HELENSBURGH’S assistant manager says missed chances were to blame after watching his side fall to defeat in their first home league match of the season.

Burgh were beaten 2-1 by Eaglesham at Hermitage Academy on Saturday, despite holding the upper hand for long spells – and the local side’s woes were worsened by the loss of both Ryan Jones and Conor Mackie to first half injuries.

But assistant boss Russell Makeham said that despite his team’s lack of sharpness in front of goal, there was plenty of encouragement for the Burgh squad following a 6-0 loss away to East Kilbride YM the previous week.

Makeham told the Advertiser: “It was a disappointing score despite the dominance during the game.

“After the disappointing display the previous week this was a far better display and on another day we might well have had four or five goals.

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“However, it’s all about taking your opportunities when they arise, and that’s where we fell down.

“Hopefully the injuries to the two lads aren’t serious as we need a strong squad to compete in this league.”

With Mackie back in defence after a long spell out through injury, and Keith Thomas returning in midfield, Burgh started strongly, and threatened the visitors early on when Thomas was put through, only to see the keeper smother his shot.

The inclusion of the bustling midfielder was certainly causing Eaglesham considerable consternation as his runs in behind the defence created another opening, but this time his shot crept past the outside of the post.

But full back Jones was forced off with a knee injury only 10 minutes in – and a further blow followed when Eaglesham took the lead against the run of play, striker Hughes having an easy header after the Helensburgh defence failed to deal properly with a cross into the box.

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Helensburgh’s bad luck continued when Mackie hobbled off, James Rowe taking his place at the heart of the defence.

Despite those setbacks, the hosts kept pushing forward, forcing Eaglesham into some rash challenges inside the penalty area – though none were deemed serious enough by the referee to award a spot-kick.

Helensburgh rattled the woodwork twice in the space of a minute when Tadlock struck one post from a tight angle and Thomas hit the other with a drive from outside the box.

And worse was to come for the home side when a terrific cross to the back post was met by Eaglesham striker Hughes, who knocked it past keeper Craig Gemmell for the visitors’ second.

The instruction from Makeham to the Burgh players at half time was not to panic, and to keep playing the way they had been playing – but despite dominating most of the second half, the hosts found it difficult to break down a stubborn Eaglesham defence.

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Caleb Phipps tested the keeper on two occasions with driving runs and shots, but each time his attempt was hit right at the keeper.

Helensburgh finally pulled one back when captain Danny Johns headed home a Stuart Bailey corner from close range to set up an exciting finish.

With time running out the home side pushed for a second, and Del Park thought he had got it when his left foot strike from 20 yards went sailing towards the top left hand corner, but the young Eaglesham keeper produced a stunning save to push the ball away to safety.

With the ref looking at his watch Tadlock was again brought down in the box, but once more Helensburgh’s penalty appeals were turned down.

Squad: Craig Gemmell, Ryan Jones, Conor Mackie, Danny Johns, Stuart Bailey, Caleb Phipps, Del Park, Karl Johansson, Keith Thomas, Jamie Paterson, Brooks Tadlock, James Rowe, Marc McNeil, Steven Martin.

Next up for Helensburgh is a derby game this Saturday, October 19, as the local side travel to Dumbarton to face unbeaten St Patrick’s FP.

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