Kirkcaldy YM return to Junior scene

LAST Saturday, Kirkcaldy YM made their return to the Junior scene, participating in a tournament at the home of Thorniewood United.

New manager Kevin Smart was given his first chance to see the team he has built in competitive action for the first time.

YM faced Blackburn United in their Saturday game, and were under immediate pressure during an opening stage when they were forced into defence by a side more experienced and more used to playing together.

As YM players began to feel they had weathered the initial onslaught, realisation that this was not an invincible team came with Laird's swipe missing the ball altogether as he looked to convert a cross.

McLeod should have put his team ahead with the chance of the game so far, but he couldn't even hit the target when eye to eye with YM keeper Shields.

YM's Grant McKay had a shot saved by Milton, one of few shots on target so far by either side, but it was still level, the Kirkcaldy side still in with a chance of making the final.

Colin Potter was at the end of a good Kirkcaldy move, but his low shot went just past the far post.

Now YM were a fair bet to snatch the win, though a series of corners found the Blackburn defence in defiant mood.

The first period ended in stalemate, and manager Smart made changes.

On came Craig Farley, later followed by Scott Meikle, Jason Quinn and keeper Michael Wilson.

YM started in positive mood, Grant McKay sending a free kick into the wall, which wasn't really all that positive!

McKay almost redeemed himself when he forced a one-handed save from Milton as he got to a cross from Gilfillan who then had a shot blocked by right back Russell before he stood down to give Alex Peoples a shot.

Blackburn took the lead in the 63rd minute, McCartney being handily placed to take advantage when YM's keeper couldn't keep hold of the ball.

The Kirkcaldy players were resolute in their determination to regain equality, and managed to do just that nine minutes later.

Scott Meikle came down the right, then directed his cross into the path of Chris Ireland whose volley gave Milton no chance, and Kirkcaldy people celebrated.

Despite the efforts of both sides, there were no further goals and the players' nightmare became reality – penalties!

Unfortunately for YM hopes, Blackburn were the lucky winners, James Whyte being the fall-guy who missed the target.

Yet there were a lot of good things about YM's performance, and both players and coaches were confidently optimistic as they contemplated the 3rd/4th match against Civil Service Strollers, who had been beaten 5-1 by the hosts.

Unfortunately, that optimism lasted only until the interval when show-time arrived.

The first half on Sunday was quite evenly contested, though YM could very easily have finished the half with a goal advantage. Saturday's goal hero Chris Ireland's cross gave Jamie Gilfillan a chance to create something, but his dummy found nobody waiting for the ball.

Civil Service came forward, and Neil Aitken headed clear just in front of the line, but YM's defence could not prevent Harper beating Warren Shields from what many Fifers thought was an offside position.

Never mind, the game was yet young, and there was plenty of time, though it would be better for all concerned to draw a veil over the second half.

Sufficient to say that Civil Service scored four more goals before the one bright spot when Jamie Gilfillan scored what will surely be the first of many in the coming season.

Now, the players should look on this as a learning experience, and vow to ensure it doesn't happen again!

This Saturday, YM continue their pre-season programme at Kettle, then visit Dundonald Bluebell on Wednesday night.

The YM squad over the two days was: W Shields, M Wilson, D Hutchison, A Blyth, J Whyte, T Williams, G McKay, C Ireland, C Potter, J Gilfillan, J Roxburgh, M Reilly, S Meikle, J Quinn, A Peoples, C Farley, D Hutt, N Aitken.