Match date: 26th June 2021 Kickoff: 14:30

Dunbar United’s third pre-season game was against Dalkeith Thistle who finished last season in 11th position in Conference A and ex Dunbar Manager Jock Landells was still at their helm. For various reasons the Dunbar management made four changes from the game at Ormiston and only two fit substitutes were named for selection.

After a morning of constant drizzle the pitch at New Countess Park was still in surprisingly good condition for the game. The opening half hour was very even with play mostly in midfield and no clear cut chances created from both sides before Dunbar eventually sprang into life with a Bathgate dummy sending Bob Berry clear on the left and his cut back was met by Grant Thomson who shot over the crossbar. In their next attack a deflected pass fell kindly for Fraser McLaren whose shot from a narrow angle struck the side netting.

Dunbar were now the dominant side and just before the interval some good play between Ben Bathgate and Grant Thomson saw the latter’s cross taken off the head of McLaren by the Dalkeith keeper to keep the score intact at 0-0 at the break.

Michael Fairnie replaced Ben Bathgate after the restart and within five minutes the visitors were awarded a penalty after Jack Morgan’s cross saw a Dalkeith forward upended in the box. Experienced defender Greig Callachan made no mistake from the spot kick despite a valiant effort from John Johnstone in the home goal.

Six minutes later and Dunbar should have been on level terms when Fraser McLaren’s cross was headed downwards by Bob Berry at the back post but somehow the ball bounced over the crossbar with the goalkeeper beaten. Dalkeith replied with a great chance for Jack Morgan after he skipped past Kieran Ingram but shot straight at John Johnstone before their left winger was stopped only by a great tackle from Dunbar’s Nicky Weir to concede a corner.

Dunbar piled on the pressure looking for the equaliser and Grant Thomson’s low cross went a begging before the goal finally arrived in the 67th minute when the impressive Darren Handling’s cross was headed back across the face of the goal by Grant Thomson and Dunbar’s captain Fraser McLaren was on hand to fire into the net from close range for his second goal in two games.

Dalkeith rang the changes giving all their squad a run out and in the 70th minute they rode their luck when Dunbar’s Keith Tait struck a beauty from the edge of the box only to see the ball strike the outside of the post with the Dalkeith defence beaten. Fraser McLaren had another chance a few minutes later but the Dalkeith keeper did well to save with his legs and although Dunbar dominated for the rest of the game they could not find a way through a resolute Dalkeith defence marshalled well by Greig Callachan and an impressive return to New Countess Park from Darren McTernan who was signed from Dunbar earlier this month.

Plenty of chances for the home side but not ruthless enough in front of goal and more worrying was the lack of players available for the game. Hopefully by next weekend both these issues will be resolved when Peebles Rovers visit New Countess Park on Saturday with kick off again at 2.30 pm and all fans again are welcome inside the ground.

Dunbar United :- John Johnstone, Grant Thomson, Keith Tait, Michael McFarlane, Kieran Ingram, Nicky Weir, Darren Handling, Fraser Neave, Ben Bathgate, Bob Berry, Fraser McLaren.

Substitutes :- Michael Fairnie, Trialist.

Referee :- Jonathan Gall

Match report courtesy of Laurie Wood
Photos by Gordon Maitland