A second half hat-trick from Connor Birse was enough to rescue a half time deficit and earn the visiting Bluebells three hard earned points.

At a tidy Keirs Park Lochee United ran out deserved winners despite a determined effort from the home side.

The pitch was cutting up quite a bit and both sets of players found the footing tricky, but the visitors were first to show their hand with a Jamie Reid header over the bar in the opening minutes.

Lochee continued to dominate the opening period and had another chance on 11 minutes, but, despite the best efforts of Reid, Grant Lawson and Craig Smith, they just couldn’t find the net.

The home side began to come into things and only a great clearance by Danny Millar prevented them from going ahead. Millar’s clearance actually ran all the way through for Smith but his cross was booted away for a corner.

Then a Lawson cross was headed towards his own net by Kevin Connors who was relieved to see the ball blasted clear off the line.

And, a minute later, on the 20-minute mark, Haws took the lead. Lewis Elder broke upfield and Connors, this time at the other end, had a deflected shot hacked off the line by Stephen McNally but the ball fell kindly for Aaron HAY, who drove it past Mark Stewart in the visiting goal.

Haws tails were up and Elder had another chance which Stewart smothered.

On the half hour mark, Stewart misjudged a ball into his box and was beaten to it by Elder, who could only fire his shot wide.

Lochee had lost some of their earlier impetus but, eight minutes from half time Smith was presented with a chance, but he delayed too long and was dispossessed.

There must have been something in the half time tea because Lochee came out all guns blazing in the second half and, within four minutes, had taken the lead. Sixty seconds in, a McNally free kick from the left was headed in by BIRSE from almost on the goalline.

Three minutes later the Bluebells were ahead. The ball fell kindly for Lawson in the Haws box and he fed BIRSE who guided it into the net from 12 yards out.

Reece Ritchie then had a chance which he blazed over the bar but the home side weren’t out of it and Daniel Watt had a shot cleared off the line by McNally. The Fifers’ striker then hit the bar but was adjudged offside.

A superb through ball from Reid put Ritchie one on one with the keeper but Stuart hall did well to come out and block Ritchie’s effort.

On 70 minutes Scott McComiskie came on for Reid and, three minutes later, Greg Kirk replaced Paul Lunan.

With 15 minutes left, Haws levelled, a cross from the right was headed down into the path of WATT, who lashed the ball home.

Birse had a strong claim for a penalty when his cross appeared to be handled by a defender, but the Lochee man made sure of the points when he headed home the winner seven minutes from time when Ritchie sent McComiskie down the left to fire over a perfect cross for the inrushing BIRSE to make it 3-2.

FT: Hill of Beath Hawthorn 2 Lochee United 3

Hill of Beath: Hall, Grierson, Connors (Denton 73), Harrower, Wright, Hay (Schiavone 61), Mitchell, Smith, P Allan. Elder, Watt.

Lochee United: Stewart, Millar, Whitehead, Lunan (Kirk 73), McNally, Lawson, Cameron, Ritchie, Reid McComiskie 70), Birse, Smith.

Written on 13 January 2018