KILBIRNIE Ladeside exacted revenge on United at Guy’s Meadow on Saturday. In August in the first league game of the season, Cumbernauld had won by an identical score in Ayrshire.
This important fixture, however, was spoiled by one of the many controversial decisions from an over-efficient referee. Midway through the first half, with United a goal ahead, the official showed United’s Paul Thomson a red card, a decision that even the visiting team felt was extremely harsh. This action ruined a potentially great contest, United having to then produce a backs-to-the-wall display to hold the very strong Ayrshire outfit. The locals fought valiantly, not going behind until well into the second period.
In front of a large attendance, United got the perfect start when they scored in the third minute of the match. A great cross from Craig Borland on the right found Dom O’Halloran in the clear in the penalty area and the young striker hit the ball under Kris Robertson in the Kilbirnie goal.
It was fast end-to-end football promising a great contest. One minute a fine move involving Jim Steele, Kenny Jarvis and Paul Hanlon threatened the Kilbirnie goal, the next United’s goalkeeper Dave Buchanan had to bring off a great save from Ladeside’s Darren McLean.
Dom O’Halloran had a chance to put the locals further ahead in the 15th minute but Kilbirnie keeper Robertson made an excellent stop. The visitors were desperate for an equalising goal but United’s defence was solid. Midway through the half, however, came the incident that ruined the match when Paul Thomson was ordered off for use of the elbow after he and a Kilbirnie defender jumped for a ball.
There was absolutely no intention on Paul’s part to foul his opponent nor was there any strong reaction from the visitors, but the referee decided he had to go. This decision and many others, including half a dozen bookings, some of them for trivial incidents, did not endear Mr Crozier to the fans.
If United’s task against the strong Ayrshire side was hard to begin with, it was now nigh impossible to expect the Cumbernauld boys to hold out for three quarters of the game.
To make matters worse the referee awarded Kilbirnie a penalty kick when Kenny Jarvis unfortunately slid into a visiting attacker. To great acclaim from the United faithful Dave Buchanan in the United goal brought off a tremendous save from Ryan Smillie.
Kilbirnie were exerting a lot of pressure and there were near things at the United goal. Scott Gair and David McGeown, of the visitors, both ballooned balls over the bar when it seemed easier to score.
After the break, in the 52nd minute, the Ayrshire men got the equaliser when a Josh Mullen cross found David McGeown in the clear and his fine header gave Dave Buchanan no chance.
United were not completely out of the picture and when Joe McCafferty won a corner Nico Petrucci found Kenny Jarvis who shot narrowly past. Kenny was then replaced by Jack Sloss, manager John Queen attempting to introduce fresh legs to the locals.
Kilbirnie’s second goal was a carbon copy of their first. A cross from the right saw McGeown send home another good header.
Try as they might United were finding it difficult to stem the tide towards their goal. In the 83rd minute Chris Craig scored an excellent goal when he curled a ball round the United defence and into the net via a post.
Ryan Smillie completed the scoring just before the final whistle.
This victory sees Kilbirnie leapfrog United in the league table. They now seem firm favourites to win promotion.
This Saturday, United are on Scottish Cup duty when they travel to Fife to face Kelty Hearts in the fourth round of the National Trophy. This will be a stern test for Cumbernauld against the strong East of Scotland Super League side.
The Cumbernauld United Original Supporters Club bus on Saturday for Kelty will leave the Town Centre north side stop at 11.25am and Guy’s Meadow at 11.35am.
United: Buchanan, Borland, Hanlon, Petrucci, Boyle, Jarvis, McCafferty, Thomson, McLaughlin, Steele, O’Halloran. Subs: Hill, Sloss, C. Stewart, Quinn.
Kilbirnie: Robertson, Mullin, Dillon, MacDonald, Gair, Blair, McLean, McGeown, Smillie, Craig, Archdeacon. Subs; Friels, Swift, Morrow, Bristow, Cowie.