Survival achieved by Lesmahagow Juniors and Forth Wanderers

Robert Irving has led Lesmahagow Juniors to safety in Central Division 1
Robert Irving has led Lesmahagow Juniors to safety in Central Division 1

Lesmahagow Juniors manager Robert Irving was staring relegation in the face when his troops went 2-0 down to Neilston after just four minutes on Monday night.

But ’Gow – who needed to at worst lose by one goal to retain their Central Division 1 status – battled back to secure a precious point in their final league match of the season thanks to goals by Steven Clark and Paul Woodlock.

Irving, whose team have finished fourth bottom and just a single point above Vale of Clyde in the drop zone, said: “I have never known anything like the nerves I felt in the run-up to this match.

“I was devastated by the bad start we made but I knew we still had a big part of the game to get back into it.

“I thought we could benefit from the fact that Neilston had been playing Monday, Wednesday, Saturday for the previous week and we only needed to lose by one goal to stay up on goal difference.

“We recovered and with five minutes to go I turned to my assistant Davy Jackson and said: ‘Surely we can’t lose it now’.

“We were never really under any great pressure towards the end and I had a good sleep later that night.”

Robert said that his team must cut out the silly defensive mistakes next season.

He is hopeful of retaining all of the current ’Gow squad this summer and making at least three new additions.

Meanwhile, ’Gow’s Clydesdale rivals Forth Wanderers have also finally secured their Central Division 1 status after second half goals from Wullie McLaren and David Dunn gave them a 2-0 home win over Wishaw last Wednesday night.

There was no doubting the commitment of the men in red and indeed the scoreline in their favour could have been greater.

After that vital league victory, Wanderers suffered a narrow 4-3 home defeat to Benburb in Saturday’s Central League Cup third round clash at Kingshill Park.

Things looked bleak at the interval with Forth three goals down but a McLaren strike gave hope only for the Bens to make it 4-1 soon after.

Late goals from Kris Jarvie and McLaren again set up an interesting last few minutes but the visitors held out and are now at home to Lesmahagow in a quarter-final tie next Wednesday, May 31.

The ’Gow reached the quarter-finals thanks to a 1-0 success at Dunipace last Wednesday night.

And gaffer Irving – who knows that Lesmahagow would face a home semi-final against Yoker if they get past Benburb – has challenged his men to go all the way to the final of the competition.

“What a chance this is for us,” he said.

“Some boys play their entire career and don’t get to a final.

“So let’s go and get to a final and experience the prestige.”