THE Brandanes slumped to a heavy defeat in their first pre-season fixture on Saturday - in a game which at times was anything but friendly, writes Nino Robertson.
Debuts were handed out to some fresh faces, with Craig McFie having an impressive game in the heart of the defence, Ruairidh McGregor impressing on the flanks and John McBride grabbing a goal in his first start for the club in the number eight jersey.
The first effort of the game came from the visitors, but Robbie Cameron’s shot posed no threat to Ben Hatton in the Danes goal as it sailed high over the crossbar.
Ruairidh McGregor then got his first touch down the near side when he played in James Sprowl, whose cross was well blocked, before Sean Lawrence tried his luck with a shot which flew wide.
The deadlock was broken in the 25th minute when Ashvale’s number 13, Steven Chambo, was on hand to rifle home from close range in the visitors’ first attack.
But the Danes were level just four minutes later when a great run by Lawrence saw the ball fall to McBride, whose scuffed shot crept into the far corner of the net.
Wes Pattison had a chance to edge his team into the lead from a teasing Lawrence cross, but he fired his shot at the Ashvale keeper.
And it was the visitors ended the first half the happier side after Jamie Patterson finished off a well-worked move with another close range finish, this time with the head, to give Ashvale a 2-1 lead.
Three substitutions were made by the Danes at half time, with Gary McGregor, who sustained a knock in the first half, joined on the sidelines by Ruairidh McGregor and Lawrence; their places were taken by Kyle Pattison, Scott McDonald and Chris Donnelly.
Pattison played particularly well, keeping hold of possession and embarking on the odd mazy run which saw him on the receiving end of a few ill-timed tackles from the visitors.
Just a few minutes after the new trio’s introduction, though, Ashvale grabbed a two-goal cushion when Cameron fired a shot towards goal and the ball slipped through Hatton’s hands and over the line.
And just four minutes later the visitors added a fourth through Robert Storrie, who evaded four yellow shirts as if they weren’t there before cracking the ball home.
The Danes reduced the deficit to two goals on 72 minutes after Stuart Brady was brought down by the keeper inside the box, having been set up unselfishly by Pattison; the referee awarded a penalty and Neil Whitelaw stepped up to blast the ball home from the spot.
Substitute Wilson made sure of the victory for Ashvale when he made it 5-2 on 74 minutes, though the Danes management used the final stages to make more changes, Paul Toop coming on to make his debut in place of McBride, while Alan Poole came on in place of James Sprowl.
But the last word would fall to the visitors, Storrie grabbing his second goal of the day in the dying seconds.
* This Saturday, August 6, the Brandanes’ pre-season preparations continue with a friendly at home to Renfrew United.
Kick-off is at 2.30pm and players should meet no later than 1.15pm.