Cumbernauld United remain rooted in a relegation battle after going down 3-0 at fellow strugglers Maryhill on Saturday.
Despite the game being labelled as a “must win” for Andy Frame’s side in some quarters, they rarely looked like securing the points.
The Cumbernauld men did begin brightly and almost took an early lead when a Dylan McGuigan ball to Davie Dickson was flicked on by the United midfielder over the Hill goalkeeper Jack Baker but also unfortunately past the upright.
United were forcing the play, but were stunned in the 14th minute when Maryhill scored a fine goal.
Former Cumbernauld player Dale Clark, following a ball into the box, glided past oncoming United keeper Davie Buchanan to cross a great ball for Hill left winger Alex Docherty to send a powerful header into the net.
Spurred on by this opener Maryhill began to put pressure on United and frustration got the better of United coach JP McBride who was sent to the stand for upsetting the referee.
There was little action for the remainder of the first half with United’s display on the whole very disappointing.
After the break the visitors had an early chance to get on level terms when, following a Scott Murphy free-kick, Paddy McCabe sent over an inviting cross but disappointingly found no attackers to finish the move.
United full-back Stewart Nicholl was injured and while he received treatment, with United reduced to 10 men Maryhill, scored a second goal.
Substitute Lee McLelland headed home from a right-wing cross to give United a mountain to climb.
Ryan Tiffany replaced John Higgins to add to United’s options and was soon in action with a header which cleared the bar.
In the 72nd minute the home team were awarded a penalty when Billy Robb fouled Clark who had been a threat to United throughout the game.
Clark took the spot-kick himself and scored to put the match beyond the Cumbernauld men.
United had made little impression on the Maryhill defence until a terrific Murphy drive was brilliantly tipped over by Jack Baker in the home goal - the first time in the match Baker had been properly tested. The game ended with the locals good winners.
United with five games to play, all home matches, will need to improve to ensure Super First survival.
They play local rivals Kilsyth Rangers on Monday and Shettleston are the visitors to Guy’s Meadow on Wednesday, kick-offs 6.45pm.