|CM||7||Ross Ballantyne (vc)|
|15||Andy Ward (c)|
Looking to bounce back from double disappointment at the hands of Spartans, in two games where they certainly will feel they deserved to take something, the Broadwood men welcomed Dalbeattie Star on a calm, crisp afternoon in Cumbernauld.
Heading into the final third of the season only 3 points separated these two sides before kick-off, but with Colts never having suffered three defeats in a row Star will have known they were in for a tough afternoon if they were to leave Broadwood with all three points. From the off that was exactly how the game panned out as the Colts turned in an excellent display against a very good Dalbeattie side.
With a full squad available for the first time all season the Colts have excellent competition going into the business end of the season. Barclay and Ramsay came back into the starting lineup and Black also returned after shaking off a broken toe. Returning to the bench and a welcome sight for Colts fans were Broadfoot and Selkirk, both on the comeback trail from recent niggling injuries.
From the off the visitors struggled to adjust to the tempo with which the home side were both moving and pressing the ball, Colts enjoying the majority of possession and probing at the Star defence looking for weakness. They could have found themselves a goal up early on when O'Neill linked with Hunter and Ramsay on the left before drilling a fine low ball across goal, Black just failing to nip in ahead of the covering fullback for what would have been a tap in.
O'Neill and Munn had efforts on goal from outside the area before an excellent move on the right involving Duncan, Hunter, Black and O'Neill released Black inside the area, his low effort hit with power and turned away by the Star keeper for a corner.
Black tested the handling of the keeper again moments later with a curled left foot effort before more fine fast passing football on the Colts left saw the ball fall to Black on his left 8 yards out on the rebound, the attacker electing to try and lay on for O'Neill rather than strike at goal himself with the ball a little heavy.
Fahey in the Colts goal had dealt with a couple of crosses but such was the domination of the home sides play the keeper wasn't called into any serious action prior to the Colts taking the lead after 20 minutes with a stunning goal.
Playing out from the back the home side worked the ball down the right hand side through Duncan, Barclay and Ballantyne, finding Black in the inside right pocket. As the defence retreated Black pulled back to Munn 25 yards out, the little midfielder nutmegging his opponent with his first touch on the right before firing a howitzer with his left into the keepers top right hand corner with his left. An unstoppable effort from Munn and a contender for Colts goal of the season, but more importantly just reward for the Colts fine play to that point.
Further efforts from O'Neill and Barclay kept the Star keeper on his toes before the visitors nearly managed to grab a spectacular equaliser of their own from what was their first real effort on goal. A free kick conceded 25 yards from goal on the Colts inside left saw the Star number 10 curl a wonderful free kick around the wall, Fahey looking on helpless as it struck the underside of the bar and was cleared away by the Colts defence.
A warning shot for the home side which they duly heeded by scoring a second themselves, another excellent goal reflective of their play in the first half. Keeper Fahey played out to Oliver who exchanged passes with Davidson before finding Ballantyne. Ballantyne played to Duncan who spotted the run of Munn behind the fullback who Black had dragged short. Munn took a touch, lifted his head and planted the ball right on the head of Hunter, taking out defence and Keeper, Hunter heading into the top corner from 6 yards.
Great football all round and a 2-0 lead well deserved for the home side and that is how the half finished, Colts perhaps thinking they should have been further ahead and Dalbeattie looking a little shell-shocked at the quality of some of their hosts play.
Into the second half and the Star came out strongly in the opening 15 minutes, looking to try and get themselves back into the game. It took a couple of fine saves from Fahey in the home goal to keep the clean sheet intact, firstly saving well from the Star striker who cut inside and fired towards goal from 18 yards. The second a fine, but relatively comfortable tip over his bar from a looped header from 12 yards.
In the period though Colts had their own chances, Hunter flagged offside when it looked as though he had timed his run onto Barclays pass perfectly. Then fine play on the left found Ramsay racing beyond the back line, his square ball towards four Colts players along the six yard line turned away for a corner with Munn just unable to turn home on the stretch.
The home side though did make it three just before the hour and again it was a fantastic goal. Working the ball forward on the left O'Neill used the run of Ramsay as a dummy, cutting inside and playing with pace into the Hunter arriving on the 18 yard line. Hunter's first touch was sublime, cushioning the ball beyond the central defender before dropping the shoulder to go beyond the cover and squaring to Black who got across in front of the fullback this time to smash in a third for Colts from 6 yards out.
Outside of collecting or punching a couple of cross balls Fahey was called on only once more to make a save to keep the clean sheet intact. A sublime chipped effort from 25 yards not catching out the experienced keeper as he retreated well to tip over the crossbar.
With a comfortable lead it allowed the Broadwood men to ease both Selkirk and Broadfoot back into the fold with a little over 20 minutes remaining, Selkirk replacing the influential Black who was involved in all three goals, Broadfoot replacing Barclay who had turned in a fine performance in midfield. Broadfoot, leading the way in assists for the Colts this season, resumed corner taking responsibilities and taking a break from their fine defensive work both Davidson and Oliver had chances to add to the lead from his deliveries.
First it was Davidson who found himself one on one with the keeper after the ball was returned into the area, the impressive centre back finishing like, well, a centre back, his left foot volley sailing wide. Oliver was next up as a whipped Broadfoot corner evaded everyone in the six yard box, taking Oliver by surprise at the back post, but he did well to get it on target, the keeper diving to his left to make the save.
Kirwan replaced Ramsay at left back as Ramsay nursed a knock and Kirwan was nearly in within seconds, the attacking fullback getting on the end of an O'Neill through ball only to see the linesman's flag halt the play.
It was nearly four in 75 minutes as O'Neill fired a free kick inches wide from 25 yards. Then excellent awareness and touch in midfield from Broadfoot, linking with Selkirk under pressure, released Hunter on the right, his ball into the overlap from Duncan slightly over hit but Duncan still managing to dig out a cross that nearly found O'Neill, but for a last ditch touch from the Star right back.
With a little under 10 minutes remaining the Colts completed the scoring, another fine move involving Ballantyne, Kirwan and Broadfoot who released O'Neill on the left. The covering defender was never going to catch O'Neill once he was beyond, Colts top scorer forcing a fine diving save low to the keepers left from 12 yards, Selkirk marking his return to action by following in like all good strikers to turn the ball home.
4-0 it finished and an excellent display from Colts against a good Dalbeattie side who have enjoyed some good results of late. The Broadwood men will hope that with their squad returning to fitness and competition fierce they can maintain this level in their remaining eight games as they push to finish as high up the Lowland league table as possible in their debut season.