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Fauldhouse Foxes showed why they sit near the top end of the table, coming from behind to beat a lively Livingston Hearts side to claim their 9th win in just 11 games.
Although the pitch at Eliburn park had a slightly muddy quality about it, the morning was bright enough and the players looked eager to get started as they warmed up pre kick off. "1-2-3 Fauldhouse" was the rousing shout from the away touchline as the team prepared to do battle.
And what a battle it proved to be.
Fauldhouse kicked off the match and immediately the opening minutes were contested furiously in the middle of the park. Tough challenges from both sides saw several mid park freekicks with both defences handling deflected attacks.
The first promising chance comes from a mid park freekick as Fauldhouse looked to take charge 4 minutes in. The long ball into the box side footed towards goal by midfield man Kerr Fraser. Though he only found side netting, the foxes look dangerous.
As Livi Hearts look to play out from the back, the goal kick is sliced straight into the path of the Fauldhouse attack but the end product is again knocked wide by David Paterson.
5' More handy attacking play from Fauldhouse as Paul Davidson turns well and plays the ball out to teammate Martin Hughes. His drive looks dangerous but an excellent tackle from Brian Arnott ends the attack.
Livi Hearts looked to bite back with dangerous dribbling from both Zak Avinou and Michael Forrest. Both attacks are handled well by the Fauldhouse back line but both look comfortable going forward.
The first 15 minutes have flown in with a flurry of aggressive challenges. Movement is going to be difficult in this one.
Martin Hughes continues to drive deep into the Livi hearts defence but the back line have held up well so far.
16 minutes played and Livi Hearts look to counter as the ball is played out of defence. Hearts number 12 Luke Bowlan always winning for pace as he burns past his man in pursuit of the ball. He makes it but the ball is dealt with by a solid Callum Kirkland tackle.
The ball down the other end into the Livi hearts half now. End to end stuff here! However the match is put on hold as Ross Boyd of the home side takes a painful knock to the knee. Blood can be seen glistening from the wound and he is forced to come off. Big set back for Livi hearts, Boyd had been solid so far. However he is replaced by Grant Treadwell who looks to keep up the Livi Hearts barriers.
20 minutes played and Livi Hearts now begin to creep forward and pressurise the foxes. Several long balls are launched in but the biggest threat comes in the form of Michael Forrest. The no 11 drives through at top speed, beating defenders to the ball and cannoning a shot on target. Good attempt but saved well by keeper Kieran Gowans.
The ball coming forward with Fauldhouse now, Kerr Fraser looking good in the middle. His pass comes off the defender and is deflected all the way back and gathered up by Charlie Cook in the Livi Hearts goal. All looks comfortable again until the referee signals a pass back! Livi Hearts in uproar but an indirect freekick is awarded deep in the hearts box as the ball came off the defender before being picked up by Cook.
Livi Hearts ready to rush the ball with 9 men on the line. The ball laid off...GOAL! Livi hearts rush out to the ball but not before it is slid cooly into the bottom left corner by David Paterson! Great finish and first blood to Fauldhouse. 0-1!
The home side will have to find a way to contain the dangerous Fauldhouse attack.
23 minutes in and Livi hearts looked to stay composed after falling behind. Fauldhouse have other ideas however as they win the ball immediately and move forward again. They look fired up now!
A series of blocks made by the Livi Hearts defence before Kerr Fraser forces Cook into a good save. Fauldhouse really threatening after pulling in front!
Livi Hearts can't be ruled out however and Forrest looks dangerous again on the counter, touching the ball past his marker and again speeding towards goal. His pace is proving hard to deal with!
As we hit the 25 minute mark the match is going from end to end with several exciting dribbles and countless strong challenges. Both Forrest and Avinou look capable of breaking through for Livi Hearts, whilst Fraser and Martin Hughes are showing skill attacking the other end!
Approaching the half hour mark and the match does not show signs of slowing. The ball is won well by hearts number 5 and beat furiously up the pitch. Forrest immediately tears after it but can he make it? He does, unbelievable speed! GOAL! Forrest beats the defence to the ball, blasts his first shot into the keeper but is first to the rebound and pokes it home for the leveller. 1-1!
