Season 13/14

 

Season 2013-14

 

Despite a late season fightback Milanda lose out in relgation battle on last day of the season

Paul Murray's great talent is finally recognised as he wins Player of the Year

Roddy MacDonald is top goalscorer for 2nd year running

 

Milanda's score always comes first

 

Date

Opponent

Comp

Home\Away

Score

Scorers

Aug 17th

Finnieston Park

William Drummond Trophy

A

2 - 8

Own goal, MacDougall

Aug 24th

Eastwood Park

William Drummond Trophy

A

3 - 2

Galbraith, Chisholm, Macdonald

Aug 31st

Garnethill

William Drummond Trophy

H

3 - 1

Chisholm (2), Reid

Sept 7th

Glasgow Islay

League

H

1 - 4

O’Neill

Sept 14th

Red Star Baillieston

League

A

0 - 8

-

Sept 21st

Blantyre

League

H

2 - 3

Macdonald (2)

Oct 5th

Pursuers

League

A

2 - 3

Grehan, Reid

Oct 12th

Renfrew Town

League

H

4 - 3

Macdonald, Evans, Murray, Reid

Oct 19th

Ashfield

GDSML Cup Round 1

H

1 - 4

Grehan

Oct 26th

Ashfield

League

A

3 - 4

Trialist 1, Murray, Preston

Nov 4th

Strathclyde Uni

League

H

1 - 2

Macdonald

Nov 9th

Glasgow United

Friendily

A

2 - 3

Macdonald, Harley

Nov 16th

Parklife

League

H

2 - 4

Macdonald, Murray

Nov 23rd

Deanpark

John Rae Trophy 1st Round

A

1 - 5

Macdonald 2, Harley 2, Murray

Dec 7th

Invac

League

H

2 - 10

Murray, Di Folco

Dec 14th

Strathclyde Uni

League

A

0 - 1

-

Jan 11th

Ashfield

League

H

1 - 6

Trialist

Jan 18th

Renfrew Town

League

A

0 - 4

-

Mar 1st

Glasgow Islay

John Rae Trophy 1/4 Final

H

3 - 7

Murray, Kelly, Preston

Mar 15th

Caledonian Uni

Vince McGlinchey 1/4 Final

A

2 - 4

Kelly, Johnstone

Mar 22nd

Pursuers

League

H

9 - 5

Macdonald (2), Grehan, Kelly (3), Murray (2 pens), O’Neill

Mar 29th

Parklife

League

A

4 - 2

Murray (pen), MacDonald, own goal, McLaughlin

Apr 12th

Glasgow Islay

League

A

3 - 1

Preston, MacDougall, Kelly.

May 3rd

Blantyre

League

A

2 - 1

Kelly 2

May 17th

Invac

League

A

1 - 2

Macdonald

May 20th

Red Star Baillieston

League

H

5 - 2

Kelly 2, Lawson 2, Macdonald

Appearances

 

League

William Drummond

GDSML Cup

John Rae

Vince McGlinchey

Total

MacDonald

16

3

1

1

1

22

Evans

15 (1)

2

1

2

(1)

22

Murray

16

1

1

2

1

21

Reid

12 (3)

3

1

2

-

21

Grehan

13

3

1

2

1

20

Preston

13

3

(1)

2

-

19

O'Neill

9 (5)

2 (1)

-

1

-

18

Di Folco

12 (1)

2

1

1

-

17

Harley

7 (6)

(2)

1

1

-

17

Fawns

6 (4)

1

1

1

1

14

Mitchell

12

-

1

-

-

14

MacDougall

7 (2)

2

-

1

-

12

Allan

6 (5)

-

1

-

-

12

McLaughlin

6

2

-

2

1

11

Binnie

7 (1)

1

-

1

1

11

Chisholm

4

3

-

(1)

1

9

Thomson

7

-

-

1

1

9

Galbraith

3 (2)

1 (1)

-

1

-

8

Trialists

6 (1)

-

-

-

-

7

Kelly

5

-

-

1

1

7

McPake

2 (1)

2

1

-

-

6

Daly

4 (1)

-

-

(1)

-

6

Ross

3

1

-

-

1

5

Johnstone

4

-

-

-

1

5

Dunlop

1

1

-

-

-

2

Lawson

2

-

-

-

-

2

Dragsnes

1

-

-

-

-

1

McGowan

1

-

-

-

-

1

McGinley

1

-

-

-

-

1

Kenny

(1)

-

-

-

-

1

 

Goals

 

League

William Drummond

GDSML

John Rae

Vince McGlinchey

Total

MacDonald

11

2

-

2

-

15

Kelly

8

-

-

2

1

11

Murray

7

-

-

2

-

9

Chisholm

-

3

-

-

-

3

Preston

2

-

-

1

-

3

Harley

1

-

-

2

-

3

Reid

2

1

-

-

-

3

Grehan

2

-

1

-

-

3

Trailist

2

-

-

-

-

2

Lawson

2

-

-

-

-

2

O'Neill

2

-

-

-

-

2

Di Folco

1

-

-

-

-

1

MacDougall

1

-

-

-

-

1

Galbraith

-

1

-

-

-

1

McLaughlin

1

-

-

-

-

1

Evans

1

-

-

-

-

1

Johnstone

-

-

-

-

1

1

Own goal

1

1

-

-

-

2

Match Reports

 

William Drummond Trophy. Greenfield

 

Finnieston Park 8 AC Milanda 2 Scorers - Own goal, MacDougall

 

MILANDA suffered one of their heaviest defeats for years as their season got off to the worst possible start at Greenfield.

 

Skipper Kevin Grehan had to play in goal because neither of the signed keepers was available but that tells only half the story.

 

New team Finnieston were fitter, sharper and passed the ball much better and would have reached double figures but for some careless finishing and good saves by Milanda's stand-in No.1.

Three goals down at half-time, Milanda tried to push more men forward in the second half but a comeback never looked likely.

 

The first Milanda goal was scored by a Finnieston defender who steered the ball into his own net following a long throw by Paul Murray. The second was a cracking strike by Neil MacDougall from outside the box that gave the keeper no chance.

 

Man of the match: Kevin Grehan deserves recognition for volunteering to play in goal when no one else fancied it. He lost a couple of poor goals and was never given the defensive cover he deserved but made half-a-dozen excellent stops.

 

----------

William Drummond Trophy, Crookfur

 

Eastwood Park 2, AC Milanda 3 Scorers Galbraith, Chisholm, Macdonald

 

Team - Dunlop, Galbraith, Evans, Preston, Di Folco, O'Neill, Grehan, Macdonald, McLaughlin, Reid, Chisholm. Sub not used: Harley

 

MILANDA recorded their first win in three attempts against Eastwood Park – and they did it with only 10 fit players.

 

A catalogue of call-offs took the 23-man squad down to 12 for the trip to Crookfur but with Gordon Chisholm and Greig Harley injured, things did not look good.

 

However, with the help of some of assistant manager Scott Grant's powerful painkillers, Chisholm managed to drag his injured ribs on to the park to play up front alongside Mark Reid. After the 8-2 hammering from Finnieston Park, it wasn't a team brimming with confidence but Milanda, with keeper Robin Dunlop back between the sticks, held their own for most of the first half.

 

Colin McLaughlin had a shot saved early on then Reid should have opened the scoring after running on to an excellent through ball from David Galbraith but he fired wide with only the keeper to beat.

 

Milanda paid for that miss when Eastwood Park took the lead just before the break after some sloppy defending.

 

Having lost twice previously in cup-ties to Eastwood Park, Milanda knew they were up against it but the players buckled down and battled in the second period. Galbraith, who had been moved forward from right-back into midfield, was unlucky with a powerful header from a Reid corner, the keeper touching his effort on to the bar.

 

But Milanda's luck turned in the 53rd minute when they were awarded an indirect free-kick for obstruction just inside the box. Reid tapped the ball sideways to Galbraith and his fierce shot took a deflection on its way to the net. Three minutes later, Milanda went 2-1 ahead. The home defence failed to clear a McLaughlin cross from the left and Chisholm pounced to blast the loose ball into the roof of the net.

 

Things were looking a lot brighter but Eastwood's pace up front was always a worry and with 20 minutes left they equalised. Milanda were stretched by a long ball and Gary Di Folco's attempt to clear under pressure saw him put it in his own net. That was a blow but the heads didn't go down and with just minutes remaining Milanda scored the winner. An excellent through ball by McLaughlin sent Macdonald clear and he expertly chipped the advancing keeper.

 

All in all an excellent morning's work and three tremendous goals to savour.

 

And with Garnethill Rovers having lost 6-1 to Finnieston Park, it means Milanda can progress as runners-up in the group if they beat the Giffnock boys this Saturday.

 

Man of the match – A lot of hard work went into this result and there were a number of candidates for star man, including Scott Preston, David Galbraith, Colin McLaughlin and Roddy Macdonald. But the accolade goes to Gordon Chisholm for playing – and scoring a cracking goal – when others might have stayed in bed.

