Bellshill Athletic 1 - 0 Blantyre Victoria
Jamie Stewart (57’)
Blantyre travelled to Bellshill today for the first time in three seasons - but the intensity of the rivalry between both the Vics and Athletic certainly hasn’t faded during this time.
The match began with the Vics on the front foot, with some brilliant passing and link up play in the midfield. Early on the visitors had the first chance of the match, as Ross Caldwell picked up the ball on the right-hand flank, he drove towards the by-line, and cut into the box. He then picked out Scott McKean in front of goal. His short-range effort was blocked by Euan Conroy.
Shortly afterwards Dean Trainor pulled off the only save of the first half after Jamie Stewart’s left-footed shot was steered wide by the keepers foot.
As the half went on there were actually very few notable events. Both sides finding it challenging to battle the harsh wind and the very uneven surface of Rockburn Park. A frustrating 45 minutes for both sets of supporters.
The second half began, and the Vics had their eyes on getting the opener from the restart. McKean managed to riggle through the Bellshill defence, then he slotted a pass along to Caldwell who was unmarked in front of goal. He took his shot well, and fired it towards the side the Hill keeper (Jordan Brand) was moving away from. Remarkable, Brand pulled off a fantastic save as he palmed it away for a corner.
From the subsequent corner the Vics forced Brand into another save. The ball had been headed into the air, followed by a scramble in front of goal. Fraser Allan done well to pull off a shot, but again, the keeper denied Blantyre from taking the lead.
In the 55th minute, came the main talking point of the fixture. After Paul Brennan done well to control a long ball beyond the Vics defence. As he charged towards goal, Kierin Coleman slid in and done well to clear the danger. To say the Vics fans were shocked when referee Jim Burns pointed to the spot is an understatement. This penalty decision was swiftly followed by Bell reaching to his back pocket and sending Coleman off. A questionable decision, as it has now been three years since the IFAB introduction of the ‘double jeopardy rule’.
Stewart stepped up to take the spot kick and despite Trainor managing to get a hand to it, the ball slipped through his grasp and the homeside took the lead.
Shortly after the penalty, the Vics had a free-kick about 25 yards from goal. Con Boyle’s shot smacked off the crossbar and the rebound effort was headed wide from Garry Campbell.
In the 72nd minute, the Vics had another glorious opportunity to draw level. As Scott McKean picked up the ball at the corner of the six-yard box. The striker had a left-footed shot which was on target but yet again Brand was the one keeping the Vics from scoring.
Shortly after, in the 83rd, Vics trialist Dylan Falconer could not have been in a better position to slot away a shot at close range as the keeper scrambled across the face of his goal. Unfortunately for the young forward, his shot was missed and was skewed off target.
Late on Stewart was through on goal again, this time their was very little resistance from the depleted Vics back line. With only Trainor to beat, he could not find the target and his chance to extend Bellshill‘s lead late on vanished.
With tensions being on a high for the full match, late drama ensued in injury time. As Brand collected a ball which was intended for Jake Hughes, the Bellshill defenders scrambled towards the striker claiming he had stamped on the keeper. Fisticuffs subsequently followed between multiple players from both sides. Hughes was then rightfully given a straight red for his involvements, but no other cards were brandished - to the displeasure of the travelling support.
A great three points for the hosts which brings them into 7th in the league just two points short of the Vics. Blantyre now may have to face the fact that promotion is unlikely to be achieved this season. The rematch of both these sides which is schedule for 27th April, is certainly going to be a tense affair if this match was anything to go by.