Carluke Rovers seal late winner but miss out on promotion
An Ian Watt hat-trick wasn’t enough to secure promotion. Photo courtesy of Kevin Ramage
Carluke Rovers have been consigned to a second term in the Central District Second Division – despite winning 5-4 against Dunipace at the John Cumming Stadium last Saturday.
The Clydesdale club had to win convincingly to have any change of sealing an immediate return to the First Division, but four goals from the visitors ended Carluke’s promotion hopes.
Ian Watt fired the hosts ahead before doubling their lead soon after, although Dunipace scored twice in five minutes before the break.
Watt completed his hat-trick moments after the interval but the visitors were level again after converting from a controversial free kick.
The Rovers fell behind for the first time in the game with 20 minutes remaining but Greg Fernie equalised in the final minutes of the game before bagging a stoppage time winner to secure all three points.
Despite failing to secure promotion the Rovers can look back at their campaign with some pride, narrowly missing out on a quarter final berth in the Junior Cup, disposing of Irvine Meadow along the way.
Carluke started last Saturday’s contest on the front foot John Renwick, Lewis McDougall and Ian Watt linking up to give Greg Fernie an early chance but his effort was well saved.
The Rovers broke the deadlock moments later when a lofted pass over the Dunipace defence found Watt through on goal and he made no mistake from close range.
Watt underlined his importance to the Rovers side when he linked up well with Fernie before evading his marker and firing low into the net to extend Carluke’s advantage.
Curiously, the Rovers allowed Dunipace to control possession and a long range strike caught out Carluke keeper Dan Tobin.
Dunipace were back on level terms when a deflected free kick was punched clear by Tobin but fell to the visitors and the ball rolled into the empty net.
Watt rescued the Rovers soon after the interval when he played a net one-two pass with Fernie before firing into the back of the net.
Although the Rovers were undone from a set piece for the second time when the referee awarded a dubious free kick that evaded Tobin from 25 yards out.
Carluke created several chances when a Mark Weir free kick was met by the head of Stevie Murray but his effort crashed off the post.
Dunipace took the lead for the first time in the game when they forced a turnover of possession in the middle of the park before evading the Rovers rearguard and firing past a helpless Tobin.
With their promotion hopes slipping away, Carluke were dealt a further blow when Watt was forced to limp off with Stuart Mitchell taking his place.
Fernie had linked up well with Watt throughout the game and bagged a goal of his own in the final minute from close range before firing a stoppage time winner in a rollercoaster game that summed up Carluke’s season.