Season 15/16

 

Season 2015-16

 

A season to forget

One league win and took until Apr 2nd to achieve.

One bright light was a superb cup win over Strathclyde Uni on Pens with 10 men

Coyle pulls on the boots once more as the team almost folds

38 players used over the course of the season

 

Milanda's score always comes first

 

Date

Opponent

Comp

Home\Away

Score

Scorers

Aug 15th

Crosslands

Friendly

H

4 - 7

Kelly (3), Johnstone

Aug 22nd

Cambuslang Rok

League Cup

A

3 - 1

Johnstone, Fawns, Harley

Aug 29th

Bishopton

League Cup

H

4 - 6

Kelly (3), Harley

Sept 5th

Ashfield

Friendly

A

1 - 3

Reid

Sept 12th

Auchinairn Star

League

H

2 - 7

Kelly (2)

Sept 19th

Strathclyde Uni

League

A

2 - 11

Daly (2)

Oct 10th

Glasgow Islay

League

H

3 - 4

Murray (2), Coyle

Oct 17th

Glasgow Caley

League

A

2 - 5

Kelly, Murray

Oct 31st

Abronhill Trans

League

H

1 - 5

Kelly

Nov 7th

Strathclyde Uni

GDSML Cup

H

4 - 4

Milanda win 3-1 on Pens. Cannon, Kelly (2), Coyle,

Nov 14th

Blairdardie

League

A

1 - 6

Murray

Nov 21st

Auchinairn Star

League

A

1 - 4

Robertson

Dec 5th

Red Star Ballieston

GDSML Cup

A

0 - 8

-

Jan 9th

Abronhill Trans

League

A

1 - 12

Johnstone

Jan 23rd

Glasgow Islay

League

A

2 - 4

C. Murray, Johnstone

Feb 13th

Finnieston Park

Vince McGlinchey

A

1 - 9

Daly

Feb 27th

Blairdardie

League

H

0 - 1

-

Mar 5th

Blantyre

League

A

2 - 2

Johnstone, Howe

Mar 12th

Milngavie BC

League

H

0 - 4

-

Mar 19th

Blantyre

League

H

0 - 0

-

Apr 2nd

Strathclyde uni

League

H

4 - 2

Johnstone, Daly, Own goal, Murray

Apr 9th

Caledonian Amateurs

League

H

2 - 4

Hutton, Rose

Apr 19th

Milngavie BC

League

A

1 - 5

Harley

Apr 23rd

Bishopton

League

A

1 - 1

Kelly

May 3rd

Bishopton

League

H

1 - 4

Murray

Appearances

 

League

League Cup

GDSML Cup

Vince McGlinchey

Total

G. Di Folco

18

1

2

1

22

P. Murray

16

2

1

1

20

G. Evans

15

2

2

1

20

C. Kelly

12 (2)

2

1

1

18

R. Mitchell

15

-

1

1

17

G. Harley

12 (1)

2

1

-

16

M. Allan

10 (4)

-

1

1

16

B. McKenzie

4 (6)

2

2

(1)

15

A. Thomson

11 (1)

1

1

1

15

A.Daly

7 (4)

-

-

(1)

12

M. Coyle

7 (4)

-

1

-

12

M. Johnstone

8

2

1

-

11

C. Murray

10

-

-

-

10

L.Gray

7

-

-

-

7

M. Hutton

6

-

-

1

7

C. Fawns

5

1

-

-

6

B. Graham

2 (4)

-

-

-

6

M. Reid

3

2

-

-

5

S. Preston

4

1

-

-

5

S. Cannon

2 (1)

-

2

-

5

R. O'Donnell

2 (1)

2

-

-

5

G. Robertson

3

-

1

-

4

G. Howe

1 (3)

-

-

-

4

T. Tarres

2 (1)

-

-

-

3

R. MacDonald

2

-

1

-

3

A. Baillie

2 (1)

-

-

-

3

J. Ralston

1 (1)

-

-

-

2

T. Addison

2

-

-

-

2

R. Addison

1

-

1

-

2

K. O;Donnell

-

2

-

-

2

J. Binnie

1

-

-

1

2

P. Ross

1

-

-

-

1

B. Stenson

1

-

-

-

1

J. Cannon

1

-

-

-

1

D. Crawford

(1)

-

-

-

1

I. McKellar

1

-

-

-

1

P. Rose

1

-

-

-

1

Trialist

1

-

-

-

1

 

Goals

 

League

League Cup

GDSML Cup

Vince McGlinchey

Total

Kelly

5

3

2

-

10

P. Murray

6

-

-

-

6

Johnstone

4

1

-

-

5

Daly

3

-

-

1

4

Harley

1

2

-

-

3

Coyle

1

-

1

-

2

C. Murray

1

-

-

-

1

Fawns

-

1

-

-

1

cannon

1

-

-

-

1

Robertson

1

-

-

-

1

Howe

1

-

-

-

1

Hutton

1

-

-

-

1

Rose

1

-

-

-

1

Own goal

1

-

-

-

1

Match Reports

 

Friendly - Stepford

 

AC Milanda 4 Croslands 7 (HT 4-4) Scorers - Kelly (3), Johnstone

 

Team: Mitchell, Reid, Evans, Thomson, McKenzie, K O’Donnell, Murray, R O’Donnell, Harley, Kelly, Johnstone. Sub: P O’Donnell

 

Milanda got the new season up and running with a useful workout against Premier Division opposition.Crosslands’ superior finess told in the end but Milanda gave as good as they got for a large part of the game, especially in the first half when they were twice ahead.

 

The score was 4-4 at the break, with Milanda’s goals coming from Colin Kelly (3) and Martin Johnstone. Kelly looked sharp and took his hat-trick ever so well, especially his first when he pounced after the keeper had failed to hold a ferocious shot by Greig Harley and his second when he latched on to a magnificent through ball from skipper Paul Murray.

 

The memorable moment of the second half came when Paul O’Donnell went on as a substitute to play alongside sons Ryan and Kyle.It was a unique family outing in the club’s history and the old man didn’t let his boys down. Some of the magic footwork was still there in central midfield and he was involved in Milanda’s best attacking move of the game which saw Kelly pass up the opportunity to take his personal tally to four.

 

All the Milanda players acquitted themselves pretty well after the summer hols, with Kelly, Johnstone, Murray and Ryan O’Donnell particularly impressive.

 

----------

League Cup - Hamilton

 

Cambuslang Rok 1 AC Milanda 3 (HT 0-2) Scorers - Johnstone, Fawns, Harley

 

Team: K O’Donnell, Reid, Evans, Preston, McKenzie, Fawns, Murray, R O’Donnell, Harley, Kelly, Johnstone. Subs not used Binnie, P O’Donnell.

 

Milanda made a positive start to their League Cup section by taking three points at the Jock Stein Centre in Hamilton. Two goals to the good inside the first 15 minutes, they looked in the mood to repeat their 6-0 thrashing of the Cambuslang boys in last season’s tournament. But they failed to add to their tally before the interval and the home team bounced back to dominate the second half.

 

In fact, Cambuslang were a bit unlucky not take something from the game and certainly would have but for the form of Kyle O’Donnell in the Milanda goal. The youngster, deputising for holidaying Ross Mitchell, made half-a-dozen excellent saves and was the major difference between the sides. It was a struggle to get a team on the park once again. Just 13 players were available and two of them were keepers. Craig Fawns, regular stand-in for Mitchell in recent times, was pressed into service as a midfielder while young O’Donnell took the gloves. Scott Preston returned and slotted into a defensive unit that wasn’t exactly overworked in the opening period of the match.

 

Milanda took the lead after 10 minutes, Colin Kelly running at the Cambuslang rearguard before slipping the perfect ball through for strike partner Martin Johnstone to provide a cool finish.