Fauldhouse now have a fight on their hands. This is crystal clear just 2 minutes after the restart as the ball is again cleared into their half and in front of Forrest. The man of the moment again beats both his markers for pace and slides the ball past the keeper! GOAL! 2-1 to Livi Hearts!
A quick fire double from Forrest and this Livi Hearts outfit look good with confidence on their side!
Fauldhouse must really focus now. They restart and attempt to move the ball around, seeking an opening.
35 minutes gone and Hughes is beginning to shine for Fauldhouse. Several clever dribbles into Livi Hearts box have proved hard to deal with. The great link up play between Hughes and Fraser Young down the right side is looking to be fauldhouse's best option.
Approaching the end of the half and Hughes comes close with a shot towards the top corner. Good footwork on display as he edges round his marker and loops the shot on target, but Cook is there to tip the ball onto the bar. Good save!
Fauldhouse looking hungry for that equaliser now as we approach the 39th minute and Cook is forced to make several more blocks. Paterson wins the ball in the middle and passes to Fraser, whose back heel finds Paterson again who again finds Fraser. Great inter play! A hasty block from the Livi Hearts defender and a freekick awarded on the edge of the area just before the break!
As Fauldhouse prepare, Treadwell leaves the pitch to be replaced by Elliot Logan.
Paterson to take it. His shot is blocked well by cook but the referee blasts his whistle. Early movement from the wall, retake! Paterson stepping up again... What a save! The shot curling towards the top left bag but Cook is there again to tip the ball away! What a display from Cook between the Livi Hearts sticks, and the following balls into his area are again won by him.
Half time! A rowdy first half sees Livi Hearts 2-1 up after a double from Michael Forrest, but both sides are looking capable of scoring again!
Half Time: Livingston Hearts 2-1 Fauldhouse Foxes
Livi Hearts get us started again with Avinou knocking the ball to Forrest. Both teams looked strong and the second half proved to be as full of twists, turns and hard tackling as the first!
Just 1 minute into the half and Fauldhouse man Fraser sails a long freekick into the area. The defence are caught unawares as Lewis Brown catches the ball with a powerful half volley! Cannons off the crossbar! Unlucky!
The first five minutes of the half show strong possession play for Fauldhouse, much of it coming from Paterson and Hughes who are playing off one another brilliantly!
46 minutes in and Hughes dances forward again, playing a quick one-two with Paterson...but the Livi Hearts defence are clearing up well.
At the other end Avinou shows his pace off to the rival defence and is beaten only by the offside whistle. Both teams ready to break forward at any moment in this half!
48', Kerr Fraser is running the midfield well today but his balls in are being dealt with by a resilient defensive effort.
49' Hugh Hardie of the Hearts back line plays the ball forward. He has been solid so far and his long ball flirts with Avinou, Forrest and McComisky but runs through to Fauldhouse keeper Gowans in the end.
Fauldhouse bite back with another rousing attack from Hughes. He looks confident as he bombs down the right side of the park. His low cross is controlled well by Mackinnon, who lays it back off to Hughes.... Great save! Hughes rattles his shot at goal but Cook parries well.
The Hughes and Paterson combo now dominating the right side of the pitch with good short passing displays.
52 minutes gone and Hughes again dribbling into the Livi Hearts area. He takes on his marker, beats him with a good burst of pace and shoots a low cross into the middle of the box..... GOAL! The ball is met first time by Mackinnon's curled effort! Logan was brave in his attempt to the block the shot and he done well, but in the end despite his deflection the ball spun into the left side of the Livi Hearts net. 2-2!
We are level again here and Fauldhouse are looking to be the quickest of foxes as they pick up the tempo.
Just 3 minutes after we get underway again and Fauldhouse are flooding forward again. Calum Dick in possession, showing great presence on the ball as he moves from his own defensive position into the middle of the park. He's got good feet for the tall, strong looking player he is!
Dick plays it to Mackinnon on the left wing, who dashes forward and flicks it up to Brown, who immediately centres it along the ground to Paterson. David Paterson battles through several challenges in the box and manages to squeeze a shot through.... Curled wide! Good football from Fauldhouse, looking professional here!
