Date : 19th August 2023
Opposition : West Calder United
Venue : Away
Scorers : Jay Atkinson 2
Booked : Rhys Dixon
Sent Off : None
Attendance : 50
Referee : Chris Gentles
Team Lineup :
Rhys Bloomfield (c)
Adam Deans on for Brad Smith 78 mins
Match Report :
Tweedmouth Rangers produced their best performance so far this season with West Calder lucky to win this South Challenge Cup First Round tie on home soil.
Whether or not the tail end of Storm Betty there was a strong wind blowing down Hermand Park which the hosts had in their favour in the first half though it didn’t always help, sometimes carrying the ball too far.
However, they got off to the best possible start. The referee ruled that keeper Ryan Dunn had bundled over Jason Gregory when challenging for the ball. Dunn, who took over between the sticks at the last minute when Euan Robertson felt ill during the warm up, dived the right way but couldn’t stop Craig Johnston’s third minute kick from the spot.
Fears of another drubbing after a heavy pre-season loss to the same opponents were never realised with Rangers taking just six minutes to be back on level terms.
The spark was provided by Jack Cummings winning possession with a great tackle in midfield. Rangers’ momentum continued until Jay Atkinson flicked the ball into the net after Rhys Bloomfield’s initial shot from the left was blocked.
Not long afterwards, Michael Robinson laid the ball back for Atkinson to unleash a ferocious strike which Dean Shaw did well to knock on to his bar before it dropped behind his goal for a corner.
Dunn then made a couple of saves; from Johnston’s close range header at the back post and then by going low to hold on to Gregory’s drive after David Swan had worked his way across field looking for an opening.
After the match, Tweedmouth manager Kev Wright commented that he was pleased the way his team had generally kept its shape as practised in training and, probably frustrated by this facet of play, Alistair Morgan opted to try for goal from 35 yards, perhaps also thinking he might get some assistance from the wind. Too much though as the ball ended up a foot over the bar.
Joao Vieira swept up at the back to dash Johnston’s hopes of a second goal. Instead it was scored by Gregory when Rangers were caught out by a long ball. Dunn’s positioning forced him into shooting early, the ball only just reaching one post before trickling over the line by the other. It meant the West Lothian team went in 2-1 up at the break.
About a minute into the new half, Tweedmouth almost equalised again. Robinson won the ball but, with defenders still in the box, had to go wide to fire and Shaw was able to parry the ball.
Quarter of an hour later, Rangers did score again. Bloomfield made ground on the left and when he crossed the ball, Atkinson was perfectly stationed to bang it into the net.
Jamie Booth worked his way inwards from Calder’s left but from 12 yards out curled the ball outside the post. He was on his way again but chased by Vieira who got in a vital tackle for a corner. Alas for Rangers, it was met by Dean McConnell’s powerful header into the top of the net. Steven Jackson also hit the bar with a 25 yard free kick after Rhys Dixon picked up Rangers’ only caution of the afternoon compared to two for West Calder.
The home side were again in danger when Bloomfield charged down a kick by Shaw but the keeper recovered just in time to prevent Tweedmouth taking the game to extra time.