HELENSBURGH coach Russell Makeham has hailed a “big improvement” among his squad – despite seeing them lose 4-1 at home to high-flying East Kilbride YM on Saturday.

After a trying start to 2020, the Burgh side took a self-imposed two-week break from competitive action in a bid to give their season a fresh start – and despite Saturday’s result, Makeham said he was encouraged by what he’d seen.

“We have to take the positives from the game,” the Burgh coach said this week.

“We were hampered by another late call off, but the guys responded well and it was a big improvement on what’s gone before.

READ MORE: Helensburgh boss vows his squad won't throw in the towel after tough first half of the season

“This is basically a new team, with guys trying to bed themselves into position during competitive games, which isn’t easy.

“We were well beaten earlier in the season by East Kilbride but I think they would tell you it was a harder game for them than last time.

"Sam [Gemmell, the Helensburgh manager] and myself have done a lot of work behind the scenes in the fortnight without a game to get new guys in, and I’d like to think we are on the right track to getting a positive result.”

Helensburgh started with a trialist goalkeeper and an untried back four, but the new-look defence certainly gelled well, and for a while it was hard to tell that the length of the league separated the sides.

READ MORE: Battling Helensburgh side secure their first league point of the season

But EK opened the scoring after half an hour when midfielder George Paton ran from deep and played a neat one-two with one of his strikers – and though his first shot was parried by Bevans, Paton followed up to score at the second attempt.

Helensburgh thought they’d levelled when Dayle George converted a terrific through pass from Karl Johansson, only for the ref to blow for offside.

The start of the second half also saw the weather deteriorate and the temperature plummet, with both sides struggling to play decent football in the conditions.

Chances were sparse for the hosts, and with 20 minutes left the visitors got a break when a 25-yard shot deflected off Sam Convy – who would have been offside if the Helensburgh defence had come out as a unit – and beat the helpless Bevan.

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But a positional change saw Caleb Phipps pushed further up the field – and the move instantly paid off when Phipps’ shot was deflected into the net.

The hosts saw a chance to push forward and level the game, but EK were having none of it, and Convy added a third despite Burgh’s claims for offside to put the game beyond the home side.

And in the dying moments a huge late clearance by the EK keeper caught out the Burgh defence and enabled Scott Forrie to slot home the fourth.

Squad: Steven Martin, Caleb Phipps, Anthony Bevans, Liam Owen, Reece Court, Lewis Grant, Brad Lamington, Gregor McMillan, Keith Thomas, Karl Johansson, Dayle George, Steven Conner, Russell Makeham .

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Meanwhile, Rhu Amateurs’ Caledonian League match away to Weir Recreation on Saturday fell victim to a waterlogged pitch.

This Saturday, March 7, Helensburgh travel to Lochwinnoch to play Calderglen, while Rhu head to Garscube to take on Westerlands.

Both matches kick off at 2pm.

READ MORE: Catch up with all the latest sporting headlines from across Helensburgh and Lomond here