This would have come as no surprise to the Cambuslang No.9 who was heard to say that Johnstone didn’t look like a player but was “actually quite good”. Classic. Three minutes later, it was 2-0. Fawns took a free-kick from 30 yards and his shot deceived the home keeper and ended up in the back of the net.

 

There was then a fairly lengthy lull in the action until Ryan O’Donnell burst through from central midfield and carved out a shooting opportunity which he curled just wide. Just before the break, Kelly worked his way into the box and hit a shot that the keeper could only block. Greig Harley followed up and looked set to stick the loose ball away but one of the home defenders managed to block.

 

Milanda missed another opportunity early in the second half. A clever back-heel by Johnstone allowed Kelly to scamper into the box but his chip over the keeper also cleared the bar. Cambuslang came much more into the game from then on and keeper O’Donnell made several fine saves, including two in the one attack, to keep Milanda in control.

 

He was finally beaten in the 80th minute and it looked at that stage as if the visitors would be in for a hectic finale.

 

However, Milanda quickly restored their two-goal cushion. Paul Murray fired over a corner and Harley managed to outmuscle his marker and force the ball into the net. Cambuslang never gave up, though, and another superb O’Donnell stop prevented them scoring a second.

 

MAN OF THE MATCH: Everyone contributed to a hard-fought win but Kyle O’Donnell was the outstanding performer.

 

----------

League Cup - Stepford

 

AC Milanda 4 Bishopton 6 (HT 3-4) Scorers - Kelly (3), Harley

 

Team: K O’Donnell, Di Folco, Evans, Thomson, McKenzie, Reid, Murray, R O’Donnell, Harley, Kelly, Johnstone. Sub not used: Fawns.

 

Milanda scored four excellent goals but ended up with nothing to show for it thanks to an inability to defend properly. The team also played a lot of good football over the 90 minutes and on another day should have taken at least a point against an experienced, very fit and well-organised Bishopton side. However, if you constantly gift goals to the opposition you can’t expect to win matches.

 

Keeper Kyle O’Donnell, man of the match in the previous League Cup game, couldn’t save Milanda this time because those in front of him did not provide the level of cover he was entitled to expect. He didn’t deserve to come off the pitch having conceded six goals. And Colin Kelly didn’t deserve to be a loser either after scoring yet another superb hat-trick. But lose we did and now we await the result of the final sectional game, Bishopton v Cambuslang ROK, to see if we progress into the quarter-finals of the consolation tournament.

 

The start to the match was ideal with Milanda going ahead after five minutes, Kelly firing home a Martin Johnstone pass after some good inter-play on the edge of the box. But we then shot ourselves in the foot five minutes later. Keeper O’Donnell threw the ball out to Ben McKenzie who lost possession, allowing Bishopton the simplest of equalisers. Five minutes more and further slack play allowed Bishopton to cut Milanda open down the right and make the score 2-1.

 

Back came the home side and Ryan O’Donnell headed on a Mark Reid free-kick for Greig Harley to score at the back post. Two more quick goals put Bishopton in the driving seat but Milanda kept plugging away and reduced the deficit to one again just before the break. Another Reid free-kick, another knock-on by O’Donnell and Kelly provided the finish. There was genuine cause for optimism going into the second half with a stiff breeze in Milanda’s favour.

 

However, defensive frailties surfaced again as Bishopton scored a ridiculously easy fifth goal. Milanda responded positively and Kelly completed his hat-trick with a curling shot into the roof of the net from the edge of the box after being set up by Paul Murray. Murray almost provided the equaliser with a fierce shot that the Bishopton keeper did well to tip over the bar.

 

With Murray and O’Donnell getting a lot of the ball in midfield, Milanda looked capable of at least drawing the match. However, Bishopton scored a sixth and it was game over. Unless Milanda can tighten up at the back, it’s going to be another long and difficult season in what promises to be a highly competitive GDSML First Division.

 

MAN OF THE MATCH: Colin Kelly. Different class.

 

----------

Friendly - Summerston

 

Ashfield 3 AC Milanda 1 (HT 1-0) Scorer - Reid

 

As the free team in a three-club League Cup section on Saturday, Milanda accepted Ashfield’s invitation to play a friendly at Summerston. Unfortunately, only eight players turned up and a team had to be cobbled together using Ashfield subs and passing strangers. Despite all the problems, it turned out an entertaining game that was closer than the scoreline suggests.

Andy Thomson, Gerry Evans and Gary Di Folco coped well with a lively Ashfield attack in the first period.

 

Milanda were just one behind at the break and the goal was a little unfortunate, the stand-in keeper being hesitant to come off his line and snuff out the danger due to a lack of understanding between him and defenders he had just met.

 

Ashfield scored again early in the second period but Milanda soon halved the deficit. Martin Coyle, who had answered an SOS to get the boots back on, fired in a shot that beat the keeper and struck a post, allowing the alert Mark Reid to pounce and net the loose ball. With Paul Murray and Colin Kelly continually probing for openings, Milanda had other chances and looked capable of getting back on terms.

 

However, an excellent free-kick goal near the end sealed victory for the home side.Despite the result and off-field problems, it was a good workout for those who turned up and they all put in a great shift. A special mention must be given to Milanda legend Coyle who looked quite at home after a long break from football at this level and hopefully we'll see more of him in the red and black in the weeks to come.

 

On the down side, the returning Kevin Grehan picked up another ankle injury early in the match and had to go off. Andy Thomson did likewise in the second half after suffering a twisted knee.

It never rains but it pours.

 

----------

Stepford. League

 

AC MILANDA 2 AUCHINAIRN STAR 7 Scorers Kelly (2)

 

MILANDA began their GDSML campaign with a heavy defeat against the team tipped to win the First Division. But the scoreline is a little unfair on the home side who had a 2-0 lead at the interval and were only really overrun in the final 20 minutes of the match. It was during the concluding period that the power and fitness of last season’s Second Division champions told against a Milanda side with no substitutes.

 

Auchinairn were certainly rattled at the interval but, with the wind at their backs and a fresh determination, they certainly dominated the second half.

Milanda’s lack of personnel was again an issue and it was a struggle just to get a full team on the pitch. However, they made a tremendous start and took the game to their opponents. Colin Kelly broke clear of the defence early on but the keeper made a good block and Richard Addison’s effort from the rebound missed the target. Striker Addison then hooked another shot wide from an excellent cross by Andy Daly.

 

Auchinairn hit back and it took a good save from Ross Mitchell to prevent them going ahead. Milanda edge in front after 18 minutes when Thomas Addison fired a ball down the middle. A tremendous first touch by Kelly took him away from his marker and a cool finish completed an excellent piece of play.

Another fine piece of goalkeeping by Mitchell denied Auchinairn before Milanda scored again in the 23rd minute. Mitchell played his part in this also with a wind-assisted clearance that deceived the visiting defenders, allowing Kelly to pounce on the bouncing ball and lash it first time past the keeper from outside the box.

 

Milanda were unlucky not to score a third but striker Addison just missed getting a touch on Kelly’s ball across goal.

 

It took Auchinairn just six minutes of the second period to pull a goal back. A goal-line clearance by Ben McKenzie kept Milanda in front but the equaliser came on the hour and Auchinairn quickly scored a third. Milanda’s only real opportunity of this half could easily have tied the game again at 3-3. A Craig Fawns corner to the back post was nodded across by Daly for the unmarked Scott Preston but his header went over the bar.

 

A couple of individual errors by a tiring Milanda helped Auchinairn add four more by the end and wrap up the points.

 

MOM: A good, hard-working performance by everyone for an hour and especially midfield players Andy Daly, Paul Murray, Scott Preston and Gary Di Folco who had the difficult task of closing down some very good Auchinairn players. Ross Mitchell can also be pleased with most of his morning’s work but man of the match must again go to Colin Kelly whose magnificent double had us daring to dream of a shock result.

