Lothian Thistle 3
FORMER Coldstream manager Mark Lamb made a satisfactory return to the club he left in April with a victory for Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale which earned them top spot in Group D of the Qualifying League.
Coldstream’s chances of qual-ifying had, of course, ended long before this game even kicked off, but this match was another opportunity for Lawrie Dunn’s new squad to prepare for the start of their First Division campaign. The Streamers finished with four defeats and one draw to show for their efforts in the section, and much to improve on.
John Crawford again showed how potent he is in attack with his eighth goal in five games, but the defensive problems remain and the injuries are piling up. Robbie Armstrong and Craig Heugh both limped off early on to join what is a growing casualty list.
With so many defenders injured, Dunn had to draft in former Cowdenbeath centre-back Steven Duffy as a trialist for his first game in nearly two years. He was partnered by 18-year-old midfielder Michael Allan, moved back into an unfamiliar role because there were no other options. Summer signing David Low made his competitive debut, while Mark Bolton was named on the bench.
Streamers matched their Premier Division opponents for large parts of the first half, but Lothian went close after 15 minutes when Scott Wallace smacked a shot against the bar. Two minutes later Coldstream were awarded a penalty for hand ball, but Kevin Swain saved Crawford’s attempt from the spot.
Seven minutes from half- time Streamers keeper Mark Walters denied Richie Wilkes with an excellent save, but from the resulting corner the visitors took the lead thanks to a Michael Brown own goal. Lothian striker Joe Murray got a touch to the corner, delivered low to the near post, and the ball was diverted into the net off Brown’s knee.
After an evenly-matched first half, Lothian stepped up the pace after the break to wrap up the points. Duffy did well to head a off the line from under his crossbar, but the second goal did not take long to arrive. Just eight minutes had been played in the second half when Murray found space in the box to rifle a shot into the top corner from 16 yards, and 20 minutes from time the striker took his chance 12 yards out to side-foot home his second of the afternoon with composure.
Crawford pulled one back for Streamers when he latched on to a David Knox through ball down his favoured inside-left channel, held off a defender and side-footed low into the corner, but it was a mere consolation.
Coldstream: Walters, Brown, Knox, Allan, Duffy (Dunn 53), Taylor, Heugh (Turner 45), Tait, Crawford, Low, Armstrong (Cameron 27). Subs not used: Bruce, Bolton.