HAVING not played in earnest since November 20 last year, Carnoustie Panmure at last returned to competitive action with an away fixture against Ballingry Rovers in the ACA Sports East Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
For the visit to Ore Park, the Gowfers were without the services of Greg Anderson, Andrew Cowan and Kevin Cumming, all still nursing injuries.
Bench spots went to John Tonner, Scott Robertson, Greg Beattie, assistant manager Graeme Christie and spare goalkeeper Craig Jamieson.
Carnoustie kicked off, but quickly found themselves under pressure when a through-ball for Cook to chase was intercepted by Stein, whose long clearance upfield triggered a home counter-attack. S. Graham chased the ball into the Gowfers’ box, but appeared to be beaten to it by the advancing McCafferty. However, down went the Ballingry player and the referee ran forward pointing to the spot with just 33 seconds on the watch. Despite the visitors’ protests, STEIN drove the penalty past McCafferty, giving the Fifers a controversial early lead.
In eight minutes, a Cook corner was headed away by Bryce. The ball dropped out to Milne, who tried a shot, but Houston held it easily.
Carnoustie continued to press and two minutes later Gates made a great run up the left and played the ball through to Milne, who cut inside before drilling in a shot which beat the ‘keeper, but came back off his right-hand post. MILNE, however, was first to the rebound and this time he made no mistake, firing the ball home for the equaliser.
The Gowfers had their tails up and came close to going in front in 17 minutes after Milne was chopped down by Mackie 25 yards out. Clark’s free kick cleared the defensive wall, but the ball crashed back out off the junction of bar and post with Houston beaten all ends up.
However, Carnoustie were not to be denied and deservedly took the lead just a minute later. Milne created the opening with a good ball inside to CLARK, who finished well.
From the centre, Ballingry surged forward and S. Graham fired off a low shot, but McCafferty got down to fingertip the ball against his left-hand upright from where it rebounded to Hendry, who completed the clearance.
Carnoustie pushed forward once more and in 28 minutes won a free kick 30 yards out when Milne was brought down by Leighton. Roberts sent in a good shot, but Houston rose to clutch it safely.
On the half-hour mark, Cook unleashed a rocket shot, which beat the ‘keeper, but again the ball crashed back off the bar and was cleared away.
The first booking of the match occurred in 35 minutes when Roberts was yellow-carded for a foul on Moffat.
At this stage, it seemed only a matter of time before the Gowfers would double their lead, but against the run of play Ballingry drew level in 38 minutes when out of the blue MCDONOUGH ran on to a through pass and drilled the ball low into the corner of the net.
Two minutes later, Carnoustie should have regained the lead, but were denied a ‘goal’ when a Clark rocket shot came down off the underside of the bar and landed at least two feet over the line before being cleared away with the referee unsighted and waving play on.
Further controversy followed in 42 minutes when Bryce brought down Milne at least a yard inside the Rovers’ box and, being the last man, should really have been red-carded, but the referee, who was well behind the play, failed to give the penalty and didn’t even book the offending player, much to the annoyance of the Gowfers’ players and support alike.
Right on the half-time whistle, further misfortune befell Carnoustie when McSkimming went down in the midst of several players challenging for the ball and it was immediately obvious that he was in serious trouble. The referee brought the half to a close and an ambulance was summoned.
After some 20 minutes of treatment on the park and a further 15 minutes in the ambulance, McSkimming was taken to hospital with a serious knee injury.
Half-time: Ballingry Rovers 2, Carnoustie Panmure 2.
At the start of the second half, Robertson replaced the injured McSkimming, while Ballingry resumed with T. Graham on for McDonough.
Things quickly got even worse for the Gowfers as just a minute after the restart Hunter played a pass across his own box to Gates, who slipped on the greasy surface and could only toe-poke his attempted clearance straight to GILFILLAN, who ran on and stroked the ball past McCafferty into the net.
Carnoustie got the game under way once more, but further disaster befell them within a minute. From the centre, the ball was played back into the Gowfers’ box where Gilfillan went down under a challenge from Hendry and the referee again had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. STEIN again hammered the ball past McCafferty, giving the ‘keeper no chance.
The loss of these two quick goals and the injury to their colleague seemed to upset Carnoustie and after having been on top for much of the first period, they were now struggling to get to grips with the game while Ballingry were doing most of the attacking.
In 58 minutes, Clark was cautioned after tripping Moffat.
From a McCafferty goal kick, the ball reached Milne, who was fouled by Gilfillan. Hunter’s free kick picked out Perera, but he headed narrowly over the top.
Back came Rovers and in 66 minutes Campbell tried a snap shot from 20 yards in the hope of catching McCafferty unawares, but the ‘keeper held the ball easily.
Two minutes later, Mackie was shown the yellow card for bringing down Perera.
In 70 minutes, the Gowfers made a second change, replacing Narey with Beattie.
Ballingry continued on top and edged further ahead in 75 minutes. Hunter sliced an attempted clearance straight to S. GRAHAM, who ran forward and was tackled by Cook. He stumbled, but recovered to drive the ball low past McCafferty for the homesters’ fifth.
Before play restarted, Cook was booked for his tackle on Graham.
Two minutes later, both teams made a change, Mackie being replaced by Ford for Ballingry, and Hendry by Tonner for Carnoustie.
In 83 minutes, McGreadie was booked for bringing down Milne.
Next minute, Rovers made their third and final change with Gilfillan being replaced by Lawson.
After being on the back-foot for most of the second half, the Gowfers began to come more into the game and eventually reduced the leeway in 89 minutes when HUNTER rose to head home from a Cook corner on the right.
As the watch ticked over into stoppage time, Hunter again got his head to a Cook cross, but this time the ball came back off the post and was cleared away by Stein.
Shortly afterwards, the referee blew for full-time, bringing to an end what had been a thoroughly miserable afternoon for the Gowfers, who have yet to avoid defeat at the Fife venue.
Ballingry Rovers: Houston, McGreadie, Stein, Leighton, Bryce, Moffat, Campbell, S. Graham, Gilfillan (Lawson 84), McDonough (T. Graham 45), Mackie (Ford 77). Substitutes, not used - Moore, Byrne, Connolly (gk).
Carnoustie Panmure: McCafferty, Narey (Beattie 70), McSkimming (Robertson 45), Hendry (Tonner 77), Cook, Hunter, Clark, Roberts, Perera, Milne, Gates. Substitutes, not used - Christie, Jamieson (gk).
Referee: A. Watt, Lochgelly.
Tomorrow (Saturday), Carnoustie travel to Volunteer Park to face Armadale Thistle in the ACA Sports East Premier League.
After last week’s disastrous result, the Gowfers will be hoping to record their first away league win of the season having beaten the Lothian side 4-0 at Laing Park back on September 18.
Kick-off time is 2.15 p.m.
ACA Sports East Premier League
P W L D F A Pts
Broxburn Athletic 12 8 3 1 36 18 25
St Andrews United 9 7 1 1 17 8 22
Glenrothes 9 6 2 1 31 17 19
Carnoustie Panmure 10 5 3 2 24 19 17
Broughty Athletic 10 4 4 2 23 20 14
Ballingry Rovers 8 4 3 1 20 24 13
Arniston Rangers 10 3 5 2 16 25 11
Armadale Thistle 7 2 2 3 12 10 9
Penicuik Athletic 8 2 4 2 15 15 8
Kinnoull 12 2 8 2 16 35 8
Whitburn 8 2 6 0 13 21 6
Thornton Hibs 7 1 5 1 11 22 4