 

AC Milanda – Mitchell, Fawns, T Addison, Evans, McKenzie, Daly, Preston, Murray, Di Folco, R Addison, Kelly.

 

----------

Stepps. League

 

STRATHCLYDE UNIVERSITY 11 AC MILANDA 2 Scorers Daly (2)

 

CHICK YOUNG, John O’Keane, Gerry McGinty, John McCormick, Dougie Veitch, Colin Stewart, Alan Ferguson, Harry Dollin, Donald Leary, guy who specialised in nutmegs and thought Al Devine’s first name was Algie, Alex Woods, Tommy Cobra, Brian Dunn, Jim Donachie, Bruce Fitzpatrick, Graeme Hyslop, Kevin Williamson, Adda ... your boys took a helluva beating.

 

Fortunately there was no Norwegian commentator and no TV cameras at Stepps on Saturday because this was bad. Not Milanda’s worst ever defeat (13-2 against a ringer-packed Anniesland College team in the 1980s) but pretty close. In fairness, Milanda were once again struggling to field a team. We managed to get 11 on the pitch but call-offs and injuries had taken their toll.

 

Strathclyde Uni, on the other hand, turned up with their usual cast of thousands. No one does exam revision on a Saturday morning it would appear.

A young, talented side full of running and energy is the last thing you want in an opposition when your ageing squad is down to the bare bones.

In truth, if this had been a boxing match, the referee would have stopped it long before the end.

 

Milanda have occasionally turned games into boxing matches but not this time so we had to complete the 90 minutes against a side intent on improving their goal difference for the title battle ahead with Auchinairn Star. Strathclyde won the first half 4-1 and the second 7-1.

 

There were a couple of bright moments for Milanda but no more than that.

 

Their first goal came just after Strathclyde had made the score 4-0 and a thing of beauty it was. Mark Reid and Andy Daly played a couple of one-twos to slice open the home defence and Daly applied a cool finish. At 5-1 in the second half, Milanda could have scored again. The referee spotted a Strathclyde hand stopping a shot from Paul Murray and pointed to the spot. Skipper Murray took the penalty himself but his low effort was saved by the keeper.

 

His attempts to blame an uneven penalty spot and the fact that Martin Coyle was filming him from behind the goal fell on deaf ears. Yes, some of our players are so old that they are now officially deaf.

 

Strathclyde had moved the score on to 7-1 by the time Milanda notched their second. The keeper did well to paw out a Mark Reid free-kick but the ball fell to Gary Di Folco who slammed it against the underside of the bar. Strathclyde thought they had escaped but Daly was in the right place on the line to apply the finishing touch again, this time with his head.

 

That merely served to annoy the students who banged in another four goals. This was a mismatch from the start. Milanda would not have won the game with their best team out but a stronger squad will be needed for the challenges ahead.

 

Just as with Lord Sugar and his apprentice, the search for new players goes on.

 

MOM: Keeper Ross Mitchell kept the scoreline from being more embarrassing with some superb saves so he was top performer but honourable mentions must go to two-goal Andy Daly and Gary Di Folco who never stopped running.

 

AC Milanda – Mitchell, Fawns, Preston, Evans, McKenzie, Di Folco, Stenson, Murray, Binnie, Daly, Reid.

 

----------

GDSML fixture. Stepford

 

AC MILANDA 3 GLASGOW ISLAY 4 Scorers Murray (2), Coyle

 

The tale of woe continued with another league defeat but Milanda can count themselves unlucky not to have taken at least a point.

 

With just two minutes to go, the game was locked at 3-3 after an evenly-fought contest and Islay scored their fourth from a disputed free-kick.

 

But even then there was time for one more Milanda attack and Colin Kelly fired a shot against the Islay crossbar.

 

So while there was a sense of deep disappointment and even injustice given some of the refereeing decisions – Kelly was clean through on goal in the second period when there was a late whistle for an offside Islay didn't even claim – it was heartening that the players had given strong opponents a tough 90 minutes.

 

Milanda had probably their strongest squad so far this season on duty and could even list three substitutes.

 

Thomas Addison, Marc Allan, Greig Harley and Martin Coyle were back and Graeme Robertson came into the left midfield slot as a trialist.

 

Milanda dominated the first 20 minutes and should have had more than one goal to show for their efforts.

 

Islay were perhaps expecting a stroll in the park given Milanda's recent results or maybe they were put off by Adda's new Kim Jong-un look.

 

Who knew Glasgow had a Turkish barber doing North Korean haircuts?

 

Whatever the reason, the visitors took a back seat as Milanda pushed forward and scored after eight minutes. A Craig Fawns corner was cleared only as far as Paul Murray just outside the box and he fired an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.

 

Robertson and Allan had chances to add to the lead before an equaliser was gifted in the 28th minute from Milanda's own throw-in. Possession was given away too easily then a Murray slip in the box gave one of the Islay forwards a simple goal.

 

The defending was suspect again five minutes later when Islay went 2-1 ahead.

 

Ten minutes into the second half, a foul on Kelly gave Milanda the chance to equalise from the penalty spot and Murray put his miss against Strathclyde University behind him to stick this one away.

 

Islay regained the lead in the 70th minute but back came Milanda again to level matters five minutes later. A long throw by Fawns was headed home by substitute Coyle with the aid of a slight deflection.

 

There was just a feeling among observers that there was at least another goal in this very open match and unfortunately it was Islay who notched it in that dramatic finale.

 

MOM: There were good and bad moments for just about every Milanda player on Saturday but the one man whose consistency stood out was Gary Di Folco. The central midfield role was not one he is usually given but he took to it luck a duck to water and his drive and energy kept Milanda in the game from first minute to last.

 

TEAM – Mitchell, Fawns, Addison, Preston, Harley, Daly (Coyle), Di Folco, Murray, Robertson, Kelly, Allan. Subs not used: Binnie, McKenzie.

 

----------

Netherton Park. GDSML

 

GLASGOW CALEY 5 AC MILANDA 2 Scorers Kelly, Murray

 

MILANDA brought in another couple of new faces – and a former Player of the Year – but the end result was just the same. Glasgow Caley were simply too strong and always looked in control after a three-goal blast in the first half. Milanda put up more of a fight in the second half but never really looked capable of turning things around.

 

With a number of players unavailable, brothers Joe and Sean Cannon – recommended by Milanda legend Thomas Addison – came into the starting line-up as new signings, while Roddy Macdonald got the boots back on to help out after a lengthy injury absence. Milanda actually looked the better side in the early exchanges at a misty Netherton but the big and powerful Caley broke the deadlock after 10 minutes and added two more goals before the break. But for a couple of good saves by Ross Mitchell, some good defending by Macdonald and Co and a goal-line clearance by Paul Murray, the home side's lead would have been bigger.

 

Milanda only came close to scoring once in the first 45 minutes and that was when a Murray corner caused panic in the box but they couldn’t force the ball home despite the best efforts of Marc Allan. Glasgow Caley were so in control that they could afford to miss chances and not appear worried.

That changed slightly when Andy Daly, who had replaced the injured Scott Preston, picked out Colin Kelly with a superb pass and Milanda’s top scorer scored after his first effort had come back off the keeper’s left-hand post.

 

Unfortunately, the home team went straight upfield and restored their three-goal advantage. Milanda got another goal back when the referee spotted a push on Gerry Evans and Murray netted the penalty. At that stage, Milanda were actually winning the second-half battle if that is any kind of consolation.

And they should have scored again when a shot by Gary Di Folco bounced back off the keeper but Daly couldn’t get the rebound on target.

 

Glasgow Caley added a fifth goal before Sean Cannon missed a good chance in front of goal from an Allan cross. Milanda also picked up another two unnecessary bookings, Murray for dissent and Kelly for a studs-up challenge on one of the home defenders that could easily have earned a red card. It’s bad enough losing games but we can’t afford to be losing players to suspension when we have such trouble getting a team on the park.

