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.