Milanda avoid relegation with almost the last kick of the season.
Roddy MacDonald is player of the year
Russell Lawson is top goalscorer
Martin Coyle and Andy Scott hang up their boots after many years sterling service
Milanda's score always comes first)
1 - 0
4 - 3
own goal, Johnstone, Ross, Preston
8 - 0
O'Neill, Lawson 4, Grehan, Coyle 2
9 - 6
own goal, Grehan 2, Russell, Lawson 2, Miele, Coyle 2, 1 pen
2 - 1
4 - 5
MacDonald 2, O’Neill, MacDougall
1 - 4
1 - 4
Kings Park Rovers
2 - 2
Kelly, Coyle pen - Milanda win 5-4 on penalties
0 - 1
2 - 2
1 - 2
5 - 2
Lawson 2 (1 pen), MacDonald 2, Kelly
1 - 3
2 - 3
2 - 3
Lawson (pen), Johnstone
5 - 3
Grehan, Kelly, MacDonald (3)
1 - 1
Red Star Baillieston
2 - 1
6 - 2
Preston, MacDonald, MacDougall, Lawson (3)
3 - 1
Kelly, MacDonald, O’Neill
3 - 1
Johnstone (2), Lawson
2 - 3
Johnstone, own goal
Red Star Ballieston
2 - 5
1 - 4
4 - 4
Kelly, Lawson, O’Neill, Evans
Pre Season Friendly - Colquhoun Park, Bearsden
Friendly: Crosslands 0 AC Milanda 1 (Scott).
SQUAD: Fawns, Ross, O'Neill, Evans, Difolco, Lawson, Grehan, MacDonald, Scott, Coyle, Miele, Binnie, Malone, Duncan.
AC MILANDA got their season up and running with a friendly success against Crosslands.
A total of 14 players turned up and were given a good workout in preparation for the three sectional League Cup games ahead against Hamilton Wanderers, Glenavon and Abronhill Intrans.
But Milanda were fortunate to win the game because the home side deserved a draw.
The winner came after just five minutes. Andy Scott burst down the left and his powerful delivery into the box was diverted into his own net by one of the Crosslands defenders.
Milanda had one or two chances after that but there was a bit of rustiness in their play and they didn't really come close to adding to their tally.
Craig Fawns had a couple of excellent saves and Crosslands passed up some good openings, especially in the second half.
To sum up, not an enthralling match but one that served its purpose.
MOM: Everyone got pass marks at least but Dave O'Neill was particularly good at the heart of Milanda's defence and just pipped Craig Fawns, Kevin Grehan, Roddy MacDonald and David Miele for the award.
William Drummond Trophy sectional tie. Hamilton Palace.
Hamilton Wanderers 3, AC Milanda 4 (own goal, Johnstone, Ross, Preston)
Team: Fawns, Ross, Evans, O’Neill (Preston), Difolco, Duncan, Grehan, McDonald, Scott, Coyle, Johnstone.
SCOTT PRESTON marked his return to Milanda colours by scoring the winner in a sectional League Cup tie that could have gone either way.
Games against teams from a lower league have a habit of proving tough for Milanda and this was no exception.
Wanderers looked the better team in the second half and when they were 3-2 ahead with 10 minutes to go it looked as if they would be keeping the points.
However, that was the wake-up call the visiting team seemed to need and they capped a great fightback with Preston’s late clincher.
Milanda had problems putting a team on the park due to injuries, holidays and other factors but thankfully Martin Johnstone came out of retirement to make up a squad of 12.
The early signs were promising for Milanda and they went ahead, albeit with an own goal, after 15 minutes. A chipped through pass by Johnstone for Paul Duncan had the home defence stretched and one of the Wanderers defenders headed it past his advancing keeper.
But the Milanda defence looked none too clever when Wanderers levelled two minutes later with a low shot into the corner from the left side of the box.
Milanda went ahead again after 21 minutes when Johnstone headed a superb goal from a Paul Ross delivery.
Wanderers dominated from then until the break and should have scored again from at least one of a number of free-kicks carelessly conceded with rash tackles.
Craig Fawns came to the rescue at the start of the second half with a fantastic save from a header following a free-kick.
But he was helpless in the 63rd minute when Wanderers equalised, although there seemed to be some doubt as to whether or not the ball crossed the line. Referee Alex Miller decided it had and, on the balance of play, it was deserved.
Fawns produced another piece of magic to deny the home team before Milanda hit on the break with one of their better attacks. This one ended with Johnstone having a close-range shot saved from Duncan’s perfect pass.
Wanderers went 3-2 up in the 80th minute and that really gave Milanda something to think about.
Too many promising build-ups had been spoiled by poor passing, with Andy Scott one of the few players to regularly find a team-mate.
However, suddenly everything improved and Milanda’s pressure paid off with an 83rd-minute equaliser. Duncan floated a free-kick into the box and Ross rose to head home a beauty.
The Wanderers keeper then kept out a Johnstone header from Duncan’s cross but Milanda kept pushing and scored the winner with four minutes to go.
Again Duncan provided the free-kick but this time Ross’s header was drifiting wide until Martin Coyle stretched to cut the ball back across goal for Preston – just back in the squad after a year out of football – to knock it home.
So a welcome win in the end but Wanderers would be justified in feeling they merited a draw.
MOM: Not too many players could be satisfied with their overall performance. But Martin Coyle and Martin Johnstone caught the eye up front and either would have been worthy of the honour had it not been for the performance of Craig Fawns who made crucial saves at key points in the game.
Stepford. William Drummond Trophy sectional tie
AC Milanda 8 (O'Neill, Lawson 4, Grehan, Coyle 2) Glenavon 0
Team: Fawns, Ross, O'Neill, Evans, Difolco, Duncan (Miele), McDonald (Murray), Grehan (MacDougall), Russell, Coyle, Lawson. Subs not used: Binnie, Preston.
MILANDA strolled to an easy victory to make it six points out of six from their League Cup section.
Glenavon, who operate two divisions below Milanda, were missing 12 players from their squad and rarely looked like causing any problems.
It took Milanda nearly half-an-hour to make the breakthrough but after that the result was never in doubt.
Defender Dave O'Neill got the party started with a close-range finish from Russell Lawson's corner in the 29th minute.
Seven minutes later, it was 2-0. Rod McDonald created the opening by winning the ball in midfield and playing in Lawson who rounded the keeper before finishing from a tight angle.
Five minutes before the break, Kevin Grehan set up Lawson to score his second with a shot that the keeper touched but could only help into the net.
Just after the restart, Lawson completed his hat-trick with a low shot that looked a winner all the way as it fizzed into the net.
Lawlor turned provider minutes later to set up Grehan to shoot No.5.
Grehan returned the compliment by providing Lawson with his fourth of the morning.
Martin Coyle, who had gone close in the first half with an exquisite effort following a tremendous passing move, then got in on the act by scoring the seventh and the eighth with excellent finishing.
The game was so one-sided that the referee cut the game five minutes short at Glenavon's request after consulting with Milanda.
In fact, it could have been a bigger landslide because Gary Difolco, Paul Murray, David Miele, Rod McDonald, Mark Russell, Paul Ross and Neil MacDougall all had chances to score but didn't take them.
MOM: A good overall performance with the team's passing improving as the game progressed. No failures on the day but man of the match has to go to Russell Lawson who scored four goals and assisted in three others. A superb morning's work.
William Drummond Trophy sectional tie. Stepford.
AC Milanda 9 (own goal, Grehan 2, Russell, Lawson 2, Miele, Coyle 2, 1 pen) Abronhill Intrans 6
Team: Fawns, Ross, Preston (O’Neill), Evans, Binnie, Miele, Grehan, Russell (Scott), Murray, Coyle, Johnstone.
MILANDA finished top of their League Cup section after making it three wins on the trot in a bizarre match.
