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Midlands League Review 17th July 2021

Midlands League 

The clubs of the Midlands League celebrated embarking on their first season as part of the Scottish Football Pyramid by serving up an incredible 49 goals in nine games. 

There were differing fortunes for the two new clubs to join the League with Dundee St James receiving something of a culture shock at the Quest Precision Engineering Arena as they were thrashed 10-0 by Broughty Athletic. Paul Sludden scored four for Jamie McCunnie’s side while Josh Skelly helped out with a brace alongside goals from Connor McLeod, Ryan McCord and Greig McNaughton. Sludden told Broughty’s Facebook page “It’s always nice to score goals, especially as a striker and take some of that momentum from pre-season into the competitive games, but for me the most important thing today was to get three points. We have a good squad of players, and it was positive to see so many goals from different areas today. We have to get our focus on Wednesday now as the games come thick and fast.” 

Letham FC are the second new team in the Midlands League, and they made the short trip from Perth to Foxhall Park to take on Coupar Angus and it was fine first outing as a Junior club with the visitors winning 3-2. Letham went in front after 14 minutes when Connor Gellatly got on the end of a Alan Cunningham cross, however, Coupar Angus came back in to it and equalised on 36 minutes through Ruaridh Smith. In first half stoppage time Letham were awarded a penalty after Mark Shaw was tripped in the box and Gellatly sent the keeper the wrong way to restore the visitors lead. Letham started the second half brightly and went 3-1 in front on 47 minutes when Darren Gray crashed the ball in to the roof of the net. Coupar came back again and pulled a goal back on 52 minutes thanks to Jamie Duncan but that was as close as the home side got as Letham held out to record their first win as a Junior side 

Willie Laing’s first competitive game as Scone Thistle manager ended in something of a nightmare as the Perthshire outfit were thrashed 10-0 on the opening day for the second season in a row. Last season Carnoustie Panmure ran riot at Laing Park while this time it was Lochee Harp who hit double figure away from home at Farquharson Park. Sean Tucker was tormentor in chief for Harp as the striker scored five of the Harp goals with Owen Neave weighing in with a hat trick, the other two goals came from Scone own goals. Harp Co-Manager Derek Mitchell said after the game “It was an outstanding start to the season. The boys were magnificent, but we move on and look ahead to Wednesday night and Downfield at home.” 

Arbroath Vics received a double punishment on 78 minutes as Connor Gray was sent off and Grady McGrath then struck a free kick that saw East Craigie complete a comeback from 3-2 down to take all three points from the visit to Ogilvy Park. Eddie Gray’s Vics side took the lead on three minutes through Craig Tosh but goals from Fraser Macleod (12) and Paul Moran (17) saw the visitors in front. Ross Fraser levelled it up on 25 minutes before Tosh added his second just before half time to restore the home sides lead. Chris Mudie equalised for East Craigie on the hour before McGrath’s winner. 

Carnoustie Panmure were beaten 5-2 by Forfar United in the last competitive game at Laing Park but there was to be no repeat as Phil McGuire’s side gave a dominant display to win 5-0.  The Gowfers gave full debuts to Finn Kemlo, Connor Coupe and Dale Reid and it was Reid who put his new side in front after 21 minutes before Ryan Dignan celebrated his birthday with his first of the season on 33 minutes, Dignan was then carried off just before half time with what looked like a nasty ankle injury after landing awkwardly. Reid made it 3-0, ten minutes after the break and Ryan Suttie smashed the ball into the far corner on the hour after a corner wasn’t cleared by the United defence. The game was delayed on 65 minutes as a spectator received medical attention and almost straight after the restart, a great strike from Steven McPhee made it 5-0 and a fine start from the home side. 

Brechin Vics hit the ground running after a positive pre-season as they were 2-0 winners over Dundee Violet at Glenesk Park. Cammy Fraser scored both Vics goals. 

Kirriemuir Thistle has enjoyed a decent start under Stephen McNally during pre-season, but that positive beginning came to an end at Strathmore Park, where Derek Lawson’s Forfar West End edged the visitors out in a 2-1 win. Rikki Gillespie put West End 2-0 in front at half time with two great free kicks and while Ryan Kerrigan pulled a goal back for Kirrie, the visitors couldn’t find an equaliser. 

Favourites for the Midlands League title, Lochee United, comfortably took care of Blairgowrie at Thomson Park, winning 5-0. Grant Lawson opened the scoring for Lochee on 25 minutes from the penalty spot before Kerr Hay made it 2-0, five minutes before half time. Kevin Buchan scored the third on 52 minutes, Kevin Milne struck the fourth on 75 minutes before Hay grabbed his second and United’s fifth with a couple of minutes remaining. 

Tayport may have been struggling for players through injury, but they took the points with a fine 2-0 End at The Canniepairt. The visitors blew the chance to take the lead after 15 minutes when they missed a penalty and paid the price when Jamie McCabe put the home side in front on 41 minutes. Jamie Gill put his side fully in control on 53 minutes and North Ends chances of a comeback were effectively ended on 70 minutes when John Farquharson was sent off.