Late goal sinks Cumbernauld Colts in Lowland League debut

Cumbernauld Colts line up before their historic encounter with Whitehill Welfare
Cumbernauld Colts line up before their historic encounter with Whitehill Welfare

A battling display just wasn’t enough for Cumbernauld Colts as they took their bow in the ranks of senior football for the first time at Broadwood on Wednesday night.

On an historic night Colts went down 3-2 to Whitehill Welfare in their first ever Scottish Lowland League fixture.

As was perhaps to be expected given the occasion it took the home side time to settle into the game with Whitehill looking the more relaxed from the off.

And the Cumbernauld side suffered an early blow when ‘keeper McCurley was injured in a 12th minute collision with Whitehill striker Devlin and had to be replaced by youngster Jordan Bell.

But while losing McCurley was blow, the enforced break served to settle some of the early nerves and the home side looked far more relaxed in possession when play resumed.

After a fine move Duncan fired in a low drive which forced the Welfare keeper to save with his feet and Ballantyne flashed a volley from 25 yards narrowly wide

Selkirk tried his luck with a powerful drive which was blocked at the expense of a corner and Espener forced a magnificent save from the Whitehill keeper who fingertipped his fierce shot over the bar.

However there was a different outcome on the half hour as Espener made a little bit of history in scoring the first competitive goal for the Colts in senior football, volleying home a Ballantyne cross from 10 yards.

Unfortunately for the home side things would turn before half-time as Whitehill struck twice in three minutes just before the break.

Devlin equalised in 41 minutes when he moved onto a slide rule pass and rounded bell before slotting the ball home.

Three minutes later the visitors were in front, Devlin driving into the box beyond Brown - struggling badly with what was later diagnosed as a double wrist break - and squaring the ball to Manson who drilled it into the bottom corner.

Broadfoot replaced Brown at the break and almost had an immediate impact, sliding an excellent reverse into the path of O’Neill who was unlucky to see the ball nicked off his toes in the box.

At the other end there was an anxious moment for the home side as a shot from distance took a huge deflection off the challenge of Benton before spinning narrowly wide with the keeper beaten.

Duncan twice came close as Colts pushed for a leveller which came in 64 minutes.

Kirwin and Ballantyne linked in midfield to play the ball to O’Neill who brilliantly got past two defenders before firing under the keeper from eight yards for a superb individual effort.

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.

Unfortunately for Colts it came for Whitehill in 84 minutes when a lofted ball into the box was knocked into the path of Connolly who curled with his right foot into the bottom corner from 18 yards.

The Cumbernauld side immediately moved forward in search of an equaliser and Espener had an effort blocked before Ballantyne shot wide from distance.

The last chance of the game fell to Black who forced his way through on goal and fired in a low shot which forced a save when a cut back to Selkirk may have been the better option.

Despite the disappointment of defeat there were plenty of positives for Colts to take into their next game, against defending champions Edinburgh City, at Broadwood on Saturday.