HESTON ROVERS 2 NEWTON STEWART 4
John McNaught reporting from Palmerston Park
It was always expected that this South of Scotland League match would go close and that’s the way it turned out in an exciting match at Palmerston Park.
The visitors were keen to take the points to maintain their unbeaten record while the home side were looking to avenge their two goals to nil defeat at Blairmount earlier in the season in what they described in their match programme as probably being their best performance of the season. There have been twenty matches between the two teams since Heston joined South football with Newton’s only away victory coming last season in a three goals to one league victory.
So with the odds very much in favour of the home side the Creesiders started the match by pressurising Heston and pressing them well up the park. This early pressure from Newton was almost undone with eleven minutes played when Hestons top player on the day, Sean Kevan, found space in a break away move but his effort on goal was well wide of the target. Two minutes later the present South’s top goal scorer Robert Middleton saw his effort easily dealt with by Heston keeper Kieron McCulloch but the visitors continued to dominate play and were rewarded with a serious of corner kicks which the home defence dealt with confidently. However, with nineteen minutes played Newton were awarded a free kick on the right which was taken by defender Kyle McCutcheon. The ball was swung over to the back post where it found the head of striker Middleton who fired a fierce header beyond the keeper to give his side a worthy lead. Heston then pressed for an equaliser and there were goal scoring chances at both ends until there was a controversial goal scored by Lewis Richardson from a corner kick. Richardson headed the ball towards goal where it found the cross bar and bounced groundwards but was cleared upfield. However the stand side assistant referee signalled that the ball had crossed the line and the goal was given to put Newton Stewart two goals in the lead . The home side then pressed the game into the Newton half but found keeper Harry Fidler in immense form when he pulled out a couple of superb saves to keep the eager Heston forwards at bay and to send his side in at the break with a two goal advantage.
The home side showed their intent straight from the re-start when in the first minute they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the eighteen yard box which was taken by Craig Adamson. Fidler again pulled out a superb stop but could not hold the ball with Kevan being the first to re-act to blast it into the net to put his side right back into the game. Heston then went full out to try to level the match and were rewarded in the sixty-sixth minute when yet another free kick was saved by Fidler, but again the rebound was fired into the net by Kevan. The visitors though were rallied by this goal and started to dominate once again and it was no surprise when Middleton produced a goal from a fine solo effort after being played in by Ryan McKie. Middleton muscled his way through between two defenders to fire a tremendous shot between a diving keeper McCulloch and the upright to put his side back into the lead. Following this, keeper Fidler kept the lead intact on more than one occasion with some great goal keeping and with the Creesiders hanging onto their lead they broke away in the third minute of time added on to ensure victory. Mid-fielder Graeme Blain broke upfield, hooked the ball over the out rushing defender, controlled the ball to strike it across keeper McCulloch and into the far corner of the net. This was a very good result for Newton, however they were under the cosh for periods of this match and it is significant that keeper Harry Fidler was adjudged to have been their man of the match although several of the outfield players did push him hard for the award.
This was a hard earned three points for Newton Stewart but manager George Grierson has the team believing in itself and they now have a winning mentality which has now seen them take full points from their first seven league matches with the loss of only three goals.