 

It’s also unacceptable to take out frustrations on referees or opponents because they don’t deserve it. Let's cut this out now.

 

MOM: Gary Di Folco was Milanda’s top performer for the second consecutive game with his non-stop running, which shows what can be done when you pound the streets during the week. Skipper Paul Murray and Marc Allan also worked particularly hard and others did well in spells but we needed more against a set of players whose pace and movement lasted for 90 minutes.

 

AC Milanda – Mitchell, J Cannon, Macdonald (Thomson), Evans, Reid, Di Folco, Preston (Daly), Murray, Allan, Kelly, S Cannon.

 

---------

League

 

AC MILANDA 1 ABRONHILL INTRANS 5 Scorer Kelly

 

The agony continued for Milanda as they suffered another heavy defeat to stay rooted to the foot of the GDSML First Division.

 

In fairness, the scoreline flatters the Cumbernauld side because for more than an hour they very much had a game on their hands.

 

However, two quick goals in the 70th and 72nd minutes turned the game 3-1 in their favour and a couple more towards the end completed the job.

 

At 1-1, Milanda looked every bit as likely to take the lead as Abronhill but good chances were passed up.

 

The usual Saturday morning no-shows that have so blighted the season so far left Milanda with 13 players from a registered list of more than 30. And of the 13, one was a trialist and another a debutant, so basically only 11 regulars turned up.

 

The early exchanges were fairly even but it was Abronhill who took the lead after 17 minutes when they cashed in on a defensive slip by Gerry Evans.

 

Milanda were level just two minutes later. New signing Andy Baillie had a shot blocked and Colin Kelly, who had started the attack, was first on the loose ball to fire home.

 

It was good end-to-end stuff. Ross Mitchell made an excellent save at one end, then Baillie had another effort dealt with by the Abronhill keeper following a neat flick from Kelly.

 

Milanda looked certain to take the lead when Kelly broke clear on the left but he tried to square the ball to Gary Di Folco instead of shooting and the ball was blocked.

 

More excellent goalkeeping by Mitchell denied Abronhill and the visitors had another promising attack halted by a foul from Andy Thomson which earned him a yellow card.

 

At the start of the second period, Kelly fired an overhead kick wide and then hit a tame shot at the keeper following a counter-attack involving himself and Baillie.

 

However, those two quick goals by Abrobhill midway through the half changed everything.

 

They were in control after that and their superior fitness made it hard for Milanda to cope. Skipper Paul Murray was forced to abandon his midfield role to help out the defence and Milanda in general looked second best all over ther pitch.

 

There was one more chance of a home goal when a lucky break of the ball gave Marc Allan an opening inside the box but his shot hit the keeper's right-hand post and went wide.

 

MOM: Paul Murray, Gary Di Folco, Colin Kelly and Andy Baillie were the pick of the outfield players and worked tremendously hard for the cause but this week's man of the match award goes to keeper Ross Mitchell for some fantastic saves.

 

TEAM: Mitchell, Reid, Evans, Thomson, Harley, Di Folco, Trialist, Murray, Allan, Kelly, Baillie. Subs not used: Binnie, McKenzie.

 

----------

GDSML Cup first round. Stepford

 

AC MILANDA 4 STRATHCLYDE UNIVERSITY 4 (Milanda win 3-1 on penalties) Scorers Cannon, Kelly (2), Coyle

 

SENSATIONAL, simply sensational. Cup final victories aside, this has to go down as one of the most amazing results in Milanda's history. Beating Strathclyde with 11 men is difficult enough - as was proved earlier in the season when we were thrashed on a league visit to Stepps - but at 10am on Saturday the idea of doing it with 10 never crossed anyone's mind. The now weekly call-offs and no-shows meant that the gallant 10 went out with the hope of keeping the scoreline reasonably respectable.

 

But they came off the pitch covered in mud and with smiles on their faces after a truly awesome performance.

 

The talented Strathclyde team played really well, so that tells you all you need to know about the kind of morning Milanda had. Every single player was magnificent. Keeper Ross Mitchell made some outstanding saves against his old team, while at the other end of the pitch lone striker Sean Cannon somehow managed to keep three defenders occupied. In between them were two banks of four who coped admirably with their lively young opponents.

 

Gary Di Folco, stand-in skipper Gerry Evans, Andy Thomson and Ben McKenzie won't have many busier days in defence but they put their bodies on the line, threw themselves into tackles and frustrated the hell out of opponents who continually moaned about how “embarrassing” it was that they weren't wiping the floor with us.

 

Ahead of them was a quartet that had never operated as a midfield for Milanda but what a job they did. The running power of Marc Allan and Colin Kelly allied to the skill and experience of Martin Johnstone and Martin Coyle made up a formidable unit that gave as good as it got. And, of course, the banter was brilliant. Well, Coyle was in there so you would expect nothing less.

 

All in all, it was the most enjoyable game Milanda have been involved in for long enough. Yes, there were some breaks. Strathclyde missed a couple of chances you would have expected them to take and no doubt their coach will have written “see me” in the culprits' jotters (if indeed they have jotters at uni - I didn't go) but Milanda too passed up opportunities.

 

And although the statistics would probably show they had more possession of the ball, it's what you do with it that counts and Milanda over the 90 minutes and the penalty shootout stuck it in the net more often. That's the only stat that counts.

 

There was some doubt about the tie going ahead due to the rain but referee John McMurray gave the go-ahead and Milanda had the first real chance. Kelly broke clear but shot straight at the keeper. Strathclyde then had a little spell of dominance but Mitchell made three super stops before play moved to the other end where Cannon missed a chance after being set up by Coyle.

 

The students finally broke the deadlock but Milanda responded with an excellent move for the equaliser. Evans, for possibly the first time in his career, hit a magnificent pass to Kelly on the right and he burst in the box with some of his magic footwork to provide the pass for Cannon to blast the ball past the keeper.

 

Strathclyde responded by going 2-1 up but just before the break they were pegged back again. McKenzie's free-kick was head-flicked on by Coyle and Kelly fired the ball first time into the net. Another special goal.

 

The second half had hardly started when Milanda were gifted the lead for the first time. Coyle's back header towards goal didn't look likely to cause problems but the keeper and one of his defenders bumped into each other in trying to deal with it and the ball trundled into the net. It may have been an own goal but as no Strathclyde player will want it we'll give it to Coyle.

 

Astonishingly, it was soon 4-2. Di Folco's throw was headed back by Johnstone and Kelly thumped the ball into the corner of the net. Cue more mumping and moaning from Strathclyde who weren't happy that the 10 men didn't seem willing to lie down and accept the scripted defeat.

 

There was a long way to go, though, and the defence had to soak up a lot of pressure. Strathclyde were particularly keen to use their pace on the left which meant a busy morning for right-back Di Folco but he coped well with the help of his fellow defenders. Johnstone and Coyle also assisted in giving the defence a breather with their ability to keep the ball under pressure and they had two willing runners alongside them in Allan and Kelly to stretch Strathclyde on the break.

 

The students eventually got a goal back from a corner and scored their fourth with a strong, low shot by midfield general Ibrahim Tsanakas. He's been playing against Milanda for so many seasons that the thought occurred he must be rubbish at exams. But Coyle reckoned he's the Strathclyde Uni janitor.

 

Anyway, Milanda held firm in the closing minutes to secure the shootout.

 

With the players out on their feet after 90 tough minutes on a heavy pitch, would there be five with the strength to take a penalty? Turned out there was and Milanda got a break when Mitchell saved the first Strathclyde kick. However, Coyle's effort was also saved and the potential advantage was gone. However, Strathclyde missed two of their next three while Allan, McKenzie and Cannon took perfect penalties to seal a 3-1 win.

