Helensburgh Thistle looked strong going forward as they negated a tricky opening game of their 2022 District League season at Ian McLennan on Saturday in a fast-paced affair taking the Foxes down 4-2.  

Helensburgh looked like they were itching to play as they dominated the opening 15 minutes, creating numerous chances.

On 12 minutes, Thistle opened the scoring through Liam Unicomb. However, it was Brad Watts’ lead up work that created the well worked goal. Watts had the ball on the edge of the box before a cheeky back heel to Unicomb saw the striker take one touch past the last defender and smash his shot into the top left corner.

Not long after, Kinsella had a good chance to double his team’s lead when he was put through on goal again. This time squandering the chance as he hit his shot too softly and the defence cleared it with ease.

Only a minute later and with Helensburgh dominating possession and chances, Watts was on the ball sprinting down the left wing. He cut through two defenders and got his shot away just on the edge of the 18-yard box. The Foxes’ keeper Valon Rizvani made a stunning save, stretching out to stop it going into the top left corner.

Fernhill’s first real chance came in the 17th minute when goalkeeper, Jordan Paull’s poor pass which went straight to Fernhill just outside the box. The Helensburgh defence however got there just in time to clean up the mess.

In the 21st minute, Fernhill’s captain Jordan Hughes, had a collision when going up for a header. In a blow to the Foxes, he was substituted off moments later and appears in jeopardy to play their next game.

Thistle’s first half dominance was rewarded with the second goal coming just 10 minutes before half time. Liam Unicomb whipped in a fast-paced cross which went straight at the Foxes’ defender Anthony Oliver who attempted a clearance that was miss-kicked sending it bouncing into the feet of Kinsella for an easy tap in.

Helensburgh were threatening again just after the break and grabbed their third through Brad Watts. His long run with the ball down the left saw him cut back into the box and bury his opportunity.

On 68 minutes, Watts scored again from close range. This time the ball was flicked up into a crowded penalty area. He controlled it with a great touch to let the ball drop to his feet and he placed it coolly into the bottom right to put Thistle up 4-0. Their onslaught of goals was a direct result of their continuous pressure and outstanding passing in the final third.

Fernhill pulled a goal back on 80 minutes to give them a glimmer of hope. Mitch Turner skipped past two players just near the halfway line, driving forward before unleashing an absolute rocket of a shot, which skimmed into the bottom left.

Just before the end of regulation time, Fernhill were awarded a penalty for a handball. Mitch Turner stepped up to the spot however he wasted the chance as he smashed it onto the crossbar.

With the game into injury time, Daniel Jorge got the ball into the box after a deflected pass and had an open shot which he converted into the bottom left to add some respect to the final score.

In the end, Helensburgh saw out the win in their opener even though “they looked a bit rusty”, according to coach Andrew Paine. He went on to say that “I thought we were good value at the start, they got in the midfield quite a lot which was concerning but we were dangerous on the attack which resulted in four goals, so pretty comfortable. It got a little bit hairy than it needed to be at the end.

Andrew Paine’s side will face Oak Flats Falcons next Thursday (weather permitting).

Helensburgh Thistle 4 (Unicomb 12’, Kinsella 35’, Watts 59’, 68’)

Fernhill Foxes 2 (Turner 80’, Jorge 90+1’)

Helensburgh: 1. PAULL Jordan, 2. LEHN Ethan, 3. HEWSON Blake, 4. WATSON Rob, 5. THURRAM Peter, 6. CURREY Blake, 7. BROWNE Caleb, 8. PATTERSON Vaughan, 9. KINSELLA Kade, 10. WATTS Brad, 11. UNICOMB Liam

Substitutes: 12. BALASKAS Harry, 13. MILLER Luke, 14. MUCCI Joel, 86. BROWN Conner

Fernhill: 1. RIZVANI Valon, 2. JORGE Daniel, 4. FOWLGER Kurt, 3. CALDER Lachlan, 5. TOLIVER Anthony, 6. WORTHINGTON Trent, 8. GALANTI Matt, 7. HUGHES Jordan, 9. DJUKIC Daniel, 10. TURNER Mitch, 11. MCLEAD Nelson

Substitutes: 12. MINDZAS Tommy, 13. KATRIC David, 14. AYAUB Elias, 15. DEL Kyle, 1. HADAYA Yacoub.

Date: 9 April 2022

Venue: Ian McLennan Park

Referee: John Ruscica

Assistant Referees: Warwick Davidson and Gareth Jenkins

Report by Solomon Beddow, @solomonbeddow on Twitter

Photo courtesy of Pedro Garcia

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