McBookie League Two



FORMER Ardeer Thistle boss Derek Gemmell pulled his boots back on and bagged a double as the hosts secured bragging rights in the Three Towns derby.

Fans witnessed a memorable match as a makeshift Ardeer team bounced back from a horrendous result against Lesmahagow to edge out Vics and leapfrog them in the league table.

The Ardeer squad was bolstered by a handful of trialists including long-term stalwarts and fan favourites Gemmell and John Colligan, helping out Thistle at a tricky time. The visitors, led by former Ardeer striker Evariste Bembo, were likely confident of building upon a decent run of two draws and a narrow defeat against an out-of-form Stevenston side.

Saltcoats started brightly and put Ardeer under some sustained pressure early on. Harrison Elue dragged an early shot wide for the visitors before they opened the scoring in 12 minutes. It was a disappointing goal for Ardeer to concede as centre-back Robert McKenzie rose unchallenged to head Mahamadou Diabira's corner kick past goalie John McWilliam. Then McWilliam made a strong save to keep out an Eva Bembo header from a corner soon afterwards to prevent Vics from taking a two goal lead.

Ardeer were out-of-sorts in the remainder of the first half hour as Saltcoats pressed for a second goal, but the hosts found their game and began to reverse the momentum.

Their first real effort was saved when Vics keeper Chris Wright parried away Mark Beveridge's effort from a fine Marc Farrell pass. Shortly thereafter a deflected shot came to Gemmell in the box who fired just over the bar.

It appeared as though Saltcoats would go into the interval ahead but Ardeer grabbed an equaliser in a frenetic last few minutes. Gemmell scored his first goal for the club since April 2013 in 43 minutes, flicking a Marc Farrell corner- kick into the net at the near post. He came close a minute later with an unexpected left-foot effort from 20 yards which went just over the crossbar. Vics nearly regained their lead with the last action of the half but McWilliam denied Bembo when the striker got through one-on-one.

There was all to play for in the second half but less chances of note were created, with the Ardeer defence soundly marshalling the visiting attacks for the most part. James Morecambe nearly got the better of the Ardeer defence, rounding McWilliam but the impressive Beveridge got back to clear the ball away from danger.

Fifteen minutes from time, Ardeer scored the pivotal third goal of the match. Beveridge's long throw-in from the left was flicked on to the head of Gemmell who nodded into the net to score his first ever double for the club a decade after making his debut. Saltcoats had a penalty claim turned down a few minutes later, Bembo receiving a caution for simulation. This seemed to be the correct decision although some of the visiting support were aggrieved as the same player had a strong appeal turned down earlier on when Paul McKay clearly appeared to pull him back in the area.

Ardeer managed to hold on to their lead, and perhaps should have extended it but were unable to take advantage of a good counter attacking opportunity. Gemmell and Vics' Kevin Ohanu both picked up knocks late on and Ardeer were finally able to celebrate victory when referee Chris McTiernan blew the final whistle after six minutes of stoppage time.

ARDEER THISTLE: McWilliam; Miller, Beveridge, McKay, Trialist, Gemmell, Dempsey, Gilmour, Colvin, Thomas McPhee, Farrell. Subs:. Colligan, Trialist, Murdoch.

SALTCOATS VICTORIA: Wright, Ohanu, Byrne, McKenzie, Frame, Kasongo, Morecambe, Farrell, Bembo, Elue, Diabira. Subs: Omar, Shankley, Balde Jnr, Seidi.