The season opener for Carluke in the newly formed West of Scotland League Third Division was to visit one the favourites for promotion, Ardrossan Rovers.
As both teams lined up, the home side in black and white hoops and the visitors in their maroon second strip. it was a perfect day for playing and watching football. The sun was shining, and the pitch was bowling green perfect, a tribute to the hard-working ground staff.
After kick-off the game progressed with the home side dominating the play for the opening quarter without putting too much pressure on Carluke’s keeper.
As the visitors began to settle into the game their hard-working midfield were rewarded with the opening goal on the half hour mark. A ball from Dickson on the left was floated into a packed Ardrossan penalty box. The clearance found Kane on the edge of the box. He fired an unstoppable shot just under the bar of the Ardrossan goal.
Inevitably the goal resulted in Ardrossan pressing hard to find an equaliser, but the Carluke defence held firm. In the middle of the park, Small and, on loan Boyd, were working hard to limit the influence of the home midfield, whilst creating attacking opportunities. Lawlor was also causing problems with his pace down the right side. The few chances created came by the home side came to nothing and Carluke went in at half time in the lead.
HT – Ardrossan 0-1 Carluke
Inevitably the home side started the second half strongly and pressured the visitors defence in search of the equalising goal. Their reward came quickly, after only 6 minutes. A disputed free kick was awarded to the home side just inside their opponent’s half. The ball was played out left and launched towards the Carluke goal line where it was played back into the box and picked up by Ardrossan’s Oliver whose shot beat the outstretched arm of McGill in the Carluke goal.
The home side continued their assault on the Carluke goal, and keeper McGill was called into action on 54 minutes when a cross from the right looked like it was going out only to be returned to play from the goal line. The loose ball was fired towards the Carluke goal and McGill had to be alert to get both hands to the high ball.
He was once again called into action 10 minutes later. A ball across the Carluke box found an Ardrossan player whose shot looked to be goal bound only to be superbly saved by McGill diving to his left and putting the ball to safety.
When it seemed that the visitors might manage to hold out for a draw, and with the referee playing a few minutes of time added on, the home side were awarded a free kick on the left. The ball into the Carluke box was flicked on by an Ardrossan head into the top right-hand corner of the Carluke goal.
Despite the loss of three points this was a much better performance by Carluke than had been evident in the pre-season friendlies. The Management team will have been disappointed by the loss but heartened that there was much that could be praised collectively and individually.
Photography by Kevin Ramage