Dunbar hosted Bonnyrigg Rose FC in the season opener, looking to get their season off to a better start than last year when they took seven games before recording their first win. They were faced with a minor injury crisis when 51-goal hero from last season Dixon dropped out with a knee injury with able deputies in attack Mclean and Foggo already unavailable.
With playing conditions perfect, Dunbar opted to play on the large 11-a-side pitch hoping to utilise the pace of Cooper and Kinghorn down the flanks and Renton up top with Twist playing off him.
Smillie joined Kinghorn and Renton in making their competitive debuts for the home team.
The first 10 minutes of the game was a competitive affair between two teams involved in what already looks like a close division. The home side forged the first opening when Renton flicked the ball through for Twist who looked for the run from Cooper when a shot at goal may have been the better option.
There were few opportunities but both teams looked to play good football with the quick counter attack of the visitors looking to stretch the defence of Smillie, Pickles, Hall and Sutherland while the home side were more patient in their build-up play.
The midfield was well contested and Knox and Kielty were beginning to make their mark for the seasiders with Kielty in particular looking close to unbeatable in the tackle while mixing the play up well with short and long passes.
Bonnyrigg forced a couple of half chances with Smillie showing his defensive duties were as strong as his passing as he bravely headed clear.
The opening goal came with only 10 minutes of the half remaining. Knox won the ball in midfield, looked up and picked out the run of Renton. Renton’s running off the ball was superb and the pass was threaded through as the young lad showed nerves of steel and calmly finished into the corner of the net to open his account in what already looks like a profitable goal-scoring campaign.
Purves was called into action in the home goals and he was quick out of his box on a couple of occasions as the visitors searched for an equaliser.
However, it was Dunbar who would stretch their lead – this time, a goal kick was pounced upon by striker Renton. He still had work to do but his pace took him clear of the defence and his strike showed his first goal was no fluke with the ball finding the corner of the net for the second time.
Dunbar looked to see the game through to half time but a rare loss of possession in midfield saw Bonnyrigg nick a goal back just before the break. Possession was surrendered and a perfectly weighted pass through saw the Rose striker finish past keeper Purves in the home goal.
Half time saw Readman introduced at right back with flying winger Cooper struggling with a groin strain. Smillie moved into the vacant right of midfield slot to demonstrate his versatility. The opening five minutes of the second half saw a rejuvenated Rose forcing the pressure. Clearly buoyed by the half time team talk they looked the more dangerous but Readman, Pickles, Hall and Sutherland looked strong in the tackle and determined to block any opportunities.
In fact, Dunbar stretched their lead against the run of play. Kinghorn demonstrated exactly why he was in the team with Sutherland sending the player clear down the left. His pace took him beyond the full back and he had the vision as well as the skill to deliver the cross into the path of on-rushing striker Renton who crashed the ball home for his hat-trick and Dunbar’s third goal.
Dunbar looked to have taken the sting out of the Rose attack with that goal and looked dangerous all over the park. Hood was introduced on the right for a tiring Smillie who performed brilliantly on debut. Hood’s first involvement saw him cut in from the right and try a curler into the opposite corner. The visiting keeper pulled off a great stop.
With 10 minutes now played in the second half, the Renton show was now in full flow. Another threaded ball through saw the striker score his fourth of the game in similar circumstances as his first two. A nervy looking Dixon watched on helplessly as the race for the golden boot looks to be a closer run thing this season.
Dunbar were hungry now and Knox was pushing forward. He was unlucky to see an effort saved before Twist saw his celebration cut short with his effort chalked off for offside.
Kielty was enjoying himself in the middle of the pitch now and showing his full range of passing as he began to run the show for the home team. He was also unlucky to see a potential goal of the season contender chalked off when his free kick from full on 40 yards into the top corner of the net was ruled out, with the referee deciding that the free kick was indirect.
Still Dunbar attacked and Renton was unlucky not to add a fifth when wonderful technique saw an effort from the outside of his foot drift just wide of the post.
Dunbar still had defending to do and Pickles remained fully focussed in pulling out a goal saving tackle while Readman looked like putting any part of his body in the way of the visitors long range efforts. Keeper Purves was equal to anything that did manage to escape the defender’s tackles.
Dunbar closed the game out with two more goals. Readman showed his ability in attack matched his defensive duties when a superb through ball found Renton who was enjoying his competitive duty more and more. This time he had the skill and composure to round the keeper and knock his and Dunbar’s fifth into an empty net.
The sixth goal from Dunbar came from another good passing move with Hood the executioner on this occasion and who else but Renton who marked a dream debut with his double hat-trick with another well-taken goal in a manner not too dissimilar to Van Nistelrooy in his pomp.
This was a great team performance from Dunbar with any number of players throwing their name into the hat for man of the match and certainly trying to ink their name on to the team sheet in a competitive squad. Kielty ran the show for the home team but it would be difficult not to award the man of the match to a player who scored all six of the team goals while making his debut for the club.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Dunbar side with a tricky visit to Musselburgh on Tuesday night as the games come thick and fast.
Full Time: Dunbar United Colts 6-1 Bonnyrigg Rose FC