 

----------

William Drummond Trophy, Peterson Park, Yoker

 

AC Milanda 3 Garnethill 1 Scorers - Chisholm (2), Reid

 

Team - Fawns, Ross, Evans, Preston, Binnie (O'Neill), McPake (Harley), Grehan, Macdonald, MacDougall, Reid, Chisholm.

 

MILANDA came from behind to win for the second successive week and that means they take second place in their group and qualify for the quarter-finals of the Vince McGlinchey Trophy. A draw would have given Garnethill the runner-up slot due to their superior goal difference going into the match and when they scored the opener it put them in a strong position. But Milanda battled back and won relatively comfortably in the end thanks to a double from converted striker Gordon Chisholm and a first of the season for Mark Reid.

 

With the wind at their backs, Milanda dominated the early stages and could have had an early lead when the Garnethill keeper's poor kick presented Reid with a close-range chance. However, the visitors' No.1 redeemed himself by blocking the shot. Kevin Grehan then headed a Des McPake free-kick wide before Milanda went behind against the run of play. A brief spell of pressure saw the ball cleared to the edge of the box and one of the Garnethill defenders hit an unstoppable shot past Craig Fawns.

 

But Milanda were level on the half-hour. McPake chipped another superb free-kick into the box and Chisholm's glancing header gave the keeper no chance. Just before the break it was 2-1. Garnethill failed to clear another McPake free-kick and Chisholm reacted first to volley the bouncing ball into the far corner of the net.

 

Garnethill had more of the ball in the second period but tended to overhit their passes or stray offside, which meant keeper Fawns wasn't as troubled as he might have expected to be.

A third goal was needed for a bit of insurance, though, and it came along in the 65th minute. Neil MacDougall and McPake were the creators and when the ball reached Reid in the box he buried a low shot past the keeper.

 

Milanda could have scored more goals but chances were missed by Chisholm, McPake, Reid and others. Still, three great goals and three points made it a tremendous morning's work from everyone involved.

 

Man of the match – The starting X1 and the two substitutes all made excellent contributions. The returning Paul Ross and Jim Binnie were solid full-backs and worked well with central defenders Scott Preston and Gerry Evans to form the tightest unit we have had so far in front of steady keeper Craig Fawns. Central midfielders Kevin Grehan and Roddy Macdonald outshone their Garnethill rivals, while Neil MacDougall and Des McPake in the wide positions were always creative. The strike partnership of Mark Reid and Gordon Chisholm proved a real handful for the opposition and for his two goals and all-round effort big Gordon is man of the match for the second week on the trot.

 

----------

League, Stepford

 

AC Milanda 1 Glasgow Islay 4 Scorer O’Neill

 

Team - Dunlop, Fawns, Evans (Di Folco), Preston, O’Neill, McPake (Galbraith), Macdonald, Reid, Murray, Chisholm, Harley (Allan). Sub not used: C McLaughlin.

 

MILANDA’S league campaign got off to a disappointing start with another lacklustre performance. Individual errors contributed to three of the Islay goals and in this division if you offer free gifts they’re going to be snapped up. The scoreline probably flatters the opposition a little but overall they were the better side. Milanda were second to too many balls, lost a lot of the aerial battles and generally didn’t look as hungry as Islay.

 

Losing aerial battles can be excused because Islay are a big, strong team but the other two reasons for this defeat give serious cause for concern. The bickering that went on within the team was not a good sign either and while a lot of it was down to frustration over the first two goals that were conceded, it’s something that has to stop. No one is deliberately making mistakes - if they are, we have more problems than we thought – so let’s show a bit more understanding and togetherness. We have lost some good players from last season’s squad and it will take time to get back to that level but infighting won’t take us there any quicker.

 

Islay started better and had a goal disallowed for offside and two that counted, courtesy of bad mistakes, inside the first 12 minutes. Milanda’s only effort of note in that period was a Gordon Chisholm header that just missed the target from Craig Fawns’s long throw.

 

An injury to Gerry Evans brought a reshuffle of the defence with sleep deprived new dad Gary Di Folco slotting in at left-back and Dave O’Neill moving to centre-back.

 

Milanda found a way back into the match nine minutes into the second period. A long throw by Paul Murray reached O’Neill and his looping header just cleared the stretching fingertips of keeper Andy Campbell. Milanda pressed for an equaliser and for a spell it looked as if they might get it. A ball by Murray across the face of the box just needed someone to get a touch and trialist striker Marc Allan had a chance after a mistake in defence but keeper Campbell pulled off a good save.

 

As so often happens, there was a price to pay for not taking these chances and Islay cashed in with two simple, late goals.

 

Things can only get better. We hope.

 

MOM: Scott Preston played solidly at the back and showed a great attitude in pushing Milanda forward in an effort to salvage something from the match.

 

----------

League, Lochend

 

Red Star Baillieston 8, AC Milanda 0

 

Team - Fawns, Dragsnes (Binnie), Preston, O’Neill (McPake), Murray, Galbraith, Macdonald, Reid, MacDougall, Chisholm, Allan. Subs: Harley, Evans

 

MILANDA find themselves bottom of the GDSML after two games played thanks to another disastrous performance.

 

Poor defensive play allowed Red Star to gain an early advantage but it was only 2-0 at the interval and there was hope that things could be turned around.

However, a general collapse in the second half led to a result that can only be described as embarrassing. Some key players from last season, now unavailable, are being sorely missed and the search for replacements goes on.

 

Saturday’s line-up featured a couple of trialists and other players will be tried in the weeks ahead in an attempt to improve performances. Time is against us. The 10-team league only gives 18 opportunities to pick up points and just 16 are now left.

 

Everyone should be aware that it is never easy to get off the foot of the table once you became isolated. The bottom line is we must all do better, manager and players. On Saturday we play newly-promoted Blantyre at Stepford and hopefully we will have a stronger squad from which to select a team.

 

The challenge is there for us – let’s make sure we take it on.

 

----------

League, Stepford

 

AC Milanda 2 Blantyre 3 Scorer- Macdonald (2)

 

Team - Reid, Di Folco (Evans), Preston (O'Neill), Chisholm (Galbraith), Murray, McPake (Harley), Grehan, MacDougall, McLaughlin, Macdonald, Allan.

 

MILANDA suffered their third league defeat on the trot but can count themselves unlucky not to have taken at least a draw. Considering they were without a recognised keeper – Mark Reid volunteered to take the gloves and did a good job – and that four players, including three of the back four, had to go off injured at various stages, it was a decent effort.

 

This was nothing like the previous week's capitulation against Red Star Baillieston, although the outcome was the same – nil points. It was particularly frustrating to lose to the last kick of the ball, especially as Milanda had been two goals ahead.The return of Kevin Grehan allowed Roddy Macdonald to be pushed up front in place of Gordon Chisholm who moved back to try to shore up a leaky defence.

 

The changes seemed to be working as Milanda made an excellent start. Macdonald scored two cracking goals inside the first 13 minutes, the first a deflected shot after good work by strike partner Marc Allan and the second a drive from Colin McLaughlin's perfect lay-off that gave the keeper no chance. Macdonald could have had a hat-trick but his third attempt at goal in the 20th minute, a header from Allan's cross, went over the bar.

 

Blantyre gradually came back into the game and scored twice in the eight minutes leading up to half-time. The loss of the two goals and an injury to Scott Preston, who had to be replaced by Dave O'Neill, meant the complexion of the game had changed dramatically by the time the teams turned around.

 

However, Milanda still looked fairly comfortable and had the better chances in a second period that saw Chisholm, Des McPake and Gary Di Folco, who were all having good games, hobble off injured. Macdonald fired just wide after a poor clearance by the Blantyre keeper, the lively Allan had a fierce shot palmed round the post and then Macdonald did brilliantly to set up an opening for Grehan who missed the target.

 

It looked as if both teams would have to settle for a draw when, with a minute to go, Milanda gave away possession in midfield and then had to concede a free-kick 25 yards from goal.

Blantyre left-back Zander Simpson, who had created their opener, then stepped up to curl the ball over the wall and into the net. It was a cruel way to lose.

 

Man of the match: Roddy Macdonald led the line brilliantly and scored two great goals.

 

----------

League, Glasgow Green

 

Pursuers 3 AC Milanda 2 Scorers - Grehan, Reid

 

Team - Mitchell, Di Folco, Evans (Fawns), O'Neill, Binnie, Galbraith (Harley), Grehan, McLaughlin, Reid, Allan, Macdonald. Subs not used: Dunlop, Preston.

 

This was like a re-run of an old move with the same horrible ending. Just as in the previous outing against Blantyre, Milanda lost a late goal and ended up with nothing from a game they could have won. And another depressing similarity was the loss of a key defender to injury, Gerry Evans this time having to go off in the first half with a cut above his left eye. Having said all of that, the stark truth is Milanda aren't doing enough to win games and are giving away far too many goals.

 

Ross Mitchell came in as trialist keeper for this one and looked a very safe pair of hands - he had no chance with any of the goals - but the players in front of him, and this ceretainly doesn't apply solely to the defenders, should be capable of providing better cover for whoever is between the sticks. There has been much debate about formations and tactics in recent weeks but the truth is if you don't work as hard as the opposition, consistently miss chances and leak goals you are not going to win matches.

