Merpro 4, FC Claypotts 1
MERPRO returned to league action on Saturday after a memorable 2010, with an excellent winning start to begin the New Year in style.
They maintained their position at the top of Division One and remain the only unbeaten league side in all of the Midlands leagues.
Merpro have been inactive for the past two months due to the chronic severe weather conditions and the festive break.
Claypotts have themselves been enjoying a good season, currently lying in third place in the league, but were swept aside by a determined Merpro who came out of the blocks quickly and never let up from start to finish.
The home side’s first chance came after six minutes when Houston broke forward receiving a Graham lay-off, but shot past.
Shortly afterwards, Claypotts survived a penalty claim when Graham appeared to be tripped by the visiting ‘keeper on the by-line.
Euan Duff then came close in 12 minutes with a low 15-yard drive but the goalkeeper performed brilliantly with a low diving fingertip save to turn the effort round the post.
Houston again did well to break forward, drawing out the Claypotts ‘keeper, who saved his first effort but his follow-up then went across the face of the goal with Euan Duff almost touching home at the back post with a sliding effort in 16 minutes.
Brother Nicol Duff then had a shot saved by the visiting ‘keeper in 18 minutes.
Merpro opened their New Year account in 22 minutes when GRAHAM collected a Gourlay pass, subtly flicked the ball round his marker then ran in on goal and fired a low drive into the corner of the net from 16 yards to make it 1-0.
Claypotts were hardly in the match and went further behind when Graeme ALLAN hit an astonishing strike after 38 minutes - surely a contender for goal of the season. He made an intercepting tackle on the edge of his own box and then set off on a mazy momentum run almost the entire length of the pitch, dribbling past various players before finishing off by rounding the bemused ‘keeper to calmly knock into the back of the net amidst jubilant celebrations.
Four minutes later Euan Duff then tried to emulate him, beating four players on a similar type of run, but at the last moment the ball bobbled and he lifted his 15-yard shot over the bar.
Half-time: Merpro 2, FC Claypotts 0.
Merpro continued to dominate at the start of the second half, and almost went further ahead when Craig Allan fired in a cross which was missed by a couple of players, but the surprised Houston at the back post couldn’t direct his header goalwards and instead cleared to safety from a few yards out.
Claypotts were occasionally beginning to hit on the break but good defending prevented any significant chances.
The homesters continued to create further chances and a good passing move between Craig Allan and Greig gave Graham a headed opportunity but he directed his effort over the bar from 10 yards.
But in 66 minutes Merpro went further ahead when Milne broke forward, setting up GRAHAM to run in on goal from the left wing and fire in a low driven shot from 18 yards to make it 3-0.
Emerson then made a good wing run, firing in a curling low cross but unfortunately there were no takers to knock into the net.
The home side continued to dominate and in another good move Gibbon set up Graham who hit in a low cross into the heart of the box. The ball cannoned off Cruickshank and fell for MILNE to knock into the net from five yards to make it 4-0 in 80 minutes.
Claypotts sneaked a consolation goal with a close range header with three minutes to go.
Merpro created a final chance when Gibbon broke through on his own but the Claypotts ‘keeper capped a good performance to block his effort in the dying minutes.
This was a commanding and at times rampant performance from Merpro, who fully deserved the points.
Merpro: Henderson, Gourlay, N. Duff, C. Allan, Whitworth, G. Allan, Greig (Cruickshank), Milne, E. Duff (Gibbon), Graham, Houston (Emerson). Substitutes: Bruce and Findlay.
Match sponsor: RK Services Tool Hire.
On Saturday Merpro travel to Arbroath to take on HSFPs in a Division One encounter.