NEWTONGRANGE STAR stole all three points in the Midlothian derby with a stoppage time winner from Sean Jamieson, but manager Alan Miller was not happy with his side’s performance and hopes it serves as a wake-up call to his men in their pursuit of the Super League title.
The win keeps the gap at the top of the table between second-placed Newtongrange and league leaders Kelty Hearts to three points, although Nitten have a game in hand.
Miller revealed that he told his side that their performance was “unacceptable” in the home dressing room at full-time, but admired their determination to secure their tenth league win of the season.
“I hope it gives them a bit of a wake-up call,” he said. “They are under no illusions – I told them that the performance was unacceptable. I admired their resilience, because even though they were playing poorly they kept going. Sometimes you need that during a season – you can’t always play well, but I thought we were poor.
“I thought the quality on show today was poor. It was a game that was littered with mistakes and poor passing.
“We were very wasteful with a lot of our chances and I think it was because people were striking early.”
The 90 minutes were as frantic as any derby, with quality not at the focal point of the action. There was some brilliance to keep the punters happy, with Penicuik’s second-half equaliser from substitute Steven Weir an overriding highlight.
The hosts came close to an opener after just two minutes. Striker Kris Renton squared to Chris King on the edge of the box and his effort, which was on target, deflected off defender David White for a corner.
Nitten continued to enjoy the bulk of chances in the opening spell and last-ditch defending from Penicuik prevented the home side taking the lead.
First, midfielder Jordan Lister blocked Renton’s close-range shot wide, then Matti King’s strike across goal was pushed away by keeper Youssef Bejaoui, but defender Darrell Young had to clear to prevent Renton and Jamieson from pouncing.
Bejaoui had to produce his best again to tip wide ex-Jambo Craig Thomson’s 25-yard free-kick which had been curled round the Penicuik wall and looked set to sneak in at Bejaoui’s left-hand post.
Penicuik had their best chance of the half on 25 minutes. Greg Ross swung in a cross to the back post which Neil Janczyk met with a downward header, but Kieron Renton produced a pinpoint save.
Just as the visitors began to enjoy their best spell, Newtongrange grabbed the opener on 38 minutes.
Matti King’s strike from the edge of the box found its way through a ruck of bodies and Jamieson steered it home from three yards out past Bejaoui.
Penicuik manager Craig Meikle introduced striker Weir for Janczyk at half-time as the visitors changed to a 4-4-2 formation, and it worked instantly.
Fellow striker Ryan McCallum flicked on and Weir was there to send an unstoppable left-foot volley which flew into the top corner, with just his second touch since coming on – his first having come from the second half kick-off.
The equaliser seemed to unsettle the home side and they began to become slack in possession. McCallum should have taken advantage for Penicuik after team-mate Scott McCulloch sent a low effort goalwards, but the big striker couldn’t connect well enough to send it past keeper Renton. McCallum then brought out the best in the home keeper with a long-range effort which fizzed towards Renton’s goal, but he flung out his right glove to send it wide.
Jamieson came close to a second with six minutes remaining after substitute Jordan Cropley fed him on the edge of the box, but his goalbound strike deflected off centre-back White and wide.
Penicuik had strong appeals for a penalty waved away on 89 minutes after Michael McDermott’s corner kick appeared to hit the hand of Michael Deland on the line, but referee Peter Stuart waved play on.
Then, in the first minute of stoppage time, Jamieson converted Deland’s cross from the left for his second of the match, before sprinting to the home bench to spark wild celebrations on the Newtongrange touchline.
Newtongrange Star: Kieron Renton, McManus, Deland, Tolmie, Dunn, Thomson, Jamieson, Cherrie, Kris Renton, C King (Wilson), M King (Cropley).
Penicuik Athletic: Bejaoui, Cunnison, McDermott, Young, White, Lister, Ross, McCulloch, McCallum (McPartlin), Gay, Janczyk (Weir).