Tollcross Thistle were beaten 3-1 by Dalkeith MW at Saughton in an entertaining clash as the Lothian and Edinburgh Amateur football season got underway.
Chances for both sides were plentiful, but the Midlothian-based outfit found the greater conversion rate with a trio of strikes.
Dalkeith coach Jock Taylor felt his players weren’t at the races in the first half despite going in at the break 2-1 ahead.
He said: “We were missing five or six players so that was a big blow for us. To be fair, it probably should have been Tollcross going in at the break one or two goals up. But in the second-half, we had a lot of the ball and played really well.”
The woodwork was stuck in the third minute when Dalkeith’s Christopher Wright fired a powerful drive which came back of the left post.
A great pass inside the Dalkeith defence by Sean Mossman found Michael Robertson in the clear, but goalkeeper John Falconer palmed the midfielder’s shot round the near post.
Then, Robertson returned the compliment to his team-mate with a header across goal, and with just Falconer to beat, Mossman somehow failed to connect from six yards and the chance was gone.
The opening goal arrived in the 23rd minute through Laurie Flynn, who poked into the Tollcross net from close range following a corner from the left.
Tollcross fought back, however, and were rewarded on 40 minutes when Kieran Proven headed in the equaliser.
Tollcross almost edged in front immediately when John Lawson’s curled free-kick came back off the upright and Robertson failed to convert the rebound, firing high over the crossbar.
However, Dalkeith – against the run of play – regained the lead a minute before the break. John McDonald played a neat one-two with goalscorer Flynn and finished clinically into the bottom left corner, leaving goalkeeper Richard Wilson with no chance.
Feeling aggrieved at going in 2-1 behind at the break, Tollcross returned to the field and should have been level within five minutes of the restart. Gary Fox’s searching ball took a deflection off a Dalkeith defender and presented Christopher Bain with a clear view on goal. However, from ten yards and with just Falconer to beat, the midfielder lacked composure and fired high over.
The lively Flynn should have doubled his tally and made it 3-1 when he found space in the Tollcross box, but he shot straight at Wilson.
Tollcross’s Greig Hogarth made a great run from deep inside his own half and was almost rewarded when he managed to set up Proven, who dragged his shot just wide of the target.
Dalkeith then delivered a sucker punch ten minutes from time, which ensured Taylor’s men would leave with all three points.
Paul McDermott found Wright in space and when his shot cannoned back off the left post, Flynn was on hand to tuck the ball into the back of the net and seal Tollcross’s fate.
Tollcross coach Andrew Ponder said his players’ inability to find the target, particularly in the opening 45 minutes, was a significant contribution to the final outcome.
Ponder said: “We should have taken our chances and not given away sloppy goals. I’m hoping it’s maybe just a bit of rustiness and we pick up as we move on, as there is still a lot to play for.”
Tollcross Thistle: Richard Wilson, Gary Fox, Greig Hogarth, Alan Budge, Martyn Wallace, John Lawson, Michael Robertson, Christopher Bain, Kieran Proven, Sean Mossman, Robbie Simpson, Lee Heinemeir, Blair Paterson, Michael Stewart, Callum Roberts, Jason Bellman.
Dalkeith MW: John Falconer, David Curran, Calum Gailey, Darren Combe, John Cooper, Paul McDermott, John McDonald, Rory Mair, Christopher Wright, Laurie Flynn, Mark Brown, Sean McDermott, John Taylor, Darren Stewart.