SAUCHIE came within moments of a near-perfect week as they were denied at the death against Haddington.

The Wee County side earned away wins against Oakley and Dundonald Bluebell and were going for three out of three when they hosted the East Lothian side on Saturday.

Having come from a goal down at half-time to take the lead, all looked well for the Reds until the dying embers of the game.

A spectacular late strike rescued a point for Haddington to rob Sauchie of a result that would have lifted them into third place.

Despite dropping the two points, manager Fraser Duncan was encouraged by the overall showing from his side over the eight days.

He told Advertiser Sport: "The late goal was a bit of a sucker punch.

"It was a bit of a poor first half. I felt we huffed and puffed a bit – we had control but didn't really create any clear-cut chances.

"But we changed the shape at half-time, added a few things to our game, and then we went out and dominated the second half.

"We got our two goals, the noses in front, and at 2-1 I think we created six or seven chances to score again.

"But then they broke up the park late on and the boy has hit one from 30 yards and it's gone in. It was probably the first them they had threatened us in the second half and they scored. Around the 93rd minute.

"It's a bit of sucker punch, especially because we worked so hard to get in front. We came back from 1-0 at half time, battled so hard to get back into it, but just couldn't see it out."

The draw came after a mid-week victory over Dundonald and a win against Oakley the Saturday before that.

To take seven points from that nine is an encouraging return and deserved reward, Duncan feels.

The gaffer added: "The Dundonald game, away from home and at one of the most difficult places to go in this league, for us to go up there and win is outstanding.

"We were brilliant, we went toe-to-toe with them all night and played some great football. We were delighted with that win.

"And I think we deserve that, to be honest. Chic Bell has pulled off a few great saves – one of them was probably one of the best I've ever seen in my life. It was unbelievable.

"Our character to push on and go win the game was outstanding, so we deserved that.

"Oakley the week before was another difficult game, thought I felt we were in control for most of it.

"I never felt we were under too much stress and the game went went quite smoothly."

He continued: "We could have had the nine points on the board and the would have been a very successful week. But I can't be too harsh on the lads.

"It's all about how we recover from it now."

Sauchie currently sit fifth in the league, five points behind joint leaders Linlithgow Rose and Penicuik Athletic.

The Beechwood Park side appear to have no problem in front of goal, though they are caught out at the back more than their manager would like.

Duncan said: "We're one of the top scoring teams in the league; but one thing that worries me is that we're high on the list for goals conceded as well.

"It's fair to say we keep the games exciting and want to keep the fans coming back!

"We know we have to tighten up at the back. Getting more organised and defensively sound is important.

"But we have a real goal threat and we still have three or four starters still out – including Danny Smith who was our top goalscorer last year.

"We hope to have him back soon along with Sam Davidson who chips in with some goals. We've also without Craig Comrie who gives us a very strong presence in the midfield."

Sauchie face a trip to Musselburgh this Saturday before hosting Cumbernauld Utd in the Challenge Cup the following weekend. They also have ties with Penicuik and third-placed Jeanfield Swifts on the horizon.

For Sauchie to be only a few points off the leaders after nine games should be seen as a statement of intent, but Duncan insists his side are as capable as any other in the Premier Division.

He added: "We are doing well at the minute; we're up there contending. A lot of people might think we are punching above our weight, but with the squad we have here I think we are entitled to be up there.

"It's all about putting the ball in the back of the net and getting points on the board. I feel we have been doing that recently.

"If we had won the game on Saturday, I think a lot of people would have looked at Sauchie and said it was a great start to the season.

"We know we have a very tough away game next at Musselburgh and we know we have to get something from that game to keep us ticking over.

"Our aim is to keep ourselves in the top five or six until after Christmas and into January. If we can do that then anything can happen."