Blantyre Victoria 3 - 2 Neilston
Vics Scorers: Con Boyle (6'), Keirin Coleman (87'), Ross Caldwell (90+3')
Neilston Scorers: Paul Stewart (22', 39')
For Blantyre, memories of their hopes of promotion being dashed at Brig O’Lea in 2018 were still very fresh. After winning their first point midweek against Gartcairn the Vics had high hopes as 7th placed Neilston travelled to Blantyre.
The game started with Blantyre on the front foot. Aaron Black played through the ball to Lewis MacDonald. The forward, who was on the back of a brace at Gartcairn, was in on goal but his effort was saved. The ball then fell into the path of trialist of Simon Eeles who's volley was fired over the bar.
Shortly afterwards, Neilston were gifted an opportunity. Craig Kerr leapt into the air to head the ball clear of danger, however, he missed the header and Paul Stewart was in on goal. Although he lobbed his effort over the bar.
In the sixth minute, Aaron Black was stopped in his tracks on the edge of the box. After a sloppy deflected clearance Black was able to shift the ball onto Con Boyle who was in space. His strike from about 22-yards out curled past Lee Mitchell in the Neilston goal and the Vics took the lead early on.
Neilston then began to put pressure on the Vics back line. After three consecutive corners from the visitors which were all well defended, the Farmer Boys came very close to equalising on 14 minutes. A pass was cut-back into the box and an effort was curled past Liam Campbell. The ball seemed destined for the back of the net but Keirin Coleman was there to clear the danger just before it past the line.
In the 22nd minute Aaron Black came close with an effort which was just wide of the post. Neilston keeper Mitchell then quickly took the goal-kick and almost immediately the away side were on the break. Paul Stewart had caught out the Vics centre-halves and preceded to lob the ball over Liam Campbell. Despite Coleman's effort to retreat to clear the ball, it bobbled over the line.
Approaching half-time Neilston's constant pressure paid off. Paul Stewart looked as if he was in on goal again, as he seemed to be nudged by Craig Kerr and ended up colliding with Liam Campbell. The referee pointed to the spot and the Vics keeper seen yellow. Paul Stewart sent Campbell the wrong way as he slotted the ball into the bottom corner to give Neilston the lead going into half-time.
In the second half the Vics appeared to come out with more energy. Five minutes in Ross Caldwell turned the Neilston defender who tumbled to the ground, the Vics man then blasted the ball into the net. Referee, Ross Nelson, then blew for a foul on the defender and the goal was disallowed.
62 minutes in, Aaron Black's corner found the head of Ross Caldwell who had leapt above the Neilston defenders. His header, seemingly destined for goal, was incredibly saved by Mitchell's outstretched leg and turned away for a corner.
Ten minutes later, MacDonald played the ball into the Neilston penalty area which found the feet of Ross Caldwell. As he was about to pull the trigger he fell to the deck claiming for a penalty but the referee waved play on.
In the 87th the Vics were pushing on for an equaliser and it came. Dale Jones received the ball on the wing after it was passed back by Black. The full-back then whipped a good ball into the area. It passed over the head of almost every player in the area before being turned goalwards by the head of Keirin Coleman. After a failed attempt at a clearance the Neilston defender fumbled the ball into his own net - but it was the Vics centre-back who claimed it.
Deep into injury time Aaron Black found himself out on the right wing, after linking up well with Jones he curled in a great cross. Ross Caldwell then powered a header downwards towards goal. The bounce was misjudged by Mitchell and it ended up in the back of the net.
The Vics' three points of the season in a very exciting match that they were also not expected to win. An impressive performance, especially in the second half, although Neilston must be credited for their contribution to a great match.