RHU Amateurs missed out on the chance to climb to third place in division 1B of the Caledonian League on Saturday after a depleted squad lost 3-2 away to Rothesay Brandane.

Injuries and work commitments reduced Rhu to a below-strength 13-man squad for their ‘overseas’ trip, and the absence of some key players was to prove costly in the end against a Rothesay side for whom the victory was their first of the league campaign.

Rhu started the game well, forcing Rothesay back into their own half, but without creating any early chances.

The home side started to come into the game, but it was Rhu who took the lead after 20 minutes when Gary Stillwell slid a perfect pass through to Patrick Scullion, and he finished well.

Up to this point it had been a scrappy game, with neither team really on top, but Rothesay levelled the match 10 minutes before half time when Rhu gave away a needless free kick on the edge of the box and Rothesay’s number 10, John McBride, hit the ball round the wall and in off the post, giving stand-in keeper Ali Maule no chance.

Half-time arrived with the scores level at 1-1, but the equalising goal had clearly given Rothesay a lift, and the home team belied their lowly league position in the early stages of the second period.

But Rhu weathered the storm and went ahead again with an hour on the clock after some strong play in the middle of the park from Shaun Laird sent Stillwell clear on the left, and his cross was met by James Burns, who fired home at the second attempt after Rothesay’s keeper saved his first effort.

Things looked good for Rhu now, and the visitors went in search of the third goal which would probably have set them on the road to victory – but in their push forward, the Ams were caught on the break, and Rothesay broke forward in numbers before Harper found the net to level the match for a second time.

With time running out, neither side looked content to settle for the draw – but it was Rothesay who snatched all three points when a long clearance put the hosts’ striker through on goal; though Maule managed to force him out wide, he brought him down in the process, and the home side’s number 11, Sean Lawrence, steadied himself before finding the back of the net from the spot for the winning goal.

Despite the mitigating factor of a below-strength squad, this was still a disappointing performance from Rhu in a fixture they had hoped to win.

Team: Maule, Burke, McVey, Milne, Connolly, McElroy, Scullion, Laird, Stillwell, Burns and Smith. Subs: Campbell and Slee.

This Saturday, November 3, Rhu are at home to Westerlands in a league game. Kick-off at Ardenconnel Park is at 2pm.