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.