Newburgh ground out a win at East Shore Park on Saturday against a dogmatic Thornton Hibs side. Newburgh reverted to the 4-4-2 system that brought them a great run of wins at the start of the year, with the tried and tested pairing of Elder and Ferguson up front supported by Sherry and McLeish giving the team the width and pace that had been lacking in recent weeks.
Thornton started the game in the ascendancy with their midfield holding strong and moving the ball wide into the channels for the on rushing wing backs. It took Newburgh’s experienced central defensive partnership of Ravenscroft and Brown to hold strong and deny the Hibs a foothold in the game.
The opening goal came through an unfortunate breakdown in communication between the Thornton goal keeper and his captain in the centre of defence. An innocuous through ball from Findlay in the midfield appeared to be easy to deal with for the Hibs centre back, Chippey, however a moment of madness saw him attempt to header the ball back to his keeper. The keeper was off his line and could not stop the ball from flying into the centre of the goal to give Newburgh a fairly undeserved lead.
Newburgh were spurred on by this fortunate break and took control of the game. Kenny Hynd in the middle of the park was covering every inch of the sticky surface winning tackles and breaking up any Thornton threat. His endeavours were allowing the ‘Burgh to establish an upper hand in the game.
Newburgh extended their lead on the 26 minute mark when Lewis Elder picked up a through ball and drove into the box closely pursued by two Hibs defenders. Elder’s pace and ball control beat them both and allowed him the split second he needed to unleash a drive low into the goal beyond the outstretched keeper. Newburgh were well worth the two goal margin at this point in the game and looked the likelier to score again.
The first half ended with neither team managing to effectively threaten the opposition goal.
Thornton started the second period in a similar fashion to the first, holding possession well without really managing to threaten the home goal. For all the possession Thornton were having, Houston in the ‘Burgh goal was not called into action.
Ireland up front for Thornton was using all of his experience and guile and making a real nuisance of himself in the ‘Burgh box. On the 70th minute this cost Newburgh a penalty when, with his back to goal, Ireland was adjudged to have been held by Brown and the referee pointed to the spot. Houston could not stop the resultant penalty and Thornton were back within a goal with all to play for.
Just two minutes later another moment of madness from the Thornton central defence cost them dearly. Chris McLeish picked the ball up in the centre of the park for Newburgh and drove forwards into and across the 18 yard box. The Thornton defence appeared to have dealt with the problem until, for reasons only known to himself, the centre back threw himself into a tackle, fouling McLeish and conceding a penalty!
Newburgh’s penalty conversion record of late has not been great, with Lewis Elder having his last two attempts saved. It was therefore down to skipper Gordon Findlay to get his first goal for the club and he made no mistake, driving the ball straight down the middle and restoring the two goal advantage once more.
In the ensuing ten minute period indiscipline in the Thornton ranks looked to have killed their chances of getting back into the game as they lost two players to red cards that should really have been avoided. The crossbar saved Thornton on three separate occasions as Newburgh looked to finish Hibs off. Thornton weren’t finished yet however, and pulled a goal back from a well worked move up the left flank that resulted in a looping header beating Houston with seven minutes remaining.
The goal spurred Newburgh into action, helped by manager Cameron imparting his displeasure from the touchline. The ‘Burgh midfield again began to get a hold of the game and the remaining minutes were played out in the Thornton half. With only two minutes on the clock Newburgh’s McLeish scored the goal of the game with a driven shot from the angle of the box which whistled into the net.
This win along with Kirkcaldy YM’s draw at Bankfoot allowed Newburgh to return into the hotly contested fifth spot in the McBookie.com Central League.
Newburgh have a break from League duty next Saturday when they welcome Super League giants Kelty Hearts to East Shore Park in the Fife & Lothians Cup.
Newburgh: Houston, Kelly, McAdam (Reddington 72), Ravenscroft, Brown, Sherry (Finlay 77), McLeish, Findlay, Hynd, Elder, Ferguson. Unused subs: Caffrey, Cunningham, Murphy
Thornton Hibs: Rowbotham, Terras, Drummond, Shanks, McAinsh, McGuire, Adam, Maxwell, Mullen, Ireland, Thomson Subs: MacDonald, Campbell, White, Halley, Burns