It was the turn of Ardeer Thistle to visit the John Cumming Stadium for this West of Scotland League clash. This was going to be a difficult game for Carluke against an Ardeer team who are undefeated thus far and sit proudly at the top of the Division.
The game kicked off and Carluke Rovers got the best possible start when they scored in the 3rd minute. Great interplay between Jonny Wilson, Steven Frame and Graeme Goodall resulted in the ball being squared across by Goodall to find Jonny Wilson 3 yards out who had the easiest of tap ins to give Carluke an early lead.
This goal settled Carluke but Ardeer were also stunned into action and in the 12th minute went close when their Ryan Wilson broke the offside trap but lobbed the ball just wide with Dean Wilson in the Carluke goal closing the angle.
Next it was the turn of Carluke to threaten the Ardeer goal when a good run by Lewis Murdoch saw him cut inside and cross the ball to the backpost where Steven Frame met it with his head only for the Ardeer Keeper to pull of a great save. The ball broke back to Frame but his resultant shot only found the side netting.
The game was end to end at this stage and it took a great save from Dean Wilson in the Caluke goal to tip over a volley from Ardeer No11. There was an urgency about Ardeer’s play at this point to try and get the equaliser as they closed down Carluke players at every opportunity. However when Carluke got the opportunity to go forward they looked dangerous and in 28th minute they should have got their second. The ball found Greg Kane in the Ardeer half and he knocked it over the Ardeer defence to James Frame who was through on goal. Unfortunately he put his effort wide of the far post as the Ardeer Keeper came out to close the angle.
Ardeer had a fair amount of possession but were not threatening the Carluke goal on too many occasions and it was no real surprise when Carluke extended their lead. Carluke’s top goalscorer Steven Frame won a 50/50 with the last man inside the Ardeer half. He bore down on goal and as the Ardeer Keeper came out to meet him he produced a sublime lob from 25 yards that nestled in the bottom of the Ardeer net with the Keeper stranded at the edge of his box. 2-0 Rovers.
With the score at 2-0 it was important that Carluke could keep that lead till halftime to set up the second half. Unfortunately for Carluke they only held it for 5 minutes and in the 39th minute Ardeer pulled one back. The ball was passed through the Carluke defence and in a clash between Dean Wilson and the Ardeer’s Jack McWilliam it was McWilliam who got the break of the ball and with Wilson on the ground he calmly slotted the ball into the empty net from a tight angle. 2-1 Rovers.
Although Rovers were still leading this goal was a body blow and just as they were settling back into the match Ryan Wilson gave Ardeer their equaliser in the 42nd minute from a speculative shot which was deflected, wrong footing Dean Wilson in the Carluke goal to make it 2-2.
Carluke were now reeling and unbelievably they conceded a third in stoppage time in the first half. It was again Ryan Wilson who broke the offside trap and his shot, although touched by the Carluke Keeper, still found the net to make the halftime score a sobering 3-2 in favour of Ardeer Thistle.
The second half got underway with a shell shocked Carluke determined to get back into the match and for the first 10 minutes there was nothing in it but an error in defence in the 56th minute put the game beyond Rovers. The ball was given away to Ryan Wilson deep in the Carluke half and he ran through on goal to complete his hattrick with a well placed shot.
James Frame almost got one back for the Rovers when he got the break of the ball but his effort was deflected over the bar when it looked goal bound. The game was put beyond Rovers when in the 67th minute Ryan Wilson was allowed to run across the Rovers defence just inside the box and when he found a bit of space fired a low shot to the bottom corner to make it 5-2 to Ardeer and his own fourth goal.
In fairness to Carluke they did not give up and continued to try and find a way through the Ardeer defence. In the 81st minute they got heir reward. It was the combination of the two Frames, Steven and James with James being the provider. He cut inside again off the right wing and passed to Steven Frame who hit an unstoppable shot from 18 yards which nestled in the side of the Ardeer net. This was too little too late however and Ardeer saw the game out to continue their unbeaten start to the season with a flattering 5-3 victory.
From Carluke’s perspective they simply need to concentrate for the 90 minutes and eradicate the 10 minutes of concentration loss they have shown in their last 2 midweek games albeit against top opposition in both cases and they will quickly climb the table.
Next for Carluke Rovers is an away game at Port Glasgow this Saturday with a 2pm kickoff.
Photography by Kevin Ramage