HELENSBURGH FC's amateurs kicked off their competitive season with a 3-3 draw at home to Cambria in the Greater Glasgow Premier AFL’s League Cup group stage on Saturday.

On the freshly laid 4G surface at Hermitage Academy, Helensburgh assistant manager Russell Makeham named new signings Chris Allan and Steven Seear among the substitutes alongside some old friends and most of last season’s promotion-winning squad.

In showery but warm conditions Burgh started the game quickly and had their opponents on the back foot early on with some concerted pressing high up the park.

It took only seven minutes for the home side to notch their first competitive goal of the season, when Brooks Tadlock muscled Cambria’s left-back off the ball and played an exquisite curled pass in to Ross, who took an excellent first touch before firing home from the edge of the box.

Burgh’s joy was short lived as Cambria struck back from their first real attack three minutes later; some clever interplay between their front three was initially thwarted by a last ditch Geraint Meader tackle, but the ball broke kindly to their right winger Ally Millar, who slotted a low shot past Ronnie Eskdale in the Helensburgh goal.

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Burgh were almost back in front within 60 seconds when an innocuous looking ball over the top led to a foot race for the loose ball between Tadlock and the Cambria keeper; the stopper got his toe in first, but his clearance only fell to Ross whose side footed shot looked goalbound but hit the right hand post before rebounding to safety.

Cambria had a further escape after 17 minutes when a trademark Karl Johansson pass gave Caleb Phipps the opportunity to get a shot away; Phipps' left-footed effort beat the keeper but finished the wrong side of the post.

Five minutes later Burgh did regain the lead when patient passing in midfield between Johansson and Sinclair led to Jones being slipped in down the right hand side.

Having burst into a dangerous position, the Burgh right back didn’t disappoint with an accurate low cross to Tadlock, who had managed to get across his man at the front post, and one touch by Tadlock with his right foot left the keeper with no chance.

It was a well worked goal, and at this point it was fair to say Burgh were in control.

This soon changed, however, as Cambria worked their way into the game, and as Burgh became guilty of being sloppy in possession and giving their opponents too much time and space.

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The warning signs were there when, in the 26th minute, Eskdale had to rush off his line to make a vital interception before immediately making an excellent stop from a follow up effort.

Not long afterwards, however, Cambria equalised for a second time when Burgh lost the ball cheaply in their own half; one quick pass later and the Cambria winger Millar was in on goal, and he made no mistake with another low finish for his second of the game.

Worse was to follow for the home team as within three minutes Cambria took a 3-2 lead – this time the ball was worked down the right flank before being crossed in to the six yard box where unmarked centre forward Andy Davidson had the simple task of nodding in past the helpless Eskdale.

This sparked Burgh back into action and they fashioned a couple of half chances; firstly Phipps had a free kick tipped over the bar, then Danny Johns saw a back post header just miss the target.

However the half time whistle saw Helensburgh go into the break a goal behind.

The pace of the game slowed in the second half as both sets of players tired after their exertions in the first period.

But Burgh took the opportunity to introduce new signing Chris Allan after 55 minutes, and he soon had an impact on proceedings – on the hour mark, an explosive burst of pace allowed him to get on the end of a hopeful pass from Ryan Jones, and he unleashed an unstoppable left foot drive past the keeper from outside the penalty area.

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The following twenty minutes saw little in the way of penalty box action as both teams cancelled each other out in midfield, but Burgh introduced Park, Thomas and Seear during this time to freshen things up, and with ten minutes remaining Sinclair spurned a decent opportunity when cramp meant his finish didn’t carry the required power to find the net.

Just as the game seemed to be petering out Cambria nearly snatched a winner when their number nine hit the outside of the post with a fine snapshot from the edge of the box.

However it was Helensburgh who finished the game feeling hard done by when, in injury time, Steven Baillie appeared to be dragged down in the Cambria penalty box.

The Burgh penalty appeals fell on deaf ears as the referee waved play on before blowing the final whistle a minute later.

Assistant manager Russell Makeham said: “A draw was maybe a fair result although I’m disappointed at how easily we gave goals away.

"The three goals we scored were all excellent in their own way and the result means we can still qualify from our section.”

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Squad: Eskdale, Ross, Johns, Seear, Thomas,Park, Jones, Tadlock, Johansson, Phipps, Sinclair, Bailey, Baillie, Martin, Allan, Meader.

Helensburgh's League Cup match away to Duncanrig FP on Wednesday night was postponed; Burgh's next fixture is another League Cup group tie, at home to Kilbarchan Thistle on August 28.