Short trip to Cupar for Kirkcaldy in Fife derby

Player-coach Quintan Sanft tries to rally his troops against Lasswade on Saturday. Photo: Michael Booth
Player-coach Quintan Sanft tries to rally his troops against Lasswade on Saturday. Photo: Michael Booth

Kirkcaldy begin a run of four away games in five weeks this Saturday, making the short journey to Cupar to play title challenging Howe of Fife.

This week will see the end of the first half of the league programme which has been played over a compact period of nine weeks.

In contrast the second half will stretch from the last Saturday of October until near the end of March with local and national cup matches and international fixtures intervening, a ridiculously convoluted arrangement which hopefully will be ended with further league reorganisation next season.

Since their promotion two years ago Howe have held the upper hand against Kirkcaldy, having won all four league games and another in the Caledonia Cup.

After narrowly missing promotion last term Howe were pre-season favourites to up but although they have scored a barrow load of points presently lie third in the table behind unbeaten Jed-Forest and Musselburgh.

They will be fully geared for the visit of the Blues knowing that a further loss could inflict terminal damage on their promotion prospects.

Last Saturday, the Blues blew the chances of substantially boosting their points differentials against a weakened Lasswade team at Beveridge Park.

The Midlothian team had no fewer than seven late call-offs as a flu virus spread through their ranks.

Not surprisingly, the home team dominated possession and territory only to see the visitors lead 7-5 for over half an hour and then faced the prospect of an embarrassing defeat.

However, two late tries put a gloss of respectability on the score line with Lasswade doing enough to get a losing bonus point.

Early play suggested this would be a Kirkcaldy five pointer with the visitors penned into their 22, and starved of the ball.

It was maybe a sign of things to come that the first Kirkcaldy try didn’t arrive until the 12th minute with Dayle Turner the scorer. Jamie Moffat missed this conversion as he had done with an earlier penalty.

All through the game Kirkcaldy concentration levels were never at their best and soon after Turner’s try a forceful Lasswade midfield break was only halted by a powerful tackle from Conar Littlejohn.

Support play also left some thing to be desired with all too frequent movements coming to a half through lack of support.

Almost inevitably as the Blues coughed up a series of chances, Lasswade hit with a counter punch with skipper Donald Hearn dotting down in 22 minutes and Andrew Hall converting for a 7-5 lead.

The game continued on an uneventful path until stoppage time at the end of the first half. Desperate Lasswade defence saw Hearn stopping the ball illegally and the referee had no hesitation in producing a yellow card.

The Blues failed to profit from the extra man and then went one down themselves. Mark Graham had just come on as a replacement when he too incurred the official’s displeasure.

No sooner had Graham gone into the bin than Lasswade’s Matthew Smith had referee McClement digging into his pocket for the yellow card again.

With both sides down to 14 men, the Blues at last found an attacking spark. Their forwards had taken scrummage ball against the head to allow Quintan Sanft, at scrum half for the day, to ghost his way to the goal line.

Five minutes later lock Stuart Porter grasped the ball at a penalty and charged all the way to the line. Sanft took the conversion and, with Kirkcaldy’s only successful goal kick of the day, added the extra points.

The Blues looked to be heading towards the four try bonus but unaccountably lost focus and allowed Lasswade back into the game and in only their third incursion into the Kirkcaldy 22 forced a penalty kicked by Hall which gave them a losing bonus.

The Blues may have won this game but their performance left something to be desired. Stronger opposition might have punished their errors more heavily and they just cannot continue to waste so many scoring chances.

Kirkcaldy: K Littlejohn, C Littlejohn, I Gillies, M Wallace, C Mann, J Moffat, Q Sanft, R Girdler, G Wallace, W Gray, S Porter, C Wood,. S Orr, D Turner, L Neilson. Replacements: G Queen, J Pow, M Graham, R Bonner.

Lasswade: A Hall, C Lamont, N Gray, D Hall, R McKenzie, F Talbot, N Clark, R Hill, G Cook, D Turnbull, A Lamond, D McKenzie, D Hearn, G Ward, Donald Hearn. Replacements: I Barr, H Smith, A Ellliot, S Hunter.

Referee: D McClement (WSRRS)

Star Check: 3 Stuart Porter, 2 Shaun Orr, 1 Dayle Turner

Current standings: 12 Porter; 6 Mann; 5 Orr; 3 M Harvey, Gillies, McKenzie, G Wallace, K Littlejohn, Wood, Turner; 2 M Wallace; 1 Girdler, Gray.