 

Sadly, that has been the scenario so far in the GDSML campaign.

 

Milanda started well enough and went ahead after 15 minutes when David Galbraith's long throw was headed backwards into the net by Kevin Grehan. Pursuers were perhaps a bit unfortunate not to be given a penalty for a challenge by Evans but they were lucky in their own box minutes later when Marc Allan blasted a good chance over from close range following a Mark Reid corner.

 

Pursuers did draw level on the half-hour mark and it was a double blow because Evans picked up his injury in the build-up and had to go off, Craig Fawns taking his place. Just before the break, Milanda made another good opening which saw Allan round the keeper only to see his shot for goal blocked by a defender. Although it was all square at the break, Milanda looked like a team that were just waiting to lose and skipper Grehan had a rant, calling for more effort from everyone.

 

This brought a good reaction and Milanda looked the better team for much of the second half. But they couldn't get their noses in front and sloppy play over on the right allowed Pursuers to push on and score their second.

 

Milanda made a change shortly afterwards, bringing Roddy Macdonald back into midfield at the expense of Galbraith and pushing substitute Greig Harley up front alongside Allan. They got back on level terms frollowing a Fawns free-kick in the 68th minute. Reid did brilliantly to head the ball over one of the Pursuers defenders and rifle a shot past the keeper. They could have gone 3-2 up 10 minutes later when Allan put Grehan clear but the keeper did well to block his shot.

 

As the minutes ticked away, it looked as if Milanda had secured their first league point but possession was carelessly conceded in midfield and Pursuers broke to grab the winner.

 

So the losing streak stretches to four league games and it's clear Milanda have to improve or face a long, hard season.

 

MOM: Mark Reid put in a great shift on the left of the midfield and scored a terrific goal.

 

----------

League, Greenfield

 

AC Milanda 4 Renfrew Town 3 Scorers - Macdonald, Evans, Murray, Reid

 

Team - Mitchell, Di Folco, Ross, Evans, Binnie, Reid, Grehan, McLaughlin, Murray, Macdonald, Allan (Harley). Sub not used: Preston.

 

 

MILANDA picked up their first league points of the season and got themselves off the bottom of the table at the same time with a superb win over former champions Renfrew Town.

 

After a tight first half that produced no scoring and few clear-cut chances, the second half positively exploded into a cracker of a match.Milanda were 2-0 and 4-2 ahead but Renfrew never stopped battling and it was a relief to the home players when referee Charlie Smith blew the final whistle.

 

That’s now three seasons in a row that Milanda have beaten Renfrew at Greenfield but this was the tightest match to date.

 

After a number of poor performances in the opening weeks of the season, Milanda needed to up their game and, individually and collectively, they did that. Newly-signed keeper Ross Mitchell provided some excellent saves and a bit of stability between the sticks and he was given good cover by the back four of Gary Di Folco, the returning Paul Ross – who looked as if he had never missed a game – Gerry Evans and Jim Binnie.

 

Midfielders Mark Reid, Colin McLaughlin, Kevin Grehan and Paul Murray, put in great shifts, as did front players Roddy Macdonald, Marc Allan and, to a lesser degree time wise, substitute Greig Harley.

 

These 12 were all Milanda had available due to injuries and call-offs – Scott Preston was also on the bench but only to be used in the case of emergency due to a leg problem – which makes the performance all the more praiseworthy.

 

Renfrew were on the back foot for much of the first half but coped well, especially with Murray’s dangerous long throws. Milanda came close to scoring from one of them, Allan having his close-range shot blocked, but that was about it in terms of first-half chances. Renfrew only threatened once from a free-kick and Mitchell did well to tip this effort over the bar. The only other noteworthy incident from the first half was a booking for Di Folco for a pull on Renfrew’s left-winger, leaving the full-back vulnerable for the second period.

 

Fortunately that was never an issue in a game that came to life with Milanda’s opener in the 55th minute. Grehan played an exquisite pass forward to Macdonald who turned his marker one way then the next before firing past the keeper. It was a superbly taken goal and Milanda added to it with a much simpler affair four minutes later. Reid’s corner from the left was mis-headed by one of the defenders and Evans knocked the ball into the roof of the net from almost the goal-line.

 

With a two-goal cushion, Milanda looked confident and appeared to be in a commanding position.

 

However, Renfrew had clearly been stung into action and they doubled their efforts to get some kind of foothold in the game. Evans, his head bandaged after the previous week’s head knock, made a magnificent goal-line clearance to keep them out and Mitchell also performed heroics. But the pressure finally told in the 65th minute when they pulled one back and then, with 10 minutes left, they scored again to make it 2-2.

 

This was a severe test of Milanda’s resolve but they bounced back and scored a third goal almost immediately. And what a goal it was. Macdonald and Allan chased down a long ball, forcing confusion in the Renfrew defence. Their keeper finally booted the ball up towards the halfway line from the edge of his box but only to the waiting Murray who thumped it first time with his right foot from 45 yards and watched it sail over everyone to nestle in the net.

 

A breathtaking strike – and even more surprising than his surprise trip to Munich the previous week.

 

A good break by Macdonald minutes later saw him brought down just outside the penalty area. Murray shaped to take it with his left foot but Reid spotted a gap on the right of the wall and stuck it away with his right. Another belter.

 

So the two-goal cushion was back with just three minutes plus stoppage time left. But Milanda still couldn’t relax because Renfrew weren’t for giving up and pulled it back to 4-3 in the 89th minute. Tempers had started to fray a little by this time and Renfrew appeared to be unhappy with Binnie’s part in an altercation with one of their players but the referee had missed it and was unable to do anything except have a quiet word. Renfrew were still complaining when the ref eventually called a halt to proceedings but Milanda were too busy celebrating to take much notice.

 

We’ve heard it all before.

 

MOM: There were contenders aplenty for top man but Gerry Evans takes it for some sterling defending and, of course, his goal.

 

----------

GDSML Cup first round, Stepford

 

AC Milanda 1 Ashfield 4 Scorer - Grehan

 

Team - Mitchell, Di Folco, Fawns, Evans, Murray, McPake (Preston), Grehan, Macdonald, Reid, Harley, Allan.

 

MILANDA bowed out of the main cup competition at the first time of asking but gave a decent account of themselves in difficult circumstances. Only nine of the 12 registered players available were 100 per cent fit and against a team of Ashfield’s quality that is never likely to be enough. But the players could not be faulted for effort and the final scoreline probably flatters Ashfield a little.

 

Des McPake started the match, despite still being slightly concussed after suffering a non-football related head knock, but it soon became clear he could not cope and so Scott Preston, still troubled by an ankle injury, had to take over, leaving the subs’ bench empty.

 

Ashfield were better in possession than the home side and only a superb save from Ross Mitchell prevented them taking a 15th-minute lead following a slick move. However, that only delayed the inevitable by four minutes. Milanda conceded possession too easily in the middle of the pitch and a fast counter-attack by Ashfield down the right resulted in a clinical goal.

 

Milanda were making little headway in terms of attacking play and found themselves 2-0 down just before the half-hour.

 

However, in the 15 minutes leading up to the break they suddenly began to compete better and it was Ashfield’s turn to defend. Paul Murray hit the keeper’s right-hand post with a terrific low drive and then Greig Harley sent Kevin Grehan clear of the Ashfield back line but he failed to hit the target. However, Grehan did reduce the deficit in the final minute of the half when a Mark Reid free-kick found him unmarked in the box and he headed home.

 

Preston’s ankle was causing him some discomfort but he agreed to move from midfield to the front line for the second half in an effort to keep Milanda at full strength and in with a chance.

Marc Allan, who was also less than fully fit, moved back to midfield and the reshuffled team gave as good as it got for the first 25 minutes of the second period.

 

Unfortunately, the chances that came along weren’t put away and a third goal for Ashfield in the 70th minute followed by a penalty, conceded by Paul Murray, settled the issue.

 

Murray, who had scored a sensational goal against Renfrew Town the previous week, was clearly keen to add to it and was unlucky again with a well-struck free kick that the Ashfield keeper kept out at full stretch.

 

So Milanda will have to be content with a place in the consolation tournament and hopefully by the time that comes around they will have a few more players available. Fresh faces are still needed and if anyone knows of a player who can add a bit more quality to the squad, let the manager know.

 

MOM: Scorer Kevin Grehan worked hard in midfield, made sure everyone kept battling and tried to get forward as much as possible.

 

-----------

League

 

Ashfield 4, AC Milanda 3 Scorers - Trialist 1, Murray, Preston

 

Team - Mitchell, O’Neill (Harley), Trialist 1, Evans, Di Folco, Reid, Grehan, Trialist 2, Preston, Murray, Macdonald. Subs not used: Trialist 3, Galbraith

 

Another hard luck story as Milanda failed to take the point they deserved from a seven-goal thriller. Despite improving greatly on their performance against Ashfield the previous week in the GDSML Cup, Kevin Grehan and Co again left the field feeling dejected. Apart from some dodgy defending, the overall performance was good and would probably have been sufficient to beat half the teams in the Premier Division. However, Ashfield have that little bit of extra quality in their ranks and that was what helped them take full points. How they haven’t won a title in the last couple of seasons is one of life’s great mysteries but the fact that Milanda could more or less match them gives hope for the battles to come.

