Bizarre penalty awards hit Merpro

Merpro 2 Douglas SC 2

Merpro were left frustrated following Saturday’s Midlands Division One match with old rivals Douglas Sports Club.

Rarely have Merpro enjoyed so much dominance in matches that have been traditionally close. However, due to a combination of the proverbial barrowload of missed chances and some of the strangest of officiating decisions, the visitors returned home with a share of the spoils.

Merpro were shocked within the first minute when Douglas were awarded a bizarre penalty kick. Milne cleared a Douglas break into the box and when the whistle blew the visitors immediately began to walk away protesting that they had not committed any offence! With everyone bemused a penalty was awarded for some apparent holding from Milne, and WILSON gratefully scored from the bizarre spot kick.

Merpro, initially shaken and angry, began to re-focus and gradually found their rhythm, pinning their opponents back for the rest of the first half.

E. Duff threatened after 10 minutes with a low shot diverted for a corner. From it S. Robertson managed to head goalwards but his effort was cleared to safety.

Duff was again thwarted a few minutes later when he turned inside off his marker into the box to fire in a low drive which the ‘keeper managed to get a fingertip to, diverting the effort onto the post then clear to safety.

Hector was next to run in on goal but again the ‘keeper managed to block his effort. Bruce was next to come close with a rising shot going just over the bar.

McDougall and Duff had further good efforts with forward runs, but the alert ‘keeper continued to deny the home side.

Hector had a great chance in 37 minutes, running through and electing to shoot with his left foot but the ‘keeper again did well to save.

The Merpro procession continued and was eventually rewarded when Douglas were pressured on the edge of the box and Campbell BRUCE fastened on to a clearance to curl a rising shot into the top of the net from 20 yards for the deserved equaliser in the 43rd minute.

Half-time: Merpro 1, Douglas 1.

Merpro came out encouraged for the second half and maintained pressure on their unusually subdued opponents.

Duff had a low shot go just wide in 48 minutes.

Hector was next to threaten, picking up a Bruce pass to fire in a low drive well saved.

Hector again had an good opportunity after being set up to run in on goal, but his effort was blocked wide for a corner kick.

The stand-off between the Merpro attack and ‘keeper Mitchell continued with a series of further one-on-one runs in on goals from Duff. Shortly after, McDougall frustratingly failed to finish as the custodian single-handedly kept Merpro at bay.

Gall was finally called into action, having to make a good save from a rare Douglas breakthrough in 60 minutes.

Merpro hit back with Hector again set up to outstrip the defence to make a good breaking run in on goal. He elected to shoot quickly but the reliable ‘keeper saved.

Douglas were slowly coming back into the match and almost snatched a goal with only determined defending from Milne denying them.

A snap shot was cleared off the line and Milne followed up with a superb blocking tackle.

Merpro quickly responded and following a corner kick should have gone ahead when Murdoch was presented with a free header. He mistimed his effort which went glancing wide from five yards.

Douglas were pressing forward, causing some problems down their right flank but Merpro held out and hit them on the break. Graham played in a perfect quick cross pass for Duff to run in on goal but again the ‘keeper managed to foil the striker.

Merpro pressed forward again. Duff made a good right flank run and cross across the goal-face, with Robertson strongly winning a challenge to drill in a low drive which was cleared off the line by a covering defender with 13 minutes to play.

Merpro broke the deadlock with 10 minutes to play, when Duff played in an accurate pass for Scott GRAHAM to coolly finish with a low drive into the net from 15 yards.

Merpro looked to finish the match off but Douglas came back two minutes later with another highly contentious penalty, awarded when Robertson was deemed to have held back WILSON - who then expertly drilled the ball past ‘keeper Gall.

Douglas had their tails up and sensed an opportunity to snatch victory and applied some concerted pressure.

Merpro withstood it and almost snatched the winner in the closing minute when Graham made a flanking run crossing for Duff but his cheeky back-heeled close-range effort was well saved again by the outstanding ‘keeper, who again denied the home side to bring a frustrating and at times bizarre match to a close.

Team: Gall, Murdoch, S. Robertson, Milne, Whyte, N. Duff, Bruce, Allan, E. Duff, Hector (Graham), McDougall (Greig). Substitutes: Lownie, J. Robertson, Smith.

Match sponsor: R. Coull and Son.