 

MOM: You couldn't single out one player from such a team performance so this week's man of the match award is split 10 ways.

 

TEAM: Mitchell, Di Folco, Evans, Thomson, McKenzie, Coyle, Johnstone, Kelly, Allan, Cannon. Subs: Who needs them?

 

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GDSML Donald Dewar Centre, Drumchapel.

 

BLAIRDARDIE 6 AC MILANDA 1 Scorer Murray

 

Playing with 11 men is definitely overrated. After beating Strathclyde Uni in the GDSML Cup with 10, Milanda went back to the more traditional line-up and lost another three points. Milanda couldn't be any more pointless if they included Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman in their squad. Stuck to the foot of the First Division with a tally of zero, they have to start turning things around or the inevitable will happen. There is still plenty of time to avoid relegation but we need to get some wins on the board soon.

 

This is a tough league with some good teams. Milanda are competing with most of them for about 70 minutes but the final 20 we seem to collapse.

That inevitably points the finger at fitness and that's something each individual player can do something about. So let's do it.

 

Milanda had a decent first half on the astroturf surface and were a bit unlucky to be 3-1 down at the break. Paul Murray had cut the deficit at one stage to just 2-1 with a fierce right-foot shot from the edge of the box after a Greig Harley corner had been partially cleared. Sean Cannon might have done better with another couple of chances and the industrious Marc Allan also went close but generally we didn't work the keeper enough.

 

Some of the build-up play was good, though, with Harley and Graeme Robertson combining well on the left, Martin Coyle doing his thing on the right and skipper Murray and Gary Di Folco getting stuck in for central midfield possession.New right-back Creagh Murray came on to a strong game in the second half and substitue Andy Baillie provided fresh legs up front but most of the chances were created by Blairdardie who put three of them away, one a dodgy penalty awarded against Di Folco.

 

The scoreline seems a bit harsh for the effort put in but there's no point in feeling sorry for ourselves. We know what's required.

 

MOM: Marc Allan played three different positions over the 90 minutes and worked his socks off in them all, so he just beats goalscorer Paul Murray, Gary Di Folco, Greig Harley and Creagh Murray for this week's accolade.

 

TEAM: Mitchell, C Murray, Evans, Thomson, Harley, Coyle (McKenzie), Di Folco, P Murray, Robertson (Baillie), Allan, S Cannon.

 

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Petershill Park. GDSML

 

AUCHINAIRN STAR 4 AC MILANDA 1 Scorer Robertson

 

MILANDA just didn’t have the quality to trouble an Auchinairn side who won more comfortably than the scoreline suggests at Petershill.

 

The home keeper didn’t have one shot to save in the first half and was virtually a spectator as his team-mates established a two-goal lead on the junior club’s big 3G pitch.

 

Opposite number Ross Mitchell, on the other hand, had a busy morning and prevented a defeat becoming a thrashing.

 

Gary Di Folco had Milanda’s first serious effort at goal after an hour but his shot went wide.

 

This seemed to annoy Auchinairn who went upfield and made it 3-0.

 

Injuries to Gerry Evans and Marc Allan didn’t help the Milanda cause but they did have a chance to cut the deficit when slack play by Auchinairn provided substitute Sean Cannon with an opening. However, the keeper was out quickly to deny him.

 

Milanda’s best move of the match shortly afterwards almost produced a goal. Martin Johnstone combined with Di Folco on the right and when the full-back’s cross found Greig Harley he hit a powerful shot that the keeper pushed over the bar.

 

With three minutes to go, another piece of quality did pay off. Martin Coyle played the perfect weight of pass through the Auchinairn defence and Graeme Robertson ran in from the left to beat the keeper for his first Milanda goal.

 

However, the home team responded by going upfield and making it 4-1.

 

There was one last chance for Milanda to add to their tally. A nice pass from Harley set up Robertson again but this time he shot wide.

 

Not a game that will live long in the memory.

 

MOM: Gary Di Folco put in another great shift, as did Marc Allan before being injured, but keeper Ross Mitchell was the top performer. He had no chance with the goals and prevented a heavier defeat with four superb stops.

 

AC Milanda – Mitchell, Di Folco, Evans (Cannon), Thomson, Harley, Coyle, Baillie, Murray, Robertson, Allan (McKenzie), Johnstone.

 

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Stepford. GDSML Cup round two.

 

RED STAR BAILLIESTON 8 AC MILANDA 0

 

HAVING won their first-round tie in the GDSML Cup with 10 men, Milanda opted to handicap themselves further and play their second-round match with just nine.

 

It didn’t work.

 

Injuries, Christmas nights out, work commitments babysitters not turning up ... the reasons for not have 11 men were more varied than usual but the outcome was the same.

 

The nine who did turn up put in a good shift. The atsroturf pitch at Stepford was perfectly playable but the howling wind and rain made for horrendous conditions and a miserable morning.

 

Red Star did what they had to do but until the late stages it looked as if Milanda would suffer only a 4-0 or 5-0 beating and that would have been acceptable under the circumstances.

 

Three late goals put a better gloss on things for the Premier Division team but on a calmer day with 11 against 11 this could have been a competitive tie.

 

MOM: Gerry Evans was stand-in keeper and pulled off some good saves, while Roddy Macdonald answered an SOS to help out in defence and did a really good job against impossible odds. However, man of the match goes to his fellow central defender Greig Harley (because he thinks it’s about time he won it).

 

AC Milanda – Evans, Di Folco, Macdonald, Harley, McKenzie, R Addison, S Cannon, Murray, Robertson.

 

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Cumbernauld. GDSML

 

ABRONHILL INTRANS 12 AC MILANDA 1 Scorer Johnstone

 

Milanda’s future is in serious doubt after another Saturday in which they were unable to put 11 players on the pitch. Normally after the festive break there is renewed enthusiasm and a good turnout of players eager to get back into action. Not so this time. Fourteen players were expected but only 10 turned up and two of them had clearly not recovered from injuries. Marc Allan, who had been out with an Achilles problem, injured himself again in the warm-up and although he played the entire game, it was clear he was in some discomfort.

 

Top scorer Colin Kelly, absent for a number of weeks with an ankle injury, jarred the joint early in the game and was unable to continue.So we were left to play the bulk of the game with eight fit players and against a good Abronhill side it was pretty much a waste of everyone’s time. Milanda had to defend for most of the game as the Abronhill players piled forward looking for glory.

 

They scored seven in the first half and five in the second but Milanda did upset them by netting a late consolation. Martin Johnstone burst through the middle and lofted the ball over the advancing keeper. His fingertip touch slowed the ball down and he raced back in an attempt to paw it off the line.It looked as if Abronhill's No.1 might have succeeded too but referee Alex Miller ruled the ball had crossed the line, much to the keeper’s disgust.

 

And so another Saturday ends with an embarrassing scoreline. There was a chat at half-time about whether it is worth continuing if there is no great interest in the team and the general consensus was we shouldn’t pull the plug just yet.

 

Hopefully we can at least see out the season and so not let down the other teams in our division but at this moment in time that looks like being a struggle.

 

MOM: Everyone put in a good shift despite the futility of it all but Martin Johnstone did that little bit extra in that he managed Milanda’s only shot on target.

 

AC Milanda – Mitchell, Di Folco, Evans, Thomson, Harley, Daly, Coyle, Johnstone, Allan, Kelly

 

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Lochend. GDSML

 

GLASGOW ISLAY 4 AC MILANDA 2 ScorersC. Murray, Johnstone

 

The scoreline indicates a defeat but this was a victory of sorts for Milanda in that they succeeded in putting a decent team on the park. Sterling work behind the scenes by the likes of Martin Coyle, Paul Murray and Gary Di Folco ensured there was someone to fill every strip in the bag – and that was a first for the season. Hopefully that will continue to be the case as we set about trying to get off the bottom of the GDSML First Division.

