Newton struggle to salvage a point

A clumsy challenge from Lochar's Scott Neill on Grant Parker

A clumsy challenge from Lochar's Scott Neill on Grant Parker

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NEWTON STEWART 1, LOCHAR THISTLE 1

If Newton Stewart were to hold out any outside chance of winning this season’s league title, this match was a must-win for the Creesiders.

However, that was not to be as some good defending and poor luck around the visitors’ goalmouth saw Thistle hold out for a draw.

Lochar looked set up to defend their goalmouth and early pressure and domination form the home side was soaked up by the visitors’ defence. But with nine minutes played, the Dumfries side were awarded a free kick on the right and, when the ball was swung over to the back post, Craig Muir was on hand to fire it into the net against the run of play.

The home side continued to take the play to Lochar and it looked like a matter of time before the breakthrough came. However, they found the visiting defence standing firm and it took until the 22nd minute before anything like a half chance came their way when a Liam Muir effort missed the target.

Three minutes later the visitors had a chance of a second when striker William Dempster’s attempt was thwarted by a last-ditch challenge from central defender Dean Thomson.

In the 26th minute, Newton defender Martyn Henry brought a good save from keeper Scott Porteous, who looked impressive between the sticks for the visitors. Porteous then did well in 32nd minute to save from Justin Nicholl, but Newton couldn’t find a way through and went in at the break a goal down.

Three minutes after the restart, a Muir header was well taken by Porteous but six minutes later the player received a head knock which required attention before he could continue although shortly after he received a leg injury which saw him being replaced.

Newton struggled after this as Muir had been their best and most dangerous player. Although they huffed and puffed in an effort to draw themselves back into the contest, the Lochar defence gave them no leeway.

With full-time approaching, however, the constant pressure paid off when a Graeme Blain effort was fired through a ruck of players from 20 yards out and found the bottom left corner of the net.

With four minutes time added on, Newton still had a chance of taking the all-important points but Lochar had other ideas and held on for what for them was a good result but a very poor one for the home side.

Newton Stewart now have only one league match left on a date still to be decided by officials when Wigtown and Bladnoch will be the visitors to Blairmount Park.