Amateurs: Dunalba draw after amazing fightback

Dunalba FC
Dunalba FC
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Dunalba FC salvaged a point in dramatic fashion against Newtongrange Star B as their enthralling Premier Division 2 clash ended 3-3.

Newtongrange took the lead at Saughton against the run of play when Gary Irvine drilled home emphatically past goalkeeper William Stewart.

The home side faced further difficulties when James Grubb pulled up with a stretch and had to be replaced by Craig Bishop.

Michael Campbell and Gary Irvine were a consistent pest for the Glenalba defence in the first half and their efforts eventually yielded a second goal when Campbell thrashed home from close range, clattering the frame of the goal on the way in.

Special recognition must be afforded to Stewart for keeping the score respectable. Newtongrange would have been wondering how on earth they did not beat him when he parried two close-range efforts in quick succession, before tipping a tremendous shot by Campbell over the bar.

Irvine would not be denied as the game approached the half hour mark. Following a short corner, the forward lashed the ball first time from the edge of the box, giving Stewart no chance.

The hosts seemed devoid of confidence after the third goal as Newtongrange continued to dictate the pace of the game and kept looking to hit the hosts on the break. There appeared to be no way back into the match for Dunalba.

However, Dunalba made a bright start to the second half, which settled into a more evenly-matched game, although Newtongrange continued to break up their opponents’ possession and counter effectively. Campbell continued to look capable of scoring whenever he had the ball.

Dunalba gave warning of things to come after winning a corner near the 50-minute mark. It was initially cleared behind for a second corner, then after a bit of head tennis came the moment which sparked the hosts’ hopes of a comeback.

The ball dropped to Cameron McKenzie on the edge of the area and he looked certain to score with a picture perfect strike heading for the top right corner, only to be matched by an equally great save by Ryan Caw. It was clear that Dunalba were not dead and buried.

They began to attack with purpose, with Dario Valente looking sharp as he drew goalkeeper Caw out to clear after breaking free to go one on one.

Valente eventually did find the net, only for the strike to be ruled out for offside, to the frustration of the hosts.

That feeling didn’t last though, as, in the 72nd minute, came Dunalba’s first goal through McKenzie, who swept his effort past the ’keeper after spinning away from his man in the box.

Almost immediately afterwards, Valente cut the deficit to just one goal after breaking free from some slack defending to score unchallenged against the keeper.

Had Valente managed to get a clean connection with a beautifully-weighted cross by McKenzie mere minutes later, the game would have been levelled there and then.

The mood of the teams was a complete reverse from the first half as Newtongrange looked unable to answer the late flurry by the home side but for a few speculative forays into the opposition half, as Dunalba looked to grab an equaliser with renewed zeal.

Much huffing and puffing was done by the hosts who eventually began to look frustrated as the visitors clung to possession in their own half.

However, the equaliser came in the 81st minute through Valente with a finish similar to McKenzie’s which sparked the comeback.

Both teams threatened at the end as they went in search of a winner, and Jordan Watson found himself in the book for a reckless challenge in his team’s haste to grab a fourth as the game eventually ended 3-3.