 

Mind you, the Milanda team was strengthened by the inclusion of a couple of trialists, one in central defence and one in an attacking role, with a third on the bench who should get a run this weekend against Strathclyde University at Greenfield.The new-look line-up got off to a promising start and a fine Grehan pass put Trialist 2 beyond the Ashfield defence but the keeper saved his shot. It was not to be the last time the No.1 would rescue his side.

 

Ashfield hit back and took the lead two minutes later with a scrambled goal.

 

But Milanda were back on terms shortly afterwards when Mark Reid’s corner was met by the towering Trialist 1 and his thumping header soared into the net. The same duo almost did the trick again midway through the half but this time the crossbar saved Ashfield. Milanda then survived what looked a reasonable Ashfield penalty claim before taking the lead in the 32nd minute.

This time it stemmed from a good move that saw Paul Murray’s whipped cross from the left take a deflection and fly past the helpless keeper.

 

Unfortunately, Milanda were unable to enjoy being ahead because their opponents equalised straight away. That was a blow and only a goal-line clearance by Gary Di Folco prevented them regaining the lead. But Ashfield did edge 3-2 ahead before the break following a corner.

 

The feeling at half-time was there were more goals in the game and it was important Milanda scored the next one.

 

That’s exactly what happened. Two minutes in, a long throw by Murray was cleared only as far as Scott Preston and he hit a cracking shot in the roof of the net. Just before the hour mark, Trialist 1 was unlucky to be penalised for a handling offence outside the box and Paul Rodden, Ashfield’s best player, added insult to injury by firing the ball over the wall and into the roof of the net.

 

For the final half-hour of the match, Milanda were the dominant side. Trialist 2 was denied a couple of times by the keeper and had a penalty claim turned down, Trialist 1 had another header saved and other efforts weren’t far away.

 

But Ashfield held out and were genuinely relieved when the final whistle blew.

 

MOM: Both trialists played well and there were good performances from a few of the regulars, including Scott Preston and Kevin Grehan in central midfield. But this week’s award goes to Paul Murray for some good attacking play on the left and another goal from his box of unusual strikes.

 

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League, Greenfield

 

AC Milanda 1 Strathclyde University 2 Scorer - Macdonald

 

Team - Mitchell, Fawns, Preston, Evans, Di Folco, Reid, Grehan, Galbraith (O’Neill), Murray, Macdonald, Harley (Allan). Sub not used: McPake.

 

Milanda slumped back to the bottom of the table and on this showing will find it tough to get out of trouble. Despite the fact Milanda took the lead and kept it for an hour, there was an inevitability about their opponents’ fightback. Without being disrespectful, this was not the best Strathclyde University side Milanda have ever faced but their fitness and determination – plus a huge slice of luck – got them through. The bottom line is they were beatable and Milanda couldn’t beat them.

 

The home side started the game well enough and scored after seven minutes. Paul Murray’s through ball was missed by the centre-half and Roddy Macdonald pounced to bury the ball in the Strathclyde net. Murray himself had a shot deflected wide a few minutes later as the home side kept up the pressure.

 

After 33 minutes, another Murray through ball bamboozled the visitors’ centre-backs and Macdonald broke through again but this time he failed to hit the target.

 

Milanda reached half-time with their lead intact, having had just one scary moment when one of the Strathclyde forwards missed his kick from close range after a cutback had set him up.

 

There was another escape early in the second period when a slip by Gerry Evans let Strathclyde in on goal but Ross Mitchell pulled off a magnificent save to deny his former team. A goal-line clearance by Murray then thwarted the students who were looking more and more of a threat.

 

After 62 minutes, the inevitable happened. A break down the left saw the Strathclyde winger fire over what looked like a cross but the ball struck the far post and bounced into the net for the equaliser. It looked like a fluke goal but they all count. Put it this way, if he meant it he’s a genius and there had been no sign that this was the case for the first hour.

 

Lifted by the goal, Strathclyde kept pressing and with 10 minutes left scored the winner from a needlessly conceded free-kick. That’s three games at least – Blantyre and Ashfield being the others that spring to mind - in which points have been lost to free-kicks that could have been avoided, so we have to start learning the lesson.

 

Apart from a shot by Greig Harley that went over the bar, Milanda rarely threatened in the second period and, like the general performance, that simply wasn’t good enough.

 

MOM: Roddy Macdonald grafted throughout the 90 minutes and took his goal well.

 

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Friendly. Lochend.

 

Glasgow United 3, AC Milanda 2 Scorers - Macdonald, Harley

 

Team - Mitchell, Galbraith (Harley), Preston, Evans (Fawns), Binnie, McPake (McLaughlin), MacDougall, O’Neill, Murray, Macdonald, Allan

 

With scheduled league opponents Invac unavailable, Milanda kept themselves ticking over with a friendly against Glasgow United.

 

John Cairney’s side, who are hoping to be promoted to the Premier Division for next season, were the dominant force in the first half, scored three goals and would have had more but for some excellent goalkeeping by Ross Mitchell.

 

Milanda were much improved after the break and with a bit of luck might have sneaked a draw. Roddy Macdonald had the ball in the net three times but only one of them counted. That one came on the hour mark when the keeper allowed a Paul Murray cross to slip from his grasp and Macdonald bundled the ball home.

 

Milanda's second came in the 77th minute when a long throw by king of the assists Murray caused problems for the United defence and Greig Harley drilled a low shot into the corner of the net.

 

Neil MacDougall and Colin McLaughlin both played well on their return to the team, as did Jim Binnie. But all the players can be pleased with their second-half showings.

 

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League, Greenfield

 

AC Milanda 2 Parklife 4 Scorers - Macdonald, Murray

 

Team - Mitchell, Fawns, Preston, Evans, Reid, Allan (O'Neill), Grehan, McLaughlin, Murray, Macdonald, Harley (Kenny). Sub not used: Di Folco.

 

MILANDA’S Premier Division status is in serious jeopardy after yet another collapse from a winning position. The home team dominated a good Parklife team for more than an hour, eventually took the lead ... and then proceeded to undo all their good work. It has been an all too familiar story this season and with just one more game to be played until the halfway stage in the league campaign is reached, Milanda are still propping up the table.

 

If it’s not the stickiest situation since Sticky the stick insect got stuck on a sticky bun, it’s pretty damn close.

 

The start to the game was excellent with Milanda pressing Parklife’s players all over the pitch and making sure that most of the action was around the visitors' 18-yard box. Greig Harley, Rod Macdonald and Marc Allan all had shots at goal inside the first five minutes. Then Kevin Grehan saw his header from a long throw by Paul Murray brilliantly saved by the keeper.

 

There were other half-chances for Milanda and only the odd counter-attack by Parklife before the half-time whistle sounded with the stalemate intact.

 

Harley had a chance just after the break following another Murray throw but his header was a couple of inches too high. But Parklife could never be discounted and it took a superb save by Ross Mitchell and then a block by Scott Preston to prevent the away team taking the lead.

 

Milanda continued to push forward and deservedly went ahead just after the hour with a well-worked goal. Craig Fawns fed Grehan down the right and his low cross into the box was perfect for Macdonald to slot past the keeper.On the sidelines, the feeling was Milanda could now go on to consolidate their position. On the pitch, it was a different story.

 

Whether Parklife stepped up a gear or Milanda thought the job was done is hard to evaluate but the final part of the proceedings was in stark contrast to what had gone before. Parklife hit the bar and then cashed in on some poor play at the back to score three embarrassingly quick goals.

 

The game had been turned on its head.

 

Milanda, with trialist Liam Kenny on up front in a reshaped 3-4-3 formation, kept battling and did cut the deficit eight minutes from time. Macdonald and Mark Reid combined to set up Murray for a close-range finish.

 

However, the faint hope that something could be salvaged from the match was snuffed out from the restart when Parklife netted their fourth.

 

MOM: Colin McLaughlin was playing in central midfield but seemed to pop up just about everywhere on the pitch at some stage. He put in a great shift and didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.

 

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John Rae Trophy first round. Paisley Racecourse

 

Deanpark 1, AC Milanda 5 Scorers - Macdonald 2, Harley 2, Murray

 

Team - McLaughlin, Di Folco, Preston, Evans, Binnie (Galbraith), Reid, MacDougall, Grehan, Murray, Macdonald, Harley.

 

Milanda took their expected place in the last eight of the John Rae Trophy with a straightforward victory in Paisley.

 

Deanpark, struggling two divisions below their visitors, were out of it by half-time. Milanda were 4-0 up by that stage and should have been thinking of the possibility of double figures. However, they took their foot of the gas and managed only a 1-1 draw over the second 45 minutes.