They were 5-0 up at half-time and 7-1 ahead midway through the second half but started to play sloppy football and ended up winning by just three goals.
In fact, Abronhill won the second half 6-4 and that should never have happened.
Hopefully, the form slump was down to the fact that the game was already in the bag because Milanda won’t get away with this kind of nonsense in what promises to be a tough league campaign.
There was no sign that the game would produce such an unusual scoreline in a first half dominated by the home side.
Milanda were in control from the start and should have scored a couple of times before an own goal from a Russell Lawson cross gave them the opener after seven minutes. It looked as if Martin Coyle had got a touch but he refused to claim it after the game – a world football first.
It was 2-0 three minutes later thanks to some great build-up play. Coyle flicked the ball to Paul Murray and his first-time knock put in Kevin Grehan to fire past the keeper.
Mark Russell made it 3-0 after 34 minutes from a Coyle back-heel and previous good play in the lead-up from Lawson and Murray.
Lawson scored the fifth with the cutest of flicks from a corner delivered low to the near post by Murray.
Number five was a superb counter-attacking goal with Coyle and Grehan combining to send David Miele through for a clinical finish, although he was fortunate that the referee did not hear his call of “leave it” in the build-up – a fact that incensed the Abronhill players.
Abronhill had rarely threatened in the first half apart from one move that brought out a fine double save from Craig Fawns.
So it looked like more of the same in the second half when Coyle had an early chip cleared off the line with the keeper nowehere.
But Abronhill pulled one back before Grehan made it 6-1 from a Miele pass.
Substitute Andy Scott did well to set up Lawson for a shot that made it 7-1 before Abronhill got it back to 7-2.
Second substitute Dave O’Neill was brought down for a penalty that was converted by Coyle to make the score 8-2 but there were still more than 20 minutes left and time for another five goals.
Sadly, Milanda scored only one of them, a cracking first-time shot by Coyle from Lawson’s pass to make it 9-4.
Abronhill showed good energy and commitment in the final minutes but Milanda had switched off all over the park and ended up with a scoreline that was a tad embarrassing.
MOM: A number of good performances in the first hour but the best of them came from Martin Coyle and so takes the accolade this time. Abronhill struggled to cope with his strength and ability to hold the ball up and this played a huge part in Milanda building a healthy lead.
KGV Bearsden. GDSML
Allander 1, AC Milanda 2 (Macdonald. Grehan)
TEAM: Fawns, Ross, O’Neill, Evans, Murray, McColgan (Coyle), MacDougall (Preston), Grehan, Russell (Difolco), Macdonald, Miele.
MILANDA opened their league campaign much as they had done the previous season with a narrow win over Allander at Bearsden.
Roddy Macdonald had scored the only goal of the 2010-2011 opener and this time he was on the scoresheet again along with Kevin Grehan in a 2-1 win.
Based on possession, Milanda should have won this match more easily than they did but a combination of poor finishing, poor decision making and good goalkeeping by ex-Milanda No.1 Chris Preston ensured there was doubt about full points going back up the road until the final whistle.
Allander played some good football but lacked a cutting edge in the final third and therefore didn’t trouble keeper Craig Fawns too often.
Milanda on the other hand created numerous chances but had trouble converting them into goals.
Preston had a big hand in that, especially in the first half. Dave O’Neill thought he had got the better of him in the 21st minute when he met Grehan’s corner with a powerful header but Preston rose to tip the ball over the bar.
From the resulting corner, Paul Murray’s delivery was met by Grehan and this time the header came back off the bar.
O’Neill got his head to another Grehan corner after 37 minutes and this time Preston dived low to turn the ball round the post.
Two minutes later a goal finally arrived - but at the “wrong” end. Milanda were pressing when the attack petered out with a poor cross by Mark Russell and Allander broke upfield. Gerry Evans looked as if he would deal with the danger but slipped twice on the greasy surface at vital moments and the home striker ran through to score.
Milanda hit back quickly and Neil MacDougall came close with a low shot before the equaliser arrived four minutes from the break.
Russell made up for his earlier mistake with the perfect pass down the inside-left channel and Macdonald took it in his stride to fire a low first-time shot into the net.
A score of 1-1 at the break seemed an unfair reflection of the first 45 minutes and Milanda knew they had an uphill task, literally, in the second period.
But they set about it the right way and were unlucky again when Macdonald laid the ball back for Grehan who thumped in a shot that beat Preston and thudded off the bar.
Grehan fired another effort too high and Paul Murray had one scrambled round the post by Preston before the killer goal arrived in the 67th minute.
A Murray corner was headed on by David Miele and as the ball ran free in the box Grehan reacted quickest to force it home from close range.
Milanda managed to hang on for victory without ever looking like adding to their lead and in the end it was a hard-earned but welcome three points.
MOM: Midfielders Marc McColgan, Kevin Grehan, Neil MacDougall and Mark Russell, put in tremendous shifts as did David Miele up front but they were just outshone by Roddy Macdonald who led the line superbly and scored an excellent goal.
AC Milanda 4 (Macdonald 2, O’Neill, MacDougall), Garnethill Rovers 5
TEAM: Fawns, Preston, O’Neill, Evans (Ross), Difolco (Kelly), McColgan, MacDougall, Grehan, Murray, Macdonald, Coyle (Miele).
MILANDA suffered their first defeat of the season on what turned out to be a disastrous day.
A 3-0 lead squandered, Scott Preston sent off, three players, including keeper Craig Fawns, injured … not the best Saturday morning we’ve ever had.
It started off so well but even before being reduced to 10 men there were signs that all was not well when 3-0 suddenly turned into 3-3.
Players seemed to think the game was won and became sloppy. A bit of fight returned at 4-3 down and the 10 deserve praise for getting the score back to 4-4 but they couldn’t hold on for the final agonising minutes.
The only plus point of the day was the return of Colin Kelly after his serious injury. Great to see him back running about a pitch again.
Manager Alan McMillan admitted after the game he had made a mistake in his team selection but the early signs were good when a 3-0 lead was achieved inside 25 minutes. Sometimes teams gain a quick advantage and it flatters them but not this time.
Milanda were in control straight away and scored after 12 minutes. The Garnethill keeper made an excellent save to deny Martin Coyle but at the expense of a corner and Paul Murray’s deliver was powerfully headed home at the near post by Rod Macdonald.
Three minutes later, it was 2-0. A Kevin Grehan corner was only partially cleared, Marc McColgan had a shot at goal and one of the visiting defenders hit a clearance that bounced off defender Dave O’Neill and bounced over the line. He didn’t know much about it but was happy to claim the goal.
Milanda scored again after 24 minutes when a good counter-attack saw Coyle set up Macdonald to get ahead of his marker and steer the ball into the corner of the net.
It was then that things started to go wrong. Garnethill began to get a grip of the game and showed good movement to set up numerous chances.
They needed only 12 minutes to take three of them and were back on terms by the 41st minute.
Two minutes later, referee Alex Miller sent off Scott Preston for violent conduct in retaliating to an innocuous foul.
With a cause to fight for, the 10 remaining players actually improved and started threatening to the Garnethill goal again in the second half.
Milanda should have scored from a Murray cross but Kevin Grehan and Macdonald seemed to get in each other’s way and no header on target materialised.
But it was Garnethill who scored next for a 4-3 lead when their striker beat Fawns to a low cross and knocked the ball into the net, injuring the keeper in the process.
But back came Milanda and Neil MacDougall equalised with a cool finish from close range after McColgan had fired the ball into the box from the right.
Milanda pulled Macdonald back into defence and replaced the limping Gerry Evans and Gary Difolco in an effort to hold on to a point in a frantic finale.
Fawns, despite his injury, saved one goalbound effort superbly with his outstretched right foot and it looked as if Milanda might just achieve their target.
