Newtongrange Star manager Alan Miller was thrilled after his side romped to a convincing victory over local rivals Penicuik Athletic in their opening Super League match of season last night.
The Nitten boss was particularly pleased with the performance of two of his summer recruits, with striker Kris Renton, signed from Bonnyrigg Rose, scoring a debut double and former Hearts player Craig Thomson, signed from Arniston Rangers, instrumental in an impressive victory.
Another new face, former Musselburgh Athletic striker Matti King, is close to agreeing a deal after playing as a trialist in the win over a Penicuik side whose preparations for their first-ever venture into the Super League have been badly hampered by a raft of injuries and a shortage of players.
“We had to ignore Penicuik’s problems during their pre-season and do our own job and the players did that,” said Miller.
“It’s great that Kris Renton has got off the mark with his two goals. If he stays fit then he will do well for us this season, there is no doubt about that.
“Craig [Thomson] has great energy and he’s carrying an injury. When we get him to 100 per cent then we are going to have some player on our hands. He was terrific in the engine room, he’s got enthusiasm, he’s got energy and he’s got quality as well on top of that.”
Last season’s Premier League champions Penicuik started brightly in their first-ever Super League fixture, with summer signing Neil Janczyk stinging the palms of Nitten goalkeeper Kieron Renton from a set-piece on three minutes.
Janczyk then drilled a cross into the danger area which Ryan Gay got on the end of, but he could only divert his strike wide of the post.
The visitors gradually found their way into the match and after a series of chances they broke the deadlock on 27 minutes. Left-back Michael Deland’s cross found Kris Renton unmarked inside the box and he glanced a header past home keeper Youssef Bejaoui and into the net.
Penicuik came close to a leveller after Gary Cherrie was robbed of possession inside his own half, but striker Grant Killin’s shot was blocked by defender David Dunn. Blair Tolmie should have made it two for Newtongrange just before half-time, but he sent his header wide from a Thomson corner.
Penicuik’s Greg Ross came close to an equaliser for the home side with two chances in quick succession. First, the former Dunfermline defender ventured into Nitten’s box and looked certain to score, but he opted to pass across goal instead of shooting and the chance was gone, before a powerful drive from the edge of the box was held at the second attempt by Kieron Renton.
Brother Kris doubled Star’s lead against the run of play with ten minutes remaining after he capitalised on an error by Penicuik player-manager Craig Meikle before firing into the bottom corner.
Penicuik tried in vain to pull one back – coming closest when a goalmouth scramble ensued in the visiting box, but Nitten survived.
And, with just minutes remaining, substitute Chris King hit the visitors’ third of the evening when he finished emphatically past Bejaoui after Sean Jamieson teed him up on the edge of the area.
Penicuik boss Meikle felt the final score flattered Newtongrange, although he admitted they did deserve all three points. “I thought there wasn’t a huge amount between the two teams and we competed well,” he said. “There are still a lot of positives to take from the defeat – there was a lot of good individual performances.”
Penicuik Athletic: Bejaoui, Cunnison, Meikle, Bunyan (Montgomery), McDermott, Burrell, McCulloch, Janczyk (Trialist), Ross, Gay (McPartlin), Killin.
Newtongrane Star: Kieron Renton, McManus, Dunn, Tolmie, Deland, Cherrie (Gillon), Thomson, Jamieson, Trailist (Court), Cropley (King), Kris Renton.