Cumbernauld United went down 4-2 to Championship promotion rivals Benburb in the quintessential game of two halves at Govan on Saturday.
Facing a tough test against a side with just one league defeat all season, the afternoon got off to a disastrous start for the visitors.
In the first minute skipper Paul Murphy was adjudged to have illegally brought down Benburb’s Kyle Richford. The decision was hotly disputed and Murphy was yellow carded, but the award stood and Kieran Mulcahy converted the spot kick to put the Govan team ahead.
After this unfortunate start United eventually settled to play excellent football. A great Stefan Law run worried the home men and a good Scott McManus effort had to be tipped over his crossbar by Bens goalkeeper Ryan McWiliams.
United continued to impress and got their reward in the 20th minute. Law won the ball and passed to Chris Hall and the big striker chipped the ball across the goal to McManus who got in front of a defender to head past McWilliams.
Cumbernauld were dominant at this stage and after Law shot past from a Conor Stevenson free-kick, McManus threatened again with a great header which hit the bar and went over.
On the half-time whistle it seemed that United could go on and record a fine victory but Bens had other ideas.
YOU MIGHT ALSO BE INTERESTED IN: Kilsyth Rangers beaten at Irvine Victoria
The Govan men seized the initiative immediately after the restart and United keeper Graeme Murphy had to make an excellent save following a free-kick.
In the 53rd minute Murphy made another fine stop to prevent Bens substitute Scott Jarvie, who was clean through on goal, putting the home men in front.
But Benburb’s lively forwards were causing the United defence a lot of trouble and on the hour Willie McLaren broke through to put Bens ahead.
After a Graeme Murphy double save, a lapse in the United defence allowed Jarvie to score number three for Benburb, and shortly afterwards Mulcahy won a midfield tussle with Paul Murphy and ran on to score the fourth.
United scored a consolation goal two minutes from time when Ross McCabe headed home from a Conor Stevenson free-kick.