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Dunipace progress in the regional cup after win over Musselburgh Windsor

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Musselburgh Windsor 96
Dunipace Juniors
U19's South East Region Cup
02 November 2014
After last weeks disappointment in the Scottish Cup, losing their first game of the season in a below par display, the young Pace made the lengthy trip to Dunbar to face Musselburgh Windsor in Round 3 of the Regional Cup with a home tie in the quarter finals up for grabs.
With Walker, King and Barrowman all unavailable through work commitments and McDougall missing out through illness, Mark Black made his first appearance as a Dunipace substitute alongside Cherrie, Comrie and Mitusch, the latter pair starting on the bench as the Pace rotated their squad to experiment with a new system on the 3G surface.
Hepburn, used in midfield in recent games, started at the heart of the defence with Balmer for the first time since injuring an ankle in the opening fixture of the season. Maclaren, Meade and Swords played behind Steven with Weir partnering Brown up top in a 4-3-1-2 system.
Dunipace started brightly, the impressive midfield trio finding space at will and moving the ball at a tempo that their hosts were struggling to match. McIntyre and Taylor were finding plenty of room in the wide areas and it was through Taylor Dunipace fashioned an early opportunity. Good play between Swords and Maclaren found McIntyre at right back, who fed back inside to Meade. Meade dropped off to Swords who played diagonally into the run of Taylor who stepped inside two challenges before firing across goal, Weir unlucky not to find the target.
With the game passing beyond 10 minutes Mussleburgh were presented with a great chance to take the lead against the run of play as a long ball over the top led to a communication breakdown between the Dunipace centre backs, playing together for the first time, with the home forward racing on to the ball inside the 18 yard box. With the reasonable visiting claims for offside turned down the forward shot wide with Jackson narrowing the angle.
That chance aside Dunipace were well on top and opened the scoring shortly after as more good play between Swords, Meade and Steven released Maclaren 25 yards from goal. Maclaren showed superb close control and no lack of trickery as he dribbled past 3 Musselburgh players before lifting a wonderful reverse pass into the path of Brown. Brown, with 15 goals in 7 games so far this season, showed the confidence of a striker bang in form; opening his body and lifting over the diving keeper with his right and into the far corner to give the Pace a deserved lead.
And the front man could (and perhaps should) have given the away side a cushion moments later as he headed wide from 6 yards when it looked a certain goal. Sharp passing between Steven, Swords and Meade released Weir who linked with Taylor on the left. The attacking fullback picked out a gem of a cross, hit with pace and accuracy, finding his frontman in between the central defenders. Brown got up well having taken great position but couldn't convert the chance. You have to be there to miss them though!
Dunipace were playing very well, retaining the ball superbly from back to front with Balmer and Hepburn rarely troubled and more involved from an attacking sense than defensive. Taylor and McIntyre were seeing plenty of the ball and getting forward at every opportunity as Dunipace created chances for Steven, Weir and Brown; all saved by the home keeper as Dunipace looked to grab their second.
When it came it was another fine footballing goal, Dunipace retaining the ball from the back with Balmer and Hepburn both involved in playing into Midfield where Meade, Swords and Maclaren exchanged quick passes before working to McIntyre. McIntyre slid the ball down the line for Brown who skipped beyond his marker and headed for the goal-line. With Maclaren and Weir making early runs to take the defenders deep, Steven arrived late on the edge of the box with a superbly timed run, demanding the ball from Brown who obliged by sliding into his path, Steven firing first time beyond the keeper into the bottom corner with the aide of a slight deflection.
2-0 and another impressive Dunipace team goal.
The Westfield continued to dominate possession and could have extended their lead through Brown, combining with Steven before bursting past his marker and forcing a fine save from the keeper with his left. Steven was next to try his luck, linking with Weir and seeing is effort blocked from just inside the area.
Weir fired an effort wide with his left from 18 yards on the turn when Taylor was perhaps in a better position to be tee'd up before Weir narrowly missed connecting with a McIntyre cross from the right after the fullback linked well with Meade to break forward.
Musselburgh were fortunate to keep 10 men on the park 2 minutes before half time when a home defender let his frustration get the better of him and took a wild swipe at Taylor as the fullback skipped beyond him with the ball long gone. No attempt to do anything other than wipe out the fullback with the official choosing to brandish a yellow. Taylor managed to see out the game, but in some discomfort such was the force of the kick he took to the knee in the challenge.
2-0 at half time and the Westfield men well in control of the game, dominating possession and playing well both in defence and attack throughout, unfortunate not to be further in front.
Half Time : Musselburgh Windsor 96 0-2 Dunipace Juniors
The second half couldn't have started any further from that with which the first had ended though! Dunipace dropped their levels significantly, giving the ball away in dangerous areas, giving away possession more in the opening 5 minutes of the half than in the entire first 45. At the same time Musselburgh had obviously been given a stern talking to at the half and they looked a completely different team from the off.
The Pace had Jackson in the visiting goal to thank for maintaining their 2-0 lead, diving full stretch to his right to make a fantastic save from a powerful low drive from 20 yards as the stopper found himself with more to do in the opening stages of the second half.
Steven cleared off the line from a headed effort from a Musselburgh free kick before Taylor and McIntyre were forced to perform similar heroics, but there was a goal coming for the home side which arrived on 54 minutes. Dunipace were slow out to a headed clearance allowing too much space for the wide man to get his head up and deliver a very good cross from the left to the back post, where the forward nipped in ahead of Balmer and Jackson to prod home.
