First-half goal blitz allows Whitehill to ease ahead of rivals

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Whitehill Welfare 4

Stirling University 0

Whitehill Welfare stunned defending champions Stirling University on Saturday to establish themselves as the team to beat in this season’s East of Scotland Premier Division title race.

Both teams had a perfect 100 per cent league record going into the match, but four goals in a little over 15 first half minutes secured Whitehill’s management team of Mike Lawson and Mike Irving their biggest win since taking the helm of the Rosewell club in the summer.

“We’re delighted with the clean sheet, delighted with the four goals, but at the same time we’re also very aware of the need to keep our feet on the ground,” said assistant manager Irving. “We’re working hard to develop as a club and challenge for the title, but this result doesn’t do anything for us but get us three points and help build momentum for the next week.”

Whitehill opened the scoring in the eighth minute. Steven Manson crossed from the right wing towards the goal line and Paul Forbes was allowed to guide the ball home past the stranded keeper from a yard out.

Three minutes later Manson himself got the second with a cross-cum-shot that sneaked past Walker into the far corner of the net. And Manson grabbed his second in the 21st minute by heading in a Wayne McIntosh cross, as Stirling struggled to cope with the slick passing work of the home side.

There was worse to come in the 26th minute when a through ball from Dayne Robertson cut through the Stirling defence and provided Aaron Somerville the opportunity to slot home for a scoreline which no-one could have predicted before kick off. It was the 36th minute before the shocked students finally registered their first shot on target, with Calum Burns weaving his way into the box before producing a decent shot, though straight at the Welfare keeper.

“I was almost more nervous being 4-0 up at half-time than I would have been at 0-0,” said Irving. “A scoreline like that gives you the temptation to go for more goals, which leaves you open at the back. If Stirling had got a goal or two back early in the second half, it could have been a very different story. We just had to be professional, be disciplined, and soak up the pressure a little bit.”

The students had more of the ball in the second half and fought to get a foothold in the game, but even when they were able to engineer a challenge on goal they remained unrewarded; a 67th minute Chris Geddes strike was destined for the net but only to be palmed away by Walker at the last moment.

Stirling Head Coach Eddie May reflected: “I don’t think 4-0 was a true reflection of the game, but we made too many basic errors. We just have to get up and get on with it, and come in on Monday and continue making improvements.”

Whitehill Welfare: Walker, McGlashan, Thom, Bruce, John Hall, Robertson (Jordan Hall 68), Manson, A Kidd, Somerville, McIntosh (McCulloch 68), Forbes. Subs: Brown, W Kidd, Gormley.

Stirling University: Walker, Nixon, McKee (Burns 19), Atkins, Drummond, Nichol, Manson, Robertson, Geddes (McWhirter74), Pearson (Dale 58), Sludden. Subs: Sutherland, Marshall.