MATCH REPORT: CUMNOCK 1-0 ARTHURLIE
Scorer: Boyd (17)
By Ross Lafferty
ARTHURLIE came up short in their attempts to record a fifth league win on the bounce on Saturday as they came unstuck against Cumnock at Townhead Park.
Following last week’s dramatic injury-time victory over Beith at Dunterlie, Craig Palmer’s side were looking to continue their climb up the table that had followed a difficult start to their first season back in the West of Scotland top-flight.
But despite throwing everything at their East Ayrshire opponents in a determined display it was ultimately a single Graham Boyd goal in the first-half that decided the match.
The visitors certainly started the brighter of the two sides on a damp and dull November afternoon, last week’s two goalscorers combining for the first real chance on 5 minutes, Aaron Healy crossing to Dale Simeon whose volley was well saved by Jamie Barclay in the home goal.
Healy was causing Cumnock all sorts of problems early on and he came close himself on 9 minutes, shooting just wide after a trademark mazy run.
But despite the early dominance, it was Cumnock who were to take the lead on 17 minutes, Boyd nipping in to flick home a corner with a header at the front post.
That lead was almost doubled a minute later, but James Scott did well to hold on to a stinging shot.
Scott’s goal was suddenly under sustained pressure and the ‘Lie number one had to react quickly again to save a free-kick from the edge of the box on 21 minutes.
On 25 minutes the visitors were dealt a further blow when skipper Gary Carroll was forced to leave the pitch injured, with last season’s leading scorer, Gary Smith, coming on in his place.
The stoppage seemed to stem the tide of the home side’s attacks, however, and allowed Arthurlie to grab a foothold in the game once again.
Despite enjoying the bulk of possession the visitors struggled to threaten the Cumnock goal in the remainder of the half and the closest we came to a second goal before the break was a couple of long-range efforts from the home side.
Following the break it was Cumnock who came close first, sending a shot just wide early on after a nice passing move.
On 51 minutes, Healy and Simeon linked up again with Barclay once more saving well from the latter.
Healy then set up Ryan McGregor with a cross two minutes later, but the midfielder’s header went narrowly wide.
Arthurlie were doing all the pressing as the second half progressed and, on 64 minutes, Smith crashed a free-kick off the bar after Simeon had been fouled 25 yards from goal.
Cumnock were then also denied by the crossbar at the other end on 73 minutes but were spending most of their time by this point trying to defend the constant flow of Arthurlie attacks.
With a few minutes remaining, Simeon turned provider for Healy with a cross to the back post but the teenager narrowly failed to provide the touch that would have turned the ball goalwards.
The final chance was to fall to Simeon in injury time, Smith putting him one-on-one with Barclay only for the forward to drag his shot wide of the post.
Arthurlie team: Scott, Dunsmore (Roulston 59), Nolan (Bradley 59), MacNeil, Pearce (Warnock 84), McGregor, Leyden, McLaughlin, Simeon, Carroll (c) (Smith 25), Healy
Subs not used: Shields, Trialist, Black (GK)
Cumnock team: Barclay, Carnwath, Tart, McAusland, McLennan, Veitch, Dolan, Wilson, Moore, Boyd, Willet
Subs: Frye, McLaughlin, Ross, Conn, Sharpe, Ferry, Strain (GK)