With Edinburgh Firsts not playing, this was a chance for Heriot-Watt to take the initiative in the title race, and leave their fellow contenders with it all to do in their remaining games. But Heriot-Watt’s destiny is no longer in their own hands, even if they defeat their title rivals in their final game next week. Although still undefeated, they now haven’t won in four matches.
This was by no means the worst nil-nil you will ever see, but the vague sense of despair – seemingly shared by spectators and coaches alike – was tangible throughout the game. The recent relief from relegation fears that the Edinburgh Seconds enjoyed should perhaps have proved liberating in this, their final outing of the season, but alas, no. Andy Cummings’ cheap booking ten minutes from time – for throwing the ball away, and not very far at that – summed up the all-too common lapses into apathy.
Both teams were sloppy in possession; it was a game of overhit passes and little movement off the ball. In fairness, both sides were committed in defence and there were very few errors for the forwards to exploit. Promising wing-play was also stunted somewhat by the conditions of a pitch in need of a serious rolling – players waited an age for the ball to stop bobbling before they could cross it.
Of the two teams, Heriot-Watt started the brighter with big striker Lars Berger dominating the early exchanges. Although the away side struggled to create anything truly threatening, they certainly offered more than Edinburgh. Despite the battling of Tom Timmins and the probing runs of winger Steve Kenny, their play often fell flat.
Edinburgh’s big chance came at 26 minutes, as Timmins was put clear by a punt from defence. As the Edinburgh bench went up for a foul on the provider, Timmins' awkward chip and narrow miss almost went unnoticed. The teams cantered into half-time with only a burst of life on the part of Heriot-Watt - three dangerous crosses in succession and the forcing of a goal-line clearance – stirring things up.
In the second half, Heriot-Watt’s wide men Gavin Main and Aaron James began to make a more significant impression, coming more into the game as Edinburgh got to grips with target-man Berger and new avenues of attack were sought. It was James on the hour who showed good strength to wriggle free in the box and hit a trickling shot on the turn, but, with the keeper beaten, it was inches wide of the post.
Several minutes prior, Josh Cannon had better demonstrated Heriot-Watt’s seemingly growing reluctance to score as he bundled his way through and rounded the keeper, only to lose his footing before getting in any meaningful strike. Edinburgh were keen not to be outdone and so issued a sequence of tricky-long throws and flick-ons blithely ignored by team-mates. Indeed, by the final stages we had progressed to the stage where Edinburgh were doing their damnedest to score for Heriot-Watt, as first Nick Ghamgosar sliced a clearance dangerously close to the target and then Dan Patterson went one better and clattered his own crossbar under little pressure.
With two minutes remaining, Aaron James headed a deep cross just wide of the target to spark a surprisingly frantic final scrap in which Edinburgh looked likely to steal it. First David Oswald found himself clean through, but whilst his shot beat the keeper it didn’t have the legs to cross the line. From a corner, Amo Armstrong had his strong header cleared off the line before comically missing his rebound - having already begun to celebrate a goal. Heriot-Watt goalkeeper Craig Saunders had the last word as he brilliantly turned Armstrong’s next header around the post.
Infographic to come.