Whitehill manager Mickey Lawson felt his team’s performance epitomised what the club is about after his ten men came from behind to beat Preston Athletic 4-2 at the Pennypit.
Paul Devlin netted an early penalty rebound after Willie Kidd had been dismissed, only for Whitehill to come roaring back with a John-Ross Kerr brace and a Stevie Manson strike. John Hall’s own goal then gave Preston hope of a comeback but captain Andrew Kidd’s late opportunist strike sealed the points for Welfare.
Lawson was delighted with not only his side’s display, but the desire and character they showed to turn it round. “I’m unbelievably happy with that,” he said. “Too many times this season we’ve started slowly and tried to get back at them but we’re Whitehill Welfare – teams raise their game against us. We need to start better, but then we concede a penalty and go down to ten men after three minutes. It is definitely a penalty but the ball’s going wide of the goal, and I think the injustice of that [Willie Kidd’s red card] gave us a cause and something to fight for. I’m really pleased with the aspects of the game that we showed.”
Just a couple of minutes had passed when Sean Martin touched the ball past Willie Kidd deep in the area and was brought down before he could get a shot away. There could be no complaints about the award but the visitors were clearly incensed with the decision to dismiss the defender. Captain Paul Devlin’s initial spot kick was saved by Bryan Young, but Devlin was first to react to tuck home the rebound.
Any notion Preston hay have had of their opponents trying to keep it tight with a man short were dispelled as a fired up Whitehill took the game with a show of attacking intensity, fuelled buy their sense of injustice at losing Kidd. Kerr had them level after quarter of an hour, volleying home at the far post after Aaron Somerville had helped on Stevie Manson’s cross. The same combination had Whitehill in front three minutes later. Again Somerville rose to flick on a Manson delivery to the back post where he found Kerr, who curled in a crisp finish.
Whitehill changed their shape slightly but it didn’t dull their attacking edge as they extended their lead on the hour. Wayne Sproule’s cross wasn’t properly cleared, allowing Manson to pick up the loose ball and send a dipping effort past goalkeeper Sean Brennan into the top corner from 20 yards.
The Panners were given a life-line nine minutes later. Liam Todd’s driven delivery was met by John Hall, who in trying to divert the ball wide of goal, unfortunately sent the ball in to his own net off the underside of the bar for one of the classier own-goals of the season.
Preston pushed on for an equaliser but left themselves vulnerable on the break, and Whitehill duly sealed the win with six minutes left. Brennan’s poor kick-out went straight to Andrew Kidd, who arced the ball first time into the empty net from midway through the Preston half.
Preston boss Willie Kirk felt his side should have made more of their advantage but praised Whitehill’s response. “You’ve heard it before but sometimes you can score too early. We hadn’t actually done anything to deserve to be a goal up and I think subconsciously with the sending off we’ve dropped ten per cent. What a great response from Whitehill though – you’re delighted if that’s your team.”
Preston Athletic: Brennan, L Todd, O’Hara, J Todd, Bruce, P Devlin, McIntyre (Roy 45), S Devlin (Henderson 45), Martin, Aitchison (Stewart 79), M Todd.
Whitehill Welfare: Young, Hall, Martin, Kerr (Quinn 63 (McKay 90), W Kidd, McGlashan, Manson, A Kidd, McIntosh, Somerville (Jardine 88), Sproule.