Musselburgh Athletic goalkeeping coach Ryan McGurk kept a clean sheet as the Olivebank men extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to ten points with an East Lothian derby victory.
The 36-year-old former Stenhousemuir and Whitehill Welfare keeper pulled on the gloves at the last minute with No.1 Ally Adams suspended and second-choice goalie Asher Tufail sidelined through injury.
McGurk says he’ll continue to do so if needed by manager Calvin Shand as Burgh bounced back from losing their unbeaten league start with a hard-fought win over their big-spending local rivals.
“I got called up at the last minute as Ashy wasn’t fully fit,” said McGurk. “I thought I might have a chance so I did a session on Thursday and had a good warm-up today, and just took it from there.
“It’s been three or four years since I’ve been playing regularly. I played a game last season just to help the club out and that’s how I got the job as the goalkeeping coach. I’ve really enjoyed helping out with them.
“I wasn’t apprehensive at all – I’m too old for that now! As long as I did a good warm-up I knew I’d feel fine. I got a good save in the first ten minutes, and you just take it on from there. We defended really well; the two centre halves were outstanding and I thought it was a good team performance.”
McGurk, who helps out best mate and ex-Hibee Kevin Thomson with coaching for his football academy, says he prefers working on the training field more than he did on his time on the pitch as a player.
He continued: “It’s the first time I’ve been part of a coaching team with Calvin and Geordie [Kevin McDonald, assistant manager] and I love it. I actually enjoy it more than I did playing. They are a good bunch of boys and we’ve done well this season. We’re sitting top of the league and looking good.
“I don’t know what will happen on Saturday because Ally is still suspended and Ashy is still toiling a wee bit. You’ll need to ask the gaffer.”
Tranent, who handed debuts to strikers Ryan McCallum and Jamie Devlin, started on the front foot and could have been ahead inside the first minute, but winger Kayne Paterson’s fired his shot just wide of McGurk’s right-hand post.
McGurk was called into action soon after when Lloyd Fiddler – a standout for the visitors – slalomed his way past several Burgh defenders on the edge of the box before McGurk tipped over his strike.
Burgh had started poorly, with several stray passes not allowing them to get into any kind of rhythm and the Tranent defence marshalling forward players Matti King and Stephen MacDonald.
They almost went in front before the interval, however, with Tranent captain Alex Christie sending Conor Thomson’s ball just over his own bar, while Brad Donaldson somehow didn’t score from the resultant corner with Fiddler clearing off the line.
The league leaders started better after the interval and went ahead six minutes after the break. Debutant Ryan Gay’s set-piece wreaked havoc in the visiting defence and centre back Jamie Todd sent the ball into his own net at the back post.
Jamie Patterson must have wondered how he didn’t score five minutes later. McCallum’s knockdown was on a plate for him, but McGurk spread himself to block his shot when he looked set to score. Burgh were left thinking the same midway through the second half when substitute Ewan Ralton’s crossfield pass spread play out wide to Thomson. His shot was saved by Tranent keeper Douglas Horne, while MacDonald, King and Thomson again all had attempts repelled in the aftermath.
The home side secured the win late on when they broke from a corner after Fiddler gifted possession to Ralton just inside the visitors’ half. The winger strode in one-on-one with Horne and kept his cool to slide the ball past the keeper.
Tranent boss Max Christie thought his side showed plenty signs of encouragement, saying: “Two mistakes lost us the game. I felt at times we looked the more likely team. We’re going to be fine – we’ve got a lot of good footballers.
“I thought our spirit and attitude was good. We just need to be a bit more calmer in the final third at times.”
Musselburgh Athletic: McGurk, McManus, Gray, Donaldson, Davie, Gay (Wilson), Cherrie, Whyte (Ralton) Thomson, King (Lynch), MacDonald.
Tranent: Horne, Christie, Fairnie, Todd, Kerr, Hawkins, Fiddler, Miller, Patterson (Waters), McCallum, Devlin.