Edinburgh University 1
Whitehill Welfare 2
A WAYNE McINTOSH penalty midway through the second half secured Whitehill Welfare a 2-1 win in an entertaining and keenly-contested Central Taxis Premier Division game at Peffermill.
The Whitehill forward had earlier taken advantage of a goalkeeping error to put his side in front in the opening stages of the match – both side’s first in four weeks – only for a slip at the other end to allow the home side back into the game moments later.
But while a certain amount of ring rust might have been on show in the early stages, so too was a determination on the part of both teams to make a successful resumption to their respective league campaigns following lengthy weather-enforced lay offs.
“We’re delighted to come away with three points,” said Whitehill Welfare assistant manager Mike Irving. “When you come to Peffermill to play the Uni you’re always going to get a difficult game, and having had to miss the last three weeks because of the weather made it that little bit tougher. We were really keen to get in there, but at the same time we had to be economical with our energy and think hard about where we pressed and when we pressed.”
The home side made a bright start on a heavy and bobbly pitch, but Whitehill were first to strike. In the 11th minute, Edinburgh goalkeeper Liam Valentine spilled what should have been a straightforward catch from a right wing cross, allowing McIntosh to pounce on the loose ball and open the scoring.
Less than two minutes later, however, Edinburgh were back on level terms. This time it was the visitors’ turn to gift their opponents an opening. In trying to deal with a fairly routine clearance, the Welfare defence lost control of the ball on the corner of the penalty area and, under pressure from Nikolaidis, Darren McGlashan somehow managed to send the ball spinning past his own keeper, helped by a deflection off Habata.
David Connolly had two chances to hand the home side the lead before the break. The more spectacular of the two was a 26th minute chip from 25 yards out which had McGurk back-peddling to tip the ball over the crossbar.
“Uni will probably have felt that 1-1 was a fair result going in at half time,” said Irving. “We had to do a bit more in the second half in terms of getting down the channels, getting behind their back four and drawing the full backs out.”
It was a strategy which eventually gave Whitehill the breakthrough. The number of chances increased, with Robertson and Jordan Hall both blasting over the bar within four minutes of the restart, while a decent Steven Manson effort called Valentine into service. The pick of the efforts came in the 59th minute. McIntosh did all the hard work as he broke into the box in between two green shirts, but his final strike was blasted into the side netting from a tight angle.
Chances for the University were more at a premium but when they did get forward, the attacking trio of Nikolaidis, Kuzmenko and Habata provided a mix of turn and pace which on another day could have got them back on level terms. As it was, Habata hoisted their best chance over the crossbar on the hour mark.
With the target providing elusive at both ends, Whitehill were not going to say no to a penalty, awarded in the 63rd minute after Manson went down in the box under the attentions of Shaun McMaster. McIntosh had no problem in dispatching what proved to be the winner. “I don’t think there was much between the teams,” reflected University Head Coach Dorian Ogunro. “I certainly think we had the better of the first half, although I do think we gave the ball away a lot.
“Their first goal came from a mistake by us, so we let them into the game without them having to earn it, but then they gifted us one, so it was swings and roundabouts.”
“Whitehill then started the second half very well. I thought the penalty was a soft decision, and to an extent it killed us. They took confidence from that and tried to take the sting out of the game. Having said that I thought we still offered a threat right up until the end.”
Edinburgh University: Valentine, Cumming, McMaster (J Gray 88), Hamilton, Gerrard, Connolly, Nikolaidis (Chatterjee 71), Brownie, Moosavi, Kuzmenko, Habata (M Gray 80). Subs: Thomson.
Whitehill Welfare: McGurk, McGlashan, Thom, W Kidd, Robertson, Manson (Gormley 80), A Kidd, McIntosh, Somerville (McCulloch 61), Hall (Forbes 78). Subs: Dolan.
Referee: Gavin Ross.