In perhaps the most spectacular entrance the pint-sized Japanese is likely to achieve on a football field, Kohei Habata emerged from the bench to score with his first touch and claim all three points for Edinburgh University in their East of Scotland Premier Division clash with Craigroyston at St Mark’s Park.
Habata, a sports science student who stands at around five feet tall on his tip-toes, may have slipped under the radar of the home defence when he took to the field with 20 minutes remaining.
However, after bursting into the six-yard box at the far post to meet a Ross Patterson cross from the left wing, Habata announced his arrival loudly enough to silence the home support, seizing a simple opportunity to convert from close range and score the game’s only goal for the students.
The diminutive winger, described by Uni coach Dorian Ogunro as one of his team’s star turns, was hailed for his match-winning exploits by his team-mates after the match but reflected on his achievement in modest fashion.
“It’s my first week back in Edinburgh after summer,” explained Habata, a fourth year student from Fukushima. “I’ve only had a couple of training sessions, but Dorian wanted me to gradually work my way back into the team, especially because I had a knee injury at the end of last season that meant I missed a couple of games.
“I was really up for the match and wanted to put something into the game. We have a new team here because many of last year’s team have graduated, and I wanted the team to recognise me.
“It was a great ball from Ross for my goal. I am confident with my running and speed, and I was lucky the ball came to me. I’m really happy. It’s a great start to the season for me and the team.”
University coach Ogunro was delighted to see his team show improvement as the game went on.
“In the first half, Craigroyston had more possession,” he said. “We weren’t as fluid as we can be, but I wouldn’t expect too much in our first game. We had more pressure in the second half and that led to creating the chance for our goal.”
Craigie boss Ross McNeil bemoaned his side’s lack of composure in front of goal. He said: “I thought we bossed the game start to finish but if you don’t take your chances you lose games. All it takes is one mistake and you drop three points, which is what happened. It’s all about working hard on our finishing at training with the hope of taking that into the game at Heriot-Watt.”
Meanwhile, Tynecastle were edged 2-1 in their home fixture with newly-promoted Coldstream.
Tomie Cannon gave The Streamers an early lead at Fernieside by leaping above the home defence to meet Jonny Simpson’s cross. Tynie created and squandered a pair of chances to level, then Tynie midfielder Kevin Brown finally levelled matters by drilling a shot from outside the penalty area into the bottom corner. John Crawford came close to restoring Coldstream’s lead when he headed a Gary Wales cross over the bar, and the teams were tied at half-time.
With visiting goalkeeper Mark Walters continuing to deny the hosts time after time, Wales dispatched Crawford’s centre at the other end to snatch three points for Coldstream.
Tynie boss Dougie Dalgleish praised the performance of the Coldstream goalkeeper, but was left scratching his head at the result. The maroons’ supremo has urged his youthful side to become more focused during matches.
“After creating so many chances, we are still wondering how we lost this match,” he said. “To be fair, though, the Coldstream goalkeeper had an inspirational match.
“With a young team, though, we are painfully aware that we have some hard lessons to learn and cannot afford to switch off and be punished, as happened on Saturday when Coldstream scored probably from their only two chances.