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Saturday 8 August

Blackburn United 2-1 (0-0 HT) Whitburn Juniors

Blackburn : Mitchell, Greig, McIntosh(Williamson 83), Mildrew, Lawrie, Spence, Cooke(Smith 69), Mackie, Wade, Easton(Hepburn 83), McDowall, Subs: Suchinskyj, Shaw
Whitburn: Horne, Hamilton, Moyes, McMeechan, Porteous, Skinner, Taylor(Trialist 80), Russell, Martin, Brass, McQueenie, Subs: Trialist, Trialist, Trialist, Hubbocks

Normally in the first game of the season teams are able to field their strongest team, however, today Whitburn had a number of players missing for a variety of reasons. Thus they played a couple of men out of position and listed 4 trialists on the teamline. Early on it looked as though this could be a good game as both teams got men through but they were unable to capitalise, being crowded out in the end. Blackburn looked the more likely (by a small margin) to score as they got in two decent shots from outside the box which Dougie Horne saved well – Darren Cooke and Stephen Easton hitting the efforts. Meanwhile Whitburn didn’t get a shot on target in what was a very poor half.

In the 54th minute Greg Skinner ghosted free in the box but fired his effort well over the bar from a Jack Hamilton free kick. On the hour a long throw was knocked on at the near post to Martin Russell at the back but his header looped up to make the save easy. 2 minutes later a Whitburn defender headed goalwards to clear a deep free kick from the right and luckily it went just over though Horne seemed to have it covered. The same player then tried a volley from a similar delivery and position but the ball spun harmlessly off his foot. In the 73rd minute James Martin was pushed off the ball by Martin Lawrie in the box – a stonewall penalty which was given. Russell took responsibility and sent the keeper the wrong way. The game had been bad tempered throughout with lots of wrestling an eventually all of this got to Gary Brass (who had been the main recipient) and in the 78th minute he finally cracked and retaliated against John Greig (who we guessed provoked him but I didn’t see the build up). The equaliser came just 5 minutes later when Craig Hepburn headed in at the back post. Callum McDowall should have given them the lead just after but he blazed the ball over with the goal at his mercy. The pressure eventually told deep in injury time when Steven McMeechan unbelievably pushed Gary Smith in the box when all he had to do was shepherd the winger out. Wade netted the spot kick and the referee blew the final whistle.

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