However, Garnethill got a lucky break of the ball from McColgan out on the left and it was played inside for the shot at goal that proved decisive.
MOM: Dave O’Neill was a contender with a superb first 20 minutes but seemed to suffer in the general malaise that followed the team taking a 3-0 lead. Martin Coyle worked hard up front and Marc McColgan never stopped trying in midfield but the outstanding player again was two-goal Rod Macdonald who did not deserve to be on the losing side. Most of the others played well in patches and that simply isn’t enough to survive in what will be a cut-throat top ten Premier League.
Invac 4 AC Milanda 1 (Kelly)
TEAM: Fawns, Ross (Difolco), O’Neill, Evans, Moray, Miele (Duncan), Macdonald, McColgan, Kelly, Lawson, Coyle. Subs not used: Binnie, Scott.
MILANDA shipped three more league points with another poor performance.
Invac dominated from start to finish and were simply too strong for a Milanda side that was, admittedly, under strength.
Late call-offs by midfielders Neil MacDougall and Kevin Grehan meant a reshuffled line-up took the field.
Milanda were a goal down after less than five minutes. The defence switched off at a throw-in from the left and that left the Invac player with a simple knock-in from close range.
Martin Coyle headed wide from a Russell Lawson free-kick but that was as close as Milanda came to scoring in a first half that ended with Invac making it 2-0 following a cross from the left.
Further poor defending saw Invac score two more goals in the 62nd and 82nd minutes to make the points safe.
A late flurry of attacks saw Milanda make one or two chances. Colin Kelly, making his first start after injury, passed up a couple of good openings and Lawson thumped a terrific volley against the keeper’s right-hand post.
Milanda scored a consolation goal through Kelly three minutes from time after Paul Murray had put him through.
No complaints about the result, the better team won. Trouble is they won far too easily.
Too many players are not doing enough and it looks as if Milanda are in for their third season on the trot fighting relegation.
The defending this season, even in games that have been won, has been diabolical and this must improve. It is not all down to the defence, though, because defending when we don’t have the ball is the job of everyone.
MOM: Martin Coyle, Marc McColgan, Colin Kelly and Rod Macdonald were the hardest workers in the team, Russell Lawson also did his fair share and produced some good touches up front and Craig Fawns prevented a bigger embarrassment with some good saves. However, it was not a performance that merited a man of the match award so it is withheld this week.
Strathclyde University 4, AC Milanda 1 (Macdonald)
TEAM: Harkins, Ross, Coyle, Evans, Difolco, Lawson, MacDougall (O’Neill), Grehan (Duncan), Kelly, Moray (Scott), Macdonald. Sub not used: Preston.
MILANDA changed their team and produced a better performance but still ended up losing.
A goal up against a good University side, the visiting team missed a couple of good chances to increase their lead and paid a heavy price.
With Craig Fawns injured, Milanda field trialist Liam Harkins in goal behind a back four that featured skipper Martin Coyle in the unfamiliar role of centre-half.
The early signs were good as Milanda dominated and scored the first goal. Colin Kelly burst forward from midfield and hit a shot that the keeper coulod only parry, allowing Rod Macdonald to clip home the loose ball.
Macdonald could have made it two from a superb Paul Moray cross but his close-range header was saved by the keeper.
Kelly had a shot blocked at the far post as Milanda continued to look the more dangerous side.
However, the game turned in the 20th minute when Strathclyde caught Milanda out with a quickly-taken free-kick. Gary Difolco brought down one of their strikers as he burst into the box and the penalty was converted.
Mistakes were made again as Strathclyde added two more quick goals for a 3-1 interval lead.
Milanda were still very much in the game and always looked capable of nicking the second goal that would provide a tight finish.
However, a couple of good openings were wasted and Strathclyde scored their fourth from a suspiciously offside position to make sure of the points.
MOM: Although this was Milanda’s third straight league defeat, they performed better as a unit than they had done in the previous two games. Liam Harkins had no chance with the goals and produced a good late stop to prevent Strathclyde making it 5-1. Martin Coyle looked comfortable at the back and Paul Ross was more like his old self at right-back. Russell Lawson was the pick of the midfielders and Rod Macdonald put in a good shift as the lone striker. Colin Kelly supported him well at the start but a needless booking for swearing left him walking a tightrope in terms of staying on the pitch and he was a bit subdued as a result. Substitutes Dave O’Neill, Paul Duncan and Andy Scott also contributed when they went on. In fact, most of the players did well in bursts at least but the best overall performance came from centre-back Gerry Evans so he wins man of the match.
Stepford. GDSML Cup 1st round.
Kings Park Rovers 2, AC Milanda 2 (Kelly, Coyle pen). Milanda win 5-4 on penalties
TEAM: Fawns, Binnie, Coyle, Evans, Difolco (MacDougall), Ross, Duncan, O’Neill, Kelly, Scott (Preston), Lawson.
MILANDA took their place in the second round of the GDSML Cup but only after a penalty shootout.
They twice had to come from behind against the Second Division new boys to force the spot-kick contest despite being in control for large chunks of the game.
On paper, Premier League Milanda should have won comfortably but on grass it turned out to be a different story.
Kings Park, who had given up home advantage after their pitch was deemed unplayable, weathered Milanda’s early storm and began to play some good football. They took the lead against the run of play but when they did so a second time it looked as if a shock might be on the cards.
But Milanda showed a bit of character in the second half and deserved to go through in the end.
The Kings Park keeper made good early saves to deny Andy Scott and Russell Lawson before Paul Duncan fired another effort just over after making space for himself on the edge of the box.
Colin Kelly was just off target with a free-kick and then Dave O’Neill had a goal rightly ruled out for offside.
It was pretty much one-way traffic but Milanda didn’t capitalise and paid the penalty when their opponents scored after a quick breakaway.
The response was immediate, though, and the tie was level a minute later when Gary Difolco hit a lovely ball through for Kelly to outpace the defence and produce a neat finish.
Poor defending allowed Kings Park to reach the break 2-1 up and a few harsh words were exchanged during the half-time team talk.
Milanda knew they had it in them to turn things around but they weren’t to know that luck would not be on their side.
The keeper made a good save from Kelly after Duncan had set him up and then skipper Martin Coyle’s chipped through pass for Lawson was missed by everyone and seemed to have cross the Kings Park goal line before one of their defenders booted it out. However, the referee could not be sure from his position and, with no linesmen to assist him, was unable to award a goal.
Milanda just couldn’t get a rub of the green and this was highlighted again when Kelly hit a shot off one post and Paul Ross struck the other post with his attempt from the rebound.
Finally, after 70 minutes, a break. Scott powered into the box and was brought down, giving Coyle the chance to make it 2-2 from the penalty. As Scott limped off with an ankle knock, the team captain did just that.
There was ample to time to get a winner but the keeper produced a breathtaking save to tip over a netbound Kelly shot and from the corner substitute Scott Preston headed a great chance too high.
So on we went to penalties and keeper Craig Fawns got Milanda off to a great start by saving Kings Park’s first effort. Milanda then scored five in a row, the scorers being sub Neil MacDougall, Coyle, Lawson, O’Neill and Duncan, to win the shootout 5-4.
MOM: Andy Scott came back into the side and impressed with his range of passing. Also won the penalty that provided the shootout opportunity.
Kilpatrick Thistle 1, AC Milanda 0
TEAM: Fawns, Difolco, Ross, Evans, Scott, Duncan, Grehan, MacDougall, Kelly, Coyle, Lawson. Sub not used: Preston.
TWO teams struggling to play football on a gluepot surface and one of them managing to score a goal. That about sums up what happened at Mountblow on Saturday.
It was a dire game and a dire performance from Milanda, although, strangely, they made more chances than they have done of late.
The Kilpatrick keeper made a couple of good saves and the rest of the openings were squandered. Martin Coyle had a first-half penalty claim turned down, possibly because referee David Ross wasn’t 100 per cent sure he had been onside when the ball first arrived at his feet.
