Musselburgh Athletic go top of Super League

Jackie Myles opened the scoring. Picture: Greg Macvean
Jackie Myles opened the scoring. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Musselburgh Athletic braved Storm Desmond to go top of the Super League by a point as they made it seven league victories on the trot in one of the few matches in Edinburgh and Lothians to beat the weather.

A goal apiece from Jackie Myles and Steven Thomson proved to be enough for Burgh, who survived a late revival from visitors Camelon on a blustery afternoon to leapfrog Bonnyrigg Rose and take top spot.

It’s shaping up to be one of the closest title races ever in the Super League with just five points separating the Olivebank men from Linlithgow Rose who sit in sixth place.

Not that Stevie McLeish and his players could have expected to be competing at the top end of the table going into the second half of the season, but if they can maintain their current run and stay injury free they’ll be in with a shout of the league crown.

Burgh looked set to be fighting it out at the other end of the table after a poor start to the campaign in which they won just two of their opening eight league matches with last season’s squad, which reached the Junior Cup final, having been decimated over the summer.

They were victims of their own success, with 42-goal striker Jordyn Sheerin earning a move to Livingston, while team-mates Robert Wilson and Graeme Beveridge were snapped up by Berwick Rangers and centre-back Andy Munro left for Arbroath.

Several more departed Olivebank for pastures new, so manager Stevie McLeish was faced with a tough rebuilding job during the close season as he went about signing an entire new team with the addition of 13 players.

Indeed, just four of the side which started the cup final six months ago against Auchinleck Talbot at Rugby Park were in from the start on Saturday – Alex Christie, Brian Martin, Myles and Thomson.

It was always going to take time for Musselburgh to gel as a squad given the upheaval over the summer, but if recent results are to go by – victories over champions Kelty Hearts and Linlithgow Rose – confidence will be brewing that they can sustain a title challenge.

Last season’s cup run coincided with a slump in their league from as they ended up 11th place after targeting a top-five finish early in the campaign. They don’t have that distraction this season, however, having exited the Scottish in round three and are now just five points off last season’s final points total with 15 games still to play.

Musselburgh played with the wind at their backs in the opening period and took an early lead after 11 minutes courtesy of captain Myles.

Camelon’s Callum Scott was exposed after his intended back pass to goalkeeper David Kane was several yards short and Myles nipped in between them to take control before sliding an effort across goal which found the net via the inside of the post.

Home keeper John Dodds produced an instinctive stop with his face to deny Andy Grant’s header from point-blank range after 20 minutes.

Burgh were left wondering how they hadn’t made it two four minutes later. Kevin McLeish’s corner was whipped in on top of Kane who punched clear as he fell backwards. The ball fell to Gary Hamilton who headed onto the bar before he was given a second bite but saw his effort cleared.

Musselburgh were ramping up the pressure on the visitors, who had Kane to thank once more that they were just a goal behind. McLeish tried his luck from outside the area; Kane parried the effort and was there once again to make the stop as Sean Jamieson pounced on the rebound.

Striker Jamieson had a penalty appeal waved away after he fell under Bryan Bell’s challenge, before Thomson cracked a fierce strike off the underside of the bar.

Camelon responded early in the second half as they used the wind to their advantage, with Jordan Devlin causing problems for the home defence with his dangerous crosses into the area.

Burgh rode the storm though and should have been out of sight but striker Sean Paliczka fluffed two attempts after being put in by Jamieson then McLeish.

Thomson produced the goods after 72 minutes though to secure a crucial second. The dead-ball expert couldn’t have struck his free-kick any sweeter, his curling left-footed strike beating the wall from some 25 yards before dipping past Kane.

Devlin pulled a goal back with a low free-kick of his own after 84 minutes, ensuring a nervy finale as Camelon forced numerous corners in the final few minutes with Burgh camped in their own box – but they held on.

Musselburgh Athletic: Dodds, Christie (Tufail), Martin, Myles, Hamilton, McLeish, Jamieson, Thomson, Bracks (Davie), Swaney, Paliczka (Conaghan).

Camelon: Kane, Bell, Devlin, Grant, Fullerton, Fotheringham, Scott, Ure (Donaldson), Allison, Grant, Wright.