The home side had their tails up and continued to apply pressure to Dunipace who were still struggling to find the flow they had in the opening 45. In fact, Jackson had to make a further two fantastic saves to keep Dunipace in the lead. 
As we passed beyond the 60 minute mark the home side started to drop off their pace as Dunipace found their missing passing rhythm, stemming the flow through better ball retention. This however did nearly cause them a problem as Hepburn, who had slotted back into centre back well, played a slack pass into midfield that was cut out, leaving Musselburgh attacking the Pace defence. Hepburn made the decision to commit the foul and tripped the home attacker as he skipped beyond him, Balmer doing superbly to spot the danger and get round on the cover for his partner meaning the colour of the card was yellow for the trip rather than red for denying a goalscoring opportunity.
As we passed 65 minutes Hepburn, to protect from a hung leg and second yellow, was replaced by Black who was involved immediately giving away a foul in the wide area after jockeying his man well, just a little too keen to take the ball. Jackson, not for the first time in the half, gathered the ball comfortably before a superb last ditch intervention from Pace skipper Balmer, having another fine game, kept Dunipace in the lead.
Some fine passing play from the home side led to their striker skipping inside Taylor before calmly rounding Jackson and firing into what he thought was an empty goal, only to see Balmer get back superbly and turn the ball around the post for a corner.
The home keeper, kept busy in the first half, was far quieter in the second with his main moment of note to this point being a coming together between he and Brown as the striker chased down a loose ball, the keeper coming out of his box to head clear, their momentum bringing them together.
Dunipace were in search of a third to kill the game and having come back into it as an attacking force the home keeper was asked to make 2 fantastic saves in quick succession. First, following a foul on Brown 25 yards out, the big striker dusted himself down and fired a fantastic free kick over the wall and towards the top corner, only to see the keeper reach the fiercely struck effort at full stretch, tipping over the top.
Next up the stopper made an equally impressive save from Maclaren who made a superbly timed run from deep beyond the defence, Swords picking him out perfectly inside the box to the left of goal. Maclaren set himself and fired powerfully first time with his left, seeing the stopper save brilliantly to keep it at 2-1.
Dunipace replaced Weir with Mitusch as they looked to shore up in a 4-4-2, Steven moving to the left with Maclaren moving slightly further forward to link with Brown and Mitusch coming in on the right.
Dunipace were back in the game by this stage and they did get the third to kill the tie with 10 minutes remaining, Taylor making an excellent tackle inside the box with his left, the ball breaking to Black. Black looked up to see Brown making a run in behind and floated a ball over the top that the home defender misjudged. 1 second of misjudgement is all Brown requires in his current form, looking up to see the out rushing keeper before showing great composure to lift the ball over him from 20 yards with his right into the net.
Meade picked up a booking for a trip on the Dunipace right before the home side picked up their third booking of the day as Brown was the recipient of another frustrated kick out with the ball long gone, at least 10 yards away. Given what Meade had picked up a yellow for, the Pace players quite rightly questioned the decision of the official as for a second time he produced yellow for what cant be described as a tackle, with the ball nowhere near close enough to be contested.
And they were upset again moments later as Swords, quite rightly, picked up a yellow for kicking the ball away. No questioning the card, other than that it seemed it was only a bookable offence for Swords and no-one else during the 90 minutes.
As time ticked towards full time Dunipace came close to extending their lead through Maclaren whose eyes lit up at the prospect of a 20 yard volley on his left, something regular Pace spectators are all too aware the midfielder is capable of, but not on this occasion as he mis-kicked.
As time ticked down Brown did well again to beat two men on the left before cutting back to Steven who fired first time across goal with his left, pulling another fine save from the home keeper.
Dunipace should have seen the game out with a degree of comfort given their 2 goal lead but in a bizarre moment as we passed into injury time as they gave Musselburgh hope in the act of trying to prevent a corner, gifting the home side a goal.
Jackson in goal raced outside his box onto the left flank to pick up a ball that was heading out for said corner, but on his left and under pressure his decision making didn't match the rest of his excellent performance as he tried to clear but gave straight to a Musselburgh player when playing out for a throw was the better option.
The Musselburgh midfielder stepped inside and fired towards goal with Jackson out of position but McIntyre had got back in to clear off the line. The clearance though landed at the feet of the home wide man who delivered to the back post where the Musselburgh attacker got across Taylor to fire home on the volley.
That though proved to be the last meaningful action of the game and it was Dunipace who were to progress to the quarter finals with a 3-2 win following an excellent first half performance and a decent second half, outside of the first 15 minutes. 
Following last week's disappointment it would have been understandable had the young side suffered a bit of a hangover, particularly when under pressure at the start of the second period, but beneath the undeniable footballing ability within this group is a steely determination and will to win. They showed great character to bounce back from their first taste of anything but victory, not only in their first half performance today but more so in the second half where they had to withstand a period of consistent pressure from their hosts where lesser sides may have collapsed.
Overall a good day for the Westfield men, despite the loss of 2 soft goals, with a number of very good overall individual performances amongst a very good team performance, particularly first half.
Full Time : Musselburgh Windsor 2-3 Dunipace Juniors
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