Match date: 18th of November Kickoff: 13.30 pm

Gartcairn FC   3   Dunbar United    1

After victories over Tweedmouth Rangers and Preston Athletic in the earlier Rounds, Dunbar United travelled through to Airdrie on Saturday to play Gartcairn F.C. in the Third Round of the South Region Challenge Cup.

With both sides currently leading their respective Leagues, a closely fought match was anticipated. Dunbar United fielded the same starting eleven as the previous weekend with Grant Thomson and recent signing Josh Walker both added to the bench.

Gartcairn had the experienced defender Gerry McLaughlin in their team and were hoping to continue their good home form on their 3G pitch at MTC Park on a cold November afternoon.

Liam Watt had an early shot saved by Sean Brennan in the Dunbar goal before Gregor Goldie headed Bob Berry’s cross inches wide in the opening minutes as both sides tried to get to grips with the awkward surface.

The home side’s Ben Harwood judged the bounce well in the eight minute leaving him only the keeper to beat before a brilliant tackle from Willis Hare denied the tall striker.

Dunbar began to get more into the game and Dean Whitson shot wide before Darren Handling had a shot blocked by a home defender. Some neat play on the right ended with Fraser Neave’s shot deflected for a corner as the game swung from end to end.

Darren Handling again missed the target by inches with the keeper beaten before Gartcairn’s Harwood fired high over the bar and then saw a low shot parried away by Sean Brennan with the Dunbar keeper again saving from Regan Aitken.

Not a lot between the sides at the break with Dunbar probably shading the amount of possession but still goalless at the half time interval.

Two minutes after the restart things changed dramatically after a quick counter attack by Gartcairn saw a cross to the back post find Regan Aitken whose acrobatic mishit shot bounced off the ground and over the Dunbar keeper into the net to give the hosts an early lead.

Dunbar went close minutes later after Darren Handling was fouled on the left and James Redpath’s inviting free kick was just missed by Gregor Goldie after a blatant push on the youngster went unpunished.

The Dunbar pressure paid off in the 55th minute when Dean Whitson headed in unmarked from a Fraser Neave corner and it was back to square with all to play for.

Three minutes later and the game changed again after the referee allowed a Gartcairn forward to run in on goal when he was blatantly offside. James Redpath slid in and denied the striker with a great tackle but from the resultant corner Ben Harwood’s header was saved on the line by Sean Brennan before Scott Stevenson reacted first to the rebound and tapped home to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.

Dunbar rang the changes after that and new signing Josh Walker was introduced for his debut in a triple substitution.  Grant Thomson did well to deny Gartcairn’s Regan Aitken before a great move between Cammy Dawson and Dean Whitson saw the home keeper pulling off a tremendous full stretch save to deny Whitson the equaliser.

Dunbar were looking the livelier team and both Liam Gregory and Josh Walker went close for the visitors. Six minutes from time some great quick passing found Josh Walker on the edge of the box but again he was denied by the home keeper parrying the shot only as far as Cammy Dawson on the left but his first time shot sailed over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

Dunbar pushed everyone forward trying hard to get the equaliser and force the game to extra time but got a let off in the 89th minute when Gartcairn’s Dan Kinlin raced clear of the Dunbar defence but chipped the ball over the bar.

Two minutes into injury time Josh Walker rode three tackles in midfield before being penalised by the referee and from the free kick Liam Watt did well to skip along the goal line and cross for substitute Adam Moss to fire into the net and make the scoreline 3-1 to Gartcairn.

Dunbar will feel a little aggrieved by the manner of this defeat after playing some neat football but with little between both sides it was probably two poor refereeing decisions which cost them the game.

Another cup tie next weekend when Dunbar United travel to play Lowland League side Gretna FC 2008 in a East of Scotland Qualifying Cup second Round match with kick off at 3pm. There are still a limited number of tickets on sale via the club’s Fanbase app for the supporters bus that is travelling to the game.

Gartcairn FC :- Charlie Cowie, Scott Stevenson, Paddy Boyle, Gerry McLaughlin, Ross Dunlop, Barry Eley, Regan Aitken, Johnny Armstrong, Ben Harwood, Liam Watt, Connor Smith. 

Substitutes :- Adam Moss, Dan Kinlin, Josh Moore, Craig Murray, Paddy Orgilly.

Dunbar United :- Sean Brennan, James Redpath, Michael McFarlane, Bob Berry, Cammy Dawson, Darren Handling, Ben Bathgate, Fraser Neave, Willis Hare, Gregor Goldie, Dean Whitson. 

Substitutes :- Shea Dowie, Grant Thomson, Jonny Grotlin, Liam Gregory, Josh Walker, Daniel Hall, Aaron Congalton.

Referee :- Stuart Broadfoot.

March report courtesy of Laurie Wood.

Photos by Dave Black & Gordon Maitland.