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.