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Match Report : Whitletts Vics v Craigmark

Craig Harvey’s injury time winner gave Vics the points that fired them back to the top of the Ayrshire District League but they were made to work extremely hard for the points against a Craigmark side that is far more talented than their league position would suggest.
As the game hit the 90 minute mark, Chris Black released Harvey inside the area and the striker fired a low shot past Jamie Brotherston which although the keeper got a hand to the ball, he couldn’t prevent from entering the net to give Harvey his first goal for the Club following his move from Troon a couple of weeks ago.
With Jordan Mullen adding to the lengthy injury list last week and Danny Cunningham, Ross Campbell and David Mathieson unavailable due to work commitments, Raymond Buchanan proved his dedication to the Whitletts cause as he put aside his own long term injury problems and pulled on a Vics shirt for the first time in this league campaign to help out the Club while Sam McFall was on the bench for an earlier than anticipated return to action following his medial ligament injury pre-season.
Whitletts were first to threaten when ‘Mark keeper Mark Higgins made a superb save to turn aside a Niall Kennedy shot. Higgins denied the big midfielder again holding a shot from the edge of the area. Tony Balfour was next to try his luck but again Higgins came out on top, diving at full stretch to parry his shot wide.
Up to that point Craigmark hadn’t threatened Ally McInnes goal but in the 15th minute they made the breakthrough. McInnes failed to cut out a low Marc Dyer cross from the left and former Whitletts player Keiran Nisbet had the simplest of chances to roll the ball into the empty net from six yards. The Dalmellington side were dealt a blow in the 25th minute when the impressive Higgins was forced to leave the field after picking up a hip injury in an earlier incident to be replaced by Jamie Brotherston.
Balfour tried his luck from distance against the new keeper and Chris Black went close with a header from a corner kick that dipped just over.
Former Ayr United youngster Marc Dyer had a great chance for ‘Mark in the 34th minute but couldn’t get enough purchase on the ball that appeared to get stuck under his feet while Adam Lawrie should have done better with a shot from just outside the box.
Over the piece the first half had been largely a tame affair but just before the interval Craig Harvey latched onto an Andy Boyle pass and his drive from the edge of the area was deflected just wide.
It was Craigmark who created the first opportunity of the second period when a deep Craig Barratt cross was left by the Vics defence and from only a couple of yards out Willie Hall somehow managed to put the ball over the bar at the back post.
Substitute Kris Kerr floated a free kick over the bar while Kennedy saw his header across goal drift wide from a Balfour corner as Whitletts sought to pressurise the visitors goal.
On the hour mark a sweeping Vics move saw Harvey set up Sean Ewart but his drive from the edge of the area was tipped over by Brotherston while at the other end a counter attack from Craigmark saw Nisbet denied by a last ditch tackle from Blair Anderson.
With 63 minutes on the clock Whitletts finally got back on level terms as Tony Balfour raced through, his initial shot was blocked but the striker pounced on the rebound to sweep his shot low past Brotherston. Boosted by the equaliser Kris Kerr almost added a second when he broke in behind the Craigmark defence only to be denied by Brotherston at his near post. But it was far from one way traffic and Nisbet was given a great chance to restore Craigmark’s advantage only to shoot straight at McInnes.
Nisbet was proving a difficult player to keep tabs on and both he and Dyer had attempts from outside the box that drifted over while a speculative cross from Barratt almost embarrassed McInnes as the Vics keeper opted to let the ball run its’ course only for it to drift inches wide.
With 15 minutes remaining Brotherston made a fine save to deny Balfour and the strikers follow up bicycle kick slipped wide and then from a free kick, the Vics striker saw his shot flash just over after his initial effort had struck the wall. Kennedy then fired wide as the home side sought a winner.
There was a welcome sight for Vics fans as Sam McFall made a late substitute appearance for his first competitive action of the season and their joy was complete in the 90th minute when Harvey struck to seal the points to send the home support into raptures Craigmark were reduced to ten men a minute later when Craig Barrett was shown a second yellow after an altercation with Ewart and no doubt the Dalmellington side will return to Station Park feeling disappointed not to have secured a point that their overall performance on the day probably merited.
But come the end of the season, Vics’ may well look back at Harvey’s first goal for the Club as possibly the most important of the season.
Whitletts Victoria
1. McInnes 2. Anderson 3. Ewart 4. Boyle 5. Buchanan 6. Sloan 7. Boyd (K.Kerr HT) 8. Black 9. Kennedy (McFall 87) 10. Harvey 11, Balfour Subs (not used) 12, Ross 21. Dorigo
Craigmark Burntonians
1. Higgins (Brotherston 25) 2. Barratt 3. S. McKay 4. R. McKay 5. Kirkwood 6. Dempster (McLelland 81) 7. McCambley 8. Dyer 9. Nisbet 10. Hall 11. Lawrie Subs (not used) 12. Gallagher 15. Dawson 16. McCrorie
Referee: David Ingram