Lanark United secretary Tam Anderson has praised the Moor Park club’s players for clinching promotion with seven matches to spare, writes Craig Goldthorp.
Leaders United weren’t in McBookie.com League Two action on Saturday – they lost 1-0 at Troon in a third round Ardagh Group West of Scotland Cup tie – but rivals’ results went for them and secured United’s place in League One next season.
Anderson told the Carluke and Lanark Gazette: “We have been very good in the league all season.
“It is still the aim to fend off Lesmahagow (eight points behind United with two games in hand) and win the league.
“Ian Watt and Hugh Kerr have been brilliant all season, scoring over 20 goals each.
“And our other standouts include Cammy Lawson, Mark Haddow, Gareth Hallford, Peter O’Donnell and Joshua Gracie at right back, a tremendous young player.
“I think we can finish above Lesmahagow.
“Our maximum points total is 77, theirs is 75.
“I don’t see them dropping points, but we’ll just need to try our best.
“We’re at Thorniewood on Saturday (kick-off 2pm) and that will be difficult. Watt got sent off at Troon so he will be suspended unless an appeal is lodged.
“And Kerr sustained a broken shoulder so he is out too.”
Tam described the referee’s performance at Troon as “deplorable”.
It was a game in which United competed very well against their Premier Super League opponents at Portland Park and were unlucky to lose by the only goal of the game.
On five minutes Lewis Hill appeared to be clearly fouled inside the box by the Troon keeper Scott Johnstone but the referee ignored United claims for a penalty.
Gracie then had a terrific run to the Troon area and his low shot looked a goal all the way until Johnstone dived right for a one handed save.
On the half hour mark Watt was about to shoot from inside the box when he was tripped and brought down frtom behind for what looked a stonewall penalty but again the referee waved play on.
Troon took the lead on 34 minutes when Ryan Stevenson broke clear and managed to score at the third attempt after his first two efforts were blocked.
The referee then came up with another howler when he sent off Watt on 37 minutes for a 50-50 tackle in which he clearly won the ball.
Ten man Lanark had three early chances in the second half but one was saved by Johnstone and two good efforts were cleared off the line.
James Martin had a good run at the Troon defence on 75 minutes but again saw his shot cleared off the line.
This proved to be United’s last clear chance and Troon played out time to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Tam added: “We competed really well against Troon and should have had two stonewall penalties.
“Watt got sent off just before half-time for competing for a 50/50 ball in which he won the tackle.
“We are not too bothered about losing the game.
“Even in the second half when we were down to 10 men we created good scoring chances but their goalkeeper made some really good saves.”