The 2004s from Gullane Athletic arrived at a windy Musselburgh off the back of an impressive run of displays that saw them unbeaten in the last three outings. Saturday would offer a test of their progress without coach Mackie to provide his unique blend of tactical awareness and inspired motivation, and the team coming off a two-week break. Odds were further against the squad when it became apparent that they would need to play two of the 15 minute sessions uphill and into the strong wind.
The first period was hard fought by both teams and while Gullane struggled to make progress in the conditions Musselburgh found the visitor’s defence just as challenging. The back three of Aaron, Angus and Ali gave a master-class in defending and were well protected by the midfield trio of Robbie, Archie and Jamie, while up front Harvey gave Musselburgh’s defence enough to think about.
The first period ended 0-0, but it was apparent at the start of the second that goals were coming. JJ had replaced Angus at the back and put in an excellent display alongside the unflappable ‘Stretch’ (Aaron) who bossed the game. Cole and Finn had replaced Archie and Jamie and both set about buzzing around the park to the delight of the visiting support and annoyance of the Mussy players. Harvey was seeing more of the ball in midfield and Robbie was enjoying the wind at his back and the gradient in his favour; he made the most of both mid-way through the period when he beat two players before finishing from distance with a goal to brighten the dullest of days.
Musselburgh coped well in the conditions and were impressive with the ball on the ground, but were unlucky to come up against Ali in goals who gave one of the finest goalkeeping displays seen this season.
The last period again saw Gullane facing the elements and a literal uphill challenge. Aaron, Robbie and Harvey took a well earned rest with Archie and Jamie coming back into midfield and Angus leading the line while Finn dropped back to help JJ marshall the defence. It was another outstanding display from the visitors against a Musselburgh team who were now all out to even things up. Ali was again in great form between the sticks while Jamie and Cole were menacing from wide positions at the other end. With only minutes remaining Finn broke down a promising Musselburgh attack and fed his defensive partner. JJ’s pass matched his vision as he found Angus deep in opposition territory but well marked by a couple of physical Mussy defenders. He held the ball excellently before laying off to the surging Archie whose run to the byline took him ahead of the defence. His excellent cross to the back post found a black-and-white queue, at the front of which was Jamie who finished the move of the match with a sweet left foot volley.
The goal exemplified the team’s performance with a combination of hard-work and determination, together with team-work and skill. Musselburgh’s work-rate and application must be commended, and it took an excellent performance from all the Gullane players to ensure that the good run of form continued.