Kilpatrick scored with 20 minutes left for play with a straightforward ball through the middle that should have been dealt with better. They could have had a couple more but their finishing wasn’t up to much either.
Milanda have been in relegation struggles the past two seasons and managed to survive but on this showing they’ll be fortunate to make it three in a row.
MOM: Milanda worked hard, which is the least you would expect, but there was a lack of quality in their play. Contenders for man of the match were thin on the ground but Paul Duncan just edged it. Despite having slept for just two hours after a night shift, Scouser worked hard on the right of midfield and set up a couple of good chances with thoughtful passing.
AC Milanda 2 (Kelly, Lawson), Glasgow Islay 2
TEAM: Fawns, Binnie (O’Neill), Ross, Evans, Scott, Lawson, Coyle, MacDougall, Duncan (Murray), Macdonald, Kelly. Subs not used: Grehan, Johnstone, Miele.
MILANDA improved on recent performances and picked up a valuable point in a hard-fought match with Glasgow Islay.
With a bit of luck it might have been three points, considering the home team had a 2-0 advantage, but Islay never gave up and will feel they deserved to go home with something.
Milanda had a bigger squad than of late and former top scorer Martin Johnstone also returned to give the manager options.
The start was impressive and the Islay keeper made a brave save at the feet of Colin Kelly after 15 minutes to prevent a certain goal.
But Codger was not to be denied and shot the opener seven minutes later after a Russell Lawson free-kick had been nicely laid off to him by skipper Martin Coyle.
Milanda should have had a penalty when Kelly was brought down by the Islay centre-half but referee Michael Murray wasn’t interested. This was one of a number of strange decisions by the official.
Lawson put Milanda two ahead six minutes after the restart with a long-range shot that zipped low past the helpless keeper.
Things looked good at this stage but Paul Ross conceded a needless penalty by barging over a player with his back to goal and Islay cut the deficit from the spot.
With 20 minutes left, a long-range shot beat the diving Craig Fawns low to his right and that tied the scores.
There were chances at both ends after that – Islay had a stonewall penalty turned down – but no more goals.
MOM: A lot of good individual performances here. In defence, Paul Ross had a tremendous first half and will be annoyed with himself for giving away a penalty in the second period. Jim Binnie also did particularly well until the heavy pitch took its toll. Russell Lawson and Colin Kelly always looked a threat going forward and Martin Coyle supported them from a midfield role. However, the pick of the bunch was Mr Perpetual Motion, Neil MacDougall, who was back to something like his best in central midfield.
AC Milanda 1 (Kelly), Ashfield 2
Team: Fawns, Miele, Ross, Evans, Murray, Lawson, Grehan, MacDougall, McColgan, Coyle, Kelly. Subs not used: Binnie, Difolco, O’Neill, Scott.
MILANDA put in a spirited performance but earned no reward against one of the GDSML title favourites.
Ashfield were 2-0 ahead after 35 minutes, although they didn’t have to work too hard for their goals, but Milanda halved the deficit before the break and missed a couple of good chances to take a point in the second period.
The effort could not be faulted but once again carelessness at the back was punished.
The opening goal after four minutes was a case in point. Milanda were caught out by a long ball through the middle – bread and butter stuff to a properly organised defence – and although David Miele got in front of the chasing Ashfield forward, he could only smash the ball into his own net.
Good teams don’t need that kind of help but Milanda offered more of the same in the 35th minute when they didn’t set up properly for a corner and Ashfield scored their second.
Five minutes after that, Milanda got back into the match with a well-worked set-piece goal. Russell Lawson’s free-kick was headed down by Martin Coyle for Colin Kelly who slammed the ball home from 10 yards.
Although Ashfield did hit the woodwork in the second period, Milanda looked the more dangerous side.
Kevin Grehan seemed certain to equalise when he got his head to a Lawson free-kick but his effort from close range was too straight and the keeper managed to push the ball over the bar.
The keeper was under presure again from a long throw by Paul Murray but somehow the ball stayed out.
Milanda spent a lot of the time in Ashfield’s half but working out how to beat an efficient offside trap proved a real problem.
Referee Forbes Robertson got some offside decisions right and some wrong, as you would expect with any match official, but he did allow Coyle and Kelly to burst through towards the end. A goal looked on the cards but Kelly’s attempted lob didn’t have enough height and the keeper saved.
MOM: There were some more than decent individual performances but the pick came from Marc McColgan. He put in a tremendous shift in midfield and didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.
GDSML Cup 2nd round. Meikle Earnock Park, Hamilton
BLANTYRE 2, AC MILANDA 5 Scorers: Lawson 2 (1 pen), Macdonald 2, Kelly.
TEAM: Fawns, O’Neill, Ross, Evans (Miele), Difolco (McColgan), Lawson, MacDougall, Grehan (Coyle), Murray, Macdonald, Kelly. Sub not used: Binnie.
MILANDA played their first match for two months and managed an excellent win over Blantyre in the GDSML Cup.
With Blantyre challenging for promotion to the top flight, this looked like being a tricky fixture but a strong second-half performance in Hamilton ensured a safe passage.
Despite the long lay-off, the Milanda players seemed in pretty good shape and got off to a flyer with a penalty goal after five minutes.
Neil MacDougall was brought down as he tried to make an opening just inside the box and Russell Lawson made a good job of the spot-kick.
Dave O’Neill should have made it 2-0 but somehow headed a Paul Murray corner over the bar.
That was a let-off for Blantyre who equalised three minutes later following a mistake by Gary Difolco.
Roddy Macdonald had a powerful shot saved as Milanda continued to look dangerous but they didn’t regain the lead until just before half-time.
Lawson was again the scorer with a near-post header from a Murray free-kick.
Milanda made a strong start to the second period and floored Blantyre with two quick goals.
Macdonald made it 3-1 with a close-range header after O’Neill had knocked on a Lawson throw and Colin Kelly scored No.4 with a cute finish after substitute Marc McColgan had done well in the build-up.
There were near things at both ends in an entertaining match and Blantyre cut the deficit just after Milanda had made a defensive switch.
But the three-goal cushion was restored when Lawson sent Macdonald away down the left and he finished his run with a blistering shot past the keeper.
MOM: A good all-round team performance but Russell Lawson in midfield and Roddy Macdonald up front were the pick of the bunch. Either would be a worthy choice as man of the match but Lawson just shades it for his goals and assists.
William Drummond Trophy quarter-final - Stepford Sports Park.
AC MILANDA 1, EASTWOOD 3 Scorer: MacDougall
TEAM: Fawns, Miele, O’Neill, Ross, Difolco, Lawson, MacDougall, Murray, Duncan, Kelly, Coyle. Sub not used: Binnie.
MILANDA missed a chance to reach the last four of the William Drummond Trophy with a below-par performance at Stepford.
Eastwood repeated their cup-tie success of last season against Milanda but this time they did it over 90 minutes rather than in a penalty shootout.
They were the better team on the day once again, although Milanda didn’t get much in the way of breaks. Martin Coyle did fail with a second-half penalty but that was the only self-inflicted wound in an attacking sense.
The other self-inflicted wounds came at the back where Eastwood did not have to work particularly hard for their goals.
Eastwood started at a much brighter pace than the home side and their movement and passing on a sticky pitch was excellent.
Craig Fawns had a tremendous save to keep them out before they opened the scoring in 14 minutes. Dave O’Neill put his name on a free-kick but failed to clear it and the loose ball was knocked in.
Milanda should have had a penalty when Colin Kelly was taken out by the combined efforts of the Eastwood keeper and one of his defenders. Milanda officials pondered which one the referee would send off but amazingly he waved play on and Kelly’s shot for goal was blocked.
