Fixture: Dunbar United Colts v Penicuik Athletic YFC
Competition: South East Region YFL - Division 2
Venue: Hallhill Sports Centre 3G, Dunbar
Date: Sunday 14th Ferbruary 2016
Hallhill was the venue for Dunbar United Colts as they entertained Penicuik Athletic in a Valentine’s Day league fixture. With the grass pitch playable but resembling a tattie field, the hosts elected to a last minute change of surface to the lush, true carpet of the 3G. The two teams appeared evenly matched on paper with a 3-3 draw last May in the league, and Dunbar emerging victorious on penalties after a frenetic league cup fixture which saw the team’s share 8 goals just before Christmas.
Dunbar had been rocked with the news that their goalkeeper Purves was bed bound, struck down by a nasty virus which had also restricted training time for Pickles. Pickles was just about fit enough to take a place on the bench with Twist also declaring himself available to play if required, despite a knock to his knee last weekend.
The Dunbar coaches put on their best poker faces as team lines were sent with Finlay Hood playing only his second ever, and first competitive game in the Dunbar goal. Such is the lad’s commitment to the team; he didn’t even hesitate when asked if he would don the gloves for the day. Further news emerged that athletic and robust midfielder Knox would dampen pre-match spirits by announcing he was struggling with his chest and unable to play in midfield.
The Dunbar Coaches did well to hide any nerves in the changing room toilets but were still able to field a strong eleven. Ford, Smillie, Brunton and Sutherland formed a formidable defensive line and they were under strict instructions to clear whenever required as Dunbar momentarily abandoned any back-to-front build up play to protect their enthusiastic but inexperienced keeper.
In a move which would later become the trump card, Hall was asked to further protect by operating in a defensive midfield role with Renton and Mclean asked to pull the strings in the middle of the park and Kinghorn and Foggo the wide men supporting Knox.
With the positive message still ringing in their ears, Dunbar were fast out the blocks. Within a minute it looked like a master stroke to play Knox up front as he was put through on goal, only to see his effort blocked as the visiting keeper was called upon early.
From the resulting corner, the same player was first to the ball but could only direct his header over the bar. With still only two minutes played, Renton was next to test the Penicuik keeper with the number one able to keep the Seasiders at bay for now.
Dunbar were winning everything with Hall winning header after header in the middle of the park within the first few minutes as the hosts bombarded the visitors' goal. A quick break in attack saw a long ball forward from Penicuik. Hood was in no mood to demonstrate any nerves and he was sharp off his line to collect at the feet off the onrushing striker.
With only four minutes on the clock it was no surprise to see Dunbar open the scoring. Renton with the fancy footwork, outfoxing the defence as he waltzed into the box before blasting home. A minute later and the perseverance of Knox upfront saw him win the ball and lay it off to Kinghorn on the edge of the box. The tall winger still had work to do but superb technique saw him volley home from 20 yards. A quickfire double from the seasiders.
With just eight minutes played, Dunbar would go three goals to the good as they quashed any anxiety that may still be simmering away in the home Coaching staff’s mind. A corner from Renton was delivered to perfection and Smillie was up from the back to nod the ball down in to the turf and back up into the roof of the net.
There was only one way to stem the flow and it was a goal for the visitors. A little bit of sloppy defending, and a break of the ball saw the Penicuik striker smash past helpless keeper Hood and reduce the deficit.
This only served to energise the home team as Hall and Mclean took control. Hall was winning everything while Mclean’s distribution saw him link brilliantly with Foggo, Renton, Kinghorn and Knox as Dunbar turned in one of their most impressive offensive displays of the season.
Hall demonstrated his Makelele like qualities as he won a tackle in his own half. He emerged with the ball and played Knox through. The brave Penicuik defence were defending close to halfway and Knox blasted past them. He continued his run from halfway and into the box, before capping a superb burst by smashing into the corner of the net.
Goal number five was not too far away. Renton spied Sutherland free as they quickly took a short corner. Sutherland lined up a pile-driver, which the Penicuik defender could only deflect in to the path of a very grateful Smillie who collected and smashed in for his second of the game. He could not hide his joy as his team mates ran in to celebrate his two goal contribution from centre half.
Dunbar deservedly scored another before the referee could find time to offer some respite to the suffering visiting defence. It was Hall again who would win the ball and his first time ball saw Renton burst clear of the chasing pack and join Smillie on a brace of goals.
Half Time: Dunbar United Colts 6-1 Penicuik Athletic YFC
Such are the margins for error in youth football that the match looked far from over and the visitors would start the second half with a wind in their favour. Indeed, they benefitted from a few poor Dunbar tackles as the striker broke clear into the box and left Hood no chance with a terrific finish and reduce the deficit.
Renton was tormenting the Penicuik defence and he was very unlucky not to grab a hat-trick. His first shot saw the keeper save but the ball bounced straight back in to the path of the tricky striker. He fired it goal bound but the Penicuik keeper turned in a great double save to momentarily stem the Dunbar goal traffic.
Hall left the pitch with Pickles testing his fitness by slotting into the home midfield. This did nothing to alter the Dunbar play – Kinghorn, playing one of his finest games in a Dunbar shirt, was chasing everything. He was fast onto a back-pass, charging down the goalkeeper’s clearance but his quick attempted finish was dragged wide.
Pickles had not been on too long but he decided to join the goal scoring party as he leapt the highest to header home his second of the season to effectively kill off any hopes of a comeback for the visitors.
Dunbar opted to go defensive as Balmforth-Tait slotted in to the midfield. Again, he stuck to the game plan brilliantly as Dunbar collectively continued to press their opponents whenever possession was surrendered.
Knox was the final Dunbar scorer on a day when he showed no signs of a nagging sore chest and tormented the visiting defence all morning. Again, his endeavour to win the ball back saw him chase down a ball on the Dunbar right. His determination and strength saw him win the ball and he surged into the box. He dummied the lunging centre half tackle and smashed home.
Penicuik did have the final say in the game as a flurry of long range shots tested Hood to the full. He was beaten in the last minute with a great effort from the Penicuik midfielder which was placed perfectly into the corner of the net. Great way to round off the scoring for the day.
To a man, Dunbar were superb. Hall’s break-up play and ball-winning was pure poetry while Hood was the Rose in the Dunbar colours to earn the star player award for sheer guts and attitude and no shortage of skill. Mclean was the conductor of everything good in Dunbar’s play as the troops stuck to the game plan set out.
Dunbar continues their home run next weekend as they entertain Hutchison Vale Colts. The two sides met in a cup competition earlier in the season when Dunbar were outmuscled and beaten by 5 goals to 1. A big test for the boys but one they will relish.
Full Time: Dunbar United Colts 8-3 Penicuik Athletic YFC