Real Tuesday 2 - 0 Murrayfield Thistle
Something of a return to form for the Real, but we sure made heavy weather of it!
In an attempt to learn from the lessons learned the hard way against PWC, we lined up with an unfamiliar three man midfield of Yass, Phil and Calder, with Craig sitting behind them to provide cover for the centre halves. With Calder adopting a more withdrawn role, Dave Rolland made a welcome return to partner Jay up front.
Craig took to the holding midfielder position like a duck to water, breaking up attacks and pushing forward when it was safe to do so.
It was pretty much one way traffic in the first half, with Calder, wee Dave and Jay taking it in turns to pepper the Murrayfield goal. .
Calder was first to try his luck, hitting a firm shot goalwards that the Murrayfield keeper almost managed to throw into his own net as he tried to gather it. The keeper then made a good save on fifteen minutes after Jay played a fine through ball to Dave, then Calder bulleted a header just wide of the left hand post four minutes after that.
Murrayfield then caused a frisson in the Real defence, Sam and Ross getting into a bit of a fankle as they tried to deal with an apparently harmless ball into the box, each thinking that the other was going to deal with it. The ball was eventually cleared for a corner as the Murrayfield strikers began to close in - definitely a lucky break for the Real.
Back up the other end, Calder had a shot blocked on the line.
Attention then shifted back to our end as Murrayfield fashioned an attack down our left wing, said attack breaking down after Sam cleared out the opposition ball carrier in no uncertain terms. Murrayfield protested as a free kick was awarded and Sam sauntered off - when Brian suggested that 'An apology would go a long way', a decidedly half hearted 'Sorry!' was the result.
We ended the half on the attack, Calder clattering the bar and Jay having a 'goal' chalked off for offside.
No score at half time then, and nerves began to jangle on the sidelines - if ever a game had 'undeserved victory to the opposition' written all over it ...
The nerves were also evident on the pitch, with Brian struggling to maintain order as every decision brought howls of derision from the players (particularly those in blue). One of the Murrayfield players was eventually sent to the sidelines, and Brian decided to 'march' free kicks on several occasions after the original awards were disputed.
A foul on Calder on the edge of the Murrayfield box led to a dropped ball - pretty much the last thing the incident merited - while Jay had a (fairly soft) penalty claim turned down after he sprinted down the right wing and into the box.
We had made our usual raft of substitutions on half time, with Ted replacing Phil in centre mid, Biggsy replacing Yass on the left wing and Mike replacing wee Dave up front.
Mike was the only one of the subs to express any concern about the role he was being asked to perform, pointing out that he wasn't, in fact, a striker, and would never pretend to be one!
Jordan, nursing a sore foot after an accident at work, finally entered the fray on 60 minutes, replacing Craig in the holding role.
That substitution had an almost instant effect, Jordan putting in a crunching tackle on half way then threading an inch perfect pass through to Mike J in the Murrayfield box. Mike had time to steady himself before shooting across the stranded keeper and into the net. 1-0 to the Real, 15 minutes into the second half.
We made further changes as the half wore on in an attempt to secure the second goal needed to kill off the game. After some blatant goading by Phil, Bill dared to hook the usually untouchable Jay - cue mutterings of 'But I've created so much!' from Jay as he stomped to the sidelines! Phil went back into midfield, with Calder moving up to partner Mike J in attack.
Our final switch saw Dave replacing Calder, who was about as happy to be substituted as Jay had been earlier in the game.
The swap was, however, vindicated late in the game, when a nice layoff from Mike J sent Dave through on the keeper; the keeper managed to get to Dave's low drive, but he couldn't stop it from squirming over the line by his right hand post.
Biggsy was another of the second half subs to put in a good shift, causing all kinds of bother in the Murrayfield defence with a well struck free kick then forcing one of the Murrayfield defenders to scythe him down as he sprinted at full tilt towards the isolated keeper.
It's hard to tell what this result says about our league prospects, as Murrayfield played some nice football without really testing our defence - as Mike Boyle said afterwards, 'I don’t think they’d have scored if we’d played all night'. We did create plenty of chances, though, and it was nice to see our substitutions having a positive effect for a change. Ted also looks like a real find, comfortable on the ball and able to pick out a pass.
And, at the end of the day, it's nice to get back to winning ways after the PWC disaster - onwards and upwards, chaps!