Cumbernauld United begin new year with fine win at Craigmark

Alan Benton hit a double in Cumbernauld United's win (archive pic: Chloe Kelly).
Alan Benton hit a double in Cumbernauld United's win (archive pic: Chloe Kelly).

Cumbernauld United maintained their promotion challenge with a 4-1 win away to Craigmark Burntonians on Saturday.

But while United left Station Park in Dalmellington with three good league points, a young, energetic Burntonians side made the visitors work hard for their win.

Two goals from full-back Alan Benton and a sparkling first team debut from most recent signing Conor Scullion were highlights of the game.

A further plus for the United faithful was the appearance on the substitutes bench of last season's top scorer Chris Lennon, back after a long lay off.

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United began the match on a heavy pitch on the offensive and were rewarded in the fourth minute when, from a Scullion flag-kick, Stefan Law almost connected before Benton, following up, thrashed the ball past Elliott Masterton in the home goal.

It was just the start United wanted and they forced numerous corners as they attempted to add to their lead.

In the 22nd minute Chris Hall found Paddy McCabe who ran at the Craigmark defence only to be brought down in the box. Despite howls of protest from the United support the referee waved play on.

United then fell out of the game for a spell, the sticky ground being a leveller, and Craigmark applied some pressure.

Graeme Murphy in the Cumbernauld goal, however, was not unduly troubled, and Ross McCabe and Tony Stevenson were, as usual, solid in defence.

As the interval approached United got on top again and scored a second goal in the 44th minute when Paul Callander fired in a terrific shot from fully 35 yards which left home keeper Masterton stranded on his goal line.

After the break the home team resumed in determined fashion and thought that they had reduced the arrears when, after an excellent Graeme Murphy save, when he tipped the ball on to the bar, Craigmark's Dylan Thirtle netted the rebound, only to be adjudged offside.

United were soon in command again with Scullion prominent with some eye-catching play.

In the 74th minute Scullion got his reward for great play when, after Chris Hall had hit the crossbar, the flying forward saw his net bound shot helped on its way by Burntonians defender Fraser Lamont for United's third goal.

A minute later the locals reduced the leeway when substitute Aidan Connor's cross eluded everyone to land in the net.

United's response was instant when, following good work from sub Jamie Kennedy, the resultant corner kick gave Benton the opportunity to rocket the ball home for his second goal of the afternoon to put United 4-1 up and ensure a fine victory.