Saturday 5th March
Scottish Lowland League
They say that football is largely a matter of confidence. It showed on Saturday as an out of sorts Threave Rovers side battled heroically against a Gretna side which has escaped from the doldrums to record their fourth win in a row. While Gretna had two attacks and scored from both of them, Rovers laboured in vain.
The pitch mitigated against Gretna’s style of smooth passing football. David Renyard, back in the hoops, looked like that racehorse in “Warhorse” consigned to plough the muddy field. Iain Anderson slipped and slithered up front and it was players with a lower centre of gravity who optimised the conditions.
Gretna scored from the get go, Connor Liddell converting a Dean Rea cross assisted by a dummy from Iain Anderson in the goalmouth.
The opener stung Threave. Greig Goodwin, in particular seemed especially keen to put one over on his ex-teammates. He shot over the bar in 9 minutes and brought out a point blank save from Vinnie Parker after 21.
But all their hard work in the middle of the pitch failed to pay off for Rovers as their lack of finishing let them down. All the same the majority of the first half action was in Vinnie Parkers half of the pitch.
And it was Gretna who increased their lead in a rare breakaway . With a free kick to the left of the Threave goal in 33 minutes, Connor Graham sent in half a shot half a pass to Anderson which eluded everyone and snaked into the Rovers goal to make it 2-0.
Gretna picked up a couple of bookings in the final 10 minutes of the half, Darren Addison and John Jardine being the offenders.
Threave replaced Shaun Milligan with Ben Irving at the start of the second half and the big forward made an immediate impression. His long range shot brought out a good save from Parker who could only parry it for a corner. The resultant corner was dealt with effectively by the Gretna defence.
Early in the half Gretna brought on Dean Crozier and Dan Graham for Dean Rea and Connor Graham as the heavy pitch took its toll.
Irving continued to be Threave’s most effective strike force and after 9 minutes of the half Parker , who was in total command of his goalmouth, brought off a point blank save.
There was a further red card for Gretna’s Dean Crozier on 18 minutes and on 24 minutes Dan Wood came on for Iain Anderson.
With the pitch deteriorating, the game was becoming fractious and fragmented.
With the quarter hour remaining Scott Wilby was shown a straight red card for stomping on Connor Liddell who was prone on the ground. As the game reached its untidy conclusion, Dan Graham picked up a yellow card for an off the ball incident
In a minute of injury time, Gretna mounted a rare attack and McCauley made a double save from Renyard and Liddell.
And then in the final minute of injury time, Rovers got a corner. Danny Dunglinson’s shot seemed to beat everyone, including Vinnie Parker to provide a crumb of comfort for the Meadow Park faithful.