HERO DECO DE­LIV­ERS THE TI­TLE

Kilm art in’ s‘ mag­i­cal’ last-g asp penalty seals deal

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Back Page - Mur­ray Spooner

Cam­bus­lang Rangers striker Thomas ‘Deco’ Kil­martin re­vealed he thought his team had blown their chance of win­ning the league be­fore he blasted home an in­jury-time penalty to se­cure the ti­tle.

The 31-year-old goalscorer was the hero as his 95thminute win­ner crowned The Lang cham­pi­ons of the Cen­tral District First Di­vi­sion with the last kick of the ball at Neil­ston. Kil­martin led the team out at the Brig O’Lea Sta­dium on Satur­day as cap­tain know­ing three points would guar­an­tee them top spot due to their su­pe­rior goal dif­fer­ence over Larkhall This­tle.

But de­spite lead­ing 3-1 in the sec­ond half, a nervy col­lapse saw the hosts pull the game back to 3-3 on the hour mark.

Strike part­ner John Gem­mell thought he had won the game for The Wee Gers with just min­utes re­main­ing, only for his goal to be chalked off for a foul and the tall hit­man was sent off for his protests.

How­ever, like so many late fight­backs al­ready this sea­son, Cam­bus­lang found the net thanks to the boot of Kil­martin, who ad­mit­ted he thought their mo­ment in the sun had gone up in smoke.

“It was a mag­i­cal mo­ment to fin­ish a mag­i­cal sea­son,” he told the Re­former.

“Ev­ery­one was singing on the bus home but I wasn’t do­ing much singing to be hon­est. Ev­ery­thing was a bit of a blur and I just sat there try­ing to take it all in.

“We scored with a few min­utes to go but the ref­eree ruled it out. John headed it in but the ref says he pushed the boy in the box. He’s then been sent off for ar­gu­ing.

“Then all I can re­mem­ber is say­ing to the ref how long we had to go and he said, ‘you’ve had two min­utes of your five added on’. That’s when I thought we had blown it.

“We then got the penalty and I picked the ball up be­cause I knew I would have been gut­ted if I had watched some­one else miss it.

“Ev­ery­one has been ask­ing me what was go­ing through my head and if I was ner­vous. All I can say is there was def­i­nitely nerves go­ing into it but I didn’t re­ally think about what it would mean if I missed.

“They [Neil­ston] were try­ing to put me off, one guy raked his studs across the penalty spot and another put his hand on my shoul­der and said, ‘good luck Deco’.

“But I knew as soon as it left my boot it was in and there was a lit­tle tear in my eye be­cause I knew at that mo­ment we had won it.”

Cam­bus­lang led the di­vi­sion

for the ma­jor­ity of the sea­son and are the high­est goalscor­ers in the West re­gion with 94.

Kil­martin, who bagged 18 in this cam­paign and has spent more than seven sea­sons at The Lang, in­sisted that his side de­served to be cham­pi­ons and can’t wait to be in the Su­per First Di­vi­sion next sea­son.

The ex-Glen­cairn star, said: “In my opin­ion we have been the best team in the league. We lost a cou­ple of big games where we just didn’t turn up.

“We lost twice against St. Roch’s. I wouldn’t have said they were bet­ter than us but they knew how to frus­trate us and I think their ex­pe­ri­ence bul­lied us a lit­tle bit.

“But all the other teams I feel we did re­ally well against.

“Cam­bus­lang is a mas­sive club and they’ve been un­der achiev­ing for too long.

“They de­serve to be in the Su­per Leagues.”

Cham­pi­ons Cam­bus­lang Rangers are crowned win­ners of the Cen­tral District First Di­vi­sion thanks to a late win­ner from Thomas Kil­mar­ton (be­low in­set)

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