Your online local sport by Millar Stoddart

Lanark United topple Saltcoats Vics in nine-goal thriller

The game was an end-to-end affair with both sides battling throughout

Lanark United returned from Ayrshire with all three points after a 6-3 win over Saltcoats Vics at Campbell Park last Saturday in a classic junior game.

While nine goals were recorded, a further three efforts were disallowed and combined with end to end football and plenty of controversial decisions along the way, the game will live long in the memory for both sets of supporters.

Mark Haddow put the Yowes ahead before Liam Ferguson replied for the hosts soon after.

Josh Gracie restored Lanark’s advantage and Hugh Kerr then added a third goal before Yusuf Bamba reduced Lanark’s lead.

James Martin made it 4-2 to United before the break and a Gracie penalty in the second half put the game beyond any doubt.

Jordan Fraser netted Lanark’s sixth goal in the closing stages of the game before Bamba scored a late consolation goal.

Saturday’s result means that Lanark occupy fourth place in the table after four games played and Colin Slater’s side can be pleased with a solid start to their campaign.

Lanark were in competitive action against the Vics for the first time in 20 years following the reorganisation of the west region leagues, with both sides now competing in Central League Two.

The adverse weather was causing problems for both sides and it wasn’t long before the first controversial decision of the game occurred when Lanark’s Shaun Gallagher floated a free kick into the path of Ian Watt who blasted the ball into the back of the net but his strike was disallowed for offside, much to the dismay of the visitors.

A United corner was then met by the head of Mark Haddow who rose above his marker and made no mistake from close range, but his effort was also ruled out after he was judged to have fouled his opponent.

Although Haddow opened the scoring moments later when Watt’s initial headed crashed off the post and the midfielder tapped the ball home.

Saltcoats replied after 25 minutes when a Liam Ferguson free kick evaded the United wall and flew into the back of the net, with the referee allowing the goal to stand after initially signalling for offside.

Lanark were frustrated by the manner in which the conceded, but replied in perfect fashion when a good ball down the right set Josh Gracie free and he evaded the onrushing Vics defence before slotting the ball into the corner of the net.

United increased their lead when Hugh Kerr met a dangerous corner and headed the ball past Vics goalkeeper Chris Wright.

Wright then made a key save to keep his side in the game when Kerr looked destined to score but he was thwarted by a strong hand by the goalkeeper.

Vics reduced the deficit when they pounded on some slack play within the Lanark defence and Yusuf Bamba held off his marker before showing great composure to find the target.

The game was up for grabs at this point, but Lanark snatched a crucial fourth goal on the stroke of half time when a Ben Fraser throw in caught the hosts napping and O’Donnell’s header was diverted into the net by Martin.

Lanark could have ended the game as a contest just four minutes after the interval when Kerr was brought down inside the Vics box but Gallagher blasted the resultant penalty over the bar.

Saltcoats rallied strongly and had the ball in the United net but the referee again ruled for offside.

The offside call would come back to haunt the hosts when they gave away a second penalty after Gracie was upended in the box and Watt made no mistake from 12 yards out.

Watt then released Jordan Fraser, who had just signed from local side Kirkfield United, with a pinpoint pass and he stroked the ball under the oncoming Wright with four minutes remaining.

The Vics, to their credit, continued to battle throughout and a Bamba collected the ball on the left flank before going on a fantastic individual run before beating United goalkeeper Martyn Meek with a fine finish.