|CB||5||Andy Ward (c)|
|CM||6||Ross Ballantyne (vc)|
|12||13||Jordan Bell (Trialist)|
This was a historic night for the Colts, taking their bow in the ranks of Senior football at the beginning of a new chapter for the club, the years of hard work and dedication behind the scenes making the goal of having a Senior club from Cumbernauld a reality for the first time.
Not even the Scottish ’summer’, despite all its best efforts, could dampen the spirits inside Broadwood. The wind and rain certainly did little to deter what was a respectable number turning up to take in the Colts inaugural game and those in attendance would surely leave, despite the result, feeling entertained.
First ever Colts starting lineup (click to enlarge)
As was perhaps to be expected given the occasion it took the home side, playing in their yellow and blue home kit, time to settle into the game with Whitehill looking the more relaxed from the off, knocking the ball around across their backline and probing at the lines of their hosts. Despite being in the ascendancy from a possession perspective in these early exchanges though, McCurley in the Colts goal was not called into action outside of claiming a few crosses and back passes.
While the evening had started comfortably for the stopper though it was to end painfully and quickly as all in attendance found themselves witness to what appears to be one major downside of the new offside laws.
Some neat passing in midfield by the visitors led to a ball being lifted over the top into the run of Devlin, the Whitehill forward clearly offside. As the ball bounced toward McCurley in goal with Devlin chasing it down there was no flag until the striker got within playing distance of the ball, leading to an avoidable collision between forward and keeper as the whistle was eventually blown for offside.
Both players looked shaken with McCurley remaining on the turf through a couple of minutes with the physio, eventually having to be replaced by youngster Jordan Bell in the Colts goal. Losing any player 12 minutes is not ideal by any means, particularly so for a goalkeeper!
It was certainly a blow for McCurley and the Colts, but the enforced break while McCurley was being tended to served to settle some of the early nerves, the home side looking far more relaxed in possession when play resumed creating the first real chance of the game for the impressive Duncan.
The ball was worked through midfield, Ballantyne finding Oliver at right back. Oliver looked line but then played and excellent ball through the Whitehill lines into the feet of Selkirk in the central area, just outside the box. Selkirk took the ball in superbly and played a lovely reverse in to the run of Duncan coming in from the right, the wide man shrugging off the challenge and firing a low drive on target from 10 yards that forced the Welfare keeper to save with his feet.
A fine move which drew warm applause from the crowd and served as a catalyst for the home side, who came close minutes later when Ballantyne flashed a volley from 25 yards narrowly wide, latching onto a headed clearance from a Duncan cross.
At the other end Whitehill were beginning to threaten themselves, the home side conceding a number of corners that led to a couple of near misses for the visitors. On two occasions they won the first header but couldn’t find the target, one in particular squirming across goal and cleared at the back post by O’Neill.
The tricky wide man was having a say offensively though too, linking well with Kirwin on the left they nearly picked out Selkirk on the penalty spot with the Whitehill defender stretching to head clear. The diminutive wide man was on hand again moments later, showing great feet to skip inside two challenges and flash a shot just wide.
Selkirk was next to try his luck, Duncan linking with Oliver on the right before pulling back into the path of the attacker who fired a powerful drive towards goal, blocked out for a corner.
As the action passed 25 minutes there were running repairs for David Brown who fell heavily in the first minute injuring his wrist. It was clearly hampering his ability to run but the midfielder was trying to push through it. As the physio was doing his work with Brown, Espener pulled a magnificent save from the Whitehill keeper, taking a fine first touch with his left before firing a powerful drive at goal from 15 yards, fingertips touching over the bar for a corner.
|(click to enlarge)||(click to enlarge)|
On 30 minutes, same striker, different outcome as Espener made a little bit of history in scoring the first competitive goal for the Colts in Senior football. Some fine passing football on the right between Selkirk, Duncan and Oliver fed the ball to Ballantyne offering from deep. The midfielder only needed one touch to float a perfect cross in the direction of Espener who, as the Visitors claimed for offside, volleyed powerfully first time with his left from 10 yards into the bottom corner.
