Rob Roy’s Premiership campaign got off to a disappointing start with defeat at newly promoted Benburb on Saturday, reports Neil Anderson.
It was a tough afternoon for the Kirkintilloch side as injuries and absences took their toll.
Yet Rabs - boosted by going through their Sectional League Cup group with three wins out of three - started brightly.
Scott Walker’s cross found striker Jay McInally free in the box, but his header from six yards out went wide.
But it was the home side who scored from their first goal scoring chance, with Ciaran Mulcahy heading a cross from the left to the back post beyond Rabs keeper John Hutchison.
In the 14th minute Hutchison parried Willie McLaren’s acute shot before McInally’s weak effort was taken easily by Bens keeper Ross Connelly.
Right-back Kieran O’Hear’s effort from the right was safely gathered by Hutchison before McInally’s low shot was saved by keeper Connelly.
The Roy kept pressing and Scott Walker’s cross was well cleared by Benburb’s Josh Meechan.
The Bens did well to absorb the Rabs’ attack before Hutchison had to save low from Michael Mulcany. The same player two minutes later saw his shot saved again low by Hutchison.
Just before half time Sam Biggart’s low shot was taken easily by Connelly and then at the other end McLaren’s cross was headed over as Benburb looked to increase their lead.
At the start of the second half McLaren’s cross was headed wide by Jordan Bow before the Roy’s injury woes continued when substitute Grant Brennan, who had replaced Jordan Currie-McLean, had to go off and was replaced by Cameron Hayes.
Matters then went from bad to worse when a defensive error saw the Bens increase their lead.
A long ball up the park saw substitute Aidan Ferris barge off Nathan Durham to allow him to race in on goal and roll the ball beyond Hutchison.
Shortly thereafter Hutchison saved from McLaren before Michael Tuohy’s shot from distance was taken by Connelly.
Hutchison again did well to save from McLaren before the keeper was forced to block a shot from Ciaran Mulcany as Benburb dominated. Ferris then passed on to Ryan McCrone, but he shot over the bar from the edge of the box.
In the 75th minute Hutchison saved well from Ryan Livingston before Rabs’ Jamie Watson saw his header taken low by Connelly.
The dangerous McLaren’s cross was well taken by Hutchison before in the closing moments Martin McBride’s direct shot on goal was taken by Connelly.
McInally then hobbled off the park with an ankle injury but the Roy were unable to further test on-loan Hamilton keeper Connelly, who made sure he kept a clean sheet for the home side.
On this performance it will be a battle again to remain in the Premiership.
Sponsor John McKean presented the Supporters’ Man of the Match Trophy, kindly donated by Roddy the Dog Walker, to John Hutchison.