 

With just 12 players available for the match and that didn’t include one of the three signed keepers. But midfielder Colin McLaughlin, who was carrying a knock, volunteered to go between the sticks. He was pretty much a spectator in the opening period as Milanda drove forward. The woodwork and some good goalkeeping kept Deanpark level until the 13th minute when Greig Harley set up Roddy Macdonald for a simple opener.

 

A minute later, it was 2-0. This time Harley robbed one of the home defenders and cleverly fired the ball over the keeper before he could react and get back nearer to his line. Goal No.3 came just after the half-hour from an excellent move down the right. Mark Reid started it off with a surging run then fed Kevin Grehan who in turn set up an easy close-range finish for Macdonald.

 

Four minutes later came the fourth. Grehan was again the provider for Paul Murray who curled a low shot with his right-foot into the keeper’s left-hand corner.

 

The expected goalfest didn’t ever look like materialising in the second half. Milanda did go 5-0 up when Harley headed home a Murray corner but then everything came to a halt. Deanpark came back into the match and McLaughlin had a couple of good saves before he was finally beaten in the 74th minute following some slack defending.

 

However, there was never any chance of Deanpark causing genuine problems and the game simply petered out.

 

Man of the match: Jim Binnie didn’t put a wrong foot in defence, Paul Murray was the pick of the midfielders but this week’s award goes to one of the front players, Greig Harley, for two well-taken goals and one assist.

 

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League, Greenfield

 

AC Milanda 2 , Invac 10 Scorers - Murray, Di Folco

 

Team - Mitchell, Di Folco, Preston, Evans, Reid, Allan, MacDougall, Grehan, Murray, Harley, Johnstone..

 

Where to start?

 

Milanda have had some black days over the years, more than a few embarrassing performances, but this was about as humiliating as it gets.Invac are the reigning champions and definitely no mugs but not so good that they should be able to put 10 past us. Yes, we had call-offs. Yes, we had no-shows. Yes, we were without our top scorer. But we did have 10 of our regular squad available and with Martin Johnstone coming out of retirement to help take us up to 11, we should have been able to put up a better show than we did. We competed for 20 minutes, lost a poor goal and then another.

 

Johnstone had a goal disallowed for offside before the interval which arrived with the score at 2-0.

 

A comeback was not beyond us at this stage and we spoke about getting a goal back quickly.

 

What happened? We lost possession in our first attack of the second half and Invac went upfield to make it 3-0. After that we had another 44 minutes to endure of poor passing, poor defensive play – and not just by the back four, the whole team – and a general lack of fight.

 

Keeper Ross Mitchell was given very little in the way of protection. He pulled off a couple of excellent saves and it looked as if he might just have saved the team from the ignominy of a double-figues defeat but Invac did get a 10th before the end.

 

The only bright moments amid the gloom were our goals.

 

With the score at 8-0, Neil MacDougall was brought down on the edge of the box as he tried to wriggle through and Paul Murray hit an excellent free-kick past the helpless keeper. Then at 9-1, we got another goal back. Skipper Kevin Grehan, one of the few who never stopped trying, laid the ball off to Gary Di Folco and he curled the ball over the Invac No.1 from outside the box. A great strike.

 

Man of the match: The referee. Thankfully he didn’t add any stoppage time.

 

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League, Stepps

 

Strathclyde University 1, AC Milanda 0

 

Team - Mitchell, Di Folco, McGowan (O’Neill), Evans, Binnie, Daly (Allan), Grehan, Trialist, Preston, Thomson (Harley), Reid.

 

Strathclyde’s students did the league double over Milanda with another narrow win. As in the 2-1 defeat at Greenfield, Milanda were unlucky to take nothing from the game, which was played in horrendous wind and rain. And that was despite having to operate with 10 men for almost the entire second half. Strangely, Scott Preston’s dismissal for two yellow-card offences - dissent and a poor challenge – didn’t have too great a bearing on proceedings, probably due to the conditions.

 

The teams very fairly evenly matched in both halves and the win went to the students thanks to an 18th-minute penalty.

 

Milanda had the wind mainly behind them in the first half and made most of the running. Their trialist attacker, operating behind lone striker Mark Reid, saw a lot of the ball but while the team buzzed around the Strathclyde box, few clear-cut chances were created. Kevin Grehan came close to scoring in the first half with a long-range shot that didn’t miss by a great deal.

 

Strathclyde took the lead against the run of the play from the penalty spot after Jim McGowan had fouled on the Strathclyde forwards. Milanda had a penalty claim of their own for hand ball rejected by the referee and this contributed to Preston’s booking for speaking out of turn.

 

It was all to play for in the second period but Preston lasted three minutes of it before being sent off for a bad tackle. But no heads went down and Milanda battled gamely for an equaliser.

Strathclyde were still a threat on the break but keeper Ross Mitchell kept the away team in it with a couple of superb saves.

 

Milanda’s best chance to level matters fell to Trialist near the end. Having got clean through the centre of Strathclyde’s defence, he looked certain to score but the keeper made a good save.

So Milanda reach the winter break rock bottom of the table and all we can hope for is a big improvement in the new year.

 

MOM: A much improved showing all round from the Invac debacle. Everyone worked hard, especially Gary Di Folco, Jim Binnie, Kevin Grehan, Trialist and Mark Reid. New boys Andy Daly and Andy Thomson also showed some nice touches and should be good acquisitions, while keeper Ross Mitchell was a safe pair of hands throughout. It was a close-run thing for this week’s accolade but skipper Grehan just shades it.

 

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League, Stepford

 

AC Milanda 1, Ashfield 6 Scorers - Trialist

 

Team - Mitchell, Di Folco, Evans (O’Neill), Thomson, Binnie (Harley), Daly (Allan), Grehan, Murray, Trialist, MacDougall (Fawns), Macdonald. Sub not used: Preston.

 

MILANDA’S new year started much as the old one had ended with a combination of missed chances and defensive mistakes resulting in the loss of another three points. They say you don’t get any breaks when you’re at the wrong end of the table but we would be kidding ourselves to think recent results are anything to do with bad luck. Ashfield are a good side with some excellent players but in general play were they five goals better than us? The answer is no.

 

However, if you don’t defend properly, the better teams will take full advantage and that’s what they did. There were a number of times when Ashfield were found wanting defensively also but they escaped punishment most of the time because of poor finishing.

 

Ashfield’s first goal after 12 minutes came from poor marking at a corner. The movement of their players was good, our defenders were static and so when the header went in it came from a man who was unmarked. Not good enough.

 

In the lead-up to half-time, Milanda had a good spell of play in which Paul Murray and Kevin Grehan dominated the centre of midfield and chances were created. Our trialist No.10 got through thanks to a pass from Andy Thomson but the Ashfield keeper stuck out a foot and stopped what looked set to be the equaliser. Then Murray and Trialist combined in an excellent move to set up Roddy Macdonald but he failed to hit the target from close range.

 

Milanda lost another goal in an Ashfield breakaway in the 41st minute when one of their nippy forwards managed to beat keeper Ross Mitchell with a low shot.

 

The feeling at half-time was that Milanda should not have been two behind and that a quick goal would help turn the tide.

 

A promising start to the second period saw Trialist and Macdonald hit shots off target. But then the defence seemed to switch off and lost a third goal when a player was allowed to nick round the back of the defence and head home a simple third from a free-kick.

 

A fourth goal exposed more frailties through the middle of the back line and that effectively ended the game. A fifth goal was lost before a perfect Murray pass set up Trialist to beat the keeper and get one back for Milanda. The same player hit the keeper’s left-hand post as Milanda enjoyed another good little spell of pressure.

 

However, thoughts of making the score more respectable disappeared when a rash challenge in the box by Gary Di Folco gave Ashfield their sixth goal from the penalty spot.

 

MOM: Kevin Grehan and Paul Murray in midfield and Andy Thomson in defence were our best players and Murray just shades the man of the match award.

 

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League, Crownpoint Sports Centre

 

Renfrew Town 4 AC Milanda 0

 

Team -Mitchell, Evans (Fawns), O'Neill, Ross, Binnie, Daly (Allan), Grehan, Murray, Harley (MacDougall), Macdonald, Reid.

 

Renfrew Town proved too good for Milanda for the first time in four games.

 

The match was played on Astroturf at Crownpoint after the grass pitches at Renfrew’s usual home venue were deemed unplayable.

 

Milanda got off to a poor start, losing a goal inside the first few minutes, and never looked likely to repeat the heroics of the three previous league meetings between the sides. Renfrew scored again before the break and only some good goalkeeping by Ross Mitchell kept the score respectable at the break.

 

Milanda were more in the game in the second period but too often the final ball wasn’t good enough which meant chances were few and far between.There were only two real scoring opportunities of note. Paul Murray had a close-range shot saved after good lead-up play by himself and substitute Neil MacDougall then another substitute, Marc Allan, had a shot blocked.

Renfrew were more clinical and added two more goals to finish with a comfortable victory.

