Sauchie Juniors................1

Penicuik Athletic.............0

East Region Superleague

A LAST-GASP winner saw Sauchie claim a vital victory over Super League high-flyers Penicuik at Beechwood Park last Saturday.

The Juniors dominated the game but were left frustrated by a combination of missed chances and superb defending from the visitors.

However, their pressure finally paid off in stoppage time when Conor Kelly tapped home the clincher from close range.

Manager Fraser Duncan made just one change from the side which beat Camelon in the Scottish Cup before Christmas, Stewart Houston coming in to take the place of Graeme King.

The home side started on the front foot and David Grant looked to have played Kelly in, only for Penicuik’s resolute defence to get back and snuff out the danger.

Grant then had a chance of his own, latching onto a slack pass from Gary Hamilton and racing clear, but he saw his shot saved by Athletic goalkeeper Kyle Allison.

Allison was called into action again soon after. Brian Morgan’s free kick hit the wall and fell to Craig Comrie, who seemed certain to stab the loose ball home, but the Penicuik custodian made a terrific stop to divert the ball onto the post.

While Sauchie’s attackers wreaked havoc up front, the rearguard were doing a sterling job of making sure the visitors were reduced to speculative shots from distance, and Callum Connolly sent a drive wide of the mark on a rare foray forward for his side.

Houston produced a terrific piece of defending as he headed a viciously-swerving free kick off the line before normal service resumed once more.

Kelly was causing the Penicuik defence all kinds of problems and his cross from the left was just begging to be tucked away, but neither Grant or Ant McTaggart could get a decisive touch.

Grant forced Allison into another good save, while at the other end Jack Hamilton sent a header looping over Darren Dolan’s crossbar, having evaded his marker.

Sauchie continued to press for an opener in the second half and Comrie was not far away with a stinging drive which sailed over the crossbar, before Kelly could only nod Morgan’s cross into the arms of Allison.

Penicuik were a threat on the break and it looked as though they were in when Lumbert Kateleza raced clear, but the impressive Houston got back to make a tremendous tackle before the forward could get his shot away.

At the other end, Kelly saw another effort superbly saved by Allison, with Iain Syme’s follow-up blocked by a pile of blue-and-white-shirted defenders.

Young centre-forward Hamilton, at only 17, proved a handful in the air and he went close with another header, glancing wide following a corner after he again escaped the attentions of the Sauchie defence.

Grant could have made the breakthrough when Morgan played him in, but scooped the chance over the crossbar with his right foot when it would have been easier to use his left.

Dolan’s first meaningful save of the game saw him beat away a powerful effort from Samuel Jones during what was Penicuik’s best spell of the game.

Sauchie felt they should have had a penalty when Morgan’s free kick appeared to strike an arm in the wall, but the protests were waved away by the referee.

Houston was putting his body on the line each time the visitors came forward and the young defender did superbly to cut out another counter-attack as Penicuik strode forward dangerously.

Darren Cummings entered the fray with seven minutes left and almost made an instant impact with a cross for Kelly, who couldn’t reach it despite stretching every sinew.

And hearts were in mouths when Penicuik captain Craig Hume escaped the attentions of the Sauchie defence in the box, but the skipper sent his free header over the bar and the hosts survived.

Houston further cemented his position as Sauchie’s best player on the day with yet another crucial intervention to prevent Hamilton finding a route to goal.

And moments later, the home side had the goal their performance deserved. Morgan raced onto a ball over the top and cut it back for Kelly, who side-footed home from all of four yards out to snatch the points in stoppage time.

By that stage it was too late for Penicuik to respond, and Sauchie closed the game out for a crucial win which lifts them to twelfth in the Super League table.

SAUCHIE: D. Dolan, Sharp, Syme, Houston, Hewitt, Comrie (S. Dolan), McTaggart (Penman), Morgan, Kelly, Grant (Cummings), Morrison. UNUSED SUBS: Bell.