Following a below par performance in last weeks 2-0 win over Armadale, Dunipace were back at Westfield for the first time since the opening hosting West Calder United, fresh off an impressive 8-1 away win at Forth Royals, on what was a very good day for football.
Top scorer Sean Brown was a victim of injury, out of the squad with a hamstring pull picked up at training and there was a further blow for the home side as they lost Erik Mitusch in the warmup to a back muscle issue.
Such is the strength of their squad though the young Pace have plenty of quality, Comrie coming in to play with Weir up front and Jordan Barrowman in at right back with Ian McIntyre moved forward one into the right of midfield.
Dunipace started the game well, playing at a visibly higher tempo than they had in the previous game and knocking the ball around confidently on the slick Westfield surface. Aside from a couple of early headers that put themselves under pressure, Dunipace controlled the game from start to finish, playing some excellent passing football in the process and going in front in under 10 minutes.
Some neat play between McIntyre and Barrowman on the right saw the ball fed forward to Comrie. Comrie combined well with Meade before the ball was dropped off to Maclaren 25 yards from goal. The composed midfielder has fired a few warning shots in the last few games without finding the net, but today he opened his account for the cub with a quite stunning right foot drive, powered beyond the visiting keeper before he could even set his feet.
A fantastic strike from the midfield man at the start of another impressive performance in the heart of the midfield.
It was to be the beginning of a period of sustained pressure from the home side, Barrowman next to try his luck as he combined with McIntyre on the right before drifting inside and curling narrowly wide with his left foot from 20 yards.
Steven, who caused problems for the visitors throughout, combined with Taylor on the left before drilling across goal towards Weir, his effort blocked by a defender before McIntyre warmed the palms of the West Calder keeper . Following good passing between Steven, Maclaren and Meade the young Pace worked it to the wide man in a 2v1 situation with the overlapping Barrowman, the fullbacks run creating the space for McIntyre to move inside for his strike on goal.
Weir was almost in moments later as he pounced on a poor defensive header to skip round the goalkeeper, perhaps staying on his feet a little too honestly, before seeing his pullback towards Comrie blocked by the defender for a corner. From the corner Weir headed narrowly wide from 6 yards.
Aside from playing sweeper and claiming a few cross balls Jackson in the home goal was pretty quiet, but his quick throw out to Taylor on the left was the springboard that nearly created the home sides second. Taylor combined with Maclaren and Steven before driving beyond 3 defenders and drilling across goal. For the second time in quick succession the fullback was perhaps a little too honest as he was fouled by a trailing leg on the way through, but he stumbled to stay on his feet before drilling across goal.
A second goal was certainly coming and when it did, following those two let offs for West Calder for hanging legs in the area, it did come from the spot. Some fine passing play between Comrie, Barrowman and Meade, Maclaren released McIntyre on the right. McIntyre skipped beyond his man and pulled back behind the retreating defence into the path of Steven, making a late run from the left. Steven took a sublime first touch, clipping the ball over the foot of the outstretched defender, caught by the trailing leg for a definite penalty. Although Steven's next touch was a shot, it was good to see the official show some lenience and keep his cards in his pocket where on another day, given it was a clear goalscoring opportunity, it could have led to a red.
With Brown out of the side Comrie took over penalty duty and sent the keeper the wrong way for 2-0.
Weir could have extended the lead moments after kickoff as more good play between McIntyre and Barrowman fed Comrie on the right and he picked out his strike partner. Weir side-stepped a couple of challenges, creating space in the box 12 yards out on his left. Weir though tried to work the ball back onto his right which allowed the defender to step in and clear.
Comrie himself nearly made it two as he stepped inside his marker following good play between Steven and Maclaren to drill a low shot towards goal with his right from 18 yards, the keeper smothering low to his right.
Balmer and Walker, composed in possession, were seeing more of the ball as the visitors dropped off a little as the young Pace dictated the tempo, allowing the home side to retain the ball excellently. With McIntyre and Steven always available in wide areas, Barrowman and Taylor pushing forward at every opportunity and the midfield duo of Meade and Maclaren dictating the play Dunipace were looking to add a third before half time.
Steven tried his luck from a free kick, firing over the top, before Comrie flashed another effort wide with his right from 18 yards following a good run and pass from McIntyre. Meade had a shot from 18 yards blocked before Steven tricked his way into a good position on the left before looking for Weir, the defender at full stretch to turn out for a corner.
