|CB||4||Robbie McNab (Trialist)|
|CB||5||Andy Ward (c)|
|15||Ryan Milne (u20)|
|77||16||Curtis Rose (Trialist)|
|17||Colin Galbraith (Trialist)|
|18||Salim Kouider-Aissa (Trialist)|
Colts 2016/17 season started at home as the Broadwood men played host to Gretna 2008 on a warm July afternoon in Cumbernauld. With a fourth place finish in their maiden season, having picked up six points along the way against todays visitors, the Colts would have been looking to get off to a positive start.
Managers Orr and McKinlay did have more than a few selection headaches though with O'Neill, Broadfoot, Selkirk, Ballantyne, Foggin, Morris, Brown and Kirwan all unavailable for selection. That's last season's top three goalscorers, top 3 assistors and a man who scored 6 from fullback while playing more games than anyone else in the squad. Quite the group of missing players!
In truth though it wasn't attacking issues that hurt the Colts most on the day, it was a defensive frailty that flirted with both the comedic and the tragic, gifting their visitors a three goal lead inside half an hour. Often there is some creative license taken when a game is described in terms of one team having all of the ball and the other scoring with every attack, but this was the reality for Colts on Saturday.
The home side opened reasonably well, moving the ball around and probing at the visiting defence, winning an early corner on their left. As the game moved into its fourth minute the home side had enjoyed nearly all of the possession, Gretna looking to stay solid and not allow their hosts to play through. Then a slack pass from Glackin in midfield allowed the visitors to break, playing long towards their striker who was fouled 40 yards from goal by Ward.
From the free kick Gretna delivered into the box where the Gretna man ran off Barclay to plant a free header into the top corner beyond Fahey. One attack, inside the home box once and one up, Fahey's first involvement in the game picking it out of his net, the keeper left exposed from the delivery with no chance of keeping it out.
As the game restarted it settled back into the same pattern, Colts enjoying the vast majority of the ball with the visitors content to play long and try and hit on the counter, unsurprising given how easy they were finding it to get the ball to their front man and get up in support of him.
Despite creating a couple of decent openings their possession didn't yield an effort that tested the Gretna keeper and on 11 minutes the home side found themselves two down. Ward attempted to head a long ball forward back to Fahey but misjudged the flight, the keeper having to scamper out of his area to play out for a throw before the Gretna forward nipped in to score. The throw was taken quickly, the home side allowing it into feet far too easily. With Glackin and Ramsay in attendance the Gretna player was put under little pressure, delivering a right foot cross that took out Fahey and led to a simple two yard headed tap in for the visiting forward.
In the Colts box twice in 11 minutes and two nil to the good.
When the game resumed it was much the same pattern again, the home side with the majority of the ball and Gretna looking direct on the counter. In the next 15 minutes or so though the home side did at least create a few chances and ought to have got themselves back in the game.
First Glackin found himself free 12 yards out, played through by Hunter, his effort a little too straight making it comfortable for the keeper. Black then fizzed an effort over the top before Murray forced a save from distance. Ward headed towards goal from a black corner, leading to a fine save from the Gretna number 1 before Hunter, two yards out, missed the ball from a Black cross where any touch would have been a goal.
And the home side paid for their profligacy as they conceded a third on half an hour. A throw on the left was helped down the line by the Gretna winger, their striker coming over to spin McNab in the right channel. His touch was heavy though, it ought to have been tidied up by the covering defender, but Ward had left too much space between him and his partner, caught in no-man's land and unable to affect the play, the striker able to comfortably retrieve his own heavy touch before picking out his teammate at the back post, Ramsay not close enough to stop him side footing into the net for 3-0.
In the box three times, three shots on goal and a 3-0 lead, the very definition of efficient from the visitors, calamitous perhaps the most apt description for the Colts.
As half time approached the home side did at least manage to give themselves an outside chance of hauling themselves back into the game, their standout player on the day Black latching onto a Ronald through ball to lift over the keeper for 3-1.
Into the second half and Pirrie replaced Glackin in midfield as the Colts looked to up the tempo of their play to try and grab a route back in. It wasn't to be though, despite Hunter turning a Black corner into the net with two minutes remaining, the game finishing 2-3.
The Colts did have a late chance to grab a point, substitute Rose heading straight at the keeper from a couple of yards when he may have done better, but in truth it would have been a point the Colts didn't deserve as Gretna had the better chances second half, Fahey with two fine saves in between the visitors hitting the post with the goal gaping.
A wake up call for the home side, hopefully. If they have any ambition to be challenging at the top end of this league again this season they will certainly need to address their collective and individual failings from today's indescribably bad day at the office. They will get the chance quickly with two very hard games, against Hamilton in the Challenge Cup and Dalbeattie Star in the league, in the next six days.