|CB||5||Andy Ward (c)|
|16||Ross Ballantyne (vc)|
A bad day in Dalbeattie at the end of a bad opening week for the Cumbernauld men, the afternoon a tale of two poor performances. Firstly, a poor defensive display from the visitors, particularly in the opening quarter of the game, compounded by an equally poor showing from the man in the middle, his haste in making key decisions reflected in the nine players Colts ended the day with.
The Colts have more than a few issues in terms of personnel at the moment; George, Foggin, Morris, Ballantyne, Broadfoot and Selkirk already unavailable before Barclay was struck down with illness before the bus left Cumbernauld. Perhaps the best evidence of their current plight though was coach Graeme MacMillan, who last played competitively over two years ago, coming out of retirement to start at the heart of the visitors defence. His legs will have been sore on Sunday, particularly having ended with nine men, but the stopper didn't look out of place at all.
With so many issues at the end of a tough week the last thing the Colts needed was to concede another early goal, but unfortunately that's exactly what happened as a catalogue of defensive mistakes saw the home side play too easily around the Colts on their right, the forward finding himself all alone inside right and able to shoot at goal. Fahey did well to palm the effort away but Ramsay at left back was caught napping as his man walked off him to side foot home the rebound under no pressure. 3 minutes in and a goal behind.
It nearly got worse for the visitors as MacMillan had to stretch on the slide to turn away from the home forward heading through on goal before getting a little fortunate not to concede a foul on the edge of the area when turned, his experience halting the forward just enough to allow Ward to come over well and clear.
It wasn't to be 1-0 for long though, the home side grabbing a second before the twenty minute mark. A corner from the Dalbeattie right was floated to the back post where Ramsay, with what appeared an easy header clear, let the ball go with the home player picking up inside the area. He cut inside the Colts left back onto his right foot and fired across goal, Ward stooping to try and clear with his chest but only managing to divert beyond Fahey into the net with the keeper helpless.
O'Neill had the Colts only real chance of the game, a ball in from the left from Murray picking out the winger, his header from six yards squirming inches wide with the keeper helpless, with things quickly going from bad to worse for the men in yellow.
From their own attack Ramsay was allowed to be left 1v1 with the Dalbeattie attacker, a ball played down the line seeing both players in a foot race. As Ramsay slid in the striker got there first, knocking the ball down the line, the linesman having already raised his flag to signal the ball was out of play. Already committed to the tackle Ramsay's momentum saw him bring the striker down.
The red card was almost out of the officials pocket before any contact had been made, zero thinking time or consultation with his linesman, who was closer, taken. A harsh red, perhaps, Ramsay will perhaps concede he gave him the opportunity with a tackle that he didn't have to make with the ball already out of play, but the awarding of a free kick five yards inside the touchline for a ball that was out of play summed up the thought process.
Into the second half and there wasn't much in the way of goalmouth action, the home side unable to create much against the ten men of the Colts which prompted the visitors to change shape in order to try and get back into the game, Brown coming on to make two up front with Kavanagh.
It wasn't to be though as Brown lasted less than 10 minutes, becoming the second victim of unbelievably poor officiating. The striker robbed the home defender on the right touchline and turned inside, the defender having a grab at him as he moved away and the official waving for an advantage. The foul though resulted in the ball being further away from the striker, the "advantage” putting him into a challenge with the covering defender. On the stretch the forward blocked the clearance, the defender kicking through his foot.
Again, the red card was out of his pocket almost before any contact was made. And no further action taken for the pullback that resulted in the "advantage”, to rub salt in the wounds. An awful decision that summed up the way things have gone in the first week of competitive action for the Colts.
2-0 it finished, Colts playing 50 minutes or so with 10 and just over 20 with 9 men. Perhaps the only positive from the afternoon that they didn't capitulate, the nine who remained working hard to limit the damage. In the end though another hugely disappointing day as the wait for their first win of 2016/17 continues. Hopefully today was also a blip from a decisions perspective, otherwise, if the rules have indeed changed, not many games at any level around the world will end with the full complement of players this season!