 

The performance at Lochend certainly provided hope because Milanda were slightly unlucky not to take something from an impressive Islay team. Two of the Islay goals were controversial, referee Marc Duff failing to spot a hand ball at one and missing what looked a certain offside at the other. When you’re down you never seem to get that little break you need but perhaps it will come next time out.

 

The Milanda defence, with new signing Lee Gray playing alongside Gerry Evans in a central role, came under early pressure and it took a fine save by Ross Mitchell to keep the scoreline blank. But the action moved quickly to the other end where Coyle, who had replaced early injury victim Ben Graham, had a shot blocked from a Paul Murray corner.

 

Milanda broke the deadlock after 16 minutes when Coyle laid the ball off for Creagh Murray who struck a crisp low shot past the Islay keeper. Unfortunately, Islay went straight up the park and equalised.Mitchell pulled off another good save before Islay went 2-1 up following a corner. The player who scored appeared to control the ball with his hand before shooting but the referee saw nothing amiss and gave the goal.

 

The Milanda midfield, which featured another two new faces in Mark Hutton and Iain McKellar, was competing well and Islay certainly weren’t getting things their own way. Just before the break, a good block by the hard-working Di Folco saw the ball break kindly for Martin Johnstone on the edge of the box and he kept his cool to make the score 2-2.

 

The second half was also keenly contested but it was Islay who turned their attacking play into goals. They went 3-2 up with a powerful shot and scored a fourth despite loud appeals for offside by Milanda, particularly substitute Davie Crawford who had a good view of the incident. Creagh Murray put an effort wide from Di Folco’s cross and McKellar and Paul Murray had shots saved as Milanda tried to get back on terms. In the end, their efforts were in vain but Islay knew they had been in a game.

 

MOM: A good effort from everyone but Lee Gray takes the man of the match award for an impressive performance in central defence.

 

AC Milanda – Mitchell, Di Folco, Evans, Gray, Harley (McKenzie), Hutton (Crawford), C Murray, McKellar, P Murray, Johnstone, Graham (Coyle) (Daly).

 

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Stepford. Vince McGlinchey Trophy quarter-final.

 

FINNIESTON PARK 9 AC MILANDA 1 Scorer Daly

 

Milanda’s hopes of a place in the semi-finals of the Vince McGlinchey Trophy died of hypothermia on the frozen wastes of Stepford.

 

A decent first half saw the Premier League team restricted to just a single goal but this gave way to a horrendous second half in which it was clear some players just wanted to be out of the freezing sleet and rain.

 

Heads seemed to go down when Finnieston scored their third goal and it wasn't long before there were calls for the referee to cut the game short.

 

Understandably, Finnieston weren’t having any of that as they gave all five substitutes game time and boosted their confidence with a constant flow of goals.

 

Hopefully, Milanda will show more fight in the battle ahead to stay in the First Division.

 

Injuries forced a couple of team reshuffles during the game but that is no excuse for a performance that was, at times, embarrassing. If you can’t match the opposition, there is an acceptable way of losing. This wasn’t it.

 

Andy Daly, who had come close to scoring in the first half, netted a well-taken consolation goal for Milanda in the dying minutes after being set up by Martin Coyle.

 

MOM: Few Milanda players got anywhere near pass marks on a day to forget. The best performer by a mile was Martin Coyle who kept battling when others were posted missing or making half-hearted attempts at tackles. We will need more players with his attitude in the weeks to come.

 

AC Milanda – Mitchell, Di Folco, Evans (Daly), Gray, Thomson, Hutton, C Murray, P Murray, Allan, Kelly (McKenzie), Coyle.

 

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Stepford. GDSML

 

AC MILANDA 0 BLAIRDARDIE 1

 

MILANDA put up a much better fight than of late and were unlucky not to take a point against the league leaders.At the end of 90 minutes, all that separated the teams was a deflected free-kick goal. To boil the 90 minutes down to a sentence, Blairdardie got the little bit of luck that just wouldn’t come Milanda’s way. They say that if you’re bottom of the league you never get a break and that was certainly the case here.

 

There was also another injury problem when Greig Harley, who was having a good game on the left of midfield, had to limp off. On the up side, the three new boys who went on as second-half subs, Josh Ralston, Tam Tarres and Graeme Howe, made good contributions and generally things look a little more hopeful for the games ahead, especially with top scorer Colin Kelly looking more like his old self again following an ankle injury.

 

Milanda gave as good as they got in the first half without creating any clear-cut chances. The same could be said of Blairdardie but they scored with a free-kick that took a slight nick off Martin Coyle in the defensive wall and beat keeper Ross Mitchell.

 

The visiting team did come close on one other occasion following a corner, Mark Hutton denying them with a goal-line clearance.

 

Milanda were desperate unlucky in the 58th minute when Hutton’s corner was headed from close-range by Coyle and the ball hit the keeper on the face and bounced over the bar. The Blairdardie No.1 knew nothing about it but managed to keep the ball out. He also had another good save late on from Howe who had been set up by fellow sub Marc Allan after a good run down the left.

 

Hard as Milanda tried, they just couldn’t get the goal to earn a draw but each department of the side can be happy with the overall performance.The defence look better organised, the midfield was energetic and the front men definitely carried more of a threat. Hopefully this should lift confidence for the challenges to come, starting on Saturday when we visit fellow strugglers Blantyre.

 

MOM: Everyone put in an excellent shift but Gary Di Folco went the extra mile in midfield so The Walking Tattoo wins man of the match.

 

AC Milanda – Mitchell, C Murray, Evans, Gray, Thomson, Hutton (Howe), Di Folco, Johnstone, Harley (Tarres), Kelly (Allan), Coyle (Howe). Sub: McKenzie.

 

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Coatbridge. GDSML

 

BLANTYRE 2 AC MILANDA 2 Scorers Johnstone, Howe

 

It was a case of mixed feelings for Milanda after a hard-fought draw with relegation rivals Blantyre. Yes the game brought the team its first point of a wretched league campaign but the overriding feeling was that it could have been three. Blantyre will no doubt be thinking the same and they did miss the most clear-cut of the second-half openings but Milanda had some good spells of pressure in the game and just a poor final pass or bad decision making prevented them from adding to their goal tally.

 

For only the second time this season, Milanda had so many players they couldn’t give everyone a strip so it was a strong squad that took the field at St Ambrose School in Coatbridge. The importance of the game appeared to have spooked some of them, however, and a tentative start allowed Blantyre to gain a measure of control.However, the best of early openings fell to Martin Johnstone. A long clearance by keeper Ross Mitchell saw him get behind the home defence and only a good save by the keeper denied him.

 

It was a let-off for Blantyre who promptly went up the field and took the lead following some poor defending.

 

Milanda drew level after 22 minutes following a Paul Murray corner. Andy Thomson and Martin Johnstone were both involved in getting the ball over the line and although the final touch may have come from a Blantyre player, the Dubious Goals Committee awarded it to Johnstone. But it wasn’t long before Mitchell was a beaten again at the other end, the Blantyre player’s shot going in off the keeper’s right-hand post.

 

Milanda tried to hit back and Paul Murray had a long-range shot tipped over the bar before Martin Coyle suffered bad luck at a corner for the second week running. Coyle got his head to Mark Hutton’s flag kick but the ball hit the underside of the bar and was cleared. With striker Graeme Howe on for the injured Hutton and Martin Johnstone moved back to midfield, Milanda made a better start to this half but there was still the feeling certain players were waiting for things to happen instead of forcing the issue.

