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Match Report : Whitletts Victoria

Saltcoats came to Dam Park with an impressive eight match unbeaten record to preserve under Derek Frye but it was their former manager Rikki Ryland who was the happier man at full time as he saw his side end that run with a comfortable victory at Dam Park.
The game was only three minutes old when referee Gerard Pilu decided that the red and black tops of Whitletts were clashing with Saltcoats all maroon strips and the home players had to troop off and change into their yellow and blue change tops!
Minutes after the game restarted Tony Balfour released Michael O’Conner down the right but the Vics striker was denied by a save at full stretch by Saltcoats keeper Jim Catterson. From the resulting corner kick, Graham Longair header from ten yards came crashing back off the crossbar.
Saltcoats striker Joe Young had a shot from 20 yards that flashed wide. Approaching the half hour the diminutive striker lobbed Vics keeper Ally McInnes but couldn’t find the target allowing Martin Reynolds to clear. Then the Saltcoats striker had a great chance to open the scoring when he was given a free header at the back post but put the ball wide.
The game badly needed a goal and it was the home side who broke the deadlock in the 36th minute. Alan Love’s drive came back off the post and Michael O’Conner was on hand to fire home the rebound.
Moments later Raymond Buchanan should have added a second but he headed Balfour’s corner kick straight at Catterson. Then right on half time Longair headed just wide from another corner as the Ayr side took their one goal advantage into the half time break.
Saltcoats were first to threaten in the second period when Chris Black’s drive forced a save from McInnes but it was the home side who doubled their advantage in the 57th minute. Keeper Catterson came for a cross ball but failed to collect it cleanly and O’Conner was on hand to sweep the ball home for his second of the game
Saltcoats battled to get back into the game and Black struck the angle of the post and crossbar while at the other end Whitletts were denied a penalty after Seamus McGeady looked to have brought Balfour down as the striker ran clear in the box.
The home side continued to create the better chances. O’Conner was denied his hat trick when he just failed to connect at the back post to a Love cross and moments later Longair’s shot from the edge of the box flew over the bar. Balfour then fired inches wide from 25 yards with Catterson scampering across his goal as the Dam Park side searched for a third.
But the visitors weren’t for throwing in the towel and McInnes had to be alert twice, first to turn behind an Alan weaver lob and from the resulting corner the Vics No1 did well to turn over a Jamie Whyte header.
O’Conner again had a chance to claim his hat trick when he was put clear but Whyte did well to get back and make the challenge but the home side weren’t to be denied and when Balfour was put clear, Catterson raced from his goal but the little striker calmly lobbed the keeper to score in his tenth consecutive match for Whitletts to round off a fine afternoon for the home side.
Whitletts did have the ball in the net again but the referee ruled it out as he adjudged there had been a foul on Catterson and in the dying seconds O’Conner’s hopes of a hat trick were scuppered when his angled drive slipped just wide.
Whitletts Victoria
1. McInnes 2 Reynolds 3. Ewart 4. Buchanan 5. Wallace(Vance 85) 6. Longair (Kerr 83) 7. Hanvey (Russell 88) 8. Love 9. Balfour 10. Wilson 11. O’Connor
Subs (not used) 14. Simpson 16. Holland
Saltcoats Victoria
1. Catterson 2. McGeady 3. Curran (Kean 75) 4. Whyte 5. Easdon 6. A.Weaver 7. Moan 8. P.Weaver 9. Young 10. Black 11. Quinn (McClelland 67)
Subs (not used) 15. Ferris 16. Arthur 17. Gibson
Referee: Gerard Pilu