Three first half goals from Gretna saw off the Uni challenge, despite some spirited play and missed chances from the students.
A good crowd of parents, away support and interested observers packed into the new 100 seater stand looking forward to watching two good footballing sides go head to head on the slick Peffermill surface.
The students made a couple of changes from the previous week, with Tait returning in goal and Nikolaidis replacing Guthrie up front.
As the game kicked off the rain began to fall, with both sides sparring in the early exchanges. It was Gretna who drew first blood on 15 minutes. The Uni failed to clear the ball on the right hand side, Longcake nicked the ball broke down the wing. He cut the ball back to Anderson who finished powerfully, leaving Tait with no chance. EUAFC 0 – 1 Gretna
With the Uni still reeling from the goal Gretna could sense another opportunity to score.
Good play from the Gretna midfield led to a chance that Tait saved well, but Milligan was sharpest to react to the rebound and slotted the ball home from close range. EUAFC 0 – 2 Gretna
The Uni responded well, and refused to wilt despite being two goals down. Good play from Thomson at right back released Aitken, who cut the ball back to Ward. However he and Patterson both went for the same ball, and Ward eventually steered the ball wide of the goalkeeper’s post.
The students continued to press with Ward again at the heart of the play, but his header was diverted onto the Gretna bar by a retreating defender.
As half time approached it was the University who looked far more likely to score but a sucker punch all but wrote off any come back. On 45 minutes, a corner from the left was whipped in and Anderson found himself completely free at the near post, heading home his second of the game with no Uni defenders within touching distance. EUAFC 0 – 3 Gretna
HT EUAFC 0 – Gretna 3
The Uni came out in the second half with nothing to lose, and started brightly from kick off. They poked and prodded at the Gretna back four, who stood firm amidst the increasing student pressure. At the 55 mark Guthrie and Willaghan were introduced for Irvine and Nikolaidis, with MacFarlane dropping back to centre half.
The Uni thereafter continued to attack, and create numerous chances. Guthrie was sent one-on-one with the keeper on two occasions, the first he dragged wide, the second forcing a great save from Wright. Aitken also raced through on goal and was challenged strongly from behind by a Gretna defender. The referee waved away strong penalty appeals, deeming that the away player had played the ball.
More chances came and went, with the excellent Ward going close, Patterson hitting the bar and Guthrie having a close range header brilliantly saved.
As the Uni continued to press they could not quite force the goals that their play duly deserved, and they were left to rue three first half mistakes which were clinically finished by the Gretna front men.
EUAFC 0 – 3 Gretna
After the game Assistant Coach Tom Archer was left frustrated in defeat:-
“We started the game well, but were undone by three first half mistakes. Despite this, there were a lot of positives for us to take from the game, with the second half display especially pleasing. We will work hard at training this week, and if we can cut out these individual errors, I have no doubt that our results will improve along with our performances.”
There were a number of contenders despite the result with Captain Duncan Black and Stuart MacFarlane putting in especially strong displays. MOM however goes to Dan Ward, who was excellent in midfield and unlucky not to score on a couple of occasions.
Mark Tait, Fraser Thomson, Calum Irvine (55), Duncan Black ©, Paul Sutherland, Finn Daniels-Yeoman, Stuart MacFarlane, Dan Ward, Ross Patterson, George Nikolaidis (55), Joe Aitken (75)
Subs: Connor Willaghan (55 – Irvine), Jack Guthrie (55 – Nikolaidis), Joe Macfarlane (75 – Aitken). Unused: Nathan Evans, Jan Maelgar, Scott Hainey
Graham Wright, Jonathan Blake, Greig Thorburn, Ryan McGuffie, Alan Inglis, Nicholas Cassidy, Connor Graham, Adam Main, Ian Anderson, Scott Milligan, Brandon Longcake.
Subs: Mark Worrall, Joseph Slattery, Jordan Baker, Robson Halliday, Daniel Graham