Kieran McAleenan proved hero and villain for Cumbernauld United as they were held to a hard-fought draw by Neilston at Guy’s Meadow.
The midfielder got the goal from the penalty spot which earned the promotion hopefuls a point, but then missed another spot-kick which would probably have earned them all three
United were dealt a blow when top scorer Scott Thomson was declared unfit but there was a welcome return for Chris Hall making his first start in four weeks.
In front of a decent crowd United were first to threaten when a Paddy McCabe ball across the goal was missed by the inrushing Hall.
In the next attack McCabe was unlucky, when cutting in from the left, to see his effort deflected for a corner.
The visitors gradually came into the game and from a free-kick 25 yards out Robbie Halliday’s shot was easily dealt with by Darren Hill.
On the half-hour Neilston made the breakthrough when a slack pass in midfield allowed Daryl Convery to advance in the United penalty area and with a neat turn he was fouled, resulting in a spot kick which Dylan Fletcher tucked away with ease.
As half-time approached United were dominating territory without creating any clear cut chances with keeper Kyle Pirie commanding in the Neilston goal.
United started the second half on the front foot and got back on level terms on 47 minutes when Hall was played in by McCabe and, after some clever footwork, was upended by Halliday. McAleenan converted, despite Pirie getting a hand to the ball.
As United pushed forward at every opportunity a great through ball by Jamie Macdonald put Hall in on goal again, only this time Paul Doyle’s mistimed tackle was deemed outside the area.
United then suffered a blow when Hall pulled up with what looked like a recurrence of his previous injury and was replaced by John McStay.
And when the big striker was pulled down by Allan Diack in the 88th minute United were awarded another penalty which had the home faithful anticipating another three points.
But man of the match Pirie had other ideas and pulled off a fine save, palming the ball around the post.
It was a disappointing end to a game where United never really got going and over the piece Neilston couldn’t be grudged their point.