Match date: 23nd April 2022 Kickoff: 2.30 pm

Dunbar United      2         Blackburn United       2

With Dunbar United sitting just above the relegation places and Blackburn United three points worse off,  it was vital that neither team lost all three points as the season draw to a close.

With skipper Grant Thomson and midfielder Ben Bathgate both on holiday Dunbar’s preparations were dealt a further blow when Steven Thomson pulled up injured in the pre match warm up and was replaced in the starting eleven by Kieran Ingram, who himself had just returned from a nasty injury. However, the depleted bench for Dunbar was given a huge boost by the return of ex Dunbar captain Fraser McLaren who came out of retirement to help the club out.

On a bitterly cold afternoon the home side had a penalty claim waved aside in the opening minutes when Fraser Neave was pushed inside the box before Blackburn latched on to a poor clearance but Richard Hutton fired over the bar.

Dunbar were dealt another blow in the eighth minute when an accidental clash of heads between Darren Handling and Blackburn’s Fergus Owens resulted in a lengthy stoppage, before Dunbar’s captain was led from the pitch with a nasty head gash and clearly suffering from concussion and was replaced in the Dunbar side by Scott Hay meaning yet another change in formation.

With tensions running high, the Blackburn bench was spoken to at length by the referee before one of their officials was shown a yellow card. Blackburn’s Callum Heath had a shot saved by Daniel Laing in the Dunbar goal before the industrious Jack Garrard headed wide from a corner.

Dunbar replied with two counter attacks from Andy Jones which the visitors’ defence handled well before Dunbar broke the deadlock. Jamie Devlin had a shot headed off the goal line by Blackburn’s Kyle McClung and from the resultant corner Kieran Ingram fired low through a ruck of players into the net to give Dunbar the lead.

Almost right away the visitors had an appeal for a hand ball in the penalty box waved aside by the referee before he brought a nervy first half to an end with over six minutes added time played.

Six minutes after the restart Dunbar might have increased their lead when Darren Smith’s cross was flicked of Jamie Devlin’s head by Blackburn’s Fergus Owens,  and from the resultant corner Bob Berry’s head flick fell kindly for Darren Smith who brought out a tremendous full stretch save from Jamie Smith in the Blackburn goal.

Blackburn appeared to get a lift from the keeper’s save and began to dominate for the next fifteen minutes with Jack Garrard again going close for the visitors, before they equalised in controversial circumstances in the 59th minute following a Dunbar corner when both Dunbar’s central defenders were upended in the box, but the referee waved play on and in a hasty counter attack Jack Garrard cut inside from the left wing and blasted high into the top corner giving the Dunbar keeper no chance.

Dunbar could feel aggrieved by the referee’s decision but the visitors sensed victory and Daniel Laing tipped another Blackburn corner on to the crossbar as the visitors threatened. Richard Hutton brought out another full stretch save from Laing before Kieran Ingram went close for Dunbar in a rare attack.

Blackburn’s pressure eventually paid off in the 71st minute when David Howe curled a sweet left footed effort into the top corner from the edge of the box to give them a slender lead and it looked grim for Dunbar with a mountain to climb.

But credit to them and two minutes later they equalised after a high looping cross from the left by Andy Jones was flicked back into the path of Darren Smith by Bob Berry and Smith wasted no time in blasting the ball into the net to make the score 2-2.

Dunbar dominated for the rest of the game,  but try as they might, it just was not their day and a draw was probably a fair result.  Sadly Dunbar will likely be without both Darren Handling and Steven Thomson for the remainder of the season and the Dunbar management will need to dig deep for the three remaining games.

With other results in the League table favouring Dunbar they now sit in eleventh position with three games remaining but five or six teams are still fighting it out to avoid relegation and another important home game next Saturday with Dundonald Bluebell the visitors to New Countess Park with kick off again at 2.30pm. Tickets for the game are now on sale via the club’s Fanbase app.

Dunbar United :- Daniel Laing, Michael McFarlane, Jamie Devlin, Bob Berry, Kieran Ingram, Darren Handling, Andy Jones, Fraser Neave, Evan Fleming, Darren Smith, Dean Whitson.

Substitutes :- Declan Hannan, Scott Hay, Fraser McLaren.

Blackburn United :- Jamie Smith, Jack Sayers, Kyle McClung, Fergus Owens, James Mildrew, Daryl Meikle, Richard Hutton, Dominic Kane, Jack Garrard, David Howe, Callum Heath.

Substitutes :- Gavin King, Michael Browne, Lawrie Devine, David McKowen, Bailey Ferris, David Wilson,  Craig Saunders.

Referee :- Alex Shepherd.

Match report courtesy of Laurie Wood.

Photos by Gordon Maitland and Fiona McGinty.