Home league match played on 14 August 2011.
Kicked off at 1:30 PM

What looked like an inevitable opening day win for Ultimo Goccia 04 2.0 was left stained with no inconsiderable amount of disappointment at the end of a tetchy, nervy encounter with Lochend Star on the bowling green that is Peffermill on Sunday with the only three points going to the pools coupon. In truth, Lochend had no business taking anything from a match in which for seventy odd minutes they were out-passed, out-thought and out-muscled yet it was only thanks to a heroic goal-line clearance four minutes from time by Thompson that they didn't complete an all out stripey jumper job.


The Mushroom Clouds won the toss and elected to try to utilise the advantage of a strong gust in the opening period. A slightly nervous opening from the home side, the highlight of which an encounter with the woodwork from a free kick from our old friend 'Gary', settled down after some ten minutes as Ultimo finally settled into the passing game which has become something of a proud hallmark in their later pre-season matches. Again, as in those matches, it was chiefly the interplay down the left hand side that caught the eye. on this occasion the protagonists were Ferrier, Sibbald and Cardno, the latter overcoming a hesitant opening to link well with his companions down the port side flank. Pretty though their triangles were, tangible goalscoring opportunities remained at a premium and for all the aesthetic pleasure realised by the triumvirate, Ultimo's more clear cut chances of the half came from the hassling and bluster that remains a feature of their play down the right. The unsubtle aggression of Williams and boundless energy of Kirkaldy set the tone for this, protected by the assured calm of Hamilton who filled in the number 6 position with great aplomb. Thanks to the wind, the first half was notable for the number of attacks which came directly from tired looking Lochend goal kicks. With Sibbald and Williams on patrol, genuine physical presence lurks at the heart of the black and whites midfield. The duo compliment each other perfectly. The former always looking to raise the temperature of the metaphorical pressure cooker by merrily sledging his opponents and playing out his very own Shakespearean comedy for the sole benefit of the referee whilst paradoxically always looking to take the sting out of the game with his neat touches, always happy to play the ball back a level and encourage his side to regain their composure. Williams, meanwhile, is a less complex specimen on the field. He displays no interest in baiting the opponent in the silver-tongued fashion so beloved of his counterpart. For him, raw physicality is the weapon of choice, terrifying the Lochend midfield into anonymity with his power in the tackle and zeal in the air. Between them they gobbled up the vast majority of the second balls from these goal kicks; not merely heading the ball back from where it came (as was the case with Ultimo some six months previously) but getting the ball under and using Hamilton, the ever-lively Latto and their respective wide options to instigate fresh attacks, varying the angle each time. Indeed two of their more memorable first half efforts came from these very situations: A mishit goal kick intercepted short by Williams played in behind the defence for Kirkaldy to blast over and a rasping thirty yarder caught beautifully by Williams which agonizingly cannoned away off the inside of the post at the top corner. It was a frustrating half for the home team, having made all the play the inability to convert rankled at the break, aided by a couple of chances which went begging having won the aerial battles at attacking corners. It was the failure to capitalise on their domination of the wind that ultimately cost them dear.


Lochend initially looked revitalised going into the second period, making a bit more of a nuisance of themselves in the central areas. Their renaissance, however, was short lived as Ultimo swiftly regained the momentum having once again found their composure and soon after the hour recieved their just reward as Latto got on the end of a long , searching, typically agricultural 'pass' from Hardy and dispatched despite the attentions of the goalkeeper, whose full palm could only usher the ball into the net. From there it ought to have been a canter home for the black and whites but their most wearisome adversary was back on their case: Themselves and their self-confidence. Rather than turn the screw and finish the job, Ultimo played the last twenty minutes in a manner that flattered their opponents. The deft touches and accurate passing gave way to a series of hoofs and blind clearances when the pressure demanded otherwise. To what extent Lochend raised their game with twenty left to play is a moot point, but Ultimo will know that they were, to an extent, collectively in a psychological collusion with their fate, as the visitors equalised through their mouthy number nine who did well to hold off the attentions of Hardy and slot a composed finish past McGuire and into the bottom corner. It was harsh on Hardy, and indeed the rest of the defenders, who'd coped well with the limited offerings until that point. To point the finger at that moment as the one where the points were dropped would be to naively ignore the array of, if not sitters, then at any rate half decent chances they allowed to bypass them in this match. The second half saw no fewer than three more realistic opportunities from corners squandered. If UG04 are to mount the promotion campaign which has been a sustained feature of much of their summer dialogue then one key area which will need some attention is that of ruthlessness. In the end, it was to the determination of Thompson that Ultimo owed their most sincere gratitude for denying Lochend on the line, following Hamilton's short header which left McGuire stranded and rounded, and thus preventing the unthinkable.


It remains difficult to quantify the absolute ramifications of this undoubtedly one-sided stalemate in respect of the cancellation of many of the other fixtures around the division. What we can say without fear of contradiction is the following: Lochend are a better team than they were last year. Having beaten newcomers Laird and Dog in preseason as well as recording creditable egalities with Hibeernian and The Star A they have displayed a pedigree to suggest this result is no disgrace on the Mushroom Clouds. Yet those who played in the match will know that this feels like a defeat.  The air punching and the wide grins on the part of the visitors coupled with the disgust and resignation apparent from those in black told the tale more vividly than any numerical statistic. If promotion is to be achievable, such matches must be taken care of. The process of such rectification begins at the Gyle on Thursday night.

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