 

But eventually they came up with the goods with a 67th-minute equaliser. Some good passing saw the ball moved out to the left for Tam Tarres and his cross was perfect for “Rambo” Howe to head a brilliant equaliser. Colin Kelly and Greig Harley went on to provide fresh legs and several good attacks could have brought a dividend with a bit more composure. Howe missed perhaps the best of them when he opted to fire the ball wide rather than set up a team-mate.

 

However, Milanda also had a couple of scares. Blantyre failed to capitalise when an Andy Thomson slip left their striker with a one on one with keeper Mitchell and later Gary Di Folco made a vital goal-line clearance.

 

MOM: Creagh Murray and Lee Gray shone in defence, while Graeme Howe made a real impact when he went on as a sub and scored. However, Martin Johnstone takes the man of the match award for putting in a tremendous shift both up front and in midfield.

 

AC Milanda – Mitchell, C Murray, Gray, Thomson, Ralston (Harley), Hutton (Howe), Di Folco, Murray, Tarres, Johnstone, Coyle (Kelly). Subs: Allan, Daly.

 

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Stepford. GDSML

 

AC MILANDA 0 MILNGAVIE BC 4

 

Sometimes you have to accept you’ve been beaten by a superior team and that was the case here. Milanda managed a home win and an away draw against Milngavie last season but the team they put out this time was of a higher standard. Having said that, Paul Murray and Co competed well against them and the scoreline is perhaps a trifle harsh.

 

Milngavie got a couple of breaks in front of goal and benefited from individual mistakes while Milanda just didn’t seem to enjoy any luck. Ross Mitchell had some good early saves as a slick Milngave side swarmed around the home side’s box but he was eventually beaten after 15 minutes. Milanda were unlucky not to equalise when a Paul Murray volley was blocked following good link-up play by Graeme Howe and Colin Kelly.

 

Milngave scored again and so were 2-0 up at the break.Milanda worked hard in the early part of the second half without making too many clear-cut chances. The best of them fell to the hard-working Marc Allan. He powered through on a 1-2 with Kelly and hit a powerful shot that was too straight to really worry the keeper.

 

Milngavie grabbed another two late goals to finish fairly comfortable winners but they certainly knew they had been in a game.

 

MOM: Keeper Ross Mitchell made some good stops in both halves and had little chance with the goals. Roddy Macdonald returned to help out in defence and did some sterling work alongside Creagh Murray, Gerry Evans and Andy Thomson. The midfield was a bit too preoccupied to provide much in the way of opportunities for the front men but they all worked their socks off, none more so than Gary Di Folco who was man of the match.

 

AC Milanda – Mitchell, C Murray, Evans, Macdonald, Thomson (McKenzie), Di Folco, Murray, Tarres (Ralston), Allan, Howe (Graham), Kelly.

 

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Stepford. GDSML.

 

AC MILANDA 0 BLANTYRE 0

 

MILANDA pounded the Blantyre goal for large chunks of this match but couldn’t find the little bit of quality required to turn one point into three.

 

Both teams are now looking for a miracle to avoid dropping into the lowest division of the GDSML.

 

One of the problems that has blighted Milanda’s season is players failing to turn up without prior notice and there were three no-shows for this crucial fixture.

 

Fortunately, it was still possible to field a strong line-up and after 15 minutes or so it was clear Blantyre had a weaker side than in the 2-2 draw the teams had played out at Coatbridge recently.

 

Milanda dominated as a result but a combination of good goalkeeping, poor finishing, taking the wrong option and sheer bad luck made this a frustrating 90 minutes for those on the park and on the sidelines.

 

The Blantyre goal had a charmed life in the first period. A short headed passback by one of their players let Colin Kelly in but the keeper pulled off a good save.

 

Martin Johnstone then set up Kelly with a superb cutback but this time his shot was blocked.

 

Marc Allan shot wide after Creagh Murray’s cross had picked him out at the back post and a Johnstone shot also just missed the target.

 

Milanda were unlucky when Johnstone crossed for Andy Daly and his bicycle kick shot rattled the Blantyre bar. If that one had gone in, the Goal of the Season award would have been wrapped up there and then.

 

There were numerous other half-chances that got away and then, just before the break, Ross Mitchell had to make a good save to keep out a Blantyre free-kick.

 

It was much the same story in the second half, although Milanda didn’t make quite as many openings.

 

However, there were enough to settle the game. Kelly headed a Paul Murray corner over before setting up Gary Di Folco for what looked a certain goal but Tattoo Man was unable to call on his super powers and scooped the ball over the bar.

 

It seemed the deadlock would be broken 15 minutes from time when a ball over the top was going to leave Kelly one on one with the keeper until the Blantyre centre-half caught it and was sent off for denying a goalscoring opportunity.

 

It proved a good decision because the free-kick came to nothing and his 10 colleagues held on for a fortunate draw.

 

The final Milanda chance fell to substitute Ben Graham but he headed over from good position.

 

MOM: Every player put in a shift but Andy Daly wins man of the match for an excellent performane on the right of midfield and coming closest to scoring with that spectacular shot off the bar.

 

AC Milanda – Mitchell, C Murray, Evans, Thomson, Harley, Daly, Di Folco, P Murray, Allan (Graham), Johnstone, Kelly. Subs not used: McKenzie, Hutton.

 

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Stepford. GDSML

 

AC MILANDA 4 STRATHCLYDE UNI 2 Scorers Johnstone, Daly, Own goal, Murray

 

MILANDA recorded their first league win of the season thanks to a marvellous performance against an impressive student team.

It’s never easy to beat Strathclyde because of their youth and the pool of talent at their disposal but the Milanda players rose to the occasion and were well worth the three points.

 

Strathclyde were still annoyed at having lost a cup-tie to a 10-man Milanda team earlier in the season, so they were well motivated to gain revenge. But they weren’t given the opportunity as the home side fought for every ball and scored some excellent goals.

 

Strathclyde made a lively start and Craig Fawns had to make some good saves before Milanda went ahead in the 12th minute. A poor clearance by the Uni keeper was pounced on by Greig Harley who surged down the left. He then produced the perfect cross for Martin Johnstone who flicked the ball into the net in much the same way Jamie Vardy had done for England against Holland earlier in the week. A classic goal. Ten minutes later, another superb goal saw Milanda double their advantage. Paul Murray’s throw was headed back towards goal by Harley and Andy Daly dived to nod it into the net.

 

Strathclyde were reeling and they would have been 3-0 down had a bad bounce not prevented Johnstone scoring what looked a certain third. More good work by Fawns and his defenders kept the students at bay until the 38th minute when they finally reduced the deficit.

 

With Colin Kelly on for Ben Graham, Milanda made a good start to the second period and the substitute almost made an immediate impact with a strong shot that went past. Then Gary Di Folco hit a drive against the bar after good leading-up work by Kelly and Daly. Goal No.3 arrived in the 68th minute. Skipper Murray took a corner from the right to the near post and the ball hit a defender and finished up in the net. Amazingly, Milanda scored again five minutes later. This time Murray pushed forward from his midfield beat and, as Strathclyde backed off, he fired in a terrific left-foot shot that took a deflection on its way past the keeper.

 

Two minutes later, Strathclyde pulled it back to 4-2 but Milanda were still making chances and Daly and Kelly were both unlucky in front of goal. Strathclyde hit the woodwork in a fairly frantic finish but never looked likely to take anything from the game and they suffered another blow late on when their keeper was sent off by referee George Dunbar for foul and abusive language.

 

So a good day for Milanda and it’s just a shame the win wasn’t enough to take the team off the bottom of the table.

 

MOM: A fair number of candidates could claim to be worthy of this week’s award. Keeper Craig Fawns showed no signs of rustiness after his lay-off and made vital saves at vital times. The defenders were all solid, as were the midfielders, and Martin Johnstone produced another master class up front. But, after much consideration, Man of the Match goes to Greig Harley who played brilliantly on the left of midfield and assisted in two of the goals.

