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Gretna 2008 4 Whitehill Welfare 1

In a Lowland League matchup of 9th versus 8th, Whitehill made the trip South to face a Gretna side they had leapfrogged above the week before. Coming off the back of 3 straight wins and the 4-0 defeat of Cumbernauld Colts, Gary Small made only 1 change, with Ross Jardine stepping up from the U20s to replace Connar Easton, who’s loan deal with Penicuik had come to an end. In central midfield, there was a 50th Whitehill appearance for Connor McGregor.   

The Raydale Park pitch had just about survived the overnight rain, however, the heavy surface made the conditions for both sides difficult underfoot.

The opening exchanges were tight, as the two teams battled for possession. Whitehill were forced into an early change, when James McPartlin limped off, to be replaced by Kerr Dodds in central defence. Jardine was twice called into action, coming sharply off his line to gather two dangerous cross balls in quick succession. Bang on the half hour mark, Gretna were awarded a penalty when Kevin Connelly drove into the box, and was hauled down by the back tracking Fabio Neto. Jake Smith stepped up, and calmly sent Jardine the wrong way from the spot. Ryan McKenzie picked up a yellow card as the penalty was about to be taken, and this would come back to cost him later in the game.

On 41 minutes ,Gretna almost doubled their lead when Kingsley Grandison crossed dangerously for Connelly, who couldn’t quite convert from 6 yards out. With half time approaching Whitehill went in search of an equaliser, and John Jamieson reacted well to save a Scott Lucas shot on target and then a Connor McGregor header from a Gary Nicholson cross. Jardine collected a Smith free kick struck from 25 yards, and in the final action of the half McGregor stung the palms of the home keeper from a similar distance.

Four minutes into the second half, Whitehill suffered a double blow as Ryan McKenzie blocked a Connelly shot with his hands, and Gretna were awarded a second penalty of the game The defender was shown a red card following a second yellow and Whitehill were down to 10 men. Smith stepped up again, however this time Jardine went the right way, and brilliantly pushed his low shot away.

Gretna were making their man advantage count though, and on 55 minutes it was 2-0. The 3 man Welfare defence was left exposed by a long ball, and it fell for Connelly who coolly chipped the onrushing keeper to score.

6 minutes later it was 3-0, when a free kick from the Gretna left was crossed onto the head of Jack Hunter, who diverted the ball into the far corner. Both sides made a couple of changes before Whitehill’s day got even worse when Smith made it 4-0, striking an unstoppable free kick from outside the box into the top corner.  

In the closing stages there was a consolation for Whitehill, as Robbie Carter guided a Lucas cross home, after the midfielder had done well out wide. So a first defeat of 2018 as Gretna move back above us in the Lowland League table.   

Teams

Gretna 2008

John Jamieson, Liam Studholme, Michael McAnespie, Jack Hunter, Daniel Wadge, Daniel Fitzpatrick (Ellis Monaghan 64), Ellis Pearson (Joshua Usher 71), Jamie Hope, Kevin Connelly, Kingsley Grandison (Joseph Usher 85), Jake Smith

Subs not used: Dylan Atkinson, John Wightman  

Whitehill Welfare

Ross Jardine, Craig Reid, Ryan McKenzie, Scott Lucas, Jack Wright, James McPartlin (Kerr Dodds 7), Josh Morris, Gary Nicholson (Robbie Carter 70), Connor McGregor, Fabio Neto (Darren McCraw 65), Robbie Dowie

Subs not used: Kyle Brockie, Mark Smith

Referee: Euan Birch

Assistants: Ewan Pow & Ryan Dougan

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