Cumbernauld Colts slumped to a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Lanarkshire New Town rivals East Kilbride at Broadwood on Saturday.
Colts went into the match unhappy over EK boss Billy Stark’s pre-match comments hoping for a “strong referee” and that his players would not be singled out for “rough treatment”.
And they were left wondering they had an effect on an inexperienced referee’s decision to send off Colts’ Gavin Lachlan, effectively ending as contest what had up to then been an evenly balanced game.
Much of the first half was a midfield battle with chances relatively scarce, although Colts were unhappy no card was shown to an East Kilbride defender who prevented Jeff Fergus breaking through.
However the whole direction of the game was altered five minutes after the restart when Lachlan was shown a straight red card for what the referee deemed serious foul play, despite the Colts man seemingly making attempts to avoid the collision.
The home side’s feeling of injustice was compounded almost immediately when Kieran Gibbons latched onto the resultant free-kick and lashed the ball home after driving into the Colts’ penalty area.
Colts responded quickly and where unlucky not to draw level from a Craig Holmes shot from distance after he had cut inside from the right.
Colts then had a loud claim for handball from a corner turned down down, but their efforts with a man less were starting to take their toll.
And this was shown by East Kilbride’s second goal int he 69th minute as the home defence failed to cut out a through ball to Ross McNeil who calmly rounded Harry Purves in the Colts’ goal before slotting home.
A flurry of substitutions followed and had the visitors’ changes had their effect.
On 69 minutes, with his first touch, Bryan Prunty netted with his head after meeting a cross into the box by Adam Strachan.
Not to be outdone by his team mate, fellow substitute Declan Hughes netted for the away side with the pick of the goals when he rattled a 30-yard shot into the top corner.