Cumbernauld United conceded vital league points at Central Park on Saturday despite a second half fightback as a big, strong Blantyre Vics side grabbed the spoils.
Many of the United side will be feeling the effects of some fierce, uncompromising tackles experienced during their 2-1 Super League First Division defeat.
Blantyre made a strong start to the match as United struggled to settle to their usual game.
In the opening minutes United’s Alan Clark was the victim of a terrible tackle from Vics’ Graeme Watson who was shown the first of many yellow cards of the afternoon.
In the sixth minute the Cumbernauld team found themselves behind when Blantyre striker Craig Smith got the better of United’s Scott McHaffie some 40 yards out and ran on to shoot past Barry Fraser in the visiting goal.
When Alan Clark was again illegally tackled, Kieran Brown stepped up to send the free kick over the bar.
There was a worrying moment when Vics’ Davie Green, with no one near him, dropped to the ground.
But after treatment from both team physios the home player recovered to surprisingly continue playing.
United had now settled down to play some good football and Dale Clark, in full flight, was floored by Blantyre’s Shaun Gallagher who was cautioned by the referee.
In the 40th minute a great run at the home defence saw United’s Dylan McGuigan unleash a terrific shot which beat goalkeeper Kevin Macklin only to smash against the crossbar and rebound to safety. A lucky escape for the locals.
Then Steph McDonald and Davie Dickson had efforts at goal which came near.
Disaster then struck United when Vics’ dangerman, goalscorer Smith, became provider.
A great run by the striker took him to the byeline and his low cross eluded the Cumbernauld defence, giving Ryan Tiffany an easy tap in for the second goal.
Immediately following the break United got a goal back.
A James Brown long throw was back headed by McDonald and McGuigan looped the ball into the net.
The visitors were now the dominant force and there were some bad tempered moments as the locals were put under pressure to hang on.
Mikey McLaughlin and Kris Irvine replaced Scott McHaffie and Ross Foley for United as the Cumbernauld men looked for an equaliser.
Stevie Mullen also appeared as a substitute for McDonald but the game was littered with stoppages and further yellow cards as the home side struggled to hold out.
There were further unsavoury incidents in the closing minutes of the contest.
Blantyre substitute Steven Dynoch was cautioned for punching James Brown, surely a red card, and then Vics’ Graeme Watson was awarded a second yellow card, followed by a red just before the final whistle.
The draw leaves United seventh in the table and too close to the drop zone for comfort.
On Saturday they are at home to Yoker Athletic, kick-off 2pm.