East Kilbride FC 1 - 2 Blantyre Victoria
Vics Scorers: John Cunningham (12’), Con Boyle (28’)
The Vics travelled across the River Calder to K-Park, a familiar destination for John Gibson’s side in pre-seasons gone by. The new management of Steve Aitken and his no.2 Ian Durrant certainly poses a formidable challenge for the West of Scotland side.
East Kilbride started off the better of the two, with a good passage of play which seen the Kilby no.9 come close with a volley within Liam Campbell’s box. His effort was skewed just wide but it was a very good chance in the opening minutes.
In the 5th minute former EK player Gavin Millar almost set up a goal for the Vics after an impressive run into the box from the left wing, wriggling his way past defenders to pick out John Cunningham - who fails to make a decent connection with the ball and the threat is subdued.
The Vics took a somewhat surprising lead over the Lowland League outfit in the 12th minute. A corner whipped in from the right-side managed to bobble around the box before finding the feet of Vics talisman John Cunningham who with his back turned to goal, pulled the ball onto his left foot and fired a shot into the top corner of the netting on the turn.
East Kilbride looked for an equaliser came close twice in a matter of minutes. One from a powerful strike from outside the area which was watched wide by Campbell. The second chance forced a save from the Vics stopper who had to dive low to cover his near post from a powerful left-footed strike from the East Kilbride No.11.
A quarter way through the match there were calls from the Vics bench for a red card as Nad Zeb was brought down as he was closing in on goal. The defender received a yellow much to the dismay of the visitors who felt he had hindered a goalscoring opportunity.
Con Boyle stepped up to take the subsequent free-kick. His curling right-footed effort struck the post and then bounced back into the net to double the Vics’ lead.
East Kilbride 0 - 2 Blantyre Victoria
The Vics started the second half confidently and the half-time changes clealry hadn’t disrupted their rhythm. From the off Sam MacKenzie came close with a left-footed effort, followed by a superb counter attack from Millar from his own half, before eventually being forced to settle for a corner.
East Kilbride Tester Liam Campbell five minutes into the second period with a good strike forcing the keeper to concede a corner. Campbell had a few saves to make as EK pushed forward in attempts to pull a goal back. They succeeded in this after a corner was swung in and headed in past Campbell from close-range in the 58th minute.
Twenty minutes from time Vics trialist Jay Blair showed the danger he possesses in midfield after a superb run slipping past two defenders to get into the box. He picked out MacKenzie who pulls it onto his stronger right foot but his effort is blocked.
On the 78 minute mark EK hit the post as the outstretched Campbell was beaten by a decent low-driven strike and he could only watch as it bounced back off the framework of the goal, then cleared by Craig Kerr.
With less than ten minutes on the clock Blantyre had a glorious chance to put the game to bed, Blair picks out Gavin Millar who is stood on the penalty spot. He can’t manage a shot on goal so he shifts it on to MacKenzie who tees up his strike, but in doing so he allowed the defenders to recover and his eventual shot is blocked and diverted for a Vics corner.
East Kilbride continued to push for a equaliser but the Vics held on well to make it three wins from three in pre-season. A great test for both sets of players on a cold and wet September night.
Gibson’s men have now scored ten goals and conceded two in all friendlies so far.