It wasn't pretty but we managed to avoid a defeat, although Gretna did pose us a few problems in the first half. In all honesty we should probably have won by more and got the confidence up a bit.
We fielded a pretty strong line-up, the only odd bit being Jon Robertson at rightback instead of David van Zanten, who was on the bench. Conor Newton returned by going straight into the team, while Vanzy was the only experienced player among the subs. Gretna's side would be unfamiliar to most folk but did feature the brilliantly named Brandon Longcake on the bench.
After we survived a wee bit of pressure we began looking for an opener. A nice move saw Gary Harkins lay the ball off for Steven Thompson but he shot wide before Paul McGowan almost scored a screamer, rocketing the ball just off target after Gretna keeper Graham Wight couldn't quite punch the ball far enough from his goal. As you began to worry Gretna might sneak an opener we took the lead, Steven Thompson sending Wright the wrong way from the penalty spot after Robertson had been brought down.
That should maybe have sparked us into life but it did anything but, Joe Slattery heading wide from a free-kick as Gretna should have equalised. Jim Goodwin then hit the post from a free-kick before Ryan Adamson shot straight at David Cornell when he should probably have buried the chance. Harkins shot over after a great exchange of passing with Thompson before the big striker got his second of the night, powerfully heading Robertson's cross past Wright at the end of a terrific move. He nearly completed his treble in the last minute of the half but shot wide from a difficult position after McGinn's neat pass.
Vanzy came on for Newton at the break. Gretna brought on sub goalie James Greenall and he was soon picking the ball out of the net, McGowan curling the ball home after some good build-up play involving Teale and Harkins. The new keeper had rather more chance with Thompson's shot, which he saved easily. Longcake was on as a sub by this stage and almost ensured we'd remember more than his name with an ambitious attempt that sailed wide. McGowan's shot flew past the top corner as we looked for a fourth before Lewis Todd was unlucky not to see his fine shot go in - and he was promptly subbed!
Robertson had spent the game in a rather unnatural rightback position but he'd been looking pretty good there, winning the penalty and claiming an assist. he almost got another assist when he played in Thompson, but his attempt to put the ball past Greenall was saved. Robertson flashed another decent ball across the face of goal before Sean Kelly replaced Danny Grainger and Teale's shot was palmed away by Greenall. He denied McGowan and Thompson again before proceedings were brought to a close and manager Danny Lennon will probably have plenty of food for thought after this game.
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