Lothian THISTLE picked up all three points in this Central Taxis Premier Division clash with a narrow 3-2 victory thanks to two brilliant goals from Alan McDonagh in an enthralling encounter which had the crowd on their toes right up to the final whistle.
Lothian led 3-0 after an hour but were hanging on by their finger-tips in the closing stages as Whitehill laid siege to their goals where goalkeeper Kevin Swain was, quite rightly, the man of the match.
Another contender for this honour was Lothian’s attacking midfielder, McDonagh, whose two goals were out of the top drawer and would have graced even the very highest level of football.
Whitehill started brightly with Wayne McIntosh missing his kick from a good position in the Lothian penalty box then Scott McCulloch hit the side netting before the striker brought out a superb save from Swain.
The deadlock was broken ten minutes before half-time when Paul Crawford rampaged down the right and fired in an angular drive which Ryan McGurk parried, but only to McDonagh whose first time left foot volley rattled into the net hitting the underside of the crossbar on the way.
Only ten minutes into the second half Lothian increased their advantage when McDonagh picked up a loose ball on the half way line, advanced a few paces and hit an unstoppable swerving shot from fully 25 yards which gave McGurk absolutely no chance in the Whitehill goal.
Lothian notched their third and all-important goal in 54 minutes when, after a quickly taken short corner, Craig Stevenson tried his luck with a shot from outside the penalty box which found its way through a mass of legs and bodies and into the far corner of the net.
Whitehill were spurred into action and McIntosh threaded a pass to Stevie Manson who pushed the ball over the line from 16 yards to give the visitors some hope. McCulloch then missed a golden opportunity before Lothian’s Stevenson kicked two net-bound efforts off the goal-line as Whitehill pressurised the Lothian defence. McCulloch even managed to thwart his own player, Manson, from scoring when he inadvertently stopped his shot on the goal-line. With time running out a Scott Gormley free kick rebounded from the post and was forced home by Willie Kidd but Whitehill could not find an equaliser and Lothian held out to record their second win against the Rosewell club this season. “What a game to watch,” enthused the Lothian manager, Grant Carnie. “That was worth the five pounds admission fee. It was a really good performance, a win and three points. Alan [McDonagh] brings quality to the team and his two finishes were frightening. Whitehill are a very good team and even at three-nil up with half an hour to go I knew that they would create chances A credit to Whitehill because they went right to the end and could have scored a good few goals.”
Mike Lawson, the Whitehill manager was not too despondent after the loss. “I have been in the game long enough to know that sometimes in football it is just not going to be your day and that’s the way it turned out to be. I cannot fault the players for effort and commitment and we lost two goals that Alan took really well. Before, and between, his goals we had umpteen chances and met an inspired goalkeeper in Kevin Swain. We showed a bit of resilience and came back, scored two, and we had at least three or four kicked off the line – one of them by one of our own players. That basically sums up the 90 minutes and shows what a wonderful game football is.
“Near the end it was like the Alamo. On the plus side it was good to get back playing football and we still want to win the Premier Division. There is a long way to go before the end of the season so we will see what happens.”
Lothian Thistle: Swain, Crawford (Kane 80), Stevenson, Wilkes, Costello, McCall (McDiarmid 70), Connelly, Elliot (Anderson 71), Hawkins, McDonagh, Lee. Subs: Dignan, Trialist.
Whitehill Welfare: McGurk, Brown, Thom, Bruce, W Kidd, McGlashan, Manson, A Kidd (Robertson 80), McIntosh (Somerville 71), McCulloch, Jordan Hall (Gormley 71). Subs: John Hall, Walker.