DALRY THISTLE 2 - WHITLETTS VICTORIA 1
Whitletts promotion aspirations were dealt a blow at Merksworth Park as they crashed to defeat against a Dalry side that have now pushed themselves to the fringe of the promotion race.
Vics remain in second place in the league, seven points behind leaders Ardrossan but with Kello Rovers and Darvel breathing down their necks, with just ten league matches remaining, there can be little room for error in what will proved to be a very tense run in to the end of the season.
Merksworth Park was very heavy but passed playable by referee Ross Menzies and in the opening period it was Dalry who adapted better to the conditions as they took the game to their visitors. However goalmouth incidents throughout the game were few and far between and it was with the first real opportunity of the game that Dalry took a 15th minute lead. As the Vics defence failed to clear a free kick into the box, the ball broke kindly for Chris McGowan who set up Kyle Cummings and the Thistle striker drilled the ball past Ally McInnes.
Dalry were playing a high tempo pressing game but Vics did get forward but their moves continually broke down in the final third, although Tony Balfour did test on loan Glenafton keeper Blair Lochhead with a speculative volley from a Niall Kennedy cross. But in the main it was Dalry who were creating any of the few chances that were made. McInnes denied Shaun Lavery with a fine stop while an attempted clearance by Ross Campbell crashed back off Andrew Brown and slipped inches past and right on half time, only the woodwork denied Cummings a second as his 25 yard strike crashed back of the post.
The home side were the first to show in the second period with a back post header from Brown finding the side netting but in the 50th minute, Whitletts were dealt a further blow when striker Craig Harvey was shown a straight red card for something that he said to the referee.
However even with the ten men, Vics began to get a grip on the game and Paul Cameron came close to an equaliser when from a Kris Kerr corner, Dalry keeper Lochhead failed to collect the ball and the Vics midfielders netbound drive from the edge of the area was deflected over the bar by the knee of William Boyd.
Vics continued to do most of the pressing with the ten men but failed to make any worthwhile attempts on goal despite at times getting into some decent positions and they paid the penalty with 13 minutes remaining when Thistle broke down the left and Mark Archdeacon slid in to turn Lavery’s cross past McInnes
There was some cheer for the Ayr side in the 90th minute when a 30 yard thunderbolt from youngster Ali Boyle was too hard for Lochhead to keep out despite the keeper getting a strong hand to the ball. Although too little too late as far as Whitletts were concerned, without doubt the 17 year old midfielder will remember his first goal for the Club with some pride.
1. Lochhead 2. Hunter (Marshall 88) 3. C.McGowan Jnr 4. R. Boyd 5. C. McGowan Snr 6. Brown 7. Lavery 8. W. Boyd 9. Archdeacon (Beech 85) 10. Cumming (Hood 90) 11. Stuart
1. McInnes 2. Anderson 3. Ewart 4. Campbell 5. Cunningham 6. L. Kerr (Boyle 77) 7. Harvey 8. Black 9. Cameron 10. Kennedy (K. Kerr 55) 11. Balfour (Mathieson 85)
Referee: Ross Menzies