 

MOM: Paul Murray put a lot into the game in midfield and takes the award for the second consecutive game. Ross Mitchell, Paul Ross - back with the squad after a work-related absence - Gerry Evans, Jim Binnie and Kevin Grehan were best of the rest.

 

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John Rae Trophy quarter-final. Greenfield.

 

AC Milanda 3 Glasgow Islay 7 Scorers - Murray, Kelly, Preston

 

Team - Mitchell, Evans, Preston, Thomson, Reid, Grehan, O’Neill (Daly), Kelly, McLaughlin, Fawns (Chisholm), Murray

 

A late collapse saw Milanda add to a season of disappointments by going out of the John Rae Trophy. The scoreline is harsh on the home side but there can be no doubt Islay deserved to go forward to face Bellahouston in the semi-final and the possibility of a final against Renfrew Town or Bishopton. It’s a prize Milanda would dearly have loved in a season when the league campaign has proved incredibly difficult but it wasn’t to be.

 

After five weeks of postponements, manager Alan McMillan expected to be leaving players on the sidelines without a strip but that turned out not to be the case.Seven call-offs meant only 12 players to choose from for such a big game, although a 13th did turn up late. It was therefore a fairly experimental line-up in a 3-5-2 formation that took the field.

 

The team got off to a great start, however, with a goal after five minutes. Craig Fawns sent a long throw over the Islay defence to strike partner Paul Murray and he ran on to score with a low left-foot shot.Kevin Grehan and Colin Kelly both came close before Islay hit back and forced a good save from Ross Mitchell.

 

Mitchell then produced a fantastic penalty save after Scott Preston had been forced to bring down one of the Islay midfielders as he surged into the box. But Islay heads certainly didn’t go down after that. Quite the reverse in fact as they turned the tide with three goals in an eight-minute period to leave Milanda up against it.

 

But it was a fairly even game in terms of possession at this stage and the home team got one back in the 39th minute. A Murray free-kick was cleared only as far as Kelly on the edge of the box and his first-time shot found the corner of the net.It could have been all square at the break because Milanda were awarded a penalty a few minutes later for a foul on Murray. However, Islay keeper Andy Campbell made a superb save from Fawns’s well-struck spot-kick, even though he seemed to be well off his line in doing so.

 

Milanda started the second half well and Mark Reid and Murray had efforts cleared off the line before an equaliser arrived just after the hour. Murray was the provider with a corner and Preston’s flicked header at the front post found the back of the net.

 

It looked at this stage as if Milanda would earn a penalty shootout at the very least but in the final 15 minutes the long lay-off appeared to take its toll. Islay suddenly looked stronger and hungrier for the win and they somehow managed to run in another four goals without reply.

 

MOM: Scott Preston and Craig Fawns both did well but were just pipped for man of the match by Paul Murray who was involved in all three goals.

 

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Vince McGlinchey Trophy quarter-final. Peterson Park.

 

Caledonian University 4 AC Milanda 2 Scorers - Kelly, Johnstone

 

Team - Fawns, Binnie (Evans), Chisholm, Murray, Thomson, Ross, Grehan, Kelly, Macdonald, McLaughlin, Johnstone. Subs not used: Di Folco, Harley, O’Neill.

 

Milanda’s last chance of silverware disappeared on yet another day when not a lot went right. Two goals and a man down after 10 minutes wasn’t the best of starts and when another goal was lost with just 25 minutes played, it looked like being a very difficult morning.

 

However, the players responded well, got the tie back to 3-2 and were just a bad bounce away from making it 3-3 before the students netted their fourth goal. It was a good effort in the circumstances but ultimately their efforts went unrewarded because of those disastrous few minutes at the beginning of the game.

 

A new central defensive partnership was tried to stem the flow of goals flying into Milanda’s net but Paul Murray and Gordon Chisholm weren’t together long. Caley scored after five minutes and went 2-0 ahead from a penalty after 10 following a tackle by Chisholm who was sent off.

 

It looked at first as if the referee might show just a yellow card because there were other players in the vicinity who might have made a saving challenge but in the end the official decided the Milanda defender was the last man. Milanda almost pulled one back four minutes later when Martin Johnstone produced a brilliant burst of pace to reach the byeline and cut the ball back for Colin Kelly to fire just wide.

 

With the wind behind them, Caley continued to cause problems and scored a third goal following a corner. They had one or two other opportunities to score but were thwarted by keeper Craig Fawns.

 

The University side were lucky not to have a man sent off when Johnstone was impeded as he tried to break clear. All Milanda were given was a free-kick that came to nothing. However, they did get a goal back 10 minutes before the break. Kelly picked the ball up 30 yards from goal and ran at the home defence before firing in a low shot that the keeper got a hand to but couldn’t keep out. An excellent individual effort.

 

Milanda were back in it and even more so after an hour when Johnstone made it 3-2 after good leading-up work by Kevin Grehan and Kelly.Caley were starting to look panicky as Milanda began to make more chances. Their keeper made a good block at the back post from Roddy Macdonald following a Murray free-kick then Kelly fired an effort just past.

 

In the 78th minute, Milanda thought their moment had arrived. A wind-assisted clearance by Fawns beat both central defenders and Johnstone was in but the ball just got away from him on the heavy surface, allowing the keeper to save at his feet. Seconds later, Caley broke upfield and fired in a fourth goal to settle the tie.

 

MOM: Everyone worked tremendously against young and lively opponents and that is highlighted by the fact that 10 men achieved a 2-2 draw against 11 over 80 minutes. That is small consolation perhaps but worthy of note. Captain Kevin Grehan led by example and put in a tremendous shift so he gets man of the match.

 

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League, Stepford

 

AC Milanda 9 Pursuers 5 Scorers - Macdonald (2), Grehan, Kelly (3), Murray (2 pens), O’Neill.

 

Team -Fawns, Evans (Reid), Chisholm, Preston, Di Folco, O’Neill, Grehan (MacDougall), Murray, Harley, Kelly, Macdonald.

 

 

Milanda recorded just their second league win of the season in a bizarre 90 minutes at Stepford. Colin Kelly grabbed a hat-trick and there were doubles from Roddy Macdonald and Paul Murray plus singles from Kevin Grehan and Dave O’Neill. Kelly also hit a post and had a blatant penalty claim rejected or it could have been double figures.

 

The result gives Milanda a glimmer of hope in their struggle to avoid relegation, although the defending will have to be a lot better in the remaining matches if that is to be achieved because the team is not going to score this many goals every week. To be fair to the boys at the back, they were playing as a unit for the first time and an understanding doesn’t just happen instantly. And they also had to contend with a change early in the match when Gerry Evans was injured and Mark Reid took his place.

 

Overall, though, it was fantastic to have a winning dressing room again – and a visit from former player Soapy Soutar just added to the happy vibe. Milanda started the game at a good pace and were ahead after 10 minutes. King of the assists Paul Murray player in Macdonald and he produced a cool finish. The same player could have scored again from a long clearance by keeper Craig Fawns but shot straight at the keeper.

 

But Pursuers were looking lively too and a good save by Fawns denied them an equaliser. However, the visitors did pull level after 20 minutes when poor marking at the back post allowed one of their forwards to score with a header.

 

However, Milanda were back in front three minutes later when a Murray free-kick out on the right was headed home by skipper Kevin Grehan. Ten minutes more and it was 3-1, Kelly passing the ball into the net from another Murray pass.

 

Four minutes into the second half, Milanda stretched their lead. Pursuers shot themselves in the foot with a bad pass out of defence which O’Neill pounced on before curling a super shot past the keeper from 25 yards. In the 52nd minute, it was 5-1. Macdonald was brought down in the penalty box and Murray did the honours with a perfect spot-kick. Kelly fired a shot against the keeper’s left-hand post before Pursuers pulled a goal back with a penalty of their own following an unnecessary challenge by Scott Preston.

 

Kelly had a penalty claim turned down after being pulled back when he looked set to score but the referee did award Milanda a second spot-kick minutes later for another foul on Macdonald. Again Murray made no mistake. Macdonald himself fired Milanda’s seventh after chasing a clearance by Murray.

 

Pursuers cut the deficit to 7-3 but Milanda replied almost immediately. Kelly collected the ball 45 yards from goal and flicked it up, Peter Crouch style, before firing a magnificent volley over the helpless keeper. Kelly scored the ninth after the keeper had failed to hold a scorching shot from Reid.

 

That should have been the game done and dusted but this is Milanda and they managed to lose another two goals in the last 10 minutes to make the final score 9-5. Referee Alan Marshall actually thought the final score was 10-5 but manager Alan McMillan set him straight.

 

MOM: A great result for Milanda and although it was achieved thanks to a team effort there were some superb individual performances. Craig Fawns produced a couple fine saves and Scott Preston, penalty aside, did well at the back considering he wasn’t 100 per cent fit. Central partner Gordon Chisholm made some important tackles, as did full-backs Mark Reid and Gary Di Folco who will obviously become even better when he sees sense and moves to Bishopbriggs. Middle to front, Milanda were dominant. Dave O’Neill gave his best performance of the season on the right, Greig Harley slotted in well on the left and might have scored a couple of goals if he could keep the ball down, while Kevin Grehan and Paul Murray controlled the central area. Up front Roddy Macdonald was a real handful for the Pursuers defence, while Colin Kelly was a constant menace to them in the hole. Man of the match is a tough call this week but Paul Murray just edges it for his two well-taken penalties and four assists. Not a bad morning’s work.

