The goals were set-up with a light frost sitting on the surface but by kick off time, the pitch was soft and looked tricky to play on. Dunbar defied these conditions and settled from the start. The Rhymers had been out of action for a number of weeks and the Seasiders looked to expose this rustiness early on. Within minutes of the kick off Hood looked lively down the left and Renton was presented with the first chance of the match but could only put it over the bar.
5 minutes in and a great passing move did see the deadlock broken. Knox picked up the ball in midfield and shipped it wide to Hood. His through ball found Renton skipping by his marker – the move was slick and Renton squared for Twist who simply passed the ball into the net to round off an excellent move.
Dunbar were dominating early possession and all players were involved. Sutherland and Ford were pushing high from the full-back position and overloading the Rhymers defence. Brunton, Hall, Smillie and Knox sat in the middle as Dunbar patiently built from back to front. Pickles was employed further up the pitch and he was a good foil for Ford who was bursting forward from right back with increasing regularity.
Dunbar doubled their lead with 10 minutes played. A sharp pass from Smillie to the feet of striker Renton saw the frontman control the ball before turning a great pass round the corner as Knox burst through from his own half. He continued his run all the way into the box and finished well, showing great energy and composure.
Dunbar were aware the Rhymers were rusty and used their substitues well, rolling players on and off, early in the game.
The Earlston team settled into the game at last and showed good shape and strong defending. They were neat and tidy in possession and with Dunbar defending high, did have a few chances at goal. On one occasion, Brunton recovered well to put in a challenge as the striker shaped to shoot while Purves showed his strength lies in dealing with a 1 v 1 and emerged on top as the Blues number 9 worked his way into the box.
Jones and Mclean were introduced to the Dunbar team and such is the Dunbar strength, there was no break in the pattern or passing of the ‘home’ team. Renton was unusually wasteful in front of goals although Dodds in the Earlston goal was having a good game.
Half time approached as Dunbar carved a final chance. A well-worked short corner routine between Renton and Jones saw the ball worked into the middle – Hood knocked the ball down but Knox dragged his effort wide.
Half Time: Earlston Rhymers 0-2 Dunbar United Colts
Dunbar brought Foggo and Balmforth-Tait on in the second period and Dunbar started the half brightly again. Foggo linked with Twist who slipped Mclean in with a great pass – Mclean, now playing further forward, could only shoot over the bar.
Another exquisite through ball from Twist found Knox and this time the big man made no mistake. He shot with the outside of his right foot and the ball sneaked under the Rhymers keeper and into the corner of the net.
It should be noted at this stage that the referee was enjoying a particularly good game. He was clearly a good listener as he could be heard praising and encouraging both sets of players, and calling them by their first name. It certainly contributed to a game played in very good spirits. He also agreed to the game going ahead in Dunbar and he showed no signs of jet lag with his performance (Selkirk are GMT – 10 years).
Dunbar were stringing plenty of passes together and Balmforth-Tait and Foggo down the right were linking brilliantly. In fact, Balmforth-Tait at right back was playing like Alves, pushing forwards and I’m guessing a pass completion rate of at least 99.9%.
Dunbar produced chances but were finding an inspired keeper in Dodds keeping the Rhymers in it. Mclean was put through and the Earlston number 1 showed bravery as he saved at the feet of the Seasiders forward. Next to be denied was Smillie – Renton swung a corner in and to all on the touchlines, it looked like a Smillie bullet header was goal bound but Dodds threw himself at it and saved brilliantly.
He could do nothing to prevent Dunbar scoring a 4th. Twist and Foggo drew the keeper, and a neat pass inside to Mclean saw him turn and fire into the empty net.
The best save of the game was still to come when Renton found space in the box, his shot across goal looked destined to stretch the net but Dodds dived low and his hand kept the busy Renton at bay.
Renton was not to be denied however and he never likes to go a game without a goal. His endeavour was finally rewarded as he struck home Dunbar’s fifth of the game and his 38th of the season.
Earlston were still looking to play and their team shape was very good throughout. They still looked dangerous on the attack and Jones and Pickles were quick to cover on a few occasions, while Jones was watchful as he made his way across from left back to make a great clearing tackle down the middle. Purves was keen to keep a clean sheet and despite long periods of inactivity was on hand to produce good saves when called upon.
Dunbar played with great maturity and with very patient football. They never once deviated from their passing game and created numerous chances. Missing in the Dunbar armoury this season has been a Sutherland pile-driver. The talented left footer only scores spectacular goals and he decided to treat the crowd to a special that has been left in the locker for too long. Taking possession from outside the box he unleashed a fierce effort that rocketed into the far corner of the net for his first of the season.
Even rarer than hen’s teeth are goals from Dunbar right back Ford. He was attacking well throughout and found himself in the box with Dunbar’s last attack of the game – he didn’t know quite when to shoot and found himself on the ground with the Rhymers defender puzzled as to how Ford got there. The referee said nothing and blew for full time.
Full Time: Earlston Rhymers 0-6 Dunbar United Colts
It is league action and a home fixture for the Dunny boys in their final game of 2015 when AC Oxgangs visit Hallhill on Sunday 20thDecember.