Back to League Business: 20 Sep 2014, Whitburn v 2002s.

Starting 11: Daniel, Graham, Luke, Callum S, Adam, Aidan, Jack, Callum G, Shea, Owen S and Shaun.

After their exploits in the two cups over the last couple of weeks, our 2002s were looking forward to this league game with Whitburn.

The game started with both side cancelling each other and the game becoming a midfield battle. The odd time the game started to flow, the defences were stronger. Any time the Whitburn boys tried to breakthrough our midfield, Graham, Luke, Callum S and Adam were too strong, confidently breaking down their attacks.

First real Bathgate action of the game came through Shaun with a couple of strong midfield runs.

In the 20th minute an excellent tackle on the edge of the 18yd box from Callum S broke up the first real Whitburn attack.

A further attack by Whitburn down the left in 25 minutes. This time the attacker evaded our defence and shot from 10 yds. Daniel was up to the task and held the ball well.

Luke was called into action in 26 minutes when he blocked a through ball. He confidently and calmly passed to Jack. Jack quickly assessed the situation and passed a perfect ball to Graham on the run. Graham’s 20 yd shot was parried by the keeper and the ball slipped out for a corner.

Graham was playing with confidence and was obviously enjoying his roving roll. His lovely lob was picked up by Shaun in the left midfield. Shaun shimmied past his opposite number and ran to the half way line. A desperate defender was left grounded as Shaun danced into the defence. A lovely left wing pass towards Shea in the centre and Owen S at the backpost is judged by the ref to be offside: a very dubious decision from this viewpoint!

However, dubious decisions weren’t going to dent the Bathgate boys determination. Bathgate’s persistent pressure produced a corner on the left. Adam accelerated forward and pressurised the defender into booting the ball out for a further corner.

Shaun, now striding up the left with confidence, took on defenders with ease. He released another accurate ball which narrowly eluded everyone, slipping out for a goal kick.

In the 34th minute, a midfield tackle and unintentional stamp on the right wrist, results in an early half time for the adventurous Aidan.

HT 0 – 0

The second half started with a switch of goalkeeper, as Ciaran replaced Daniel between the sticks.

The coaches half time pep talk worked wonders again this week, as the second half started with much more meaningful and purposeful play.

In the first minute, Shea picked up a loose ball on the left and cut a cute ball clean through the Whitburn defence. Callum G calmly collected the ball in his stride, ran though from the right and placed the ball neatly into the net between the keeper and his nearside post for 0 – 1.

A short corner from Callum G is gathered by a confident Owen T, who released a brilliant ball to Lewis. Lewis, who was showing he was up for this game, turned and thundered a ball which just drifted over the bar.

In the 10th minute, Lewis is stopped by a tackle 25 yds out, which the ref deemed unfair.

Adam strode forward with authority and assessed the situation. He took two or three backwards steps and made another assessment. A confident forward run and the ball flew into the net off his favoured left foot! It’s now 0 – 2!

Jamie’s first touch, after coming on as a sub, was a strong defensive header. That decisive header broke down what was now becoming very rare Whitburn attacks.

The boys were now showing their flair, and their confidence was flowing. In 18 minutes, an Owen T cutback is volleyed by Callum G, however, the goalie is well positioned and gratefully gathers the ball into his arms.

An unexpected substitution was carried out in the 20th minute. Ciaran, who had shown some fine positioning, was feeling unwell and had to drop back to the bench and be replaced by Daniel.

Whitburn’s attacking moves became fewer as the minutes passed. However, a fine pass up the right released the ball for their forward. He ran towards goal, however, Daniel was alert to this danger. Daniel ran out to his left and gathered the ball before the Whitburn forward, who did not show as much determination to win the ball as our keeper.

In 29 minutes two short corners, in quick succession, were taken from Shaun to Graham. These corners were well thought out, however, they didn’t produce the end product we’ve come to expect from Graham pinpoint passing.

If  either Shaun or Graham were disappointed by their earlier short corners they didn’t let it disappoint them. The Whitburn defence hadn’t learned any lessons and allowed a them to take a third short in 30 minutes. This time Graham’s cross was head flicked on by Lewis and the ball drifted over the keeper for 0 – 3.

Callum M showed a lot of determination to ensure he stopped the dwindling attacks that came his way.

Slack defensive play in 31 minutes allowed Whitburn to score an undeserved consolation goal.

After playing cup games in the last couple of weeks, it was good to be back to playing a league game.

However, the boys will have to ensure they take on board their coaches’ comments, ensuring they concentrate for a full game and stop conceding silly, sloppy goals.

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