Musselburgh Athletic bagged their first win in Senior football with an East Lothian derby victory over Preston Athletic in the first competitive meeting between the two clubs in almost 25 years.
Not since season 1993-94 had the two local rivals crossed paths; that season being Preston’s last as a Junior club.
Musselburgh ended their time in the Juniors last season as they followed 24 other clubs in moving to the East of Scotland League – and they secured the early bragging rights as they joined fellow newcomers Dunipace at the top of their East of Scotland Qualifying League Section H.
Last season’s top goalscorer Matti King – who celebrated his 150th goal for the club and became their record appearance holder during their Premier League-winning campaign – picked up where he left off as he notched the opener.
“The conditions weren’t great, but it was good to score and get the win,” said the 34-year-old, Musselburgh captain. “I thought we were fairly comfortable; they never caused us too many problems but in those conditions you never know what is going to happen. At 1-0 it was a bit tense, so to get the second goal sort of killed them off a wee bit.”
King looked set to leave the club at one stage in the summer after manager Calvin Shand had quit. However, previous chairman Charlie McGlynn stepped aside following an EGM in June and Shand’s swift return in turn saw King commit to the club.
King continued: “It was like he was never really away to be honest. He was there the last game of the season and he was there for the first session, so it was just the time in between which was a bit up and down, but we just had to get a future for the club.
“I had a couple of offers but as soon as we found out Calvin was staying, everybody who had not signed professionally were staying as well. We had a good atmosphere last year and we are just hoping to build on that again.
“There’s a lot to look forward to this season; there’s a lot of new teams in our league – Coldstream, Hawick and Peebles – a lot of journeys, which will be good if we win. There is a lot of opportunities to win silverware for the so-called smaller clubs and we’ll be going out to win every game.”
King pounced on a defensive mistake to fire Musselburgh ahead on 21 minutes.
Debutant David Maskrey’s ball from the right wasn’t dealt with by defender Michael McFarlane as he dithered in possession inside his own six-yard box, with King nipping in to lash the ball high into the net past goalkeeper Craig Pennycuick.
Burgh defender Barry Hogg, making his second debut for the club after signing in the summer, headed just wide of his own post, much to his relief, as Preston went in search of an equaliser.
The visitors looked more likely to add to their lead after the interval, but they were served a warning when Ross Cowan headed over from eight yards out from substitute Brandon Archibald’s fine free-kick delivery.
That spurned the visitors into action and they doubled their lead on 77 minutes. Maskrey, who joined from Lowland League side Edinburgh University in the summer, showed great determination after a fine turn and slid in on goalkeeper Craig Pennycuick to get his reward.
Midfielder Conor Thomson then sealed the win five minutes from time when he let fly from long range to cap a good afternoon’s work for the Olivebank men.
Preston boss Jack Lynch believes his side will improve as the season goes on.
He said: “We knew it was going to be a hard game, even though they’ve had a few players going up the stairs, they’ve brought guys in who have played at a good level.
“I thought Musselburgh played some really good football in the first half. It was a very poor goal for us to give away, but on the balance of play they probably deserved to go in ahead.
“It was more equal in the second half and we were on top for a good 10-15 minute spell. We can definitely improve. We are using these games still as our pre-season.”
Preston Athletic: C Pennycuick, Innes, McFarlane, Cowan, Austin, Woodcock, Turkington (Dimitrov), D Pennycuick, Carter (Archibald), Ndiweni, Cochrane (Stokes).
Musselburgh Athletic: Cornet, Lynch, McManus, Hogg (Gillan), Moffat, McNaughton (Evans) Cherrie (Gregory), Whyte, Thomson, Maskrey, King.