Whitehill Welfare manager Grant Carnie was delighted as his side claimed their first home win of the season with a 2-1 success over Gretna 2008.
Johnny Scott-Mercer’s early header was cancelled out by Dean Rea’s second-half equaliser, only for Ross Nisbit to snatch the points late on.
Carnie was delighted to get a maiden win at Ferguson Park. “We started off great getting the goal and then you try and protect it,” he said. “We sat in and let them play and they caused us problems.
“The boy Brandon Longcake shouldn’t be playing at this level – I think he’s fantastic. I said at half-time that whether we play well or not, be tough to beat... run, fight, everything. We did that and got our reward at the end when we scored.
“When they scored I thought we were the better team and knocked the ball about well. We’re missing players left, right and centre but young Johnny came in at centre-half was fantastic and Cammy [Fraser], who we’ve got on loan from Livingston, had a good game.
“It’s great to get that first win at home. I read Kevin Keane’s interview in the Evening News and he’s right, it isn’t something I’ve talked about – I’ve just said to play with the freedom we’ve had away from home.”
Gretna were first to threaten within five minutes. Longcake controlled a searching ball out to the left before cutting inside and sending a firm effort at goal that was held by fit-again Welfare keeper Bryan Young.
Whitehill responded by taking the lead with their first chance. Stevie Manson’s floated corner from the left was met by Scott-Mercer, who rose highest to head past Vinnie Parker.
The Raydale Park side enjoyed the bulk of possession and territory as the first half wore on, but were struggling to create anything clear cut. Scott Milligan finally did on 35 minutes, skipping by three challenges on the byline before Young smothered his attempt from a tight angle at the near post.
Young then produced a stunning save from Longcake to keep the scores level. He tipped the wide man’s ferocious low volley on to his left-hand post and the ball rolled agonisingly along the goal-line before he blocked Milligan’s follow up.
Parker produced a great save of his own at the other end, flying to his left to get a hand on Manson’s curling shot. Young then saved from Phil Addison with his feet and that prompted a scramble in the six-yard area, the home keeper again throwing his body in front of the ball to preserve his clean sheet.
Gretna levelled on 68 minutes. Similar to Whitehill’s goal, Dean Rea bulleted Dean Smith’s free-kick delivery past Young for a deserved equaliser. Callum Connoly and Sean Martin then went close as the hosts sensed a first home win.
It almost came in spectacular fashion from a Jamie Devlin overhead kick that Parker fisted away. It did come from the resulting corner when Nisbit forced the ball home with the aid of a deflection with a minute remaining.
Carnie praised the contribution Young made in earning the three points. “He’s absolutely frightening. No disrespect to any other goalkeeper but for me he’s the best in the league by a mile. It was good to get him back – we got help from Bonnyrigg Rose getting in Connar Easton, but just with Bryan’s experience – you saw his save in the first half and everyone was like ‘wow’. That’s why he’s there.”
Whitehill Welfare: Young, Fraser, O’Hara, Scott-Mercer, Nisbit, McGlashan, Manson (Devlin 72), Connolly, Wringe (S Martin 65), Anderson, Keane (Jardine 33).
Gretna 2008: Parker, D Graham (Smith 57), Inglis, Casey, Rea, Crozier (C Graham 87), Longcake, Addison, Anderson, Milligan, Douglas (Atkinson 80).