals to minutes ratio down to around the 42 minutes per goal mark!
In the end a very comfortable game for the home side, 4-1 not really telling the full story. Lots of positives to take both individually and collectively and another day where the spectators were treated to some excellent goals.
Into the semi finals, where the young Pace will face an away trip to either Lanark or Stenhousemuir.
Full Time : Dunipace Juniors 4-1 Linlithgow Rose