The pitch wasn’t looking its best after a day of heavy rain but as the 4-3 score-line suggests, conditions failed to dampen the spirits of either outfit when Glasgow University met Herriot Watt in a clash that saw the league’s top two sides come to blows.
Heriot Watt kicked off, immediately launching an early attack which was successfully scrambled away by the GU side.
After a quick Watt break and cross, which flashed across the 6-yard box, the momentum appeared to be firmly with the Edinburgh team. However, Glasgow made a quick counter and Mikey MacKay’s cross was converted by Joe Watson to give Glasgow the lead. Glasgow maintained this bout of pressure through a free kick from 20 yards out, and another MacKay cross which caused trouble for the Watt goalkeeper. Unfortunately they could not build on this and Watt gained possession. After having a penalty call ignored, Michael Henretty scored through a diving header to level the score line.
Glasgow’s attempt to slow the pace and hold possession resulted in a corner and a free kick but the Watt defence remained solid. After a period of slow play in the centre of the field, Watt took advantage of a quick free kick. This was smartly diverted into the bottom left corner by Henretty for his second goal.
With the score-line at 2-1, Glasgow changed tactics to cover a defensive weaknesses. Further attempts to hold possession were time and again intercepted. Watt continued to mount a strong attack but were continually frustrated by their inability to play the final, killer ball. When Glasgow did find their way into the Watt half, they faced a strong defence and struggled to create any clear chances. However, a second fast MacKay cross came in from the left and Watson was on hand to smartly convert. With his predatory instincts inside the box, Glasgow capitalised on a rare weakness in the Watt defence, and drew the scores level again.
Soon after, another break down the left of the field this time gave Jamie Kerr an opportunity to score, and he was unlucky to hit the post. Glasgow seemed to have taken control of the game for the first time and after initially holding the ball in defence, Calum Tevendale made an accurate, long pass through to Kerr, whose strike was pulled just wide. This momentum continued to carry Glasgow and after some impressive skill in the box from Kerr, MacKay finished well to put Glasgow into the lead.
Watt fought back hard and after a number of breaks up field, strong defending from Calum Tavendale and successive saves from goalkeeper Andrew Livingston maintained
Glasgow’s lead. Watt continued to apply pressure until the end of the first half, finishing with a corner, defended frantically by Glasgow.
Both teams began the second half with drive, and MacKay was unlucky not to score for Glasgow when his early strike hit the cross-bar. The pace was evidently quicker than in the first half, and the end-to-end play provided chances for both teams to score. Watt were first to take advantage of this with a converted corner by Andrew Forbes resulting in their third goal easily taken as Glasgow uncharacteristically switched off.
With the score line level, the game hit a quiet spell which was broken by a fast Watt break, defended well with a tackle by Euan Rothnie. Watt’s defensive tactics were clear when they played nine men behind the ball in order to stifle any Glasgow attacks, as they forced the home side into speculative long-range efforts.
Possession continued to switch regularly between both teams as they struggled with the wet and muddy conditions. While the pace slowed in parts, the desperation to win was evident as both teams fought for every ball. A MacKay free kick left Kerr with the opportunity to score and he took it well.
During the last few minutes, Glasgow’s defence was put under constant pressure by Watt but despite maintaining possession and having a number of shots on target, Glasgow managed to cling to their slender 4-3 lead and claim victory over their bitter rivals.
Although the win sees Glasgow holding their second place spot in the league below Herriot Watt, they are now just one point below their rivals and are well-placed to continue to heap pressure on the league leaders. The return match promises to be one to watch out for. as these two sides look set to slog it out for promotion and league glory.