Oakley United 1

Musselburgh Athletic 2

ON THE back of their second cup-tie defeat by a four-goal margin inside three weeks, Musselburgh travelled to West Fife last Saturday looking to return to their familiar winning ways in what was only their third Conference A fixture.

Full points had been taken against Leith Athletic and Dunbar United in the first two, and Calvin Shand’s men were eager to maintain their 100 per cent record though they knew Oakley United wouldn’t make it easy for them at their Blairwood Park home.

On their one previous league visit, back in April 2009 as they surged towards promotion to the East Juniors’ Superleague, Burgh had been beaten 2-1 – Oakley hadn’t enjoyed a lot of success in the interim, and boasted just three wins in their 11 outings as seniors, but there was nothing about their recent results history suggesting it would be easy for Burgh, who gave recalls to Scott McNaughton, Ewan Ralton, Gary Cherrie and Matti King.

Though Oakley weren’t at full-strength, and short-handed at the back to the extent manager Richard Fox had to be called into action in central defence, they made things awkward for their visitors from the outset.

The breakthrough though, favoured Musselburgh with 20 minutes played, when top scorer King, missing since the Alex Jack Cup defeat at Dalkeith a month earlier, found the net with a fine finish after terrific build-up play in which he and strike partner Nathan Evans were the primary participants.

The travelling support were delighted at the manner in which their team had gone in front. and hoped for more in that vein, but as it transpired the lead lasted barely six minutes, with Oakley pulling themselves level courtesy of a Murray strike from a free kick.

The scoreline remained 1-1 until the interval, and for the majority of the second half the outcome remained very much in the balance – with just 10 minutes remaining however, a foul on McNaughton in the home penalty area resulted in the award of a penalty in Burgh’s favour.

Evans, with five goals already to his name and not far behind the veteran King in the scoring stakes, made no mistake from 12 yards, his clinical finish ultimately ensuring three points for his team after 90 minutes in which they were made to fight all the way by spirited opposition.

On Tuesday evening, the Olive Bank outfit were 4-0 winners at Hawick Royal Albert with goals coming from a Matthu King double, David Maskrey and Michael Deland and

Things should be much tighter on Saturday, when Penicuik Athletic visit the Honest Toun for what will be just Burgh’s fourth home game of the season. With both teams likely to go into the contest boasting 100 per cent league records something has to give.

Dunbar United 0

Hill Of Beath Hawthorn 1

DUNBAR’S 12th game of 2018/19, their fifth on Conference A business, pitted them for the second time this season against Hill Of Beath Hawthorn, formerly mainstays in the ERSJFA Superleague and with a relatively short yet illustrious history in Fife Junior football behind them.

The Haws had knocked the Seasiders out of the Alex Jack Cup with a 3-1 win at their Keir’s Park home in August but their unexpected midweek exit from that competition at Haddington Athletic’s hands gave Geoff Jones’ men hope they could take something from Saturday’s game.

Boss Jones made just one change from the previous week’s remarkable 6-5 League Cup win at Easthouses Lily, with James Harley replacing Zach Szemis in central defence.

A strong wind blowing across the New Countess Park pitch made conditions difficult, and that meant goalscoring opportunities came along infrequently.

The visitors saw a shot go wide early on before Fraser McLaren hit the side-netting at the other end, then on 18 minutes Hall in the Haws’ goal did well to keep out a Grant Thomson effort.

On the half hour controversy reared its head when the referee waved play on in spite of strong Dunbar claims for a penalty, the ball having come off the inside of a post before hitting a defender’s arm.

McLaren came close again for Dunbar, while Thomson’s timely intervention prevented Elder getting a shot in as the Haws pressed menacingly close to half-time.

It had been a tight affair, and continued that way after the break, with neither defence giving much away – the opening goal was always bound to be key, and it came for the visitors on 61 minutes, with a cross from the right turned past John Johnstone in the home goal by Daniel Watt, not unknown in local circles.

The Seasiders tried hard for the equaliser but found the Haws’ defence tough to break down, and Johnstone had to look lively to prevent Kellichan making it 2-0.

Handling headed over the bar for Dunbar as full-time approached but it wasn’t their day though as the visitors held on for a hard-fought three points.

Coldstream were due at New Countess Park yesterday (Wednesday) evening in another league game, then on Saturday Dunbar visit Newtongrange Star just three weeks on from their South Region Challenge Cup exit at the Midlothian side’s hands – on that occasion the only goal of the game at New Countess Park saw Star through, and another close contest looks likely.