Newmains United 1 Forth Wanderers 2
The Wanderers should have been out of sight by half-time against Newmains last night, but in the end it took a late Kristopher Dick penalty to give them a narrow 2-1 victory to make it 9 wins out of 10. With three games remaining, 3 points will gain promotion while 6 will guarantee the title.
A large travelling contingent had gathered at Victoria Park and saw Forth begin brightly, a good move involving Barry McGeechan and Warren Grenfell setting up Stevie Kane after 2 minutes but the ball bobbled and he skewed his shot wide. The hosts replied with a shot from Kieran O’Hear which was easily dealt with by David Cherrie in the Wanderers goal. Forth came close after 14 minutes when good play from Gary McMullen and Kristopher Dick setup Kane, but his effort came back off the post and into Newmains keeper Gareth Hallford’s arms.
Forth continued to press and Martin Hannaway was inches away from a dangerous Willie McLaren cross before a McGeechan shot was deflected away for a corner. The resultant corner was played on to Dick who saw his header crash off the bar before being cleared from the line by Paul McMahon. Newmains hadn’t been seen much as an attacking threat thus far but David O’Donnell, who caused problems for the Forth defence all evening, fired a dipping volley just over in a rare attack.
The Wanderers were playing some good football at this stage and McLaren and Dick combined to setup Kane but Hallford got down to his left to turn his shot away for a corner. McLaren then flashed a free kick just wide with Hallford at full stretch before the home keeper denied Kane again with an even better save than the first, to keep the game goalless. There were no takers when a Lachlan Tait cross rebounded from the post as Forth continued to press with half-time approaching.
Willie Tippen then dragged a shot wide for Newmains but the deadlock was finally broken on 38 minutes when Kane found McLaren in space and the striker thrashed the ball low into the corner passed the helpless Hallford. The final chance of the half fell to Kane but his shot was comfortably saved.
Newmains were given a great opportunity to even things up two minutes into the second half when they were awarded a penalty after McMullen was penalised for an infringement. However, Colin Boylan saw his penalty saved by Forth keeper Cherrie before he blasted the rebound well over the bar. Nevertheless this was a different Newmains side from the previous half and they were attacking Forth at every opportunity, with O’Donnell again prominent. A rare Forth attack saw Stephen Tait setup Hannaway, but the big striker never had the ball fully under control and shot wide.
The hosts continued to press and were rewarded when Boylan swept the ball home from close range on 65 minutes after a cross from the left, the Forth defenders claiming in vain for offside. Newmains now had the bit between their teeth and can feel unlucky not to have taken the lead 4 minutes later. There looked to be little danger when a long ball was played through the Forth defence but McMullen didn’t hear the shout of keeper Cherrie and headed the ball back to the empty goal, only for Cherrie to rush back and push the ball clear. However, Mark Cassidy was following up and fired toward goal and although Cherrie held it, it appeared to be over the line. The referee was having none of it though and booked Cassidy and O’Donnell for their protestations.
The Wanderers appeared to have weathered the storm and began to create attacking moves of their own, Hallford just reaching a knock-down from McLaren ahead of Hannaway before substitute Taylor Scott’s cross just eluded the same player. O’Donnell then embarked on a run and the Newmains man was unlucky to see his final shot deflected on to the Wanderers post before being frantically cleared. Just as it looked like Forth’s promotion bid was about to be dealt a blow, McLaren was tripped in the box by John MacFarlane on 84 minutes and Kristopher Dick rifled home the resultant penalty to send the travelling support into raptures.
Taylor Scott almost wrapped up the points 4 minutes later but Hallford did well to save his netbound effort. Newmains continued to press for an equaliser but after almost 4 minutes of injury time the whistle finally blew, to audible sighs of relief.
Next up, another tough encounter against East Kilbride Thistle on Saturday followed by the derby against Lanark next Wednesday after which …
Forth team : Cherrie,L.Tait,S.Tait,Gupwell,McMullen,Kane(Scott),Grenfell,Dick