HELENSBURGH were left cursing their luck after being forced to settle for a 3-3 draw in their final GGPAFL League Cup fixture on Saturday.

There was nothing at stake in tournament terms as Burgh travelled to East Kilbride to face third division Duncanrig with both teams knowing they couldn’t qualify for the knockout stages.

But after going in at the break 2-0 down, Burgh staged a superb fightback to level the match and then take the lead – only for the hosts to snatch a share of the spoils with a dubious late leveller.

Helensburgh kicked off with a strong wind at their back and tried to put the local side on the back foot from the off, Chris Allan flashing a shot over the bar after five minutes.

Despite a lot of possession they were having trouble keeping the ball in play as the strong wind was disrupting the flow of the game – and that, along with an unfamiliar formation, made clear cut chances a bit of a scarcity.

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Allan came closest in the first half-hour when his well taken free kick rattled off the bar and bounced to safety; Callum Dodds also came close when his shot just sneaked past the post, but despite Helensburgh having the upper hand it was Duncanrig who took the lead when a pass out of defence was intercepted and crossed back into the box for an easy tap-in.

That certainly rattled the visitors, and only a terrific double save from Eskdale kept the striker from making it two.

But with half-time approaching Duncanrig did add a second when Allan lost control of the ball in the middle of the park, and his attempted clearance cannoned off an opponent and flew high over Eskdale and into the net, despite the keeper’s attempts to claw it away.

But after some words of encouragement, and a change of formation, at half-time, Helensburgh got the break they needed only two minutes after the restart, when Brooks Tadlock was brought down by a clumsy challenge and Stuart Bailey, for the second game in a row, converted from the spot.

That gave Helensburgh more confidence and after some slick passing exchanges, Dodds was picked out on the right wing, and he slid the ball into the path of Tadlock to plant the equaliser past the Duncanrig keeper with a low drive.

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And with their tails up, Helensburgh went one better when they took the lead, captain Danny Johns doing the honours with a 25-yard effort which took a deflection to steer it out of the reach of the hosts’ keeper.

Duncanrig were on the back foot at this point – and their hopes took a further blow when they were reduced to ten men, one of the home defenders being sent for an early bath after a crude tackle on Ross Jeffrey.

But to their credit, Duncanrig stuck to their task and pushed on for the last quarter of the game despite being a man down – and with Helensburgh pushing up the park in a bid to make the most of the extra man, they were caught out on the counter-attack, though it was from a decidedly offside-looking position that the home side’s young striker poked the ball into the net to level the match.

Manager Sam Gemmell said: “It was a poor performance from us – the lads knew there was nothing at stake in this game and to be honest probably took to the park with the wrong mindset which is why the first half was so poor.

“The second half was a lot better and only ill luck prevented us from going on to secure the win.”

Squad: Ronnie Eskdale, Ross Jeffrey, Callum Dodds, Gerraint Meader, Danny Johns, Ryan Jones, Stuart Bailey, Del Park, Karl Johansson, Chris Allan, Jamie Paterson, Steven Martin, Marc McNeil, Brooks Tadlock.

READ MORE: Helensburgh open season with thrilling League Cup draw

Having been knocked out of both the League Cup and the Scottish Amateur Cup, Helensburgh now turn their attention to more knockout action and a West of Scotland Cup first round tie this Saturday, September 21 at home to Cambria AFC’s Caledonian League XI.

Kick-off at Hermitage Academy is at 2pm.