Millburn misery on opening day for Ants

The Ants league campaign got off to a losing start away to Vale of Leven on Saturday, but Ants fans would be forgiven for wondering how they managed to not get anything from the match as they dominated almost the full game, the old adage if you don’t take your chances ringing true.

Vale of Leven took the lead in the third minute when a throw into the box found MacPherson who smashed the ball past Wallace in the Ants goal to put the Vale 1-0 ahead. The Ants almost equalised straight from the re-start but McLaughlin’s long range effort cannoned off the bar, then his follow up shot was well saved by Tiropoulous. Gordon then found Duncan in the box with a lovely chipped pass, his first touch was excellent but the finish less so with Tiropoulous again thwarting the Ants with a fine save with his body deflecting the ball over the bar.

The Ants were pushing for an equaliser and after 17 minutes Duncan again came close but again Tiropoulous was equal to the effort, getting down low to save and push the ball away from goal. Vale of Leven for their part went close when Craig found Stewart but his prodded effort at goal went wide. In the 21st minute the Vale doubled their advantage. A long diagonal ball by MacPherson sent Stewart scampering down the right hand side, he beat McManus to the ball and fired a teasing cross over the six yard box, Wallace was inches away from cutting the cross out but the ball found it’s way to the back post where Pilkington was standing unmarked and he fired high into the roof of the net to make it 2-0.

It would have been easy for Ants heads to go down given the way the match had went so far but they kept pushing for a goal and playing some lovely football. McLaughlin dragged a shot wide then a Duncan cross into the box ricocheted off a Vale defender and flew just past the post. The Ants front 3 were linking up well and a nice move almost pulled a goal back, Gordon slipped the ball to Duncan, who’s cross found Heron and he slipped the ball past the keeper but the angle was too actue and his cross back across goal came to nothing.

It was all one way traffic at this point and chances fell to McDonald, McLaughlin and Gordon with the goalkeeper coming out on top on each occasion. A goal was definitely coming and on the 46th minute it came, although not the way Ants fans had hoped given the chances they had, MacPherson fired a great free kick off the bar, and Pilkington was first to react as he headed home from a yard out completely unmarked two yards from goal. A kick in the teeth for the Ants as they went in at the break 3-0 down.

HALF TIME – VALE OF LEVEN 3 v 0 ANTS

The second half followed the same thread with The Ants dominating possession and having the lions share of the chances. Heron was next to try his luck in the 50th minute but once again Tiropoulous was equal to the effort making a fine diving save. Wallace had to be sharp off his line when he denied Craig and then McDonald was on hand to clear up the Vale attackers cross, the header found Wilson who passed to McLaughlin, The Ants midfielder sent a great pass through to Gordon who squared to Heron but his effort was pulled wide of the target and another chance had went begging.

The Ants pressure continued and Gordon was inches away with a header from Milarvies cross, his effort clipping the outside of the post on the way past, then Conway’s shot looked destined for the net but swerved just wide at the last minute. Still the Ants chased the goal to get them back in the match and it was McLaughlin’s turn to have an effort from distance but again his shot veered wide at the last minute.

Finally the Ants got the breakthrough their play deserved when McLaughlin’s shot was too hot for Tiropoulous to handle and it fell into the path of DAVID DONNELLY who made no mistake from six yards and after 66 minutes it was Vale of Leven 3 v 1 Ants. The Ants kept pressing to reduce the deficit to a single goal but Tiropoulous again made a fine save from McLaughlin with his feet then Gordon was an inch away from turning another McLaughlin effort into the net then Heron was again an inch away from heading Meechan’s whipped in cross. Unbelievably there was inches in it again as McLaughlin fired across the six yard box but Gordon and Donnelly couldn’t get on the end of the ball.

Time was running out as the Ants became more desperate and leaving gaps at the back and in the 90th minute Vale put the result beyond doubt when Stewart found MacPherson on the edge of the box and he slipped in McNaught to fire home past Wallace to put the home side 4-1 ahead. To their credit the Ants kept pushing and in the 91st minute reduced the deficit to two goals again when Meechan found CHRIS GORDON in the box and the hitman slammed the ball into the back of the net. It was too late though and the referee called time on a frustrating day for the Ants

FULL TIME VALE OF LEVEN 4 ( MacPherson 3, Pilkington 21, 46 McNaught 90) v 2 Ants (Donnelly 66, Gordon 91)

Vale of Leven

Saint Anthony’s FC

1Gavin Wallace Goalkeeper
2Gary Wilson Defender 46'
3Mark McManus Midfielder
4Ronnie McDonald Defender
5David Donnelly Defender
6Anton Conway Defender 57'
7Michael Milarvie 12 Defender
8Chris McLaughlin Midfielder 66'
9Jack Heron 16 Forward
10Chris Gordon Forward 91'
73'
11William Duncan 15 Forward
12Craig Smith 7 Midfielder 90'
14Ralph Gamba Defender
15Conor Meechan 11 Midfielder 91'
16Kieran Donaghy 9 Midfielder
17Andy Scanlan Defender
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