Coldstream 1, Eyemouth United 1
COLDSTREAM maintained their unbeaten record and extended their lead at the top of the First Division to nine points, but had to come from behind against a well-organised Eyemouth United side.
In front of a large Home Park crowd of over 250, Steven Shennan put the visitors in front with a close-range header after just six minutes, and Eyemouth went in at half time well worthy of the lead.
But Stuart Coyle scored a spectacular equaliser in the 57th minute, rifling a left-foot shot into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Coldstream looked the more likely winners in the last 20 minutes, but a draw was probably a fair result at the end of thoroughly entertaining and hard-fought derby which had both pride and points at stake.
Passions were running high going into the game. So many players had switch sides over the summer, nine heading from Eyemouth to Coldstream and four going in the opposite direction, that there were individual and collective points to prove.
But there were also precious league points up for grabs. Leaders Coldstream went into the game eight points clear of Gala Fairydean and ten ahead of third-placed Eyemouth, who have two games in hand.
Andrew Gibson’s men may have been favourites, but it was Eyemouth who looked like the unbeaten league leaders for just short of an hour.
With Stewart Wright and Alan Spiers solid in central defence, James Wilson and Jonathan Brown working hard in midfield and Mark Bolton holding the ball and linking up play in attack, Eyemouth held the upper hand.
It took just six minutes for Carl Hudson’s men to score. A deep Sean Phillips cross from the left caused hesitation in the Coldstream defence, goalkeeper Mark Walters stranded in no-man’s land as an unmarked Shennan headed into an empty, net from four yards at the back post.
As Eyemouth maintained the upper hand, Phillips shaved the bar with a header of his own from a Nicky Clark corner.
Had Walters been shown a red card in the 27th minute, the outcome could have been very different. But in the game’s biggest talking point the big goalkeeper escaped with a booking after rushing out of his box and bringing down James Wilson off the ball.
The referee and linesman had a long discussion before opting for the yellow card, Walters perhaps saved only because Coldstream defender Josh McLeod had raced back to clear the danger just before the collision.
Hudson, of course, knows the strengths and weaknesses of his former players better than most, so it was perhaps no surprise that his team was set up to stifle the Streamers. It worked a treat.
The second half started just like the first, with Eyemouth in control. But just when it looked like Coldstream would never create a scoring opportunity a goal came out of nothing.
Lawrie Cannon and John Crawford were involved in the slick move before Jonny Simpson slipped a pass to Coyle at the left edge of the box. The former Eyemouth striker caught his left-time shot sweetly and watched it arrow into the top corner to corner. Goalkeeper Adam Mutch may have been beaten at his near post, but the strike was so powerful it was in the net before he had time to react.
The goal lifted Coldstream. Simpson had a shot saved and John Crawford fired over the bar. Mutch then had to save a Coyle free-kick and was pleased to see Gary Wales blast the rebound over the bar.
Walters saved well from Wilson at the other end, but Coldstream came closest to a winner in the 90th minute when Lee Lambert’s cross found Crawford at the back post. Only a superb block from Wright on the line, diverting the attempt onto the post, prevented the striker from heading the winner.
Coldstream: M Walters, G Wales (L Lambert 75), J Ainslie (M Tait 73), J McLeod, L Cannon, S Simpson, J Simpson, J Hebdon, J Crawford, K O’Neil (M Allan 58), S Coyle. Subs not used: G McCrudden, M Sadler.
Eyemouth United: A Mutch, A Jess, L Walker, A Spiers, S Wright, J Brown, N Clark, J Wilson, S Shennan (S Adamson 90), M Bolton (C Lough 62), S Phillips. Subs not used: G Windram, N Hoffman.