Match date: 11th September 2021 Kickoff: 2.30 pm

Dunbar took on unbeaten in 11 games,  Haddington Athletic in this South Challenge Cup, 2nd Round tie. The Conference A side were top of their League and had the backing off a large, vocal support.

Haddington got this East Lothian derby underway and were in front with only 4 minutes on the clock. A shot by GABRI AURIEMMA from about 20 yards out appeared to take John Johnstone, making his first competitive appearance of the season for the Seasiders, completely unawares and fairly fizzed into the top corner. An excellent start for the home side.

To be fair, the first 10 minutes saw Dunbar unable to settle and they couldn’t get into any sort of rhythm, though they were missing captain Fraser McLaren, vice-captain Darren Handling as well as Jo Purves, Scott Hay, Michael McFarlane and Dan Purves. Recently retired, Keith Tait, was asked to dust off his boots and take a seat on the bench.

Jamie Devlin was looking like the only Dunbar player causing the Haddington defence any sort of problems in the opening stages with a couple of half chances that came to nothing. Gabri Auriemma had another effort on the Dunbar goal in the 16th minute but it went just over the bar.

At the other end, Johnny Edmond crossed from the right to Michael Fairnie in the centre who saw his powerful header tipped onto the bar by Dale Cornet in the Haddington goal.

Approaching half an hour, Devlin saw Cornet saving a 20-yard free kick and John Johnstone had to look sharp at the other end as Guy McGarry closed in on target after breaking through the Dunbar defence.

With 32 minutes on the clock, Dunbar equalised. Jamie Devlin picked out Bob Berry at the back post, the midfielder headed the ball back across goal and JOHNNY EDMOND was in the centre to knock the ball home. Minutes later, Nicky Weir nearly scored a second Dunbar goal from a corner routine but Cornet was once more on hand to block the effort.

A minor flash point in the 36th minute saw Cornet in a heap on the ground in his own penalty area. He raced off his line to meet the onrushing Devlin. Both players went to kick the ball and there was a clash of legs with the Haddington keeper clearly coming off worse but it was never actually a foul. With 4 minutes of the first half remaining, Cammy Watson became the first booking of the afternoon with a body check on Andy Jones.

Half time: Haddington Athletic 1, Dunbar United 1

Haddington nearly started the second half quicker than they had the first, by testing John Johnstone inside the opening minute. Keith Lough having the shot on goal stopped by a recovering Dunbar custodian. Dunbar quickly broke up to the other end and won a free kick on the edge of the box but the free kick by Andy Jones was poor and thumped straight into the wall.

In the 50th minute, Grant Thomson had another of his rampaging runs down the right wing but his cut back, obviously meant for Jamie Devlin, was cut out at the last by Dale Cornet.

A couple of minutes later, Haddington saw an all too familiar scene when Zach Szemis overstretched trying to reach a cutback and obviously tweaked something. Clearly unable to continue, Ali Simpson was his replacement. He wasted no time in trying to make a name for himself with a shot that went just over the bar.

Dunbar sent on Fraser Neave for the tiring Michael Fairnie. Guy McGarry went close for Haddington with a diving header that was saved by Johnstone and cleared by a taunted Dunbar rear-guard. The home side then should have been reduced to 10 men in the 65th minute when Cammy Watson was once again guilty of obstruction on the edge of the box, this time on Jamie Devlin. The match official saw the offence the other way and the Dunbar man’s defiance saw him booked instead for dissent.

IN the 72nd minute, Gabri Auriemma fed Euan Watson and his shot cannoned off the underside of the bar before the visitors cleared their lines. In the 83rd minute, Haddington had the ball in the net but there had been a foul on the Dunbar keeper in the build-up and the goal was chopped off.

With extra time beckoning, a Haddington corner to the back post almost found a way through but Evan Fleming was on hand to head off the line. Then, with the watches around the ground showing 89 played, Dunbar gave up a penalty kick. Kieran Ingram the guilty party. GORDON HARRIS slammed the ball beyond the despairing dive of John Johnstone to all but seal a 3rd round tie against Leith Athletic.

Darren Smith had a final hurrah for Dunbar as he slammed a shot into the side netting from a tight angle. Keith Lough didn’t see out the 90 minutes for Haddington, limping off and replaced by Jack Neilson.

A tight affair that Haddington probably just about shaded. Dunbar will be unhappy at the way they started the game and with leaking such a late penalty. The 3rd round tie between Haddington and Leith will be keenly contested by two very even sides. Dunbar have to pick themselves up for a Scottish Cup 1st round tie against Camelon next Saturday with a 3pm kick off.

Haddington : – Dale Cornet, Corey Robertson, Ross King, Cameron Watson, Nicholas Aitchison, Gordon Harris, Zach Szemis, Euan Watson, Keith Lough, Gabri Auriemma, Guy McGarry.

Substitutes : – Ali Simpson, Jack Neilson, Anes Subasic, Robert Stirling (g/k).

Dunbar United : – John Johnstone, Grant Thomson, Kieran Ingram, Nicky Weir, Evan Fleming, Michael Fairnie, Bob Berry, Darren Smith, Andy Jones, Jamie Devlin, Johnny Edmond.

Substitutes : – Daniel Laing (g/k), Keith Tait, Fraser Neave, Ben Bathgate.

Referee : – Greig Haynes

Photos by Gordon Maitland