Penicuik Athletic’s title party remains on hold until Saturday at least after they suffered just their second Premier League home defeat of the season in a 2-1 loss to Jeanfield Swifts last night.
Cuikie player-manager Craig Meikle felt his side didn’t deserve anything from the 90 minutes, admitting they were second best to a Jeanfield team playing their final match of the season.
“It looked like it meant more to Jeanfield to prevent us celebrating in front of them than it did for us to win the league championship, which is crazy,” said Meikle. “Our desire should far outweigh theirs. I think it was a fair result and they deserved their win. We just weren’t good enough.”
Penicuik now face second-placed Fauldhouse United on Saturday knowing a point will be enough to secure the title with two games to spare.
Fauldhouse are a point behind their fellow Super League-bound opponents, but need to win to keep their championship chances alive.
Meikle, whose side hold two games in hand over their rivals, hopes last night’s result will serve as a reminder to his players that the title is not won yet ahead of this weekend’s top-of-the-table clash.
He said: “Hopefully it is the wake-up call we are going to need going into Saturday’s game. Fauldhouse will be looking at it thinking if they beat us on Saturday it would put us under serious pressure going into the last two games.”
Penicuik captain Dougie Cunnison came close with a backwards header which went just over the bar after five minutes.
But it was the visitors who opened the scoring a minute later. Defender Darrell Young’s completely missed his attempted clearance midway inside his own half, which allowed Jeanfield striker Jayson Alexander to run in and shoot across keeper Youssef Bejaoui and into the bottom corner of the net.
Lone Penicuik striker Scott McCulloch twice came close in quick succession with a couple of headers. His first was nodded over before he got on the end of a Ryan Gay free-kick and nodded goalwards, only for Jeanfield keeper Duncan Bruce to tip over.
A good move down the right involving Greg Ross and Grant Killin almost brought a leveller for the hosts. Killin knocked the ball into the danger area where McCulloch was ready to pounce, but Bruce gathered.
McCulloch found himself in the right place to bring the home side level on 34 minutes, however, when the ball kindly rebounded into his path from a clash in midfield and he confidently dispatched under Bruce.
Ross Montgomery was inches away from giving Penicuik the lead seven minutes later when he cracked a 30-yard strike off the crossbar. McCulloch should’ve done better when put through by Killin two minutes into the second-half, but he fired wide of the top corner.
Penicuik keeper Bejaoui then produced an excellent stop to deny Jamie Reid from just inside the area as the visitors began to create more meaningful openings.
Alexander came agonisingly close to regaining Jeanfield’s lead on 58 minutes after he latched onto Gavin Mackie’s superb pass over the Penicuik defence. After his first effort was saved, the ball came back to him and this time he attempted to round Bejaoui, only for Young to get back in time to prevent a certain goal.
James McPartlin then had a shot saved by Bruce after linking up well with Montgomery on the edge of the area, before McCulloch curled a shot wide of the post. The visitors got their winner on 69 minutes from a well worked move. Midfielder Lee Deans hooked a ball down the right wing for Alexander to run onto and his first-time cross into the box was headed into the net by Jamie Reid.
Cunnison and McCulloch both had chances to equalise in the final ten minutes for the home side, which would have taken them two points clear at the top, but Jeanfield defended well for the remainder to come away worthy winners.
Penicuik: Bejaoui, Ross, Young, Cunnison, McDermott, Lister, Killin, Gay (Millar), McPartlin, Montgomery, McCulloch.
Jeanfield: Bruce, Anton, Gunnion, Whitehead, Burton, Smith (McKenzie), Gordon, Deans, Mackie (Gill), Reid, Alexander (Holden).