|CB||5||Andy Ward (c)|
|CM||6||Ross Ballantyne (vc)|
In the final pre-season fixture before the kick-off of their inaugural Lowland League (SLFL) season the Colts welcomed Stenhousemuir Under 20's to Broadwood on a blustery Saturday afternoon in Cumbernauld. Being their final game the Management team took the opportunity to have a look at a couple of new faces as well as how their charges would adapt to a new, 4-3-3, system in advance of the competitive action kicking off against Whitehill Welfare at home on Wednesday (19:45).
It's fair to say it took the home side a good 20 minutes to find their feet in their new shape, by which time they were a goal behind, skipper Ward adjudged to have committed a foul just outside the area on 9 minutes. From the resultant set piece the young Stenhousemuir midfielder whipped the ball up and down over the wall and into the bottom corner.
As the game passed beyond the 20 minute mark and the home side found their footing in their changed formation they created chances for Espener, O'Neill and Trialist, all of whom drew fine saves from the young keeper. The men in Black were starting to find joy in the wide areas and fullback Oliver burst through onto a fine Espener pass, caught in 2 minds though he chose to square rather than shoot and the keeper gathered.
There was a leveller coming though and when it did it came from Espener. A long kick from the visiting keeper was won superbly by skipper Ward on half way, his header dropping over the centre back and into the path of Espener who snuck off the shoulder and slotted beyond the keeper with his left for 1-1.
The home side made it 2 moments later when a corner from the right was whipped in with Pace, Espener stepping off the keeper and heading in from close range for his second of the game. Further efforts came from O'Neill, Trialist and Selkirk for the home side, but the young Stenhousemuir side were keeping their hosts on their toes with some fine attacking play of their own. This was not a one sided affair with the pace and quick feet of the young strikers ensuring the Colts rear-guard were on their toes. With that said, despite some fine play in front of the defence they never managed to break through with the Trialist in the home goal not forced to make any save of note.
As the game approached half time the Colts made it 3 with a fine move. Ballantyne and O'Neill combined with Espener to release Kirwin on the left, the fullback using his considerable pace and strength to burst past the fullback and deliver a perfect left foot cross onto the head of the onrushing Brown, the midfielder confidently heading into the top corner form 10 yards.
3-1 at half time and the Colts in control.
Into the second half and things became a little scrappy from both sides, with little of note in the opening exchanges before Ballantyne and Espener were replaced by Duncan and O'Halloran respectively.
Despite having little to do the Trialist keeper will be a little disappointed with his role in the Stenhousemuir second, a moment of hesitation when the ball looked to be safely his allowing the striker to nip in first and win the penalty. As highlighted in the first half the visitors have a decent set piece taker and he again stepped up confidently to fire an unstoppable penalty into the top corner from 12 yards.
As the game ticked towards full time the visitors grabbed an unlikely equaliser. 30 yards out and though safe to say the home side didn't put enough pressure on the ball you have to still give credit for the strike hit like an arrow and going in off bar and then post past the helpless McCurlay, who had come on for the last 20 minutes or so. No chance for the keeper, a fine strike.
3-3 and overall a worthwhile exercise for the Broadwood men as they learned a few more things before the competitive work starts on Wednesday.