HELENSBURGH continued their Spring Cup campaign with a 5-3 win away to Milngavie AFC last week – but required a late Dougie Black equaliser to maintain their unbeaten start to the tournament at home to Westerlands on Saturday.

Milngavie came into last Wednesday’s fixture off the back of two excellent wins over Calderglen and GSC Jordanhill, so Helensburgh knew their hosts would be a hard nut to crack – but an impressive first-half performance saw the visitors take control of the match.

Brooks Tadlock opened the scoring after 10 minutes when his quick turn deceived his marker and his left foot shot curled into the corner of the net.

And the second followed just five minutes later when some lovely play down the left of the park between Stuart Bailey and Del Park set up David Sinclair to whip the ball across goal for Caleb Phipps to blast home.

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Number three came from a corner which Geraint Meader headed into the net, but Helensburgh’s progress was checked somewhat when Milngavie pulled one back with a penalty just before half-time.

Buoyed by that slice of good fortune, the home team were on the front foot right from the restart, and reduced the deficit to a single goal five minutes into the second half.

But Helensburgh hit back straight away when David Wilkie cut out a clearance by a Milngavie defender – and though the hosts’ keeper blocked his shot, the rebound fell at the feet of Scott Petro to blast home.

And any hopes Milngavie might have had of setting up a grandstand finish were ended when Bailey converted from the spot for Helensburgh’s fifth; the hosts nicked one goal back in the dying moments but it was far too late to do any damage.

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The midweek success sent Helensburgh into Saturday’s match against Westerlands – a team Burgh had already beaten twice on league duty earlier in the campaign – in confident mood.

But in their first home match since January, the local side struggled to find the form they have shown since the turn of the year, with Westerlands dominating most of the game.

David Allan headed an excellent Wilkie cross past the Westerlands keeper to put an out-of-sorts Helensburgh side ahead, but the boost you would normally expect from the opening goal failed to materialise, and the home side struggled for the rest of the half against a Westerlands side who had clearly learned lessons from their two league losses earlier in the season.

Despite being under the cosh for most of the first half, Helensburgh went into their half-time huddle still in the lead – but the visitors continued to have the upper hand in the second period, and it was no surprise when they equalised after a slack Burgh pass in midfield set up a quick break, and despite the hosts’ claims for offside, Westerlands’ striker scored low past keeper Ronnie Eskdale.

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The equaliser put a new spring in Westerlands’ step, and it wasn’t long before they went in front, taking advantage of more slackness in the Helensburgh ranks to break away down the right for a cross which was dispatched past Eskdale, though again the scorer looked slightly offside.

Helensburgh, though, dug deep into their reserves of mental strength and secured the equalising goal which extends their fine run to just one defeat since December when Black slipped his marker at the edge of the box and found the corner of the net with a left-footed shot.

Squad over the two games: Ronnie Eskdale, Paul Cavanna, Geraint Meader, David Wilkie, Dougie Black, Brooks Tadlock, Steven Martin, Russell Makeham, Del Park, Keith Thomas, Caleb Phipps, Karl Johannson, Scott Petro, David Allan, David Sinclair, Marc McNeil, Calum Dodds, Scott Findlay, Stuart Bailey, Steven Bailey.

Helensburgh have no game this Saturday due to the Easter holiday weekend; they are back in action on Wednesday, April 24 with a Spring Cup tie away to Calderglen, kicking off at 6.30pm.

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