Rovers travelled to face Bellshill Athletic on Saturday without four first team regulars with Watt (chest infection), Kane and Gow (both suspended) and Haddow (released) along with Head Coach Spike McNeish who was unexpectedly lured back to coach at Motherwell FC’s Academy earlier in the week.
Rovers committee moved swiftly to ensure a set of management arrangements were put in place to allow a seamless continuation of squad training and match day management by installing experienced duo Derek Wilson and ex-Rovers player David Menelaws to manage team affairs on an initial short term caretaker basis.
Both teams looked nervous in the opening minutes due to a heavy water sodden pitch with the home side getting to grips with the underfoot conditions quicker than their visitors and resorted to playing the long ball game.
Rovers veteran captain Mark Weir set up early chances for Tamburinni and Cassidy when his finely placed 20 yard passes set them through on goal only for their shots to be blocked as Bellshill defenders launched themselves desperately in front of the ball each time.
After 10 minutes Bellshills first real foray into the Carluke half resulted in a goal as their striker easily outwitted Carlukes Aldin to run in on goal and stroke the ball into the right corner of the net.
From the restart Carluke were urged forward by captain Weir and rallied with a succession of attacks initiated by himself by cleverly placing 20 yard passes between Bellshills Centre and full backs for Cassidy and Tamburinni to run on to but again for last minute desperate looking tackles the score remained 1-0 to the home side.
Rovers pressure looked to have paid off after 15 minutes following a corner only for Rovers Lambie to scoop the ball over the bar from an ‘up-bounce’ from 4 yards out.
On 20 minutes Carluke looked to have equalised when Weir found Tamburinni on the edge of the box who’s shot on the turn looked to be heading for the postage stamp corner only for the home side keeper to fingertip the ball over the bar.
Then against the run of play Rovers found themselves 2-0 behind when an unfortunate slip by James Martin in the middle of the field presented Bellshill with the ball and a quickly mounted counter attack down the right wing and through ball between centre backs found the feet of The home sides centre forward who dispatched the ball home from short range.
Credit to Carluke who continued to display a never say die attitude throughout the game and on 42 minutes pulled a goal back when the ball fell at Tamburinnis feet following a corner for a 2 yard tap in at the back post.
Half time Bellshill Ath 2 Carluke Rovers 1.
As the second half resumed Weir continued to encourage his team mates to press forward and on 48 minutes clipped another 25 yard pass down the right wing to the feet of Cassidy who jinked past 2 defenders into the box only to see Bellshills keeper fingertip his shot onto the post.
On 70 minutes with the pitch deteriorating as quickly as the tiring legs of the Rovers forwards Menelaws and Tracy replaced Browning and Martin.
Rovers won 3 consecutive corners in the 80th minute but didn’t get any lucky breaks in front of goal and the home side mounted a swift counter attack from the last corner which resulted in them being awarded a penalty which was saved by Keeper Colquhon.
He found Cassidy from the clearance kick and played a reverse pass into the path of Tracy who’s run into the box was met by a desperate looking tackle just as he was about to pull the trigger.
With 3 minutes remaining Bellshill scored their third goal of the afternoon as Rovers centre half Aldin failed to track the run of the centre forward who sprinted in on goal and side footed the ball past the outrushing keeper.
Carluke showed a renewed fighting spirit under their new management team and desreved to get something from the game.
Rovers play regular local rivals Lanark Utd on Sat 10th Feb at John Cumming Stadium, kick off 2pm.Match Report to follow