McBookie Ayrshire District League



THISTLE kicked off 2018 with a return to winning ways as they defeated local rivals Saltcoats Vics in impressive fashion at Ardeer Stadium.

The hosts were aggressive from the outset as they sought the opening goal.

Striker Derek Kennedy had three chances on goal, coming closest with the third of these when his shot from James Maxwell's long diagonal pass grazed the outside of the far post. Kennedy also combined with Craig Gillies to set up Gordon Wilson whose effort went over the crossbar.

It was mostly one-way traffic and Ardeer took a deserved lead in 24 minutes. Maxwell's cross from deep was flicked on by Kennedy to Archie Sewell in acres of space who swept the ball into the net. Vics striker Graeme Condon's physicality was keeping the Ardeer back four on guard but they were marshalled and it late in the half before Saltcoats were able to seriously threaten the Ardeer goal.

Former Thistle man Evariste Bembo looked to be offside by some margin when receiving a pass in the box but with no foul given, goalie Paul McCann was called into action, reacting quickly to palm his effort off the upright with Michael Holden clearing the ball to safety. Condon later shot over the bar after a scramble in the area, with the Vics protesting weakly that the ball had been handled by an Ardeer player in the build up.

Ardeer could have been at least a few goals up at the break, Kennedy having another effort saved and also seeing a free-kick go inches wide, but they started the second half with only a one-goal lead. This however did not last long as 10 minutes in their control of the match was rewarded with a second goal, Michael Holden toe-poking home from six yards to take his account to two for the seasons after some sustained Ardeer pressure.

Graeme Condon had the best chance for the visitors in the second half, ballooning over the bar when played in by Bembo but the home team always looked the more likely the score. Indeed it was Ardeer who secured a comfortable victory in 68 minutes with their third goal.

Kerr was at fault, hitting a poor clearance to Maxwell in space who swiftly passed to Kennedy. The striker had other options but went directly for goal and was relieved to finally hit the target to make the scoreline 3-0, albeit in fortunate fashion as Louis Kerr could have done better with his attempted save. Gordon Wilson and Matthew Stevenson amongst others both tried to increase the margin of victory but in the end Ardeer had to settle with the 3-0 triumph.

Ardeer will now look to build on the result but must wait a week to do so with a Saturday free from competitive action awaiting them ahead of a trip to Dalmellington to face Craigmark Burntonians on January 20.