HELENSBURGH assistant boss Russell Makeham has urged his players to take inspiration from last year’s promotion-winning squad as they bid to beat the drop.

A much-changed Helensburgh line-up lost 2-0 to local rivals St Patrick’s FP at Hermitage Academy in their first match of the new year on Saturday – but Makeham says he’s confident that once his team can pick up their first win of the season, more will follow.

Last season Burgh won 14 league games on the trot on their way to securing promotion to the Greater Glasgow Premier AFL’s top division.

Following Saturday’s loss, Makeham said: “For whatever reason this season we have struggled to get players in for the weekend games.

“Lads who were here last season have moved on, or had to give it up for various reasons, and this has brought about a lot of uncertainty within the team.

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“However Sam [Gemmell, Helensburgh’s manager] and myself have been working hard behind the scenes to get new blood in and hopefully these guys can get some game time in and some healthy training sessions which will help us all out.

“We have still to play everyone in our league at least once and we feel that once we get that first win, then others will follow.

“We were in a similar situation last season, and went on to register 14 winning league games in a row, so we know that it can be done.”

St Pats’ second team, who are sitting well placed towards the top of the league, started strongly and were soon creating problems for the Burgh defence.

Goalkeeper David Stevenson had to produce some cracking saves in the first 10 minutes to keep the scores level as the Burgh players struggled to find any rhythm.

And St Pats’ pressure paid off 20 minutes in when the referee awarded a penalty to the visitors after a tumble in the box and Eamon McElroy opened the scoring from the resultant spot kick.

This goal seemed to wake up the Helensburgh players, and although scoring chances were few and far between, it became a better contest between both teams.

But the hosts suffered a huge blow when influential captain Danny Johns had to be helped off the park after a heavy fall, from which he never returned.

With some quick changes to personnel at the back, it looked as if the Burgh lads had weathered the storm, but they were caught out on the stroke of half time as a loose pass caught players out of position and from the resultant cross the ball was headed home by Ryan Deeley to increase the visitors’ lead.

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The second half was a much better performance from the local side, in that they competed well with the St Pats team.

However, much like the first half, they hardly troubled the visiting keeper, though the hosts did at least manage to subdue the St Pats attack, limiting them to shots from outside the box that Stevenson dealt with well.

With no further scoring in what was left of the game, the match petered out, and the Burgh lads at least felt that the hadn’t let themselves down.

Squad: David Stevenson, Steven Martin, Robert Caldwell, Danny Johns, Russel Makeham, Dean Hartlebury, Ryan Jones, David McKell, Steven Conner, Paul Coyle, Marc McNeil, Calum Dodds, James Rowe, David Wilkie.

This Saturday, January 25, Helensburgh remain on home turf when Calderglen AFC from Lochwinnoch are the visitors. Kick-off at Hermitage Academy is at 2pm.


MEANWHILE, Rhu Amateurs’ hopes of pulling off a shock in their Caledonian League clash at home to league leaders Finnart on Saturday were comprehensively dashed as the visitors eased to a 4-0 win.

Boss Stewart Maule said afterwards: “No one could fault our commitment, work rate or effort.

“That’s as good as we’ve seen some of the players perform this season. Unfortunately, goals change games, and we just couldn’t score when it mattered.”

Rhu squad: Brown, Dickson, Brodie, E. Bell, Stillwell, Gorman, Holborn, A. Bell, Black, Jeffrey, Maule, Milne, Paterson, M. Gorman.

This Saturday, January 25, Rhu travel to Bannockburn to take on Milton Amateurs.

Kick-off is at 2pm.

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