Civil Service Strollers had to dig deep to carve out a victory against ten-men Heriot-Watt University, who took an early lead but were unable to press home their first-half dominance in this Central Taxis Premier Division fixture.
The turning point in the game was on the hour mark when, with the score level at 1-1, the students’ central defender Frazer Paterson pulled the jersey of the Strollers striker Charlie Brigain as he advanced into the penalty box. After a debate with his assistant, referee Jordan Stokoe awarded a penalty which Paul Scales duly converted and, in the ensuing aftermath, both Paterson and Sean Muhsin were yellow-carded. Only two minutes later Muhsin mistimed a tackle and was shown a second yellow and subsequent red card.
Both teams started the game in the top half of the league and the students looked the more adventurous in the opening stages. They deservedly took the lead in the 13th minute when a Henrik Dahle head flick in a crowded penalty box found the unmarked Michael Webster and he nodded the ball behind Bruce Callan from close range.
The Strollers recovered and enjoyed the majority of the possession and could have equalised when Ross Aitchison was denied by a fine save from Blair Carswell. They did draw level after 30 minutes when a driven free kick from Scales picked out Brigain who scored with a superb header.
The second half started quietly until Paterson conceded the penalty and Muhsin was sent off. Heriot-Watt continued to press with ten men and should have equalised with ten minutes remaining when Paterson and Andy Forbes had glorious opportunities to net from within the six-yard box. In the last minute of the contest Brigain ran unchallenged down the inside right channel and laid the ball back for Stewart O’Neill to score the third.
Chic McAleavy, the Strollers boss, said: “I thought that in the first 20 minutes of the first half that Heriot-Watt were the better team and we gave away a very slack goal. Our defence should have dealt with it a lot better. We started to get into the game by adapting to a formation that was new to the players and Charlie scored a great goal.
“We’re still at the right end of the table and that’s the end we are aiming for at the end of the season. We are a new team and we are still building. This was an encouraging result but we have a long, long way to go.”
Michael Renwick, the Heriot-Watt head coach, said: “I certainly did not think that we deserved to lose. I thought that we dominated it possession-wise and we created very good chances. Even at 2-1 down and with only ten men we were pressing and were far superior. Just before their third goal we had a tap-in to to take a point out of the game so I’m still very positive, albeit after a defeat. With ten men I certainly thought that we were more dominant and dangerous but never converted the chances.
“Fair play to the Strollers who took their chances.”
Heriot-Watt University: Carswell, Ferrie, Forbes, Kerr, Paterson, Napier (Myatt 63), Donnelly, Burke, Dahle (Connor 70), Muhsin, Webster (James 65). Subs: Ewing, Dunn.
Civil Service Strollers: Callan, Aird (O’Neill 31), McAleavy, Aitchison, Young, Mearns, Brigain, Kerr (Raeburn 89), Scales, Gay, (Lister 89), Somerville. Subs: Raynham, Tansey.
Referee: Jordan Stokoe.