Royal Albert 1 - 2 Blantyre Vics
Albert Scorers: Allan Campbell (69'); Blantyre Scorers: Nadeem Zeb (23'), Con Boyle (80')
Blantyre Vics travelled to the unfamiliar setting of the 'Stadio Del Alberto' also known as Tileworks Park, yesterday to face 8th place Royal Albert.
The match started immediately with the home side trying to spoil Vics promotion hopes after a cross from a wide area found Allan Campbell. He turned onto the shot and forced Dean Trainor to tip the ball over the bar.
21 minutes in Blantyre had their first shot on-target as Nadeem Zeb headed the ball over the defence through to Scott McKean. The Vics centre-forward took a left-footed strike from a wide angle, but his shot was deflected wide for a corner.
Two minutes later, Zeb gave the visitors the lead as Lewis MacDonald brilliantly cut the ball into the box from a wide area. The midfielder was unmarked on the penalty spot and slotted the ball into the left bottom corner to get his 12th goal of the season.
In the 32nd minute MacDoanld played another great pass along the byline to McKean. The striker turned and hooked a left footed shot past the Albert keeper. His effort came very close to doubling Blantyre’s lead but it skimmed past the far post.
Two minutes before the break McKean was in again, picking up a loose ball behind the defensive line and driving towards goal. The Albert goalkeeper made a crucial save to keep his side in the match.
Vics maintained control of the game after the interval. Not allowing much in the way of chances for the Stonehouse side, despite the best efforts of the experienced midfielder Simon Eeles. The only real threat came from The Vics in the 62nd minute when Dale Jones whipped in a powerful cross from the right. It was headed away by an Albert defender before reaching MacDonald at the far post.
As the game became more physical it certainly suited the likes of Jack Baptie in Royal Albert’s midfield. Tackles were flying in from both sides and referee, Jordan Cousland, certainly had a lot to deal with.
In the 69th minute Albert won a corner after Craig Kerr cleared the danger. Eeles whipped in the ball and Campbell headed it across Trainor’s goal and got a valuable equalider.
The Albert were almost in again as Eeles was played through before lobbing Trainor to seemingly give Albert the lead. The referee’s whistle however denied him as he had strayed beyond the last defender.
The Vics were not prepared to let the three points slip, in the 80th minute Nadeem Zeb played the ball to the feet of Con Boyle. The midfielder stood on the edge of the D and measured up his options and decided to test the keeper. His right footed effort sailed into the top right corner giving the keeper absolutley no chance. Jubilant scenes then followed, as Boyle ran towards the large contingency of away support that had travelled from Blantyre, to celebrate.
Two late chances from Albert would have worried opposition manager John Gibson, as twice, the home side game marginally close to levelling the scoreline. After a painstakingly long five minutes of injury time the referee called an end to proceedings and Gibson and his team could briefly celebrate a crucial three points.
Despite Royal Albert’s formidable efforts The Vics took a deserved three points. It was a hard earned win for the blues but one that may be very important come the end of the season.
Blantyre fate is somewhat in their own hands, if they win all of their final five remaining fixtures they will secure promotion. Although, they still have the mightily tough job of travelling to Gartcairn and Shotts in the weeks to come.