Brandanes undone by leaders’ triple blow

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IAIN LIVINGSTONE’S late strike was no more than a small consolation for the Brandanes on Saturday as league leaders Milngavie kept up their promotion push with a second-half triple whammy.

It was anyone’s game going into the second half, writes Nino Robertson, as both sets of players returned to the field tied at 0-0, but once the Danes’ defence was breached for the first time, the home side grew in confidence and added two more to take the wind out of the Rothesay team’s sails.

Milngavie went into Saturday’s game ten points clear at the top of the Caledonian League first division table, whilst the Danes, by contrast, were struggling towards the foot of the table with only ten points to their name.

But the game kicked off on a positive note for the away side, who had clearly learned some lessons from their slow start against Bearsden the previous week; it was the Danes who created the first real opportunity of the game when they put together a few neat passes before the influential Neil Whitelaw unlocked the Milngavie defence with a nice ball which released Livingstone, who was only denied by the outside of the post.

Although there was not much goal mouth action in the first half, the Wanderers did pose a threat to the visitors through their number 11, Robert Halliday, who was always hugging the touchline with his pace, and never failed to deliver a good cross - but he just couldn’t seem to keep his temper under control throughout the match.

Halliday’s talent was on show once again when he came down the near touchline and then cut inside, forcing the defender to concede a free kick; Halliday himself took it, but Ben Hatton, in between the sticks for the Rothesay side, didn’t have much to do in the first half and wasn’t going to be troubled by the winger’s effort.

This was the last significant effort of the first half, and the second period began much like the first with not many chances being created.

The home side did begin to creep into the game, and came close through David Simeon, but moments later at the other end the Danes had not one but two penalty appeals turned down in the space of a few seconds.

First Sean Lawrence was hauled to the ground by Milngavie keeper Stephen Mehigan, but the Danes’ appeals were waved away; the ball then fell to number eight Stuart McKechnie, who blasted a shot goalwards which was surely stopped by a hand, but despite strong appeals from the away contingent, the referee again waved play on.

Minutes later the Wanderers showed their clinical edge when the Brandanes defence failed to properly clear a corner, and the home side’s Steven Malone was on hand to prod the ball past Hatton to open the scoring.

And four minutes later the Danes’ deficit was doubled when sloppy defending at a free kick let in Ross Robb to make it 2-0 to the home side.

The Danes tried hard to find a way back into the game, and minutes later Lawrence created space for himself out wide before firing the ball across goal; it was flicked on at the near post, but the onrushing Whitelaw just failed to make contact.

Any chance the visitors might have had of taking something from the game was dashed when a header from Martin Tait put Milngavie 3-0 in front, but right on the 90-minute mark Livingstone gained his reward for another energetic performance when he was played in by Lawrence on the edge of the box, spun past his market and slammed the ball past Mehigan for his third goal in three matches.

* This Saturday, January 28, the Brandanes have an immediate opportunity to redress the balance for last weekend’s defeat.

The Rothesay men are at home to Milngavie Wanderers in what - weather permitting! - will be their first home fixture since the end of October.

Kick-off is at 2pm, and players should report for duty no later than 12.45pm.