Kelly was booked for complaining about not getting a penalty and it was hard not to have some sympathy for him. It really was a bizarre decision.
Fawns had another superb save before blotting his copybook by failing to gather a cross he should have punched clear, allowing an Eastwood player a simple tap-in for goal No.2.
Milanda upped the work rate after the break and were unlucky when Russell Lawson hit the bar with a backward flick following a long throw into the box by Paul Murray, but Eastwood scored a third goal when a low shot bobbled over Fawns’s hands.
Neil MacDougall reduced the deficit after cute play by Coyle on the left, the midfielder cutting into the box and sending a shot way beyond the keeper’s reach.
It should have been 3-2 when the referee gave a penalty for a slight clip on Lawson as he burst into the box but Coyle’s spot-kick was pushed aside by the keeper who then smothered Kelly's follow-up effort.
Milanda kept plugging away and pushed men forward but never looked like salvaging the tie against an Eastwood team that was still creating chances on the break.
If we go down and have to play in the First Division next season, let’s hope Eastwood have gone up.
MOM: Neil MacDougall worked tremendously hard from start to finish and scored the best goal of the game.
GDSML Cup quarter-final. Lochend
GLASGOW ISLAY 3 AC MILANDA 2 Scorers: Kelly, O’Neill.
TEAM: Fawns, Miele (Evans), O’Neill, Ross, MacDougall, Coyle, Grehan, Kelly, Murray, Lawson, Macdonald. Subs not used: Duncan, Difolco, Preston.
ANOTHER Saturday, another cup exit. Milanda followed their William Drummond Trophy defeat seven days earlier with another disappointment in the GDSML Cup.
That means the players now have nothing but a relegation battle to look forward to in the coming weeks.
Islay, always physically strong and fit, bullied Milanda out of the first half and helped themselves to a 3-0 lead thanks to the kind of woeful defending that is becoming this team’s trademark.
Colin Kelly got a goal back just before the break when he flicked home a Russell Lawson corner at the near post.
That gave Milanda hope for the second period and, with a bitingly cold wind behind them, they spent much of it camped in Islay’s half.
However, clear-cut chances or shots on target were hard to come by and when Milanda actually did get a late second goal, Dave O’Neill firing in from a Paul Murray corner, it was too late to take the tie to extra time.
MOM: A change of formation to 3-5-2 didn’t provide the hoped for spark, mainly because the habit of giving away possession and not marking properly continued. There was plenty of effort but the quality of the play on a better surface was not much better than it had been the week before. Dave O’Neill was the pick of the defenders and took his goal well so this week’s award goes to him.
GDSML. Glasgow Green
ASHFIELD 3 AC MILANDA 2 Scorers: Lawson (pen), Johnstone.
TEAM: Fawns, Ross, Evans, Difolco (Kelly), O’Neill, MacDougall, Coyle (Russell), Lawson, Murray, Johnstone, Macdonald. Sub not used: Preston
For the second Saturday running, Milanda were pipped in a five-goal game but on this occasion they can count themselves genuinely unlucky.
The performance in this match was much better than the one that had brought defeat from Glasgow Islay in the GDSML Cup.
Milanda gave the team that could well go on to win the title a real run for their money and if this standard can be maintained, relegation may yet be avoided.
Martin Johnstone came back to provide more of a threat up front and capped an excellent performance with the goal that saw the teams tied at 2-2 with five minutes to go.
It looked as if a welcome point was about to be secured but a penalty award – the third of the match – saw Ashfield waltz off with all three.
Milanda started positively and Johnstone shot over from Russell Lawson’s cutback following a neat move down the left.
Johnstone then saw his header from a Lawson free-kick hit the top of the bar. The breakthrough came after 30 minutes when Rod Macdonald was brought down as he chased a Paul Murray through ball into the box. Lawson made an immaculate job of the spot-kick to give Milanda the lead.
However, the advantage was gone minutes later when Ashfield scored from a long-range free-kick that flew in low at Craig Fawns’ left-hand post. Without taking anything away from the scorer, it looked as if a bigger wall would have prevented him from finding the net.
Ashfield then went 2-1 ahead from a penalty after Gary Difolco had brought down one of the Ashfield attackers as he raced in on goal.
Milanda so nearly squared the match before the break. Johnstone went down the left and crossed for Macdonald whose header was brilliantly touched on to the bar by the Ashfield keeper.
The second period saw Milanda pile pressure on Ashfield and they came close to scoring on a number of occasions. Substitute Colin Kelly had a shot beaten away, there was a shout for a penalty and one or two other loose balls in the box might have been converted. Milanda needed a little break but it just wouldn’t come.
However, their persistence paid off near the end when Johnstone made it 2-2 with a fantastic header from Lawson’s free-kick.
Milanda only had to hold out for a short period but, not for the first time this season, they couldn’t do it. Opportunities were missed to clear their lines before one of their attackers went down in the box under a challenge from Neil MacDougall and the referee pointed to the spot.
The Ashfield player probably made the most of the situation and the referee might have taken that into account but he didn’t and the ball was in the Milanda net again with too little time to find another equaliser.
Close but no cigar. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
MOM: A lot of good performances, with Johnstone, Lawson and Macdonald all looking particularly dangerous in an attacking sense. The midfield worked hard also and the defenders came on to a good match after a shaky first half when too many high balls had them scrambling. However, the man of the match award award this week goes to Paul Murray who contributed a lot to the team on the left-hand side and came close to looking the football genius he claims to be.
AC MILANDA 5 RENFREW TOWN 3 Scorers: Grehan, Kelly, Macdonald (3).
TEAM: Bennett, Ross, Evans, O’Neill, McColgan, MacDougall (Russell), Grehan Lawson, Murray, Kelly, Macdonald. Subs not used: Binnie, Duncan, Preston, Difolco.
MILANDA grabbed only their second league win of the season with a tremendous performance at their old Greenfield stamping ground.
The team continued from where they had left off against Ashfield but this team they added improved defending to their good attacking play and were well worth the three points.
Renfrew Town are always strong opponents but Milanda did not allow them to boss the play and although they did get back to just 2-1 and 4-3 behind, they were always second best.
In fact, the scoreline flatters them because two of their goals came from penalties which could have been avoided.
Milanda had to shuffle the pack again with skipper Martin Coyle injured, keeper Craig Fawns working and Martin Johnstone unavailable.
Young Adam Bennett, a 17-year-old keeper from Sunday football, took the gloves and did not seem in the least overawed as he organised the experienced defenders in front of him.
Milanda got off to a flyer with a goal in eight minutes. Paul Murray’s long throw from the left caught the Renfrew defence flat-footed and Kevin Grehan timed his jump perfectly to head home.
Just after the half-hour it was so nearly 2-0 but Dave O’Neill’s header from Russell Lawson’s corner came back off the keeper’s left-hand post and Neil MacDougall could only knock the rebound wide.
However, a second goal arrived in the 38th minute from another Lawson corner. This time he fired the ball low to the near post where Colin Kelly reacted first to flick the ball home.
A two-goal lead would have been nice at the interval but Milanda conceded just before the break. O’Neill was caught out when a flailing arm handled the ball and Renfrew scored from the spot.
Milanda kept playing the same way in the second period and scored again in 52 minutes. Grehan played a pass down the right which the defender tried to see over the byeline but Kelly nicked it from him brilliantly and set up Roddy Macdonald for a close-range finish.
Number four followed shortly afterwards. Kelly played Grehan down the left and his cross into the middle saw Macdonald go flying into the box to knock the ball past the keeper.
A three-goal lead was the perfect cushion but that was quickly reduced to one again as Renfrew scored with a header from a free-kick and a penalty conceded by Marc McColgan.
As Renfrew piled players forward in search of an equaliser, Milanda made excellent chances on the break. Paul Murray had a shot blocked by the keeper, Kelly hit one over the bar when clean through and Lawson, who had earlier just about knocked out the Renfrew No.1 with a thumping shot that smashed him in the face, was denied by the woodwork.
