McBookie Championship



By Martin Rogan

IF ever there was a game of two halves it was this one.

Craigmark certainly had the better of the first half without finding the net while Victoria made more of the opportunities they created after the break.

The visitors made the first chance from a corner-kick on the right by Aidan Conner but Ryan McCubbin's diving header was off target.

Scott Dempster then saw a shot blocked by goalkeeper Martin McDonald and, from the rebound, McCubbin's effort was cleared off the line. The home side's only meaningful shot at goal in the first half was from Roddy Paterson off Ross Loughlin's centre but Robbie Wilson held the ball by his right-hand post.

Referee Steven MacDonald's failure to apply the advantage rule annoyed both sides but the strangest aspect of the official's performance was when he did not even give a free-kick when Mark McDonald rushed from his box and mowed down Scott Dempster out on the left wing.

McDonald made the most of his lucky break and produced several important saves. He kept out a deflected centre from Fraser Lamont at his near post then when a Dempster shot came back off the bar McDonald pushed away Ally Boyle's follow up effort. The goalie was untroubled, however, by Craigmark's final chance before the interval when Conner moved the ball right to Marc Dyer but from his pass Dempster shot wide.

Three minutes into the second half, the Westenders showed Craigmark how it's done when Ryan Singleton rose highest to head in a corner from the right to give the home side the lead. Very little went right for 'Mark thereafter as Victoria dominated the second half. Roddy Paterson linked up with Ross McKenzie to create an opening for Hamish McKinlay, whose shot flashed past the post then a move involving Jordan Craig and McKenzie ended with a Scott Chesney shot that struck a defender.

In 69 minutes, Vics doubled their lead when the visitors failed to clear a McKinley cross from the right and the ball fell to McKenzie who netted with a low shot to the 'keeper's left.

Craigmark were presented with a way back into the game when substitute Jordan Barr went over just inside the box following Loughlin's injudicious challenge and the penalty was given. Once again though, McDonald showed his worth by diving to his right to push away Boyle's spot-kick.

In the closing stages Victoria had further chances to increase their winning margin and 'keeper Wilson twice had to dive at McKenzie's feet as his defenders tired on the heavy pitch.

Wilson also came out on top in a one-on-one with Chesney but it was his opposite number McDonald who, fittingly, had the last word as he pushed a shot from Barr over the top right at the end.

IRVINE VICTORIA: McDonald; Ashe, Craig, Loughlin, Holden, Singleton, Morrow, McKenzie, Paterson, McKinlay, Chesney. Subs: Skeoch, Davidson, McLuckie, McCann.

CRAIGMARK BURNTONIANS: Wilson, Lamont, S.McKay, Marshall, R McKay, Bolton, McCubbin, Dyer, Dempster, Boyle, Conner. Subs: Masterson, Whittaker, Barr, Reid, McCambley.