The Uni won 2-0 following a battling display against bottom of the table, Preston Athletic.
The Students were without a number of experienced players including Goalkeeper Mark Tait, midfielders Dan Ward, Connor WIllaghan and Finn Daniels. Georgi Nikolaidis was only fit enough for the bench following a knock to the knee in last week’s game. Tim Rawlinson made a welcome return to the squad as he continues his recovery from a broken ankle sustained earlier in the season.
The missing players presented an opportunity for others to stake their claim and in came Asher Tufail (GK), Jan Maelgar and Jamie Jackson, with Stuart Macfarlane moving into midfield.
It was Preston who started the game brightly, looking comfortable in possession and moving the ball accurately across the park. Aaron Scott, on loan from Hearts, was particularly impressive with his incisive passing and good delivery from deep.
Preston dominated possession for long periods but the Uni defended resolutely, with good challenges from Flett, Black, Sutherland and Thomson bringing an end to Preston’s attempts to create chances.
The first major opportunity of the game went to Preston midway through the half. Some good interplay on the right, saw a ball whipped in found Martin free in the box. He made good contact to his header but could only nod the ball over the top. This seemed to jolt the Students into action, and they immediately responded. Good pressing from the Uni midfield three saw Guthrie win the ball deep into opposition territory. The ball found its way to Ross Patterson, but his firm shot was well saved by Gilbertson in the Preston goal. There was little more in the way of anything other than half/quarter chances for either side and the half time whistle was blown.
HT EUAFC 0 – 0 Preston Athletic
The second half saw no substitutions but it was immediately apparent that Uni boss Ogunro had told his team to press higher in order to reduce Scott’s influence on the game. The pace of the game increased throughout the half, with both sides now making numerous chances. Tufail made some excellent saves in the Uni goal, firstly diving to his right and producing a strong arm to push the ball away, the second from a header to divert round the post.
As the game rumbled on, both sides fancied their chances of winning three important points. The Uni introduced Evans, Oswald and Irvine as they pushed on for the winner.
The key moment in the game came in the 89th minute. Fraser released Guthrie down the right channel, he sped towards goal and unleashed a powerful shot across Gilbertson. The goalie could only palm away straight into the path of the onrushing Oswald who tapped home from six yards, a just reward for the Uni who had improved as the game wore on.
Any chance of a comeback was dispelled when Preston striker, Martin, clumsily fouled in the centre of the park and received his marching orders for a second yellow. The Uni hit the ball into the corner to wind down time, however there was further work for the referee when Preston’s Cairney launched into a two-footed tackle on Patterson and was given a straight red.
Preston now down to 9 men, could not stop Guthrie finding space again on the right. He cut back to the excellent MacFarlane, who produced a trademark step-over and smashed home with his left foot.
Preston nearly saw red again, when Roy flew in on Thomson, who was lucky not to be hurt, however he received only a yellow card. It was a strange end to the game, as prior to this it was played in an excellent spirit by both teams.
The referee then drew time on proceedings, in what was a particularly satisfying and battling display from the students.
EUAFC 2-0 Preston Athletic
Again, there were a number of solid performers and a mention has to go to MacFarlane for marshalling an inexperienced midfield superbly and taking his goal well. Man of the match goes to goalkeeper Tufail, who was extremely tidy in his work and made three excellent saves with the game 0-0.
The Gaffer’s Thoughts
After the game we caught up with gaffer Dorian Ogunro who was happy after a strong display from his young side:-
‘Today we were missing some important players but we ground out a crucial, hard-fought win. Overall I am delighted with the commitment and effort from the squad’.