In the 45th minute though the home side did make it 3. Maclaren, Balmer and Walker worked the ball out from the back, finding Meade in the central area. Meade swept the ball wide to McIntyre who slowed the pace to allow his fullback Barrowman to overlap before sliding perfectly into his path. Barrowman took a clever touch to open the angle before delivering to Weir at the back post who saw his header blocked by the retreating defender. As it fell though, Comrie arrived to sweep it high into the net with his left foot from 8 yards.
3-0 at the half which was a reasonable reflection of a game controlled by the home side with some excellent attacking football on show.
Into the second half and it didn't take long before Dunipace were back among the goals. Steven. Maclaren and Comrie linked with Taylor to release Weir on the right. Weir stepped back inside his marker and from 20 yards out on the angle curled a delightful effort into the top corner beyond the full stretch keeper with his left. An excellent finish from the attacker for his first competitive goal for the club following his fine pre-season goalscoring form.
Comrie could have had his hat-trick soon after as more good play released him behind the defence, but the West Calder keeper made a fine stop low to his right, tipping the ball out of the post.
As Dunipace continued to attack it was fullback Nick Taylor, having a fine game, who was next to shake the frame of the goal with a thunderous drive. Maclaren and Meade linked with Comrie to release Steven on the left. Steven, again, showed great skill to step beyond his marker before pulling back into the path of the attacking fullback who crashed off the bar on the angle from 18 yards, the keeper helpless.
It wasn't long before a 5th came though and when it did it was another well worked goal. Walker and Balmer worked the ball out from the back where Maclaren found Taylor in the wide area. Taylor combined with Comrie before releasing Steven on the left who stepped beyond the fullback and squared for McIntyre to sweep into the bottom corner with his left to open his account for the club.
The impressive Maclaren was replaced by Swords just after the hour with future fixtures in mind, before Dunipace made it 6 with another well worked goal. Weir showed good feet to win a corner on the left which Comrie and Steven worked quickly. As the initial cross was cleared Dunipace worked the ball back to Steven who picked out Meade in the centre to head beyond the keeper to his left for his first of the season.
Meade was replaced by McDougall before Weir had two opportunities to make it 7. Firstly he used the run of Steven to screen his move from the left, skipping inside 2 defenders before driving towards the edge of the box and forcing a save from the keeper with his right. And moments later he found himself 1 on 1 with the centre back, throwing a wonderful stepover to move past him to the left before trying to lift over the keeper with his right, the keeper doing well to claw it away.
Skipper Balmer, very impressive again at centre back, was replaced by Dominic Cherrie with 10 minutes to go as the Pace continued to protect their squad for the upcoming fixtures.
Having only conceded 1 (dubious) penalty in 3 competitive games thus far and with only 5 minutes remaining the one black spot on the day for the home side was the concession of a sloppy goal from a set piece as the game drew to a close. A header back across goal from the back post, a corner the visitors had played all game, found the unmarked scorer on 6 yards, Jackson with no chance and visibly upset at the loss of the goal!
This is something that the young Pace have spent much time working on and up to now they have been defiant and controlled in their defending, something just as important at 6-0 as it is at 0-0 and you could see the disappointment as they lost the goal, encouraging for the standards that this young squad are trying to maintain.
It was though to be a day when Dunipace would have the last word as Taylor, who had an excellent game at left fullback, drove forward to link with Steven and Comrie before turning his man in the box and being felled in the process.
Another penalty and a chance for Comrie to grab his hat-trick late on, a chance that the young attacker was never going to pass up as he allowed the keeper to dive before coolly slotting down the centre for 7-1, which his how it finished.
Overall a far more encouraging performance from the Westfield men as they played some fantastic football at times at a tempo more like their own, but also looked maintain the shape and transitional changes that they have been working so hard on at training. Among the 7 there were some superb team and individual goals as well as some excellent individual performances within a strong team performance.
With 3 hard games to come it gives the young squad a perfect platform to build upon, with Manager Gary MacMillan confident that the standards wont slip in the next 2 games when he hands the reigns over to brother Graeme as he heads off on holiday. Both Gary and Graeme will expect the levels to be maintained during this period, something that this committed, enthusiastic and talented squad should be able to do if they continue with their current professional approach.