 

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League, Colquhoun Park, Bearsden

 

Parklife 2 AC Milanda 4. Scorers - Murray (pen), MacDonald, own goal, McLaughlin.

 

Team - Reid, MacDougall, Evans, Preston, Thomson, O’Neill, Grehan, Murray, McLaughlin, Harley, Macdonald

 

ELEVEN absolute heroes. No substitutes, no recognised keeper but still Milanda managed to pull off a stunning victory. Parklife are a good team with some excellent players but on the day they were second best to a side that gave everything for three much-needed points. Down to the bare bones due to a combination of problems, Milanda were very much underdogs going into this one and even more so when Dave O’Neill suffered a recurrence of a back injury in the first half. However, the players dug deep and produced a tremendous performance, showing the kind of spirit that would have kept Milanda out of the relegation battle had it been shown more often earlier in the season.

 

Parklife had the wind at their backs and stand-in keeper Mark Reid was picking the ball out of the net after just seven minutes following a powerful shot from just outside the box. The home team had their tactics right and kept shooting for goal but fortunately they were short on accuracy.

 

But Milanda always threatended on the break and equalised in the 16th minute following a good move that ended with Roddy Macdonald being fouled inside the box. Paul Murray took the penalty and added to his two spot-kick goals from the previous week with another perfect finish.The Parklife goal led a charmed life as their players tried to defend a Murray corner seven minutes later. Scott Preston was one of the Milanda men who had a chance to put the ball away but somehow it was scrambled clear.

 

Then the Parklife keeper had a good save to deny Macdonald after good work by strike partner Greig Harley. The home goal escaped again after good inter-play involving O’Neill and Neil Macdougall, one of the Parklife defenders slicing a clearance just off target.

 

Milanda were giving as good as they got and deserved to take the lead nine minutes before the break when the tireless Macdonald scored with a marvellous left-foot shot that beat the keeper and went in off his left-hand post. With O’Neill off receiving treatment for his back, Milanda’s 10 men had to fight hard to keep their lead until the half-time whistle.

 

O’Neill agreed to play up front in the second half but was clearly in discomfort and it looked like being a long 45 minutes for Milanda. This was confirmed when Parklife equalised in the 55th minute, the visiting defence looking suspect for the first time in the match as they allowed the delivery of a cross that could have been blocked.

 

But the wind was a big plus for Milanda, especially with keeper Reid’s huge clearances and Murray’s long throws putting pressure on the Parklife rearguard. It was from a long throw in the 63rd minute that Milanda regained the lead, one of the home defenders heading Murray’s delivery into his own net under pressure from skipper Kevin Grehan.

 

Parklife doubled their efforts to get back into the game but on the few occasions they managed to breach the Milanda back line, chances were passed up. It was a nervy finale until the 88th minute when Milanda made sure of the win. Colin McLaughlin picked up the ball just outside the box and fired in a magnificent volley that the keeper got both hands to but couldn’t stop finishing in the net.

 

So it was a delighted group of Milanda players who made the long walk back to the dressing rooms. A second successive win and another little glimmer of hope in the continuing fight to avoid the drop – and every single one of them had made a quality contribution.

 

MOM: Dave O’Neill. Bravery above and beyond the call of duty. He was meant just to stand around up front, forcing Parklife to mark him, but got involved whenever he could and ended up posing them some real problems.

 

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League, Lochend

 

Glasgow Islay 1 AC Milanda 3 Scorers - Preston, MacDougall, Kelly

 

Team - Mitchell, MacDougall, Evans (Reid), Preston, Thomson, O’Neill, Macdonald, Murray, Kelly, McLaughlin, Johnstone. Subs not used: Binnie, Daly, Di Folco.

 

MILANDA made it three wins on the trot in dramatic fashion to stay in with a slight chance of beating the drop. A goal ahead with just four minutes left on the clock, they conceded an equaliser which meant Islay looked odds on to gain a deserved point. However, the Milanda players refused to accept that and somehow scored twice in the dying minutes to chalk up an incredible success. The fighting spirit the players are showing now was rarely seen in the early part of the season and it makes you think we could have been safe by now had we battled a little harder for points in some of the closer games. Still, we are where we are and that’s considerably better off than we were a month ago. There’s life in the old dogs yet and survival is achievable.

 

Milanda at least had options for this fixture after having beaten Parklife with 11 men and no regognised keeper in their previous outing. But the game plan was upset early on when Gerry Evans suffered a knee injury, which meant Mark Reid going on to play in a reshuffled defence. He took the left-back role with Andy Thomson moving to central defence alongside Scott Preston.

 

With a strong wind at their backs, Milanda did most of the pressing in the first half without ever looking a huge threat to the Islay goal. Roddy Macdonald and Martin Johnstone hits shots off target but the home side looked fairly comfortable. Islay also caused problems on the break and it took a foul by Thomson, which earned him a booking, to stop a potentially damaging attack. Fortunately, he wasn’t the last man but it was close.

 

Finally, five minutes from half-time, Milanda made the breakthrough. Mark Reid sent over a corner from the left and Preston made sure he got to it first to stab the ball home.

Shortly after that, Colin Kelly had a shot saved.

 

Milanda braced themselves for a second-half onslaught but the defenders and midfielders worked hard to get in tackles and blocks at vital times. When Islay did get behind them, as in the 62nd minute, Ross Mitchell came to the rescue with a fantastic save. Johnstone and Kelly worked hard up front to relieve the pressure and from time to time half-chances were created.

Kelly had one in the 68th minute but Islay keeper Andy Campbell pulled off a fine save.

 

Islay hit a post with 10 minutes to go but it looked as if Milanda would hold on for a 1-0 win until the 86th minute when the home side finally got the ball in the net after a raid down the left.

 

It was a real sickener but Milanda didn’t let it get to them. They simply went straight up the park and regained the lead. Right-back Neil MacDougall took a pass from Kelly and burst into the box and hit a superb shot that Campbell got a hand to but couldn’t stop from ending up in the net. And a minute after that, the ever dangerous Kelly bullied one of the Islay defenders out of possession and fired in No.3.

 

Another tremendous morning’s work by Milanda and the only downer was the fact midfielder Colin McLaughlin suffered a broken toe and may not be able to play again this season.

 

MOM: Once again there wasn’t a failure in the Milanda side. The defenders did their jobs, the midfielders worked non stop and attackers Johnstone and Kelly gave Islay problems throughout. But this week’s award goes to Ross Mitchell. The keeper made some excellent saves to keep us ahead for most of the second half and had no chance with their goal. His kicking was excellent also against a stiff wind and helped the team get up the park.

 

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League Hamilton Palace.

 

Blantyre 1 AC Milanda 2 Scorers - Kelly (2)

 

Team - Mitchell, MacDougall (Fawns), Preston, Thomson, Di Falco, Grehan (Daly), Macdonald, Murray, Kelly, McGinley, Johnstone. Subs not used: Evans, Harley, O’Neill.

 

MILANDA showed once again that they will fight all the way to beat the drop by chalking up their fourth successive victory. But it took a dramatic Colin Kelly goal in the dying minutes to see off relegation rivals Blantyre. The Lanarkshire side had beaten Milanda 3-2 with a last-gasp strike earlier in the season at Stepford so Milanda were delighted to turn the tables.

Kelly had also got Milanda off to a flyer with an early goal which was cancelled out by a Blantyre penalty in a second half that the home side probably shaded. As with the previous match against Glasgow Islay, a draw might have been the fairest result at Hamilton Palace but results are what matters at this stage of the campaign and, thankfully, Milanda have picked up the knack of getting them lately.

 

The match was only two minutes old when Milanda took the lead. Kevin Grehan’s through ball caught the Blantyre defence waiting for an offside whistle that never came and Kelly went on to loft the ball over the keeper and into the net. It looked to some of those on the sidelines as if referee Gordon Hay had got it wrong but although Martin Johnstone was in an offside position, Kelly was onside and so the goal stood, despite Blantyre’s protests.

 

Milanda, with trialist Jason McGinley slotting into midfield on the left, could have added to their lead before the break but the final pass wasn’t quite good enough at times. They were also unlucky when a Paul Murray corner caused Blantyre problems and the ball was eventually cleared off the line.

 

But the home side were always a threat and it took some good goalkeeping by Ross Mitchell and solid defending by the guys in front of him to ensure Milanda reached the break with their lead intact.

 

Seven minutes into the second period, Blantyre equalised from the penalty spot after Gary Di Falco had pulled down one of their forwards. It was a sloppy goal to lose because Milanda had been guilty of failing to clear their lines a couple of times in the build-up to it. However, with so much time still to be played there was never any threat of heads going down and Di Falco, who had been having an excellent match, didn’t let the incident bother him.