And excellent finish from the striker following a fine piece of football, the fans appreciating the moment from the stands.
Unfortunately for the home side things would turn before half time, starting in the 35th minute when a few slack passes put them under pressure, forcing the concession of a few corners where Whitehill were again unfortunate not to grab a leveller, 2 headers sneaking narrowly wide.
It was a warning not heeded though as the equaliser came on 41 minutes. A turnover of possession in midfield left the back four exposed with Devlin spinning into the inside left channel and moving onto a fine slide rule pass. With the forward using his pace to move away from Ward a moment of hesitation from Bell in the home goal allowed the forward time to get to the ball he may have smothered to take a touch around him before slotting into an empty net for 1-1.
And it was double pain for the home side on 44 minutes as Manson put the visitors 2-1 ahead. The move started on the Colts right with Welfare’s fullback making inroads wide before squaring the ball to Devlin. Devlin drove into the box beyond Brown, struggling badly to affect the play with what has now been confirmed as a double wrist break, squaring the ball to Manson who drilled into the bottom corner for 2-1.
2-1 at half time and despite the disappointing end to the half for the home side plenty to be happy with in their opening 45 minutes display.
As the second half started the wind and rain became heavier, Colts forced into their second change of the day with Broadfoot replacing the injured Brown in midfield. The forward almost had an immediate impact, collecting a ball in the hole before sliding an excellent reverse into the path of O’Neill, the midfielder unlucky to see the ball nicked off his toes in the box.
O’Neill was involved moments later as he skipped inside two challenges from the left and tried to play in the run of Selkirk, the Welfare defence clearing before Selkirk could tap home.
At the other end there was a heart in mouth moment for the Colts as a shot from distance took a huge deflection off the challenge of Benton before spinning narrowly wide with the keeper beaten, before a breakaway from the home side saw Espener curl narrowly over from 25 yards on his left.
On the hour Kirwin and O’Neill linked on the left, the fullback driving forward beyond his man and firing a wicked ball across goal with his left, finding that area between keeper and defence, Duncan narrowly missing out at the back post. And Duncan was nearly in again moments later as Broadfoot linked with Selkirk and Ballantyne to lift into the path of the wide man, his unorthodox challenge on the goalkeeper yielding no reward.
The home side were certainly looking for a leveller and when it came it was something a little special on 64 minutes from the impressive O’Neill.
Kirwin and Ballantyne linked in midfield to play the ball into the feet of the wide man with his back to goal on the left. With his first touch he flicked brilliantly beyond his marker to face himself up with the covering centre half. As the centre half closed a wonderful drop of the shoulder saw him skip through on goal and from 8 yards fire under the keeper with his right to level the match at 2-2.
An excellent individual goal appreciated by the fans and his teammates alike.
(Click to Enlarge)
(Click to Enlarge)
As the game ticked towards full time Duncan was replaced by Black on the right as both sides struggled to create chances to score a winner.
The Colts defence though was struggling to get up the park as a series of clearances were picked up by the visitors, keeping the pressure on. And that pressure told on 84 minutes as a lofted ball into the box was knocked down by the Whitehill forward into the path of Connolly who curled with his right foot into the bottom corner from 18 yards.
It was certainly a blow for the home side, but their reaction was telling as they refused to be beaten, moving forward immediately in search of a leveller.
It looked as though it may come right on full time as a ball into the box found Espener 6 yards out, but the tiring striker saw his effort blocked away at the last. O’Neill was next up, taking a wonderful touch beyond his man but the ball just wouldn’t fall for him to get his shot away. Ballantyne shot wide from distance before the last chance of the game fell to Black.
The wide man forced his way through on goal on the right and, from 16 yards on the angle when a cut back to Selkirk may have been the better option, he shot for goal pulling a save from the keeper low to his right.
2-3 it finished then and while the result will be disappointing to the Colts, for a brand new group playing their first game at this level there are certainly plenty of positives to build upon as the club looks to establish itself in the Lowland League. Next up is a tough home tie against last season’s runaway champions Edinburgh City where we hope to see as many people as possible inside Broadwood to cheer on their local team!