Tweedsiders sorely tested by injuries up front

Craigroyston 3

Kelso United 0

EoS FIRST DIVISION

GEORGE RILEY reports from St Mark’s Park

KELSO manager Prof Blaikie had to make a last-minute change when Jamie Swailes failed a fitness test before kick-off and, with leading scorer Des Burnett ruled out through injury, it was already going to be an uphill struggle for the visitors.

And so it proved to be. The home side had United rocking from the start and after some early pressure scored in the eighth minute when a ball was headed on by striker Errol Douglas at the near post and midfielder Andrew Milligan had the simple task of side-footing past United keeper David Simmonds.

Craigroyston increased their advantage just after the quarter-hour mark when Keiren Dodd launched a ball from just inside the halfway line into the United box and lanky Douglas used his height advantage over Kelso’s John McCutcheon to place a header beyond the United keeper.

The only significant chance United had in the first half came with five minutes remaining when Stuart Harker latched on to a cross-ball, but his shot was blocked by the home defence.

The Tweedsiders started with purpose in the second half and 10 minutes after the restart a good strike by Jordan Lauder was parried by Craigroyston keeper Stuart Addison, the ball falling to Mark Lockhart, who passed to Callum Webb, but the youngster miskicked and the chance was lost.

United were down to 10 men when Craigie skipper Michael Stewart fouled Lauder and the big Kelso wide man took exception to the challenge by kicking out at the defender, leaving referee Billy Cooper no alternative but to give him his marching orders.

United had claims for not one but two penalties when firstly Craigroyston defender Martin Wallace seemed to bundle over Liam Wallace in the box and the blond midfielder was involved again when the home keeper wrapped himself onto his legs.

However, the referee turned down both appeals.

Midway through the second half the home team went further ahead when a speculative 25-yard shot from Jamie Stewart flew into the top right-hand corner of the net.

Some good work between the home side’s substitutes Robbie Simpson and Martin Laidlaw saw the former through on goal, but he managed to scoop his shot over the bar from six yards.

Kelso could have had a consolation goal in the final minutes when Steven Tait swung in a cross which was knocked on by Wallace to Lockhart, but the striker miscued his shot and it went wide of the target.

Kelso United: D. Simmonds, J. McCutcheon (D. Richardson), C. Black, S. Harker, D. McNulty, L. Wallace, C. Webb (J. Milner), C. Tait, M. Lockhart, S. Tait, J. Lauder.