Early goal key as Lanark United topple high-flying Ashfield
Lanark goalkeeper Gareth Halford was in fine form in his United return
Stuart Annetts’ first half strike was enough to separate the two teams at Moor Park as Lanark United ended Ashfield’s five-game winning streak last Saturday.
The Royal Burgh outfit were playing on home soil for the first time since last November in only their second outing of 2018, but showed no signs of rustiness to claim three important points as they look to climb the Central District Second Division table.
The Yowes were boosted by the return of Gareth Halford between the posts and the United goalkeeper produced a string of fine saves in the second half to secure the victory.
Despite a spell of adverse weather before the game, the Moor Park surface was in excellent condition
Ashfield had found the back of the net 19 times in the past five games but it was Lanark who struck first when a well-worked free kick was played to Shaun Gallagher on the right flank and his header was met by Stuart Annetts who made no mistake from close range.
Ciaran Friel almost levelled the scoreline soon after when his effort went narrowly wide of the post.
Lanark could have been forgiven for recoiling in an attempt to preserve their slender advantage but pushed forward instead, with Ronan Kearney evading the Ashfield defence with a surging run down the left flank but his effort was well saved by James Catterson.
United always pose a threat from set pieces and thought they had doubled the lead when Cammy Lawson’s strike seemed destined for the back of the net but went just wide of the target moments before the interval.
Ashfield manager Robert Docherty made a double substitution at the interval with Billy Stevenson and Barry Tulloch introduced in a bid to get back on level terms.
The visitors thought they had equalised when Keigan Parker advanced on goal and lofted the ball over Halford, but his effort was inches wide.
Lanark continued to take the game to Ashfield and Danny McHugh’s had a good chance to increase their lead but his low effort from the right trickled past the far post.
Billy Stevenson almost made an immediate impact when the substitute broke through the Lanark defence and only had Halford to beat but fluffed his lines at the last moment.
Joel Kasubandi should have equalised when he evaded the Lanark defence but his effort was wide of the target, much to the despair of the Ashfield contingent.
Ashfield went all out attack in the closing stages of the game but the Lanark rearguard managed to soak up the pressure and hold on to take their fourth league win of the season.