Ashfield’s friendly fire silences the big guns from Kilsyth...
NO.1 IN THE WEST FOR JUNIORS
ANY victory would have been warmly received by Ashfield supporters given the famous old Possil outfit’s standing at the end of last season as the fourth worst team in the Central Second Division.
But it would be no exaggeration to say the manner of their performance in running out 4-2 winners against Kilsyth Rangers, a side two leagues above them, was no less than eye-catching.
It should be said the muchchanged visitors do not have the look of a side that has the makings of a Super First Division force this time out.
However, that must not be allowed to detract from the clear signs of progress within the Saracen Park dressing room.
Team boss Robert Docherty was away on an SFA coaching course instead of pacing his normal touchline beat, but he will be encouraged to hear the reports from his dugout lieutenants, one of whom Paul Maxwell made a scoring contribution while playing for the opening 45 minutes.
Maxi said: “Robert has been very selective in going up against higher-league teams on every occasion, yet the players have stepped up to the mark to win three and draw one of our four matches.
“I fully believed Kilsyth would provide our toughest test to date, but we blew them away and the key now is to carry our impressive early form when we get into the competitive stuff next Wednesday night.
“I know better than to get carried away with pre-season games but I will say there are signs of a decent Ashfield team coming to the fore.”
The home side were in the ascendancy from the first whistle, yet the best of the early scoring chances came for Kilsyth but Alan McFadden directed a shot wide of target, before Franny Kelly sent a shot over the bar.
Ashfield’s response was a daisy-cutter from Michael Giblin in 39 minutes that came back off the post, but Maxi and Co were not denied for long as their next attacking foray saw Paddy Cullen take advantage of a slip by Kilsyth stopper Liam Sloan to fire the ball home from eight yards.
That advantage was doubled before the interval as Chris Moulangu took possession near the corner flag and was allowed to work his way into the penalty box where his driven cross was netted by the lurking Maxwell from point-blank range.
A confidence-boosting result looked in the bag when the hard-working Giblin made the scoreline read 3-0 with a mishit 66th-minute free kick that went through Kilsyth’s wall and slipped through goalkeeper Michael Duke’s grasp.
However, Kilsyth, with manager Keith Hogg introduced as a midfield substitute, were now being seen more as an attacking force and their fans had spirits lifted as McFadden and Scott Davidson netted goals in a frantic four-minute period.
Hopes of a comeback, though, were dashed when an 86th-minute Ashfield corner kick flicked on at the near post reached the unmarked Stevie Dymock, who volleyed home to clinch a 4-2 victory.
GOALS were certainly not scarce in other pre-season friendly meetings taking place.
Beith and Pollok netted five times against Girvan and Bonnyrigg Rose respectively, Irvine Meadow blasted six goals past Haddington Athletic and high- scoring Kilwinning Rangers hitting double figures in their clash with Rossvale.
Ross McPherson weighed in with a brace and Keir Milliken, John Sheridan and Darren Christie also netted as the Mighty went nap against their Super Premier Division rivals while Pollok resoundingly overcame last season’s beaten Scottish Cup semi-finalists.
Medda close-season signings Eddie McTernan (3) and Daniel Mackay (2) were again on the mark at Haddington along with a counter from Ryan Begley and Buffs newcomers Michael Wardrope, David Winters(2) and Ryan Nisbet were among a total of seven scorers against the Central First Division outfit.
Hurlford United’s winning ways continued with a 4-0 victory at Rutherglen while Clydebank overcame Gartcairn 4-1.
That same scoreline sufficed as Cumnock striker Sean McKenzie’s pre-season tally rose to nine goals in three games after the ex-Ayr United man bagged a double at home to St Roch’s.
Elsewhere, Larkhall Thistle’s chalked up a 2-0 defeat of Whitletts Vics while Neilston beat Irvine Vics 3-0.
Meanwhile, the inaugural Troon Juniors pre-season competition didn’t go according to plan as the hosts and fellow Junior participants Arthurlie lost out to the Under-20 sides of Kilmarnock and St Mirren in the opening head-to-heads while the fifth Dennis Donnelly Memorial game saw Benburb come out on top 2-1 against Ardrossan Winton Rovers.
Paddy Cullen, top, and Stevie Dymock, above, both got in on the scoring act for Ashfield in their friendly victory over Kilsyth Rangers at the weekend. Pictures: Stewart Attwood