But with time running out Milanda struck the killer fifth goal. A long clearance by Gerry Evans saw Kelly knock the ball over the advancing keeper and Macdonald made sure of the goal by prodding the ball into the empty net. Kelly, meanwhile, was on the deck after being flattened by the goalie but soon recovered and was delighted to hear that a team-mate had nicked his goal.
So all in all a good morning’s work and this is the standard that the team will have to maintain in the relegation battles to come.
MOM: One of those rare days when just about any player could take star billing. Young Adam Bennett was a safe pair of hands at the back and didn’t deserve to lose three goals, while Dave O’Neill – his penalty gaffe apart – Gerry Evans and Paul Ross defended to a much better standard than of late. Midfielders Marc McColgan, Neil MacDougall – until injury forced his replacement by Mark Russell – Kevin Grehan, Russell Lawson and Paul Murray battled hard and produced some good passing into the bargain, while the front two of Colin Kelly and Roddy Macdonald gave the Renfrew defenders a real hard time. Roddy has had to work harder for some of his goals this season but he was in the right place to nab a hat-trick and that always deserves a prize so he takes this week’s accolade.
GDSML. Huntly Park, Giffnock
Garnethill Rovers 1 AC Milanda 1 Scorer: Preston
TEAM: Fawns, Ross, Evans, O’Neill, Binnie (Miele), Lawson, Grehan, McColgan (Preston), Murray, Macdonald, Kelly.
MILANDA had to battle all the way to salvage a point from a game they dominated.
The loss of a dreadful early goal looked as if it might cause the visitors to go home empty handed but substitute Scott Preston headed a late equaliser.
Thoughts that the team might have turned the corner with a superb 5-3 win over Renfrew Town the week before were pretty much dashed as the old habits of conceding cheap goals and not taking chances emerged again.
Garnethill started the game better and took the lead after 10 minutes when a mix-up between Gerry Evans and keeper Craig Fawns allowed the Garnethill striker a gift goal.
Milanda’s play gradually improved and they started to create one or two chances. Colin Kelly came close a couple of times and Paul Murray had an effort knocked off the line.
It was pretty much one-way traffic in the second period as Garnethill fought to hold on to their slender advantage.
Kelly had a shot cleared off the line and Dave O’Neill haded a Murray corner over from a good position.
But with time running out, Preston – sent off in his last outing against Garnethill – became the hero when he got above everyone to head home a Murray delivery from close range.
MOM: With the strikers having an off day, the candidates for top man were at the back and in midfield. Jim Binnie may not have had a lot of game time but he put in a great shift at left-back, while midfielders Russell Lawson, Kevin Grehan, Marc McColgan and Paul Murray never stopped trying to make things happen. But in the end the award has to go to Scott Preston. Even though he wan’t on the pitch for long, he showed a real desire to get Milanda back in the game and did just that with his goal.
AC Milanda 2, Red Star Baillieston 1 Scorers: Macdonald, Preston
Team: Fawns, Ross, O’Neill, Evans, McColgan, Grehan, Lawson (MacDougall), Preston, Murray, Macdonald, Johnstone. Sub not used: Miele.
MILANDA picked up a hard-earned three points with a superb performance that mixed skill and discipline in equal measure.
Red Star had more than twice the points of Milanda from a game fewer before kick-off so no one was under any illusions regarding the magnitude of the task ahead.
However, Milanda matched their opponents all the way and just about deserved to finish on top.
Red Star would argue they merited something from the 90 minutes and, in fairness, there were some scary moments around the Milanda goal before referee Alan Marshall blew his whistle for the final time.
But perhaps they spent too much of the game waiting for something to happen instead of making it happen.
The first half was fairly uneventful with few clear-cut chances. Red Star came close with a couple of headers from set-pieces while Milanda did likewise with shots from Kevin Grehan, Scott Preston and Marc McColgan.
Red Star started the second half better and could have scored on a couple of occasions. Paul Ross made a brilliant block to deny them on one occasion and another shot went inches wide of Craig Fawns’ left-hand post.
However, a counter-attack brought Milanda the lead in the 68th minute. Paul Murray cleared a Red Star corner as far as Martin Johnstone who did well to set Russell Lawson off on a run. He made it all the way to the opposition box only to see his shot parried by the keeper but Rod Macdonald pounced to knock home the loose ball.
Seven minutes later, Scott Preston treated us to an action replay of his goal the previous week at Garnethill Rovers when he rose to head home a long throw by Murray.
With a couple of minutes to go, the Milanda defence finally cracked and allowed Red Star a goal but, frantically though they tried, they couldn’t get another one in the little time that was left.
MOM: A welcome three points in the fight against relegation with everyone putting in a great shift. Martin Johnstone was back in the attack and took a lot of pressure off the defence with some excellent hold-up play, while strike partner Rod Macdonald never gave Red Star a moment’s peace. In midfield, Kevin Grehan led by example by battling for every ball and he was well supported by Marc McColgan, Russell Lawson, Scott Preston and Paul Murray who was again a big contributor with his long throws and passes down the line. Craig Fawns was solid in goal – despite the fact he was carrying an injury – and was given magnificent cover by the three players in front of him, Dave O’Neill, Gerry Evans and Paul Ross. This trio deserved a shut-out for all their hard work and they almost got it. Any one of them would be a worthy man of the match but Paul Ross just edged out his colleagues on this occasion.
Glasgow Islay 2 AC Milanda 6 Scorers: Preston, Macdonald, MacDougall, Lawson (3, 1 pen)
Team: Fawns, Ross (Binnie), O’Neill,Evans, MacDougall, Grehan, Lawson, Preston, Murray (Duncan), Macdonald, Johnstone.
MILANDA moved out of the bottomtwo in the table for the first time in months after a magnificent victory.
Glasgow Islay are always tough opponents but Milanda simply blew them away with a first-half of masterclass in finishing.
Four super strikes before thebreak – two of them candidates for goal of the season – paved the wayfor a welcome three points and even though Islay hit back to draw the secondperiod 2-2, there was never any danger of Milanda losing their grip on proceedings.
Islay were on a high after reaching a cup final the previous week but Milanda imposed themselves quickly and scored a cracking opener in the 10th minute. A Paul Murray cross was cleared but only as far as Scott Preston 25 yards out and he made it three goals in three games with a right-foot piledriver that went in off the helpless keeper’s left-hand post.
Ten minutes later, Roddy Macdonald powered through to shoot a second after good play by strike partner Martin Johnstone.
Johnstone hit the top of the ba rwith a header from a Russell Lawson cross before the third arrived in the25th minute. A Murray cross just eluded Macdonald but Neil MacDougall was at the back post to shoot another belter from an acute angle.
Islay didn’t know what had hit them and they lost a fourth five minutes from half-time when a keeper’s clearance fell to Lawson 35 yards out and he fired it straight back intonthe net. A quality goal.
There was still time for KevinGrehan and Johnstone to go close and Dave O’Neill to have a header savednbefore the teams turned round.
Islay cut the deficit from a disputed penalty five minutes into the second half and the protesting Murray was booked for sarcasm. He now plans to see how many isms he can be cautioned for between now and the end of the season (can’t wait for his sexism andracism efforts).
But Milanda made it 5-1 with another thumping shot from Lawson following one of Murray’s trademark long throws.
Lawson then made it 6-1 from the penalty spot after Johnstone had been brought down.
Islay took advantage of slipshod defending to pull another goal back late on but Milanda were home and dry.
Although the relegation battle has some way to go, Milanda are showing the kind of form that can keep them away from the drop zone. Let’s hope it continues but Invac on Saturday will be another tough one.
