Gartcairn 1 - 2 Blantyre Victoria
Gartcairn Scorer: Martin Shiels (21');
Blantyre Scorer: Keirin Coleman (80', 87')
To call this fixture a crucial one, is certainly an understatement. Gartcairn couldn't afford a loss in their chase for the title and Blantyre desperately needed the three points to close the gap to promotion rivals Ardrossan.
The game started fairly quietly, with neither side wanting to show their hand early on. In the first ten minutes of play Gartcairn one two corners, neither of which seen any real chances as one was collected by Vics keeper Dean Trainor and one cleared by Craig Kerr. On the ten minute mark Blantyre had their first noteworthy contribution to the game, as former Gartcairn man John Henderson drove into the box from a wide area before being crowded out by the defence.
The home-side began to become more dominant in the match, putting Vics under persistent pressure. In the 21st minute they got the breakthrough. The ball came out to winger Martin Shiels, he then took an ambitious effort on his right foot. His long-range shot floated over Trainor and tucked into the net at the far post. The hosts led 1 - 0.
Three minutes letter Gartcairn were immediately seeking their second. Barry McGeechan slipped the ball through to Shiels who's shot was deflected away from goal by Kerr, for a corner. In the 35th minute Shiels had another effort from closer range this time. The winger curled a right footed shot from the edge of the area. The low, driven shot was excellently squandered by Trainor to keep Blantyre in the match.
In the 37th minute Blantyre Vics had their best chance of the half as Scott McKean sent through Nadeem Zeb who was charging into the box. A last ditch tackle from the Gartcairn centre-half halted the midfielder's run before he could manage to get a shot off. Zeb then seen yellow for a tackle after the ball had been cleared.
A minute from time, Vics striker, McKean registered Blantyre's first attempt on target. He hooked the ball over his shoulder, hoping it would curl into the top corner - but with very little power on the shot it was an easy save for Gartcairn keeper.
Gartcairn were deservedly ahead at the break.
Despite some pressure late in the first half from Blantyre, they started the second period on the back foot, although possession was mostly limited to the middle of the park. After some mentionable chances early in the half Cairn should certainly have grabbed their second at the hour mark. After ball was crossed into the box and wasn't dealt with by any of the Vics defenders. Caldwell cleared the loose ball in the six yard box as Gartcairn attackers were about to pounce. Shortly afterwards, Blantyre first proper chance of the half came as Aaron Black's corner was attacked by Kerr, but his effort was marginally over the bar.
After two changes from Vics gaffer John Gibson with around twenty minutes left on the clock, Blantyre got into their flow. They were beginning to press more and becoming more dominant in terms of possession. Due to the addition of Garry Campbell to the defence Keirin Coleman was able to push further up into midfield. In the 73rd minute, following a clearance from Gartcairn's no.5 Coleman had an opportunity on the volley - but his ambitious shot swerved over the bar.
Seven minutes later The Vics' pressure paid off. On the right flank, Aaron Black slipped the ball through to Dale Jones who was running the overlap. The full-back whipped in a powerful cross into the danger area. Keirin Coleman who was driving in towards the front post, stretched his head and connected with Jones' ball. Gartcairn's keeper was left no chance as the defenders header rattled the back of the net to get Blantyre their equaliser.
86 minutes in Zeb won the ball in the air from a long ball from Jones. He seen an advancing run from Caldwell (who had been pushed up to centre-forward) and played it through to him. His eyes lit up as he was driving into the box with only the keeper to beat, only for referee Andy Taylor to rightly blow the whistle for offside.
A minute after this Ross McKechnie whipped in a decent ball in from the left. The keeper palmed it away from danger, only to find Caldwell. He was, however, wrong-sided and scooped the ball out to Coleman, who was about 30 yards from goal. The defender, after coming close with a volley earlier in the match, chanced his luck again. This time his right-footed strike dipped just before the goal and tucked neatly into the top of the net. Bedlam then ensued amongst the travelling support.
Two minutes later, Fraser Allan fouled a Gartcairn winger on the right side, on near the penalty area. The home-side certainly believed that the fouled had been committed inside the box, but the referee deemed it to only be a free-kick. Afterwards, Gartcairn boss Jamie McKenzie was sent off for decent towards the official.
After six minutes of injury time, the referee called an end to proceedings and jubilance emanated from the large droves of away fans.
A huge win for The Vics which makes them only the second team this season to win at MTC Park, alongside Scottish Junior Cup semi-finalists Lochee United. A result that sets Blantyre up brilliantly for their promotion push. Depending on the outcome of next week's match between Gartcairn and Ardrossan, they now can control their own destiny.
A costly defeat for Gartcairn which now gives Shotts Bon Accord a brilliant opportunity to win the League One title, despite the Airdrie side leading the league table for the vast majority of the season.