Hermiston Vale ended Redhall Star’s ambitions os a ‘perfect’ season by defeating them 2-0 at Sighthill on Wednesday evening.
Redhall had a 100 per cent record to protect and knew three points would clinch the title in the Lothian Central League’s lowest tier, but Hermiston’s win in this fiery encounter kept them in the hunt.
The first action came from a Redhall corner on 12 minutes. The ball was whipped in from the right and striker John McDonald should have scored with a glancing header.
Then, Hermiston were awarded a penalty. Allan Mcritchie was brought down by goalkeeper Gary Martin, who was booked for his troubles. Mcritchie stepped up and hit his spot-kick down the middle, but Martin guessed correctly and saved well.
However, Hermiston did take the lead after 34 minutes when Mcritchie’s cross was met by David Menzies who nodded the ball in from five yards.
Redhall were determined to get back into the game and five minutes later they almost did. A long, searching ball was played through to McDonald, but his shot was hit straight at goalkeeper Patrick Hutton and the ball spilled narrowly wide of the left-hand post.
In the early stages of the second half, Redhall had large spells of possession but a lot of frustration in front of goal. Their lack of creativity in the final third was surprising for a team full of goals in the 13 wins they had gained previously.
Scott Kinnaird went close when he collected a loose ball from a corner and sent in a left-footed drive which Hutton tipped over the crossbar.
Redhall then had a few half-chances – firstly Darren Carter had a stab at goal and saw the ball slide across the face of the goal and wide.
Then, following a long throw by Keith Kinnaird on the left, James Spence’s close-range header was blocked, the ball cannoned off a defender and grazed the crossbar to go out for another corner.
While Redhall were pressing for the equaliser, Hermiston were dangerous on the break, particularly down the left side. They were getting a lot of luck in those areas, and one such break provided the vital clincher moments before full-time.
As another Redhall attack was thwarted, Greg Weir looked to find another way through the Hermiston defence but was forced backwards and his wayward backpass was played straight to Hermiston’s Derek Paterson, who switched it across the pitch to Mcritchie. With the goalkeeper Martin all at sea in the centre of the field, the No. 9 stroked into an empty from around 20 yards to seal all three points for the hosts.
The result leaves Hermiston eight points adrift of Redhall with four games left, while table-toppers Redhall have two games to play. They know that two wins will secure the title, but any slip-ups can be taken advantage of by a hungry Hermiston who still harbour hopes of league glory.