MOM: A brilliant performance from everyone. Keeper Craig Fawns had a couple of vital saves but generally the men in front of him stopped Islay making too many chances. The Milanda midfield bossed the game, with Scott Preston particularly dominant, and up front Roddy Macdonald bullied the normally strong islay defenders in what is looking an increasingly powerful partnership with Martin Johnstone. Man of the match could have gone to just about anyone but Russell Lawson takes it for a fantastic hat-trick and generally classy play. Islay justnever got to grips with him as he popped up all over the pitch.
AC Milanda 3, Invac 1 Scorers: Kelly, Macdonald, O’Neill
Team: Fawns, Ross, O’Neill, Evans, Duncan, Grehan, Binnie (Difolco), Coyle (Crawford), Murray, Macdonald, Kelly.
MILANDA stretched their unbeatenrun to five games with a well-deserved victory over the team that could yet be crowned GDSM champions.
The damage was done with three-first half goals from Colin Kelly, Roddy Macdonald and Dave O’Neill and even though Invac came more into the match after the break and reduced the deficit by one, they never looked like salvaging even a point.
Pre-match signs were not too hopeful due to the fact a number of players were missing and some of those who had to turn out were not feeling anything like 100 per cent due to flu-like symptoms, most notably striker Macdonald and defender Gerry Evans.
Milanda also had to use a trialist keeper, Robert Dunlop, and recall an old favourite, Davie Crawford, to help swell the subs’ bench.
The good news was that Kelly and Gary Difolco were free of work commitments and able to return to the squad,while Martin Coyle had shaken off an ankle problem in time to play.
Invac, second top of the table behind Ashfield with games in hand, had swept aside Milanda with ease earlier in the season but this was a completely different game.
The home team started powerfullyand Kevin Grehan and O’Neill were unlucky not to score before the opener arrived in the ninth minute.
Invac were guilty of failing toclear their lines and Macdonald set up Kelly to fire his shot into the net via a post.
Six minutes later, it was 2-0.Another mistake in defence and this time Macdonald pounced to fire a brilliant first-time shot into the net past a helpless keeper.
Coyle headed a Paul Moray cross over and Kelly hit the woodwork again before Invac were denied a way back into the game by a fantastic Dunlop save.
Just before the break, Milanda gave themselves a little more breathing space with a third goal. The Invackeeper flapped at a Paul Duncan corner and the ball fell for O’Neill to head home at the far post.
Milanda made few clear-cut chances in the second period, although the keeper did have one good stop from a Kelly shot.
Invac got their goal back with 20 minutes still to play and they were unlucky with another effort that hit the frame of the goal but Milanda always appeared to be in controlof the situation.
So that’s 13 points from 15 in recent weeks and it makes you wonder what might have been achieved had the early season form been better.
Having said that, concentration levels must be kept up because Milanda can’t consider themselves out of the relegation woods yet.
MOM: Robin Dunlop proved a very capable last line of defence and was given tremendous cover by Paul Ross, Gerry Evans and Dave O’Neill. In midfield, Milanda scrapped for everything with Martin Coyle, Jim Binnie and Kevin Grehan getting through a powerof work centrally and Paul Duncan and Paul Moray providing good width. Up front, Roddy Macdonald worked his socks off and scored a cracking goal, as did strike partner Colin Kelly whose pace terrified the life out of the Invac defenders. Substitutes Davie Crawford and Gary Difolco also slotted in well when they went on in midfield and made some telling contributions. You could make a case for awarding man of the match to just about everyone of the starting 11 but the choice this time is Jim Binnie. He made his mark on the game and at least a couple of the Invac midfielders.
AC Milanda 3, Allander 1 Scorers: Johnstone 2, Lawson (pen)
Team: Fawns, Difolco, O’Neill, Evans (Preston), Duncan (MacDougall), Lawson (Miele), Grehan, Kelly, Murray, Macdonald, Johnstone. Subs not used: Binnie, Coyle.
MILANDA made it six games unbeaten by taking full points from the team propping up the table but the performance was far from memorable.
It may have been that the midfield balance was wrong, with too many attacking players, or just a general off day but it took a late penalty to make absolutely sure of the points.
Perhaps there was a feeling this would be an easier match than the previous five because of Allander’s lowly status but the visitors certainly didn’t lack spirit and were probably a shade unlucky to be a goal behind at the break.
That goal came after 15 minutes. Allander made a hash of clearing a Paul Murray cross and as the ball headed back towards their goal, Martin Johnstone pounced to knock it past the keeper from close range.
Allander had one or two chances of their own but Craig Fawns had a couple of good saves and defenders Gary Difolco, Dave O’Neill and Gerry Evans stood up well to the challenge.
Milanda spoke at half-time about not giving Allander any encouragement to get back into the match but that’s exactly what happened in the 55th minute when one of their players netted with a clever chip over Fawns.
With Scott Preston on for the injured Evans, Milanda increased their efforts to get back in front. Johstone headed a Murray cross just wide, Paul Duncan blasted a good chance too high, Russell Lawson fired over an empty goal after a mix-up in the Allander defence and then Johnstone again was just off target after being set up by Roddy Macdonald.
But after 62 minutes a second goal did arrive. A good burst of pace by Colin Kelly took him into the penalty box on the left and he fired over the perfect ball to give Johnstone a tap-in.
With 15 minutes to go, Allander missed a great chance to equalise, their striker blasting over when a goal looked likely.
Five minutes later, Lawson was brought down in the box and made the points safe by blasting home the penalty.
Allander were reduced to 10 men when their No.6 picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Murray.
They should have suffered again when Kelly was brought down in the box but, with the injured Lawson having been replaced by David Miele, Johnstone took the penalty in an effort to secure a hat-trick and his effort was saved by the keeper.
Neil MacDougall might have grabbed a fourth from Murray’s pinpoint cross but his ferocious volley at the back post just missed the target.
Allander kept fighting to the end and it took a very good save by Fawns to stop them cutting the deficit in the dying minutes.
MOM: Despite his failure from the penalty spot, Martin Johnstone stole the show. He held the ball up well, linked play and was in the right place at the right time for his two goals.
AC Milanda 2, Kilpatrick Thistle 3 Scorers: Johnstone, own goal
Team: Fawns, Ross, Difolco, O’Neill, MacDougall, Lawson (Kelly), Grehan, Preston (Miele), Murray, Macdonald (Coyle), Johnstone. Subs not used: Duncan, Evans.
MILANDA’S unbeaten run came to a grinding halt on their return to Stepford.
Despite taking a 2-0 lead and looking like stretching the run to a seventh game, Milanda self-destructed and conceded three sloppy goals.
There will be those (Paul Murray basically) who put this down to some kind of Stepford curse but that’s the mumbo jumbo of witch doctors. The team didn’t play particularly well even at 2-0 ahead and even though they didn’t deserve to lose, they only have themselves collectively to blame for taking nothing from the game.
Milanda made a great start when a poor attempt at a clearance by the Kilpatrick keeper landed at the feet of Martin Johnstone who coolly steered the ball home.
Roddy Macdonald then put Johnstone through the middle and his shot beat the keeper but bounced off the top of the bar.
After 20 minutes, it was 2-0. A long throw by Murray looked as if it had been knocked in by Russell Lawson but in fact a Kilkpatrick defender got the last touch for an own goal.
Kilpatrick got back into the match on the half-hour mark when Milanda needlessly played offside and one of the visiting players made a run from deep to blast the ball past Craig Fawns.
Macdonald had a shot saved and then was off target with an attempted lob over the keeper after being put through by an excellent Kevin Grehan pass.
At half-time the message was that the next goal was vital to the ouctome of the game. Milanda came close to getting it when a Murray shot was turned round the post by the keeper.
Another good move saw Lawson volley a Johnstone cross off target at the back post.
Colin Kelly tried to liven things up when he went on but a couple of decent moves came to nothing.
