Match date: 7th August 2021 Kickoff: 2.30pm

Dunbar took on rock bottom Hill of Beath on the back of last Saturday’s disappointing 1-0 defeat to Jeanfield.  The Haws were, on the other hand, in the unaccustomed position of going into the game with no points on the board after being severely hindered by injuries and unavailability for the start of the season.

They were able to welcome some of their absentees back into the squad for their visit to East Lothian.  John Johnstone, Ben Bathgate and Scott Hay were the only Dunbar absentees as Kevin Haynes and Andy Donlevy rejigged the Dunbar starting XI.

Dunbar got the action under way at a bright New Countess Park and it took both sides a bit of time to find their feet as early encounters were confined to midfield battles. Both sides had a couple of half attacks that came to nothing.

With 16 minutes on the clock, Scott Gibson was clearly given a last warning for a crude and late challenge on Fraser Neave, who was leading the Haws midfield a merry dance.  Both Gibson, and his midfield teammate, Brandon Luke, were attached to Neave like limpets, giving the Dunbar midfielder not one inch of room to create and sending him sprawling at every opportunity.

With 17 minutes on the clock, the Haws took the lead with a slick and speedy counter attack. Russell Grierson played a ball down the right channel and Calum Adamson was first to react, ran onto the ball and slotted home low across the exposed Daniel Laing in the Dunbar goal.

Given the number of times that Fraser Neave had been fouled and the Hawthorn players having gotten away with a warning, it seemed unfair when young Evan Fleming was shown a yellow card for his first foul of the afternoon, a clumsy foul on Calum Adamson with 21 minutes on the clock.

A couple of minutes later, Dunbar were unlucky not to equalise when a Neave freekick out wide on the left was headed goal wards by Dean Whitson. The big defender saw his header flicked on to the post by Lee Wilson in the visitors goal and with the ball clipping the post, the keeper and a defender were on the line to prevent the ball from somehow crossing the line.

However, Dunbar would be celebrating a couple of minutes later, having levelled the scores when Michael McFarlane played a long, diagonal ball over the top and found the incoming Fraser Mclaren in the right position to prod the ball home. 

Just minutes later, Dunbar had turned the game on its head as they took the lead. Fraser Neave sent over a cross from the left and Michael McFarlane connected with a backwards header that looped up and over Lee Wilson and into the net.

Hawthorn tried to press forward and equalise before half time, Brandon Luke’s corner kick finding an unmarked Lee Reid in the centre but the defender’s header was just over the bar with Daniel Laing berating his defence for the lack of marking. 

Then with 37 minutes on the clock, Daniel Laing was again called into action to tip a Ryan Connelly header round the post after a superb cross from the left by Brandon Luke.

In the end, the teams went in with Dunbar holding the lead by the narrowest of margins.

Half time: Dunbar United 2, Hill of Beath Hawthorn 1

The Haws came out with a renewed vigour for the second half looking more geed up for the battle. Neither side made any changes at half time. Dean Whitson joined Evan Fleming in the referees wee black book just 3 minutes into the second half from a professional foul on Ryan Connelly on the edge of the box. The resulting free kick by Brandon Luke hit the wall.

With 58 minutes on the clock, Hill of Beath won another free kick and this time it was Lyle Kellichan that was given the set piece duty. His free kick managed to get over the and found Adamson at the back post but his header was just wide of target. 

But a minute later, Haws were handed a lifeline back into the game when a bouncing ball hit Kieran Ingram on the arm. I doubt many people in the ground saw this as a deliberate hand ball as the Dunbar defender’s arm were in a natural position, down by his side.

Still, the penalty was awarded and Lee Reid blasted the penalty high and central into the roof of the net, not giving Daniel Laing a sniff and we were once again all level.

In the 62nd minute, Ryan Connelly became the first Haws player booked when he was shown the yellow card for simulation in the Dunbar box. No one was conned, not even the referee. A minute later, Hawthorn were once again shouting for a penalty after an apparent hand ball offence in the box following a corner kick, once again their protests were waved away by Mr Lindsay.

A period of change in the second half did nothing for the flow of the game as both sides changed personnel and found it hard to get back into any type of stride.  Darren Handling replaced Grant Thomson for Dunbar.

Then Andy Jones and Jamie Devlin were introduced with Fraser McLaren and Johnny Edmond making way.  Mark Wilkie and Michael Watt were introduced for the Haws as Scott Gibson and Lee Reid took a seat.  Finally, Nicky Weir replaced Michael Fairnie for Dunbar.

With less then 5 minutes remaining, Dunbar’s Andy Jones fed Fraser Neave on the edge of the box.  His shot was well blocked by a combination of Lee Wilson, in the Haws goal, and Mark Wilkie.  The Haws broke straight up the other end and Johnny Galloway was unlucky to take the ball too wide to get a decent angle for the shot and Daniel Laing did well to produce the save.

In stoppage time, the Haws very nearly nicked all three points, which would have been a travesty when Ryan Connelly went close with an overhead kick at the back post that had all of the Dunbar defence scrambling.

So, a draw gives the Haws their first point of the season and moves Dunbar in to 6th place in the league with 10 points.  A home cup tie beckons on Tuesday night with unbeaten Conference A side Leith Athletic the visitors, tickets for this game are now on sale via the club’s Fanbase app.

Dunbar United : – Daniel Laing, Kieran Ingram, Michael McFarlane, Dean Whitson, Evan Fleming, Michael Fairnie, Grant Thomson, Bob Berry, Fraser Neave, Johnny Edmond, Fraser McLaren.

Substitutes :- Jo Purves, Keith Tait, Darren Handling, Nicky Weir, Jamie Devlin, Andy Jones.

Hill of Beath :- Lee Wilson, Russell Grierson, Lyle Kellichan, Jake Mitchell, Lee Reid, Scott Gibson, Brandon Luke, Johnathan Galloway, Daniel Watt, Ryan Connelly, Calum Adamson.

Substitutes :- James Donaldson, Joe Kinninmonth, Ross McLachlan, Jens Moret, Michael Watt, Mark Wilkie.

Referee :- Kevin Lindsay

Asst Referees : – Lewis Hogarth & Finlay Anderson

Match report courtesy of Alistair Paterson

Photos by Gordon Maitland