Livi Hearts attempting to put balls into the Fauldhouse box but to no avail so far. The foxes are doing well to play the ball out from their defence with Dick connecting well with Mackinnon and Fraser in midfield.
Around the 58th minute and Mackinnon has possession. He controls his keeper's kick well and is looking threatening as he assaults the left wing. Ball played into the path of Hughes. Livi Hearts just can't handle him! He dribbles past one defender, then another, then another as he comes in to the box from the left. Hughes cuts it towards the near post.... GOAL! The ball fired in low and Fauldhouse have the lead again at long last! 2-3!
Livi Hearts will need to find a way back into this. They're looking like they might be disappearing amongst the Fauldhouse attacking swarm!
Turner comes on for Kinross of Fauldhouse after we kick off again.
Only a few minutes later and Fauldhouse are advancing again! Potter jinxing forward with the ball all the way from his own half. Potter knocks the ball out to the right side of the box... GOAL! Paterson meets the ball with powerful slotted effort which nestles into the net on the keepers left side! 2-4!
The Fauldhouse players are looking very confident now and are seizing the match and placing it into their collective pockets! They move forward again in this second half, although the balls into the box being attempted are now being cleared well by Callum Faulds and co at the Livi Hearts back line.
64 minutes played and Brian Arnott shows a bit of determination as he battles forward for Livi Hearts. The ball is chased by Forrest after being poked forward but Gowans is there to collect first. Even Forrest is struggling to impact in this half!
Dick leaves the park to make way for Paul Davidson. Dick looks happy and has performed well!
Livi Hearts still unable to find a rhythm here as they are continually knocked out of tune by the solid countering back line of foxes.
68 minutes played and it's Paterson again breaking forward for Fauldhouse, escaping his marker and reaching the edge of the box. Paterson has been brilliant so far and he unleashes a low drive.... Great block by Cook! But it falls for Kerr Fraser who hits it.... Cook uses his feet to save again!
10 minutes to go and another hopeful Livi Hearts ball is beaten away by the Fauldhouse defence. Callum Kirkland in possession and moving forward, plays it to Mackinnon, who pings it up to Paterson in the box. Great save! Cook reacts to block another low drive.
73' Lewis Brown plays a long freekick into the box for Fauldhouse, excellent ball! Headed well by Davidson to loop the ball over to Hughes. Typically quick feet by Hughes to bring the ball down and shuffle past his man. He's loose again! Sliding shot from hughes... GOAL! And once again, magnificent skill on the ball from Hughes and a good finish. 2-5!
Hughes has certainly watched his fair share of Samba football! Fauldhouse seem to be running away with it here! Livi Hearts just can't handle this many headed attack force that is out in force today!
The following minutes show that Fauldhouse are not interested in slowing until the final whistle! More shots slammed towards goal from around the area by Brown and Paterson, provoking more heroic saves from Charlie Cook. He has certainly done himself proud no matter the score line today!
5 minutes remaining and Livi Hearts are looking to string together a bit of movement in the Fauldhouse half. A good corner from Avinou is palmed clear by Gowans but Hearts stay in possession in a dangerous area. The ball is played in front of Forrest who still looks capable despite being kept quiet in this second half.
A good touch but Forrest is shepherded away from goal by a determined Callum Kirkland. Kirkland proceeds to win the ball and rattle forward on the counter attack. Played to Mackinnon on the left wing. Mackinnon returns it to the overlapping Kirkland, great play. Kirkland dashes into the left side of the box and has a pop.... Good save by Cook!
The ball is played into the middle of the park, into the possession of Kerr Fraser and into the sound of the final whistle. Strong attacking performance from Fauldhouse and they have overcome a brave Livi Hearts side who can hold their heads high despite the defeat. Fantastic game here at Eliburn Park!
"Exciting" was the word used by the Fauldhouse coaching team to describe today's action and this can in no way be disputed. With several outstanding performers on the ball, a match full of strong tackles and a heroic performance despite defeat from the Hearts defence and goalkeeper, any spectators will have gone home satisfied with the football played.
Other league teams will certainly have to keep an eye on this Fauldhouse side. One would not go amiss to back them for success if they continue to perform to this standard!
Full Time: Livingston Hearts 2-5 Fauldhouse Foxes