BONNYTON Thistle played host to Eastwood Juveniles in a fiery league encounter at the Grange, with the fiery play on the pitch a welcome distraction from the cold weather.
Eastwood were languishing near the foot of the table but went ahead before the league leaders called on their full back to grab an equaliser.
The away side were dealt a massive blow when they lost two goals just minutes before half time; the final score finished 4-1.
The first chance of the match came on five minutes after good work from Bonnyton’s Steven McCarrison found overlapping full back Andy Hunter on the edge of the box on the left hand side and his whipped cross fell to Ryan Golightly but he skewed his shot wide from 12 yards.
5 minutes later and Eastwood were still having to defend for their lives as the home side continued to press for the early goal. Two corners in succession were stopped on the line - the first finding the head of Sean Mears who was denied superbly by ‘keeper Ruariadh Fordyce; the second seeing Kieran McCrum’s headers go unrewarded as Fordyce parried his first and the Bonnyton defender putting the immediate rebound over the bar from five yards.
After such heroic goalkeeping and defending, Eastwood began to find their feet on the ball. The away side knocked a few passes together with Captain Grant Melvin and Michael McManus seeing a lot of action. This gave the boys in red and white impetuous to push on and on 12 minutes, they went ahead.
After the tenacious Eastwood midfield won the ball from their opponent’s out wide, striker Matty Carvill latched onto a ball in behind, controlling it with his head before firing low into the bottom of the net to Scott Purdie’s left from 11 yards.
Bonnyton looked understandably frustrated at losing the opening goal and within two minutes the energetic Mears could have equalised. He met another cross from the left with his head, this time following Ewan Barrie’s dribble and lay-off to Hunter, only to glance his header inches wide of the far post.
Hunter turned from provider to the man on the end of the cross after the left back raced through onto a through ball and shaped inside to shoot from six yards – only to curl wide of the far post from an angle.
Eastwood had again done well to withstand another period of Bonnyton pressure and began to enjoy some play in their opponent’s half. Bonnyton’s Ian Patterson gave away a foul on the edge of the box and Eastwood almost extended their lead from the set piece. Melvin wrapped his foot around the ball and the shot looked to be curling in only for it to smack off the bar and bounce away from the danger area.
Eastwood kept up that pressure but the league leaders eventually got back on terms on the half hour mark, albeit through a rather unlikely source. Defender Golightly continued one of his runs from right back into the opposing box to stroke home a left foot finish on the rebound.
The home side missed the chance to pull off a double-blow on their opponents when Mears pounced on a mistake in the Eastwood defence but Fordyce again pulled off a great save to deny the number nine. Sam McCloskey was following up from midfield but his shot from the edge of the box was deflected and the danger faded. The home side would have the chance for a double blow just before half time though.
With just over a minute to go until the whistle for half time, Bonnyton went ahead. It was McCloskey who grabbed the goal, only minutes after being denied in the shot following Mears’ effort.
The chance came from another corner - an area where Eastwood had relied on Fordyce to save them conceding throughout – McCrum met the initial cross with his head but saw the effort cleared off the line but Thistle grabbed their second goal via rebound as McCloskey lashed a lethal left footed strike high towards the goal. Fordyce had no chance.
Moments after the ensuing kick-off, Bonnyton had won the ball and began moving forward towards the away side’s box. Mears picked up the ball inside the box and was closed down by James Mould. As Mears tried to move Mould put in a tackle and the referee awarded a penalty after Mears went down. Both sides argued their case with the home faithful believing it was a penalty while Eastwood claimed the ball was won. Nevertheless, the duties were left to McCarrison and he dispatched the spot kick with aplomb to put his side up 3-1 as the whistle went.