|CB||5||Andy Ward (c)|
|CM||7||Ross Ballantyne (vc)|
Happy New Year!
The Colts ushered in 2016 with their first trip to K Park to take on East Kilbride in fixture 17 of a debut Lowland League season that sees them sit fifth just after the half way stage. With the teams separated by a single point in the league table and the previous encounter at Broadwood finishing in a 1-1 draw, on paper this looked like it would be a tight affair.
The Broadwood men didn't have their issues to seek in team selection with Oliver, Barclay, Selkirk and recent loan signing Scott Davidson all ruled out injured, the latter fit enough to make the bench. Added to that Tilley and other loanee Moses Olanrewaju were out of the country with family for the festive period and also ruled out.
That meant a few changes to the starting eleven with David Brown making his first start since the opening day of the season when he, Ramsay and McDonald making their first competitive starts since joining the club. New recruit Andy Hunter and Under 20's Jordan Pirrie were added to the bench alongside Duncan, Foggin, Giles and Davidson.
Despite the changes the Colts started brightly, enjoying the better of the opening 15 minutes of the game and creating a couple of decent opportunities. In the best of these Black forced a wonderful save from the home keeper with a header from 8 yards after O'Neill had delivered from the left, the stopper getting over to turn the ball around the post for a corner.
O'Neill nearly scored a lofted effort from just inside the area but the official adjudged the attacker had committed a foul before McDonald saw an effort from just inside the area blocked away for another Colts corner.
The home side, always a threat, struggled to break down a stubborn Colts rear-guard, their increasing percentage of possession not yielding much in the way of threatening efforts for George in the away goal to deal with. The stopper though dealt comfortably with a few long range efforts.
The chance of the half though probably did fall to the home side with the prolific Smith, the league's top scorer, finding himself one on one with Ward just inside the area. Ward defended the situation well but Smith created space for a shot and fired narrowly wide with his right from 12 yards.
Half time and the sides level at 0-0, Colts enjoying the better of the early period of the game with their hosts on top for the latter part of the half.
Into the second half and EK came out strong, putting the Colts under sustained pressure and nearly taking the lead with a stroke of good fortune. Right fullback Gebbie charged forward to receive a pass from Winter and his attempted cross crashed back off the far post with keeper George beaten.
Having little chance with that effort though George showed his class moments later as he dived full stretch to his right to turn away a right footed effort from 12 yards with a superb save, keeping the score at 0-0. Ward made a superb block on Smith who latched onto a rebound inside the area before Ramsay and Brown between them stopped the forward from going through on goal in a quick break.
At the other end Black, Ballantyne and O'Neill all had efforts off target or well fielded by the EK keeper before McDonald, tiring in his first start, was slow to react to O'Neill doing superbly to get beyond his man and get has cross to the near post, the defender getting back across the striker to clear for a corner.
Just after 70 minutes Black and McDonald were replaced as both Hunter and youngster Pirrie made their league debut for the club, both showing up very well in the final 20 or so minutes of the game. Colts were looking dangerous on the break, but despite their excellent display in defence the home side were looking the more likely to grab a winner and it looked like they had with 7 minutes remaining.
Ramsay was adjudged, harshly, to have committed a foul just outside the area when he looked to have won the ball. McKinnon, who was red carded against the Colts playing for BSC only a few weeks ago, found the bottom corner of the net from the free kick.
Colts, to their credit, rallied and nearly grabbed an immediate leveller as a long throw from Kirwan bounced in the box, Broadfoot inches away from turning home with the keeper grabbing the ball. With 3 minutes remaining though the men in yellow did get back on level terms and if they had been unfortunate in the goal they conceded there was a huge slice of luck here.
O'Neill did superbly on the right to keep the ball alive and when it came in Munn rose at the back post to head back into the area. Pirrie showed great composure when it would have been easy to lash the ball towards goal through the bodies, going past a couple of opponents before pulling back into the danger area. The EK defender tried to clear, putting his foot through the ball but only found the face of Jamie Broadfoot, the power on the ball seeing it head straight into the top corner from 8 yards with the keeper helpless. Like any goalscorer, Broadfoot didn't care as he claimed his eight of the season, making him Colts top scorer and the Colts celebrated being back on level terms.
And the visitors nearly won it in stoppage time, Pirrie latching onto a cutback to the edge of the area and driving powerfully just wide of the near post as the official blew the whistle on a second stalemate of the season between these sides. Both games have seen the home side the better team over the 90 with their visitors grabbing a late leveller, highlighting how evenly matched these two sides with big ambitions are.
Next up for Colts is a home fixture with Preston Athletic on January 9th.