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East Kilbride 4 Whitehill Welfare 1

Whitehill hit the road again for the second of three successive away games, with the leaders East Kilbride the opposition. 

K-Park hadn’t been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Welfare, with 3 defeats, and 1 win from their 4 previous visits, and with injuries and suspension ruling out most of his defence, Gary Small’s side faced an uphill task. 

Following his 2 yellow cards at Gretna last week, captain Ryan McKenzie missed out, so Craig Reid moved into the middle alongside Kerr Dodds, who replaced the injured James McPartlin. With Robbie Dowie injured, Mark Smith came in as a makeshift right back, as did Joe Murray on the left. In midfield, Robbie Carter and Kyle Mitchell started in the wide areas, in place of Gary Nicholson and Fabio Neto, so 5 changes in all from the week before. 

The home started on the front foot and almost took the lead on 3 minutes. Kerr Dodds was short with a header back to Ross Jardine and Ross McNeil nipped in and rounded Ross Jardine in goal. The ball run wide though and he could only find the side netting with the outside of his right foot. 

With 10 minutes played Whitehill had their first attack. The ball was worked to Josh Morris on the edge of the box and he turned and fired an angled shot that beat the keeper, and went inches over the crossbar. 

Shortly after, East Kilbride had the ball in the net, Craig Malcolm heading in from 10 yards, but thankfully, the Assistants flag went up for offside. 

Whitehill were under serious pressure and another chance for the home side saw Sean Winter played in on the right, however he dragged his shot wide of the outstretched Ross Jardine, and his right hand upright. 

Just short of the half hour mark there were shouts from the Whitehill players for a penalty, after Jack Wright’s through ball in the box came back off a home defender. The referee said no handball though. 

On 32 minutes referee Connor Ashwood was in no doubt about a handball though. Josh Morris held the ball up, and after his effort struck the hand of a home defender, the official pointed to the penalty spot. Connor McGregor stepped up and saw his effort saved by Matt McGinley diving to his right, however the ball came straight back to the midfielder, who made no mistake with the rebound to open the scoring. 

Moments later Robbie Carter was inches away from making it 2-0, cutting in from the right and bending a great effort just wide of the far post. 

The referee blew for half time, and it was Whitehill who had weathered the early storm, and led 1-0 at the break. 

Whatever manager Billy Stark said at the interval certainly worked though, as East Kilbride came back out determined to overcome the deficit. 

On 52 minutes they were level, Sean Winter bulleting in a header home at the back post giving Jardine no chance.

4 minutes later there was a big let off for Whitehill. Barry Russell crossed from the left and new signing from Alloa, Craig Malcolm, headed just wide of the post. 

60 seconds later there was no let off though, as East Kilbride substitute Anthony Wallace drove in from the left and, after Ross Jardine saved a Winter header from point blank range, the forward drilled home the rebound to make it 2-1. 

There was a further blow for the Welfare as left back Joe Murray picked up two yellow cards in a short space of time and his side were a goal and a man down. 

Despite this Whitehill managed to get a foothold in the game, hoping to keep it tight, and take any late chances that came their way. 15 minutes from time the home side were awarded a penalty of their own for a push in the box. Adam Strachan stepped up, and his well struck shot into the bottom corner was brilliantly saved by young Ross Jardine at full stretch, his second penalty save in 2 weeks. 

However on 81 minutes he was powerless to prevent Strachan scoring, as he made no mistake this time, steering a right footed effort into the same bottom corner, after a ball from the right.

Heading into injury time East Kilbride completed the scoring, making it 4-1, when Bryan Prunty teed up Adam Strachan to score from close range. 

So a valiant effort from the Welfare but, in the end, the home side proving too strong. Next up it’s a trip to Dalbeattie Star on Saturday 17th February. 

East Kilbride 

Matthew McGinley, Scott Stevenson, Barry Russell, Craig Howie, David Proctor, Kieran Gibbons, Sean Winter, Michael Anderson, Ross McNeil, Craig Malcolm, Adam Strachan 

Subs Martin McBride, Darren Ramsay, Declan Hughes, Bryan Prunty, Anthony Wallace, Liam Craig, Jacob Kean 

Whitehill Welfare 

Ross Jardine, Mark Smith, Joe Murray, Kerr Dodds, Craig Reid, Scott Lucas, Jack Wright, Kyle Mitchell, Josh Morris (Fabio Neto 82), Robbie Carter (Gary Nicholson 64), Connor McGregor (Darren McCraw 77) 
Sub not used: Robbie Dowie 

Referee: Connor Ashwood
Assistants: Drew Kirkland & John Armour 
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