Then Kilpatrick made it 2-2 after 65 minutes and scored their third five minutes later after Scott Preston had been caught dwelling on the ball 30 yards from goal.
Milanda threw Martin Coyle and David Miele on to try to salvage even a point but only came close once when Kelly headed a Murray corner just too high.
So the point Milanda were hoping for to make sure of staying in the top flight failed to materialise.
After such a good run of form, it would be wrong to be too hard on the players. Teams have off days, so let’s just hope this was a blip.
MOM: On a day when few players warranted pass marks, Martin Johnstone did his job better than the rest.
Red Star Baillieston 5, AC Milanda 2 Scorers: Evans, Johnstone
Team: Miele, Ross, Evans, O’Neill (Binnie), MacDougall (Coyle), Lawson, Grehan, Macdonald, Murray, Johnstone, Kelly. Sub not used: Difolco.
MILANDA are still sweating over their Premier League future after another match in which they failed to take the point they need for safety.
Without regular keeper Craig Fawns and unable to find an experienced deputy, Milanda went with volunteer David Miele between the sticks. He performed well and made some good saves but the players in front of him did not provide the protection he deserved in the first half and the game was basically over by the interval.
Milanda did fight back in the second period and actually won that section of the match 2-0 but the damage had been done.
If we assume bottom club Allander won’t win all of their remaining matches, it leaves Milanda and Garnethill Rovers trying to avoid the second relegation slot.
However, it could be May 26 – a week after Milanda finish their programme – before we know where we’ll be playing next season.
Milanda have 20 points and two games to play – Renfrew Town (away) on May 12 and Strathclyde University (home) on May 19. Our points total is 20 with a -2 goal difference.
Garnethill, who have a -9 goal difference, can equal 20 points if they beat Glasgow Islay (home) on May 12 and Invac (away) on May 26.
It’s a tense situation but the way to look at it is the fight is in our own hands. However, we will have to improve on Saturday’s performance to survive.
After giving away possession virtually from kick-off, Milanda found themselves a goal behind.
Red Star used the width of the pitch well and their passing and movement were superior, resulting in them sticking another four past Miele by half-time.
Milanda had chances, too, but Colin Kelly had a shot cleared off the line from a Russell Lawson pass and another couple of efforts from Kevin Grehan and Kelly went wide.
In the second half, a combination of Red Star possibly taking their foot off the gas and Milanda trying a bit harder saw some of the goal difference clawed back.
Grehan had a powerful free-kick touched round the post by the Red Star keeper and Kelly had another effort cleared off the line from a Martin Johnstone pass.
Milanda reduced the deficit on the hour mark when Lawson sent Neil MacDougall to the byeline and his cross was fired home by overlapping defender Gerry Evans.
Goal no.2 came in the 75th minute when Kelly did well to set up a tap-in for Johnstone.
Kelly came close again from a cross by substitute Marc McColgan but that was as good as it got for Milanda.
MOM: Team captain Kevin Grehan worked hard and kept trying to push his team-mates on to better things, so he takes the man of the match award.
GDSML. KGV Renfrew
Renfrew Town 4, AC Milanda 1 Scorers: Kelly
Team: Fawns, Difolco, Evans (MacDougall), O’Neill, Ross, Lawson (Coyle), Grehan, Preston, Murray, Macdonald, Kelly.
MILANDA made it three defeats on the trot with yet another sub-standard performance.
The team likely to be crowned Premier Division champions are never easy to beat on their own patch but didn’t have to work all that hard to keep the points.
Milanda were well in the game until the half-hour mark when a mistakeby Gary Difolco allowed one of the Renfrew strikers to run on and give his team the lead, despite Craig Fawns saving the striker’s first effort.
That was almost cancelled out quickly after a good move on the left involving Colin Kelly and Russell Lawson saw Roddy Macdonald just beaten to the ball in the box by a home defender.
A good save by Fawns ensured Milanda were just one behind at the break, although they suffered another blow just before that when Gerry Evans felt unwell and had to be replaced by Neil MacDougall.
More defensive weakness saw Renfrew add two more goals before Kelly headed in a Paul Murray corner to cut the deficit to 3-1.
The home side scored again when one of their strikers nipped between Difolco and Scott Preston to head home.
Martin Coyle replaced Lawson for the last 10 minutes and tried hard to inject some life into Milanda but it was a losing battle.
With Garnethill Rovers' game against Glasgow Islay having been postponed due to waterlogged pitches at Netherpollok, Milanda still need a point from their last game to be sure of staying up.
MOM: Keeper Craig Fawns had a number of very good saves and prevented the scoreline being embarrassing against a Renfrew side who fielded a number of their fringe players.
AC Milanda 4, Strathclyde University 4 Scorers: Kelly, Lawson (pen), O’Neill, Evans.
Team: Fawns, Preston, Evans, O’Neill, McColgan, Lawson (Binnie), MacDougall, Kelly, Duncan (Coyle), Macdonald, Johnstone.
MILANDA grabbed the point they needed for Premier Division survival in the most dramatic of circumstances – with the last kick of the ball in their final game of the season.
Defender Gerry Evans was the unlikely scorer of the goal that ensured survival after a rare venture upfield.
This has to go down as one of the best results in the club’s history and the players deserve the utmost praise for coming back from 3-1 down to draw with a good Strathclyde team.
At 4-2 down with less than 15 minutes left, only a fool would have put money on Milanda achieving their objective. But they did it – and even managed to miss a penalty along the way.
A crazy morning got off to the worst possible start when Milanda lost a goal from their own kick-off for the second time this season.
A careless pass by Colin Kelly to Scott Preston started the trouble and his short passback to keeper Craig Fawns forced Evans into a challenge that ended with the Strathclyde attacker on the deck and the referee pointing to the penalty spot. The students accepted the gift and went one up.
Seven minutes later, Kelly atoned for his part in the opener with a breathtaking run from the middle of the field that saw several Strathclyde players trailing and looking on helplessly as he made it all the way to the box before blasting the ball past the keeper.
A stunning goal but Strathclyde still looked the better side and, with the help of some more poor defending, reached half-time 3-1 ahead.
It was stressed to the players at the break that they had to get the next goal to make a game of it and they took this on board, pushing the students back and dominating from the start of the second period.
Russell Lawson thumped a tremendous shot against the keeper’s right-hand post, Dave O’Neill headed a corner over and Rod Macdonald had another good effort blocked by the Strathclyde No.1 after being put through by a perfectly weighted Kelly pass.
Another chance slipped away when Lawson hooked a shot over after being set up by Macdonald.
But Milanda eventually cut the deficit in the 71st minute when the Strathclyde left-back handled a Martin Johnstone cross, allowing Lawson to score from the resulting penalty.
It was all Milanda now but somehow a defensive lapse allowed one of the Strathclyde substitutes to chip their fourth goal over Fawns to make it 4-2.
With subs Martin Coyle and Jim Binnie having joined the fray, Milanda weren't short of battlers and they simply refused to give up. As they continued to take the game to their opponents, O’Neill somehow headed a Neil MacDougall free-kick wide when it looked easier to score.
With three minutes to go, though, Milanda were awarded a second penalty for a foul on Johnstone. MacDougall elected to take the kick but saw his shot saved and his follow-up effort deflected for a corner. And from Kelly’s delivery, centre-back O’Neill powered in to head the ball over the line.
Milanda couldn’t get another goal in their final attack, could they? It seemed too much to hope for but Strathclyde couldn’t clear from Preston’s long throw and the ball fell for Evans at the back post to smash it home.
The referee allowed Strathclyde to restart the match and then blew for full-time. Milanda had done it. A marvellous result against all the odds.
MOM: It would be unfair to single anyone out because it took a superb team effort in the second half to produce the required result. Yes, mistakes were made over the 90 minutes but no one gave anything less than 100 per cent and that’s all that can be asked of any squad.