Cramond FC coach Kris Tod believes his side’s equaliser in their 2-2 draw with Lothian West league leaders Whitburn Bluebell may have just kept their title aspirations alive.
This top-of-the-table clash at Davidson’s Mains Park carried a huge incentive for either club had victory been achieved, but both sets of players were forced to settle for just one point for their efforts.
Whitburn remain top of the table, nine points ahead of their third-place rivals having played two games more, and Cramond boss Tod underlined just how important his side’s fightback from two goals may prove to be.
Tod said: “We knew if we had been beaten then it would have been a tall order to win the league so we know it’s still in our own hands, but only if we can go to Whitburn and get a result. It’s always good to come back from two goals down; we showed good character to earn a point.”
Both teams struggled in the opening exchanges, with the bobbles scattered across the park proving a real hazard to some players in their attempts play creative football.
However, Whitburn gradually began to pressurise the home side’s rearguard with some aerial crosses into the box which kept goalkeeper Greg Scott on his toes.
It was Cramond who created the first clear-cut opportunity when Kyle Fee’s delivery to the back post picked out Tony Muir, but he wasted the opportunity as he failed to apply any real force and the ball went wide of the left-hand post.
The visitors then grabbed the initiative when Ben McDowell’s swirling free-kick from 30 yards missed the gathered pack in the Cramond penalty area and the ball went in off the right post.
Darren White then played a clever inside pass to Craig Webster who advanced at pace before stinging the palms of David Dodds in the Whitburn goal with a fierce strike from 20 yards out.
Whitburn then increased their advantage through some slack defending from the hosts’ back-four as the ball was allowed to bounce in the six yard box from Jamie McCabe’s long throw and James Luke knocked in from close range.
The Cramond players trudged off at the interval after a largely ineffective performance, but regrouped and responded five minutes into the second period when defender Mark Cowan directed his header into the top left corner from Fee’s accurately delivered free-kick.
Whitburn still appeared threatening on the break and Liam Riley came within inches of adding a third when his shot cannoned back off the top of the crossbar from 20 yards.
Substitute Fraser Seywright then produced a glancing header which Dodds had to block before Cramond equalised with 15 minutes remaining.
Once again another floated cross into the box from the left boot of Fee caused havoc in the Whitburn defence, and the ball rebounded into the back of the net, albeit with much confusion over who had actually had the final touch.
The home side were then presented with an opportunity to secure all three points as Muir cleverly spun his marker in the box before being taken out by John McKnight’s trailing leg. However, Darren White dragged his shot agonisingly wide from the resulting spot-kick as the Whitburn players breathed a sigh of relief.
Whitburn created one final opportunity of their own as McDowell’s cross was met by goalscorer Luke, but he miscued his effort wide of the target as darkness crept in.
Cramond FC: Greg Scott, Greg Summers, Kyle Fee, Murray Carnie, Mark Cowan, Craig Webster, Steven Cameron, Danny McFadden, Darren White, Tony Muir, John Lang, Kevin Walker, Bryan Moir, Fraser Seywright, Craig Beattie, Kris Newbigging.
Whitburn Bluebell: David Dodds, Jamie McCabe, Donald Whitelaw, Stephen Duffy, John McKnight, Ben McDowell, Liam Riley, Scott Gillies, Craig Greenan, Ross Muir, James Luke, Dale Millar, Calum Polland, Barry Morton, Alan Chalmers, Peter McVerry.