By BEN BANKS
PAUL DAVIES was convinced Newmains wouldn’t concede a cricket score against Lanark.
But he was still bowled over by his side’s display against the league leaders.
A rookie United team had the runaway League Two tabletoppers stumped during a goalless first half in which they had chances to score.
They found themselves on a sticky wicket after the break as they conceded three times.
But co-manager Davies insists that shouldn’t take away the quality of their performance against a side that hadn’t lost since August.
Davies said: “Lanark is probably the hardest place to go in our league. In our side we had two boys who have been playing boys’ club football and a goalkeeper from amateur football.
“But we came with a game plan which we executed well in the first half. In the second half we were just up against a really good Lanark team which will probably go on to win the league.
“It was never going to be a cricket score though – we aren’t that Newmains anymore. For us to go there and play the way we played left me absolutely delighted.
“Over the past few weeks we have been playing players in which we think is our strongest team. But against Lanark we played a system I think we will take into our next eight games. We will see what we get out of it.”
Injuries had left Davies and co-boss Craig Gupwell to field an untested side and with fewer options to change things during the ninety minutes. But the lack of numbers didn’t show early on as Newmains had the better of the early chances.
Michael Barton missed a good opportunity in the opening 15 minutes then Josh Anderson broke through one on one with keeper Gareth Hallford but the Lanark No1 made a good stop.
Just before the hour mark Lanark opened the scoring through James Martin before Hugh Kerr made it 2-0 just five minutes later.
It was game over with 15 minutes to spare as Ian Watt netted to cap an impressive second half display from the home side and leave them eight points clear at the top.
Davies insists there was still plenty to be pleased about heading into Saturday’s trip to sixth-placed Vale of Clyde.
He said: “The squad has really changed in the past week. I thought the boys’ club lads were excellent. Young Lewis Noble was terrific out wide, cutting back inside and tracking back. I thought he had to put in a really horrible shift and he did it well.
“The main positives we can take are the first half performance and the way we played in our system. For the first 45 minutes we frustrated Lanark and that was the game plan.
“But their pace was very difficult to deal with in the end. I wouldn’t say it was our fitness that was a problem, it was just they were too fast. We struggled with that towards the end of the game.”
Davies admits it could still be a while before some of the absentees return. He added: “Our goalie Martyn Meek was in hospital but thankfully he’s out now. He’s still going to be another couple of weeks before he’s back.
“Sean Taggart is probably going to be out another four or five weeks. It’s kind of endless at the moment. We have four or five boys who are all carrying knocks and one or two are playing with them.”