A depleted Rob Roy side kept their championship challenge alive by battling out a goalless draw away to title rivals Beith on Saturday.
It was a backs to the wall performnace from Rob Roy with keeper Michael McKinven producing as brilliant display of goalkeeping to secure a point which could prove vital in his side’s push for the Super Premier League title.
In a torrid opening spell by the home side Rabs’ defence was under pressure.
In the first minute Scott Walker was forced to clear a Darren Chrisrie cross for a corner, then McKinven made a fine save form Ross McPherson’s effort.
Beith attacks were relentless with John Sheridan heading a Joe Bradley corner goalwatds but the ever alert McKinven was equal to it.
For a brief period Rabs began to create half-chances. Danny McKenzie won a corner on the left and Gavin Mackie’s kick fell to Willie Sawyers who had his shot blocked.
The rebound was headed on by Chris Duff but failed to trouble Beith keeper Stephen Grindlay.
In the 25th minute McKinven as again in action, this time diving to save Christie’s low shot, then, a minute later, making a wonderful parry to prevent Mark McLaughlin’s close range header from opening the scoring.
With Rabs pinned back McKinven saved another McLaughlin header before Paul Frize squandered an opportunity for the Bellsdale Park side when he opted for power instead of precision and blasted the ball well over the bar.
In an infrequent Rabs raid on the Beith goal Lee Gallacher provided a perfect cross for Mackie but the winger was unable to make proper contact and the chance was lost.
Rabs’ best spell of the match camne at the start of the second half with Jordan McGuire sending his snap shot into the arms of Grindlay.
In the 52nd minute McKenzie sent over a precise cross for Sawyers, but the striker headed it wide.
From a Mackie corner Kevin Green crashed a header on target, only for Grindlay to claw the ball away from under his crossbar.
Beith were reduced to 10 men in the 73rd minute when Bradley picked up hs second booking for a needless foul on Mackie in midfield.
Despite being a man down there was no letting up by the home side. Christie skied his shot over the bar, then a Conner McGlinchey deep cross was parried to safety by McKinven.
Failure to convert territorial supremacy into goals was causing frustration amongst the home support.
But with McKinven’s superb handling and stout defending from Sean McCall, Walker and Green, Rabs held out out to leave Bellsdale Park with a hard won and creditable point.
Boss Stewart Maxwell said: “We had seven players out, regular players. We had 13 available players and we had to shuffle the pack.
“We had to set our stall out to defend properly and try to grow into the game and that’s what we tried to do. We weathered the early storm and defensively we were excellent.
“We created a few chances and were unlucky not to get one on the break but when your personnel are so low you’ve got to set a game plan out and not lose the game. And it’s not the worst place in the world to go and get a point and keep a clean sheet.”
“We always knew that if we could take something from the game it would go to the double header with Glenafton.
“I have absolutely no complaints about the performance they gave me, the effort, the application and the attitude was first class.