Match date: 30th December 2021 Kickoff: 7.30 pm

Dunbar took on Whitehill under the New Countess Park floodlights for the final game of 2021, a year that saw the Seasiders play in the “senior” Scottish Cup for the first time.

Visitors, Whitehill, were sitting uncharacteristically, at the foot of the East of Scotland League, Premier Division, but were 15 points better off since the last time the two sides had met.  That was back on 4th September at Ferguson Park where Welfare claimed their first points of the season with a 1-0 win after Mikey McFarlane had been sent off.

With a combination of holidays and Covid isolations the Seasiders squad was down to the bare bones, with the four players on the bench including a trialist keeper who was drafted in from the Dunbar United Colts.

In the opening minute, Darren Handling had an effort fly over the bar. At the other end, Welfare won a corner, which Dunbar struggled to clear, until Aaran Laidlaw shot over the bar, injuring himself in the process.  Ultimately, he couldn’t continue and Somina Dublin-Green ended up getting a longer than planned outing, coming on in his place after just 2 minutes.

Blair Tolmie was next to try his luck for the visitors’ but Ryan Mack in the Dunbar goal was able to produce a diving save and turn the ball around the post. 

With 10 minutes on the clock, Dunbar took the lead. Darren Handling made progress down the right wing and crossed towards the centre, Bryan Wilson missed his header giving Andy Jones a chance behind him.

Musa Dibaga produced an outstanding save to prevent the prolific striker from putting Dunbar one up but Fraser Neave was following up and blasted home the loose ball.

Grant Thomson tried his luck not long after the restart with a long-range effort but Dibaga was able to save comfortably.  Fraser Neave then tried his hand at providing but Johnny Edmond sent his header just wide.

At the half hour mark, Dunbar gave away a cheap free kick in the centre of the pitch. Blair Tolmie floated in the free kick and with Ryan Mack rooted to the spot, it was left to the Dunbar defence to clear their lines. However, 9 minutes later, Whitehill did get their equaliser. Josh Walker in the centre of the pitch, fed a ball through for Ewan Mckinlay to run onto and fire home low across the goalkeeper.

Half time: Dunbar United 1  Whitehill Welfare 1

Welfare started the second half with a shot from Liam Ireland that was deflected wide. Then Darren Handling had a chance for the hosts but after cutting in from the right wing, his shot on target was well saved by Dibaga in the Whitehill goal.

The next Dunbar goal had only been delayed, however, as with the very next attack, the hosts regained their lead.  Andy Jones managed to beat the offside trap, after coming in from the left wing, closed in on goal and smashed home a shot beyond the stranded Musa Dibaga.

Not finished there, Dunbar gave themselves a nice cushion, with a third goal just 90 seconds later. Once again, Andy Jones was the man that burst through the centre of the home defence then curled home a peach of a shot into the back stick.  And it could’ve been worse for Welfare as Darren Handling wasn’t too far off target with a header from a Darren Smith corner.

Both teams made some changes with Weir and Ingram replacing Neave and Thomson for Dunbar. Thomson and Hodge came on for McKinlay and Weir for Welfare. With the final whistle beckoning,  Evan Fleming attempted a lob shot from fully 30 yards out,  but the ball ended up going just over the bar.

Another Smith corner caused chaos in the Whitehill box as Dean Whitson won a header at the back post.  The ball came back off the post and rebounded back to Whitson, who managed to somehow volley over the bar from about 6 inches out.

Ben Bathgate replaced Darren Handling for the final few minutes and with a minute of stoppage time played, Ricky Miller became the first and only booking of the evening for abusive language.

A welcome 3 points for Dunbar,  if not a vintage performance.  A win that leaves Dunbar 9th in the table with 29 points and an East Lothian Derby to come against Tranent Juniors in just over a week. 

Full time: Dunbar United 3 Whitehill Welfare 1

Dunbar United :- Ryan Mack, Grant Thomson, Michael McFarlane, Dean Whitson, Evan Fleming, Darren Smith, Bob Berry, Fraser Neave, Johnny Edmond, Andy Jones, Darren Handling.

Substitutes :- Trialist (gk), Kieran Ingram, Ben Bathgate, Nicky Weir.

Whitehill Welfare :- Musa Dibaga, Bryan Wilson, Ricky Miller, Blair Tolmie, Josh Walker, Finlay Connor, Aaran Laidlaw, Ryan Weir, Darren McCormack, Liam Ireland, Ewan McKinlay.

Substitutes :- Somina Dublin-Green, Trialist, Ryan Hodge, Andrew Kidd, Finn Thomson, Jason Howie.

Referee : – Iain Snedden

Asst Referees : – Ewan Pow and John Stewart

Mon The Seasiders!