It was Carluke who created the first opening when a great cross from Ross MacNeil into Paul Donaghy who just failed to fully control it which gave the right back of Girvan the chance to nip in and clear the danger.
Carluke were the better team in the first half and in the 22nd minute they took a deserved lead when the ball broke to Donaghy on the edge of the box. His left foot shot was slightly deflected and the ball looped over the head of Girvan keeper Nathan Sloan into the empty net to make the score 1-0 to Carluke.
It wasn’t all one way traffic however and Girvan created a couple of chances of their own. The first attempt at goal came in the 32nd minute when Jo Maxwell took a free kick which hit off the wall and went just wide of Carluke keeper Adam Brown’s left hand post.
Then it was Carluke’s turn tot attack with good interplay between Stephen Larkin and Paul Donaghy which put Larkin through on the Girvan Keeper but Sloan was equal to his shot and got a hand to it to keep the score at 1-0.
Then in 42 minutes Carluke created another opening when Donaghy found fellow striker Murray Loudon who took the ball past Girvan centre half, Darren Mitchell before shooting. The Keeper parried the shot out and it fell to Stephen Larkin whose effort was straight at the Keeper. This was the last action of the first half which ended 1-0 to Carluke.
As the second half got underway Carluke were quickly to rue the couple of missed chances in the first half when, within a minute of the restart, Adam Caldwell of Girvan curled in a great cross from the right. In his attempt to clear the danger Gary Livingstone of Carluke only managed to direct the ball into his own net while stretching. 1-1.
This goal gave Girvan renewed hope and they were to play their part in a more even second half. However it was Carluke who were to create the next opening when Mark Cassidy floated in an excellent free kick from the halfway line which sailed of the Girvan defence straight to the foot of Murray Loudon in space. Unfortunately for him his shot was again well saved by Sloan in the Girvan goal.
Within a minute of this miss Girvan were to take the lead when Kieran Balfour was allowed to drift in from the left and run along the byline before cutting the ball back to Adam Caldwell who gleefully put the ball into the Carluke net to give Girvan the lead for the first time in the game.
Under normal circumstances it would be very difficult for a team to come back from this disappointment but within 2 minutes Girvan gifted Carluke Rovers a lifeline with the most bizarre own goal. Jo Maxwell was under no pressure and 25 yards out, when he passed the ball back to his keeper. Unfortunately for him and Girvan the keeper was not paying attention and the ball found its way into empty Girvan net to make the score 2-2.
This was a body blow to Girvan and a break for Carluke but Girvan were to be given another opportunity to get back in front when a Girvan player was pulled down in the box and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot for a penalty to the visitors. This was in the 68th minute. The penalty was taken by Adam Caldwell but his shot was not a great one and was saved by the feet of Carluke Keeper Adam Brown keeping his team on level terms.
There was to be a further chance for both teams with the industrious Maxwell heading directly to Brown’s feet and Murray Loudon being fed in by Paul Donaghy but his left foot shot went narrowly past the Girvan post.
However the game was to end in controversy with an unsavory off the ball incident. Girvan’s Callum Davidson was seen to punch Paul Donaghy directly in the face. Unfortunately for Donaghy, as a bit of a scuffle ensued, the Referee saw fit to show both players a straight red card.
This was the last “action” of the game which petered out to a 2-2 draw which was probably a fair result.Match Report by Stevie Kane
Photography by Kevin Ramage