 

AC Milanda – Fawns, C Murray, Evans, Gray, McKenzie (Thomson), Daly (Allan), Di Folco, P Murray, Harley, Johnstone, Graham (Kelly). Sub not used: Hutton.

 

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Stepford. GDSML

 

AC MILANDA 2 CALEDONIAN AMATEURS 4 Scorers Hutton, Rose

 

TWO late goals denied Milanda a point in a hard-fought encounter.

 

The home side were 2-1 ahead for quite a chunk of the first half and tied at 2-2 for most of the second but the big and powerful Caledonian team nicked the glory with a strong finish.

 

Milanda found themselves a goal down after two minutes but took just another couple of minutes to pull level.

 

It was a classic set-play from the men in red and black, with Paul Murray's long throw being headed back by Greig Harley for Mark Hutton to nod the ball away from the keeper for his first Milanda goal. Well made and well finished.

 

Trialist Peter “Pedro” Rose headed over as Milanda tried to get their noses in front but Andy Thomson had to clear off the line at the other end as Caledonian did likewise.

 

Milanda made it 2-1 after 20 minutes. Murray was again the provider with a curling cross to the back post where Rose was on hand to force the ball home.

 

Caledonian powered back and Gerry Evans was fortunate to see an attempted clearance come back off his own woodwork rather than sneak into the net.

 

But the former university team did eventually get the equaliser and so it was all square at the break.

 

Rose and Colin Kelly, despite their height and weight disadvantage, were giving the Caledonian back four some problems and were involved when Milanda almost scored again.

 

Kelly provided the final cross to the back post where the inrushing Greig Harley just couldn't fire the ball on target.

 

Then Craig Fawns, not for the first time, denied Caledonian with a superb double save.

 

It looked as if Milanda might hold on for a point, although they were definitely behind on chances created, but Caledonian kept pushing and pushing and were rewarded with two goals in the final 10 minutes.

 

MOM: Creagh Murray, Lee Gray, Paul Murray and Gary Di Folco were the pick of the outfield players but man of the match goes to Craig Fawns who made good saves at vital times and kept the team in with a shout almost to the end.

 

TEAM: Fawns, C Murray, Evans, Gray, Thomson (Coyle), Hutton (Daly), Di Folco, P Murray, Harley (Allan), Kelly, Rose. Subs: Not used Graham, McKenzie.

 

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Oakburn Park, Milngave. GDSML

 

MILNGAVIE BOYS CLUB 5 AC MILANDA 1 ScorerHutton, Rose

 

FOR 78 minutes of this match, Milanda competed well against the impressive youngsters of Milngavie Boys Club. Unfortunately, the short period in which they failed to compete – the opening 12 minutes – saw them ship three goals. You could argue that Milanda had plenty of time to get back in the match by having their worst period right at the start but against a sweet-moving side of young, talented players, that was always going to be a tall order.

 

They did cut the deficit before the break when Greig Harley headed in a Paul Murray corner. And there were a couple of other chances either side of this. Colin Kelly shot over from a Pedr o Rose pass and Codger might have scored again following a defensive mistake but the keeper pulled off a super save at his feet as he tried to go round him.

 

Milanda put the experienced Martin Coyle on early in the second half and gradually introduced their other four subs to try to change the pattern but chances were few and far between.Milngavie did get another couple of goals, though – one a tremendous solo effort – and finished comfortable winners.

 

MOM: On a busy night for the Milanda defenders, Gerry Evans put in a shift and a half and was definitely the team’s star man.

 

TEAM: Mitchell, C Murray, Evans, Thomson, McKenzie, Hutton (O’Donnell), Di Folco (Daly), P Murray, Harley (Allan), Kelly (Graham), Rose (Coyle).

 

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Bishopton Top Park. GDSML

 

BISHOPTON 1 AC MILANDA 1 Scorer Kelly

 

MILANDA fought hard to take a point from a match that was frustrating for both teams.The first half belonged to the away side and they could have had at least one more goal to show for their superiority.But Bishopton had more chances after the break, some of them from individual errors by Milanda players, and will probably feel they should have won.

 

A good start had Bishopton on the back foot and Ryan O’Donnell saw a shot comfortably saved after good build-up work by Gary Di Folco and Martin Coyle.

Coyle and O’Donnell then combined to set up a shooting chance for Colin Kelly at th edge of the box and the ball was in the net before the keeper could move.It was a well-worked goal and at that stage it looked as if Milanda could go on and punish a jittery home team further.

 

However, the lead lasted just six minutes as Bishopton scored a simple equaliser that should have been defended better. O’Donnell shot over after a good run by Kelly and at the other end Ross Mitchell made a great save with his feet when a Bishopton goal looked certain.

 

Just before the break, Milanda came agonisingly close to a second goal. Coyle did superbly to make space and cross to the back post where skipper Paul Murray steamed in to volley a powerful shot inches wide.

 

The second half was a bit of a non-event in an attacking sense for Milanda. Although there were plenty of attacks, poor decision making and bad touches meant few chances were created.Bishopton had several opportunities to score and the Milanda goal had a charmed life at times but in the end both teams had to accept a single point.

 

Hopefully we can take three when we face them again at home in our final game of the season on Tuesday May 3.

 

MOM: Mark Hutton had a solid game at right-back, Martin Coyle’s presence made life difficult for the Bishopton defenders and top scorer Colin Kelly’s goal won the point and will hopefully have boosted his confidence. Paul Murray and Gary Di Folco put in a power of work in the midfield but it was their colleague in the engine room, Ryan O’Donnell, who stole the show with some sparkling footwork, so he wins man of the match.

 

AC Milanda – Mitchell, Hutton, Gray, Thomson, Harley, Allan, Di Folco, O’Donnell, P Murray, Coyle, Kelly. Sub not used: Graham.

 

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Stepford. GDSML

 

AC MILANDA 1 BISHOPTON 4 Scorer Murray

 

And so the season ended much as it had played out since last August with call-offs and calamities contributing to yet another defeat.They say the league table never lies and it shows Milanda to be the worst team in the First Division.You could argue we have looked better than Blantyre but we did manage only to draw with them twice and, in any event, finishing above them in second-bottom slot would still have brought relegation.

 

For this game, outfield players Mark Hutton, Greig Harley and defender Andy Thomson had to call off and, crucially, we couldn’t call on any of the three keepers who have been performing between the sticks, Ross Mitchell, Craig Fawns and Kyle O’Donnell. Attacker Marc Allan volunteered to take the gloves and he had a busy start as Bishopton opened impressively.

 

Despite a couple of good saves, he found himself having to pick the ball out of the net three times by the midway point in the first half.

 

Milanda had only a couple of half-chances in the opening period but, with the breeze at their backs, they dominated much of the second half.

Then another recurring problem reared its ugly head - missing good opportunities.

 

It might seem ridiculous to those who weren’t there to say Milanda could actually have won this game when the scoreline at the top says it was 4-1 against them. However, there were enough clear-cut chances to turn things around.

 

Martin Coyle missed a snip – he admitted it was probably the biggest sitter of his entire career - and Colin Kelly could have had a hat-trick. Bishopton became rattled as it began to dawn on them they were losing their grip on the game but a fourth breakaway goal in the 75th minute sorted that. Shortly afterwards, Paul Murray showed the forwards how to do it when he fired an excellent consolation goal for Milanda after superb leading-up work by Martin Johnstone and Coyle.

 

The only other bright spot of the night for the home side was the return of former defender/midfielder Paul Ross who has indicated he’s up for playing again next season. Good to see him back.

 

MOM: Team captain Paul Murray takes the award for this one. Worked hard in midfield and scored a fine goal.

 

TEAM: Allan, C Murray, Evans (Graham), Gray, Di Folco, Daly (Ross), O’Donnell (McKenzie), Johnstone, P Murray, Kelly, Coyle.