HAVING been promoted at the end of last season, Carnoustie Panmure marked their return to the ACA Sports East Super League with a home fixture against Bathgate Thistle at Laing Park on Saturday afternoon.
Steven Narey and Robert Hendry were both on from the start, replacing Scott Robertson and Steven Cook, who were joined on the bench by Stuart Ferguson, Greg Beattie and trialist Stephen Hegarty.
Gates and Milne had early chances for Carnoustie, but found ‘keeper Carlin in the Bathgate goal alert to the danger on both occasions.
At the other end, Johnstone was fouled by Clark, but McColligan’s free kick from just outside the box cleared the defensive wall and also the crossbar.
Thistle again came close when Fairbairn had a 15 yard shot well saved by McCafferty.
In the visitors’ next attack, Macsween went down inside the box, but the penalty claims were waved aside by the referee.
After being on the receiving end for a time, Carnoustie began to push forward once more and opened the scoring in 17 minutes. Clark chipped a great ball over the Thistle defence into the path of MILNE, who lobbed the advancing ‘keeper from the edge of the box to put the Gowfers ahead.
Macsween threatened to put Bathgate back on level terms when he cut in from the left, but McCafferty came off his line and bravely saved at the feet of the onrushing player.
Shortly afterwards, a Wilson long-range effort had McCafferty scrambling across his goal, but the ball flew wide of his left-hand upright.
In 25 minutes, McIlravey was booked for a foul on Carlin as both attempted to reach a long through ball into the visitors’ box.
As the Gowfers continued to press, Clark picked up a loose ball 25 yards out, turned and fired off a shot, but his effort was too direct and easily held by Carlin.
Gates then forced a corner off Fallon, but from Clark’s cross, McIlravey shot wide of the left-hand post.
Bathgate came close to equalising after Tonner conceded a corner on the right. Johnstone was allowed a free header from Wilson’s cross, but Millar cleared off the line.
Encouraged by that near miss, Thistle continued to press and drew level in 38 minutes when Macsween cut in from the left along the bye-line and laid the ball back to JOHNSTONE, who smashed it high into the net. McCafferty got a touch on the shot, but was unable to keep it out.
Late in the first half, the visitors almost took the lead when Johnstone unleashed a fierce drive from a Wilson cross, but the ball rebounded from the post and was cleared away by Milne, back helping his defence.
Half-time: Carnoustie Panmure 1, Bathgate Thistle 1.
Bathgate resumed with Hamilton on in place of Leiper.
A long through ball from Hendry gave Clark an early chance for Carnoustie, but his fierce drive from the edge of the box was turned behind by Carlin for a fruitless corner.
In 54 minutes, Narey went off and was replaced by Cook.
Millar picked up the Gowfers’ second yellow card of the match for a handling offence in 59 minutes. Fairbairn took the resultant free kick 35 yards out, but fired the ball straight at McCafferty, who saved easily.
In 61 minutes, Carnoustie regained the lead when Cumming and McIlravey combined well up the right to put MILNE through and from the edge of the box he fired low across the ‘keeper into his bottom right-hand corner.
Shortly afterwards, there was a let-off for the Gowfers when Hendry headed clear off the line from a Wilson corner.
Thistle continued to press and equalised in 69 minutes when JOHNSTONE pounced on a loose ball 30 yards out and curled a great shot into McCafferty’s postage stamp corner, giving the ‘keeper no chance.
Back came Carnoustie and Cumming headed narrowly past from a Gates cross.
Bathgate’s second substitution of the match in 77 minutes saw McColligan make way for Rankin.
In 84 minutes, Johnstone was booked for dissent.
A minute later, Carnoustie replaced Roberts with Robertson.
Both teams went all out for victory in the closing stages, but neither was able to snatch a winner and in the end a draw was probably a fair result.
Carnoustie Panmure - McCafferty, Tonner, Roberts (Robertson 85), Millar, Narey (Cook 54), Hendry, McIlravey, Cumming, Clark, Milne, Gates. Substitutes, not used - Ferguson, Trialist, Beattie.
Bathgate Thistle - Carlin, Fallon, Wilson, Leiper (Hamilton 45), Buchanan, McCulloch, Martin, Fairbairn, Johnstone, Macsween, McColligan (Rankin 77). Substitutes, not used - Andreoni, Love, Pelc, Jeffery, Lunn (gk).
Referee, G. Harris, Coupar Angus.
Match-ball sponsor, Tony Bottone, Carnoustie.
Tomorrow (Saturday), Carnoustie have an away league fixture against Bonnyrigg Rose at New Dundas Park. Kick-off time is 2.30 p.m.
The Gowfers’ Supporters Club bus for Bonnyrigg leaves from the Stag’s Head at 11 a.m.
Carnoustie have been drawn at home to Arbroath Vics in the preliminary round of the GA Engineering Cup. A date for the tie has yet to be arranged, but the winners will be at home to Montrose Roselea in the first round proper.
Gowfer’s manager Ian Gilzean is unfazed by his side’s draw against Bathgate Thistle on Saturday.
He said: “Yeah, it wasn’t bad, although we could’ve probably nicked it there at the end.
“They were better than us in the first half, they had a bit of pressure on us, but in the second half we came out much better. We were looking dangerous and we opened them up at the back.”
As with every performance Ian recognises there are always things to be worked on, and include he said: “Probably keeping the ball a bit better.
“Just before both goals we had a bit of a problem holding onto the ball and were giving it straight back to them and they punished us for it.
“Apart from that, creating more chances, not rushing when we had possession. At times we looked really composed on the ball.”
Looking forward to their first away game he said: “As I’ve said before we shouldn’t fear anyone. If we perform like we can do, then we have no fears of competing at this level. I’m confident in the way we played against Bathgate. Bonnyrigg won the league a couple of years ago, so they will give us a tough game. But there are no easy games in this league.”