Heriot Watt ran out 3-0 winners against the Napier 1sts, with the away side going down to 10 men in the early stages of the first half. Seán McGill reports.
Heriot-Watt made the most of an early sending off to claim all three points at the Oriam on Wednesday, with goals from Justin Hogg, Euan Scott, and Gregor MacDonald consigning Edinburgh Napier to a 3-0 defeat.
The hosts dominated the ball in the early stages, looking to dictate the pace of the game. Napier responded by rigidly sticking to their shape, forcing Heriot-Watt into safe passes around the back.
Tempers flared with just ten minutes on the clock, as Napier’s Matthew Jameson slid in on full back Adam Uphill, much to the dismay of the Heriot-Watt players. The referee dismissed the midfielder and the visitors had to contend with being a man down for over 80 minutes.
It didn’t take long for Heriot-Watt to make their advantage count. A clever through ball released Scott on the right-hand side and the striker was aware enough to cut the ball back to Hogg, who calmly slotted the ball into the far corner.
Napier looked to draw level with their first set piece of the game. A short free quick found Aaron Reid on the wing, but his low drive was well collected by Heriot-Watt ‘keeper Calum Reid.
With five minutes of the half to go, Napier’s resistance was broken for the second time. A lofted through ball from MacDonald found Hogg, whose scuffed shot appeared to let the chance go by. Scott cleverly ensured that wasn’t the case, ghosting in to pick up the loose ball and send it beyond Ross Jack in the Napier goal.
The second half brought about much of the same, with the resolute Napier defence being kept busy by Heriot-Watt’s lively front line. Scott found himself through again, before cutely lifting the ball over Jack. His chip put too much back spin on the ball however, and Napier captain Lewis Grant swept up behind to clear.
Napier’s determined defence had limited their opponents throughout the second half, but their hard work was undone when Jack was adjudged to have brought down Alex McCreadie in the box. Heriot-Watt captain MacDonald put the game beyond doubt as he calmly stroked the ball into the bottom left corner from the resulting penalty.
Napier looked to get on them scoresheet themselves, with Ben Kelly and Aaron Kane linking up in an attempt to reduce the deficit for their side. The strikers were crowded out by a sea of yellow shirts, with Aaron Gamble clearing emphatically for the hosts.
The visitors’ low block prompted Heriot-Watt to try their luck from distance. MacDonald saw his effort fly over Jack’s crossbar after cutting inside and firing at goal on his left foot.
Despite being reduced to ten men so early in the game, Napier can take solace in the grit shown by the players against an impressive Heriot-Watt side. This result leaves the teams level on points at the top of the table, promising an enthralling title race to close out the season.
Napier will be looking to bounce back in their next fixture, as they welcome Strathclyde University to Ainslie Park on Wednesday 5th February at 1pm.