 

The only problem was that the momentum had switched slightly and Blantyre began to take a grip of the game. Good defending and goalkeeping kept them at bay, although Milanda were grateful to Kelly again when he cleared the ball off the line following a set-piece.

 

Injuries to Neil MacDougall and Kevin Grehan didn’t help Milanda’s cause but substitutes Andy Daly and Craig Fawns went on and got stuck in.

 

Finally, with two minutes to go, Milanda made the breakthrough again. Set-piece specialist Murray curled in a corner from the right and Kelly headed home from almost on the goal line.

With some stoppage time to be played due to injuries, Milanda had to sweat a little until referee Hay blow the final whistle but they got the job done.

 

MOM: Another superb team effort with everyone playing a part but Colin Kelly was the main man with two superb goals and an excellent goal-line clearance into the bargain.

 

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League, Nethercraigs

 

Invac 2 AC Milanda 1 Scorer - Macdonald

 

Team - Mitchell, Evans, Preston, Thomson, Di Folco, Lawson, Macdonald, O’Neill, Kelly, Murray, Johnstone. Subs not used: Binnie, Daly, Fawns, Harley, McLaughlin.

 

 

SURVIVAL is no longer in AC Milanda’s hands after a heartbreaking late loss to an Invac side that retained the GDSML Premier Division title by taking full points. Milanda needed four points from their last two games to be sure of beating relegation but the ending of their four-game winning run leaves them in a precarious position. Now they need to beat league runners-up Red Star Baillieston in their last game and hope that Glasgow Islay finish their programme with a defeat at Invac. Two big asks for sure but not outwith the bounds of possibility.

 

It would be stretching the truth to say Milanda deserved a point at Nethercraigs on Saturday because, in addition to their goals, Invac also hit the frame of the goal on four occasions. But the team certainly gave a good account of themselves and would have had a draw if referee David Ross had blown the final whistle just 60 seconds earlier. They say everything in football balances out over the course of a season and Milanda have scored their share of late goals in the past few weeks so we can’t really complain.

 

Having been hammered 10-2 at home by Invac earlier in the season, Milanda went into the game as heavy underdogs but gave as good as they got in the first 15 minutes.

Colin Kelly created a couple of half-chances with his pace but the Invac goal survived. Ross Mitchell came to Milanda’s rescue with a magnificent save after the defence had been carved open in the 17th minute. The keeper tipped a shot on to his right-hand post and behind for a corner.

 

Unfortunately, poor marking from that corner saw Invac take the lead through Craig MacDonald. There was a chance for a quick equaliser when Paul Murray played in Martin Johnstone down the inside-left channel but, as the keeper came out to him, the striker lost control of the ball at the vital moment.

 

Invac almost scored again with a volley from outside the box following a set-piece but Murray, on the line, headed the ball up and off the underside of the bar and away to safety. One of the Invac players scooped another good chance over the bar with only Mitchell to beat and the home team also struck a post from a free-kick just before the break.

 

Perhaps fortunate still to be in the game at the break, Milanda made a better start to the second period and Kelly shot wide following a Murray free-kick. Mitchell had another superb save and Invac struck the woodwork twice more before Milanda levelled things in the 78th minute. A Johnstone cross from the left was fired back across goal by Russell Lawson - back in the side after months out due to work commitments - and Roddy Macdonald reacted quickest to stab the ball home.

 

A well-worked goal and deserved reward for a team that refused to buckle.

 

Five minutes later, Johnstone was inches away from connecting with a free-kick that Lawson had whipped in from the right. But disaster stuck in the 89th minute when, with the ball bouncing around a packed penalty box, Andy Westwater got the split-second he needed to blast it into the net for the winner.

 

There was only time to restart the match before referee Ross brought it to an end.

 

Invac had won the league for the second year in a row and Milanda were left to ponder what might have been.

 

MOM: Another good performance with everyone playing a part. Ross Mitchell was excellent in goal, the back four, for the most part, looked solid and from middle to front, the team always carried a threat. Scott Preston and Andy Thomson were again impressive as a central defensive partnership, while full-backs Gerry Evans and Gary Di Folco complemented them. Martin Johnstone and the lively Colin Kelly made sure the Invac defence never had a moment’s peace and these two had good service from midfielders Russell Lawson, Roddy Macdonald, Dave O’Neill and Paul Murray. Mitchell, Preston, Kelly or Johnstone could easily have been man of the match in this one but the award goes to Macdonald for getting through a ton of work in midfield and still finding the time to score.

 

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League, Greenfield

 

AC Milanda 5 Red Star Baillieston 2 Scorers - Kelly 2, Lawson 2, Macdonald

 

Team - Fawns, Di Folco, Evans (Trialist 2), Thomson, Binnie, Daly (Reid), Macdonald, Trialist 1, Kelly, Murray, Lawson. Sub not used: McLaughlin.

 

MILANDA finished their season in spectacular style with a well-deserved victory over the GDSML runners-up. Having come within a minute of holding the league champions four days earlier, the boys knew they were capable of giving Red Star Baillieston a game. But the performance and result exceeded all expectations, especially with a number of key players missing.

The loss of regular keeper Ross Mitchell plus Martin Johnstone, Dave O’Neill and Scott Preston from the team that had almost held Invac at the weekend was always going to be difficult to cope with but the players who took over were simply excellent.

 

Milanda’s little band of supporters, including Andy Scott, Davie Crawford, Kevin Williamson, Thomas Addison, injured skipper Kevin Grehan and Jim McGowan, were impressed by what they witnessed - and rightly so.

 

But will it be enough to save Milanda from relegation? The answer to that is in the hands of Invac and Glasgow Islay who play the last Premier Division fixture of the season at Nethercraigs on Saturday. If Invac win, Islay go down. Any other result and Milanda go down. But that’s for another day. For the moment, let’s just savour what happened in this game.

 

The home side got off to a superb start with a goal after two minutes. Jim Binnie and Paul Murray combined well to send Russell Lawson down the left and he crossed low for Colin Kelly to gather and shoot home from close range. Red Star appealed that Codger had been offside but referee Finlay MacDermid was adamant the goal was good.

 

If the visiting team were annoyed about that, they were apoplectic eight minutes later when the match official awarded Milanda a dubious free-kick they hadn’t claimed for just outside the box.

Red Star had further cause for rage when Lawson stepped up and plonked the ball in the net.

 

Lawson and Kelly were giving the Red Star defence all sorts of problems and in the 17th minute they combined again to create a good opening that Codger fired off target. Red Star were playing some good football and it was no real surprise when they cut the deficit in the 32nd minute following a superb run from their tall central midfielder. The big man got through again before the break but Craig Fawns produced a fabulous save to keep Milanda’s lead intact.

 

The second half was only nine minutes old when Red Star equalised with a ferocious shot from the right side of the box that Fawns touched but couldn’t stop. This was now a huge test of nerve. The momentum had turned the opposition’s way, so how would Milanda react?

 

The answer was emphatic – with more goals. Three of them in a six-minute period to be precise. They could have been 3-2 ahead in the 67th minute when Murray placed a low free-kick into the net but the ref chalked it off because he was busy dealing with more Red Star dissent and hadn’t blown for the set-piece to be taken. When the official had sorted that out, Lawson took over free-kick duties and forced an excellent save from the keeper.

 

Mark Reid replaced Andy Daly, who had put in a great shift on the right of midfield, and the substitute came close to scoring with a strong shot. The Red Star net finally bulged again in the 72nd minute when Lawson coolly fired the ball into the corner after tremendous build-up play by Kelly and Reid. But the opposition could not be written off and it took an out of this world block by Gerry Evans to stop their danger man netting from close range.

 

That proved a real turning point because Milanda promptly scored their fourth in the 76th minute when Roddy Macdonald scored with a shot that took a slight deflection on its way to the back of the net. Two minutes later, it was 5-2. Kelly took advantage of a lucky break of the ball off the referee – you can imagine what Red Star thought of that – and powered into the box to fire home.

A three-goal advantage with 12 minutes left for play put Milanda in a commanding position and there was no way they were going to let that advantage slip.

 

There was even time to give trialist No.2 a run up front following an injury to Evans as Milanda saw the game out.

 

MOM: Half the players, perhaps even more, were candidates for man of the match. Craig Fawns played exceptionally well in goal and the defence in front of him was solid. Full-backs Gary Di Folco and Jim Binnie were strong in the tackle and cleared their lines well, while Andy Thomson and Gerry Evans dealt capably with the threat through the middle. The way Evans handled the Red Star danger man as he surged forward from midfield was particularly impressive. Andy Daly, Mark Reid, Roddy Macdonald, Trialist 1 and Paul Murray worked their socks off in midfield – literally in Macdonald’s case because he had to leave the field to put on shin pads after being reported to the ref for not wearing any. The men in the engine room were sometimes outnumbered but never stopped grafting. Their efforts allowed Colin Kelly and Russell Lawson to terrorise the three-man Red Star defence and they really produced the goods with a couple of goals each. For that reason, man of the match is a joint award this time to our two strikers.