MATCH REPORT: NEILSTON 1-2 ARTHURLIE
By Ross Lafferty
NEILSTON 1-2 ARTHURLIE
Scorers: Smith (60), Healy (81)
IT was back to action for Arthurlie tonight as they kicked off their pre-season fixtures with a visit to local rivals Neilston for the first leg of the Kenny Hay Memorial Trophy.
Andy McFadyen was forced into naming an unfamiliar line-up for the game, with only 11 of last season’s title-winning squad, and no registered goalkeeper, available for selection.
Arthurlie had the game’s first opening on 7 minutes when Aaron Healy skipped past a couple of Neilston defenders before feeding the ball to Alan Dunsmore on the left but his driven cross failed to find any takers.
But it was the home side who were to take the lead after 12 minutes when Callum Nolan upended Smith in the box and Kieron Maxwell converted the resulting penalty kick.
The lead should’ve been doubled on 25 minutes but the shot from 15 yards, with the goal gaping, came crashing back off the post and away to safety.
Four minutes later, Gary Smith nearly claimed an equaliser but saw his scuffed effort cleared off the line and on to the post.
As half-time approached, Andy McLaughlin felt the force of a hefty 50-50 challenge and was forced to limp off, with trialist Liam Motherwell replacing him.
After a dour start to the second half, the visitors claimed an equaliser on the hour when Smith diverted an off-target Healy effort into the net.
As the second half progressed ‘Lie were starting to get more joy in attack and Mick MacNeil saw a powerful drive well parried by the Neilston goalkeeper on 78.
Healy then came close a couple of minutes later but shot just wide after a mazy run created an opening at the edge of the box.
But a minute later, the teenager did get on the scoresheet, running on to a superb pass from the returning Darren Ramsay before cutting inside and lashing an unstoppable drive into the top right-hand corner.
Neilston were still a danger, however, and shortly afterwards Callum Shields had to be alert to clear an effort off the line.
That was the last piece of meaningful action before the final whistle as Arthurlie take a single goal lead into next Friday night’s second leg at Dunterlie.
Arthurlie team: Moore, Dunsmore (McLachlan 55), Shields, Pearce, Nolan (Ramsay 79), MacNeil, McLaughlin (Motherwell 40), Healy, Smith (O’Hare 68), Carroll, Ross (Templeton 46)
Sub not used: MacLeod