And so it arrived the title decider a day later than originally planned due to rain but perfect conditions for football meant a bumper crowd at theUpper Bignold. United started like a train knowing a win was essential as no other permutation delivered the title to Dunnet. On 3 mins a Gary Mackay freekick from halfway picked out the head of Jamie Mackenzie on the edge of the box and his flick-on looped perfectly into the path of the arriving Petrie but his header landed on to the top of the net. In recent weeks the bustling ability of James Murray has come to the fore and he seems to revel on the bigger stage, on 9 mins he really should have opened the scoring shrugging off Stewart Ross and Sean Stewart he raced clear but delayed shooting and eventually only found the side net. Then came the game’s first flash point as Harrold floated a ball over the top for Murray to set off in a foot race with Williamson the striker arrived first and lobbed the ball over the keeper only to be clattered in the process referee Tait took a little time before cautioning the keeper, Allan’s freekick was very weak though and the game remained goalless a little longer. The delay was only for 5 mins though after a scramble ensued after Ross Allan’s shot was blocked high into the air skipper Jamie Mackenzie cushioned the ball into the path of Murray who fired a beautiful shot across Williamson on the half volley for a deserved opener. United were playing the better football and seemingly in control when the champions hit back a wicked Martin Sutherland corner had United at full stretch to repel the initial corner eventually Gray punched clear only as far as the original set-piece taker who whipped in a tremendous cross that only required Larnach to apply his head to it and level the scores. The game continued to flow quite nicely as United a little rattled took time to get a foot hold back in the game. The second United goal was all about the ability of Ross Allan who picked up Jamie Mackenzie’s square pass 12 yards out with his back to goal he twisted and turned away from Cumming before lashing a left foot shot high passed Williamson’s top left corner. Again United seemed to settle perfectly, controlling the game without creating any glorious chances when it all came crashing down on 35 mins. Firstly flash point number 2 another Martin Sutherland corner created another almighty scramble before a shrill of referee Tait’s whistle sounded for a foul on Grant Steven however just a few seconds later Stewart Ross thundered in a beautiful volley passed keeper Gray. However United never heeded that warning when Grant Steven in the left back area in trying to clear lines put Macintosh in all sorts of bother as Kyle Ross intercepted and set up the race that came to a crashing end in my opinion just outside the area at first referee Tait did not seem to view it as an infringement but his assistant John had other ideas and after a consultation gave the penalty. Larnach assumed the responsibility and fired high over the bar only for assistant John to decide Gray had moved off his line too far in the process, Larnach never wasted the second bite at the cherry sending the keeper the wrong way.
Wick Groats 2-2 Pentland United
In frightening similarity to the first period Petrie again missed another snip right at the start of the second half beautifully timing his run in to the box on to a Mackenzie flick his left foot volley lacked conviction and Williamson watched as it drifted wide of his left hand post. The game was now open United trying to make the running with Groats assured at the back and content to play counter attacking football. Mid way through the half however that changed, Ross Allan had the ball 45 yards from goal slightly to the right of centre and whipped in a delightful ball that everyone attacked but no one actually connected with as it flew into Williamson’s right hand corner. United continued to attack in search of what they would consider to be the killer 2 goal cushion and duly found it 15 mins from time another Allan cross was scrambled clear by Ross to Darryn Mackay 20 yards from goal and the midfielder met the ball sweetly sending a stunning volley across Williamson into the net. Groats were now chasing the game firing on Grant McNab and also removing Stewart Ross from his defensive duties to play as an auxiliary striker but clear chances were at a premium. With 12 mins left Graham McNab met a Larnach cross that Gray gathered yards from his line under pressure from Ross and also Martin Sutherland then few minutes later Gary Macgregor rather off balance met a cross from the same source but again it was a comfortable height for the keeper. At the other end Miller took the full force of a Murray volley on the chest as the striker tried to send the ball across goal but it only succeeded in lifting the big centre half clean off his feet. Just when everyone was settling in for the final stages United again conceded a very soft goal, Cumming down he right made good progress but his cross was seemingly easily controlled by Steven but under pressure he seemed to slip at the vital moment clearing only a few yards to Graham McNab who beautifully laid the ball into the path off his brother who flicked the ball passed Gray as the keeper attempted to close the angle. However before Groats could build up a head of steam United hammered in the final nail Harrold picked out Allan down the left channel the striker seemed to have lost the ball but eventually stepped inside Taylor and suddenly the drew the challenge from Kyle Ross that flattened the striker, referee Tait pointed to the spot and after a long stoppage to restore order Michael Petrie stepped up to fire home sending Williamson the wrong way and the celebrations amongst the large United support began.
Wick Groats 3-5 Pentland United
1. M Gray 2. G Mackay 3. L Harrold 4. G Steven 5. B Macintosh 6. D Mackay 7. L Sutherland 8. J Mackenzie(c) 9. M Petrie 10. J Murray 11. R Allan (M Nichol 83)
Subs Not Used
View from the goal
Wonderful spectacle and end to the league campaign we had a sticky period in the middle but came through superbly and showed wonderful consistency and nerve to even to get to this stage as we were 8 points back at one point. Quite a few flash points and both teams will have their axes to grind but in the end I believe we just about shaded it. As per usual a fantastic support were behind us throughout and delighted we gave them something to celebrate. It has been an emotional rollercoaster and I am sure Dunc would have been cursing us a fair bit not only during the final game but throughout the season but hopefully he is sitting with a smile now enjoying his teams success. No time for complacency though now on to the David Allan Shield Final on Saturday, which I hope will be another top match.