Stagecoach West of Scotland Super League
Cumbernauld United snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Greenock Juniors at Ravenscraig Stadium on Saturday.
In a largely unimpressive league encounter the newly promoted locals somewhat fortunately were looking to take the full three points, as the game drew to a close. In the final five minutes, however, a stunning 25 yard goal from Jim Steele and a free kick from skipper Tony Fraser saw United come away with the spoils and secure their second successive league victory.
With top scorer Chris Zok unavailable through suspension United introduced their most recent signing Jake Fitzpatrick, on loan from Peterhead FC, on the left wing.
The opening stages of the match were pretty uneventful until in the 16th minute, Ross Foley on the left sent a low ball across the goalmouth, which caused some concern in the Greenock defence. The resulting corner kick reached Danny Boyle but the big United centre back’s header was well saved by Mark Monk in the home goal.
Almost immediately a Scott Upton cross found Dom O’Halloran’s head but again Monk saved the day. In this spell of United pressure Upton was catching the eye with some good play.
Greenock had their moments and shots from John Carter and Jamie McKenna tested Dave Buchanan in the United goal.
As the interval approached Craig Borland played a ball towards goal but Ross Foley’s effort was blocked by a home defender and the danger cleared.
Another Danny Boyle header cleared the bar before Greenock took the lead. The home team’s tactic of punting long balls up the park saw one such effort elude the United defence and Jamie McKenna wasted no time in dispatching the ball, past Dave Buchanan on the visiting goal.
Cumbernauld almost got a bizarre equaliser from kick off in the second half. A Greenock defender miskicked a clearance which went over his goalkeeper’s head but unluckily for United just missed the goal.
Things were not coming off for United although from a Tony Fraser free kick, a Danny Boyle header netted only to be disallowed for offside.
Paul Thomson replaced Jake Fitzpatrick, who looked promising, as manager John Queen tried to improve attacking options. Paul made an immediate impact with a good ball to Joe McCafferty. Joe sent a great low ball across which Monk in the Greenock goal stopped with some difficulty. Thomson, however, was adjudged to be dangerous when he slid in on the keeper and got a yellow card for his trouble.
Greenock’s McKenna missed a great chance for the homesters when he got past Craig Stewart but the striker shot past. Ryan Haxton then came on for Stewart.
Joe McCafferty was showing some form on United’s right wing as the visitors strived for an equaliser. Danny Boyle had yet another heading chance before john Renwick replaced Dom O’Halloran.
With time running out United suddenly found themselves on level terms when a clearance from the Greenock defence reached Jim Steele and Steeley’s left foot thunderbolt from 25 yards almost broke the net. This was no more than United deserved.
United tails were up, they surged forward and got their reward in the dying moments when a Tony Fraser free kick deflected off the Greenock defensive wall and beat Monk in the home goal.
There was more excitement in the last five or six minutes of the match than the previous 85 but United had grabbed three precious points and now look forward to Saturday’s away local derby against Kilsyth Rangers - kick off at Duncansfield 2pm.
The Cumbernauld Original Supporters’ Club bus for Kilsyth will leave Guy’s Meadow at 12.40pm and the Town Centre at 12.45pm.
Greenock: Monk, Orr, Doherty, Scott, Begley, L. Docherty, T. Docherty, Wilson, McKenna, Carter, Jamieson. Subs: Irvine, Berkley, A. Docherty, McCormick, Boyd.
United: Buchanan, Borland, Fraser, Stewart, Boyle, Foley, McCafferty, Upton, O’Halloran, Steele, Fitzpatrick. Subs: Ward, Thomson, Haxton, Renwick, Quinn.