Whitehill WELFARE’S Aaron Somerville was today refusing to get carried away following his side’s 3-1 win at Spartans on Saturday.
The striker bagged a double as the Rosewell club came from behind to win their Lowland League clash at Ainslie Park, his goals sandwiching a Wayne McIntosh strike after Keith McLeod’s first-minute opener.
Whitehill played most of the second half a man light after Kerr Dodds’ dismissal and while Somerville was delighted with the points, he wasn’t getting too excited.
“It’s a big three points but that’s all it is,” he said. “It’s just three points and we’re just going to keep trying to catch Edinburgh City. It was difficult Saturday – none of the boys really enjoy playing on this stuff (Spartans’ artificial pitch).
“I thought the red card for Kerr was pretty harsh but we did well and made it difficult for them. You see it all the time, – even at Premiership level – it’s difficult to break down ten men and sometimes it’s easier to defend with ten men and contain your opponents.
“I think that’s what we did well today. Hopefully this is a catalyst for the second half of the season. We did the same last year so hopefully we kick on from here, screw the nut a bit. Edinburgh City are going to be difficult to catch but we’ll try our best anyway.”
If the opening stages of this one were any indication, you’d be forgiven for thinking Whitehill were going to be blown away by their hosts when Spartans opened the scoring after just 30 seconds. Experienced striker McLeod – back in the side after being unavailable in recent weeks – drove into the area and slid the ball under Whitehill keeper Bryan Young.
Dougie Samuel’s side were inches away from doubling their advantage on six minutes when Jack Beesley saw his effort brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Young. The significance of that fingertip save was highlighted when Welfare equalised a minute later, Somerville sending his shot past the outstretched arm of Blair Carswell, who continues to deputise for regular number one Kevin Swain.
The visitors had recovered well from a nightmare start and edged in front nine minutes before half-time through McIntosh, who fired past Carswell from the edge of the area to give Mickey Lawson’s men a half-time lead.
As expected, Spartans were on the front foot following the restart and came close on 52 minutes, Young getting down well to his right to stop Iain Thomson’s header after his run had been picked put by Beesley’s cross from the right.
Whitehill’s task of holding on to their lead seemed to get harder four minutes after the hour when they were reduced to ten men. Dodds caught Jack Nixon late when attempting to close him down in the Spartans’ area. The defender made his displeasure known to the referee, who showed Dodds a second yellow.
Possibly riled by a sense of injustice, Welfare seemed to step it up and increased their lead with 15 minutes remaining. Stevie Manson made space on the right-hand side of the box after some good play and his cross-cum-shot was diverted in from close range at the back post by Somerville to claim the points.
Whitehill boss Lawson was delighted with the way his side responded to both the early goal and the red card. “It was a strange game,” he said. “We didn’t start very well when they scored after 20 seconds and they could have scored again when Bryan’s had a great save.
“But we steadily came into the game and showed we can play on a plastic surface – people seem to think we can only play on our own muddy park. We got control of the game but they were always dangerous. Then of course there’s the sending-off and we feared the worst – the last half-hour was the longest of my life! Sometimes you know it’s just your day. We’re delighted and we’re still in the league race – write us off at your peril is what I say.”
Samuel had no complaints with the result, and praised the quality of the Whitehill players. “It was a fantastic start but it’s strange – sometimes I think you can score too early. After we scored we had chances to make it 2-0 and if we’d taken them I think the game would’ve been out of sight. I wasn’t surprised they remained positive after the sending-off – Whitehill’s strength is that they have match-winners.
“If anything I’m surprised their manager’s not made a bigger thing of how good a team he’s got and they should be up the top end of the table. I think he talks down their chances when they’ve a excellent group of players.”
Spartans: Carswell, Nixon, Cennerazzo, Thomson, MacKinnon, Grant (Henretty 81), Brown, Beesley, Douglas, McLeod, Stevenson (Motion 65).
Whitehill Welfare: Young, Sproule, McKenzie, O’Donnell, Thom, Dodds, Manson, Kidd, McIntosh, Somerville, Martin.