McBookie Premier Division



by Calum Corral

TROON battled their way to a solitary goal win in the battle of the seaside clubs in an entertaining and fast-flowing affair.

This was a notable victory for the Portland Park men against a Largs side who had scored an impressive 25 goals in their last four games, and haven't gone behind in a game since August.

However, it is now three wins on the spin for a Troon side who are showing good momentum themselves.

In the first few minutes, visiting midfielder Paul Harkins turned his man on the edge of the area and sent an effort zipping wide of the right post.

Thistle, who were 8/11 favourites, had another early chance as Creag Little headed wide from a Harkins corner at the near post.

However, the home side, who were 2/1 at the bookies, moved in front on six minutes after a free-kick was awarded.

Captain Dean Keenan, who has been no stranger to scoring with long range strikes against Largs over the years, delivered a crisp 30-yard effort which curled into the postage stamp corner of the net. It was an awesome strike.

The goal unsettled Largs and gave Troon the impetus as they enjoyed their best period, and it was from a subsequent corner that they nearly netted again.

Keenan sent a looping header into the danger area, and it was nodded on by Jamie Martin with Thistle midfielder Stuart Faulds clearing off the line.

The powerful Christian Nade, formerly of Hearts, was also influencing matters upfront, but Largs were dangerous on the counter and won a free kick out on the right.

Harkins curled in a dangerous effort which was beat away by Scott Johnstone in the Troon goal and Graham Muir volleyed the rebound over the bar.

The rampaging Ben Black was a constant thorn in Troon's side delivering a long looping effort just wide of the left post before half-time, and then bursting down the left wing in the second half and moving clean through on goal, but keeper Johnstone impressively narrowed the angle to block.

Steven McCreadie's rasping free-kick from the left wing had to punched clear at full stretch by Largs keeper Sean Graham while under pressure from a Troon forward

The arrival of Mark Millar, a pre-season target of Troon's, in 56 minutes , added a new dynamic to the visitors as chance after chance came their way towards the end of this encounter.

Both Adam and Knowles were clean through but were thwarted on each occasion with Johnstone making another super save while some desperate defending also came to Troon's rescue.

Sub Jack Paterson nearly made the points safe for the home side as he turned on a good cross from the right but Graham smothered the effort at the second attempt.

There followed an almighty goalmouth scramble in the home penalty box but Troon somehow managed to clear their lines, while Nicky Jamieson's flying effort from Black's free-kick on the right was easily gathered by Johnstone.

There were only a few minutes of added time as the referee's full-time whistle signalled big celebrations to mark Troon's first home win of the season.

There was plenty of fighting spirit on display from the Portland Park side and they will need this in abundance in such a highly competitive league.

TROON: Johnstone, Reilly, Sherrie, Keenan, Strachan, Chatham, Pooler, McCreadie, Nade, Maley, Martin. Subs: Paterson, McKay, Clark, Fulton, McInally.

Graham, Orr, McMaster, Little, Jamieson, Faulds, Muir, Harkins, Struthers, Knowles, Black. Subs: Adam, Millar, Carter, Cousar, Docherty.