Newton Stewart 2, Mid-Annandale 0
John McNaught at Blairmount Park
Matches between these sides are usually very close but in this contest Newton Stewart dominated the play for long periods.
The home team scored two early goals, which was enough to see off the challenge from the Lockerbie team.
Newton have suffered on previous meetings of the two from some great goalkeeping from Mids Ross Wilson and, once again, he was the saviour for his side on more than one occasion, although Newton keeper Harry Fidler had his moments as well.
The first real chance of the match fell to Newton striker Micky Sutherland after eight minutes but Wilson was equal to the effort with a good stop.
Four minutes later, though, the keeper had no chance when he failed to collect a ball from the feet of Calum Dunn which rebounded only as far as Johnny Fisher, who side-footed it into an empty net from 30 yards with the keeper stranded on the ground.
Three minutes later, man of the match Fisher scored his and his team’s second when a cross from the right by Martyn Henry to Liam Muir was only partially cleared by the Mids keeper and Fisher was on hand to lash the ball home.
With Newton Stewart dominating most of the play and the visitors relying on quick breaks upfield, a Muir header found Sutherland but his effort on goal went wide.
With 34 minutes played a Dunn shot found the crossbar before a Muir header brought out another good stop from keeper Wilson. The home side again came close two minutes before the break but a Stephen Beggs attempt on goal again went wide.
After the break Newton seemed to take their foot off the pedal although five minutes into the second half a cross from Dunn found Muir who was only inches away from making it three.
Chances continued to fall for the Creesiders but poor finishing and good defending kept them at bay.
In the 65th minute Mids’ Scott Martin headed the ball into his own net as he attempted a clearance but the referee adjudged there had been a previous infringement and a free kick was awarded.
Four minutes later, though, the visitors felt that they were about to find a goal which would have brought them back into the contest but keeper Fidler pulled off a terrific save to keep a clean sheet although he couldn’t hold the ball. As the ball slipped along the goal line with the keeper stranded, Mids striker Nathan Muir ran in to poke the ball over the line but a tremendous last-ditch tackle from central defender Lewis Richardson cleared the ball to safety to a much relieved Newton team.
Fisher was looking for his second hat-trick in successive weeks and was unlucky not to do so when a rebound off a defender from a Dunn effort fell just behind him six yards from goal, or it would have been a tap in.
With eight minutes remaining another opportunist header from Muir went narrowly over the crossbar but with five minutes left to play Mids’ hopes of taking anything from the match were diminished when central defender Scott Martin was sent off for a second yellow card offence.
The home side continued to press though with Dunn again testing Wilson and then, with two minutes left, Jonathan Hill had an attempt on goal which went over the crossbar. Both these late efforts reflected what had been the story of the day with good goal-keeping and missed chances.
This was not a great game although Newton Stewart won three crucial points and kept a clean sheet for the second week in succession while scoring seven goals in the process, five of them accredited to the high flying and in form midfielder Johnny Fisher.