Whitehill Welfare rediscovered that winning euphoria with a thumping 6-0 victory over lower league opposition Civil Service Strollers to ease into the third round of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup.
However, the game at Ferguson Park took a rather strange turn of events midway through the first half when the home side were awarded three penalties within the space of just eight minutes – striker Aaron Somerville converting each kick from 12 yards adding to captain Michael Bruce’s opener after 17 minutes to impose an unassailable lead over the visitors prior to the interval.
Defender Bruce doubled his own advantage in the second half before Steven Manson completed the rout with a fine individual effort on the stroke of full-time.
Bruce has been the Rosewell club’s standout player in this season’s Lowland League campaign, but admitted scoring a brace within 90 minutes is, at this stage of the season, unfamiliar territory for the reliable No. 4.
“It’s unusual for me to get on the scoresheet as it’s usually towards the latter end of the season,” Bruce joked. “It’s a good win for us as we’ve been on a little drought and it’s good to score from all over the park. Keeping a clean sheet is more important than me scoring goals as that’s what we take our pride in, so it’s good to get a bit of solidarity at the back.
“We’ve got a good squad of boys so if we stick in with it then we’ll get through this rough patch.”
It was, however, the East of Scotland Premier Division side who were forcing their opponents into some early mistakes, fully aware Whitehill’s confidence had taken a dent in recent weeks.
The swirling wind was proving something of a hindrance to both teams who were subsequently forced into applying a different approach when moving the ball forward.
Somerville went close with an effort which deflected narrowly wide of Paul Tansey’s left-hand post before Manson’s delivery from the left caught Strollers’ Michael Dick off-guard and Bruce stole in at the back post to score from little more than a yard out.
Manson was then gifted an opportunity just moments later, but was left to rue a poor first touch as the angle narrowed and Tansey was able to block the midfielder’s attempt.
Then a period, which can only be described as out of the ordinary, began to unfold.
Firstly, Wayne Sproule was upended by Jake Moyes and Somerville fired into the top right corner with ease before, just three minutes later, John Hall was brought to a halt after a surging run by Michael Dick, contact appearing to be just outside the box. However, Somerville stepped up and sent Tansey the wrong way to make it 3-0.
Sproule then headed Shaun Ford’s header off the line at the other end before the hosts were awarded their third penalty on 34 minutes when Manson was tripped by Tom Wyman – Somerville making no mistake to complete his hat-trick of spot-kicks.
Bruce hooked in a superb fifth from Andrew Kidd’s cross for Whitehill’s fifth after the interval and despite a more dogged performance from Strollers in the second 45, Manson netted a superb sixth on 90 minutes, skipping past three defenders before clipping the ball over Tansey and into the net.
Assistant manager Scott Cantley is hoping to use this result as a springboard that will propel Whitehill back up the Lowland League table.
He said: “I’m pleased with the result but I still think we could have done better and that’s no disrespect to Strollers.
“They came up to frustrate us and make it difficult and, at times, they did that.
“It’s our first shut-out this season, but I felt the wind spoiled the game a bit as we wanted to get the ball down and knock it about. It’s a different changing room this week so hopefully this will kick us on from here.”
Whitehill Welfare: Young, Hall (Martin 56), Thom, Bruce, W Kidd, McGlashan, Manson, A Kidd, Somerville (Noon 72), McLaughlin (Dodds 64), Sproule. Subs: Finnie, Shearer.
Civil Service Strollers: Tansey, Moyes, Gibson, Wyman (Mcuey 46), Ford, Twist (Campbell 79), Newall, Summers, Guy, Dick (Bruce 46), Pettigrew. Subs: Iyere, Burns.