Back to league business for the boys in blue at Murieston Blues.

Starting 11; Daniel, Graham, Luke, Callum S, Adam, Aidan, Jack, Nathan, Shea, Owen T, Owen S.

After last week’s win, the boys in blue were looking forward to this league game at Murieston; it was to prove a sterner test than earlier league games had been.

The first ten minutes was unusual, as Murieston were more in the Bathgate half of the field than we’ve become used to seeing an opposition team. This, along with the plastic pitch, seemed to put the Bathgate boys on the wrong foot.

In the fourth and tenth minutes Daniel had to be alert to a couple of shots that came his way. The second shot in particular was down to excellent positioning.

However, just after Daniel’s second save, Nathan took a through ball from Luke and released Owen S who passed a perfect ball to Shea who had ran through the centre. Shea ran towards the goalie and cut a clever ball back to Jack who was just at the centre left of the box. Jack, who was looking like he wanted to be involved with every move, calmly held the ball then let fly with a strong shot, which flew past the keeper into the net for 0 – 1.

In the 12th minute Murieston showed they weren’t going play a bit part in this game. Their forward flew through the Bathgate defence, then, from 12 yards out, hit a tremendous shot towards goal. However, Jack the goal scorer became Jack the goal stopper, when he blocked the goal bound shot over the line for a corner. The resulting corner was picked up by Graham and cleared up field.

In the 14th and 18th minutes, Daniel had to be alert to a couple of shots that came his way. The second stop in particular was down to excellent positioning and ensured Bathgate kept the initiative.

Murieston kept the pressure on and in 19 minutes their midfield broke through from the left side. A smart ball across goal towards the far right post had to be turned out by Daniel for a corner.

The next ten minutes became a midfield tussle with both teams cancelling each other out. However, the game suddenly came to life when Nathan broke through the right midfield and released Owen T who was running through towards the edge of the box. Owen T took on two defenders and fired a fine shot across the goal, just missing the outside of the post and out for a goal kick.

Adam, who had been unusually quiet, took the ball 35 yards up the left touch line. As he cut in towards the box the keeper rushed out to narrow the angle. Adam, as alert as ever, scooped the ball over the stopper and towards the net. However, a fine flying header from a defender denied Adam what would have been an outstanding goal.

In 32 minutes, Owen T picked up a loose ball on the right centre of the box. His quick shot on the turn from 15 yards out, brought a fine save from the Murieston keeper.

HT 0 – 1

The start of the second half was more like what we expect from Bathgate; thoughtful touches, fast flicks and telling through balls.

In the 3rd minute, Shea ran onto a through centre ball and sent a ball through to Owen S who had ran in from the right. It was a straight chase for the ball between Owen S and the goalie. Unfortunately, the stopper scooped the ball into his arms a split second before Owen S could make contact with the ball.

More midfield mire followed and again the game became bogged down in poor passing and dogged defending.

In the 15th minute another Murieston attack was broken down by Callum S, who calmly cleared the ball upfield to Callum G, who had just entered the field along with Lewis a minute earlier.

The seventeenth minute brought the second goal. Jack, who was playing strongly and fairly, released Adam on the left touchline. Adam ran 20 yards, cutting in to the box and cut the ball back from the goal line. Adams’ cutback landed perfectly at the foot of Owen T who slammed the ball in for 0 – 2.

Shaun and Jamie came on in 19 minutes and Ciaran came on for Daniel in 21minutes.

Ciaran was tested just after coming on, however, his perfect positioning made his early saves look easier than they looked.

Shea, who was looking determined to score, picked up a Shaun pass, then had another fine shot in 29 minutes, however, the Murieston stopper saved well.

Aidan, who had been remarkably quiet, latched on to a through ball from Owen T. However, Aidan’s shot sliced wide of the keepers right post.

In the 32nd minute a Callum G corner on the right found Lewis at the back post. Lewis sent a cushioned head flick towards goal which was cleared by the goalie. The loose ball was fired back in by Jamie and Lewis head flicked another fine ball towards goal. Again, there was to be no luck for Lewis as the ball was swept clear by a defender.

FT 0 – 2

The first half of this game was dictated by Murieston, who seemed determined to take a big team scalp. Bathgate can and will play better and lose, however, they appeared to listen to their coaches at half time and did improve in the second half.

Two talking points;

1)Jack substitution; I overheard the coach’s excellent explanation of Jacks’ substitution and Jack has hopefully learned that sometimes substitutions have to be made for a players own good. I can confirm the substitution was not for lack of effort or anything related to Jack’s excellent display today.

2)Jamie’s booking for his first tackle appeared, to this observer at least, to be rather harsh.

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