A crucial fixture in the League 1 promotion chase as Greenock travelled to Blantyre, with both teams desperately needing a victory.
It was the visitors who started on the front foot, pressing The Vics well into their own half. In the opening ten minutes they managed three corners, but only one clear opportunity created. A headed effort which was guided towards the hands of Dean Trainor.
Andrew McEwan of Greenock picked up a loose ball at out. He drove into space, while being closed down by Blantyre’s defence. He then took a powerful shot, forcing Trainor to get a strong hand to it.
The hosts didn’t even manage an effort on goal until the 20th minute, as Con Boyle picked out John Henderson on the wing. He made a a direct run into the box, he turned the centre-half Gozdz and then curled a right footed towards the top right corner. Graeme McRae managed to get a slight touch to the ball. Referee Steven MacKay deemed that the keeper hadn’t touched it and a goal-kick followed.
The Vics began finding their flow in the match, Henderson drilling in a cross into the danger area. Nad stretched out his left leg but he was just inches short, and the danger was cleared by the Greenock defender.
Darren Kennedy then stepped up for Greenock, and replicated the shot which McEwan had taken ten minutes prior. A bullet of a shot taken from 35 yards, Trainor again had to watch as the ball swerved towards his goal. He then got another strong hand to the ball and redirected the shot wide.
Just a minute before half-time Greenock deservedly broke the deadlock. Trainor threw the ball out to Ross McKechnie who quickly passed the ball back to the keeper. The ball bobbled in front of Trainor as he was about to clear the danger, as a result he missed the ball and Craig Brown capitalised on the loose ball and had the simple job of slotting it into an empty goal.
The Vics came back out from half looking more positive in their play. Debutant Aaron Black certainly made an impact when he replaced Dylan Falconer in the 52nd minute. The Blantyre outfit looked more expansive and free flowing in their play.
Shortly afterwards, Black picked up the ball on the right wing and slipped it through to Nadeem Zeb. The midfielder intelligently took it round Greenock defender Stuart Higgins, the centre-half was left in the path of Nad and the referee had no choice but to point to the spot. Dale Jones converted the penalty to get his 14th goal of the season in his centennial appearance for the club.
Just two minutes later The Vics had almost completely turned the game around, when John Henderson was clipped while running into the box. Jones stepped up to take his second penalty in as many minutes. This time however he chose to put the ball down the middle. Greenock keeper MacRae, despite diving to the right, managed to block the shot with an outstretched shin.
Blantyre remained on top, pushing for a second. Substitute MacDonald impressed when he came off the bench (after recently returning from a groin injury). He darted into the box from the left wing, he managed to pull off a shot, but it had a bit to much height and his close range effort was squandered.
The Queen’s Park loanee Black then got to showcase his talents in the 67th minute as he performed an excellent run into the box from a wide area - bypassing full-back Doherty - then dinking a very dangers ball into the goalmouth. Henderson was waiting to get on the end of the cross, but his shot was miraculously saved by MacRae. Zeb then found a chance at the rebound but his shot was widely miscued, as he blasted it high and wide.
A draw would have perhaps been a fair result at this stage in the game, but neither side were prepared to sit back and miss out on three points. In the 75th minute Jones failed to clear the danger in the Vics box and Dean Trainor was forced to make an impressive close range save. From the subsequent corner Greenock headed towards goal, and then a scramble in the six yard area followed. Eventually the ball was cleared by Boyle on the line to keep Greenock out.
Both sides had chances, most of which were aerial battles. In the second minute of injury time, The Vics were caught out as Con Boyle tripped at the halfway line and Greenock looked to expose the depleted Blantyre defense. This allowed the Greenock forward to drive wide, dragging Jones with him. Andy McEwan was waiting in the middle to slot away an easy shot from close range - to give Greenock the win.
A huge victory for Greenock which keeps their promotion hopes alive, although a hefty loss for The Vics as it seems their hope of gaining promotion is slowly fading.